Technology

Is Hartford Growth Opportunities A (HGOAX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

There are plenty of choices in the Mid Cap Growth category, but where should you start your research? Well, one fund that might be worth investigating is Hartford Growth Opportunities A (HGOAX). HGOAX has a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 1 (Strong Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

We note that HGOAX is a Mid Cap Growth fund, and this area is also loaded with many different options. Companies are usually considered growth stocks when they consistently report notable sales and/or earnings growth. Thus, Mid Cap Growth funds pick stocks--usually companies with a market cap between $2 billion and $10 billion--that demonstrate extensive growth opportunities for investors compared to their peers.

History of Fund/Manager

HGOAX is a part of the Hartford family of funds, a company based out of Woodbury, MN. The Hartford Growth Opportunities A made its debut in March of 1963 and HGOAX has managed to accumulate roughly $3.58 billion in assets, as of the most recently available information. Mario Abularach is the fund's current manager and has held that role since March of 2006.

Performance

Of course, investors look for strong performance in funds. HGOAX has a 5-year annualized total return of 24.5% and is in the top third among its category peers. But if you are looking for a shorter time frame, it is also worth looking at its 3-year annualized total return of 28.81%, 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. HGOAX's standard deviation over the past three years is 22.91% compared to the category average of 15.48%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 18.51% compared to the category average of 12.85%. 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 1.09, so it is likely going to be more volatile than the market at large. Alpha is an additional metric to take into consideration, since it represents a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which in this case, is the S&P 500. Over the past 5 years, the fund has a positive alpha of 5.24. This means that managers in this portfolio are skilled in picking securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

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, HGOAX is a load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.09% compared to the category average of 1.17%. So, HGOAX is actually cheaper than its peers from a cost perspective.

While the minimum initial investment for the product is $2,000, investors should also note that each subsequent investment needs to be at least $50.

Bottom Line

Overall, Hartford Growth Opportunities A ( HGOAX ) has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, worse downside risk, and lower fees, this fund looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

For additional information on this product, or to compare it to other mutual funds in the Mid Cap Growth, make sure to go to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds for additional information. Zacks provides a full suite of tools to help you analyze your portfolio - both funds and stocks - in the most efficient way possible.


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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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