The 5 Best Mutual Funds to Buy in 2020

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The popularity these days seems to rest in exchange-traded funds, which passively track the market through investments that follow indexes. The truth is, mutual funds have struggled to keep up with the market lately. Active management means you have to be extremely good at what you do.

As Warren Buffett says, “Most people aren’t cut out psychologically for investing.” While I wholeheartedly believe that active investors can still beat the market, it’s not common. If you want to find mutual funds worth your money, you have to dig deep. There are a few names I like for the long-term.

1. Exposure to high-growth healthcare and biotech

The Vanguard Health Care Fund Investor Shares (NASDAQMUTFUND: VGHCX) mutual fund invests in the healthcare industry, with a heavy focus on biotechnology and healthcare equipment. It is one of the few mutual funds that can claim an average total annual return that’s higher than the S&P 500. Since inception, the fund has averaged 16.18% per year. On a shorter timeline, things aren’t quite as competitive. Through the last five years, the fund averaged 8.8% per year versus 11.70% from the S&P. Overall, I like the fund because I think the healthcare sector is a good long-term play. The aging population will only require more medical care, and the sector as a whole stands to benefit.

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Some investors may worry about the ramifications that a Democratic White House and Congress could have on the structure of our healthcare system, but I think those fears are overblown. Even with Congress and the White House, Republicans failed to remove Obamacare, or institute any meaningful changes to our healthcare system. I don’t think the left will have much more luck. I view healthcare as more recession-proof than other industries and therefore think this mutual fund is a great play.

2. Software, IT, and tech fund

I hate it with a passion, but IT and software are here to stay. The Fidelity Select Software & IT Services Portfolio (NASDAQMUTFUND: FSCSX) fund has done incredibly well in outperforming the market since the fund’s inception. By investing in names like Microsoft, Visa, Adobe, and Salesforce.com, the fund has had a 38.87% run over a one-year period versus the S&P 500’s 31.49% spurt. Since its inception in 1985, the fund has averaged 16.24% per year, outpacing the S&P’s 10.79%. In poor recent years for the market, such as 2015, this mutual fund managed 10.31% growth. Even with tax-adjusted returns, the fund averaged 23.42% over a three-year period. Morningstar gives the mutual fund a five-star rating, with below-average risk for the category.

3. Dividend-focused fund for income investors

The T. Rowe Price Equity Income Fund (NASDAQMUTFUND: PRFDX) aims to invest in undervalued equities with consistent dividend yields. Since inception, the fund has kept relative pace with the S&P 500. Over the shorter term, it has lagged the market somewhat as large growth ruled the day. I include the name as a play on the potential shift back to value as investors constantly attempt to calculate the likelihood of a pullback or recession on the horizon. Holdings are 23.91% invested in financials, with names like Wells Fargo, and J.P. Morgan Chase, as well as Verizon and Boeing.

This year has been a slow one. But the emphasis on value and dividends is something that one should always have in one’s portfolio.

4. Bonds for safety and stability

The Vanguard Balanced Index Fund Admiral Shares (NASDAQMUTFUND: VBIAX) carries 40% of its holdings in bonds, a good hedge against fears of an eventual recession that could shift assets somewhat away from equities. Bonds may be boring, and certainly do reduce the potential of returns. However, this adds an element of safety to the list of equity-based funds I’ve put forth above. Market watchers have noticed the recent outflows from equity funds with more allocation moving into bonds and cash. The fund’s bond allocation is 45.87% in the government sector, 25.33% in the corporate sector, and 23.79% in securitized assets.

While offering exposure to bonds, Vanguard Balanced Index Fund still holds popular names like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Berkshire Hathaway.

5. A fund with low expenses and low prices

Focused on mid-cap value, the Fidelity Low-Priced Stock Fund (NASDAQMUTFUND: FLPSX) carries an expense ratio of 0.52, and invests in low-price stocks. This includes small and medium-sized businesses. The fund’s top 10 holdings include UnitedHealth Group, Ross Stores, Seagate Technology, Best Buy, Autozone, and Metlife. Morningstar gives the fund a five-star rating, with low risk. Since inception in 1989, the fund has averaged an annual return of 13.35%. More recently, it has lagged the market a bit, as more large-cap growth names dominate the market. Nonetheless, the low-risk nature of the fund, and its historical track record of outperforming, make it worth a look.

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. David Butler has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Apple, Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), Microsoft, Salesforce.com, and Visa. The Motley Fool recommends Adobe Systems, UnitedHealth Group, and Verizon Communications and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), short January 2021 $200 puts on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft, short January 2020 $220 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and short January 2021 $115 calls on Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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