Best Growth Mutual Funds for Beginners

High-Quality, No-Lead Growth Funds

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Growth stock mutual funds invest in growth companies, usually young businesses in sectors that are booming. They can be used for long-term investing or for holding during optimal stages of the business cycle. Those who are interested in growth funds should understand the nature and benefits of this popular investment vehicle.

Here's a rundown on growth funds and some good choices for growth fund beginners.

Key Takeaways

  • Growth funds are mutual funds or ETFs that hold stocks of companies expected to grow quicker than the stock market.
  • Growth funds see the best performance right before the business cycle peaks. For this reason, many investors try to time their growth fund purchases.
  • You can choose from passive- or active-managed growth funds, which can be industry-specific or cover a broad swath of the market.
  • Some of the best growth funds include VIGAX, FTNCX, and FSPTX.

What Are Growth Funds?

Growth funds are mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that hold growth stocks. These are stocks of companies expected to grow faster than the overall stock market.

It's critical to understand the differences between growth stocks—and the funds that invest in them—and value investing. If you invest in growth stocks, you're buying stocks of companies in the growth phase.

During this phase, a company is growing in terms of revenues (and hopefully its profit margin) faster than during other stages, such as the startup and maturity phases. During the growth phase, most companies reinvest profits in the company; this is done rather than paying dividends to shareholders. Companies in their mature phase are more often viewed as value stocks.

Tip

Businesses go through five stages: seeding and development, startup, growth and establishment, expansion, and maturity. Each phase brings different investment possibilities.

An example of a growth stock is Amazon (AMZN). A value stock example is Proctor & Gamble (PG). Both are large companies; however, AMZN is still in the growth phase of its business life cycle. It uses a large portion of its profit to reinvest in the company. On the other hand, P&G is in the mature stage. It shares more of its profits with shareholders in the form of dividends.

When Is the Best Time to Invest in Growth Funds?

Mutual funds and ETFs are generally intended to be long-term holdings. That most often means at least three years, but it may be 10 years or more. With that said, growth funds typically outperform value funds in the last stage of an economic cycle. This is also known as the period before a recession begins.

Tip

Many people try to buy stocks right before a recession ends; then, they try to sell just before a recession begins. These periods can last more than a year or less than a few weeks.

For instance, growth funds have outperformed value funds since 2007. This was the final calendar year before the Great Recession of 2008.

What Are the Best Growth Funds for Most Investors?

Choosing a growth fund for your portfolio is no different than shopping for clothes. There is no one-size-fits-all choice that works for everyone. But there are some that consistently perform.

If you want to passively invest in large-cap U.S. growth stocks with a low-cost, no-load mutual fund, the Vanguard Growth Index Fund Admiral Shares (VIGAX) is an excellent choice. The VIGAX portfolio consists of about 260 of the most significant growth names in the U.S.; these include the likes of AMZN and Facebook (FB). Expenses are low at 0.05%, and the minimum initial investment is $3,000.

If you want to take the actively managed route, you may not find a better growth stock mutual fund than Fidelity Contrafund (FCNTX). This is true at least while veteran manager Will Danoff is at the helm. Danoff, FCNTX's manager since 1990, has seen just about every economic and market environment you can imagine. He's averaged top-notch performance in the long run.

Note

Actively managed funds continuously turnover stocks within the fund; they switch out lower-performing ones for stocks that generate higher returns.

FCNTX has performed ahead of the average large growth fund for 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year returns. With its outstanding performance and high-quality management, the expense ratio of 0.86% is cheap. Plus, there is no minimum initial investment.

Those looking for a pure dose of growth in a sector fund will want to consider some of the best technology funds, like Fidelity Select Technology (FSPTX). Tech stocks are commonly the most aggressive growth stocks you can buy. The FSPTX portfolio holds mostly large-cap tech stocks like Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), and Nvidia (NVDA). Expenses are reasonable at 0.69%; there is no minimum investment.