MANY OF VANGUARD'S
longtime investors praise the day it hired Jim Barrow. For the last 22 years he has helped run
For this week's screen we went looking for funds like Windsor II: large-cap-value funds that have good performance and low fees. These funds are what we call "core" holdings. They take up a large portion of your portfolio right alongside a static S&P 500 index fund. You should think about them in a different manner than say, a sector fund or a small-cap play. These funds should remain in your portfolio for decades granted, you need to pick the right one, first.
For today's screen we replaced our usual three-year performance benchmark and substituted a 10-year instead. Tougher standards can weed out a lot of good funds. But we hit another problem first: labels. Depending on which research firm you subscribe to, Lipper or Morningstar, you'll discover many funds that consider themselves large value offerings are wedged into other categories. For example, Lipper puts T. Rowe Price Value into the multicap group since it owns midcaps. Morningstar, on the other hand, calls it a large value offering. To get around that problem this week we relied more heavily on the fund family's description of a given offering than we typically do with our screens.
There were other reasons why we had trouble finding good finalists. Longleaf Partners, managed by Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates, has returned an average annual 15.4% over the last decade and a half, a bar not many competitors can get over. But alas, it is closed to new money. The well-respected Dodge & Cox Stock is another fund that is closed.
Others just don't have the lengthy track record we demanded. John Schneider, a longtime value manager, has been running Touchstone Large Cap Value for just over a year. During the last 12 months he's returned an impressive 23.7%. We'll be keeping a close eye on this fund as it gets more of a track record under its belt. You should, too.
Schneider's performance, though, does illustrate an important point about value funds. After three years of beating growth-fund competitors Lipper says value funds chalked up 13.5% a year over the trailing 36-month period vs. 8.5% for growth value may finally be starting to give some ground. Growth funds are slightly ahead of value ones year-to-date. In her keynote speech at this year's Morningstar conference Ranji Nagaswami, chief investment officer of AllianceBernstein Investments, was emphatic that growth would make a comeback. "Growth is running out of room to underperform," she said.
But that doesn't mean it's time to walk away from value funds. We don't usually waste a lot of energy trying to time the market or figuring out what clearly defines a growth stock or a value one, a point of contention among many investors. But there are some details leaning in growth's favor, like the prospect of a slowing economy that would make healthy growth rates look attractive to many investors. Know this, though: Value has beaten growth over the trailing three-, five-, 10- and 15-year periods, according to Lipper. "I'm not overweighting growth at this point. I'm waiting to see confirmation [of the shift]," says Doug O'Donnell, a vice president with Wachovia Wealth Management. "Value can be a safe haven." A middle ground is to pack your portfolio with funds that specialize in both styles.
If you need a value fund for your portfolio, Vanguard Windsor II is a good place to start. Barrow runs around 60% of this fund, picking dividend-yielding stocks that are trading at a discount. He also isn't afraid to jump into a sector that others have left for dead. While Barrow's fingerprints are all over this fund, there are four other subadvisors. So if you put in new money here it might not be handed over to him. That said, Vanguard has an excellent track record of picking good outside help. Currently, the fund's top holdings are General Electric, Citigroup, Bank of America and Altria. Over the last five years, even as the fund has changed out some subadvisors, it has posted a 13.5% average annual return and it did it with low volatility, too.
Because you should hold a large-cap-value fund in the core of your portfolio and hold onto it for years we allowed load funds to be considered for this week's screen. That initial upfront fee will hopefully be washed out by good returns. When it comes to large cap value you can't do much better than American Funds Investment Company of America. This fund employs nine managers, according to Morningstar, and 140 analysts across the globe. Each manager runs a sleeve of the fund, allowing them to use their industry expertise to the benefit of fund holders. They favor blue-chip companies that not only kick off a dividend but also have cheap share prices that could soar when the rest of the market falls in love with them again. After paying a 5.25% upfront fee investors pay a decent 0.54% a year in expenses, not bad when you consider the fund is in the top 15% of its peer group over the last 10 years.
To find the large-cap-value funds on our list this week we narrowed the universe of potential candidates by focusing on five- and 10-year performance that put them in the top 50% of their category. The funds could charge a load, but their annual fees had to be below 1.5%. As usual, the funds had to be open to new money and require a minimum investment less than $5,000.
Large and In Charge
Note: Data as of June 28, 2007.
* Fund charges a 5.00% front-end load
** Fund charges a 5.00% back-end load
*** Fund charges a 5.25% front-end load
**** Fund charges a 5.50% front-end load
***** Fund charges a 5.75% front-end load
The Large-Cap-Value Fund Screen Recipe
|Fund Classification = Large-Cap Value Open to New Investors = Yes Minimum Initial Investment <= 10,000 Expense Ratio (%) <= 1.5 Rank in Classification (%) (5 year performance) <=50 Rank in Classification (%) (10 year performance) <=50|