Best Mutual Funds 2015: Honour Roll

Our past picks have outperformed

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From the February/March 2015 issue of the magazine.

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There are some interesting Honour Roll funds in the Canadian Equity Funds category this year. One of them, the Fidelity Canadian Large Cap fund, is a consistent performer that has appeared among my picks more than once. Recently, the fund has benefited from an asset allocation that emphasizes strong-performing sectors, such as industrials. It’s not a great dividend fund though—its net dividend income after expenses is limited, so the cash distributions to investors mostly consist of capital gains.

Next up is the RBC Canadian Equity Income fund, a typical large cap fund that tracks the S&P/TSX 60 fairly closely. That said, you will find some value added from active portfolio management on a risk-adjusted basis. The fund, which has outperformed its peers in each of the past five years, includes a significant concentration of high-yield securities in the financial and natural resources sectors. There was a big increase in dividend income distribution in 2014, implying a net dividend yield of more than 3% for the “D” series fund.

Speaking of dividend income, if this is what you’re hunting for, I should warn you that the options have become limited. On average, the dividend yield of a diversified equity portfolio ranges from 2.5% to 3%. As the average management expense fee (or MER) you pay for a fund in this category is 2.3%, there isn’t much left over. That’s why the dividend distributions from equity funds are so paltry. If you are after some reliable cash distributions, I’d go for income-focused funds with lower MERs, such as the Beutel Goodman Canadian Dividend fund.

Canadian Equity Funds

Benchmark index: S&P/TSX Composite Index TR, Five-year return: 8.26%
Fund Name Fund Name Five-Year Annualized Return Tax Efficiency(1) Current Value of $10,000 Invested Five Years Ago(2) Performance Rating Performance Rating Risk-Adjusted Return (RAR)(3) Consistency Bear Market Performance(4) Risk Rating MER Cost Rating Cost Rating Minimum Investment
Sentry Diversified Income Fund Series X6 Sentry Diversified Income Fund Series X6 17.16% 80% $22,073.86 5 Stars 5 Stars 25.79% 61.67% A 4.5 1.55% 4 Stars 4 Stars 500
Fidelity Canadian Large Cap Fund Series B Fidelity Canadian Large Cap Fund Series B 16.40% 80% $21,363.46 5 Stars 5 Stars 21.58% 61.67% A 4.5 2.31% 4 Stars 4 Stars 500
RBC Canadian Equity Income Fund Series D RBC Canadian Equity Income Fund Series D 16.13% 88% $21,124.10 5 Stars 5 Stars 17.90% 65.00% B 3 1.21% 5 Stars 5 Stars 500
Mawer Canadian Equity Fund Series A Mawer Canadian Equity Fund Series A 14.68% 97% $19,832.69 5 Stars 5 Stars 17.83% 76.67% B 3.5 1.18% 5 Stars 5 Stars 5000
Steadyhand Equity Fund Steadyhand Equity Fund 13.37% 95% $18,725.49 5 Stars 5 Stars 15.72% 70.00% B 3.5 1.42% 4 Stars 4 Stars 10000
Beutel Goodman Canadian Dividend Fund Class D Beutel Goodman Canadian Dividend Fund Class D 13.07% 93% $18,484.76 4 Stars 4 Stars 17.07% 61.67% B 4 1.49% 4 Stars 4 Stars 5000
BMO Monthly High Income Fund II Advisor Series BMO Monthly High Income Fund II Advisor Series 12.99% 79% $18,412.94 4 Stars 4 Stars 17.91% 61.67% A 4.5 2.32% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Mackenzie Canadian All Cap Dividend Fund A6 Mackenzie Canadian All Cap Dividend Fund A6 12.69% 96% $18,168.98 4 Stars 4 Stars 16.72% 56.67% B 4 2.35% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Trimark Canadian Plus Dividend Class Series T6 Trimark Canadian Plus Dividend Class Series T6 12.54% NA $18,054.79 4 Stars 4 Stars 14.82% 61.67% B 3.5 2.38% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Beutel Goodman North American Focused Equ Fd Cl D Beutel Goodman North American Focused Equ Fd Cl D 12.32% 89% $17,879.01 4 Stars 4 Stars 14.29% 63.33% C 3 1.51% 4 Stars 4 Stars 5000
Dynamic Equity Income Fund Series A Dynamic Equity Income Fund Series A 12.07% 79% $17,676.98 4 Stars 4 Stars 18.54% 58.33% A 5 2.13% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
PH&N Canadian Income Fund Series D PH&N Canadian Income Fund Series D 12.00% 95% $17,624.20 4 Stars 4 Stars 13.63% 65.00% C 3 1.19% 5 Stars 5 Stars 500
Standard Life Dividend Income Fund L-Series Standard Life Dividend Income Fund L-Series 11.89% 85% $17,533.91 4 Stars 4 Stars 14.72% 60.00% B 4 1.27% 4 Stars 4 Stars 250000
Fidelity Dividend Plus Fund Series B Fidelity Dividend Plus Fund Series B 11.85% 96% $17,502.59 4 Stars 4 Stars 15.03% 56.67% A 4.5 2.13% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Cambridge Canadian Dividend Fund D6 Cambridge Canadian Dividend Fund D6 11.57% 94% $17,286.92 4 Stars 4 Stars 14.16% 58.33% B 3.5 2.05% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500

