4 Best Mutual Funds at Vanguard Now

Global, small-cap, health and Wellington funds stand out

By Tom Taulli, InvestorPlace Writer & IPO Playbook Editor


vanguard mutual fundsIn the mutual fund industry, Vanguard founder Jack Bogle is a legend.  After college, he got a job at Wellington Management Company and quickly rose up the ranks, becoming the company’s chairman.  However, he was eventually fired because of a bad merger. But this turned out to be fortuitous since he started the mutual fund giant Vanguard in 1974.

His laser-like focus at Vanguard was on the interests on investors.  To this end, he developed low-cost mutual funds that focused on indexing.  Hey, why should investors spend high amounts on fees when many portfolio managers underperform the market?

Now, thanks to this legacy, Vanguard is a mutual fund investing powerhouse.  There are $1.4 trillion in assets, with 160 U.S. funds and 50 international funds.  And while many are strong, there are some that are standouts above the rest. Let’s take a look:

Vanguard International Growth (VWIGX)

Started in the early 1980s, the Vanguard International Growth Fund (MUTF: VWIGX) now has $18.8 billion in assets.  The portfolio is diversified across the world, with 11.58% in the Americas, 53.81% in Europe and 34.61% in Asia.  There is also 21.11% in emerging markets.

The Vanguard fund is composed of a variety of best-of-breed international money managers, from firms like Schroder Investment Management, Baillie Gifford and M&G Investment Management.   The general approach is to focus on high quality companies with strong growth prospects.

As should be no surprise, the expense ratio is only 0.49% and the turnover is 44%. Top holdings now include Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU), Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) and SAP AG (NYSE: SAP).

Vanguard Small Cap Growth Index (VSGIX)

The MSCI U.S. Small Cap 1750 Index tracks the performance of a diverse set of small capitalization stocks in the US.  It is widely followed and a good barometer of the category.

If you want to invest based on this index, then a good mutual fund choice is the Vanguard Small Cap Growth Index Fund (MUTF: VSGIX), which has $8.8 billion in assets.  True, there has been volatility — which is to be expected.  Although, the index has a good amount of mid-cap stocks, which helps with the swings.

For the past three years, the average annual return was 10.33%. Top holdings include JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ: JDSU), Informatica (NASDAQ: INFA)  and Brigham Exploration Company (NASDAQ: BEXP).

Vanguard Health Care (VGHCX)

The U.S. spends about 16% of the gross domestic product on healthcare.  In fact, it is projected to grow to 19.5% by 2017.

Yes,  the result is that there will likely be continued growth in the healthcare sector.  And a beneficiary should be the
Vanguard Health Care (MUTF: VGHCX) mutual fund.  It invests in a broad array of healthcare operators — like pharma firms, medical supply operators and research companies.  There is also investments in other countries.  The top holdings include Merck (NYSE: MRK), Forest Laboratories (NYSE: FRX), Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) and McKesson (NYSE: MCK).

With $20.4 billion in assets, the Vanguard fund has an expense ratio of 0.36% and a turnover of a mere 6%.

Vanguard Wellington (VWELX)

It’s amazing that the Vanguard Wellington (MUTF: VWELX) is still around.  The fund got its start just before the 1929 crash and the onset of the Great Depression.  But sometimes tough times can be a good thing — creating a firm that is built to last.

Well, this is certainly the case with the Vanguard Wellington fund.  It now has about $56.8 billion under management.  Actually, over the past ten years, the fund has posted an average annual return of 6.38%.

The Vanguard Wellington takes an old-school, conservative approach to investments.  Just look at the top holdings:  AT&T (T), ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), Chevron (NYSE: CVX), IBM (NYSE: IBM) and even the U.S. Treasury Bill.

Keep in mind that  during the 2008 financial crisis, the Vanguard Wellington fund lost about 22.3%.  Compared to many other funds, it was certainly a good performance and shows that the fund knows how to handle the downside.

As of this writing, Tom Taulli did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media, https://investorplace.com/2011/03/best-vanguard-mutual-funds-to-buy/.

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