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Is Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund (VGTSX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

Zacks Equity Research
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There are plenty of choices in the Index category, but where should you start your research? Well, one fund that might be worth investigating is Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund (VGTSX). While this fund is not tracked by the Zacks Mutual Fund Rank, we were able to examine other factors like performance, volatility, and cost.

History of Fund/Manager

VGTSX finds itself in the Vanguard Group family, based out of Malvern, PA. Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund debuted in April of 1996. Since then, VGTSX has accumulated assets of about $131.91 billion, according to the most recently available information. The fund's current manager, Michael Perre, has been in charge of the fund since August of 2008.

Performance

Investors naturally seek funds with strong performance. This fund carries a 5-year annualized total return of 5.77%, and it sits in the middle third among its category peers. But if you are looking for a shorter time frame, it is also worth looking at its 3-year annualized total return of 8.29%, 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. Over the past three years, VGTSX's standard deviation comes in at 10.6%, compared to the category average of 8.79%. The standard deviation of the fund over the past 5 years is 11.21% compared to the category average of 8.68%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors should always remember the downsides to a potential investment, and this segment carries some risks one should be aware of. In VGTSX's case, the fund lost 58.5% in the most recent bear market and outperformed its peer group by 11.95%. This could mean that the fund is a better choice than comparable funds during a bear market.

Investors should note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 0.9, so it is likely going to be less 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. The fund has produced a negative alpha over the past 5 years of -6.29, which shows that managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Expenses

For investors, taking a closer look at cost-related metrics is key, since costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing. Competition is heating up in this space, and a lower cost product will likely outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, all things being equal. In terms of fees, VGTSX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.17% compared to the category average of 0.85%. VGTSX is actually cheaper than its peers when you consider factors like cost.

Investors should also note that the minimum initial investment for the product is $3,000 and that each subsequent investment needs to be at $1.

Bottom Line

Your research on the Index segment doesn't have to stop here. You can check out all the great mutual fund tools we have to offer by going to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds to see the additional features we offer as well for additional information. If you want to check out our stock reports as well, make sure to go to Zacks.com to see all of the great tools we have to offer, including our time-tested Zacks Rank.


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