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Using the Past to Predict the Future

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, but it can be very helpful in guessing. According to a new report by Financial Research Corp., there are very accurate predictions that can be gleaned based on several facets of past performance. The recently released report is called "Predicting Mutual Fund Performance 2: After the Bear."

"The analytical and regulatory community has spent so much time documenting what past performance cannot tell us, that it has overlooked many valuable insights that past performance holds for investors that know how to correctly interpret it," said Gavin Quill, director of research studies at FRC.

According to the report, there are some distinct correlations between funds' past performance and their future returns. For example, FRC looked at, for the past 15 years, rolling quarterly returns of tax-free bond funds that ranked in the top 10% of their category for five consecutive years. FRC found that in the sixth year, the funds yielded above-average relative returns 100% of the time. The same was true for government bond funds. Corporate bond and international funds yielded above-average relative returns 75% of the time.