While Crane Data doesn't believe that investors and advisors will necessarily benefit from spending time analyzing money market mutual fund portfolio holdings, we're happy to assist those whose bosses insist or those that have time to kill. As Saturday's Wall Street Journal article "Money Funds Opening Up" indicates, asking for fund holdings has become quite popular. The WSJ says, "Investors can get some broad information about their fund by visiting its Web site and looking at its 'composition' or 'fact sheet'.... For more details, investors can look at a list of all of the funds' holdings, either on its Web site or on the Securities and Exchange Commission's Edgar Web site: http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/mutualsearch.htm.

Money market mutual funds have been required to disclose holdings to investors semiannually, though the majority of institutional funds disclose monthly (and did so even prior to the recent credit crisis). Many are now disclosing even more frequently, particularly those that have had particular holdings called into question. You can use Crane Data's Resources page to click straight to the money fund information on fund family websites. (Most semiannual and annual reports, which contain holdings, or N-Q filings, are just one or two clicks away.) For professionals, Crane Data's pending `Money Fund Wisdom website and Money Fund Intelligence XLS will soon have "hotlinks" to holdings.

Alas, money fund holdings are like subatomic particles -- by the time you look for them, they're gone. Many do not even have CUSIPs and the shifting nature of the short-term money markets, particularly now, defy simple categorization. The profile of money fund securities has changed dramatically over the decades as the number of AAA-rated corporations in America has dwindled to a handful. So even the most experienced investors will not have a clue about whether an obscure "conduit" name, maturity date, and a series of footnotes is safe or not. Average maturity profiles of 37 days on average indicate that funds in effect turn over their entire portfolios every month, which quickly make past holdings lists useless.

We argue that money fund investing has become an extremely complex business, best left to professionals. Just as it would be silly to ask to see the controls of a Boeing 747 after hitting an air pocket, investors are better served monitoring the yield, and trusting in the brand names of the professional manufacturers and distributors, and trusting in funds' 35-year history of safety, having never lost a penny of individual investors' money.

Email This Article




Use a comma or a semicolon to separate

captcha image