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Hotline
August 18, 2016

Even New Highs Fall Short Of Expectations

Monday was a day of new index highs. Here in the U.S. indexes reached record levels across the market cap spectrum—the Dow, Nasdaq, S&P 500, S&P MidCap 400 and S&P SmallCap 600 indexes all hit records on Monday. Our southern neighbor, Mexico, also hit new highs. Plus, we saw a new index high in Russia for the first time since 2007.

Yes, valuations are on the high side, but that's when you consider them in a vacuum. The fact is that with interest rates as low as they are, and what appears to be the end of a slowdown in economic and earnings growth rates, those valuations may look a bit less bloated in a few months' time. We'll have to see, but remember also that we aren't buying the market—our individual fund managers are looking for the best values in the market rather than buying ALL the market as the indexes do. The economy remains in growth mode, however slow, and the consumer is in great shape. Stock prices may simply be anticipating a bit of a pickup later in the year. Read More »

Issue
August 1, 2016

No Dividend Growth

With just two days left in the month, Vanguard slammed the doors shut on Dividend Growth, run by Don Kilbride. But what no one seems to have noticed is what Vanguard didn't do: Vanguard didn't add a second or third manager to keep the fund open. Following on the changes at Capital Value and International Growth, this is another move in what I think is the right direction of avoiding the multimanager messes they've gotten themselves into at funds like Explorer and Morgan Growth. Also, if you only read the press release, rather than the prospectus, you probably missed the fact that Vanguard left itself the option of opening new accounts in Dividend Growth through its robo-advisory system, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. There's an exception for "investors who are added and invest in the Fund only through technology-driven model portfolios."

In this month's issue, Jeff and I will tell you what your next best option is now that Dividend Growth is closed, plus (as promised) what to make of Vanguard's various international stock funds. Meanwhile, Vanguard raised operating expenses on its state tax-exempt money market funds during the funds' last semiannual operating period (they'll tell you they simply reversed fee waivers). My question is, if Vanguard was able to operate its funds at the fee-waived levels that were in place for the past few years, why couldn't they keep doing it? And that's not the only area where Vanguard's not being forthright with shareholders, claiming great since-inception performance for MidCap Growth, which has actually underperformed during its current managers' tenure. In any case, while we're busting myths, let's also take a look at claims that the markets are "more volatile," the future is "more uncertain" and that a flattening yield curve leads to recession. Read More »

News
July 18, 2016

Vanguard's Multi-Manager Strategy Takes Another Hit

Just days after posting yet another defense of its multi-manager strategy, Vanguard again trimmed managers at funds including Capital Value and International Growth. It was just last month that Vanguard trimmed the management responsibilities at Explorer Value from three to two firms by firing Sterling Capital Management, something I dealt with in the July 2016 issue of The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors. Read More »

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"America's leading expert on investing in Vanguard funds"

Daniel P. Wiener is editor of The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors, a monthly newsletter that keeps abreast of recent developments at Vanguard, and the annual FFSA Independent Guide to the Vanguard Funds. Through his newsletter and guide book, Dan helps tens of thousands of Vanguard investors choose wisely among more than 100 Vanguard mutual funds. The Adviser is a five-time winner of the Newsletter Publishers Foundation's Editorial Excellence Award. View More »

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Model Portfolio Performance
Models May YTD
Growth 2.0% 16.0%
Conservative Growth 1.6% 14.4%
Income 0.2% 9.1%
Growth Index 1.6% 14.4%
The average
Vanguard investor
0.1% 7.2%
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