It's been an exceptionally bumpy rise for the Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF (ASX: VAS) over 2023 to date. It was only as recently as September that this popular index fund was trading above $90 a unit, with Friday 15 September seeing VAS close at $91.29.
However, those same units closed out October trading for just $83.79 each. That's a drop worth more than 8% over just six weeks or so.
As it stands today, the exchange-traded fund (ETF) has bounced back a little from those late October lows. At present, VAS units have opened this week's trading with a 0.2% drop, which still puts it at $86.30 per unit.
Even so, many Vanguard investors might be wondering whether this ASX 300 index fund can get back to $90 per unit by the end of the year, perhaps even by Christmas. That would make for a very merry present indeed.
But what's the likelihood of this happening?
Will the VAS ETF give ASX investors a $90 Christmas gift?
Well sadly, I can't give a definitive answer to this question. And neither can anyone else. It is foolish (and not the good kind of Foolish) to give out short-term share price predictions. As the legendary investor Benjamin Graham once said, "In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine". No one can know how ASX investors will "vote" between now and the end of the year.
Further, the Vanguard Australian Shares ETF isn't a single company. Rather, it represents the collective fortunes of all 300 individual shares on the S&P/ASX 300 Index (ASX: XKO). So accurately predicting how these 300 individual holdings will all fare over the next five or six weeks is an impossible task.
However, we can still make some observations.
VAS is not an equal-weight ETF. Like most index funds, it assigns the larger companies in the ASX 300 with a higher portfolio weighting than the lower ones. To illustrate, BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) is only one of the 300 shares that can be found within the VAS portfolio.
However, thanks to its status as the largest stock on the Australian share market by market capitalisation, it commands a portfolio weighting within the Vanguard Australian Shares ETF of 10.42% (as of 30 September).
Joining BHP at the top echelons of the Vanguard Australian Shares ETF are Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) and National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) shares. These three ASX 300 shares account for an additional 7.79%, 5.62% and 4.24% of the VAS-weighted portfolio respectively.
So if you want to chart how VAS units might fare in the runup to Christmas, keep your eyes on these four shares. Chances are they will more or less dictate whether the Vanguard Australian Shares ETF can indeed hit $90 before Christmas 2023.