No More Buying on Faith

07/07/2009 11:53 am EST

Focus: FUNDS

Daniel Wiener

Editor, The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors

Daniel Wiener, editor of The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors, says one fund team is primed to outperform the rangebound market.

Right now you and I, and the markets, are in something of a holding pattern. We've had a big run from the market's lows in early March. The driver: Expectations that the global economy is beginning to heal and corporate profits will follow.

While I think much of the bleeding has stopped, there's a lot more healing that has to come. The consumer is missing. Incomes are up a bit (some from stimulus checks and refunds), but saving is up more. In the long run, a strong savings habit is a good thing, but as economist and money manager John Maynard Keynes once said, "In the long run we are all dead." Right now, with the consumer pulling back on spending, it could be the short-term recovery that's dead, or at a minimum taking very shallow breaths.

From all appearances, I think we're going to continue to bump along in a fairly narrow range for a while until we have further evidence that both economic indicators and profit indicators are showing solid expansion. Investors are saying, "Show me" before they are willing to commit to even higher prices.

It's that time of year when semiannual reports flood the e-mail and snail mail boxes of Vanguard's shareholders. I've tried to distill down a few key points I've picked up from the managers' letters.

The team at PRIMECAP Management questions the viability and long-term repercussions from the government's concerted efforts to get the economy moving again. And they're not too happy about the prospects for a return of inflation. But at the same time, they write that they believe there are compelling values in the stock market and that they are "confident that at some point over the next few years, we will look back at this period as a rare opportunity to buy great companies at extremely low valuations." While you and I have heard this before from countless quarters, I take it as an article of faith when the PRIMECAP team says it.

So, if the PRIMECAP team thinks this is an opportune moment to buy stocks, then I double that by saying it's an opportune moment to buy funds run by them. I continue to believe that the team's private-label Odyssey funds, Odyssey Growth (POGRX) and Odyssey Aggressive Growth (POAGX), are the best ways to access this superb management group.

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