OT - Jim or whomever - equal weight index funds?

Good afternoon if you are in one of those time zones.

First, I am a long time lurker and big fan of this site generally and mungo in particular.

My adult son is finally setting up a Roth, so yay! I suggested the first $1.0k go into two BRK.B shares and an index fund.

I get low cost funds, and often favor Vanguard.

I thought the consensus some time back was to consider not SPY but an equal weighted S&P 500 index like RSP.

If folks have insight into Vanguard’s value fund long term, VTV, I would welcome those thoughts.

Finally, I personally use VTIAX for some broad international exposure. If others think they have a far better non-US index fund, I would love to hear about it.

If it matters for context, my son is about 25 and healthy.

My thanks for the considered insight of this board in general.

JohnH

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I get low cost funds, and often favor Vanguard.

I thought the consensus some time back was to consider not SPY but an equal weighted S&P 500 index like RSP.

A 40/60 blend of VFINX and VMCIX (S&P 500 and mid-cap index) gets you pretty close to equal weight.

I thought the consensus some time back was to consider not SPY but an equal weighted S&P 500 index like RSP.
If folks have insight into Vanguard’s value fund long term, VTV, I would welcome those thoughts.

Before plumping for VTV instead of RSP–why?

VTV is a cap weight fund, so it has all of the flaws of any cap weight fund.
No need to go into those again, but they are bad.

Plus, its methodology, like many “value” index methodologies, seems to be going out of its way to pick dud companies, not undervalued companies.
They give “growth” points, tending to get companies excluded from the value index, if they have these properties:
"future long-term growth in earnings per share (EPS), future short-term growth in EPS, 3-year
historical growth in EPS, 3-year historical growth in sales per share, current investment-to-assets
ratio, and return on assets."
Those are mostly good things for a value company to have.

Then, they give “value” points, to get them included in the value index, if they have these properties:
“Book to price, forward earnings to price, historic earnings to price, dividend-to-price ratio and sales-to-price ratio.”

That’s a rather mixed bag. There is nothing wrong with a high forward earnings yield, but things go downhill rapidly from there.
Low book to price will generate a portfolio of capital intensive firms (low return on assets), which is statistically an underperforming strategy.
Highest P/B 5% of stocks beat lowest 5% by 5.6%/year in the last 25 years:
most often a very high P/B is not a sign of being expensive (bad), it’s a sign of a high return on assets (good).
Price to sales is a meaningless metric when comparing companies in different industries, so that’s largely a random number generator.
Historic earnings to price ratio is looking for firms which have historically traded at a low multiple of current earnings–presumably the weakest firms by consensus.
There is nothing wrong with a high dividend yield, though it’s not a way to find a market beating portfolio.
Last 25 years, among the Value Line 1700 set of stocks, equally weighted, rebalanced quarterly:
Stocks not paying dividends 12.71%.
50% of dividend stocks with the lowest yields: 12.08%
50% of dividend stocks with the highest yields: 11.50% (high div yield is not a way to outperform)
So, overall, picking VTV seems like an excellent strategy for underperforming a dartboard over the long run.
It does a fine job looking for low growth capital intensive firms likely to do badly.

If you’re going to “round out” a modestly sized portfolio with an index choice, I would suggest considering something that at least rises in value at the average rate.
RSP is a good starting point.

But there is one reasonably easy way that seems likely to do better:
The underlying earnings of QQQE (the Nasdaq 100 set of stocks, equally weighted) have risen at around inflation plus 7.1% to 8.2%/year in the last 17-25 years.
In addition, you get a dividend of around 0.5% on today’s purchase price.
So, starting at an average valuation level, one might expect future returns in the rough vicinity of inflation plus 8%/year, give or take.
It does not appear to be very overvalued based on the relationship between today’s price and the trend line of those earnings.
Maybe 5-10% above average? The move in the last two weeks, more or less.

For comparison, the trend real earnings of the S&P 500 have risen inflation plus 3.30% to 3.45%/year in the same time frames.
In addition to that value growth rate, you get a dividend of around 1.54% on today’s purchase price.
So, if it were at an average valuation level now and the recent rate of value generation continued, you might expect a total return of around inflation plus 4.8%-5.0%.
Unfortunately the current valuation level, ratio of current price to on-trend earnings, is 25% above the average since 1997.
So, one sensible expectation would be a one-time drop of 20% before getting whatever the trend growth is in future.
So: slower growing over time, but also more expensive relative to its own history right now.
And also much higher company-specific risk: top 2 positions of SPY are 11.5% of your money, versus 2% of your money with QQQE.

The historical figures won’t predict the future with great reliability.
But the gap is so large I know which one I would pick.
The one that has grown faster, and is also cheaper relative to its own history, and also less risky.

Jim

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Finally, I personally use VTIAX for some broad international exposure. If others think they have a far better non-US index fund, I would love to hear about it.

I have some VTIAX in one of my 401Ks (limited fund options) for broad international exposure. Meh.

However, another fund I have for slightly spicier international exposure is iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Small-Cap ETF (EEMS), which is one of the more interesting little ETFs I’ve found. It’s not an equal weight ETF per se but it’s about as close are you’re gonna find for small international firms.

EEMS is comprised of 1,400+ companies in the $200M to $2B market cap range, and the largest holding is only 0.31%. only 4.2% of the funds assets are in the top 15 holdings and on 11.5% in the top 50 holdings.

Unlike most Emerging Market ETFs, China exposure is only 8.5%. The big ones are Taiwan (21%), India (21%), South Korea (16%).

Selling for a PE of 14 and a P/B of 1.5. 2.7% dividend yield

However, be aware that the expense ratio for EEMS is on the high end at 0.68%.

https://www.ishares.com/us/products/239642/ishares-msci-emer…

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Just to muddy the water a bit more…

An allied company to our generous hosts (TMF) also offer some ETFs which might fit your investment criteria:

https://www.fooletfs.com/

While not equally weighted, I particularly like TMFE (capital efficiency). It focuses on companies with high ROE (and that are recommended by TMF). Top ten holdings are about 50%. So a bit more concentrated than QQQE. Presumably, the concentration depends upon a proprietary scoring algorithm…

That said, each of the top ten represent ~5.5% to 4.5% of the total. Basically equal weight amongst AMZN, AAPL, UNH, HD, MSFT, NVDA, V, GOOG, MA, JNJ.

Another hit against TMFE is the management fee: 0.50%. That is more expensive than QQQE’s 0.35% management fee. Perhaps if TMFE grows significantly (it has circa $20 million assets under management versus QQQE’s >$600 million) the management fee will fall.

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