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Is Baron Emerging Markets Retail (BEXFX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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If you've been stuck searching for Non US - Equity funds, you might want to consider passing on by Baron Emerging Markets Retail (BEXFX) as a possibility. BEXFX bears a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 5 (Strong Sell), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

We classify BEXFX in the Non US - Equity category, which is an area rife with potential choices. Investing in companies outside the United States is how Non US - Equity funds set themselves apart, since global funds tend to keep a good portion of their portfolio stateside. Many of these funds like to allocate across emerging and developed markets, and will often focus on all cap levels.

History of Fund/Manager

Baron is responsible for BEXFX, and the company is based out of New York, NY. Baron Emerging Markets Retail made its debut in December of 2010, and since then, BEXFX has accumulated about $1.08 billion in assets, per the most up-to-date date available. The fund's current manager, Michael Kass, has been in charge of the fund since December of 2010.

Performance

Of course, investors look for strong performance in funds. This fund in particular has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 2.52%, and it sits in the middle third among its category peers. Investors who prefer analyzing shorter time frames should look at its 3-year annualized total return of 6.65%, which places it in the middle 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. Compared to the category average of 10.56%, the standard deviation of BEXFX over the past three years is 13%. The standard deviation of the fund over the past 5 years is 12.53% compared to the category average of 10.65%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

One cannot ignore the volatility of this segment, however, as it is always important for investors to remember the downside to any potential investment.

Nevertheless, with a 5-year beta of 0.77, the fund is likely to be less volatile than the market average. Because alpha represents a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which is the S&P 500 in this case, one should pay attention to this metric as well. The fund has produced a negative alpha over the past 5 years of -5.25, which shows that managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Expenses

For investors, taking a closer look at cost-related metrics is key, since costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing. Competition is heating up in this space, and a lower cost product will likely outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, all things being equal. In terms of fees, BEXFX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.36% compared to the category average of 1.25%. So, BEXFX is actually more expensive than its peers from a cost perspective.

This fund requires a minimum initial investment of $2,000, while there is no minimum for each subsequent investment.

Bottom Line

Overall, Baron Emerging Markets Retail ( BEXFX ) has a low Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively similar performance, average downside risk, and higher fees, this fund looks like a poor potential choice for investors right now.

Your research on the Non US - Equity segment doesn't have to stop here. You can check out all the great mutual fund tools we have to offer by going to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds to see the additional features we offer as well for additional information. Want to learn even more? We have a full suite of tools on stocks that you can use to find the best choices for your portfolio too, no matter what kind of investor you are.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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