Next up are the winners in the U.S. Equity Funds category. For Canadian investors, diversifying into U.S. equities is a must. The American market offers more depth and diversification than our market, which is highly concentrated on banks and commodity-based stocks. As well, investors tend to flock to the safety of the U.S. dollar during periods of market turbulence. Because of that, in bad times Canadian investors who hold U.S. dollar funds have seen their losses somewhat offset by U.S. dollar appreciation.

As the name suggests, the TD U.S. Quantitative Equity fund uses a quantitative methodology for fund selection. Still, I’ve noticed that its performance moves largely in tandem with that of the S&P 500 index. Although the fund has slightly lagged the benchmark on a five-year return basis, there is evidence of moderate value added from active management on a risk-adjusted basis. This fund also offers investors two structural advantages, namely low management expenses and low portfolio turnover.

The Beutel Goodman American Equity fund is another above-average performer, with superior results in each of the past three years. This fund owes its recent results to the top performing technology, consumer staples and health-care sectors. The fund has a slight bias in favour of value versus growth. Here again, management expenses are relatively low and so is portfolio turnover, given the fund’s average holding period of individual securities is more than three years.

U.S. Equity Funds

Benchmark index: S&P 500 TR Index (C$), Five-year return: 17.84%
Fund Name Fund Name Five-Year Annualized Return Tax Efficiency(1) Current Value of $10,000 Invested Five Years Ago(2) Performance Rating Performance Rating Risk-Adjusted Return (RAR)(3) Consistency Bear Market Performance(4) Risk Rating MER Cost Rating Cost Rating Minimum Investment
Beutel Goodman American Equity Fund Class D Beutel Goodman American Equity Fund Class D 16.70% 96% $21,648.54 4 Stars 4 Stars 16.36% 56.67% B 4 1.47% 4 Stars 4 Stars 5000
BMO U.S. Equity Class – Classic6 BMO U.S. Equity Class – Classic6 16.32% 100% $21,291.98 4 Stars 4 Stars 15.65% 61.67% C 3.5 2.27% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Standard Life U.S. Dividend Growth Fund E-Series Standard Life U.S. Dividend Growth Fund E-Series 14.63% NA $19,790.35 3 Stars 3 Stars 16.65% 55.00% A 5 1.98% 4 Stars 4 Stars 100000

Now let’s have a look at some of the winners in the Global Equity Funds category. These funds have been marred by two major weaknesses: continued uncertainty in Europe and the extended under-performance of emerging markets equities. For the time being, there are no signs of a trend reversal. European uncertainty is at a high point with the looming threat of a Greek exit. In the emerging markets space, the BRICS countries have their own debilitating structural weaknesses.

Yet I can see some bright spots on the horizon for the long-term investor. By historical standards, European equities are undervalued compared to U.S. equities, and they offer higher dividend yields. Unless you think the old continent is doomed, or that emerging markets will never come back, now is not a bad time to get some exposure outside the U.S. With a 50% allocation to Europe, Japan and emerging markets, global equity funds provide that option.

In the Global Equity category, the Fiera Capital Global Equity fund is a consistent performer with superior results in each of the past four years. The fund offers a 35% allocation to Europe and there is good value added from active portfolio management. It also has structural advantages in terms of low cost and low portfolio turnover.

Mawer Global Equity is another good choice with more or less similar characteristics in terms of low cost, low portfolio turnover and European exposure.

