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Is Vanguard Wellesley Income Investor (VWINX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

There are plenty of choices in the Allocation Balanced category, but where should you start your research? Well, one fund that might be worth investigating is Vanguard Wellesley Income Investor (VWINX). VWINX carries a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 1 (Strong Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

VWINX is one of many Zacks' Allocation Balanced mutual funds to pick from. Allocation Balanced funds seek to invest in a balance of asset types, like stocks, bonds, and cash, though including precious metals or commodities is not unusual; these funds are mostly categorized by their respective asset allocation. Investors utilize Allocation Balanced funds as a way to get a good start with diversified mutual funds, as well as for core holdings in a portfolio of funds.

History of Fund/Manager

Vanguard Group is responsible for VWINX, and the company is based out of Malvern, PA. The Vanguard Wellesley Income Investor made its debut in July of 1970 and VWINX has managed to accumulate roughly $12.56 billion in assets, as of the most recently available information. A team of investment professionals is the fund's current manager.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. VWINX has a 5-year annualized total return of 5.79% and is in the top third among its category peers. If you're interested in shorter time frames, do not dismiss looking at the fund's 3-year annualized total return of 6.03%, 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. Compared to the category average of 8.3%, the standard deviation of VWINX over the past three years is 4.55%. The fund's standard deviation over the past 5 years is 4.67% compared to the category average of 8.54%. This makes the fund less volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors cannot discount the risks to this segment though, as it is always important to remember the downside for any potential investment. In VWINX's case, the fund lost 18.87% in the most recent bear market and outperformed its peer group by 17%. This might suggest that the fund is a better choice than its peers during a bear market.

Investors should not forget about beta, an important way to measure a mutual fund's risk compared to the market as a whole. VWINX has a 5-year beta of 0.32, which means it is likely to be less volatile than the market average. Another factor to consider is alpha, as it reflects a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark-in this case, the S&P 500. With a positive alpha of 1.69, managers in this portfolio are skilled in picking securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Expenses

Costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing, and particularly as competition heats up in this market. And all things being equal, a lower cost product will outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, so taking a closer look at these metrics is key for investors. In terms of fees, VWINX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.23% compared to the category average of 0.89%. From a cost perspective, VWINX is actually cheaper than its peers.

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

Overall, Vanguard Wellesley Income Investor ( VWINX ) has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, Vanguard Wellesley Income Investor ( VWINX ) looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

Your research on the Allocation Balanced 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. For analysis of the rest of your portfolio, make sure to visit Zacks.com for our full suite of tools which will help you investigate all of your stocks and funds in one place.


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