20 Largest Stock Funds 2008 Performance: Nowhere to Hide

If you are a stock/mutual fund investor, you probably already felt the pain of putting your money in the stock markets in 2008. I did when I saw the 22% year-over-year decline in our net worth, even with all the new contributions we made throughout the year.

As I mentioned in the past, all our mutual fund investments are actively managed funds, in the large-, mid- and small-cap categories that covers both domestic and foreign equities, as well as precious and real estate. Among my fund holdings, CGM Focus Fund (CGMFX), which I talked about yesterday, Dodge & Cox Stock Fund (DODGX) and International Fund (DODFX) are the largest I own and all have done very poorly last year. But they are not alone in the large-cap category. In fact, 20 largest stock funds, which include both DODGX and DODFX, all finished the year deeply in red, with a majority giving up all the gains of the past five years, as you can from the following table.

Fund Name Symbol ER+Load
2008 Return
5-yr Return
American Growth Fund of America AGTHX 0.62+5.75 1.14 -39.1 -0.79
American EuroPacific Growth AEPGX 0.74 2.64 -40.5 4.19
Vanguard Total Stock Market Index VTSMX 0.15 2.69 -37.0 -1.29
Vanguard 500 Index VFINX 0.15 3.01 -37.0 -2.49
American Capital World Growth & Income CWGIX 0.69+5.75 4.44 -38.4 3.59
American Capital Income Builder CAIBX 0.55+5.75 6.16 -30.1 2.92
American Income Fund of America AMECX 0.54+5.75 6.28 -28.9 0.49
American Investment Co of America AIVSX 0.54+5.75 3.24 -34.7 -1.27
Fidelity Contrafund FCNTX 0.89 0.46 -37.2 2.10
American Washington Mutual Investment AWSHX 0.58+5.75 3.29 -33.1 -1.62
Franklin Income FKINX 0.63+4.25 9.51 -30.5 0.07
American Balanced ABALX 0.58+5.75 3.88 -25.7 -0.14
American New Perspective ANWPX 0.71+5.75 2.69 -37.8 1.56
Dodge & Cox Stock DODGX 0.52 2.34 -43.3 -2.47
American Fundamental Investment ANCFX 0.57+5.75 2.30 -39.7 0.92
Vanguard Wellington VWELX 0.27 4.25 -22.3 2.75
Dodge & Cox International Stock DODFX 0.65 4.00 -46.7 3.32
Fidelity Diversified International FDIVX 1.02 1.45 -45.2 1.39
Davis New York Venture NYVTX 0.85+4.75 1.43 -40.0 -2.10
Vanguard Windsor II VWNFX 0.32 3.98 -36.7 -0.72

Comparing to the S&P 500 Index, most of the funds above underperformed in 2008, except Vanguard Wellington (VWELX) which has a third of it assets invested in Treasuries, like what we already saw from one of the Lazy Portfolios.  If you want to find safe heaven, then Treasury bonds are your options. Vanguard Long-Term U.S. Treasury (VUSTX) finished 2008 with a 22.5% gain and Vanguard Total Bond Market Index (VBMFX) added 5.1% last year, just like what happened in last recession after the dot com burst.

*All data from Morningstar

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