Investors looking for exposure to smaller stocks outside the purview of the widely followed S&P 500 have plenty of options in the world of exchange traded funds.
A convenient avenue for obtaining broad-based mid- and small-cap exposure under the umbrella of a single ETF is the Vanguard Extended Market ETF (NYSEArca: VXF). VXF is intended to be a complement to traditional S&P 500 exposure because the Vanguard ETF holds an array of smaller stocks not found in the benchmark U.S. equity index.
“The fund tracks the S&P Completion Index, which is designed to round out a large-cap equity holding, such as an index fund tracking the S&P 500. The fund primarily holds mid-, small-, and micro-cap stocks, but it also includes a handful of large-cap names,” according to Morningstar. “The fund lands in mid-blend territory, but it reaches further down the market-cap spectrum than most peers and straddles the mid- and small-cap size segment breakpoint. Indeed, small- and micro-cap stocks make up over 50% of its holdings by weight. Because the index relies on others to accurately price its holdings, the fund is fully exposed to the potential excesses of the market. But it also reflects the collective views of active investors.”
VXF holds nearly 3,230 stocks and its top 10 holdings represent just 4.4% of the ETF’s weight. Financial services and technology stocks combine for 34% of VXF’s weight while consumer discretionary and industrial stocks combine for just over 28%. The ETF features relatively small exposure to energy, telecom and utilities stocks because the most investable names in those sectors are usually large-caps.
VXF “is a well-diversified portfolio that straddles the mid- and small-cap size segments. Its average market capitalization is less than half the mid-cap blend category average because it owns small- and micro-cap stocks. Indeed, over 50% of its assets are invested in small- and micro-cap stocks. Likely because the fund owns smaller stocks, its return on equity is consistently below the category average’s. Its top 10 holdings represent less than 5% of its holdings, while the mid-cap blend category averages over 20%,” said Morningstar.
The median market value of VXF’s holdings is $4 billion and the portfolio’s turnover rate is 12.2%, according to issuer data.
VXF keeps with the tradition of low fee Vanguard funds with annual fee of just 0.08%. That works out to $8 on a $10,000 investment.