Loading...
Docoh

T. Rowe Price U.S. Equity Research Fund

Filed: 22 Aug 19, 8:57am

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM N-CSR

CERTIFIED SHAREHOLDER REPORT OF REGISTERED
MANAGEMENT INVESTMENT COMPANIES
 
 

Investment Company Act File Number: 811-07225

T. Rowe Price U.S. Equity Research Fund, Inc.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in charter)
 
100 East Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

(Address of principal executive offices)
 
David Oestreicher
100 East Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

(Name and address of agent for service)
 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (410) 345-2000
 
 
Date of fiscal year end: December 31
 
 
Date of reporting period: June 30, 2019





Item 1. Reports to Shareholders

(a) Report pursuant to Rule 30e-1.

T. Rowe Price Semiannual Report
U.S. Equity Research FundJune 30, 2019
PRCOXInvestor Class
PACOXAdvisor Class
RRCOXR Class
PCCOXI Class

Beginning on January 1, 2021, as permitted by SEC regulations, paper copies of the T. Rowe Price funds’ annual and semiannual shareholder reports will no longer be mailed, unless you specifically request them. Instead, shareholder reports will be made available on the funds’ website (troweprice.com/prospectus), and you will be notified by mail with a website link to access the reports each time a report is posted to the site.

If you already elected to receive reports electronically, you will not be affected by this change and need not take any action. At any time, shareholders who invest directly in T. Rowe Price funds may generally elect to receive reports or other communications electronically by enrolling attroweprice.com/paperlessor, if you are a retirement plan sponsor or invest in the funds through a financial intermediary (such as an investment advisor, broker-dealer, insurance company, or bank), by contacting your representative or your financial intermediary.

You may elect to continue receiving paper copies of future shareholder reports free of charge. To do so, if you invest directly with T. Rowe Price, please call T. Rowe Price as follows: IRA, nonretirement account holders, and institutional investors,1-800-225-5132; small business retirement accounts,1-800-492-7670. If you are a retirement plan sponsor or invest in the T. Rowe Price funds through a financial intermediary, please contact your representative or financial intermediary or follow additional instructions if included with this document. Your election to receive paper copies of reports will apply to all funds held in your account with your financial intermediary or, if you invest directly in the T. Rowe Price funds, with T. Rowe Price. Your election can be changed at any time in the future.

T. ROWE PRICE U.S. EQUITY RESEARCH FUND

HIGHLIGHTS

The U.S. Equity Research Fund produced strong absolute performance in the first half of 2019 and outperformed its benchmark, the S&P 500 Index.
 
Stock selection in eight of 11 sectors contributed to relative returns during the reporting period.
 
Information technology, health care, financials, and consumer discretionary remained the fund’s largest sector allocations in absolute terms.
 
We believe positive economic growth, low inflation, and accommodative monetary policies should support financial asset prices in the second half of 2019, although much depends on a resolution of the U.S.-China trade dispute.

 

Log in to your account attroweprice.comfor more information.

*Certain mutual fund accounts that are assessed an annual account service fee can also save money by switching to e-delivery.

CIO Market Commentary

Dear Shareholder

Markets overcame a bout of volatility in May and recorded exceptional returns in the six months ended June 30, 2019. The large-cap S&P 500 Index reached record highs and notched its best start to a year in over two decades. Overseas equity markets were also strong, while bond prices rose as longer-term interest rates fell to their lowest levels since late 2016.

Markets rebounded to start the year, as many of the worries behind the sell-off in late 2018 receded. Investors seemed most relieved by a dovish pivot in monetary policy. The S&P 500 scored its best daily gain for the period on January 4, after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell pledged that the central bank would respond with all the tools at its disposal to counteract an economic downturn or financial turmoil. The Fed soon paused and kept rates steady following a series of quarterly hikes stretching back to late 2017.

Investors also seemed comforted by progress in U.S.-China trade relations. In March, President Donald Trump postponed a threatened tariff increase on Chinese goods and remarked that the two sides were “getting very close” to a deal. Encouraging statements continued to flow from the White House, and speculation grew that Chinese President Xi Jinping would soon visit Washington to sign an agreement.

Hopes for a deal were dashed in early May, however, sending stocks sharply lower. With negotiations at a standstill, on May 10, the administration increased the tariff rate to 25% from 10% on $200 billion in Chinese goods, as the president had long threatened. China soon retaliated with its own tariffs.A technological “cold war” also seemed to be developing, with both sides taking measures to cut off the other’s access to key components and raw materials. Stocks fell sharply in response, and the small- and mid-cap indexes moved back into correction territory, or down more than 10% from the highs they established late in the previous summer.

Another turn in trade policy in June helped stocks recover their losses. The White House abandoned an earlier threat to put tariffs on Mexican imports in response to immigration issues, and President Trump again softened his stance on China. Markets were closed on the final weekend of the month, when the president announced that he and President Xi had agreed to resume trade negotiations and arranged a truce that would at least temporarily prevent the imposition of further tariffs.

