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Is NHMAX a Strong Bond Fund Right Now?

MF Bond Report for NHMAX

By
This story originally appeared on Zacks

If you've been stuck searching for Muni - Bonds funds, consider Nuveen High Yield Municipals Bond A (NHMAX) as a possibility. NHMAX bears a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 1 (Strong Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

- Zacks

Objective

Zacks categorizes NHMAX as Muni - Bonds, which is a segment packed with options. Muni - Bonds funds invest in debt securities issued by states or local municipalities. These are generally used to finance construction of infrastructure, pay for schools, or other government functions. Some are backed by taxes (revenue bonds), while others are " general obligation " and may not be backed by a defined source. Investors usually appreciate the tax benefits that come with many municipal bonds, which are especially impressive for those in high tax brackets.

History of Fund/Manager

NHMAX finds itself in the Nuveen family, based out of Chicago, IL. Since Nuveen High Yield Municipals Bond A made its debut in June of 1999, NHMAX has garnered more than $8.06 billion in assets. John V. Miller is the fund's current manager and has held that role since December of 2000.

Performance

Investors naturally seek funds with strong performance. NHMAX has a 5-year annualized total return of 5.84% and is in the top third among its category peers. Investors who prefer analyzing shorter time frames should look at its 3-year annualized total return of 7.47%, which places it in the top third during this time-frame.

When looking at a fund's performance, it is also important to note the standard deviation of the returns. The lower the standard deviation, the less volatility the fund experiences. The standard deviation of NHMAX over the past three years is 9.77% compared to the category average of 13.05%. The fund's standard deviation over the past 5 years is 8.27% compared to the category average of 10.83%. This makes the fund less volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

With a beta of 0.86, this fund is less volatile than a broad market index of fixed income securities. Taking this into account, NHMAX has a positive alpha of 0.7, which measures performance on a risk-adjusted basis.

Ratings

Investors should also consider a bond's rating, which is a grade ( 'AAA' to 'D' ) given to a bond that indicates its credit quality. With this letter scale in mind, NHMAX 's junk bond component-bonds rated 'BB' or below-is at 20.5%. This means that the fund has an average quality of BBB, and focuses on medium quality securities.

However, it is worth noting that 63 % of the bonds in this fund are not ranked, so take the average quality level with a bit of caution.

Expenses

For investors, taking a closer look at cost-related metrics is key, since costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing. Competition is heating up in this space, and a lower cost product will likely outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, all things being equal. In terms of fees, NHMAX is a load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.74% compared to the category average of 0.80%. NHMAX is actually cheaper than its peers when you consider factors like cost.

While the minimum initial investment for the product is $3,000, investors should also note that each subsequent investment needs to be at least $100.

Bottom Line

Overall, Nuveen High Yield Municipals Bond A ( NHMAX ) has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, Nuveen High Yield Municipals Bond A ( NHMAX ) looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

Your research on the Muni - Bonds segment doesn't have to stop here. You can check out all the great mutual fund tools we have to offer by going to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds to see the additional features we offer as well for additional information. Zacks provides a full suite of tools to help you analyze your portfolio - both funds and stocks - in the most efficient way possible.



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