The Top 4 MainStay Funds for Retirement

What Are MainStay Funds?

MainStay Funds are a series of mutual funds offered by a subsidiary of New York Life Insurance Company, New York Life Investments. New York Life Insurance is one of the country's largest and oldest financial services firms. The company opened MainStay mutual funds in 1985 to individual retail investors and financial advisors.

This group of mutual funds provides investors with portfolio management in equities, fixed income, multi-asset, money market, and other investment solutions. Fund strategies range from long-term growth, income generation, managing volatility, fighting inflation, tax efficiency, and retirement planning.

The following four MainStay mutual funds are well-suited for those who want to create a diverse portfolio for retirement savings or for anyone exploring their options. Keep reading to find out more about these funds and how they rank. All of the returns listed are based on the net asset value (NAV) of the fund’s Class A shares.

Key Takeaways

  • MainStay mutual funds are offered by New York Life Investments.
  • The MainStay Balanced Fund provides a total return through growth and current income.
  • The goal of the MainStay Income Builder fund is to provide current income for capital and income growth.
  • The MainStay MacKay S&P 500 Index Fund attempts to mirror the returns of the S&P 500.
  • Investors can diversify their portfolios with the MainStay Convertible Fund (MCOAX), which invests in a unique class of securities.

The MainStay Balanced Fund (MBNAX)

  • Inception: Jan. 2, 2004
  • Morningstar Rating: Three-star
  • Minimal Initial Investment: $15,000
  • Annual Fund Operating Expenses: 1.09%

The MainStay Balanced Fund (MBNAX) seeks to provide a total return through a combination of growth and current income. The fund consists of a mixed portfolio of equity securities and fixed income securities. As of Sept. 30, 2021, the fund allocated about 63.6% in common stocks and the remainder in fixed income securities, ETFs, and cash.

The fund had 240 holdings as of Sept. 30, 2021, representing a total of $488 million in net assets. The top five sectors were financials (23.1%), consumer—non-cyclical (16.5%), government (13.1%), industrials (9%), and communications (8%). The top holdings as of this date were:

  • United States Treasury Notes, 0.375%, due 09/15/2024 (4.2%)
  • The iShares Intermediate Government/Credit Bond ETF (3%)
  • JPMorgan Chase (2.6%)
  • United States Treasury Notes, 0.875%, due 09/30/2026 (2.3%)
  • United States Treasury Notes, 0.250%, due 09/30/2023 (2%)

The fund tracks the performance of the Russell 1000 Value Index but is underperforming its benchmark. It returned 10.73%, 22.29%, and 9.25% on a year-to-date (YTD), one-year, and 10-year basis, compared to the underlying index's returns of 16.14%, 35.01%, and 10.07% during the same periods. Dividends are paid every quarter. Distribution rates at NAV were 0.03% as of Dec. 31, 2021.

The MainStay Income Builder Fund (MTRAX)

  • Inception: Jan. 3, 1995
  • Morningstar Rating: Four-star
  • Minimal Initial Investment: $15,000
  • Annual Fund Operating Expenses: 1.03%

The MainStay Income Builder Fund (MTRAX) is a Morningstar four-star rated fund that aims to seek current income for capital and income growth. MTRAX is comprised of a mixture of stocks, fixed income assets, cash, and asset-backed securities.

MTRAX has a portfolio that consists of 547 holdings totaling $1.6 billion in net assets. The top five sectors as of Sept. 30, 2021, were financials (19.5%), consumer—non-cyclical (13.4%), mortgage securities (9.4%), consumer—cyclical (9.1%), and technology (8.6%). The top five holdings as of that date were:

  • Microsoft (1.1%)
  • Apple (1%)
  • United States Treasury Notes, 0.125%, due 01/31/2023 (1%)
  • Analog Devices (1%)
  • Broadcom (0.9%)

The fund's benchmark index is the MSCI World Index. MTRAX has consistently underperformed the index, returning 5.94%, 14.87%, and 8.87% compared to the underlying index's returns of 13.04%, 28.82%, and 12.68% on a YTD, one-year, and 10-year basis. Dividends are paid to investors every month while distribution rates as of Dec. 31, 2021, at NAV were 2.62%. The fund is an excellent investment for a Roth IRA account that shields the entire yield from federal income taxes.

Mutual funds allow investors to pool their money together into different securities and asset classes without having to invest in these individually.

The MainStay MacKay S&P 500 Index Fund (MSXAX)

  • Inception: Jan. 2, 2004
  • Morningstar Rating: Four-star
  • Minimal Initial Investment: $15,000
  • Annual Fund Operating Expenses: 0.54%

The MainStay MacKay S&P 500 Index Fund (MSXAX) is a passively managed fund that seeks to match the total return of the Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500 Index.

