Franklin Resources, Inc. (NYSE: BEN) is one of the best-known investment firms, offering investors a wide range of investment opportunities, including hundreds of mutual funds, to help manage their wealth. Franklin Templeton mutual funds boast highly experienced management teams, disciplined investment approaches and high marks from funds rating agencies.
Franklin Mutual European Fund Class A
Assets under management (AUM): $2.137 billion
2013-2018 average annual net asset value (NAV) return: 3.19%
Net expense ratio: 1.29%
The Franklin Mutual European Fund Class A seeks capital appreciation, with income as a secondary goal, by investing at least 80% of its net assets in the securities of European companies. It focuses primarily on undervalued equity securities and, to a lesser extent, distressed securities and merger arbitrage opportunities.
Because the fund purchases equity securities in foreign currencies, such as the euro and British pound sterling, the fund's returns are highly exposed to currency risk and may fluctuate due to changes in exchange rates. The fund has overweight exposure to U.K. stocks at about 29.9 percent allocation, while German equities account for about 13.69% of the fund's portfolio. In terms of sector allocation, insurance equities account for 12.86 percent of the fund's assets, while capital goods have 10.92% allocation.
The fund charges load fees of 5.5% and requires a minimum investment of $1,000.
Franklin Federal Tax-Free Income Fund Class A
AUM: $10.8 billion
2013-2018 average annual NAV return: 3.82%
Net expense ratio: 0.62%
The Franklin Federal Tax-Free Income Fund Class A seeks to generate current income by investing in tax-exempt municipal bonds issued by U.S. municipalities. Because municipal bonds are exempt from federal taxes, this fund is most appropriate for investors in high tax brackets. The fund typically buys and holds municipal bonds until maturity, which results in a very low turnover ratio. This makes the Franklin Federal Tax-Free Income Fund highly tax-efficient. Bonds issued by municipalities in California, Texas and New York have the highest weights in the fund's portfolio. Over 85% of the fund's bonds are of investment-grade.
As of Sept. 30, 2018, the fund has an average duration of 4.3 years and a 30-day SEC yield of 2.29%. The fund is one of the oldest Franklin funds and has been managed by the same fund manager for over 18 years. The fund has a minimum investment requirement of $1,000.
Franklin Utilities Class A
AUM: $5.7 billion
2013-2018 average annual NAV return: 8.77%
Net expense ratio: 0.73%
The Franklin Utilities Class A invests about 90% of its assets in equity securities of firms that provide utility services, such as electricity, water and communication services. The fund charges a load fee of 4.25% and has a minimum investment requirement of $1,000.
Templeton Global Bond Fund Class C
AUM: $34.9 billion
2013-2018 average annual NAV return: 1.18%
Net expense ratio: 1.36%
The Templeton Global Bond Fund Class C searches the world for investment opportunities in currencies, interest rates and sovereign credit that can offer attractive potential returns and additional portfolio diversification. Sovereign bonds issued by countries in the Americas have the largest weights in the fund's portfolio, with about 44% total allocation. Overall, bonds issued by Asian countries account for 24% of the fund's portfolio, while about 26% of the portfolio is in cash and cash equivalents.
Michael Hasenstab has managed the Templeton Global Bond Fund since 2001. The fund comes with no load fee and requires investors to contribute at least $1,000.