Is T. Rowe Price Financial Services (PRISX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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If you’ve been stuck searching for Sector – Finance funds, consider T. Rowe Price Financial Services (PRISX) as a possibility. PRISX holds a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 1 (Strong Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

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Objective

PRISX is one of many Sector – Finance funds to choose from. Sector – Finance mutual funds provide investors with a diversified and stabilized investment approach focused on the financial space, which is a notoriously large, complex, and heavily-regulated industry. These funds include everything from insurance companies and exchanges to banks and investment giants; interest rates can impact the players of this space as well.

History of Fund/Manager

T. Rowe Price is responsible for PRISX, and the company is based out of Baltimore, MD. Since T. Rowe Price Financial Services made its debut in September of 1996, PRISX has garnered more than $1.44 billion in assets. Gabriel Solomon is the fund’s current manager and has held that role since April of 2014.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. This fund has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 17.44%, and is in the top third among its category peers. Investors who prefer analyzing shorter time frames should look at its 3-year annualized total return of 15.19%, which places it in the top third during this time-frame.

When looking at a fund’s performance, it is also important to note the standard deviation of the returns. The lower the standard deviation, the less volatility the fund experiences. Over the past three years, PRISX’s standard deviation comes in at 24.83%, compared to the category average of 21.12%. The fund’s standard deviation over the past 5 years is 20.21% compared to the category average of 17.38%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors should note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 1.12, which means it is hypothetically more volatile than the market at large. Another factor to consider is alpha, as it reflects a portfolio’s performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark-in this case, the S&P 500. With a negative alpha of -1.56, managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Holdings

Exploring the equity holdings of a mutual fund is also a valuable exercise. This can show us how the manager is applying their stated methodology, as well as if there are any inherent biases in their approach. For this particular fund, the focus is largely on equities that are traded in the United States.

This fund is currently holding about 87.65% stock in stocks, with an average market capitalization of $70.28 billion. This fund’s turnover is about 8.6%, so the fund managers are making fewer trades than the average comparable fund.

Expenses

As competition heats up in the mutual fund market, costs become increasingly important. Compared to its otherwise identical counterpart, a low-cost product will be an outperformer, all other things being equal. Thus, taking a closer look at cost-related metrics is vital for investors. In terms of fees, PRISX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.80% compared to the category average of 1.53%. So, PRISX is actually cheaper than its peers from a cost perspective.

Investors should also note that the minimum initial investment for the product is $2,500 and that each subsequent investment needs to be at $100.

Bottom Line

Overall, T. Rowe Price Financial Services ( PRISX ) has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, this fund looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

This could just be the start of your research on PRISXin the Sector – Finance category. Consider going to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds for additional information about this fund, and all the others that we rank as well for additional information. For analysis of the rest of your portfolio, make sure to visit Zacks.com for our full suite of tools which will help you investigate all of your stocks and funds in one place.

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