The energy sector has been hit hard this year by falling commodity prices. Crude oil is currently priced at under $50 per barrel in the United States – a steep decline from the highs of over $100 per barrel seen last year. This has caused revenue and earnings to fall significantly across the U.S. energy sector and, as a result, energy-oriented mutual funds are underperforming the broader market.
But if investors are anticipating an oil rally, energy mutual funds will be among the primary beneficiaries. Here are three energy mutual funds that could provide attractive returns if oil recovers in the months ahead.
3 Energy-Focused Mutual Funds
With all this in mind, here are some of the mutual funds that will benefit from rising oil prices.
The following three mutual funds, for example, are highly energy-focused, and are easily found by conducting a mutual fund screen. These three funds will likely produce positive returns if oil climbs going forward.
|Fund||Symbol||YTD Performance||Net Expense Ratio||Portfolio Weight in Energy|
|Fidelity Select Energy Portfolio||FSENX||(9.6%)||0.79%||97.6%|
|ICON Energy Fund Class S||ICENX||(13.8%)||1.28%||90.4%|
|Putnam Global Energy Fund Class A||PGEAX||(22.5%)||1.31%||85.6%|
These funds have underperformed the market, as energy stocks are some of the worst performers in the S&P 500 Index this year. But they are likely to enjoy a significant rally if oil recovers, since they are almost entirely composed of energy equities. Plus, they are easily available to individual investors at the retail level, as all three funds carry a minimum investment of $2,500. And, each fund has a modest expense ratio. It derives 56% of its holdings from its top 10 investments.
The Fidelity Select Energy Portfolio (FSENX) fund gets a four-star rating from Morningstar. 94% of its holdings are in U.S. equities. Its top three holdings include Exxon Mobil, Schlumberger and EOG Resources. The fund invests in several dividend-paying equities, as the fund has a 1.1% dividend yield. Likewise, the ICON Energy Fund Class S (ICENX) gets a four-star rating from Morningstar. Its top three holdings include Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Phillips 66. This mutual fund is the most heavily diversified on this list; its top 10 holdings represent 51% of the total. But it carries less dividend equities in its portfolio; the fund dividend yield is just 0.6%.
Lastly, the Putnam Global Energy Fund Class A (PGEAX) mutual fund carries two-thirds of its assets in U.S. domiciled equities. It also has a high level of exposure to international equities. 15% of its holdings are focused on the United Kingdom, and another 10% comes from the broader Euro zone. Its top three holdings are Exxon Mobil, Genel Energy PLC and Baker Hughes. The top 10 holdings account for 60% of its portfolio.
The Bottom Line: These Funds May Outperform if Oil Rallies
The world is currently facing a global oil supply glut. Production in the U.S. has reached levels not seen in several decades, thanks to abundant domestic supply and technological advancements that have made the oil easier to find and develop. Exacerbating the decline in commodity prices is that major oil producing nations like OPEC continue to produce at high levels. OPEC has given no indication thus far that it intends to reduce its oil production any time soon.
As a result, oil prices remain at multi-year lows. This is a very good thing for consumers, who are paying less at the pump, but it is very difficult for oil-producing companies. That being said, oil firms may, at some point, decide to meaningfully cut production. This could result in higher oil prices, and if that materializes, the three mutual funds mentioned above may provide compelling returns to fund holders.
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