Last month, Vanguard launched an International Dividend Growth Fund designed to bolster dividends with shares of high-quality international companies—and investors should take notice, contends an article in Barron’s. That’s because the fund’s manager is a team from Wellington Management Company, which holds over $7 trillion in assets and also manages Vanguard’s Dividend Growth Fund.
It’s a curious time for Vanguard to be launching the fund, given that its counterpart, the Vanguard Dividend Growth Fund, is only up about 1% so far this year, compared to the S&P 500’s 14%. And Vanguard’s Total International Stock ETF has only gained about 4% this year. Investors are gravitating more towards U.S. growth stocks; the Nasdaq has skyrocketed 27% in 2023, fueled by the heavy favorite Nvidia which is up nearly 200%. But the new Vanguard fund could give investors “a chance to zig when others are zagging,” the article notes. The International Stock ETF’s portfolio is currently trading for less than 13 times the earnings forecast for the next 12 months, giving investors a small discount on the 5-year average and a much larger one to the Nasdaq, which is trading at 26 times earnings. And the U.S. dollar, which is still holding strong against other currencies, adds to the appeal.
However, Vanguard claims that they “don’t time product launches around relative market valuations,” a spokesperson told Barron’s in an email. Rather, their approach “is grounded in offering funds that provide…enduring investment merit throughout market cycles.” That’s wise advice, but so is diversification, which can be done across asset classes and countries as well as growth and dividend-paying stocks. Because while growth stocks are on top at the moment, investors should remember that in the long run, dividends make up 40% of all stock returns, the article concludes.