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

Zacks Equity Research
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If investors are looking at the Sector - Tech fund category, T. Rowe Price Science & Technology Fund PRSCX could be a potential option. PRSCX carries a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 2 (Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

The world of Sector - Tech funds is an area filled with options, and PRSCX is one of them. Sector - Tech mutual funds allow investors to own a stake in a notoriously volatile sector with a much more diversified approach. Tech companies can be in any number of industries such as semiconductors, software, internet, networking just to name a few.

History of Fund/Manager

PRSCX finds itself in the T. Rowe Price family, based out of Baltimore, MD. The T. Rowe Price Science & Technology Fund made its debut in September of 1987 and PRSCX has managed to accumulate roughly $4.56 billion in assets, as of the most recently available information. Kennard W. Allen is the fund's current manager and has held that role since January of 2009.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. This fund in particular has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 20.28%, and is in the top third among its category peers. Investors who prefer analyzing shorter time frames should look at its 3-year annualized total return of 21.42%, 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 12.02%, the standard deviation of PRSCX over the past three years is 14.26%. The fund's standard deviation over the past 5 years is 13.13% compared to the category average of 11.57%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

It's always important to be aware of the downsides to any future investment, so one should not discount the risks that come with this segment. In PRSCX's case, the fund lost 51.66% in the most recent bear market and underperformed its peer group by 1.65%. This makes the fund a possibly worse choice than its peers during a sliding market environment.

Even still, the fund has a 5-year beta of 1.1, so investors should note that it is hypothetically more volatile than the market at large. 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. Over the past 5 years, the fund has a positive alpha of 5.49. 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, PRSCX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.80% compared to the category average of 1.35%. So, PRSCX is actually cheaper than its peers from a cost perspective.

Investors should also note that the minimum initial investment for the product is $2,500 and that each subsequent investment needs to be at $100.

Bottom Line

Overall, T. Rowe Price Science & Technology Fund 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 looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

Want even more information about PRSCX? 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. If you are more of a stock investor, make sure to also check out our Zacks Rank, and our full suite of tools we have available for novice and professional investors alike.


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