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Is FTBFX a Strong Bond Fund Right Now?

Zacks Equity Research

Looking for a Diversified Bonds fund? You may want to consider Fidelity Total Bond (FTBFX) as a possible option. FTBFX bears a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 3 (Hold), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

The world of Diversified Bonds funds is an area filled with options, such as FTBFX. Investors looking for exposure to a variety of fixed income types that stretch across issuers, maturities, and credit levels will find a good fit with Diversified Bonds funds. Typically, these funds have a solid amount of exposure to government debt, as well as modest holdings in the corporate bond market.

History of Fund/Manager

FTBFX finds itself in the Fidelity family, based out of Boston, MA. Fidelity Total Bond made its debut in October of 2002, and since then, FTBFX has accumulated about $11.87 billion in assets, per the most up-to-date date available. A team of investment professionals is the fund's current manager.

Performance

Investors naturally seek funds with strong performance. This fund carries a 5-year annualized total return of 2.92%, 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 3.48%, 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, FTBFX's standard deviation comes in at 2.91%, compared to the category average of -3.34%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 2.79% compared to the category average of -9.16%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Bond Duration

Modified duration is a measure of a given bond's interest rate sensitivity, and is a metric that's a good way to judge how fixed income securities will respond in a shifting rate environment.

If you believe interest rates will rise, this is an important factor to look at. FTBFX has a modified duration of 5.6, which suggests that the fund will decline 5.6% for every hundred-basis-point increase in interest rates.

Income

It is important to consider the fund's average coupon because income is often a big reason for purchasing a fixed income security. Average coupon is a look at the average payout by the fund in a given year. For example, this fund's average coupon of 3.51% means that a $10,000 investment should result in a yearly payout of $351.

While a higher coupon is good for when you want a strong level of current income, it could present a reinvestment risk if rates are lower in the future when compared to the initial purchase date of the bond.

Income is only one part of the bond picture, investors also need to consider risk relative to broad benchmarks. This fund has a beta of 0.89, meaning that it is less volatile than a broad market index of fixed income securities. Taking this into account, FTBFX has a positive alpha of 0.65, which measures performance on a risk-adjusted basis.

Ratings

Investors should also consider a bond's rating, which is a grade ( 'AAA' to 'D' ) given to a bond that indicates its credit quality. With this letter scale in mind, FTBFX has 61.57% in high quality bonds rated at least 'AA' or higher, while 26.47% are of medium quality, with ratings of 'A' to 'BBB'. The fund has an average quality of AA, and focuses on high quality securities.

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, FTBFX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.45% compared to the category average of 0.73%. From a cost perspective, FTBFX is actually cheaper than its peers.

While the minimum initial investment for the product is $0, investors should also note that there is no minimum for each subsequent investment.

Bottom Line

Overall, Fidelity Total Bond ( FTBFX ) has a neutral Zacks Mutual Fund rank, strong performance, worse downside risk, and lower fees compared to its peers.

Want even more information about FTBFX? Then go over to Zacks.com and check out our mutual fund comparison tool, and all of the other great features that we have to help you with your mutual fund analysis for additional information. Want to learn even more? We have a full suite of tools on stocks that you can use to find the best choices for your portfolio too, no matter what kind of investor you are.


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