First-time investors should stay away from closed-end funds

Closed-end mutual fund schemes serve two purposes: One, it does not allow the investor to time the market, or exit if things get too volatile. Two, since the corpus is locked in for three years or more, the fund manager gets enough time to give returns to the investor because he can take medium-term calls without worrying too much about the investor’s risk appetite. 

What is interesting about HDFC Mutual Fund’s latest closed-end scheme is its focus on only the housing sector. The scheme, HDFC Housing Opportunities Fund, is a three-year closed-end scheme and as the name suggests, it will invest in stocks related to housing and allied business activities.   

Given its focus on the real estate sector, financial planners feel this scheme is not meant for first-time investors and any investor should only have 5-10 per cent exposure to this fund. The investor should be clear this isn’t a real estate fund but a thematic one which will invest across sectors that benefit from the boom in housing, said Vidya Bala, head- mutual fund research, at FundsIndia. “Having said that, this is a closed-end fund and one is not sure whether they are entering at the right time and this is one of the elements of risk in this fund,” she said.  

Source: Value Research
HDFC Housing Opportunities Fund will follow a bottom-up stock picking strategy and will be a diversified one, with holdings across businesses covered under the housing theme and across various market caps. “We want to invest in the entire value chain which includes sectors like paints, steel, cement, plywood, housing financing companies etc. We would like to invest in companies across these sectors wherever we see good investment opportunities,” said Srinivas Rao Ravuri, senior fund manager, HDFC Asset Management Company.

Earlier, there have been other closed-end funds from Aditya Birla Sun Life MF, ICICI Prudential MF and Canara Robeco MF, among others, which had been launched on the theme of recovery and opportunities in the Indian economy. Such funds have given returns in the range of 35-40 per cent in the past one year, according to data from Value Research.  On the other hand, broader indices have given returns of around 30 per cent in the last one year.

he schemes will focus more on the low-cost and affordable housing business that would benefit from the expected housing boom. “We believe that the housing sector is likely to be a big growth driver for the economy. Affordability of housing has improved with stable prices, improvement in income levels and decline in mortgage rates. The ‘Housing for All by 2022’ programme of the government has started gaining momentum. Government is also providing support in the form of direct subsidies and cheaper loans to achieve its target,” Ravuri said.

Despite the positive outlook, analysts and financial planners say this kind of a fund is for seasoned investors. “One should invest in it, but my suggestion is that this kind of fund is not for first-time investors when valuations and the markets are high,” said Pankaj Mathpal, founder and managing director at Optima Money Managers.

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