Welcome to the latest installment of our weekly fund review, in which we scrutinize the past week's notable fund news and tell you what it means for Foolish investors.
ETFs: Safe haven in a bumpy market?
The past few weeks have been one wild ride for investors. As market volatility has risen, stocks have taken a pretty scary dip. Now, according to a recent MarketWatch article, many investors are seeking refuge in exchange-traded funds. These folks view ETFs as a tool that allows them to stay nimble in a volatile market. Strategists are using these funds to quickly move in and out of different sectors of the market, selling areas they believe will underperform, buying those that promise to do well. Some managers state that they're relying more heavily on ETF strategies because these funds offer the flexibility of investing in individual stocks without much of the accompanying risk.
True, ETFs provide an ideal vehicle for moving quickly into and out of the market. If your trading strategy is based on nimble sector rotation, ETFs can be ideal. However, most investors are more likely to time the market wrong than get such decisions right. And any strategy that encourages you to make frequent trades will likely rack up trading costs, eating away at your returns. ETFs are wonderful investments, but I'd encourage you to invest in them for the long term, rather than trying to capitalize on what you think the market will do in the next few weeks. Avoid sector-specific ETFs in favor of broad-market, diversified funds such as SPDRs
Evergreen investment chief departs
Evergreen Investments had a busy 2006, but probably not in the way it had hoped. The fund shop, a unit of Wachovia
It's never encouraging to hear about a high-level departure like this, especially in the wake of so much turnover within the fund. However, Conkey's departure probably won't change day-to-day operations at any of Evergreen's funds. If you're a fundholder, sit tight, so long as the managers at your particular fund haven't also bailed out in recent months. Ideally, you want to own funds with managers or management teams that have been in place for several years, through good markets and bad. A fund manager's departure may signal that the fund's past track record can no longer accurately reflect its future prospects. We'll have to see whether Evergreen can stem the outflow of investment personnel, but as long as your Evergreen fund hasn't changed, you shouldn't lose much sleep over the firm's higher-level shakeups.
Vanguard leads 2007 fund sales
According to recent data from Financial Research Corp., Vanguard was the best-selling fund shop in the first six months of 2007, finally surpassing American Funds. Vanguard took in more than $45 billion in inflows through June, followed by American Funds' $43 billion. Vanguard's ETF assets have reached $32 billion, having doubled over the past year, but it's merely the top dog in a fund market that seems to be thriving across the board.
It's no surprise that Vanguard leads fund sales. The shop offers a wide menu of high-quality funds with expenses significantly below the industry average. If you're thinking of buying an index fund, Vanguard has some of the best offerings around.
Although I think highly of the company in general, Fools should evaluate each fund on its own merits. Look for funds with a consistent investment process, a long-tenured manager, and a strong performance track record. Any fund with all these qualities should leave you and your money in good hands.
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