As investors, one of our favorite words is diversification. We are taught to diversify our portfolios to avoid exposure to any one particular investment or sector of the market and achieve balance. One of the easiest ways to achieve diversification is through purchasing mutual funds, which I did at the beginning of my investing career. However, now that I have grown as an investor and now own 30 individual stocks, I wanted to take a look back at my current mutual funds to determine if too much of my portfolio is allocated to these diversified holdings. It is time to take a look at the five mutual funds I hold and determine if ACTION needs to be taken.
The Mutual Funds
Currently, I own five different mutual funds. In total, the mutual funds total $16,200, or 25.5% of my total portfolio. These five funds are located in two different accounts, which impacts the accessibility of the capital if I were to decide to make a move.
Three of the funds are located in my Roth IRA. I opened these positions during the infancy stages of my dividend growth investing career. At the time, I wanted both dividend income and diversification, so focusing on dividend paying mutual funds sounded like a great idea. So I took the capital I had and divided it evenly among the three funds listed below.
- ACLAX - 119.803 Shares; MV $1,994; 3.0% of Portfolio - This fund is a four star, silver rated fund on Morningstar. Some of the top ten holdings include: RSG, EMR (One of our favorites), NTRS, OXY, IMO, and CAG. The major selling points on this fund were the diversification, historical performance, strong/consistent management team, and the fact that the fund has a mid-cap focus but still pays a strong dividend. The one major downfall of this fund is the expense ratio, which is slightly over 1%. However, I knew that a fund centered on finding mid-cap funds would cost more than others due to the extra research and time needed to manage the lesser-known stocks.
- OIEIX - 138.551 Shares; MV $1,916; 2.9% of Portfolio - Another fours star, silver rated fund. This fund does not mess around and is focuses on large cap, value stocks. Some of the largest holdings include: JPM, XOM, JNJ, MO, AAPL, PNC, PFE, and HD. My favorite aspect about this stock is that it pays a monthly dividend. While my check usually isn't that large on a monthly basis, as evidenced in last month's dividend income summary, it is nice to see your position grow on a monthly basis. Isn't that right Realty Income shareholders?
- MEIAX - 55.556 Shares, MV $1,952; 3.0% of Portfolio - Also a four star, silver fund. This fund has some overlap with OIEIX as some of the top holdings include: JPM, JNJ, PM, PFE, LMT, USB, and MMM (one of my favorites). However, unlike OIEIX, this fund pays a quarterly dividend and has a lower annual fee than the other two above.
Since these funds are held in a personal retirement account and are not affiliated with my employer sponsored retirement account, I have the ability to trade these funds without restrictions and liquidate my positions at any moment.
Employer Sponsored Roth 401(k) Accounts
Like most of us that are still working for an employer, we have a 401k plan that allows us to select from a small pool of mutual funds or the company's stock. For my company, we are allowed to select from a wide variety of Vanguard mutual funds. Vanguard funds are nice because of the extremely low expense ratios. In this account, I own two different mutual funds.
- VWNAX - 149.224 shares; $9,726.42; 14.9% of Portfolio. This Vanguard fund is a large-cap value fund with an expense ratio of just .27%, significantly lower than the three funds disclosed above. Some of the top ten holdings include JPM, MDT, PFE, BAC, OTCPK:MFST, WFC, PM, and PNC. If you recall, I left my current employer in March and returned later in the year. This was the mutual fund that I contributed to in my first stint at my current employer and I am no longer contributing to this mutual fund. Therefore, the only changes in value/shares owned are related to changes in market price and the receipt of dividends. Another interesting nugget about this fund is that it pays a semi-annual dividend in June and December. So it doesn't pay frequently, but when it does, the dividend income checks have a huge impact on my monthly dividend income figures. Want proof? Check out my dividend income summary from the last time I received a payout.
