These days, passive and index investing is all the rage. And there’s a good reason for that, many active managers struggle to beat their benchmarks and produce market-beating returns. So, why bother then and pay the additional costs? But the truth is, there are places that active management can pay off. One such example could be among tech stocks.
The technology sector continues to be a game of guessing and selecting the next big time. That often means the leaders of tomorrow are the mid- and small-cap tech stocks of today. Popular tech stocks indexes and exchanged-traded funds like the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSE:XLK) are often top-heavy with the largest tech stocks around. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, an active manager can find the best and most promising smaller stocks outside of the benchmark. Thereby, leading to higher returns.
And the proof is in the pudding when you look deeper into key tech ETFs to buy.
There are several tech ETFs and mutual funds that have managed to crush their benchmarks and the broader technology indexes for years. For investors looking for higher returns in the tech sector, the following three funds are a great bet.
T.Rowe Price Science and Technology Fund (PRSCX)
Earning an average of 20% per year over the last ten years sounds too good to be true. But that’s exactly what the T. Rowe Price Science and Technology Fund (MUTF:PRSCX) has managed to do. PRSCX has managed to crush the S&P 500 by nearly 4% per year over that time. It has beaten the XLK as well. The secret is in the stock selection.
Manager Ken Allen looks for tech stocks that have the potential for real earnings and revenue growth as well as those that are leading/growing their market share. This serves as an important hedge. Those companies, especially small tech stocks, that fall short of analyst expectations are often treated harshly by investors. But those that actually have the ability to keep churning out revenue and profit growth tend to keep on winning. As a result, PRSCX has been able to keep its returns consistent and high.
As for those stocks themselves, the fund is able to not only bet here at home but overseas as well. Top holdings for the fund include U.S.-based Booking Holdings (NASDAQ:BKNG) and the Netherland’s ASML Holdings (NASDAQ:ASML). The idea is not to find growth stories, but actual growth stocks. The fund is concentrated as well — with $5.5 billion in assets spread over just 43 different names. Allen is willing to trade them too. Turnover for the fund is a high 88%. So, this is not one to keep in a taxable account.
Expenses for PRSCX clock in at 0.79% or $79 per $10,000 invested. That’s a little high when compared to indexing. However, given the mega-sized excess returns for the fund, that expense ratio is a small price to pay. The minimum investment is $2,500.
Fidelity Select Software and IT Services Portfolio (FSCSX)
One of the biggest trends in all of technology happens to be cloud computing. Being able to access software and apps on any device through the internet has completely changed how both consumers and enterprise customers function. And there’s plenty of growth ahead as more firms take to the cloud. Which is why the Fidelity Select Software and IT Services Portfolio (MUTF:FSCSX) could be a great active mutual fund to buy.
As the name implies, FSCSX hones in on those stocks that provide software and services related to networking and data warehousing. These days, much of the fund’s portfolio reads like a who’s who of the top cloud computing players. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Salesforce (NASDAQ:CRM) and Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) are just some examples of top holdings. And it turns out, this is a great place to be.
As cloud computing has grown, so has FSCSX. Over the last ten years, the mutual fund has managed to produce a near-22% annual return. That handily beats the S&P 500 and its benchmark — the MSCI U.S. IM Software & Services 25/50 Index. That return has allowed the fund to score a coveted five-star rating from Morningstar.
Expenses for the fund run at 0.72%. But perhaps the best part is that thanks to recent changes at Fidelity, FSCSX’s minimum has been lowered to $0, with additional investments at $0 as well. This can allow even the smallest investors to get better than benchmark returns in the tech sector.
Red Oak Technology Select (ROGSX)
Active management wins when it is highly selected and concentrated. That’s just what the Red Oak Technology Select (MUTF:ROGSX) does. Jim Oelschlager and his team at Oak Associates first look for the most attractive sub sectors of technology. Then they look for great long-term winners among these tech sectors by placing plenty of weight on the durability of the business and the company’s valuation. Individual tech stocks competitive advantages and sustainability are also key when building their portfolio. Oelschlager and his team specifically don’t look for the hot stories or fads. You won’t find Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) here.
The result is very few bets that are held for a long time. Currently, ROGSX only holds just 35 different tech stocks. Turnover for the fund is just 9%. This focus on durability, moat, and holding has paid off over the long haul.
In terms of returns, ROGSX has managed to outperform its benchmark by about a percentage point over the last decade. This highlights the more long-term focus of the managers. In the shorter-term, ROGSX’s returns have been a bit bumpy. So, this is definitely one that you’ll want to buy and forget about for a while. Expenses for the mutual fund come in at 1.01%.
All in all, for those investors looking for long-term — potentially decades-long — exposure to tech stocks, ROGSX could be a great mutual fund to buy.
As of this writing, Aaron Levitt did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.