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Is Columbia Acorn Fund Z (ACRNX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

On the lookout for a Mid Cap Growth fund? Starting with Columbia Acorn Fund Z (ACRNX) should not be a possibility at this time. ACRNX has a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 4 (Sell), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

Zacks categorizes ACRNX as Mid Cap Growth, a segment packed with options. Mid Cap Growth mutual funds aim to target companies with a market capitalization between $2 billion and $10 billion that are also expected to exhibit more extensive growth opportunities for investors than their peers. A firm is typically considered to be a growth stock if it consistently posts impressive sales and/or earnings growth.

History of Fund/Manager

Columbia is responsible for ACRNX, and the company is based out of Boston, MA. Columbia Acorn Fund Z debuted in June of 1970. Since then, ACRNX has accumulated assets of about $2.82 billion, according to the most recently available information. Matthew A. Litfin is the fund's current manager and has held that role since January of 2016.

Performance

Investors naturally seek funds with strong performance. ACRNX has a 5-year annualized total return of 5.41% and it sits in the middle third among its category peers. Investors who prefer analyzing shorter time frames should look at its 3-year annualized total return of 9.45%, 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. The standard deviation of ACRNX over the past three years is 15.51% compared to the category average of 9.86%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 14.35% compared to the category average of 9.72%. 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. ACRNX lost 51.46% in the most recent bear market and outperformed its peer group by 0.2%. This could mean that the fund is a better choice than comparable funds during a bear market.

Nevertheless, investors should also note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 1.14, which means it is hypothetically more volatile than the market at large. Alpha is an additional metric to take into consideration, since it represents a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which in this case, is the S&P 500. ACRNX's 5-year performance has produced a negative alpha of -3.55, which means managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick 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.

Right now, 97.77% of this mutual fund's holdings are stocks, with an average market capitalization of $7.07 billion. The fund has the heaviest exposure to the following market sectors:

  1. Technology
  2. Services
  3. Industrial Cyclical
  4. Health

Turnover is 54%, which means, on average, the fund makes fewer trades than its comparable peers.

Expenses

Costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing, and particularly as competition heats up in this market. And all things being equal, a lower cost product will outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, so taking a closer look at these metrics is key for investors. In terms of fees, ACRNX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.83% compared to the category average of 1.18%. From a cost perspective, ACRNX is actually cheaper than its peers.

Investors should also note that the minimum initial investment for the product is $0 and that each subsequent investment has no minimum amount.

Bottom Line

Overall, Columbia Acorn Fund Z ( ACRNX ) has a low Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively similar performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, Columbia Acorn Fund Z ( ACRNX ) looks like a somewhat weak choice for investors right now.

Your research on the Mid Cap Growth segment doesn't have to stop here. You can check out all the great mutual fund tools we have to offer by going to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds to see the additional features we offer as well for additional information. For analysis of the rest of your portfolio, make sure to visit Zacks.com for our full suite of tools which will help you investigate all of your stocks and funds in one place.


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