Lack o' Tax
If you're one of the lucky ones still making the big bucks, you've got to love tax-free municipal bond funds. "Munis" to those in the know, these funds are particularly attractive to those in high tax brackets, who get more bang for their buck from the tax benefits. Let's talk about one that's been around for a while, is conservatively managed and has paid off for investors.
The Thornburg Limited-Term Municipal National Bond Fund (LTMFX) is the kind of investment your parents would be proud you made. Brian McMahon and George Strickland have managed the fund since its inception in 1984, and their investment strategy is simple: Invest in high-quality munis, keep the bonds' maturity dates relatively short and ladder the portfolio.
Laddering a portfolio typically means buying bonds that have sequential maturity dates. In the Thornburg Limited-Term muni fund, that means keeping roughly 10 percent of the portfolio invested in bonds that mature each year. "The longest bonds we own will be 10-year [maturing] bonds," says Strickland.
That strategy keeps the fund's yield competitive under most market conditions and the average maturity in the fund's portfolio short (right now it's 4.6 years).
Performance: Year to date through December 19, 2001, up 4.3 percent
Toll-free number: (800) 847-0200
Dian Vujovich is an author, syndicated columnist and publisher of mutual fund investing site www.allaboutfunds.com.