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

Zacks Equity Research
·4-min read

Mid Cap Blend fund seekers may want to consider taking a look at Vanguard Strategic Equity Fund (VSEQX). VSEQX has a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 3 (Hold), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

VSEQX is classified in the Mid Cap Blend category by Zacks, an area full of possibilities. Mid Cap Blend mutual funds usually feature a portfolio with stocks of various styles and sizes, allowing for diversification within a strategy that focuses on companies in the $2 billion to $10 billion market cap range. A mid-cap blend fund provides exposure to exciting growth potential, income opportunities, and value picks, while also attempting some level of stability through diversification.

History of Fund/Manager

Vanguard Group is responsible for VSEQX, and the company is based out of Malvern, PA. Vanguard Strategic Equity Fund debuted in August of 1995. Since then, VSEQX has accumulated assets of about $6.93 billion, according to the most recently available information. The fund's current manager, James Stetler, has been in charge of the fund since January of 2012.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. This fund has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 13.07%, and is in the top third among its category peers. But if you are looking for a shorter time frame, it is also worth looking at its 3-year annualized total return of 6.68%, which places it in the middle 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. Over the past three years, VSEQX's standard deviation comes in at 24.59%, compared to the category average of 22.34%. The fund's standard deviation over the past 5 years is 20.15% compared to the category average of 18.27%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

With a 5-year beta of 1.24, the fund is likely to be more volatile than 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. VSEQX has generated a negative alpha over the past five years of -5.32, demonstrating that managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Holdings

Investigating 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.

As of the last filing date, the mutual fund has 94.62% of its assets in stocks, with an average market capitalization of $9.82 billion. The fund has the heaviest exposure to the following market sectors:

  1. Technology

  2. Finance

  3. Industrial Cyclical

Turnover is about 61%, so those in charge of the fund make fewer trades than comparable funds.

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 0.17% compared to the category average of 1%. Looking at the fund from a cost perspective, VSEQX is actually cheaper than its peers.

Investors need to be aware that with this product, the minimum initial investment is $3,000; each subsequent investment needs to be at least $1.

Bottom Line

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

Don't stop here for your research on Mid Cap Blend funds. We also have plenty more on our site in order to help you find the best possible fund for your portfolio. Make sure to check out www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds for more information about the world of funds, and feel free to compare VSEQX to its peers as well for additional information. If you want to check out our stock reports as well, make sure to go to Zacks.com to see all of the great tools we have to offer, including our time-tested Zacks Rank.


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