Editor’s note: This column is the latest update in our Best Stocks for 2014 contest. Brendan Conway’s pick for the contest is the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG).
The word is right in my fund’s name, but it ain’t happening yet. Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG) is down by 0.3% in 2014 at this writing versus the S&P 500’s 1.4% total return.
My Best Stocks for 2014 entry these days is weighed down by lackluster returns in massive stocks like Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX) and Walmart (WMT), and disappointment in the retail sector. Fortunately, VIG isn’t about shooting the moon — it’s about favorable risk-adjusted returns.
The year is shaping up as a rocky one, with signs that momentum investors are getting exhausted. That’s good for the relative returns of a pick like VIG. The ETF’s standard deviation over the last six months is 10.67%, which is in the 93rd percentile of the market’s roughly 1,000 equity exchange-traded funds, XTF.com data show. This just underscores the port-in-a-storm quality to VIG that helped it beat the index in a difficult 2011 and suffer less than competitors in 2008.
If the market gets rockier, you can expect investors to flock to megacap stocks and dividend payers, both of which are present here. At the same time, we’ll participate nicely in a rising market, too, should that happen instead.
Now have a look at what momo investors are facing as of late March: a 12% one-month slump in the high-flying biotechnology sector, trouble for social media stocks and the apparent exhaustion of another 2013 winner, solar energy.
Since early February, the chart of this contest’s early leader, Tesla (TSLA), looks like the Matterhorn.
So stick around. A year isn’t a long time, but three months is practically a blink of an eye.
View the full list of Best Stocks for 2014 picks here.
As of this writing, Brendan Conway did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. More of his writing can be found at Barron’s Focus on Funds blog.