Famed investor Warren Buffett called Jack Bogle a “hero,” saying the founder and former chief executive officer (CEO) of The Vanguard Group “did more for American investors as a whole than any individual I’ve known.” Bogle played a key role in the development of exchange-traded funds, after noticing that the vast majority of fund managers grossly underperform the market. If actively managed funds couldn’t beat the stock market, reasoned Bogle, than why not just buy and track the market?
From that simple idea was born The Vanguard Group, an investment firm that today has $7 trillion in assets under management. The company is the largest provider of mutual funds and second largest provider of ETFs in the world today. Many investors, including Buffett, are attracted to Vanguard’s funds for their consistent returns, regular dividend payments and, above all, their low fees, which are rock-bottom compared to the industry average.
“A lot of Wall Street is devoted to charging a lot for nothing … [Bogle] charged nothing to accomplish a huge amount,” said Buffett.
With that in mind, here are three of the best Vanguard ETFs to buy now.
|VOO||Vanguard 500 Index Fund||$378.54|
|VDE||Vanguard Energy Index Fund||$126.95|
|BND||Vanguard Total Bond Market Fund||$76.02|
Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VOO)
In his portfolio worth nearly $350 billion, Warren Buffet holds only two exchange traded funds, and Vanguard’s 500 Index Fund (NYSEARCA:VOO) is one of them. The other is the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA:SPY). Both ETFs track the benchmark S&P 500 index that is comprised of the 500 largest market weighted stocks. Buffett has said on numerous occasions that an ETF that tracks the S&P 500 is all most investors need.
Buying an S&P 500 index fund makes “the most sense practically all of the time,” Buffett has said, adding “Consistently buy an S&P 500 low-cost index fund … Keep buying it through thick and thin, and especially through thin.”
Among Vanguard’s stable of ETFs, its 500 Index Fund is among the most popular, with more than $250 billion of assets under management. The fund also has a strong track record. Since its inception in 2010, VOO has provided an average annual return to investors of 15.37%.
An initial investment of $10,000 at the fund’s inception would be worth more than $40,000 today. The fees charged by this ETF are also hard to beat at just 0.03% compared to the industry average of 0.80%. And, there’s a quarterly dividend payout that’s currently worth $1.37 per share.
Vanguard Energy Index Fund (VDE)
Looking to get exposure to the red-hot energy market this year but unsure which oil or natural gas company to invest in? Why not invest in the Vanguard Energy Index Fund (NYSEARCA:VDE)? The fund is comprised of a basket of leading energy companies, including Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), to name only a few.
With oil prices currently at a multiyear high of $120 a barrel, VDE has been on fire. Over the past year, the fund has gained 64.40%, trouncing gains in the broader market. With some analysts forecasting that oil prices could top $150 a barrel by year’s end, further gains can be expected.
That said, the energy sector is traditionally volatile with prices for oil and natural gas fluctuating. As such, the historic gains for the VDE fund are lower than during the past year. Since its inception in 2004, this fund has provided investors with an average annual return of 6.93%. As with all Vanguard ETFs, the fees charged to hold VDE in a portfolio are extremely low at just 0.10%. Similar energy funds charge as much as 1.07%. In terms of a dividend, this ETF provides a quarterly payout of 82 cents per share.
Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND)
Investors looking for some stability amid the current market volatility may want to consider the Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (NYSEARCA:BND). This fund focuses on investment-grade U.S. bonds issued by all levels of government and various corporations. It offers relative stability as the price of the ETF fluctuates very little from day-to-day. However, it aims to give investors a steady stream of investment income.
Key holdings in the BDN fund include U.S Treasuries with ratings ranging from “BBB” to “AAA,” as well as both government and commercially backed mortgages and small amount of foreign backed bonds. The fund has been give a “medium” risk level. Its performance is stable but investors shouldn’t expect big price swings or huge gains from this bond fund. Since its inception in 2007, the fund has provided an average annual return of 3.59%. Fees are super low at just 0.03% versus the industry average of 0.59%, and BND pays a quarterly dividend of 15 cents per share.
On the date of publication, Joel Baglole did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.