How vulnerable is your mutual fund to the ongoing mortgage meltdown? In this series, BloggingStocks contributor Lita Epstein, author of more than 20 books including Trading for Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Improving Your Credit Score, digs into mutual funds' holdings looking for securities with exposure to the currently shaky credit markets.
After reviewing funds from Bank of America, JPMorgan, and Fidelity, companies that have been mentioned in some of the SIV bailout stories, I looked to see if other bond mutual funds also had significant exposure to the credit markets tied to this mortgage and asset-backed securities mess. While I can't guarantee that I located all the ones with significant exposure to this mess, here are some key players:
Eaton Vance Low Duration A has the riskiest position by far of all the ones I look at this morning. As of 04/30/07, this fund held 79.93% of its assets in mortgage pass-through securities. More than 75% of its holdings are in bonds rated BB and B. Its yield of 5.5% certainly doesn't justify this risk. If you are holding this fund, you could find a safer bet with similar yields.
As of 9/30/2007, Credit Suisse Short Duration A held 15.43% of its assets in mortgage pass-through securities, 13.86% in collateralized mortgage obligations, and 12.82% in asset-back securities. That's slightly more than 40% of its portfolio in the type of credit markets now showing signs of trouble.
As of 8/31/07, Hartford Short Duration A held 26.72% of its assets in asset-backed securities and 17.83% in collateralized mortgage obligations. That's 44.6% of its portfolio in the risky credit markets. In fact, half of its holdings are in bonds rated below AA. This fund's yield is only 4.38%, which definitely is not worth the higher risk.
As of 6/20/3007, Principal Investors Ultra Short Bond A held 40.05% of its assets in collateralized mortgage obligations, 12.54% in mortgage pass-through securities and 17.14% in asset-backed securities. That's almost 70% of its assets in the types of bonds now part of the credit mess. Almost 40% of those holdings are in bonds rated lower than AA. Yet its yield is just 5.04%. For that yield, you definitely don't need to take that much risk.
As of 8/15/07, Schwab YieldPlus Select held 37.15% of its assets in collateralized mortgage obligations and 10.69% in asset-backed securities. Slightly more than half of its assets are in bonds rated below AA. Its yield is 5.56% and it does have a four-star Morningstar rating. If you do want exposure to these types of credit markets, you should take a closer look at this fund. I'm not recommending it, but for investors who want the exposure to this marketplace, this fund offers the best-managed choice.
Lita Epstein is the author of more than 20 books including the Pocket Idiot's Guide to Mutual Fund Investing.