- VINIX- 224 shares; $9,726.42; .8% of portfolio very similar to the last mutual fund. However, two small differences. First VINIX focuses on mirroring the S&P 500 versus investing in dividend stocks so the yield is slightly lower. Second, VINIX pays a quarterly dividend versus a semi-annual dividend. When I re-joined my old company, I thought it might be a good idea to invest in a new mutual fund to diversify my holdings. Since this position will keep growing, I didn't want to become too overweight in one mutual fund. So now I will share the wealth in Vanguard and continue to max my contributions in this fund so I can receive the full benefit of my employer's 401k match, which can be a very powerful tool for dividend investors.
- As I compiled the section above, there were a few things that jumped out at me. Here are some of the thoughts that came to my mind.
- There is a lot of Overlap - This became evident when I started listing out some of the major holdings in each fund. Outside of ACLAX, which focuses on mid-cap dividend stocks, there is a lot of overlap in holdings in the other four mutual funds. Which makes sense considering that these funds are focused on generating a dividend from large cap stocks and there are only so many stocks to select from. However, if my goal is to achieve diversification among these holdings, do I really need four different funds investing the same pool of stocks? Wouldn't one suffice?
- Why am I paying Such High Expense Fees - Is it terrible that my answer is "I don't know why?" At the time of investment, it made sense to invest in mutual funds. But I wasn't as much of an expense hawk as I am now so I was willing to overlook the high expense ratios to achieve my goal of diversification. In this day in age, with ETFs designed to achieve the same goal as mutual funds with minimal fees, why on earth am I voluntarily paying this annual fee? A stupid/reckless mistake on my part. I understand paying a fee for a mutual fund that invests in mid or small cap stocks because these companies require more time and research to identify/trade successfully. But paying a fee to invest in a pool of highly covered large cap stocks seems ridiculous going forward.
- Lack of REITs in Holdings - This one kind of surprised me, especially considering I selected these funds with a dividend-focused attitude. I did not see one REIT in any of the mutual funds I own. I am sure there is some reason why and the tax rules may be too unfavorable for fund families. This was just an interesting observation to me so I wanted to share it all with you.
Where do I Go From Here?
Based on my analysis and observations above, I think the answer to the title of this article is yes. Holding five mutual funds, which account for over 25% of my portfolio, seems a little heavy. Especially considering that many of the mutual funds invest in the same pool of stocks and are accomplishing the same goals.
Well, first things first. Let's talk about the liquidity of these funds. Since two of my mutual funds are in an employer-sponsored plan, there isn't much I can do outside of investing my capital in a different mutual fund. And trust me, Lanny and I have performed plenty of research on the available plans in the portfolio and we have selected two of the best. So as of now, I am not going to touch the two Vanguard funds and I will continue to invest in VINIX with each paycheck. Our employer matches 50% of all contributions, so I will continue to contribute the maximum amount each paycheck that will allow me to receive the full employer match next year. Plus, the expense ratio is very low, which is a huge positive compared to the other funds.
While I can't liquidate my two Vanguard funds, it is a completely different story for the three mutual funds in my Roth IRA. I have the freedom to trade these funds as I please. When I initially invested in these funds, I was at a different stage of my investing career and I needed the diversification. However, now that I have grown as an investor, owning 30 individual stocks, there is no need to diversify through owning independent mutual funds. The fees are too high and diversification is achieved through my employer's plan. So after I receive my capital gain distribution in December, which always results in a nice payout, I am most likely going to sell these funds and use the ~$6,000 to invest in some powerhouse dividend stocks. Which stocks will I invest in? I'm not entirely sure yet. I'm going to special screener in the next month unique to this situation that will help me identify how I should allocate the $6,000 in capital when it becomes available. The screener will look to identify great companies with a long-term track record with a yield in excess of the yield I am receiving on these dividend-focused mutual funds. I'm not certain yet, but I believe one of the moves I am going to make is to invest half in Realty Income based on the results of my last stock analysis. Another option is to focus on one of the stocks on my "Always Buy" list or one of the high yielding stocks on our foundation stock listing.
What are your thoughts on my strategy? What percentage of your portfolio are allocated to mutual funds? Do you think I am overweight? Should I consider investing in ETFs in lieu of mutual funds or dividend stocks with the capital to maintain the diversification? Do you have any recommendations for stocks that I should consider?