Global Equity Funds

Benchmark index: Dow Jones Global TR Index (C$), Five-year return: 12.34%
Fund Name Fund Name Five-Year Annualized Return Tax Efficiency(1) Current Value of $10,000 Invested Five Years Ago(2) Performance Rating Performance Rating Risk-Adjusted Return (RAR)(3) Consistency Bear Market Performance(4) Risk Rating MER Cost Rating Cost Rating Minimum Investment
Trimark Global Endeavour Fund Series M6 Trimark Global Endeavour Fund Series M6 16.52% NA $21,475.66 5 Stars 5 Stars 15.22% 65.00% B 3 2.09% 4 Stars 4 Stars 500
Sentry Infrastructure Fund Series X6 Sentry Infrastructure Fund Series X6 15.54% 89 $20,589.37 5 Stars 5 Stars 17.90% 58.33% A 4.5 1.89% 4 Stars 4 Stars 500
Fiera Capital Global Equity Fund Class B Fiera Capital Global Equity Fund Class B 14.27% 100% $19,484.94 4 Stars 4 Stars 14.10% 53.33% C 3 1.90% 4 Stars 4 Stars 5000
Mawer Global Equity Fund Series A Mawer Global Equity Fund Series A 14.23% 99% $19,450.01 4 Stars 4 Stars 14.93% 68.33% C 3 1.36% 5 Stars 5 Stars 5000
Manulife Global Equity Class Advisor Series Manulife Global Equity Class Advisor Series 12.94% 99% $18,377.93 4 Stars 4 Stars 13.09% 66.67% C 3 2.51% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Capital Group Global Equity Fund (Canada) Ser D Capital Group Global Equity Fund (Canada) Ser D 12.87% NA $18,321.05 4 Stars 4 Stars 12.68% 65.00% C 3 1.54% 4 Stars 4 Stars 500
RBC Jantzi Global Equity Fund Series D RBC Jantzi Global Equity Fund Series D 12.77% 98% $18,235.99 4 Stars 4 Stars 12.76% 60.00% C 3 1.28% 5 Stars 5 Stars 500
Trimark Fund Series SC Trimark Fund Series SC 11.89% 98% $17,533.13 4 Stars 4 Stars 14.01% 55.00% B 4 1.72% 4 Stars 4 Stars 500
Trimark Global Fundamental Equity Fund Ser T4 Trimark Global Fundamental Equity Fund Ser T4 11.71% NA $17,399.55 4 Stars 4 Stars 12.45% 55.00% B 3.5 2.33% 4 Stars 4 Stars 500
Epoch Global Shareholder Yield Fund – T Series Epoch Global Shareholder Yield Fund – T Series 11.34% 65% $17,111.78 4 Stars 4 Stars 12.71% 56.67% B 4 2.51% 3 Stars 3 Stars 5000
Trimark Global Dividend Class Series T4 Trimark Global Dividend Class Series T4 11.18% NA $16,984.60 3 Stars 3 Stars 14.67% 55.00% B 4.5 2.51% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
AGF Global Dividend Fund Mutual Fund Series AGF Global Dividend Fund Mutual Fund Series 11.03% 98% $16,874.12 3 Stars 3 Stars 13.20% 55.00% B 4 2.44% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Fidelity Global Dividend Fund Series B Fidelity Global Dividend Fund Series B 11.01% 96% $16,858.93 3 Stars 3 Stars 12.99% 51.67% B 4 2.42% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Compass Growth Portfolio Compass Growth Portfolio 10.93% 99% $16,794.49 3 Stars 3 Stars 12.70% 56.67% C 3.5 2.06% 4 Stars 4 Stars 1000

Next is the Canadian Balanced Funds category, where you’ll find that the Manulife Monthly High Income has achieved consistent, above-average returns. It has the benefit of a fairly diversified portfolio as well as acceptable down market performance. On the other hand, don’t misinterpret the generous cash distribution (which reached 10% in 2013) as investment income. Here again, a large percentage of the cash you receive is made up of capital gains or return of capital.

The Fidelity Monthly Income fund is another excellent performer in the balanced fund category, having trounced its peers in each of the past five years. Faithful to its mandate, the fund allocates a full 40% to fixed-income investments such as bonds, which include some selective investments in American high-yield bonds. This cuts both ways: on the one hand, it gives a boost to net interest income. On the other, high-yield bonds are currently considered expensive and therefore vulnerable during periods of uncertainty, such as the one we saw in the latter part of 2014. In terms of income distributions, you can expect something in the neighbourhood of 1.25% to 1.5%, based on most recent reports.

