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  • Michael DiBartolomeo

Alpha Mutual Funds

The most critical factor in any investment is the return gained. During the process of making investments, investors review the return history of the particular fund they are interested in. They do this to decide which fund would be the right one to invest in. The growth or decline of a fund is thoroughly monitored. This is done as a means to understand the fund's past performance, as well as how the fund is expected to perform in the coming future.

The risk associated with a fund also plays a significant role in the deciding process investors undergo. There are some indicators of these risks. Some include standard deviation, Sharpe ratio, R Squared, Beta, Alpha, along with many more. These indicators can assist an investor when they look into the fund's performance and potential performance within the market.

These ratios and indicators aid in predicting the returns that could be received from the particular investment, along with how the market's conditions can impact these returns. These ratios are also useful when trying to understand the risk of investment and realize how well a fund may perform against the market's benchmark (such as p 500). One of these ratios that effectively evaluate the returns of a particular fund is alpha.

What is Alpha in Mutual Funds

What Is Alpha in Mutual Funds?

Alpha is a ratio that records returns of a fund against the market returns. This ratio predicts as well as compares the returns of the fund while understanding and interpreting the risk associated with investing in this specific fund. Investors commonly use alpha to study the fund's returns and ultimately aids in making a decision on whether or not they want to invest in this particular fund. Not to mention, alpha in a mutual fund is also used to indicate the risk of the investment.

The benchmark index performance (such as p 500) after the risk has been evaluated is compared against the volatility of a fund. This is done to effectively understand the alpha's indicator. Meaning, alpha is used to determine the fund's value. It works as the excess return of an investment when compared to its benchmark index.

The Alpha ratio denotes how better the fund has outperformed against its benchmark index when the ratio is higher than 1.0. In contrast, an Alpha ratio that's lower than 1.0 indicates how the fund has underperformed when compared against its benchmark index (such as p 500).

How Performance of an Alpha is Indicated

There are two common examples of how alpha can effectively evaluate and indicate the performance of a particular fund. These two examples are:

· An individual invests in a mutual fund at a time of the year when the S&P 500 has risen by 10 percent. However, the fund shows an Alpha lower than 0 of 2,0. This specific fund has underperformed in this particular situation, and the excess return on the investment is only eight percent.

· An individual invests in a mutual fund when the S&P 500 is at the benchmark. The Alpha value of this particular fund was 4.0 in comparison to the S&P 500 rate rising to 20 percent. In this specific case, alpha shows that the fund has surpassed its benchmark index and over-performed by four percent. Thus, the investment has provided a higher excess return of 24 percent.

Investors may gain the same returns as the market in which the investment is placed if the value of this specific investment is 0. In addition to this, the amount above 0 indicates that the particular fund has outperformed the fund's benchmark index (such as S&P 500).

On the other hand, an Alpha value that's less than 0 shows that the stocks within the fund have underperformed against its benchmark index.

What Is Positive Alpha?

A positive Alpha is used to indicate that the security is outperforming the market in which the investment is placed in. Thus, positive alpha is a good indication for investors when looking at the actual returns and fund's performance in the market.

What Is Negative Alpha?

A negative Alpha is used to indicate that the security is failing to generate returns at the same or similar rate when compared to the standard broader benchmark. Thus, a negative Alpha indicates that the stock, fund, investment portfolio, asset, or security is underperforming. This is something that's very telling for investors when they are evaluating the performance of different funds.

Negative Alpha as a Signal

The constant underperformance of a fund, portfolio investment, asset, or security may be a massive red flag for investors. Nonetheless, alpha presumes the risk level of the singular security (called the company-specific risk) holds the ability to be compared to the corresponding market using market returns as a baseline for the investment's performance evaluation. This process is called systemic risk.

Due to these features, alpha is a more useful ratio when in the context of the entirety of the portfolio analysis. This is large because the distribution of the investment capital allows for diversification when placed over a variety of different forms of security.

Optimal diversification holds the ability to create a risk-free environment in a company-specific atmosphere. Thus, making the entire risk of the investment portfolio equal to the market's risk. Alpha is, therefore, a less accurate reflection of the investment's performance because this type of diversification is impossible for an investment with single-security characteristics.

