What is NAV in Mutual Funds?

Mutual fund units are allotted based on the fund’s net asset value (NAV). Below, we explore the meaning of NAV and its relevance to an investor’s decision-making process.

Wondering what is NAV in mutual funds? Keep reading to find out.

What is Mutual Fund NAV?

Mutual fund net asset value (NAV) measures the per unit price of the fund. In other words, NAV is the price at which investors can buy or redeem units from an AMC. It is the intrinsic value of the mutual fund.

Generally, fund houses issue mutual fund units at a base price of Rs. 10. This value increases as the fund grows the value of its assets under management (AUM). Similarly, the NAV value can drop when the corpus’ market value diminishes. Thus, NAV represents the true worth of a fund.

Does this imply that NAV is similar to the market price of a share? Let’s find out.

What is the Distinction Between NAV & Market Price?

While you may think that NAV is similar to a share price since both of them are reflective of the respective fund/ company’s worth, this is not the case. Unlike share price, which is determined by the supply and demand dynamics, NAV is based on the market value of securities, after factoring in liabilities and funding expenses.

Additionally, a fund’s NAV is not indicative of its future performance, which is in contrast to a company’s share price, which is emblematic of a company’s prospects.

A mutual fund’s NAV value does not go up because of increased demand. This value rises only when the market value of AUM surges.

Finally, instead of being dynamic like a share price, NAV is calculated at the end of a day after the markets close.

How is NAV Calculated?

Now that we know NAV is not similar to a share price, how do we calculate NAV?

Primarily, a fund’s NAV can be computed by two methods: General NAV calculation and Daily NAV calculation. We explain them below

General NAV Calculation

A better way to understand the General NAV calculation is through an example. Assume you wish to invest in a mutual fund with a current NAV value of Rs. 100 via SIP of Rs. 50,000 per month. As a result, you can purchase 50 units per month on the day of purchase.

Daily NAV Calculation

SEBI has mandated all AMCs to calculate a fund’s NAV daily and post it by 9 pm on their websites. Thus, when the markets close, fund houses estimate the final value of their portfolios, and calculate the NAV, also known as the closing price, of the fund. This price becomes the opening price the next day.

The following net asset value formula is used to calculate the closing price of a mutual fund:

NAV formula = (Assets – Liabilities) / Total number of outstanding share units

To illustrate, consider a fund that has Rs. 300 lakhs in assets, Rs. 100 lakhs in liabilities, and has issued 10 lakh units to its investors, then

NAV = Rs. (200 – 100) / 10

NAV = Rs. 20 per unit

Investors must note that funding expenses, such as administration & management expenses, distribution costs, advertising expenses, etc., are proportionally charged and adjusted in the fund’s NAV calculation.

Thus, a fund’s NAV is similar to a company’s book value as it adjusts the total value of cash and securities held for liabilities and divides this value by the units outstanding.

What is the Role of NAV in Decision Making?

Even though the NAV values are updated daily, surprisingly, they have very little relevance when it comes to making the final call about investing in a particular mutual fund.

To illustrate, below we state the NAVs of a few funds as of 30th October 2022:

 Fund NAV (Rs.) ICICI Prudential Blue-chip Fund – Direct Plan-Growth Large Cap Fund 74.35 IDBI India Top 100 Equity Fund – Direct Plan-Growth Large Cap Fund 44.94 Nippon India Large Cap Fund – Direct Plan-Growth Large Cap Fund 59.33

Can you glean any information about these funds solely from their NAV values? Does a lower price indicate undervaluation or a buying opportunity? The answer to both questions is No.

Hence, we cannot compare funds only on their NAV values. Nor does a higher NAV price signal the fund is better. It only implies that the fund has a higher asset value.

Since a mutual fund distributes all its income and realised gains to the unit holders, a fund’s NAV is not very relevant for gauging its performance. Instead, investors should focus on the total return generated by the fund to evaluate its performance.

Should You Invest in a Fund With a Low NAV Value?

As mentioned above, a lower NAV value is not reflective of a cheaper valuation or a buying opportunity. Instead, it only specifies a lower asset base. Let’s understand this concept through an example. Assume an initial amount of Rs. 30,000, which can be invested in either Fund A or Fund B.

 Fund A Fund B Current NAV (Rs.) 300 150 Units Allotted 100 200 Growth 10% 10% New NAV (Rs.) 330 165 Value of investment (Rs.) 33,000 33,000

Here, a hypothetical fund B has a lower NAV value, which results in a higher unit allotment. Assuming a 10% growth rate in both funds A and B, the new investment value of both funds A & B remains the same.

Thus, a NAV value simply signifies the cost of buying units at a specific point in time. A higher NAV may, however, suggest that the fund is older, thus explaining the bigger AUM. But NAV values are not a useful indicator of fund performance.

Bottom Line

A mutual fund’s NAV merely shows the price for buying or selling units; it is not an appropriate measure to compare a fund’s performance to its peers. Instead, investors should rely on other parameters, including historical performance trends, expense ratios, and the quality of management, before choosing to invest in a mutual fund. Investors can choose to invest through a SIP, as it counters NAV fluctuations, resulting in rupee cost averaging.