Canadian Balanced Funds

Benchmark index: Fundata Canadian Balanced Index, Five-year return: 7.02%
Fund Name Fund Name Five-Year Annualized Return Tax Efficiency(1) Current Value of $10,000 Invested Five Years Ago(2) Performance Rating Performance Rating Risk-Adjusted Return (RAR)(3) Consistency Bear Market Performance(4) Risk Rating MER Cost Rating Cost Rating Minimum Investment
Manulife Monthly High Income Fund Advisor Series Manulife Monthly High Income Fund Advisor Series 10.09% 86 $16,171.09 5 Stars 5 Stars 12.39% 68.33% C 3 2.11% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Fidelity Monthly Income Fund Series B Fidelity Monthly Income Fund Series B 9.49% 87 $15,735.92 5 Stars 5 Stars 12.16% 60.00% C 3 2.10% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Fidelity Income Allocation Fund Series A Fidelity Income Allocation Fund Series A 9.07% 89 $15,434.29 4 Stars 4 Stars 11.04% 53.33% B 3.5 2.01% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Compass Conservative Balanced Portfolio Compass Conservative Balanced Portfolio 8.29% 92 $14,888.86 4 Stars 4 Stars 12.11% 61.67% B 3.5 1.69% 4 Stars 4 Stars 1000
Dynamic Dividend Income Fund Series T Dynamic Dividend Income Fund Series T 8.20% 100 $14,829.83 4 Stars 4 Stars 10.75% 66.67% B 3.5 2.18% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Steadyhand Income Fund Steadyhand Income Fund 8.06% 88 $14,732.78 4 Stars 4 Stars 14.23% 51.67% A 4.5 1.04% 5 Stars 5 Stars 10000
Standard Life Diversified Income Fund E-Series Standard Life Diversified Income Fund E-Series 7.61% 84 $14,426.54 3 Stars 3 Stars 11.81% 51.67% A 4 1.94% 3 Stars 3 Stars 100000
RBC Monthly Income Fund Series D RBC Monthly Income Fund Series D 7.36% 86 $14,261.06 3 Stars 3 Stars 10.43% 55.00% C 3 0.88% 5 Stars 5 Stars 500
Renaissance Optimal Income Portfolio A Renaissance Optimal Income Portfolio A 7.29% 85 $14,217.28 3 Stars 3 Stars 10.91% 56.67% B 3.5 1.98% 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
BMO Monthly Income Fund Series A BMO Monthly Income Fund Series A 7.21% 87 $14,163.03 3 Stars 3 Stars 9.11% 56.67% C 3 1.57% 4 Stars 4 Stars 500
National Bank Moderate Strategic Portfolio NR National Bank Moderate Strategic Portfolio NR 6.87% 95 $13,942.48 3 Stars 3 Stars 10.78% 53.33% C 3 2.06% 3 Stars 3 Stars 10000
Professionals Balanced Fund Professionals Balanced Fund 6.71% 89 $13,837.78 3 Stars 3 Stars 8.34% 63.33% C 3 1.08% 5 Stars 5 Stars 2500
Scotia Diversified Monthly Income Fund Series A Scotia Diversified Monthly Income Fund Series A 6.66% 81 $13,804.09 3 Stars 3 Stars 8.15% 55.00% C 3 1.47% 4 Stars 4 Stars 500

Finally, in our Canadian Small-Cap Funds Honour Roll, you’ll notice a heavy concentration on energy and natural resources stocks. This category does very well during periods of rising commodity prices but it suffers when commodities fall. The volatile nature of commodity prices adds to the risk of stocks and funds in this category, which invest in higher risk, less liquid stocks, such as small oil and gas companies and junior miners.

Unfortunately, the top three funds on the list are closed to new investors. Among the funds still open to investors, the National Bank Quebec Growth fund is a fine choice, although its mandate of concentrating on Quebec companies can be limiting. The HSBC Small Cap fund is another good performer with an acceptable risk profile. It is actively managed and it performs quite differently from its index benchmark, so there’s definitely value being added here.

Last but not least, the PH&N Small Float fund stands out as a small cap with the risk profile of a large-cap equity fund. In each of the past three years, including the year 2011, which was bad for the category, the fund out-performed its peers by a fat margin. It is actively managed with a history of powerful stock selection.

