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Fund Spy: Morningstar Medalist Edition

3 Upgrades, 9 Downgrades, and a Batch of New Fund Analyst Ratings

See what's new and what changed in February.

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In February, we upgraded the Morningstar Analyst Ratings of three funds, downgraded the ratings of nine funds, and affirmed ratings on 75 funds. The team also assigned new ratings to four mutual funds and 12 exchange-traded funds and placed one fund under review. Below are some of February’s highlights, followed by the full list of ratings changes.

 TIAA-CREF Bond Plus (TIBFX) was upgraded to Bronze from Neutral because of a strong management team, notable track record, and attractive fees. Veteran and lead manager Bill Martin took over the fund in August 2011 and is supported by a large and experienced team that includes comanager Kevin Lorenz, 11 sector portfolio managers, 36 senior analysts, and 15 junior analysts. The group has used a value-driven strategy to guide the fund to an impressive record during Martin’s tenure. This fund invests across a mix of corporate bonds, mortgages, securitized debt, and foreign bonds. The strategy also targets a 20%-30% allocation to “plus” sectors: high-yield bonds, bank loans, and emerging-markets debt. Those sectors come with additional credit risk, but investors have been well compensated for those risks. From Martin’s mid-2011 start date through February 2017, the fund’s 4% return lands just outside of the best-performing decile among its intermediate-term bond Morningstar Category peers.

Kenneth Oshodi does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.