Is John Hancock Regional Bank A (FRBAX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

Zacks Equity Research

If investors are looking at the Sector - Finance fund category, John Hancock Regional Bank A (FRBAX) could be a potential option. FRBAX bears a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 2 (Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

FRBAX is one of many Sector - Finance funds to choose from. Sector - Finance mutual funds provide investors with a diversified and stabilized investment approach focused on the financial space, which is a notoriously large, complex, and heavily-regulated industry. These funds include everything from insurance companies and exchanges to banks and investment giants; interest rates can impact the players of this space as well.

History of Fund/Manager

FRBAX finds itself in the John Hancock family, based out of Boston, MA. John Hancock Regional Bank A debuted in January of 1992. Since then, FRBAX has accumulated assets of about $884.83 million, according to the most recently available information. The fund is currently managed by a team of investment professionals.

Performance

Investors naturally seek funds with strong performance. This fund in particular has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 11.34%, and it sits 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 5.12%, 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 FRBAX over the past three years is 19.64% compared to the category average of 11.03%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 19.67% compared to the category average of 11.49%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

It's always important to be aware of the downsides to any future investment, so one should not discount the risks that come with this segment. FRBAX lost 54.74% in the most recent bear market and outperformed its peer group by 8%. This could mean that the fund is a better choice than comparable funds during a bear market.

Even still, the fund has a 5-year beta of 1.18, so investors should note that it is hypothetically more volatile than the market at large. Because alpha represents a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which is the S&P 500 in this case, one should pay attention to this metric as well. With a negative alpha of -1.02, managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Holdings

Examining the equity holdings of a mutual fund is also a valuable exercise. This can show us how the manager is applying their stated methodology, as well as if there are any inherent biases in their approach. For this particular fund, the focus is principally on equities that are traded in the United States.

Currently, this mutual fund is holding 81.99% stock in stocks, which have an average market capitalization of $33.39 billion. With turnover at about 6%, this fund makes fewer trades than its comparable peers.

Expenses

Costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing, and particularly as competition heats up in this market. And all things being equal, a lower cost product will outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, so taking a closer look at these metrics is key for investors. In terms of fees, FRBAX is a load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.22% compared to the category average of 1.56%. From a cost perspective, FRBAX is actually cheaper than its peers.

Investors need to be aware that with this product, the minimum initial investment is $1,000; each subsequent investment has no minimum amount.

Bottom Line

Overall, John Hancock Regional Bank A ( FRBAX ) has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, worse downside risk, and lower fees, John Hancock Regional Bank A ( FRBAX ) looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

For additional information on this product, or to compare it to other mutual funds in the Sector - Finance, make sure to go to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds for additional information. And don't forget, Zacks has all of your needs covered on the equity side too! Make sure to check out Zacks.com for more information on our screening capabilities, Rank, and all our articles as well.

Click to get this free report Get Your Free (FRBAX): Fund Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research