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Is THOPX a Strong Bond Fund Right Now?

Zacks Equity Research
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Investment Grade Bond - Short fund seekers should not consider taking a look at Thompson Bond Fund (THOPX) at this time. THOPX bears a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 4 (Sell), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

THOPX is classified in the Investment Grade Bond - Short segment by Zacks, an area full of investment potential. By investing in bonds that mature in less than two years, Investment Grade Bond - Short funds are focused on the short end of the curve. Fixed income instruments at this maturity level tend to have low duration risk, but they also pay out small yields compared to their longer-dated peers. Furthermore, these funds'focus on investment grade make them safer, but yields will be lower than in the junk bond category.

History of Fund/Manager

Thompson is based in Madison, WI, and is the manager of THOPX. Thompson Bond Fund debuted in February of 1992. Since then, THOPX has accumulated assets of about $3.66 billion, according to the most recently available information. The fund is currently managed by a team of investment professionals.

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 2.85%, and is in the top 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 7.15%, 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 0.56%, the standard deviation of THOPX over the past three years is 2.77%. The standard deviation of the fund over the past 5 years is 3.16% compared to the category average of -2.66%. 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, so when judging how fixed income securities will respond in a shifting rate environment, it is an excellent figure to look at.

For those that believe interest rates will rise, this is an important factor to consider. THOPX has a modified duration of 1.37, which suggests that the fund will decline 1.37% for every hundred-basis-point increase in interest rates.

Income

Since income is, of course, a big reason for purchasing a fixed income security, it is always 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 4.66% means that a $10,000 investment should result in a yearly payout of $466.

For those seeking a strong level of current income, a higher coupon is typically good news. However, it could pose 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 0.33, meaning that it is less volatile than a broad market index of fixed income securities. Taking this into account, THOPX has a positive alpha of 1.86, which measures performance on a risk-adjusted basis.

Ratings

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, THOPX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.71% compared to the category average of 0.69%. Looking at the fund from a cost perspective, THOPX is actually more expensive than its peers.

Investors need to be aware that with this product, the minimum initial investment is $250; each subsequent investment needs to be at least $50.

Bottom Line

Overall, Thompson Bond Fund ( THOPX ) has a low Zacks Mutual Fund rank, strong performance, worse downside risk, and higher fees compared to its peers.

Want even more information about THOPX? 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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