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Is Virtus KAR Small Cap Sustain Growth I (PXSGX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

Zacks Equity Research

On the lookout for a Small Cap Growth fund? Starting with Virtus KAR Small Cap Sustain Growth I (PXSGX) is one possibility. PXSGX holds a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 2 (Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

PXSGX is one of many different Small Cap Growth funds to choose from. Small Cap Growth mutual funds build portfolios around stocks with markets caps under $2 billion and large growth opportunities. Additionally, these portfolios typically highlight smaller companies in promising markets and industries.

History of Fund/Manager

Virtus Funds is based in Hartford, CT, and is the manager of PXSGX. Virtus KAR Small Cap Sustain Growth I made its debut in June of 2006, and since then, PXSGX has accumulated about $4.42 billion in assets, per the most up-to-date date available. Todd Beiley is the fund's current manager and has held that role since April of 2008.

Performance

Of course, investors look for strong performance in funds. PXSGX has a 5-year annualized total return of 20.42% 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 24.42%, 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 11.82%, the standard deviation of PXSGX over the past three years is 14.67%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 14.49% compared to the category average of 12.03%. 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. PXSGX lost 49.31% in the most recent bear market and outperformed its peer group by 4%. This means that the fund could possibly be a better choice than its peers during a down market environment.

Nevertheless, investors should also note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 0.91, which means it is hypothetically less 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. The fund has produced a positive alpha over the past 5 years of 11.5, which shows that managers in this portfolio are skilled in picking securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Holdings

Examining the equity holdings of a mutual fund is also a valuable exercise. This can show us how the manager is applying their stated methodology, as well as if there are any inherent biases in their approach. For this particular fund, the focus is largely on equities that are traded in the United States.

As of the last filing date, the mutual fund has 80.25% of its assets in stocks, which have an average market capitalization of $8.32 billion. The fund has the heaviest exposure to the following market sectors:

  1. Technology
  2. Retail Trade

Turnover is 16%, which means, on average, the fund makes fewer trades than comparable funds.

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, PXSGX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.11% compared to the category average of 1.23%. Looking at the fund from a cost perspective, PXSGX is actually cheaper than its peers.

Investors need to be aware that with this product, the minimum initial investment is $100,000; each subsequent investment has no minimum amount.

Bottom Line

Overall, Virtus KAR Small Cap Sustain Growth I ( PXSGX ) has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, this fund looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

Don't stop here for your research on Small Cap Growth funds. We also have plenty more on our site in order to help you find the best possible fund for your portfolio. Make sure to check out www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds for more information about the world of funds, and feel free to compare PXSGX to its peers as well 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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