# Understanding Alpha and Beta in Mutual Funds

When analyzing mutual fund returns, it is essential to look beyond just the returns. Investors often check the risk associated with these funds, which brings us to two crucial metrics: alpha and beta. These metrics help in understanding the performance and risk of mutual funds compared to the market.

Alpha measures the excess return of a fund relative to the return of a benchmark index. It answers the question: Did the fund provide better returns than expected, given its risk?

Beta, on the other hand, measures the volatility of a fund relative to the market. It tells us how much a fund’s returns move compared to the market.

## The Importance of Alpha in Mutual Fund Analysis

Alpha is a key performance metric that helps investors determine if a fund manager’s investment decisions have added value. It indicates whether a fund has performed better or worse than its benchmark index, given the level of risk taken.

## How to Calculate Alpha in mutual fund

The formula for calculating alpha is:

$Alpha=Fund Return−(Risk-Free Rate+β×(Market Return−Risk-Free Rate))$

In this formula:

**Fund Return**is the return provided by the mutual fund.**Risk-Free Rate**is the return on risk-free investments, typically government bonds.**Beta**represents the fund’s sensitivity to market movements.**Market Return**is the return of the benchmark index.

For instance, if the risk-free rate is 6.8%, the fund return is 10%, beta is 1, and the market return is 8%, the alpha would be calculated as follows:

Alpha = 10% – (6.8% + 1 * (8% – 6.8%))

Alpha = 10% – (6.8% + 1.2%)

Alpha = 10% – 8%

Alpha = 2%

This indicates that the fund has outperformed the market by 2%, considering the risk taken.

## The Role of Beta in Mutual Fund Selection

Beta is a measure of a fund’s volatility relative to the market. A beta of 1 indicates that the fund’s price moves with the market. A beta less than 1 means the fund is less volatile than the market, and a beta greater than 1 indicates higher volatility.

## How to Calculate Beta Ratio

Beta is calculated through regression analysis by taking the monthly values of mutual fund and market, which compares the returns in percentage of the fund to the returns of the market over a specified period.

You can calculate beta in Excel using the SLOPE function . SLOPE calculates the slope of a linear regression line, representing the relationship between the fund’s returns and the benchmark’s returns.

**Standard deviation**, on the other hand, measures the total volatility of a fund’s returns, indicating how much the returns deviate from the fund’s average return. It reflects the fund’s absolute risk without comparing it to the market, capturing all sources of volatility.

For example, if DSP Midcap Fund has a beta of 0.97, it means that the fund’s price movements are closely aligned with the market but slightly less volatile. On the other hand, if a fund like Kotak Infrastructure has a beta of 0.4, its price movements are much less volatile than the market.

## High Alpha and Low Beta Mutual Funds

Investors often seek mutual funds with high alpha and low beta, as these funds indicate higher returns with lower risk. However, it’s important to understand that a low beta does not necessarily mean high returns, and a high beta does not guarantee better performance.

### Examples of High Alpha Low Beta Mutual Funds

Let’s consider some examples:

**DSP Midcap Fund**: In 2014, this fund had an alpha of 5.89. Over the last ten years, it has provided an annualized return of 17%, compared to the index return of 20%.

**Motilal Oswal Flexicap Fund**: In 2016, it had an alpha of 16. Over the past seven years, it has given a return of 13.42%, while the index has returned 16%.

**ICICI ELSS Fund**: In 2012, it had an alpha of 3. Despite this, it has not consistently beaten the index over the last decade.

## Using Alpha and Beta to Select Mutual Funds

While alpha and beta provide valuable insights into a mutual fund’s performance, they shouldn’t be the sole determinants of investment decisions. These metrics are calculated based on historical data and may not accurately predict future performance.

**Alpha and beta can be useful for comparing funds within a specific category.**

For instance, a fund with a higher alpha and lower beta compared to its peers might be a more attractive option. However, selecting the overall best mutual fund across different categories based solely on these metrics is challenging.

It’s essential to consider additional factors like the fund manager’s experience, the fund’s investment strategy, expense ratios, and overall market conditions when making investment choices.

### Conclusion

Alpha and beta are essential metrics for mutual fund analysis, providing insights into the performance and risk of a fund. Understanding how to calculate and use these metrics can help investors make informed decisions and select funds that align with their investment goals.

## Frequently Asked Questions

**What is a Good Alpha?**

In the context of mutual funds, a good alpha indicates that the fund has outperformed its benchmark index, considering the risk taken. Generally, an alpha greater than zero is considered good because it signifies that the fund has provided better returns than expected, given its level of market risk

**How is beta calculated in mutual funds?**

Beta is calculated through regression analysis, comparing the fund’s returns to the market returns over a specified period.

**Why are alpha and beta important in mutual fund selection?**

Alpha indicates a fund’s performance relative to the market, while beta measures its volatility. Together, they help in evaluating the risk-return profile of a fund.

**Can a fund have high alpha and low beta?**

Yes, a fund can have high alpha and low beta, indicating higher returns with lower volatility compared to the market.

**Should I rely only on alpha and beta to select mutual funds?**

No, it’s advisable to consider other factors such as the fund manager’s track record, expense ratio, and the fund’s investment strategy.

**How do I find high alpha low beta mutual funds?**

You can find these funds by analyzing their historical performance, comparing their alpha and beta, and considering their investment objectives.

### What Does a Positive and Negative Alpha Indicate?

A positive alpha indicates that the mutual fund has performed better than the market would predict based on its beta (risk level). Here’s what it means:

**Superior Performance**: The fund manager has successfully made investment decisions that have led to returns higher than the benchmark index.**Added Value**: The fund provides additional returns above what would be expected from taking on the level of risk measured by beta.**Effective Management**: Positive alpha often reflects the skill and expertise of the fund manager in selecting investments that outperform the market.