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

Mutual Fund Report for VSEQX

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This story originally appeared on Zacks

Any investors hoping to find a Mid Cap Blend fund could think about starting with Vanguard Strategic Equity Fund (VSEQX). VSEQX has a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 2 (Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

- Zacks

Objective

The world of Mid Cap Blend mutual funds is an area filled with options, such as VSEQX. Mid Cap Blend funds expose investors to value picks, income opportunities, and exciting growth potential, but also gives some stability; these funds usually seek a stock portfolio of various size and style, which allows for diversification when the focus is on companies with market capitalization in the range of $2 billion to $10 billion.

History of Fund/Manager

Vanguard Group is based in Malvern, PA, and is the manager of VSEQX. Vanguard Strategic Equity Fund debuted in August of 1995. Since then, VSEQX has accumulated assets of about $7.94 billion, according to the most recently available information. The fund's current manager, Binbin Guo, has been in charge of the fund since January of 2016.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. This fund in particular has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 13.61%, 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 12.47%, 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. VSEQX's standard deviation over the past three years is 24.7% compared to the category average of 22.59%. The fund's standard deviation over the past 5 years is 20.05% compared to the category average of 18.26%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

The fund has a 5-year beta of 1.23, so investors should note that it is hypothetically more volatile than the market at large. 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 -5.98. This means that managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Holdings

Exploring 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 largely on equities that are traded in the United States.

This fund is currently holding about 93.87% stock in stocks, which have an average market capitalization of $11.38 billion. The fund has the heaviest exposure to the following market sectors:

  1. Technology
  2. Finance
  3. Industrial Cyclical

Turnover is 52%, which means this fund makes fewer trades than comparable funds.

Expenses

Costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing, and particularly as competition heats up in this market. And all things being equal, a lower cost product will outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, so taking a closer look at these metrics is key for investors. In terms of fees, VSEQX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.17% compared to the category average of 0.99%. So, VSEQX 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.

Bottom Line

Overall, Vanguard Strategic Equity Fund ( VSEQX ) 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.

Want even more information about VSEQX? Then go over to Zacks.com and check out our mutual fund comparison tool, and all of the other great features that we have to help you with your mutual fund analysis for additional information. And don't forget, Zacks has all of your needs covered on the equity side too! Make sure to check out Zacks.com for more information on our screening capabilities, Rank, and all our articles as well.



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