Franklin Resources Inc. (NYSE: BEN) has been serving investors since 1947 and is one of the largest mutual fund companies. As of December 2015, it manages $478 billion in a family of 113 mutual funds. Its mutual funds cover all asset classes and investment scenarios.
These five Franklin Templeton funds have Class A shares that are suitable for retirement plan diversification under current market conditions. Investors in or near retirement should allocate their investments with a bias toward the mutual funds at the top of the list. Younger investors will want to place a larger portion of their investments into funds at the bottom of the list. All returns are based on net asset value.
A combination of these five funds creates a retirement portfolio with full diversity across a large number of companies and asset classes, along with the expert oversight of five sets of fund managers.
Franklin Equity Income Fund
Larger capitalization companies with an advantage in their industry, higher dividend yields and strong financials are the focus of the Equity Income Fund's portfolio. The strong income stream is a balance against down markets and boosts total return over the long term.
The portfolio is mainly in U.S. equities with the investments spread out across over 50 companies in over 10 different sectors, which provides excellent diversity that creates a more stable portfolio. The fund seeks companies that maintain and possibly increase dividend payouts. Increased dividends are drivers of increasing share prices. It may also invest in convertible preferred stock to boost yields.
The Equity Income Fund has a five-year annualized return of 10.62% and standardized yield of 1.81%. It is an excellent fund for a larger share of a retirement portfolio, whether the investor is saving for retirement or already retired.
Franklin Utilities Fund
The case against investing in utilities is that when interest rates are rising, prices of utility stocks fall because investors are comparing the yields with future bond yields. This is often true, but the current market situation is unusual. The economic demand is growing, and energy prices have fallen steeply.
Half of the Utilities Fund’s portfolio consists of electric utilities stocks. The rates utilities charge are not going to decline, so every bit of the decrease in energy prices goes straight to the bottom line. Increased profits allow the companies to raise dividends, which supports and eventually lifts share prices. This is a winning combination of high income and growth.
The fund has a five-year annualized total return of 11.2% and a yield of 3.05%. The annualized return since the fund's inception in 1948 is 9.75%.
Franklin Rising Dividends Fund
The Rising Dividends Fund looks for the best of everything in the companies it chooses for its portfolio. Candidates must have increased dividends eight out of the last 10 years and doubled dividends over that period. The stocks must be a good value, have little debt and be investing heavily in future corporate growth.
This is similar to the Franklin Equity Income Fund's philosophy with one difference. The Rising Dividends Fund includes high-performing small- and mid-cap stocks in its portfolio, providing investors with greater diversity and expanded opportunities for profit.
The fund’s five-year annualized total return is 10.42%. It has no stated current yield, but it makes quarterly distributions of income received.
Franklin Growth Fund
The Growth Fund looks for large firms that have strong financials, excellent cash flow and high potential for continued growth. The big difference between this fund and the Franklin Growth and Income Fund is that the stocks for this portfolio do not need to pay dividends. It can also invest up to 40% of assets in the equities of foreign companies. Growth and global exposure are important for at least a small portion of an individual retirement account (IRA).
The fund has a five-year annualized return of 12.44% and has no stated yield. Income and gains realized by the fund are paid out annually. The growth and foreign investing components are combined in a portfolio that spreads across over 150 companies to give greater diversity to any retirement savings plan.
Franklin Growth Opportunities Fund
The Growth Opportunities Fund uses a multi-cap strategy that brings the growth potential of promising small- and mid-cap companies into the mix. This increases risk, but it provides greater potential for a higher return over the long term.
The fund has a five-year annualized return of 12.68% and no current yield. It pays out dividends and capital gains annually.