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Is Vanguard Strategic Equity Fund (VSEQX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

Mid Cap Blend fund seekers should consider taking a look at Vanguard Strategic Equity Fund VSEQX . VSEQX holds a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 1 (Strong Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

VSEQX is one of many funds to choose from. Because Mid Cap Blend mutual funds typically feature a portfolio filled with stocks of various sizes and styles, it allows for a diversification strategy focusing on companies with market caps between $2 billion and $10 billion. Mid-cap blends, while offering exciting growth potential, income opportunities, and value picks, offer some stability as well.

History of Fund/Manager

Vanguard Group is based in Malvern, PA, and is the manager of VSEQX. The Vanguard Strategic Equity Fund made its debut in August of 1995 and VSEQX has managed to accumulate roughly $7.58 billion in assets, as of the most recently available information. James P. Stetler is the fund's current manager and has held that role since January of 2012.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. VSEQX has a 5-year annualized total return of 12.55% and it sits in the top third among its category peers. Investors who prefer analyzing shorter time frames should look at its 3-year annualized total return of 10.25%, which places it in the top third during this time-frame.

When looking at a fund's performance, it is also important to note the standard deviation of the returns. The lower the standard deviation, the less volatility the fund experiences. The standard deviation of VSEQX over the past three years is 12.49% compared to the category average of 11.63%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 11.58% compared to the category average of 11.5%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

It's always important to be aware of the downsides to any future investment, so one should not discount the risks that come with this segment. In VSEQX's case, the fund lost 56.18% in the most recent bear market and outperformed its peer group by 5.02%. This could mean that the fund is a better choice than comparable funds during a bear market.

Investors should not forget about beta, an important way to measure a mutual fund's risk compared to the market as a whole. VSEQX has a 5-year beta of 1.03, which means it is likely to be as volatile as the market average. Because alpha represents a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which is the S&P 500 in this case, one should pay attention to this metric as well. Over the past 5 years, the fund has a negative alpha of -0.69. This means that managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Expenses

For investors, taking a closer look at cost-related metrics is key, since costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing. Competition is heating up in this space, and a lower cost product will likely outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, all things being equal. In terms of fees, VSEQX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.18% compared to the category average of 1.09%. From a cost perspective, VSEQX is actually cheaper than its peers.

While the minimum initial investment for the product is $3,000, investors should also note that each subsequent investment needs to be at least $1.

Bottom Line

Overall, Vanguard Strategic Equity Fund has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, Vanguard Strategic Equity Fund looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

This could just be the start of your research on VSEQX in the Mid Cap Blend category. Consider going to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds for additional information about this fund, and all the others that we rank as well for additional information. For analysis of the rest of your portfolio, make sure to visit Zacks.com for our full suite of tools which will help you investigate all of your stocks and funds in one place.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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