Brian Moriarty: TIAA-CREF Bond Plus fund was recently upgraded to Bronze from Neutral. The upgrade was driven by our recognition of the strong process, which led the fund to outperform in 2015 and 2016, two difficult and different years for bond funds.
Bill Martin has been lead manager here since August 2011, and is responsible for allocating the fund across a variety of fixed-income sectors. It can invest in everything from corporate bonds to Treasuries to mortgages, and also allocates 20% to 30% to so-called plus sectors. These are high-yield, bank loans, and emerging-markets debt.
This can make the fund riskier than some peers, but Martin has done a good job of dialing that risk up and down over time. For example, he entered 2015 very defensively positioned, which helped the fund outperform more than 70% of peers for the year. In early 2016, he rotated back into the risky plus sectors and rode the rebound for another strong year.
Add in below average fees, and this is a core fund worth investors' time.