When looking at single-security investments, a particular fund that has a negative Alpha isn't necessarily signaling for the owner of this fund to sell it, as the security may still have the ability to generate returns.

When looking at portfolio management, a negative Alpha is used to indicate that these specific investments returning a negative Alpha aren't diversified to an optimal level. Thus, alpha takes the returns from the fund and subtracts it from the expected returns from the fund's Beta to identify any excess return. This is done in portfolio management, and the alpha can be useful to the entire strategy or mutual fund manager as it shows the strategy or fund's effectiveness. Moreover, this alpha can also be relative to showing how effectively a manager can pick stocks.

With all that being said, alpha is a singular metric among many others that should be evaluated and interpreted when establishing a strategy for investing in a fund. Thus, it's incredibly important. As with other indicators, to comprehensively view an investment's relative risk. This should be done than the alternative of basing investment decisions on a singular value.

What are the Advantages of Mutual Funds

What Are the Advantages of Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds are an incredibly popular investment choice. This is large because these types of funds offer exceptional benefits. Some of the most predominant advantages of this type of fund include:


A singular fund has the ability to hold securities from thousands of issuers. This is far more than the majority of investors could possibly afford when funding the investment on their own. Thus, this diversification aids in reducing the risk of investing in a particular business, asset class, or industry.

Professional Management

A small percentage of investors have the expertise or time to effectively manage their own investments on a day-to-day basis, along with efficiently reinvesting dividend income or interest or thoroughly investigating the thousands of securities presents in the financial market. For these reasons, many investors rely on a fund management company to do all of these above-mentioned activities and more.

The fund manager holds the ability to make these investment decisions on the investor's behalf. This is done efficiently as the fund manager is equipped with access to extensive market and research information. These resources help to maximize returns, while managing risk.


Shares within a fund may be sold and purchased throughout any business day. Thus, investors have effortless access to their money. A large number of individual securities may be readily sold and bought. However, others aren't always widely traded. In situations like these, it takes several days or even longer periods of time to sell or build up a position.


The mechanisms included in mutual funds provide services that make investing more straightforward and effortless. Due to this feature, investors are provided with the ability to easily adjust their whole portfolio as their financial excess return needs transform.

These investors may even make a schedule that automatically places investments into a fund from their bank account. Otherwise, they can arrange multiple automatic transfers to take place from a fund to their bank account. This may be done to meet and effectively manage the necessary expenses associated with the mutual fund investments.

The majority of larger and well-established fund companies provide extensive recordkeeping services as a way to aid in tracking the investors transactions, monitor the funds' performance, and complete the necessary tax returns.


The prices of a mutual fund are published on a daily basis. In addition to this, investors receive continuous updates in regards to the process of their investments.

What Is Beta In Mutual Funds?

The Beta of a mutual fund is a measurement of the volatility of the fund in comparison to the overall market conditions that this fund has faced and is expected to meet.

This is an element that helps an investor decide whether or not they would like to invest in the fund. A beta that is more than one shows a high volatility level against the overall market. Whereas a beta result of less than one indicates a low volatility level in comparison to overall market conditions.

When pertaining to fund investing, beta measures how sensitive a specific fund is to movement in a wider market. Meaning, Beta measures the volatility.

The market Beta is always totaling to one. For example, if the Beta of a mutual fund is 1.1, it indicates that the fund has historically performed 10 percent better than the index when the benchmark (such as a 500 index) index is higher. In contrast, the result of 1.1 for a mutual fund's Beta may indicate an expected decline of 10 percent more than the index when the benchmark index decreases.

The Difference Between Beta and Alpha

Alpha and Beta are two very important measurements that are used to evaluate the performance of a fund, stock, or a whole investment portfolio.

Alpha is used to measure the actual returns of a specific investment in comparison to the market index. However, another comparison to this investment returned would be with other broad benchmarks.

Beta represents the volatility of an investment. Thus, this helps measure and indicate the relative risk associated with the stock, fund, or whole investment portfolio.

