|Expense Ratio (net)||0.20%|
|Last Cap Gain||0.00|
|Morningstar Risk Rating||Average|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||0.84|
|5y Average Return||N/A|
|Average for Category||N/A|
|Inception Date||Jun 29, 2000|
If the 401(k) world held a popularity contest, Vanguard would win. More Americans choose to stash their retirement savings in Vanguard 401(k) funds above all other firms' funds in the country.In this, our annual review of widely held 401(k) funds - mutual funds with the most in 401(k) assets - 32 Vanguard funds rank among the top 100.Of course, just over a dozen of those are index funds, but Vanguard offers many actively managed funds, too. Good ones.Today, we're going to look at some of the best Vanguard funds for your 401(k) ... and also weed out a few lesser options. We'll review nine active Vanguard funds, as well as the popular Vanguard Target Retirement series of target-date funds. (Ten Vanguard target-date portfolios rank among the 100 most popular retirement funds). We'll rate each Buy, Sell or Hold. SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Low-Fee Mutual Funds to Buy Now
[Editor's note: This story was previously published in June 2018. It has since been updated and republished.]At their core, mutual funds should be lower-risk investments. The aim of many mutual funds is to provide broad-based exposure to a particular asset class; stocks, bonds, etc. With that diversity, at least in theory, should come to a lower risk profile for investors.According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading Tips"All funds carry some level of risk. With mutual funds, you may lose some or all of the money you invest because the securities held by a fund can go down in value. Dividends or interest payments may also change as market conditions change…A fund's past performance is not as important as you might think because past performance does not predict future returns. But past performance can tell you how volatile or stable a fund has been over a period of time. The more volatile the fund, the higher the investment risk."Indeed, an array of low-risk mutual funds spanning multiple asset classes are currently available to investors. Still, even some low-risk mutual funds are not entirely free of risk. Even low-risk mutual funds with fixed income exposure have some risk."Bond mutual funds -- like all mutual funds -- involve investment risk, including the possible loss of principal. A fundamental principle of investing known as the risk/reward tradeoff means that when you make an informed decision to assume some risk, you also create the opportunity for reward. Investors should be aware of the risks and potential for losses associated with bond mutual fund investing," according to the Investment Company Institute (ICI). * 7 Stocks to Buy In a Flat Market Here are a few low-risk mutual funds for conservative investors to consider. Fidelity Income Conservative Bond Fund (FCONX)Source: Shutterstock Expense Ratio: 0.35% per year, or $35 on a $10,000 investment.The Fidelity Income Conservative Bond Fund (MUTF:FCONX) epitomizes "low-risk mutual fund," particularly at a time when interest rates could rise. Short-term bond funds are among this year's most popular fixed-income funds due to the lower duration risk profile offered by short-dated bonds.Credit risk is benign with this Fidelity fund because its holdings are comprised primarily of sovereign debt. Nearly 75% of FCONX's holdings are rated AA or A. Vanguard Inflation-Protected Securities Fund (VIPSX)Expense Ratio: 0.2%When looking for low-risk mutual funds, the Vanguard Inflation-Protected Securities Fund (MUTF:VIPSX) highlighted here is the investor class of this popular product.Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS), the bonds held by this Vanguard fund, are low-risk bonds. Reduced risk in the fixed income space usually means lower yields, and that is true of TIPS. * 7 Deeply Discounted Energy Stocks to Buy Income on this low-risk mutual fund "can fluctuate more in this fund because payments depend on inflation changes. Investors with a long-term time horizon may wish to consider this fund as a complement to an already diversified fixed income portfolio," according to Vanguard. Vanguard Equity Income Fund (VEIPX)Expense Ratio: 0.26%Over long holding periods, dividend stocks can reduce a portfolio's risk profile and there are plenty of dividend funds that can be classified as low-risk mutual funds, include the Vanguard Equity Income Fund (MUTF:VEIPX). VEIPX is the investor share class of this popular Vanguard offering.This low-risk mutual fund holds 96.5% stocks and most of them have large market caps. Financial services and technology stocks combine for over 25% of VEIPX's roster while the healthcare and industrial sectors also combine for more than 25%.VEIPX does not explicitly have a dividend increase streak requirement, but this fund is home to some stocks with lengthy histories of rising payouts. Several of VEIPX's top 10 holdings have dividend increase streaks that can be measured in decades. American Century Mid-Cap Value Fund (ACLAX)Expense Ratio: 1.21%Some words of advice regarding the American Century Mid-Cap Value Fund (MUTF:ACLAX). As the above expense ratio indicates, this is not a cheap fund and that status is further cemented by a 5.75% sales load, meaning investors considering this low-risk mutual fund should be in it for the long-term.On to better news, mid-caps have a lengthy history of outperforming large-caps while doing so with less volatility than small-cap stocks. In fact, ACLAX's five-year standard deviation is only 3.7, confirming that this is, in fact, a low-risk mutual fund. * 7 Best Tech Stocks to Buy Right Now The financial services and industrial sectors combine for over 48% of ACLAX's weight. None of the fund's holdings exceed a weight of 3.01% as of the end of the first quarter. Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX)Source: Shutterstock Expense Ratio: 0.04%The Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (MUTF:VTSAX) is a passively managed index fund, not an active mutual fund. In the fund world, VTSAX is one of the true giants among equity products. As of the end of May, across various share classes, the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund, had almost $211 billion of net assets.VTSAX can be considered a low-risk mutual fund among equity funds due in part to its massive roster. This Vanguard fund is home to over 3,000 stocks, giving it a lineup that is more than six times larger than the S&P 500.VTSAX is the Admiral share class of this fund and has an annual fee that makes this fund very cheap. Fidelity Advisor Strategic Income Fund (FSTAX)Source: Shutterstock Expense Ratio: 0.98%The Fidelity Advisor Strategic Income Fund (MUTF:FSTAX) is a multi-sector bond fund, offering investors exposure to multiple corners of the fixed income universe."The fund uses a neutral mix of approximately 45% high yield, 25% U.S. Government and investment-grade, 15% emerging markets, and 15% foreign developed markets. Engaging in transactions that have a leveraging effect on the fund," according to Fidelity. * The 8 Worst Stocks to Buy Before the Trade Turmoil Cools Off The fund's managers can adjust credit and interest rate risk as market conditions. The fund has $16.6 billion of assets and has beaten its benchmark over the last three years. Invesco Global Low Volatility Equity Yield Fund (GTNDX)Source: Shutterstock Expense Ratio: 1.59%The Invesco Global Low Volatility Equity Yield Fund (MUTF:GTNDX) can be considered another low-risk mutual fund tracking the mid-cap space. This low-risk mutual fund also sports a standard deviation of just 2.6, a point sure to attract conservative investors.Currently, GTNDX is underweight technology stocks, and overweight industrials and materials. The latter category have kept its performance quite solid this year.This low-risk mutual fund "has dual objectives of providing income and long-term growth of capital. In addition to these objectives, the fund targets a level of total volatility that is less than that of its capitalization-weighted market index," according to the issuer.As of this writing, Todd Shriber does not own any of the aforementioned securities. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 7 Stocks to Buy for a Dovish Fed * 7 Stocks That Insiders Are Buying * 5 High-Price Stocks to Buy Worthy of Your Portfolio The post 7 Low-Risk Mutual Funds to Buy Now appeared first on InvestorPlace.
Editor's note: This story was previously published in March 2019. It has since been updated and republished.If you want your portfolio to hold the best Vanguard funds for 2019, you will want a diverse selection of funds that can perform in an uncertain environment of slowing growth.The best funds in 2019 will likely include defensive sector funds and high-quality dividend funds. If you want to diversify with bond funds, buying those that focus on short-term debt may be the best bet, if the Federal Reserve resumes raising rates.InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading Tips * 7 Bank Stocks to Leave in the Vault Balanced funds can also be a good idea in 2019. With the Fed pausing its tightening campaign, investors at first cheered but may soon turn to fears of a recession. This makes for economic and market conditions that will continue to bring volatility and ultimate downside for stocks -- and the potential for bond prices to rise.In summary, diversification will likely beat narrow bets in 2019. With that backdrop, I give you the best Vanguard funds for 2019: Vanguard Wellington (VWELX)Expenses: 0.25%, or $25 for every $10,000 invested Minimum Investment: $3,000When uncertainty and volatility abound, long-term investors are wise to diversify with a well-managed, low-cost balanced fund like Vanguard Wellington (MUTF:VWELX).Source: Shutterstock Although 2018 ended on a negative note for stocks, equities can still have a positive 2019, assuming the current positive GDP forecasts hold. This environment is a good match for a moderate-allocation balanced fund like VWELX, which consists of roughly two-thirds stocks and one-third bonds.Among its stock holdings are high-quality large-caps like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM). Bonds are a diversified mix with an