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Is USHYX a Strong Bond Fund Right Now?

If investors are looking at the High Yield - Bonds fund category, make sure to pass over USAA High Income (USHYX). USHYX possesses a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 4 (Sell), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

USHYX is classified in the High Yield - Bonds segment by Zacks, an area full of investment possibilities. High Yield - Bonds funds come in below investment grade, and are referred to as " junk " bonds for this reason. Compared to their investment grade peers, these funds are at a higher default risk, but typically pay out higher yields while posing similar interest rate risks.

History of Fund/Manager

USHYX is a part of the USAA Group family of funds, a company based out of San Antonio, TX. USAA High Income debuted in August of 1999. Since then, USHYX has accumulated assets of about $1.20 billion, according to the most recently available information. The fund's current manager is a team of investment professionals.

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 3.75%, 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 4.91%, 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. Over the past three years, USHYX's standard deviation comes in at 4.47%, compared to the category average of -29.29%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 5.57% compared to the category average of -24.71%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Bond Duration

Modified duration is a measure of a specific bond's interest rate sensitivity, and is an excellent way to judge how fixed income securities will respond to a shifting rate environment.

For investors who think interest rates will rise, this is an important factor to consider. USHYX has a modified duration of 3.6, which suggests that the fund will decline 3.6% for every hundred-basis-point increase in interest rates.

Income

Income is often a big reason for purchasing a fixed income security, so it is important to consider the fund's average coupon. This metric takes a look at the average payout by the fund in a given year. For example, this fund's average coupon of 6.44% means that a $10,000 investment should result in a yearly payout of $644.

If you are looking for a strong level of current income, a higher coupon is a good choice, though it could pose a reinvestment risk; these risks can occur if rates are lower in the future when compared to the initial purchase date of the bond.

Since income is just one part of the bond picture, investors need to consider risk relative to broad benchmarks. This fund has a beta of 0.21, meaning that it is less volatile than a broad market index of fixed income securities. Taking this into account, USHYX has a positive alpha of 2.56, which measures performance on a risk-adjusted basis.

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, USHYX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.85% compared to the category average of 0.27%. So, USHYX is actually more expensive than its peers from a cost perspective.

This fund requires a minimum initial investment of $3,000, and each subsequent investment should be at least $50.

Bottom Line

Overall, USAA High Income ( USHYX ) has a low Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively similar performance, worse downside risk, and higher fees, USAA High Income ( USHYX ) looks like a somewhat weak choice for investors right now.

For additional information on this product, or to compare it to other mutual funds in the High Yield - Bonds, make sure to go to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds for additional information. If you want to check out our stock reports as well, make sure to go to Zacks.com to see all of the great tools we have to offer, including our time-tested Zacks Rank.


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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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