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Is Hartford Balanced Income C (HBLCX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

Mutual Fund Report for HBLCX

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This story originally appeared on Zacks

If investors are looking at the Allocation Balanced fund category, make sure to pass over Hartford Balanced Income C (HBLCX). HBLCX possesses a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 4 (Sell), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

- Zacks

Objective

HBLCX is one of many Zacks' Allocation Balanced mutual funds to pick from. Allocation Balanced funds seek to invest in a balance of asset types, like stocks, bonds, and cash, though including precious metals or commodities is not unusual; these funds are mostly categorized by their respective asset allocation. Investors utilize Allocation Balanced funds as a way to get a good start with diversified mutual funds, as well as for core holdings in a portfolio of funds.

History of Fund/Manager

Hartford is based in Woodbury, MN, and is the manager of HBLCX. Hartford Balanced Income C made its debut in July of 2006, and since then, HBLCX has accumulated about $2.93 billion in assets, per the most up-to-date date available. A team of investment professionals is the fund's current manager.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. This fund in particular has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 7.41%, and is in the top third among its category peers. But if you are looking for a shorter time frame, it is also worth looking at its 3-year annualized total return of 9.01%, 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 HBLCX over the past three years is 9.99% compared to the category average of 14.44%. Over the past 5 years, the standard deviation of the fund is 8.15% compared to the category average of 11.89%. This makes the fund less volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors should note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 0.5, which means it is hypothetically less volatile than the market at large. Alpha is an additional metric to take into consideration, since it represents a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which in this case, is the S&P 500. With a negative alpha of -1.93, managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Expenses

As competition heats up in the mutual fund market, costs become increasingly important. Compared to its otherwise identical counterpart, a low-cost product will be an outperformer, all other things being equal. Thus, taking a closer look at cost-related metrics is vital for investors. In terms of fees, HBLCX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.62% compared to the category average of 0.89%. HBLCX is actually more expensive than its peers when you consider factors like cost.

Investors need to be aware that with this product, the minimum initial investment is $2,000; each subsequent investment needs to be at least $50.

Bottom Line

Overall, Hartford Balanced Income C ( HBLCX ) has a low Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and higher fees, this fund looks like a poor potential choice for investors right now.

For additional information on the Allocation Balanced area of the mutual fund world, make sure to check out www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds. There, you can see more about the ranking process, and dive even deeper into HBLCX too for additional information. Want to learn even more? We have a full suite of tools on stocks that you can use to find the best choices for your portfolio too, no matter what kind of investor you are.



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