Technology

Is Delaware Healthcare A (DLHAX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

Sector - Health fund seekers should not consider taking a look at Delaware Healthcare A (DLHAX) at this time. DLHAX carries a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 4 (Sell), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

We note that DLHAX is a Sector - Health fund, and this area is also loaded with various options. Sector - Health mutual funds give investors an opportunity to focus on one of the largest sectors of the American economy, healthcare. Funds in this category can include everything from for-profit hospitals to pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers.

History of Fund/Manager

Delaware Investments is based in Philadelphia, PA, and is the manager of DLHAX. Delaware Healthcare A debuted in September of 2007. Since then, DLHAX has accumulated assets of about $292.97 million, according to the most recently available information. Liu Er Chen is the fund's current manager and has held that role since September of 2007.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. DLHAX has a 5-year annualized total return of 8.97% and it sits in the top third among its category peers. If you're interested in shorter time frames, do not dismiss looking at the fund's 3-year annualized total return of 11.79%, 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. DLHAX's standard deviation over the past three years is 15.44% compared to the category average of 11.5%. Over the past 5 years, the standard deviation of the fund is 15.15% compared to the category average of 11.74%. 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. In DLHAX's case, the fund lost 24.67% in the most recent bear market and outperformed its peer group by 9%. This might suggest that the fund is a better choice than its peers during a bear market.

Nevertheless, investors should also note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 1.04, 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. DLHAX has generated a negative alpha over the past five years of -1.01, demonstrating 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, DLHAX is a load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.28% compared to the category average of 1.36%. Looking at the fund from a cost perspective, DLHAX is actually cheaper than its peers.

Investors should also note that the minimum initial investment for the product is $1,000 and that each subsequent investment needs to be at $100.

Bottom Line

Overall, Delaware Healthcare A ( DLHAX ) has a low Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, Delaware Healthcare A ( DLHAX ) looks like a somewhat weak choice for investors right now.

For additional information on the Sector - Health area of the mutual fund world, make sure to check out www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds. There, you can see more about the ranking process, and dive even deeper into DLHAX too 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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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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