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Mutual Funds Spotlight – Appleseed Fund

Socially responsible investing funds can be profitable


socially responsible investing fundsThe Appleseed Fund Investment Class (MUTF: APPLX) is a mid-cap focused mutual fund that goes about investing in a socially responsible way — both for your portfolio and for the world. Socially responsible investing funds aren’t very common, and the Appleseed fund is one of the biggies.

The Appleseed fund is for patient investors who are planning for their retirement with more than healthy profits in mind.  This fund invests primarily in mid-sized companies whose stock is undervalued, likely because the companies try to balance their profit goals with the good of the environment and society. The fund may appeal to investors want to make money but not at the expense of the environment or society in general. Socially responsible investing funds can be good for the conscience, but also good for the pocketbook.

Here are the specifics for the Appleseed Fund Investment Class for today’s mutual fund spotlight:

Investing Strategy: The Appleseed Fund’s managers are betting that socially responsible companies present less business risk for investors, but create more opportunities to contribute to a sustainable society.  66% of the fund’s assets are in common stocks, 18% is in cash and the remaining is allocated to commodities,such as gold. Don’t expect to find tobacco companies, alcohol, gambling or weapons industries among the fund’s holdings.

Expense Ratio: With a 1.3% expense ratio the Appleseed Fund Investment Class is expensive, compared to other mid-cap value funds. But it is one of the few funds in its class with a Morningstar Rating of 5 stars.

Top 5 Holdings: The top stocks in the Appleseed Fund Investment Class are U.S. treasury mutual fund Federated Government Obligations (MUTF: GOIXX) at 16.30%, pharmaceutical and health equipment giants,  Novartis AG ADR (NYSE: NVS) at 7.10%   and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) at 6.42% , gold index  SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE: GLD) at 5.24%,  and  nuts processor, John B. Sanfilippo & Son (NASDAQ: JBSS) at 4.86%.

Returns: The one-year return of the fund is weak at 7.3% when compared to the 19.5%, return for the broader market over the same period. But its five-year return of 30.5% is outstanding compared to the S&P 500’s 7.6% loss and the near 1% loss for the Dow Jones Industrial Average during the period.

Other Fund Statistics

  • Total Assets: $182 million (as of 5/18/11)
  • Minimum Investment: $2,500
  • Fund manager: Adam Strauss, Bill Pekin, Joshua Strauss, Rick Singer, Ronald Strauss
  • Manager’s Tenure: Since December 2006 when the fund originated

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