01/03/2017

Aquila Group of Funds’ Municipal Bond Funds Recognized by U.S. News and World Report

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Aquila Group of Funds’ seven single state municipal bond funds were recently included in a US News and World Report Best Funds list for Municipal Single State Intermediate Funds.

For over 30 years, we have sought to provide municipal bond fund investors with double tax-exempt income and preservation of capital. We seek to manage interest rate and credit risk by consistently maintaining broadly-diversified, high-quality bond portfolios with an intermediate average maturity.

Our locally based portfolio managers and credit analysts have an up-close perspective on bond issuers and the economy in their states. We believe this gives them valuable insights about the economic and political climate of the state and the financing needs and the capabilities of individual issuers.

The U.S. News Mutual Fund scores assigned to the 65 funds included in the Municipal Single State Intermediate Category is produced using an equal weighting of the overall ratings provided by their data sources (Morningstar, S&P, Lipper Leaders, Zacks, and TheStreet.com ), and was published on 11/22/16. Individual fund rating systems are normalized to a 100-point scale based on point totals assigned to individual scoring systems. For example, each star from Morningstar would receive 20 points. The U.S. News score is calculated by dividing total points awarded according to their system by the five data sources. The Combined U.S. News Mutual Fund Score ranks funds numerically based on the score and funds with identical scores are awarded the same numerical ranking.

Before investing in a Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus. The prospectuses are available on this site, from your financial adviser and when you call 800-437-1020.

06/01/2016

Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund Celebrates 10 Years

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Tenth anniversary symbol in gold isolated on white backgroundTen years ago, with the launch of Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund, we introduced what we believe is a time-tested, distinctive high-yield investment strategy to the market.

The strategy focuses on finding high-yield corporate issuers with experienced management teams that are generating free cash flow and committed to improving the corporate balance sheet. We avoid highly-cyclical industries and invest most, if not all, of the Fund’s assets in high-yield, income producing, corporate debt securities, making Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund a true high-yield portfolio.
The implementation of the strategy over the last 10 years has resulted in positive total returns for the Fund in each year other than 2008 (an extremely tough year for most asset classes in the wake of the financial crisis). The Fund has never experienced the default of a bond held in the portfolio.

The strategy’s success is rooted in intense, hands-on research by a team that is sticking to their recipe. The portfolio managers and analysts do their homework – they kick the proverbial tires with visits to the companies in which the Fund invests. They meet with management teams, employees, customers and even competitors. They also take a conservative approach by avoiding what they believe are overly-risky sectors and securities – this approach has served the Fund well in periods of volatility, but also means the fund may lag during particularly strong markets.

The Fund was recently recognized for its one-year performance in both the WSJ’s Category Kings and InvestmentNews’ Best-and-Worst Performing Fixed-Income Funds. Current quarter-end performance can be found on the Fund Fact Sheet.
Read more “Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund Celebrates 10 Years”

04/20/2016

Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund Recognized as a Category King

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Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund was included in a Category Kings report by The Wall Street Journal for the one-year period ending March 31, 2016. The Category Kings report recognizes the top 10 performing funds, based on total return, in 16 Lipper categories for the one-year period. Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund class Y (ATPYX) was listed at #6 in the Lipper High Yield Taxable category, out of 646 taxable high yield funds. During this period, the Fund generated a total return of 3.13%, compared to the Lipper High Yield Taxable category average of -4.03%, and the Barclays US Corporate High Yield Index Return of -3.69%.

We believe our relatively defensive positioning within the high yield market in recent years, with a focus on higher-quality names and lower-duration securities within those names, has been prudent, and as a result has produced relatively stable performance within the high yield asset class.

We remain focused on evaluating high yield issuers based on our fundamental research process in which we look for companies that are improving their balance sheets and growing their businesses in a disciplined manner. We believe our focus on providing a less volatile investment strategy within the high yield asset class is judicious given the potential for elevated volatility in this relatively low-yielding fixed-income environment.

Read more “Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund Recognized as a Category King”

12/02/2015

Barron’s Profiles Co-Portfolio Manager Sandy Rufenacht

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Barron’s profiled the co-portfolio manager of Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund and Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund, Sandy Rufenacht, in their November 16, 2015 issue in an article by Reshma Kapadia titled Two for the Money.

Sandy Rufenacht Co-Portfolio Manager

Sandy Rufenacht
Co-Portfolio Manager

The distinctive research and investment approach implemented in managing both funds is described as originating with intensive debt analysis while gathering detailed information about a company, often from unconventional sources. Other elements of the research and strategy include developing an understanding of free cash flow and debt covenants.

Spend some time reading the Barron’s article to gain a perspective on the strategies of the two funds, and see the Investment Process Summary for both funds.

For the most recent quarter-end performance, see the Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund Fact Sheet and the Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund Fact Sheet.

Before investing in one of the Aquila Group of Funds, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus. The prospectus is available on this site, from your financial advisor, or by calling 800-437-1020.

10/01/2015

MarketWatch Recognizes Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund

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In the September 29, 2015 edition of MarketWatch, Conrad De Aenlle’s Funds for Thought article reviews the Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund strategy relative to category peers, and describes Co-Portfolio Manager Sandy Rufenacht’s leverage of his experience and research in the high-yield bond market to find equity investment opportunities. Conrad notes that unlike some funds that performed well in the third quarter, but have been long-term underperformers, Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund performed well during recent market volatility relative to its Morningstar mid-cap growth peers, and has performed well within the category over the most recent five-year period.

Additional information on Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund and its distinctive strategy, including current performance, is available on this site.

