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Is Matthews Japan Fund (MJFOX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

If you're looking for a Mutual Fund Equity Report fund category, then a potential option is Matthews Japan Fund (MJFOX). MJFOX bears a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 3 (Hold), which is based on various forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

History of Fund/Manager

Matthews Asia is based in San Francisco, CA, and is the manager of MJFOX. Matthews Japan Fund debuted in December of 1998. Since then, MJFOX has accumulated assets of about $208.33 million, according to the most recently available information. Taizo Ishida is the fund's current manager and has held that role since September of 2006.


Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. This fund has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of -0.39%, and is in the bottom third among its category peers. If you're interested in shorter time frames, do not dismiss looking at the fund's 3-year annualized total return of 2.86%, which places it in the middle third during this time-frame.

When looking at a fund's performance, it is also important to note the standard deviation of the returns. The lower the standard deviation, the less volatility the fund experiences. Compared to the category average of 16.58%, the standard deviation of MJFOX over the past three years is 18.68%. The fund's standard deviation over the past 5 years is 18.13% compared to the category average of 16.05%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors should note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 0.76, so it is likely going to be less volatile than the market at large. Because alpha represents a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which is the S&P 500 in this case, one should pay attention to this metric as well. MJFOX's 5-year performance has produced a negative alpha of -8.34, which means managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.


Costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing, and particularly as competition heats up in this market. And all things being equal, a lower cost product will outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, so taking a closer look at these metrics is key for investors. In terms of fees, MJFOX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.05% compared to the category average of 1.46%. MJFOX is actually cheaper than its peers when you consider factors like cost.

Investors need to be aware that with this product, the minimum initial investment is $2,500; each subsequent investment needs to be at least $100.

Bottom Line

Overall, Matthews Japan Fund ( MJFOX ) has a neutral Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively similar performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, this fund looks like a somewhat average choice for investors right now.

Want even more information about MJFOX? Then go over to and check out our mutual fund comparison tool, and all of the other great features that we have to help you with your mutual fund analysis for additional information. Want to learn even more? We have a full suite of tools on stocks that you can use to find the best choices for your portfolio too, no matter what kind of investor you are.

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