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FIN 420 Mutual Fund Due Diligence Assignment

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Statement of Personal Benefit: The purpose of this assignment is to introduce you to a free website that is widely used to research mutual funds, ETFs, and sometimes individual stocks. You can use this free website in your personal life, and Morningstar has a professional version (called Advisor Workstation) that is far more robust. I have used both the free site and Advisor Workstation for professional and personal applications for 20+ years. This assignment is placed right here in class to help content from the lessons come to life, to teach you some new details, and to provide you with a free tool that can be used in the trading simulations (i.e., Stock Trak). The estimated time commitment is 3-4 hours. Let the scavenger hunt begin: Step 1: Navigate to www.morningstar.com. At some point in the process, you will be asked to sign up for an account. You DO NOT need paid access to complete this assignment. However, you will need to sign up for the free access account. Step 2: In the center of the screen you will see the logo for "Morningstar" in red. Just below this image, select the word "Research" and choose the "Mutual Fund" option. Just to the right of the center, you will see a column menu that starts with a "Ratings & Picks" category. Scroll down that column menu until you find the "Tools" section. Choose the "Basic Fund Screener" option. Step 3: Now, you will use the basic fund screener to pick a fund of your choosing that meets the criteria listed below. Under the "Cost and Purchase" section, select "No-load funds only" Under the "Ratings & Risk" section, select the five-star option. Select additional criteria as per your ideas. Then, select the "Show/Score Results" tab to reveal all funds that meet your criteria. You can revise the search criteria using the "Change Criteria Tab". You can sort by any column by clicking on the column label. Click on the link for the fund to see its detailed information. If you click on a link, you may need to work back through the screener again to find a different fund if needed. Step 4: You need to select one fund that will be the subject of your research. This fund must be an actively managed equity fund. The fund that you select for this project must meet the following additional criteria. The fund must be a five-star fund. The fund that you select CANNOT be a bond (i.e., fixed income) fund. The fund that you select CANNOT be an index fund. You can check the active share for any fund on the Portfolio Tab when you are looking at an actual fund. An active fund will have weights in the "Exposure" section that are different than their benchmark. If the weights are basically the same, then avoid the fund for this project. The fund that you select CANNOT be a target dated fund (i.e., the fund has a date in the name like 2050). The fund that you select CANNOT be a hedge fund (i.e., nothing with 130/30 or 150/50 in the name). The fund that you select CANNOT be a fund-of-funds. Take a look at the bottom of the Portfolio Tab for a fund that interests you. Look under "Holdings". If there are a series of stocks listed then you are fine. If there are a series of other fund names, then you likely selected a fund-of-funds and you need to pick a different fund. Once you select a fund, note that the fund's name will appear in boldface on Morningstar's website. Next to the fund's name will be a ticker symbol, which is a unique series of letters that identifies a fund for trading purposes. The ticker symbol ends with the letter "X" for all mutual funds. Record this ticker symbol so that you can come back to this fund easily using the search bar at the top of the screen if that is ever needed. Step 5: Now that you have selected a fund to analyze. You need to begin the scavenger hunt on Morningstar's website. In your paper, there should be a well-organized discussion under subheadings for each bulleted item listed below. At the bottom of these instructions is a video tour of Morningstar's website that I created. They sometimes update their website, so hopefully the video below matches the website during the semester when you view it. Performance: Morningstar presents lots of information. Your goal is to consider the fund's stand-alone performance, the performance relative to the category (its peers), and the performance relative to its benchmark. What do you think these three vantage points are telling you about your chosen fund? (HINT: check the top of the “Performance” page.) Build a table below your discussion of this topic with your fund and your comparison points in the rows (horizontally) and the time periods of consideration in the columns (vertically). Your discussion should reference this table. Top Holdings Risk: Are there any apparent concentration risks in the top holdings? (HINT: Search the textbook for "concentration risk" if you missed that discussion. Also, check the "Risk will always be with us" page in M1L1) Sector Weightings: Look at the "Exposures" section on the portfolio tab. You want to note where your fund's managers are placing their active bets. Where is the active share? Build a table below your discussion for this subheading with your fund's weight in each sector, the benchmark's weight, and a column for active share. For this purpose, active share can be either a positive or negative number. DO NOT just use the active share number reported by Morningstar in the Top Holdings section. You need to calculate this yourself in the requested table. (HINT: Check the "Asset allocation" page in M1L1) Style Map consistency: (HINT: Look on the "Portfolio" page) What can you tell about your fund's portfolio? Is there any drift? Risk & Return vs. the category: (HINT: Look at the top left of the “Risk” page). Morningstar gives you an easy button... Fund Management: (HINT: Look on the "People" page). What can you discern from considering the fund manager's tenure, the number of fund managers, the educational backgrounds of the managers, and any other funds that the managers might oversee? Click each manager's name for more details on the person. This should be a robust discussion, not a passing comment. The manager(s) is (are) really important to the success of the fund. Tax Scenario: (HINT: look on the "Price" tab). Make sure that you consider Turnover (found on the "Quote" page, not the "Price" page), PCGE, and the tax cost ratio. Evaluate your specific numbers. Click the information bubble next to "Taxes" if you need additional information on a metric. Expenses: (HINT: look on the "Price" tab). What does the expense picture look like? Make sure that you discuss every item presented in class, and be very specific. Capture Ratio: (HINT: Look at the top left of the “Risk” page). What trend do you see in upside capture, downside capture, and the capture ratio (?? ???? ?????.) for your fund? How does this compare with the industry? Focus on the three-year capture data, and be specific in your comments. Statement of Personal Learning: In this section, you need to clearly and professionally discuss what you learned from this project. Focus on elements that will help you in the trading simulations and in life outside of this class. Deliverable: - You will turn in a 1-2 page (minimum length requirement), single-spaced paper. - Use Times New Roman, 12-point font with 1-inch margins.

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