Vanguard Group Inc. of Malvern said today it will launch early next year its first actively managed equity fund that invests primarily in small- to mid-capitalization U.S. value stocks.

The mutual fund company filed a Securities and Exchange Commission registration statement to offer Vanguard Explorer Value Fund, probably in the first quarter of 2010.

"Over the past few years, Vanguard has focused primarily on building our lineup of low-cost index funds and ETFs," said Vanguard chief executive officer Bill McNabb. "Today, we're rounding out our stable of active equity funds by creating a value fund that focuses on small- to mid-sized companies."

ETF refers to exchange-traded funds - that is, funds whose shares are traded on a stock exchange. A value fund is one that invests in companies whose shares are considered undervalued based on financial measures, such as earnings.    -Paul Schweizer