Morningstar’s New Mutual Fund Quote Looks Good
I have mentioned a few time in the past that Morningstar is my primary tool when it comes to mutual fund research because, as far as I can tell, it has the broad coverage or mutual funds with the most comprehensive data of a fund. I even wrote about how to use Morningstar to research mutual funds a couple of years ago. In addition to mutual fund research, I also found its ETF research tool quite convenient, especially if I want to see performances of all ETFs on one single page.
Recently, Morningstar gave its mutual fund quote page a major face lift (actually the beta version of the new interface has existed for a while), resulting a much cleaner and user friendlier interface that doesn’t require many clicks on the page to get most of the information I want about a fund.
If you go to Morningstar and type in a fund symbol (here I use DODGX as an example), you will be led to the new fund quote page, which will show you basics of the fund you are interested in.
The fund’s most important data is prominently displayed on top of the quote page, above the navigation bar. Here, before you get into details of a fund, you will find everything you need to know about a fund: Fund price, day change, star rating, yield, total assets, load (load fund or none load fund), expense, turnover, status (open to new investors or closed), minimum initial investment, category, and investment style. In the old page, these information is scattered, some are even one different pages. This alone makes the new interface much easier for investors to research a fund.
The center of the page is a growth chart of DODGX against the fund category it belongs to (large-cap value) and the benchmark (S&P 500). Before, Morningstar only shows fund performance in a few pre-defined time intervals, such as 1-yr, 5-yr, and 10-yr. The new chart tool, using a scrollbar at the bottom of the chart, lets you define your own time interval and plot the chart seamlessly. Both Google and Yahoo Finance have used this technique a long time ago. I am glad that Moringstar is finally on board.
The next feature that’s new is the graphic display of Morningstar Risk Measures of the fund, including Risk vs. Category and Return vs. Category. I like the graph because, like the growth chart, it gives me a quick idea of how the fund compares with its peers. If I want to know a little more about the fund’s risk, I can use the Ratings & Risk tab on top of the screen to find the fund’s risk and return rating for the past 3, 5, and 10 years, as well as the fund’s risk statistics, such as R-Squared, Beta, and Alpha.
Right below the growth chart is Morningstar’s Take of the fund, which includes opinioin of Morningstar’s analysts, role of the fund in the portfolio, and the fund’s stewardship grade. For DODGX, it’s one of Morningstar’s pick and it can be a core holding in the portfolio. Moringstar has an overall grade of A for DODGX (range from A to F, wich A being the highest and F the lowest) for the fund’s stwewardship, which measures the manner in which the fund is run, the degree to which the management company’s and fund board’s interests are aligned with fund shareholders, and the degree to which shareholders can expect their interests to be protected from potentially conflicting interests of the management company. However, this part of the information is not free. To access Morningstar’s analyst reports and grade, you will have to become a Premium Member.
While the first half of the quote page uses more graphs to show the fund’s performance, risk, investment style, and asset allocation, the second half is more of numerical presentation. In this part, you will find a fund’s performance, top holdings, and top sectors, all given in hard numbers. The new addition to the page is the Dividend and Capital Gains Distributions of the fund, which I find is very useful. In the past, I sometimes found it was quite difficult to a fund’s distribution information (distribution date and amount) unless I own the fund. Now, I can get this information conveniently at Morningstar.
I have mentioned in the Morningstar research post that I also look at the fund manager’s tenure when researching a fund. n the interface, Morningstar not only shows the fund manager’s start date, but also the assets under management. Unlike performance data which tells you directly how the fund is doing in the past and how it compares with other funds in the same category, the fund’s management information is more subtle. Generally, the longer the manager has managed the fund, the better the fund’s past performance can be as an indicator (of course, past performance can never guarantee future return and DODGX is a perfect an example of how a fund with a long tracking record can uncharacteristically underperform its peers).
The fund quote page itself contains enough information to give you some quick ideas about a fund. In you want to get into the details, each section on the quote page has its own separate page, which is accessible from the top navigation bar.
Overall, I think the new Morningstar mutual fund quote page is a big improvement over the old one. Have you tried it yet?
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