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Is Franklin Natural Resources A (FRNRX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

Zacks Equity Research

Having trouble finding a Sector - Energy fund? Well, Franklin Natural Resources A (FRNRX) would not be a good potential starting point right now. FRNRX holds a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 4 (Sell), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

Zacks categorizes FRNRX as Sector - Energy, a segment packed with options. Sector - Energy mutual funds encompass a wide range of vastly changing and vitally important industries throughout this massive global sector. Oil and gas comprise the bulk of the exposure here, and carbon-based fuels are going to be the majority of assets in these funds. However, clean energy is starting to pick up steam.

History of Fund/Manager

FRNRX is a part of the Franklin Templeton family of funds, a company based out of San Mateo, CA. The Franklin Natural Resources A made its debut in June of 1995 and FRNRX has managed to accumulate roughly $187.94 million in assets, as of the most recently available information. The fund is currently managed by a team of investment professionals.

Performance

Investors naturally seek funds with strong performance. This fund in particular has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of -6.66%, and it sits in the middle 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 -8.7%, 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, FRNRX's standard deviation comes in at 21.23%, compared to the category average of 12.29%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 23.29% compared to the category average of 12.73%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors should always remember the downsides to a potential investment, and this segment carries some risks one should be aware of. FRNRX lost 54.91% in the most recent bear market and outperformed its peer group by 1%. These results could imply that the fund is a better choice than its peers during a sliding market environment.

Even still, the fund has a 5-year beta of 1.25, so investors should note that it is hypothetically more volatile than the market at large. 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. Over the past 5 years, the fund has a negative alpha of -16.48. This means that managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Expenses

Costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing, and particularly as competition heats up in this market. And all things being equal, a lower cost product will outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, so taking a closer look at these metrics is key for investors. In terms of fees, FRNRX is a load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.03% compared to the category average of 1.62%. From a cost perspective, FRNRX is actually cheaper than its peers.

While the minimum initial investment for the product is $1,000, investors should also note that there is no minimum for each subsequent investment.

Bottom Line

Overall, Franklin Natural Resources A ( FRNRX ) has a low Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively similar performance, worse downside risk, and lower fees, Franklin Natural Resources A ( FRNRX ) looks like a somewhat weak choice for investors right now.

Your research on the Sector - Energy 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. And don't forget, Zacks has all of your needs covered on the equity side too! Make sure to check out Zacks.com for more information on our screening capabilities, Rank, and all our articles as well.


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