Cara Esser: BlackRock Total Return is run by an experienced management team with the full backing of BlackRock's entire fixed-income platform. Comanagers Rick Rieder and Bob Miller set the tone for this core bond fund from the top down. The rely on the firm's sector teams to make individual security selections. This is a macro-driven fund, so turnover tends to be quite high, and future returns depend on the managers' ability predict macro trends and position the portfolio accordingly.
So far, the team has done this well. The fund's three- and five-year returns were in the top decile as of Dec. 31, and the fund finished 2016 in the category's top half. That said, returns can be volatile, and the fund's standard deviation tends to be higher than the category average.
BlackRock recently made a concerted effort to lower fees on this fund, and it now ranks among the category's cheapest. In all, the fund earns a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Silver.