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What Investors Were Researching in May

Investors continued their search for income in May, as the future of monetary policy came into sharp focus during the month.

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The market kept its upward momentum going in May. The broad-based, Morningstar U.S. Market Index was up 2.3% over the last four weeks, and is now up a remarkable 15% so far this year.

The big story in the U.S. last month was talk about when the Fed would begin to taper its current round of bond purchases. Testimony from Chairman Bernanke in front of Congress, minutes from the recent FOMC meeting, and speeches by a number of Fed members revealed that the Fed is seriously talking about when it will be appropriate to reduce its purchases of mortgage-backed securities.

The big question hanging over the market was timing. Some members think it could be time to start tapering as early as June, while others are willing to wait until the economic recovery gains more traction or until inflation becomes a problem. Despite some wobbles, the stock market seems to have mostly shrugged off these concerns assuming that the Fed either won't aggressively tighten until the economy is stronger or the central bank will quickly ramp up purchases again if the tapering leads to an exodus from risk assets.

Japan remained a hot topic in the month, too. Encouraging GDP data in the middle of the month boosted hopes that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plan to reinflate the economy through aggressive monetary and fiscal policy (Abenomics) was starting to work. However, by the end of the month there were a number of big sell-offs in Japanese stocks as the market worried about the long-term effectiveness and impact of Abenomics. Even with the wild swings in the Nikkei, the index was down only slightly over the last month and is up over 60% over the last year.

Against this backdrop, what were investors checking out on during the month? Below are the 25 most viewed stock, mutual fund, and exchange-traded fund reports in May.

Most Viewed Stock Analyst Reports in May 2013
Name Ticker Moat Star Rating May Return
Cisco CSCO Wide 15%
Berkshire Hathaway BRK.B Wide
Exelon EXC Wide -1%
Baxter Intl BAX Wide
General Electric GE Wide
Apple AAPL Narrow
Intel INTC Wide
National Oilwell Varco NOV Wide
Rio Tinto RIO Narrow
CH Robinson CHRW Wide
Facebook FB Wide
Johnson & Johnson JNJ Wide
Pfizer PFE Wide
Schnitzer Steel SCHN None
Praxair PX Wide 0%
Procter & Gamble PG Wide
Chesapeake Energy CHK Narrow -5%
Coca-Cola KO Wide
Microsoft MSFT Wide
Wells Fargo WFC Narrow
Devon Energy DVN Narrow
Ford F None
Ultra Petroleum UPL Narrow
Bank of America BAC Narrow
Energy Xfer Partners ETP Narrow
Source: Morningstar

Apple (AAPL) got tipped off its most-researched perch this month by another tech-giant, Cisco (CSCO). Cisco reported solid quarterly results in the month, bucking the trend of some tech companies earlier in earnings season posting disappointing numbers. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) moved into the top 25 last month, likely boosted by the firm's widely followed annual meeting at the beginning of the month and the purchase of NV Energy (NVE) at the end of May.

Most Viewed Open-End Fund Analyst Reports in May 2013
Name Ticker Morningstar Category Star Rating May Return
Vanguard Div Growth VDIGX Large Blend
Yacktman YACKX Large Blend 2%
Vanguard Wellington VWELX Mod Allocation 1%
Vanguard Cap Opp VHCOX Large Growth
Fidelity Flt Rt High Inc FFRHX Bank Loan
PRIMECAP Odsy Ag Gr POAGX Mid-Cap Growth 6%
Oakmark Intl OAKIX Foreign Lg Blend
Sequoia SEQUX Large Blend
Vanguard Wellsly Inc VWINX Cons Allocation -1%
Matthews Asia Div MAPIX Div Pac/Asia
Met West Ttl Rtn Bnd MWTRX Interm-Term Bond -1%
Vanguard PCAP Core VPCCX Large Growth
PRIMECAP Odsy Stock POSKX Large Blend 2%
Dodge & Cox Income DODIX Interm-Term Bond
Wasatch Small Cap Gr WAAEX Small Growth 4%
PRIMECAP Odyssey Gr POGRX Large Growth
Templeton Glbl Bond TPINX World Bond -2%
T. Rowe Cap Apprec PRWCX Mod Allocation 1%
T. Rowe New Amer Gr PRWAX Large Growth 2%
Fidelity New Mkts Inc FNMIX Emer Mrkt Bnd -4%
Fidelity Contrafund FCNTX Large Growth
T Rowe Health Sci PRHSX Health
Dodge & Cox Stock DODWX World Stock 2%
PIMCO Total Return PTTRX Interm-Term Bond -2%
Yacktman Focused YAFFX Large Blend 2%
Source: Morningstar

There weren't many major changes on the most-researched open-end fund list this month. Vanguard Dividend Growth (VDIGX) landed on top as investors continued their search for yield. There was also continued interest in less traditional fixed-income products like bank-loan fund Fidelity Floating Rate High Income (FFRHX), and global-bond funds like Templeton Global Bond (TPINX) and Fidelity New Markets Income (FNMIX).

Most Viewed ETF Analyst Reports in May 2013
Name Ticker May Return
Vanguard Dividend Appreciation VIG 1%
WisdomTree Emerging Mrkts DEM -3%
Vanguard REIT Index ETF VNQ -6%
Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF VEU -3%
SPDR S&P Dividend SDY 0%
iShares MSCI Emerging Mkt Min Vol EEMV -3%
PIMCO Total Return ETF BOND -2%
WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity DXJ -1%
PowerShares Senior Loan Port BKLN 0%
PowerShares Intl Div Achievers PID -2%
Vanguard Energy ETF VDE 3%
Vanguard Global Ex-US Real Estate VNQI -9%
Vanguard High Div Yield Index VYM 1%
WisdomTree Emrg Mkts Sml Cap Div DGS -2%
JPMorgan Alerian MLP Index AMJ -1%
Vanguard Total Stock Market VTI 2%
iShares DJ Intl Select Div IDV -6%
iShares MSCI USA Min Vol USMV -2%
Vanguard Consumer Spls VDC -2%
iShares MSCI Japan EWJ -6%
Vanguard Short-Term Bond BSV 0%
PowerShares S&P 500 Low Vol SPLV -3%
SPDR Gold Shares GLD -5%
UBS E-TRACS Alerian MLP Infra MLPI -1%
Source: Morningstar

A similar story is told in the most-researched ETFs in May: income, be it from dividend funds (like Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG)), real estate ( Vanguard REIT Index ETF (VNQ)), or MLPs ( ALPS Alerian MLP ETF (AMLP)). The wild swings in the Japanese market seem to have lifted WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity (DXJ) into the most researched list last month.

All Data as of May 31.

Jeremy Glaser has a position in the following securities mentioned above: MSFT. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.