plans to bolster its international mutual fund offerings with a new fund of funds. The move illustrates the firm's growing commitment to international investing, an area for which recently departed Senior Chairman John Bogle showed little enthusiasm.
Vanguard Developed Foreign Markets Stock Index
fund will spread its assets between Vanguard's
European Stock Index and
Pacific Stock Index funds to mirror the
Morgan Stanley Capital International-Europe, Australasia, Far East Index
(EAFE), which was 66% invested in European stocks as of Jan. 31. Vanguard says the fund will give investors an opportunity to diversify their portfolios with exposure to 20 developed European and Pacific stock markets.
The new fund's annual expenses are expected to be 0.34%, well below the average foreign stock fund's 1.7% expense ratio, according to
. The new fund's minimum investment will be $3000 for standard accounts and $1000 for IRAs.
Still in registration with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
, it's not clear when the fund will be available this year, since its launch is pending SEC approval of its paperwork. Vanguard plans to launch an institutional version of the fund, in addition to adding institutional share classes to the European Stock Index, Pacific Stock Index, and
Emerging Markets Stock Index funds.
Most fund shops, particularly large firms, offer a broad lineup of international funds.
offers more than 30, according to Morningstar. Offering a wide range of funds for investors to use in a broad asset allocation strategy has been a cost of doing business for years -- particularly for firms that manage significant retirement assets, as Vanguard does.
The new fund brings Vanguard's international index fund lineup to five. The firm has nine international or global funds altogether (out of a total of 103 funds), seven of which were launched in the 1990s. Most recently, the firm launched the
Tax-Managed International Equity fund late last year.
The relatively modest lineup of international funds may have been due to Bogle's dislike for the category.
In his book,
Common Sense on Mutual Funds
, Bogle wrote, "I am not persuaded that international funds are a necessary component of an investor's portfolio." On the following page he says international holdings could make up 20% of an equity portfolio and "a zero weight is fully acceptable in most portfolios."
Even so, many of the firm's recent international funds were launched while Bogle was Vanguard's chief executive, a post he left in 1996.
Tech Fund Frenzy
Another week, another new tech fund.
announced a new
Technology and Innovation
fund Tuesday. The $19 billion broker-sold shop's new offering will be an all-cap tech fund, managed by a team led by tech analyst Jeffrey Hynoski.
The fund isn't on the company's Web site, but should be available this week, according to the company's press release.
announced a couple of new tech funds.
Tech funds' jaw-dropping success in 1999 might explain the flurry. Last year the average tech fund posted a 135% return, and the category took in a staggering $32.9 billion in 1999, according to Boston fund-tracker
. The previous record inflow was $4.4 billion.
Hynoski doesn't appear to have a glut of portfolio management experience. Since 1998, he has run the tech portion of
Delaware Select Growth. Tech stocks made up 43% of the fund at year-end. The mid-cap growth fund has outperformed its peers over the past two years.
Previously he was a technology and telecommunications analyst with
Bessemer Trust Company
A company spokesman was unavailable for comment, but in a statement the company says the new fund is an extension of its other growth products. The average Delaware growth fund's tech weighting is over 30%, higher than the
index's 28.4% weighting. Delaware's only other sector fund is its real estate fund,
The fund's Class A shares carry a maximum front-end load or sales charge of 5.75%; B shares levy a maximum 5% back-end load; C shares charge a maximum 1% back-end load on shares sold within 12 months of purchase.
Expenses are 1.52% on A shares; 2.22% on B and C shares. Delaware will cover some expenses through May 31, but B and C share expenses seem high. The average tech fund's expense ratio is 1.77%, according to
Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves