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GuideStone Financial Resources offers positive mid-year review

DALLAS (BP)–GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention completed the first six months of 2005 with strong performances of the AB Funds Trust registered mutual funds, while also increasing services to participants. At the close of the second quarter total assets grew to $8.4 billion.

Ten of the 13 AB Funds Trust mutual funds (GS4 share class) available to Southern Baptist participants turned in a positive performance for the six-month period ending June 30, 2005, and all 13 funds have positive returns since their inception on Aug. 27, 2001.

In addition, 10 of 13 AB Funds Trust mutual funds (77 percent) posted both one-year and three-year performance records above median in their respective peer universes as of June 30, according to Lipper Inc., a Reuters Company, a nationally recognized organization that compares the performance of mutual funds having similar investment objectives.

For the AB Funds Trust Extended-Duration Bond Fund, the GS2 share class was ranked number 1, and the GS4 share class was ranked number 3, out of 163 for the one-year period ending June 30. For the three-year period, the GS2 class ranked 11 of 119 and the GS4 class ranked number 13.

(The share classes are defined in the prospectus of each fund and largely relate to eligibility of participants and fund size.)

The Lipper comparison is made across registered mutual funds, ranking the funds with similar objectives according to total returns. These investment returns are calculated after operating expenses have been deducted from each fund, but the rankings do not take sales charges into account. Lipper rankings are subject to change monthly, and past rankings are no guarantee of future results.

Lipper also reported that as of Dec. 31, 2004, the total expense ratio for 12 of 13 AB Funds Trust mutual funds in the GS4 share class were below the average of other mutual funds in their respective fund categories.*

Rodric E. Cummins, vice president and investment officer of AB Funds Trust, said the fund performance and Lipper rankings “reflect well on the quality of investment management services available through AB Funds Trust and the overall value offered to our investors.”

In his quarterly market commentary, Cummins added the organization’s “uncompromising commitment to our investors is to provide the highest quality investment management services in the industry. These are lofty objectives that require consistent attention to detail within the multiple disciplines of investment management including portfolio management, compliance and proper governance.”

GuideStone Financial Resources makes available to its participants a family of registered mutual funds through AB Funds Trust. The funds serve as the investment vehicle for employee benefit plans.

This year also included the introduction of several new services. In June, GuideStone Financial Resources launched an updated website with improved navigation and graphics, and mailed redesigned quarterly account statements offering a comprehensive, easy-to-understand overview of a participant’s retirement account.

June was also the month GuideStone announced it will offer online retirement planning advice and guidance services from Morningstar Associates, LLC, to retirement participants in the fall.

John R. Jones, GuideStone’s chief operating officer, said, “Our participants have been asking for direction on how to invest for retirement and we believe the Morningstar tool will help them make the most of their retirement plan options.”
*Twelve of the AB Funds Trust funds in the GS4 share class ranked below the arithmetic mean expense ratio for their respective categories and also ranked in the bottom half of funds in their respective categories with regard to total expense ratio. Lipper’s rankings are based on the actual expenses stated in the AB Funds Trust Annual Report, dated Dec. 31, 2004. Since then, the expense ratios have been raised for the two of the GS4 share class funds and lowered for one of the GS4 class funds, but the total number of GS4 class funds falling below the average expense ratio in their respective categories would have remained the same had the current expense structure been in effect as of Dec. 31, 2004. Expense ratio rankings vary by share class and are more favorable for the GS2 share class and less favorable for the GS6 share class than they are for the GS4 class. Both former and current expense ratios reflect fee waivers and reimbursements by the investment adviser. Rankings would have been less favorable had those waivers and reimbursements not been in effect. Current waivers and reimbursements are in effect until April 30, 2006, at which time they could be discontinued.

    About the Author

  • Curtis D. Sharp