By Amy Buttell
Information about your fund's daily performance is available from many sources, including some daily newspapers, financial websites, and your fund company's website. Although this information is widely available, it's not a good idea to become too fixated on a particular fund's daily performance fluctuations. As long-term investors we can expect there to be many times when a fund's share price moves up and down.
The information provided in the mutual fund listings can vary between different publications.
Particular fund families may have seemingly the same funds listed under several headings.
For example, Vanguard has many of the same funds listed under index funds and institutional funds. Institutional funds are those available to large investors, who must invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to gain access to funds geared to institutions.
Additionally, many fund families list different classes of shares for the same fund, these being A, B, and C shares. Class A shares carry a front-end sales load, meaning that you pay a commission on sales when initially buying shares; Class B shares carry a back-end sales load, which is assessed when selling the shares; and Class C shares carry an ongoing sales charge.
Publishers abbreviate the names of mutual funds due to space limitations. When you are looking at listings, it's important to understand what the potentially confusing terms mean. The key terms you'll need to know are:
- Fund abbreviation: Due to space limitations, publishers abbreviate the names of mutual funds, so that the Vanguard 500 Index Fund is called "500."
- Fund symbol: All mutual funds have a symbol, similar to individual stocks. For funds, all the symbols end with an X and have five letters. Use the symbol for your fund when looking for a price quote or information at an investing website.
- NAV: The fund's net asset value. The net asset value is the market value of a fund's assets, less any liabilities divided by the number of shares outstanding. This is what you'll get per share if you sell, less any redemption (or back-end loaded) fees. The column listing these figures may also be called "sell."
- Offer price: May also be labeled "buy." It is the amount you'll pay to purchase each share—the NAV plus sales charges. If the fund is a no-load, the two columns will show the same price or the Buy column will show "NL."
- Change: The "change" column reflects the difference in the fund's NAV between the previous two trading days.
- "r" indicates the fund charges a redemption fee.
- "p" means a 12b-1 fee (expense fees and distribution costs) is charged.
- "t" is the symbol for a fund charging both a 12b-1 fee and a deferred sales charge or redemption fee.
- "f" means that current prices are not available.
- "e" denotes that a capital gains distribution has been made and the price shown does not include it.
- "x" means that the price does not include the dividend, and is the same as for a stock listing, indicating an "ex-dividend" price.
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Neither CUNA nor the author of this article is a registered investment adviser. Readers should seek independent professional advice before making investment decisions.