Sunday, December 29

Month 102 - A-rated Stocks in Vanguard’s Wellesley Income Fund (VWINX) - December 2019

Situation: For retiree savings accounts, most of the financial advisors that I follow prefer that half be allocated to bonds and the rest to stocks that reliably pay an above-market dividend. There is a convenient, low-cost way to anchor one’s portfolio in that direction, which is to invest in VWINX -- Vanguard’s Wellesley Income Fund. The managers allocate almost 60% to bonds and the rest to stocks that have been selected from the FTSE High Dividend Yield Index. Vanguard markets the U.S. version with the stock ticker of VYM. The ~400 stocks in VYM are selected from the Russell 1000 Index of large-capitalization companies (IWB). 

As a prospective retiree, you’ll want a balanced portfolio--one with approximately a 50:50 balance between stocks and bonds. The transaction costs for buying a corporate bond are high so you’ll want a mutual fund with a mix of government bonds and corporates. For stocks, you have the option of picking your own while keeping transaction costs (expense ratio) at ~2%/yr. But the expense ratio is much lower if you leave stock picking to professional managers (or computers) and opt for a mutual fund or Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF). The easy way to start is with VWINX, which has an expense ratio of 0.23%, and a 10-yr total return of 9.7%/yr. That’s 60% bonds, so supplement it with a stock mutual fund, stock ETF, or stocks of your own choosing. The Fidelity Balanced Fund (FBALX) is also weighted 60:40 in favor of bonds, also has a 10-yr total return of 9.7%/yr, but has a higher expense ratio of 0.53%. VWINX lost 9.8% in 2008 while FBALX lost 31.3%. That difference occurs because stock managers at VWINX are required to confine their selections to the ~400 companies in the FTSE High Dividend Yield Index while managers at FBLAX opted for a wide range of stocks typifying the S&P 500 Index. In other words, VWINX lost much less in the 2008 stock market crash because it held bond-like stocks. For a detailed analysis that compares VWINX to other balanced funds, read this Seeking Alpha article.

Mission: Use our Standard Spreadsheet to analyze companies in VWINX that have: 1) an S&P bond rating of A- or better, 2) a S&P stock rating of B+/M or better, 3) the 16+ year trading record needed for quantitative analysis by the BMW Method, and 4) are found in the current list of companies in the Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index

Execution: see the 26 companies in this week’s Table.

Administration: We have emphasized the safety features inherent in confining stock selections to companies in the S&P 100 Index. The managers of VWINX apparently agree, given that 17 of their 26 selections (see Column AK in the Table) are in that index. 

Bottom Line: We offer this view of stocks picked by managers at VWINX because that fund serves as a beacon for retirees. It has had only 5 down years in the past 40, and was down only 9.8% in the Great Recession of 2008. Since inception on 7/1/1970, it has returned 9.7%/yr

Risk Rating: 4, where 10-year US Treasury Notes = 1; S&P 500 Index = 5; gold bullion = 10.

Full Disclosure: I dollar-average into PFE, NEE, INTC, PG, JPM, JNJ and CAT, and also own shares of CSCO, DUK, KO, PEP, TRV, MMM, BLK and XOM.

"The 2 and 8 Club" (CR) 2017 Invest Tune All rights reserved.

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