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News

Q&A with Anne Wojcicki: 23andMe founder, local resident discusses Los Altos investments

Q&A with Anne Wojcicki: 23andMe founder, local resident discusses Los Altos investments


Anne Wojcicki

For the past several years, Anne Wojcicki (Wo-JIT-skee) has been quietly involved in efforts to spruce up downtown Los Altos. She and her husband, Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin, helped form Passerelle Investment Co., which own...

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Schools

Foothill fall registration opens Monday

Local residents interested in earning a specialized career certificate, associate degree or updated job skills can enroll beginning Monday when Foothill College opens fall registration.

In addition to its continuing-education courses, the college pr...

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Community

Horse show this Sunday in Los Altos Hills

The Los Altos Hills Horseman’s Association will be hosting a summer schooling show this coming 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday (July 27) at the Los Altos Hills Town Arena on Purissima Road.  Equestrians and spectators are welcome. Activities include jum...

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Sports

Stewart accepts job as baseball coach at Los Altos High

Stewart accepts job as baseball coach at Los Altos High


Los Altos High administrators offered Gabe Stewart the job of head baseball coach at Los Altos High even before he could apply for it.

“They approached me – they wanted an on-campus coach,” said Stewart, an AP History teacher at ...

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Comment

A good start – now follow through: Editorial

The recent announcement of a five-year agreement between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School is welcome relief for the entire community. After years of dispute and litigation, the pact is nothing short of a minor miracle.

Among t...

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Business

In the business of fostering business

In the business of fostering business


took over as Los Altos’ new economic development coordinator in May after spending the past two years working as city assistant planner. Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier

Sierra Davis is wearing a slightly different hat these days as a Los Altos cit...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

Resident of Palo Alto

Richard Patrick Brennan, journalist, editor, author, adventurer, died at his Palo Alto home on July 4, 2014 at age 92. He led a full life, professionally and personally. He was born and raised in San Francisco, joined the Arm...

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Travel

British Columbia: Richmond, Steveston, Victoria hold surprises

British Columbia: Richmond, Steveston, Victoria hold surprises


Courtesy of Tourism Richmond
Shops, restaurants and museums dot the boardwalk in British Columbia’s Steveston, a great site for strolling.

Picturesque British Columbia has long been on our bucket list, and we recently fulfilled that dream.

We...

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Stepping Out

LA Youth Theatre, LA Stage Company join forces for 'Oz'

LA Youth Theatre, LA Stage Company join forces for 'Oz'


Joyce Goldschmid/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of “The Wizard of Oz” includes, clockwise from top left, Dana Levy (as Tinman), Rebecca Krieger (Cowardly Lion), Sarah Traina (Scarecrow) and Osher Fein (Dorothy).

Los Altos Youth Theatre and L...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford students study religion through campus artifacts

The inscriptions inside Memorial Church, the death mask of Jane Stanford and the nod to the Egyptian ankh symbol formed by Palm Drive and the Stanford Oval all have one thing in common: Each was a topic of discussion for the students enrolled in a un...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Examining the choice between mutual funds and ETFs

Following is the first in a two-part series on mutual and exchange-traded funds.

You’re probably familiar with mutual funds. They are arguably the most common type of investment choice for 401(k) and other retirement accounts.

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs), by contrast, have only been around since the early 1990s and have yet to find their way onto many retirement plan menus. But they are widely available for brokerage accounts and since 2008 have experienced explosive growth. You may be wondering what the difference is between the two types of funds and which makes a better investment.

ETFs, like traditional mutual funds, represent a basket of assets such as stocks or bonds. Unlike mutual funds, investors cannot buy ETF shares directly from the investment companies that offer them. Instead, investors must buy ETFs from other investors, just like stocks. That has two implications: (1) You can buy ETFs anytime during the trading day, unlike mutual funds, which can only be purchased at the end of the day after their net asset values have been calculated, and (2) during periods of high demand, the prices of ETFs can exceed the net asset value of their underlying assets.

Because buyers generally do not want to pay more than an ETF is worth, something is needed to keep the price close to the ETF’s net asset value. The solution is to allow certain financial institutions, known as authorized participants, the ability to purchase and redeem blocks of ETF shares, called creation units, directly from the ETF company. This approach gives ETFs an arbitrage mechanism that tends to minimize the potential deviation between the market price and the net asset value of the ETF’s shares.

If there is strong investor demand for an ETF, its share price will (temporarily) rise above its net asset value per share, giving authorized participants an incentive to purchase additional creation units from the ETF and sell the component ETF shares in the open market. The additional supply of ETF shares reduces the market price per share, generally eliminating the premium over net asset value. A similar process applies when there is weak demand for an ETF, and its shares trade at a discount from net asset value.

Creation-unit purchases and redemptions are in kind – meaning that the underlying assets are traded back and forth rather than bought and sold – allowing the authorized participants to swap out low-basis shares for high-basis shares without having to pay tax. As a result, ETF proponents argue that ETFs are more tax efficient than mutual funds, which cannot be traded like that.

Another professed benefit of ETFs is the lower expense ratio – the annual costs fund holders have to pay to the fund companies – compared with mutual funds. While true in the aggregate, this is really due to the fact that the majority of ETFs are passively managed and based on indices created and updated by various other financial institutions. There are numerous examples of mutual funds in certain asset classes that are less expensive than their ETF counterparts.

Craig Israelsen, associate professor at Utah Valley University, recently attempted to quantify the performance difference between mutual funds and ETFs. In part 2 of the series, I’ll share his findings.

Los Altos resident Artie Green is a Certified Financial Planner and principal at Cognizant Wealth Advisors. For more information, call 209-4062 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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