Established in 1970, the Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group offers a wide selection of mutual funds for institutional and individual investors for investment and diversification purposes. Franklin Templeton has a dedicated team of fixed-income professionals around the world who provide in-depth expertise in all major areas of the fixed-income market. Fixed-income mutual funds of Franklin Templeton come at reasonable costs with high ratings from major fund-rating agencies.

Templeton Global Bond Fund Class C (TEGBX)

Assets under management (AUM): $45.2 billion

2010-2015 average annual net asset value (NAV) return: 1.75%

Net expense ratio: 1.28%

The Templeton Global Bond Fund Class C invests in a wide spectrum of bonds and debt of different maturities and risks. The fund holds mostly government and government agency bonds. Its research efforts focus on country analysis to find imbalances in values of interest rates, sovereign credit and currencies. The fund has a major emerging market profile with sovereign bonds issued by Mexico and Hungary accounting for 15% and 14% of the fund's assets, respectively. The fund also holds sovereign bonds of other nations, most notably Indonesia (9% allocation), Brazil (8% allocation) and Ukraine (8% allocation). About 60% of the fund's holdings are rated A or above, with junk bonds having 20% allocation. Because the fund invests in fixed-income securities denominated in local currencies, its returns may be subject to foreign currency fluctuations.

Due to its solid risk-adjusted returns, Morningstar has given the fund a five-star overall rating and a gold analyst rating. The fund charges investors a load fee of 1% and requires an initial investment of $1,000. It has a very low average duration of 0.22 year and a 30-day SEC yield of 2.65%.

Franklin Federal Tax-Free Income Fund Class Advisor (FKTIX)

AUM: $11.3 billion

2010-2015 average annual NAV return: 4.59%

Net expense ratio: 0.61%

The Franklin Federal Tax-Free Income Fund Class Advisor invests in debt instruments whose income is exempt from federal income taxes, such as investment-grade municipal securities. The fund boasts a highly experienced management team that buys and holds fixed-income securities until their maturity. The fund focuses on high-quality undervalued municipal bonds and does not use leverage or invest in derivatives. This has resulted in an exceptionally low portfolio turnover of about 5.5% and high tax efficiency for the fund's investors. Over 80% of the fund's assets are held in municipal bonds with a credit rating of A or above. California and Texas bonds have the largest allocation of 14% and 11%, respectively.

The fund has earned a five-star overall rating from Morningstar along with a silver analyst rating. It has an average duration of 4.3 years and a 30-day SEC yield of 1.89%. The fund requires a minimum investment of $1,000.

Franklin Total Return Fund Class Advisor (FKBAX)

AUM: $5.0 billion

2010-2015 average annual NAV return: 3.63%

Net expense ratio: 0.87%

The Franklin Total Return Fund Class Advisor is a multi-sector fixed-income fund that invests in government and corporate debt securities. The fund primarily focuses on investment-grade bonds that have over 80% allocation. Corporate bonds account for about 30% of the fund's assets, while agency mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) and international bonds have 19% and 10% allocations, respectively.

The fund has earned a four-star overall rating from Morningstar and a bronze analyst rating. It has an effective duration of five years and a 30-day SEC yield of 2.67%. The fund comes with a $1,000 minimum investment.

Franklin Strategic Income Fund Class Advisor (FRSTX)

AUM: $7.7 billion

2010-2015 average annual NAV return: 3.65%

Net expense ratio: 0.84%

The Franklin Strategic Income Fund Class Advisor invests in a wide variety of U.S. and foreign debt securities, including those in emerging markets. The fund invests in multiple types of fixed-income securities, concentrating on the top ideas available within each sector. Unlike other funds, it has a large portion of its assets tied to non-investment grade bonds that account for about 57% of the fund's portfolio. High-yield corporate bonds have 30% allocation, while international sovereign bonds and floating-rate loans account for 14% and 13% of the fund's assets. Over 90% of the fund's portfolio is denominated in U.S. dollars.

The fund has earned a two-star overall rating from Morningstar. The fund comes with no load fees and has no minimum investment requirement. The effective duration of the portfolio is 3.1 years, while its 30-day SEC yield stands at 5.25%.

Want to learn how to invest?

Get a free 10 week email series that will teach you how to start investing.

Delivered twice a week, straight to your inbox.