The fund accomplishes its investment goals through a portfolio composed of stocks and cash—98.4% and 1.6%, respectively. There were 505 holdings representing $1.3 billion in net assets. Information technology (27.2%), healthcare (13.1%), consumer discretionary (12.2%), financials (11.2%), and communication services (11.1%) were the top five sectors as of Sept. 30, 2021. The following companies were the top five holdings:

  • Apple (6%)
  • Microsoft (5.7%)
  • Alphabet (4.2%)
  • Amazon (3.9%)
  • Meta (formerly Facebook) (2.2%)

As mentioned above, this fund tracks the S&P 500. Investors receive increased diversity as they own a fractional interest in each of the 500 largest publicly traded corporations in the United States. MSXAX returned 15.48%, 29.34%, and 16%, compared to the benchmark's returns of 15.92%, 30%, and 16.63% on a YTD, one-year, and 10-year basis. Dividends are paid annually and the fund has a distribution rate of 0.89%.

The MainStay MacKay Convertible Fund (MCOAX)

  • Inception: Jan. 3, 1995
  • Morningstar Rating: Three-star
  • Minimal Initial Investment: $15,000
  • Annual Fund Operating Expenses: 0.96%

The MainStay Convertible Fund (MCOAX) adds additional diversity to an investment portfolio by choosing a unique class of securities. Convertible securities are instruments such as bonds, preferred stock, or corporate debt that are convertible into a corporation's common stock while paying interest or dividends to the fund.

Fund managers take into account the stability of a firm's financials and the growth potential of its common stock. The convertibility option positions the fund to take extra advantage of a rising stock market. Convertibility also protects investors in fixed-income securities during periods of rising interest rates, as convertible securities hold their value better than other fixed-income assets.

The fund's net assets were $1.9 billion as of Sept. 30, 2021. There were 127 holdings, which spanned a variety of sectors. Among them, the top five were consumer—non-cyclical (23.2%), technology (18.3%), communications (18.2%), energy (10.1%), and consumer—cyclical (9.8%). The top five holdings as of this date were:

  • Danaher Corporation Convertible Preferred Series A (3.7%)
  • Nice, 0.000%, due 09/15/2025 (2.8%)
  • Chart Industries, 1.000%, due 11/15/2024 (2.3%)
  • Pioneer Natural Resources, 0.250%, due 5/15/2025 (2.2%)
  • Southwest Airlines, 1.250%, due 05/01/2025 (2.1%)

The fund's benchmark index is the ICE BofA US Convertible Index, which it has generally underperformed. The fund returned 7.13%, 26.81%, and 12.86% compared to the index, which returned 6.37%, 27.30%, and 14.37% on a YTD, one-year, and 10-year basis respectively. MCOAX pays dividends on a quarterly basis and its distribution rate is 0.0% as of Dec. 31, 2021.

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are a good alternative to mutual funds and are easier to trade as they are offered like stocks.

What Is New York Life Investments?

New York Life Investments is a global asset management firm, managing over $650 billion in assets. The firm offers a variety of investment products to its customers, including mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs).

What Is a MainStay Funds Prospectus?

A MainStay funds prospectus is a fund prospectus of the MainStay funds offered by New York Life Investments. New York Life Investments offers many MainStay funds, each of which is focused on a different strategy. The fund prospectus for each specific fund includes the details of that specific fund, such as the investment objectives and strategies, costs and fees, managers, performance, and holdings.

How Do You Invest in MainStay Funds?

To invest in MainStay funds you can contact New York Life Investments, which is the manager of the funds, or a broker, that will be able to get you started with your investment.

What Are MainStay VP Funds?

MainStay VP funds are specific funds that offer investment options through variable products (VP) that are offered by New York Life Insurance and Annuity Corporation or other products offered by other insurance companies.

The Bottom Line

Having a retirement plan in place is something everyone should consider, even if you just put aside a few bucks a month. You can choose from a variety of different investment options based on your financial position, age, personal situation, budget, and long-term goals.

But you should review your portfolio regularly to ensure you're getting the best possible returns. Keep in mind that the mutual funds we've outlined above are merely suggestions to help guide you on your way. Make sure you consult with a qualified financial professional before you make any decisions.

Article Sources
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  1. New York Life Investments. "MainStay Mutual Funds." Accessed Jan. 2, 2022.

  2. New York Life Investments. "MBNAX MainStay Balanced Fund." Accessed Jan. 2, 2022.

  3. New York Life Investments. "MTRAX MainStay Income Builder Fund." Accessed Jan. 2, 2022.

  4. New York Life Investments. "MSXAX MainStay MacKay S&P 500 Index Fund." Accessed Jan. 2, 2022.

  5. Morningstar. "MainStay MacKay S&P 500 Index A MSXAX." Accessed Jan. 2, 2022.

  6. New York Life Investments. "MCOAX MainStay MacKay Convertible Fund." Accessed Jan. 2, 2022.

  7. New York Life Investments. "Who We Are." Accessed Jan. 2, 2022.

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