Thus, the difference between these two standard calculations is that alpha represents the stock, fund, or investment portfolio's return performance compared to the market index or broad alternative benchmark. At the same time, Beta represents the volatility of the stock, fund, asset, or investment portfolio. Nonetheless, both Beta and Alpha are standard calculations that are to measure an investment portfolio, stock, and fund's performance on its returns.

Why Are Beta and Alpha Ratios Important?

When investors decide to invest in a mutual fund, it's important to investigate the fund's past performance. This is largely because it helps investors make informed and educated decisions before investing, which aids in reducing risks. This also helps to indicate the estimated return on the investment.

Ratios have a high importance level when evaluating the data of a given fund. This is because these ratios help determine the history of a fund when placed against different phases within the market. In addition to this, it also aids in producing useful data to identify the prospects of the fund in the future, whether it be a year or more. Thus, these ratios provide investors with information on the fund's risk factor, sustainability, and growth potential, excess return, along with many other features.

Even though these predictions that measure from Alpha and Beta ratios may vary from what is actually gained from the funds, these ratios provide an effective tool. This tool allows prospective investors to view the entire mechanisms of the fund and make a more calculated decision when looking to invest. This is largely because these individuals hold the ability to identify the expected return on their investment.

What Are Other Ratios That Are Used By Investors?

There are a variety of other ratios other than Alpha and Beta that are used to quantify a fund's performance. These performance ratios measure the history of an asset. This data is then used to compare other assets of the same nature further. These ratios are:

Standard Deviation

Standard deviation is used to measure a set of data that are variated from the average or the mean. When looking at stocks of a fund, the standard deviation is used to indicate the digression of the investment returns while under the different conditions present in the market from the mean or average that's calculated prior. The data provided from these standard deviation ratios are used by investors, fund managers, and financial advisors. The standard deviation ratio is used to analyze the expected volatility of a given fund during a particular year and locate the expected return to be gain from this financial investment.

Sharpe Ratio

Investors use the Sharpe ratio to measure the excess return rate that would be expected by the fund when comparing to the risk that the fund brings with it. The process of calculating the Sharpe ratios is based off of deducting the risk-free rate from the mean amount. This Sharpe ratio aids in identifying the profits earned from the varied risk levels associated with the investment. Meaning, it represents the risk-adjusted return of the particular investment.

P/E Ratio

PER or price-earning ratio helps to identify how much a singular unit of an investment can earn returns, along with the specific price needed to pay for that particular unit. The P/E ratio is a ratio that bridges the current price of a fund's single unit to the earnings that can be gained per each of these single units. Thus, this ratio helps individuals measure if a fund is worthwhile. This is because the return is set off against the fees of obtaining the investment.


An R-Squared ratio indicates the percentage of fund returns correlated to the existing benchmark index's movements. This means that this R-Squared method of calculation is the closest standard ratio example to Beta and Alpha ratios. The results of R-Square rates lie between 0 and 1. The 0 value often indicates that there isn't a percentage of funds within the investment portfolio that react to the movement's given benchmark index. On the other hand, the values evolving to one indicate that the movements in the funds return mirror the benchmark index changes.

The Bottom Line

Alpha is an important ratio to use and would be based on the fund's returns against the market returns. Excess returns are something that individuals look for when seeing if a fund is worthwhile. However, more often than not, an Alpha isn't the only example ratio that should be implemented to measure an investment's worthiness. There are other ratios that also need to be considered to make a judgment that's based off of the more accurate data. Thus, these individuals are often able to make risk-adjusted or risk-free financial judgments to their given portfolio. In addition to this, the ratios are performed with the past return of the investment, to help make a expected return on the investment within the following year or years.

Contact qualified financial advisors Pittsburgh PA offers for more information on Alpha Mutual Funds, Tax-Managed Mutual Funds, or Banking Mutual Funds.


Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.

Investing in mutual funds involves risk, including possible loss of principle. Fund Value will fluctuate with market conditions and it may not achieve its investment objective.

No investment strategy assures a profit or protects against loss.

There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is a capitalization weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

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