Vanguard funds don’t just include ETFs. Prior to ascending to the second spot among U.S. ETF issuer sponsors, Vanguard had long-been one of the largest issuers of low-cost index and mutual funds. Today, devoted advisors and investors are apt to say that one of the primary reasons fund fees continue declining is Vanguard’s low-cost leadership. And they would be correct with that argument.
Vanguard funds include hundreds of offerings spanning domestic and international equities as well as wide array of fixed income funds. The universe of Vanguard funds includes something for everyone, including conservative, income-seeking investors or more risk-tolerant tactical investors seeking sector-level or international exposure.
Here are some solid ideas among Vanguard funds for investors looking for a break on fees and some investment opportunities that could be durable over the long haul.
Vanguard Wellington Investor Shares (VWELX)
Expense ratio: 0.25% per year, or $25 on a $10,000 investment.
The Vanguard Wellington Investor Shares (MUTF:VWELX) is the oldest Vanguard fund of them all. Founded in 1929, this Vanguard fund is also the oldest balanced fund in the U.S. The investor share class requires a minimum investment of $3,000, but among actively managed mutual funds, this Vanguard has a favorable fee, making it less expensive than 70% of competing strategies, according to issuer data.
This Vanguard fund mixes equity and fixed income exposure with the former usually representing two-thirds of the portfolio and the latter usually representing a third.
“Another key attribute is broad diversification — the fund invests in stocks and bonds across all economic sectors,” according to Vanguard. “This is important because one or two holdings should not have a sizeable impact on the fund. Investors with a long-term time horizon who want growth and are willing to accept stock market volatility may wish to consider this as a core holding in their portfolio.”
VWELX currently holds 940 bonds and about 100 stocks with a median market capitalization of $111.9 billion. Financial services and technology stocks combine for 39% of the fund’s roster.
Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond Index Fund (VSCSX)
Expense ratio: 0.07% per year, or $7 on a $10,000 investment.
To grab the benefit of the Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond Index Fund’s (MUTF:VSCSX) low expense ratio, investors need to plunk down a minimum investment of $10,000. That can be avoided with the ETF equivalent of this Vanguard mutual fund, the Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond ETF (NASDAQ:VCSH).
With interest rates expected to continue rising, either of these Vanguard funds are both worth considering. VSCSX holds almost 2,300 bonds, over 98% of which have maturities of one to three years or three to five years.
Credit risk is minimal with this Vanguard fund as nearly all of its holdings are rated Aa, A or Baa. This mutual fund has a 30-day SEC yield of around 2.50%.
Vanguard International High Dividend Yield Index Admiral Shares Fund (VIHAX)
Expense ratio: 0.32% per year, or $32 on a $10,000 investment.
Among Vanguard funds, the Vanguard International High Dividend Yield Index Admiral Shares Fund (MUTF:VIHAX) is one of the newer options, having debuted in 2016. This Vanguard fund also requires a $10,000 minimum investment.
International funds play important roles in helping investors enhance portfolio diversification and some of these funds, including VIHAX, can bolster a portfolio’s income profile. In many cases, international developed markets stocks outside the U.S. feature higher dividend yields than their domestic counterparts. Risk-averse investors should note that VIHAX devotes just over 20% of its weight to emerging markets stocks, so this may not be suitable for extremely conservative investors looking for mutual funds to buy.
However, eight of this Vanguard fund’s top 10 country weights are developed markets. This mutual fund holds over 900 stocks with a median market value of $48.9 billion. The trailing 12-month dividend yield of 4.08% on this Vanguard fund is ore than double the comparable yield on the S&P 500.
Vanguard Growth Index Fund Admiral Shares (VIGAX)
Expense ratio: 0.05% per year, or $5 on a $10,000 investment.
The October equity market swoon was caused in large part by erosion in the growth and momentum trade, so it may not be surprising that the Vanguard Growth Index Fund Admiral Shares (MUTF:VIGAX) is not the first Vanguard fund investors are considering right now. On the other hand, a pullback in growth names could spell opportunity for some investors.
As is the case with many traditional growth strategies, this Vanguard fund is heavily allocated to the consumer discretionary and technology sectors. Those sectors combine for nearly half of this Vanguard fund’s weight.
Familiar names are the primary drivers of this Vanguard fund’s performance. The top 10 holdings in VIGAX, which combine for almost 34% of the fund’s weight, include Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon.com Inc.(NASDAQ:AMZN)and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB).
Vanguard High-Yield Fund Investor Shares (VWEHX)
Expense ratio: 0.23% per year, or $23 on a $10,000 investment.
The Vanguard High-Yield Fund Investor Shares (MUTF:VWEHX)has a track record dating back to 1978 and although this Vanguard fund has a minimum investment of $3,000, its annual fee is among the lowest in the high-yield corporate bond fund category.
VWEHX has an average duration of 4.2 years, but another issue may confound the high-yield bond market more than interest rate risk: slumping oil prices. During prior, recent oil bear markets, junk bonds tumbled and with oil recently coming off one of its worst skids in over three decades, high-yield bond funds are under pressure.
In other words, investors considering this Vanguard fund may be best served by waiting for oil’s bear market to run its course. VWEHX allocates about 8% of its weight to highly speculative CCC-rated bonds, a corner of the high-yield space not suitable for every investor.
Todd Shriber does not own any of the aforementioned securities.