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Mutual fund/ETF comparison tool?
Old 11-26-2008, 09:01 AM   #1
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Mutual fund/ETF comparison tool?

Probably the only intelligent investment decision I've made this year is to do some significant tax loss harvesting. I hope to sell a piece of raw land in the near future, rolling the proceeds into what may be an undervalued market, and offsetting capital gains with this year's losses. I've almost never had capital losses, so this is new for me.

I'm planning to use the following strategy: sell all funds in taxable accounts which have suffered a capital loss, before the year-end distributions in December, and reinvest immediately into similar ETFs. In January, I will likely return to some of the mutual funds. Commissions are irrelevant when compared to the size of the losses to be harvested. Presuming that no readers see a flaw to this simple plan, and having determined through a Bogleheads link that I'm not one of the few for whom tax loss harvesting is not a good idea, I'm left with one question. Where can I go for free comparisons of mutual funds and ETFs? For example, I want to sell Vanguard Energy at a loss, and buy a similar energy ETF. Vanguard's energy ETF seems to be 100% domestic, whereas the managed Vanguard Energy mutual fund is, last I checked, 50% foreign, thus more to my liking. I refuse to pay Morningstar for this comparison service. Any ideas? I searched existing threads, but didn't find quite what I was looking for. Thanks in advance.

Tom
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:43 AM   #2
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Have you checked your local library? Where I live, the city library allows us access to much if not all of Morningstar for free.
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:58 AM   #3
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Thanks,but this isn't the sort of information I need right now. I too use my local library for free Morningstar mutual fund reports. But what I'm needing is not contained in these reports. I'm looking for ETF equivalents (fully cognizant of wash sale rules) for the mutual fund positions I am liquidating to harvest tax losses.

Tom
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Old 11-26-2008, 11:17 AM   #4
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You should be warned that Vanguard's energy ETF is just another share class of Vanguard energy fund. Thus, if you sold the fund and bought the ETF within 31 days, you would have a wash-sale. So you probably want to find a non-Vanguard ETF for the energy fund. The Vanguard emerging markets fund & ETF are the same way.

With other Vanguard index funds, you can often switch to a different fund/ETF, so it's not much of a problem. For example,
VFINX or VTSMX -> VV or VTV
VFWIX -> VEA (not VEU!)
small cap index -> small cap value index, etc.

And doesn't Vanguard itself have an ETF vs fund tool on its website? Oh, look at some of the "similar threads" down below.
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Old 11-27-2008, 08:51 AM   #5
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LOL,

Thanks for the suggestions, but I still haven't found the answer to my question. (Also, I hardly even understand how this damn computer works...) Regarding the Vanguard Energy ETF, it is actually anything but another share class of the managed Vanguard Energy fund. The former, for example, has a YTD return of -35.12. The latter, -40.71. Top 10 holdings are completely different; as mentioned, no foreign holdings in the ETF. Apples and oranges, no wash sale problems.

I've looked at the similar threads, and still can't find what I need. I want to simply enter, for example, my Matthews Asian Pacific Equity Income fund, which I want to liquidate before the December date of record for capital gains distributions as well as to capture sizable tax losses. I then want to see a short list of comparable ETFs where I might park the money short-term, ie more than 30 days, so that I maintain market exposure throughout the process. Can anyone help me with this?

I'm down about $520,000 from my high in July 2008. I'm looking to harvest about $180,000 in capital losses. Doing this right means a lot to me. A bit of tax-relief redemption after a really tough year. Any help is really appreciated.

Tom
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Old 11-27-2008, 10:24 AM   #6
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Tom, thanks for pointing out my mistake with the energy funds.

Most ETFs are listed at etfconnect.com

You might also look at the asset classes at www.altruistfa.com/dfavanguard.htm If you click through the "here" links in the right-most column, you will see comparable ETFs/funds.

I wish I only had $520K in losses.
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Old 11-27-2008, 10:41 AM   #7
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I've no help for your etf tool question, but you might want to look into the viability of selling raw land in the current market. If you can't sell the land after taking the cap loss on your current equities, you will be left with a long term carry-over capital loss.

I suspect that the current equity pricing environment will be with us for a while, so you can probably put off selling the equities until you have a for sure deal on the land....
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Old 11-27-2008, 11:35 AM   #8
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LOL,

I really like this site you linked me to! Smart, and not afraid to express an opinion. Although I'll never use an adviser, one that advocates mostly DFA and Vanguard is okay by me. And I got some great ETF ideas without having to sift through mountains of information. So sorry that your losses exceed mine. We worked hard and saved hard, huh. I remain very grateful. I'm not rich, nor am I poor. Not looking for a job, either.

SteveL, thanks for your feedback, but two points I'd like to make. First, a "long-term carryover capital loss " is a very good thing, offsetting future capital gains from the land sale or hoped-for stock appreciation. Applies to the small amount of capital gains I've realized this year as well. I'll be damned if I'll pay capital gains after such a bruising year. Lastly, it appears that depreciating land has actually served as a store of value for me, relative to the returns I would have been subjected to had I sold the land several years ago, as I've kicked myself for not having done, and invested a sizable portion of the proceeds in equities, as I surely would have done. In any event, thanks to you both for your feedback.

Tom
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