Is Vanguard Strategic Small Cap Equity (VSTCX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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

Objective

We classify VSTCX in the Small Cap Blend category, an area rife with potential choices. Small Cap Blend mutual funds usually target companies with a market capitalization of less than $2 billion. A small-cap blend mutual fund allows investors to diversify their funds among various types of small-cap stocks, which can help reduce the volatility inherent in lower market cap companies.

History of Fund/Manager

VSTCX is a part of the Vanguard Group family of funds, a company based out of Malvern, PA. The Vanguard Strategic Small Cap Equity made its debut in April of 2006 and VSTCX has managed to accumulate roughly $1.53 billion in assets, as of the most recently available information. Cesar Orosco is the fund's current manager and has held that role since February of 2021.

Performance

Of course, investors look for strong performance in funds. VSTCX has a 5-year annualized total return of 10.62% and it sits in the top third among its category peers. If you're interested in shorter time frames, do not dismiss looking at the fund's 3 -year annualized total return of 8.54%, which places it in the top third during this time-frame.

It is important to note that the product's returns may not reflect all its expenses. Any fees not reflected would lower the returns. Total returns do not reflect the fund's [%] sale charge. If sales charges were included, total returns would have been lower.

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. Over the past three years, VSTCX's standard deviation comes in at 21.27%, compared to the category average of 20.19%. The standard deviation of the fund over the past 5 years is 24.6% compared to the category average of 23.47%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors should note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 1.19, so it is likely going to be more volatile than the market at large. Alpha is an additional metric to take into consideration, since it represents a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which in this case, is the S&P 500. Over the past 5 years, the fund has a negative alpha of -4.71. This means that managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Holdings

Examining the equity holdings of a mutual fund is also a valuable exercise. This can show us how the manager is applying their stated methodology, as well as if there are any inherent biases in their approach. For this particular fund, the focus is mostly on equities that are traded in the United States.

Currently, this mutual fund is holding 88.78% in stocks, which have an average market capitalization of $3.79 billion. The fund has the heaviest exposure to the following market sectors:

  • Finance
  • Industrial Cyclical
  • Technology
  • Other
This fund's turnover is about 69%, so the fund managers are making more trades per year than the comparable average.

Expenses

As competition heats up in the mutual fund market, costs become increasingly important. Compared to its otherwise identical counterpart, a low-cost product will be an outperformer, all other things being equal. Thus, taking a closer look at cost-related metrics is vital for investors. In terms of fees, VSTCX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.26% compared to the category average of 1.01%. So, VSTCX is actually cheaper than its peers from a cost perspective.

This fund requires a minimum initial investment of $3,000, and each subsequent investment should be at least $1.

Fees charged by investment advisors have not been taken into considiration. Returns would be less if those were included.

Bottom Line

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

This could just be the start of your research on VSTCXin the Small 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. Zacks provides a full suite of tools to help you analyze your portfolio - both funds and stocks - in the most efficient way possible.

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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.

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