Let's continue our look at some of the best enhanced index funds, as ranked by Morningstar. These funds start with the steady returns of an index, then add a shot of active management to boost returns. In Part 1, we examined two Mainstay ICAP funds that led the pack. Now we'll turn to three more worthy contenders.
Calvert Large Cap Growth (CLCIX)
This socially screened option invests in large-cap companies with high growth potential. Manager John Montgomery, has run the fund since its 1994 inception. He has some flexibility in his mandate, occasionally delving into mid-cap territory or foreign holdings (currently 10% of the portfolio). Montgomery relies exclusively on quantitative screens to identify firms that are attractively priced compared to their growth prospects, such as current holdings AT&T
The fund currently sports high sector concentrations in financial services (24% of assets) and health care (22%). Turnover is a low 34%, and expenses clock in at 0.97%, which isn't bad for a socially responsible fund.
Overall, the fund's performance has been impressive, excepting a slight stumble last year, when it trailed the S&P 500 by more than 10%. Despite this, the fund's 10-year annualized performance through May 2007 is 10.4%, beating both the broad market S&P 500 and the style-specific Russell 1000 Growth benchmarks. Large Cap Growth's assets have really jumped this past year, so investors are apparently catching on to a good thing. As far as socially screened funds go, it's hard to go wrong with this one.
Vanguard Growth & Income (VQNPX)
The Vanguard Growth & Income fund may be old, but it's still plenty good. This fund has been around since 1986, amassing quite a track record. Besides the bear-market years of 2000-2002, the fund has lost money in only two calendar years of its existence. Compared to the S&P 500, returns are not spectacular, but they are consistent. This fund probably won't beat the index by a wide margin in any given year, but probably won't lag much, either. Growth & Income has landed in the top half of its peer group in almost every calendar year, another testament to its consistency.
Manager John Cone has helmed the fund for almost eight years. Cone and his team employ quantitative models to identify companies with good growth prospects and subdued valuations, screening for fundamental factors such as momentum and cash flow. Unsurprisingly, the fund deviates little from the sector weightings of the S&P 500 index. With 117 holdings, position concentration is not an issue. A low 0.38% net expense ratio adds to this fund's appeal. For investors new to the enhanced indexing game, the Vanguard Growth & Income fund may be a great place to test the waters.
JP Morgan Market Expansion Index (PGMIX)
This fund invests in small- and mid-sized companies included in the S&P Small-Cap 600 and S&P Mid-Cap 400 indexes. The Market Expansion Index takes a much more diversified approach to investing, with holdings spread evenly across sectors, and more than 800 individual stock positions. As a result, even top holdings Precision Castparts
Market Expansion has recorded an annualized gain of 12.5% from its August 1998 inception through May 2007, besting the 11.6% return of the Russell Mid-Cap Index and the 9.7% return of the Russell 2000 Index. With the exception of 1999, the fund has also landed in the top half of its peer group every calendar year of its existence. There aren't many small- or mid-cap enhanced index funds out there, but if you want one for your portfolio, Market Expansion may fit the bill.
That wraps up our roundup of enhanced index winners. If you're intrigued by enhanced indexing, start your search with one of these funds. Just be sure to understand both the risks and the benefits of this style of fund investing before you jump in.
Whether you are interested in traditional index funds, enhanced index funds, or actively managed mutual funds, find the funds most likely to make money for your portfolio. A free 30-day trial to the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter is a great place to start.