BlackRock Short-Term Municipal BR (MPLMX)
Expense Ratio: 0.40%
Expected Lifetime Fees: $12,680.81
The BlackRock Short-Term Municipal BR fund (MPLMX) is a Muni National Short fund started on 10/2/2006 and has $1.00 billion in assets under management. The current manager has been running BlackRock Short-Term Municipal BR since 1/24/1997. The fund is rated by Morningstar. This fund does not charge 12b-1 fees.
SPDR Barclays Capital Short Term Muni Bd (SHM)
Expense Ratio: 0.20%
Expected Lifetime Fees: $6,475.12
The SPDR Barclays Capital Short Term Muni Bd (SHM) is an Exchange Traded Fund. It is a "basket" of securities that index the Muni National Short investment strategy and is an alternative to a Muni National Short mutual fund. Fees are very low compared to a comparable mutual fund like BlackRock Short-Term Municipal BR because computers automatically manage the stocks.
|Mutual Fund Name||Ticker Symbol||Turnover||Assets (M)||Annual Fees|
|DFA Short Term Municipal Bond I||DFSMX||13.0%||1,500||0.23%|
|Federated Municipal Ultrashort Instl||FMUSX||92.0%||3,700||0.35%|
|Goldman Sachs Short Dur T/F Instl||GSDUX||24.0%||3,400||0.39%|
|JPMorgan Short-Intermediate Municipal Bond Fund Institutional Class||JIMIX||43.0%||1,100||0.26%|
|Northern Tax-Advantaged U/S Fxd Inc||NTAUX||116.9%||1,400||0.25%|
|PIMCO Short-Duration Muni Income Inst||PSDIX||29.0%||385||0.33%|
|Vanguard Ltd-Term Tx-Ex||VMLTX||14.0%||15,900||0.20%|
|Vanguard Ltd-Term Tx-Ex Adm||VMLUX||14.0%||15,900||0.12%|
|Vanguard Short-Term Tx-Ex||VWSTX||28.0%||11,500||0.20%|
|Vanguard Short-Term Tx-Ex Adm||VWSUX||28.0%||11,500||0.12%|
|Wells Fargo Advantage Ult S/T Mun Inc I||SMAIX||127.0%||7,600||0.37%|
Turnover represents how much of a mutual fund's holdings are changed over the course of a year through buying and selling. Active mutual funds have an average turnover rate of about 85%, meaning that funds are turning over nearly all of their holdings every year. A high turnover means you could make lower returns because: 1) buying and selling stocks costs money through commissions and spreads and 2) the fund will distribute yearly capital gains which increases your taxes. Look for funds with turnover rates below 50%. For comparison, ETF turnover rates average around 10% or lower.
Generally, smaller funds do better than larger ones. The more assets in a mutual fund, the lower the chance that it will beat its index. Managers outperform an index by choosing stocks that are undervalued. In order to find these undervalued stocks, the manager has to know more than his competitors to develop an "edge." There are only a finite number of stocks a mutual fund manager can reasonably analyze and actively track to gain such a competitive edge. When the fund has more assets, the manager must analyze large companies because he needs to take larger positions. Large companies are more efficiently priced in the market and it becomes increasingly difficult to get an edge.