The Vanguard Group said it plans to introduce its first actively managed equity fund in five years, the Valley Forge, Pa., company announced Monday.

The Vanguard Explorer Value Fund, which will be available to investors in January, will be fundamentally managed and will specialize in small-to-mid-cap U.S. value stocks.

In December 2004, Vanguard launched its last active equity fund, the large-cap growth Primecap Core Fund, which now has $4.5 billion in assets under management. Since then, the company has focused on developing index funds, to ensure that it was covering all aspects of the investment “style box,” said Rebecca Katz, a spokeswoman for Vanguard. Now, the company wants to do the same with active equity funds, she said.

The newest fund should complement the $7.9 billion growth-oriented Vanguard Explorer Fund, an actively managed fund that was launched in 1967.

We are probably best known for our index funds, but our assets are fairly evenly split between index and active,” Katz said. “Some of our oldest funds are actively managed.”

Vanguard will use Cardinal Capital Management of Raleigh, N.C., Sterling Capital Management of Charlotte, N.C., and Frontier Capital Management of Boston to manage the fund in keeping with its style of outsourcing the management of active equity funds.

Cardinal will use a cash-flow-oriented stock selection approach, while Sterling and Frontier will look for companies whose value is discounted and mispriced, respectively.

“This enables us to get some of the best investment ideas, and offer them to investors at a very low cost,” Katz said.

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