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3 Great Yet Underappreciated Vanguard ETFs

There’s some great choices off the beaten path.

3 Great Yet Underappreciated Vanguard ETFs
Securities In This Article
Vanguard Small-Cap Value ETF
(VBR)
Vanguard Total International Bond ETF
(BNDX)
Vanguard Total World Stock ETF
(VT)

Daniel Sotiroff: Vanguard’s low-cost ETFs are some of the most popular ETFs available. Fan favorites like Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF and Vanguard S&P 500 ETF are the darlings of its ETF lineup. But there’s some other great picks to consider if you want to round out your portfolio and you’re willing to look beyond those popular choices.

3 Great Yet Underappreciated Vanguard ETFs

  1. Vanguard Small-Cap Value ETF VBR
  2. Vanguard Total International Bond ETF BNDX
  3. Vanguard Total World Stock ETF VT

Small-cap value funds are one example. They’ve have been out of favor for the better part of 15 years, so the first ETF for today is Gold-rated Vanguard Small-Cap Value ETF, which trades under the ticker VBR. Diversification and a low fee are this ETF’s main billing. Vanguard charges a razor-thin 0.07% expense ratio for this broad collection of small-cap stocks trading at low price multiples. What’s nice about this ETF is that its index takes measures to avoid some of the trading costs that tend to be more pronounced in the small-cap market.

So far, that combination has been a recipe for success. VBR beat the average fund in the small-value category by 2 percentage points per year between January 2010 and December 2019. That was a decade that saw smaller and cheaper stocks struggle to perform well against the broader market. And it’s continued to outperform many of its peers over the past 4.5 years.

Silver-rated Vanguard Total International Bond ETF, ticker BNDX, is the second ETF for today. It gives you access to an often-neglected part of the global bond market. This ETF could complement a US-heavy bond allocation and tap into different interest-rate environments and yield curves outside of the US.

BNDX holds a diverse portfolio of foreign investment-grade bonds and hedges away its exposure to foreign currencies. That prevents currency risk from undermining the stability that these bonds can bring to your investment portfolio.

Government bonds from developed markets dominate this ETF. It parks about 80% of investors’ money in government debt from countries like Japan, France, and Germany, with the balance going to corporate and asset-backed bonds. Less risk should equate to a lower rate of return, but that’s OK because this fund’s main advantage is its rock-bottom fee. Like VBR, Vanguard charges just 0.07% per year for this ETF.

Last, but certainly not least, is one of the broadest stock ETFs available to investors—period. Gold-rated Vanguard Total World Stock ETF, ticker VT, provides exposure to the entire global stock market in a single low-cost package. It includes nearly 10,000 stocks of all sizes from the US, foreign, and emerging markets. This ETF is so broad that you could reasonably use it as the only stock ETF in your portfolio.

One thing to remember is that the split between the US and international stocks will move around as one outperforms the other. US stocks have been the leader over the last 15 years, so they represent about 62% of VT’s portfolio. A little under 30% comes from foreign developed markets, while riskier stocks from emerging markets make up the final 10%. Overall, that’s a fairly healthy mix of domestic and foreign stocks that should hold up well over the long run.

Watch Active ETFs: What Investors Need to Know for more from Daniel Sotiroff.

The author or authors do not own shares in any securities mentioned in this article. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.

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About the Author

Daniel Sotiroff

Senior Analyst
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Daniel Sotiroff is a senior manager research analyst for Morningstar Research Services LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Morningstar, Inc. He covers passive strategies.

Before joining Morningstar in 2017, Sotiroff was as a design engineer at Caterpillar, where he worked on front-end loaders for heavy construction and mining applications.

Sotiroff holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in applied mechanics, both from Northern Illinois University.

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