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Investing Specialists

Morningstar Runs the Numbers

We take a numerical look through this week's Morningstar research. Plus, our most popular articles and videos for the week ended March 9.

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Inspired by Harper's Index (with a tip of the hat to FiveThirtyEight's Significant Digits blog), Morningstar Runs the Numbers uses a numbers-based approach to highlight recent Morningstar research, along with some outside news stories.

With the rise in interest rates in the past couple of months, the utilities sector is now open for stock-pickers, says equities strategist Travis Miller. Among high-quality dividend-payers, we think these three stocks are attractively priced and offer good total return prospects.

Dividend-growth investing involves investing in companies whose cash flows are healthy and growing and have translated into a growing dividend payout. While such companies don't go on sale very often, to find some bargains, we sorted the 450-plus constituents in the Dividend Growth Index to find the 10 cheapest stocks relative to our analysts' estimate of their intrinsic value.

Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author Stephen Hawking died Wednesday at the age of 76. Given only a few years to live when he was initially diagnosed with ALS over 50 years ago, Hawking pushed the limits of what was possible and was an "emblem of human determination and curiosity," The New York Times wrote.

Gold-rated Vanguard 500 Index (VFIAX) is the best-known S&P 500 index-tracking fund, with more than $400 billion in assets. Think you know all there is to know about the fund? Check out these three facts.

Incorporating environmental, social, and governance analysis into an investment process can help uncover hidden risks or provide an early warning signal of risks that investors may be underappreciating, said head of sustainability research Jon Hale. Sustainalytics' recently published report, "10 for 2018: ESG Risks on the Horizon," examines ESG-related risks that are becoming more material in 10 industries and how companies within those industries are addressing these issues. Here are four of the findings.

Two Gold-rated funds,  FMI Large Cap (FMIHX) and  FMI Common Stock (FMIMX), are run with the same collaborative, high-conviction approach. The funds' conservative portfolios are prone to lag in up markets, as has been the case recently, but over a full cycle they have shown they can deliver index and peer-beating results, which look even more impressive when adjusted for risk.

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Vanguard 500 Index
Fidelity Contrafund
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T. Rowe Price Blue Chip Growth
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Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF
PowerShares QQQ
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Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.