Monday, August 06, 2007's advice about my funds publishes advice on various 401(k) plans, including the one at Raytheon. A striking aspect of the suggestions is how few funds they picked—especially for the "Aggressive" portfolio. My comments on the funds I didn't pick:

  • Vanguard Windsor - 15.18/0.25/38
  • If Vanguard PRIMECAP was not offered in the Raytheon plan, Windsor would likely take its place. Compared to its Vanguard brother, Windsor has slightly underperformed with lower expenses and higher turnover. I suppose I have slightly more confidence in PRIMECAP compared to Wellington management.
  • American Century Small Cap Value - 15.89/1.05/121
  • The analogous funds I own are T. Rowe Price Small-Cap Stock and Turner Emerging Growth. American Century combines the lower performance of the former and the high expenses and turnover of the later. It's hard to get excited about that combination. Small company funds are a definite weak point of the Raytheon plan.
  • Real Estate Securities Fund - 27.55/?/?
  • This fund is a specialty REIT fund that entered the Raytheon plan on 01/01/2003, which is also the start date for the "5-year return" listed above. We have almost no other information, including expenses and turnover. The top holdings don't mean very much to me and I'm not terribly excited about adding Real Estate exposure at the moment.
  • BGI EAFE Equity Index - 20.37/0.10/7
  • I like index funds, but I already have three actively managed funds that I think do a better job than this index. The unbeatable thing about index funds is their low turnover and fees, and consistently average returns. Foreign stock funds are better candidates for actively managed funds that have the ability to out-perform the benchmark.
  • Stable Value Fixed Income - 5.09/?/?
  • I'm going to assume this is the same fund that is now called the Fixed Income fund. If not, my comments would likely still apply. Recently PIMCO made some bad guesses about the bond market that have cost investors a bit of return lately. But each month (roughly) we hear the thoughts of Bill Gross, the Total Return fund's manager. In contrast, there is nearly no information about the Fixed Income fund, which is only found in the Raytheon plan. A bond fund for me serves as a piece of a market timing strategy in which I try to avoid market losses by holding relatively stable bonds. The yield I earn in times of market risk, such as at the moment, is purely a bonus as far as I'm concerned.

I have also put into place a fund allocation scheme that I think I can follow. With 10 funds, each would have a 10% or so share in my portfolio if I were equally comfortable with their prospects. But some funds (Excelsior Value & Restructuring, Vanguard PRIMECAP, and First Eagle Overseas) deserve an extra share (15%) since they seem better bets than the others. In order to make rooms, those funds are paired with funds (Turner Emerging Growth, Fidelity Equity-Income, and Oakmark Global) that I don't have as much confidence in which will receive a half share (5%). If I were to gain greater confidence in a fund (perhaps Value & Restructuring), I could assign it a double share (20%) and pair it with either two half-share funds or eliminate a position altogether.

Note that this allocation doesn't exactly match the "batting order" I presented last week, even if the pitcher spot is given a greater role based on defense. Diversification with my IRA holdings knocks down the value of owning Oakmark Global. I'm not happy with the small company choices Raytheon offers, including the T. Rowe Price Small-Cap Stock, and that segment is well-represented in my IRA.

I've also designated PIMCO Total Return as my "gateway fund". It receives all deposits initially and diverts them to funds that are getting underweight. I had planned on using another fund for this purpose, but I just learned that the redemption fee for short-term trading is no longer going to be charged.

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