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Vanguard's Latest ETFs Look Familiar

Stocks in this article: BLK STT MHP

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As major ETF providers attempt to steal away market share from one another, they risk stepping on their own toes and leaving investors overwhelmed with redundancy.

Long lauded as the leader in the field of low-cost index-based mutual funds, Vanguard's assault on the world of exchange traded funds has been undoubtedly impressive.

Although the firm is still relatively new the game, its popularity has taken off, driving it to third place among the top ETF providers in terms of assets, just behind BlackRock (BLK) and State Street (STT).

Late last week, Vanguard unveiled its latest effort to stay ahead of the competition, when it announced ambitious plans to launch 19 funds. These products will be offered as mutual fund shares and ETF shares. In addition, Vanguard also will offer ETF shares of its S&P 500 Index fund for a total of new ETFs.

These products include three municipal bond funds as well as an international real estate focused product. The remaining 16 products will track various slices of the broad U.S. market using the popular Standard and Poor's (a division of McGraw-Hill (MHP)) family of indexes as well as Russell indexes.

Aside from tracking the popular indexes, Vanguard's new products will challenge existing S&P funds on costs. The expense ratio on Vanguard's new Vanguard S&P 500 ETF is 0.06%, making it four basis points cheaper than SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) and 3 bps cheaper than iShares S&P 500 Index Fund (IVV).

Vanguard's decision to launch an S&P-linked product is clearly an attempt to draw investors away from popular products such as SPY and IVV. However, aside from being able to tack on the S&P and Russell name on their new funds, there doesn't appear to be much added benefit to investors in launching these products.

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