Before investing in a Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus, which is available on this site, from your financial advisor, and when you call 800-437-1020.

09/18/2015

Enhanced Features on Shareholder Service Line

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In the near future, when you call our customer service line at 800-437-1000, our phone system will offer enhanced self-service features, utilizing the very latest technology and natural language understanding capabilities to provide a simple and user friendly call experience.

When you use our new telephone system for the first time, you may be required to establish new login credentials. If so, you will be prompted at login to establish a new personal identification number (PIN) and will need to have your Social Security number and your account number readily available.

However, new functionality does not mean you can’t talk to us directly. You always have the option to speak live to a representative. Our contact center staff is happy to help you with any of our products or services during regular business hours.

 

09/01/2015

Are Fears in the Municipal Bond Market Misplaced?

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Writing for On Wall Street in an article published 9/1/2015, Jeff Tjornehoj, who heads up Lipper’s research efforts in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, evaluates whether recent outflows from municipal bond funds might represent misplaced fears.  In support of his case, Mr. Tjornehoj points to three factors influencing the municipal market which may either be resolved in the near term, or be somewhat overstated in the headlines.  In regard to Puerto Rico, Jeff concludes that while headline risk isn’t going away, the commonwealth has more to lose in a default scenario than by working with creditors.  Supply in the municipal market has risen over the past year largely as the result of new issuance the form of refinancing at current rates, ahead of the much-anticipated Fed Funds rate increase.  In the current environment, yields on municipal bonds are very attractive relative to Treasuries, adding to the appeal of the asset class.  Finally, the US Treasury market has experienced increased volatility amid global economic concerns and the continuing ‘will they – won’t they’ debate over an increase in the Federal Funds rate.  Mr. Tjornehoj’s contention is that once the Fed makes their move on rates, a cloud of uncertainty will clear from the markets.  See the full article for Mr. Tjornehoj’s discussion of these topics. 

You will find information on the Aquila Group of Funds seven double tax-exempt municipal bond funds on this site.

Before investing in a Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus, which is available on this site, from your financial adviser, and when you call 800-437-1020.

08/26/2015

Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund – Bloomberg feature

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Bloomberg Markets published a feature describing the distinctive aspects of the Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund investment strategy, which co-portfolio manager Sandy Rufenacht summarized as “return on debt paydown”.   Investment ideas for the Fund originate with high-yield bond research and the identification of high-yield issuers that plan to pay down debt, thereby improving the corporate balance sheet.  Mr. Rufenacht and co-manager Zach Miller search for companies with balance sheets that “have enough leverage to propel shareholders’ equity, but not so much leverage that they’re looked down on in the high-yield market”.  This brand of high-yield bond research and a conservative approach to the high-yield market are also deployed in the management of Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund.

Sandy Rufenacht also discussed the Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund investment strategy during a Bloomberg TV interview on August 25, 2015 in which reference was made to the article.

Earlier this year, Lipper recognized Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund with a 2015 Lipper Fund Award based on the 3-year performance period ending 12/31/2014.  The Wall Street Journal has repeatedly included the Fund in its Category Kings report in their mid-cap core category.

In an interview published on the Aquila Group of Funds website, Mr. Rufenacht described his approach to searching for “companies demonstrating their fiscal responsibility by paying down debt and generating the free cash flow to do so—cash flow that ideally is earmarked for debt paydown through covenants.”  Both Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund and Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund are managed following a consistent and disciplined investment approach aligned with the guiding principles of Aquila Group of Funds.

Additional information on Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund, including current performance, is available on this site.

Before investing in a Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus, which is available on this site, from your financial advisor, and when you call 800-437-1020.

08/03/2015

Facebook Aquila Project Draws on a Familiar Namesake

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Aquila, the Latin term meaning eagle, was selected by the founder of Aquila Group of Funds, Lacy Herrmann, as the name and brand of the mutual fund company that he launched over 30 years ago.  Mr. Herrmann’s mission then was to provide investors, in states under-served by the small number of single-state municipal bond funds available at the time, with funds that would generate income exempt from both state and federal income tax.

On July 30, 2015 another corporate founder announced an ambitious new project, also dubbed Aquila.  Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, announced that Aquila, the company’s high-altitude, solar-powered aircraft, would take its first test flight later in 2015.  The Facebook Aquila aircraft will use laser communication technology to provide high-speed internet connectivity to people not served by landlines and cellular networks.  According to Facebook Vice President, Jay Parikh, their mission is “to connect everybody in the world”.

The Aquila Group of Funds has been providing investment strategies to our valued fund shareholders and their financial advisors since 1985.  Learn more about the Guiding Principles of Aquila Group of Funds, and about the investment services we provide, on this site.

07/20/2015

All I Want for Christmas is Muni Bonds

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Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, in a recent interview with Bond Buyer, suggested that parents should consider giving their children municipal bonds as Christmas gifts.  “I think that it’s probably a lot better for the economy and the planet than buying a kid another toy that’s going to break in 20 minutes.”  Senator Wyden has been meeting with constituents in hundreds of town-hall meetings throughout Oregon, observing that the future of counties and municipalities will require investment in infrastructure supported by municipal bonds.

Senator Wyden has also been promoting his latest bond bill known as the Move America Act of 2015 which would provide a means of financing projects with public and private investment in order to address the nationwide need for investment in infrastructure.  The municipal market has taken a positive view of Wyden’s proposal with the stipulation that Move America Bonds supplement, rather than replace, traditional tax-exempt bonds.  Wyden’s bill is currently being reviewed by House members prior to introduction.