Stay Away From These Closed-End Funds


A truism made more valid today: Investing is not for the faint of heart. Most of the top-performing closed-end funds in August have crashed in the past few days.

Two that I would not touch have ties to energy. At 13.7%, no fund on the list did better than Tortoise Energy Capital. With oil dropping to the $90s, the prospects for its holdings of Kinder Morgan , Plains All American, Enbridge Energy and Sunoco Logistics have gone south as well.

The other is from the emerging-market-income category. The Western Asset Emerging Markets Floating Rate Fund added 8.5% in August before giving it all back this month.

Half the fund's investments are in the sovereign debt of oil-rich countries like Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and Egypt. A total of 44.5% of its holdings are allocated to corporate debt including HSBC Bank, Gazprom and Mexico's Pemex.

While there are no safe bets in this market, the month-to-date beating taken by Eagle Capital Growth Fund has left it trading at a discount to net asset value of almost 10%. That's not a bad way to purchase some of its top holdings, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, PepsiCo, and Sysco, all of which have held up well.

Best Performing Closed-End Fund for Each Objective in August
Objective Fund (Ticker) Rating August 2008 Total Return
Corporate - High Yield BlackRock Debt Strategies Fund Inc (DSU) C 4.52%
Corporate - Investment Grade Rivus Bond Fund (BDF) C+ 3.44%
Emerging Market Equity Templeton Emerging Markets Fd (EMF) C+ -7.22%
Emerging Market Income Western Asset Emerg Mkts Fltg (EFL) B+ 8.52%
Equity Income J Hancock Preferred Income III (HPS) D+ 7.40%
General Bd - Investment Grade BlackRock Income Opportunity Trust (BNA) C+ 2.72%
General Mortgage PIMCO Strategic Glob Gov Fund (RCS) C- 8.54%
Global Equity Gabelli Global Deal Fund (GDL) C+ 4.21%
Global Income AllianceBernstein Global High Inc (AWF) B+ 4.01%
Government Bond BlackRock Enhanced Government (EGF) C- 2.98%
Growth - Domestic Eagle Capital Growth Fund (GRF) C- 9.23%
Growth & Income The Cushing MLP Total Return Fund (SRV) U 7.32%
Loan Participation Eaton Vance Credit Opportunities (EOE) D 3.94%
Multi-Sector Bond Highland Credit Strategies Fund (HCF) D 2.95%
INSERT Nuveen Muni High Income Opport 2 (NMD) U 2.98%
Municipal - National Morgan Stanley Muni Inc Opp (OIA) C+ 6.01%
Municipal Single State Eaton Vance Insured MA Muni Bond (MAB) D+ 7.40%
Non-US Equity India Fund (IFN) C+ 0.32%
Sector - Energy/Natural Res Tortoise Energy Capital (TYY) C- 13.68%
Sector - Financial Services First Trust/Gallatin Spl Fin & Finl (FGB) E- 4.89%
Sector - Health/Biotechnology BlackRock Health Sciences Trust (BME) B+ 3.11%
Sector - Precious Metals Gabelli Global Gold Nat Res&Income (GGN) B+ -5.19%
Sector - Utilities DNP Select Income Fund Inc (DNP) B- 3.15%
Source: Ratings

As with any trade, you can lose money. Remember to place stop-loss orders to help protect you from sudden moves against positions.

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