Technology

Is T. Rowe Price Science & Technology Fund (PRSCX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

Sector - Tech fund seekers should consider taking a look at T. Rowe Price Science & Technology Fund (PRSCX). PRSCX holds a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 2 (Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

We note that PRSCX is a Sector - Tech option, and this area is loaded with many options. Found in a wide number of industries such as semiconductors, software, internet, and networking, tech companies are everywhere. Thus, Sector - Tech mutual funds that invest in technology let investors own a stake in a notoriously volatile sector, but with a much more diversifies approach.

History of Fund/Manager

T. Rowe Price is based in Baltimore, MD, and is the manager of PRSCX. Since T. Rowe Price Science & Technology Fund made its debut in September of 1987, PRSCX has garnered more than $3.96 billion in assets. Kennard W. Allen is the fund's current manager and has held that role since January of 2009.

Performance

Investors naturally seek funds with strong performance. This fund in particular has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 16.7%, 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 19.9%, 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. Compared to the category average of 11.84%, the standard deviation of PRSCX over the past three years is 17.06%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 16.8% compared to the category average of 11.9%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors cannot discount the risks to this segment though, as it is always important to remember the downside for any potential investment. In the most recent bear market, PRSCX lost 51.66% and outperformed its peer group by 1%. This could mean that the fund is a better choice than comparable funds during a bear market.

Investors should not forget about beta, an important way to measure a mutual fund's risk compared to the market as a whole. PRSCX has a 5-year beta of 1.25, which means it is likely to be more volatile than the market average. 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. The fund has produced a positive alpha over the past 5 years of 2.88, which shows that managers in this portfolio are skilled in picking 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, PRSCX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.79% compared to the category average of 1.30%. PRSCX is actually cheaper than its peers when you consider factors like cost.

Investors need to be aware that with this product, the minimum initial investment is $2,500; each subsequent investment needs to be at least $100.

Bottom Line

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

This could just be the start of your research on PRSCXin the Sector - Tech 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. 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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