average duration of 9.4 years. Vanguard Wellesley Income (VWINX)Expenses: 0.23% Minimum Investment: $3,000For investors who want to lean to the conservative side in 2019 or retirees who need income but minimal market risk, Vanguard Wellesley Income (MUTF:VWINX) is among the best in the mutual fund universe.Source: Shutterstock VWINX maintains an allocation of roughly one-third stocks and two-thirds bonds. If stocks enter into a full bear market in 2019, bond prices will likely rise as the Fed continues to pause its tightening campaign and the heavy fixed-income allocation in VWINX will minimize losses. * 7 Stocks to Buy for Monster Growth If you're looking for income, VWINX boasts a 3.4% 30-day SEC yield, which comes from quality dividend stocks like JPM, VZ and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index (VHDYX)Expenses: 0.14% Minimum Investment: $3,000In volatile markets, investors often turn to high-quality stocks of dividend-paying companies, like the ones you'll find in Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index (MUTF:VHDYX).Source: Shutterstock When investors transition from the riskier growth stocks, small-caps and international stocks, they often turn to big U.S. blue-chip stocks that pay dividends. If stocks have a positive 2019, these quality stocks will be among the leaders, and a passively-managed fund full of them can be a smart move.VHDYX tracks the FTSE High Dividend Yield Index, which consists of 400 stocks of U.S. companies that pay larger-than-average dividends like JNJ, JPM and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM). Vanguard Health Care (VGHCX)Expenses: 0.34% Minimum Investment: $3,000In times of uncertainty and market volatility, holding a defensive sector fund, such as Vanguard Health Care (MUTF:VGHCX) can be a smart move for diversifying a portfolio.Source: Shutterstock Although healthcare stock prices won't necessarily climb while those of major market indices fall, they do tend to hold their value better than other sectors during corrections. And if stocks are positive in 2019, your health sector fund can still capture that upside. * 7 Stocks to Sell Amid an Escalating Trade War Another benefit of holding VGHCX in what may be a risk-off environment is that the portfolio is light on the riskier biotechnology stocks. Most of the portfolio consists of managed care and big pharma names like UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH), AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY). Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond (VUBFX)Expenses: 0.20% Minimum Investment: $3,000If the Fed resumes its rate hikes, one of the best bond funds to hold will be Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond (MUTF:VUBFX).Source: Shutterstock An ultra-short-term bond fund like VUBFX is a smart choice for investors who want to minimize interest-rate risk or for those looking for opportunities to get greater yields than money market funds.The reason why short-term bond funds can be smart in a rising-rate environment is that prices for longer maturities fall harder than shorter maturities. This is because bond investors don't want the older, lower-yielding bonds when the newer, higher-yielding bonds are available. Vanguard Inflation-Protected Securities (VIPSX)Expenses: 0.2% Minimum Investment: $3,000Bonds prices tend to fall in inflationary environments but a good TIPS fund like Vanguard Inflation-Protected Securities (MUTF:VIPSX) can perform relatively well in such an environment.Source: Shutterstock Treasury inflation-protected securities, aka TIPS, are Treasury bonds in which the principal value adjusts up or down based on inflation, as measured by the CPI. * 5 Safe Stocks to Buy This Summer While stocks and some bond funds can lose in an inflationary/rising-rate environment, funds like VIPSX can eke out gains. Keep in mind, however, that TIPS funds can still decline in value when rates are rising, although not typically as much as funds that invest in conventional bonds. Vanguard Prime Money Market (VMMXX)Expenses: 0.16% Minimum Investment: $3,000In an environment where neither stocks nor bonds look attractive, investors are wise to allocate a portion of their portfolio to highly liquid money market Vanguard funds like Vanguard Prime Money Market (MUTF:VMMXX).Source: Shutterstock Rising rates are not good for equities or fixed income. However, higher rates do generally increase the yields for money market funds. Therefore, a diversified Vanguard portfolio in 2019 will include VMMXX.VMMXX currently has a compound yield of 2.49% and beat the major indices for both stocks and bonds last year.As of this writing, Kent Thune did not personally hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities, although he holds VWINX in some client accounts. Under no circumstances does this information represent a recommendation to buy or sell securities. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 7 Stocks That Should Be Worried About a Data Dividend * 5 Cheap ETFs Worth Considering * 7 Cheap Stocks Under $5 That Could Soar Compare Brokers The post 7 Best Vanguard Funds for 2019 appeared first on InvestorPlace.