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How to Read Mutual Fund Tables

Most newspapers have financial sections. Although there are differences from publication to publication, learning how to read the financial page is easy once you know the purpose of each column. Once you understand the basics, doing research and following the value of your mutual funds is easier and more informative.

Mutual fund tables are arranged alphabetically by the mutual fund company name. The fund company name is typically bolded. Following the company name will be another alphabetical list of the mutual funds for that family. Fund names are typically abbreviated. To find your mutual fund, you will need to know the company name and the fund name.

For example:

Sterling Capital Funds

Mutual fund tables have four columns. The fund's name is in the first column, followed by three columns labeled "NAV," "Net Chg," and "YTD/% ret."

For example:

Name NAV Net Chg YTD/% ret
Sterling Capital Funds      
EqInc $15.79 +0.07 +11.18

The NAV column stands for Net Asset Value. This figure represents the value of one fund share. The NAV is calculated by taking the total value of the fund's assets and dividing by the number of shares outstanding. In this example, one share was worth $15.79.

The Net Chg (net change) column is the change in NAV from the previous day. In this case the fund increased in value by seven cents, which means the prior day's NAV was $15.72.

The YTD % ret (year-to-date percentage return) column is the return on investment for each share, calculated as a percentage, year to date. The number assumes reinvestment of any dividends and capital gains.

Occasionally the financial table for mutual funds will include additional time periods for investment returns, including one-year, three-year and five-year average annual returns. These figures give the reader long-term performance information about the fund.

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