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Vanguard 500 Index Fund – VFINX – merits the Best +10 Fund Authority Score

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The Standard & Poors 500 stock index is the most common equity index fund benchmark in the U.S. The S and P 500 tracks about 75% of publicly traded U.S. equity market asset value. The dominant issue in choosing among passively managed index mutual funds and ETF funds benchmarked against the S & P 500 is that securities industry management and trading fees are all over the map from reasonably low to shockingly high. If you are naive enough to pay higher expense ratios for what are just commodity S&P 500 index funds, then the high investment fees that you pay are just a wealth transfer from you to the financial industry that repeatedly bleeds your personal investment portfolio.

Here is some good news for you. The Skilled Investor has published an article about lower cost S&P 500 index mutual funds that you can read, which is entitled: 18 Low Cost S&P 500 Index Mutual Funds. Below you will also find our Fund Authority Score summary for the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, which is one of these 18 best index funds for a lower cost standpoint.

The diversified investment fund strategy of the Vanguard 500 Index Fund

According to Vanguard’s website, the investment strategy of the Vanguard 500 Index mutual fund “employs a “passive management” – or indexing – investment approach designed to track the performance of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, a widely recognized benchmark of U.S. stock market performance that is dominated by the stocks of large U.S. companies. The fund attempts to replicate the target index by investing all, or substantially all, of its assets in the stocks that make up the index, holding each stock in approximately the same proportion as its weighting in the index.”

The Fund Authority Score for the Vanguard 500 Index Fund – VFINX

The table below presents the Fund Authority Score and other information for the Vanguard 500 Index mutual fund.

Fund Authority Scores rate mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) on the most important economic factors that influence individual investors’ net long term diversified investment fund performance. The Skilled Investor developed the Fund Authority Score system to provide individual investors with concise and objective summaries of mutual funds and ETFs for comparisons within investment asset classes.

Using an integer scale ranging from -10 to +10, Fund Authority Scores measure five factors:

1) annualized management and investment sales expenses (40% weighting),
2) annual trading costs implied by investment fund portfolio turnover (30% weighting),
3) inferior and superior historical performance (20% weighting),
4) minimum fund maturity (5% weighting), and
5) minimum fund size for operating efficiency (5% weighting).

For a directory of the Fund Authority Score reports of other mutual funds and ETFs, go here. For the details on how a Fund Authority Score is developed for each mutual fund or ETF, go here.

Fund Authority Summary for the Vanguard 500 Index mutual fund (VFINX)

Fund Authority Score Summary Vanguard 500 Index Fund Fund Authority Score
TOTAL FUND AUTHORITY SCORE (scale of -10 to +10)   10
A) Management expenses and sales load fees (-4 to +4)    
- Net annual management expense ratio with 12b-1 fees 0.18%  
- Annualized front-end sales load with a 5 year amortization 0.00%  
--- Total annual direct costs 0.18% 4
B) Investment fund portfolio transactions costs (-3 to +3)    
-- Annual portfolio turnover as a trading cost proxy 5.2% 3
C) Penalize very inferior historical performance and credit average and superior historical performance (-2 to +2)    
-- Total of the 3 year Morningstar and Lipper ratings 8 2
D) Is this investment fund sufficiently mature? (0 or +1)   1
E) Very small fund operating efficiency penalty (-1 or 0)   0
-- Type of investment fund index mutual fund  
-- Active versus passive management passive index fund  
-- Total net assets $129.4 Billion  
-- Type of investment portfolio securities stocks - equities  
-- Geographic focus North America  
-- Market capitalization of portfolio securities large  
-- Strategy skew (value/growth/neither) neither  
-- Target performance benchmark index Standard and Poors 500 Index  
-- Year of inception 1976  
-- Trading symbol VFINX  
-- Share class evaluated Investor Shares  
-- Minimum initial deposit for individual investor $3000  
  General Electric Co. - GE  
  AT&T Inc. - T  
  Citigroup Inc. - C  
  Microsoft Corp. - MSFT  
  Bank of America Corp. - BAC  
  Procter & Gamble Co. - PG  
  American International Group Inc. - AIG  
  Chevron Corp. - CVX  
  Pfizer Inc. - PFE  
--- Top 10 Investment Portfolio Holdings (%)   19.90%
Fund family website www.vanguard.com  
Customer service telephone number 800-662-2739  
SEC Edgar fund filings and fund website accessed on November 20, 2007  


– Most mutual funds and ETFs change their fees and trading strategies relatively little over time. Because investment expenses, trading/turnover costs, fund maturity, and operating efficiency account for 80% of the Fund Authority Score rating system, Fund Authority Scores tend to remain relatively stable over time for such consistent investment funds.

– The date in the table above indicates when fund information was accessed from SEC EDGAR filings and/or the fund company website. Normally, data used to develop Fund Authority Scores rely upon reporting periods ending the previous calendar quarter or half year.

– Unless otherwise stated, there are no business arrangements of any kind between The Skilled Investor and any financial product, service, or company that may be discussed in our publication’s articles.

– Fund Authority Scores are developed on a fund by fund basis. Just because a mutual fund or ETF has a high Fund Authority Score does not mean that other funds from that fund family do, as well. On your own, always be careful to check current management expenses, sales loads, portfolio turnover, fund maturity, fund size, fund performance, and other current factors before investing in any diversified investment fund.

– If you do not need and/or are unwilling to pay the direct and indirect costs of an investment counselor, stock broker, or other financial advisory intermediary, you should note that many mutual funds can be purchased directly from diversified investment fund families by accessing their websites or by calling their customer service telephone numbers. Similarly many ETFs can be purchased with lower transactions fees through discount brokers. (See these articles: Payment of Investment Advisors, Financial Planners, and Investment Counselors)


– Your decision on whether to purchase or to sell any investment security is yours and yours alone. This TSI Site is a financial publication and is solely for informational and educational purposes related to your personal, private, and non-commercial use. Our articles report on publicly available documents and research studies. We have not verified any of the information reported in the information provided, and there could be errors with this information. It is solely your responsibility to verify any and all information before investing or purchasing any financial product or service. In no way does this site constitute a solicitation or offer to sell securities or investment advisory services.


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