Canadian Small Cap Funds

Benchmark index: BMO Canadian Small Cap Index, Five-year return: 4.119%
Fund Name Fund Name Five-Year Annualized Return Tax Efficiency(1) Current Value of $10,000 Invested Five Years Ago(2) Performance Rating Performance Rating Risk-Adjusted Return (RAR)(3) Consistency Bear Market Performance(4) Risk Rating MER Cost Rating Cost Rating Minimum Investment
Pender Small Cap Opportunities Fund Class A6 Pender Small Cap Opportunities Fund Class A6 21.71% 21.71% $26,708.48 5 Stars 5 Stars 30.48% 65.00% A A A 3 Stars 3 Stars 2500
Mawer New Canada Fund7 Mawer New Canada Fund7 21.67% 21.67% $26,658.05 5 Stars 5 Stars 30.42% 68.33% B B B 5 Stars 5 Stars 5000
BMO Enterprise Fund – Classic7 BMO Enterprise Fund – Classic7 21.30% 21.30% $26,258.40 5 Stars 5 Stars 29.76% 71.67% B B B 4 Stars 4 Stars 50000
National Bank Quebec Growth Fund National Bank Quebec Growth Fund 19.84% 19.84% $24,720.85 4 Stars 4 Stars 34.81% 66.67% A A A 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
HSBC Small Cap Growth Fund Investor Series5 HSBC Small Cap Growth Fund Investor Series5 18.88% 18.88% $23,747.45 4 Stars 4 Stars 25.73% 65.00% C C C 4 Stars 4 Stars 500
PH&N Small Float Fund Series A PH&N Small Float Fund Series A 17.67% 17.67% $22,556.59 4 Stars 4 Stars 21.47% 68.33% C C C 5 Stars 5 Stars 25000
Steadyhand Small-Cap Equity Fund Steadyhand Small-Cap Equity Fund 16.41% 16.41% $21,377.23 4 Stars 4 Stars 23.71% 61.67% B B B 4 Stars 4 Stars 10000
GBC Canadian Growth Fund GBC Canadian Growth Fund 16.26% 16.26% $21,237.12 4 Stars 4 Stars 19.97% 66.67% C C C 4 Stars 4 Stars 100000
Dynamic Real Estate & Infrastructure Income Fund A5 Dynamic Real Estate & Infrastructure Income Fund A5 16.20% 16.20% $21,182.37 4 Stars 4 Stars 30.09% 53.33% A A A 3 Stars 3 Stars 5000
Fidelity Special Situations Fund Series B Fidelity Special Situations Fund Series B 14.93% 14.93% $20,052.43 3 Stars 3 Stars 18.17% 61.67% C C C 4 Stars 4 Stars 500
Sionna Canadian Small Cap Equity Fund Sionna Canadian Small Cap Equity Fund 14.82% 14.82% $19,958.39 3 Stars 3 Stars 21.21% 58.33% C C C 3 Stars 3 Stars 1000
RBC O’Shaughnessy All-Canadian Equity Fund D RBC O’Shaughnessy All-Canadian Equity Fund D 13.78% 13.78% $19,064.89 3 Stars 3 Stars 20.22% 63.33% C C C 5 Stars 5 Stars 500
CI Can-Am Small Cap Corporate Class A CI Can-Am Small Cap Corporate Class A 13.07% 13.07% $18,484.76 3 Stars 3 Stars 25.71% 51.67% A A A 3 Stars 3 Stars 500
Trimark Canadian Endeavour Fund Series A Trimark Canadian Endeavour Fund Series A 12.89% 12.89% $18,334.04 3 Stars 3 Stars 18.37% 53.33% C C C 4 Stars 4 Stars 500

 

How to use these tables

Overall ratings in each category go from one circle (poor) to five circles (excellent). Any Honour Roll fund is a good buy, but some may be better for you than others. For instance, if you’re investing outside an RRSP, pay particular attention to “Tax Efficiency.” This measures how much of the return on a fund has been lost to taxes on distributions. (Funds that don’t distribute cash don’t lose anything and so are rated at 100%.) In general, the higher this number, the better for funds held in taxable accounts. All investors should consider risk as well. “Risk-Adjusted Return” shows how much return each fund has achieved in proportion to its risk—again, the higher, the better. If you want to play it safe, look for funds with a high “Consistency” rating (which shows the percentage of months in which a fund has performed better than its peers) and strong “Bear Market Performance” (the best funds get ‘A’s and so on down to ‘E’s).

1 Tax efficiency estimates the percentage of total returns retained by investors, assuming a 46% tax rate for interest income, 25% for capital gains and 23% for dividends. Not applicable for RRSP investors.

2 Based on five years historical return, before sales chargesand commissions

3 For details on risk-adjusted return calculation, check moneysense.ca or fundscope.ca

4 Based on average monthly loss during market corrections

5 Restricted/May not be sold in all provinces

6 Closed for new investors, check availability of other versions

Sources: Fundata Canada Inc. & FundScope Limited November 2014

One comment on “Best Mutual Funds 2015: Honour Roll

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