An even bigger factor in the June rebound appeared to be growing confidence that the Fed would cut interest rates rather than merely keep them steady. Fed Chair Powell pledged that policymakers were paying close attention to the impact of trade tensions on the economy and would “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.” Policymakers also dropped references to being “patient” in adjusting monetary policy. By the end of the month, futures markets were pricing in 75 basis points (0.75 percentage point) of cuts in the second half of the year, with a reasonable chance of more to come in 2020.

The dovish shift in Fed policy has been driven by accumulating evidence of slowing global growth. Rising trade barriers have taken a heavy toll on the global manufacturing sector, and business investment has pulled back as managers confront additional sources of uncertainty, such as the possibility of a disorderly Brexit this October. As a result, corporate earnings growth has stalled in the U.S. and turned negative in other major markets. On the positive side, consumers remain in much better shape, particularly domestically.

We see little evidence to suggest a recession is on the horizon. Indeed, with markets at all-time highs, investors seem willing to bet that this decade-long economic recovery still has legs. We will keep a close eye on developments and rely on our careful fundamental research to avoid pitfalls; I am confident our strategic investing approach will continue to serve our shareholders well.

Thank you for your continued confidence in T. Rowe Price.

Sincerely,


Robert Sharps
Group Chief Investment Officer

Management’s Discussion of Fund Performance

INVESTMENT OBJECTIVE

The fund seeks to provide long-term capital growth by investing primarily in U.S. common stocks.

FUND COMMENTARY

How did the fund perform in the past six months?

The U.S. Equity Research Fund returned 19.42% for the six months ended June 30, 2019. The fund outperformed its benchmark, the S&P 500 Index, as well as its Lipper peer group. (Returns for the Advisor, R, and I Class sharesvaried slightly, reflecting their different fee structures.Past performance cannot guarantee future results.)


What factors influenced the fund’s performance?

The fund’s objective is to outperform the S&P 500 by investing in our research analysts’ highest-conviction stocks while keeping sector and industry allocations close to their weightings in the index. Stock selection in eight of 11 sectors contributed to positive relative performancein the first half of 2019. The communication services, information technology (IT), and industrials and business services sectors contributed the most to relative results, while the health care sector was the largest detractor.

Stock selection in the communication services sector was the largest contributor to the fund’s outperformance versus the S&P 500, led by our overweight inFacebook. The company’s shares performed well as its large and growing user base continued to push revenue higher, although negative developments related to data privacy and antitrust regulation tempered gains. An out-of-benchmark position inLiberty Broadbandalso contributed to results in the sector. The cable television holding company recently reportedbetter-than-expected subscription metrics and strong capital expenditures guidance for 2019. (Please refer to the fund’s portfolio of investments for a complete list of holdings and the amount each represents in the portfolio.)

An out-of-benchmark position in payment processorWorldpaybenefited relative performance in the information technology sector. The company reported excellent fourth-quarter results, and its shares received an additional boost when fellow financial tech companyFidelity National Information Servicesagreed to purchase Worldpay. Our overweight position inSynopsys, an electronic design automation company in the semiconductor and electronic system fields, helped relative performance. The company posted solid quarterly results in a difficult environment and raised its revenue guidance despite ongoing trade tensions.

Overweights in acquisitive multi-industrialRoper TechnologiesandHarris, a leading provider of assured communications products, contributed to the fund’s outperformance in the industrials and business services sector. Roper Technologies reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, althoughguidance was conservative. Harris performed well as the company recently reported strong organic growth and raised revenue guidance in each of its three divisions.


Stock selection in the health care sector detracted from the fund’s relative results. An underweight inDanaherweighed on returns as its shares traded higher on news that the company will buy GE’s biopharmaceutical business, which sells supplies and equipment for developing and producing biologic drugs. We initiated a position in Danaher during the period as we believe it can benefit from GE Life Sciences’ robust innovation pipeline.

How is the fund positioned?

Similar to the S&P 500, information technology, health care, financials, and consumer discretionary were the fund’s largest sector positions in absolute terms and represented more than half of the fund’s net assets at the end of the period.

Boeing, Facebook, and Roper Technologies represented the fund’s largest overweight stocks versus the benchmark. Despite recent events involving the 737 MAX aircraft, we believe Boeing is well positioned to continue generating healthy earnings and free cash flow growth, supported by a robust backlog of orders and positive trends in global commercial aviation. In our view, Facebook’s share of consumer time spent on mobile devices, coupled with its ad monetization and targeting capabilities, should help it generate advertising-led revenue growth over the next several years. We continue to like Roper Technologies for its successful track record of acquiring companies with durable growth characteristics, particularly asset-light, high-margin businesses, which then drive significant earnings and free cash flow growth.

Notable additions to the portfolio in the first half of the year included chemical companyLinde, IT services firmCognizant Technology Solutions, and payments companyFleetCor Technologies.

What is portfolio management’s outlook?

We believe positive economic growth, low inflation, and accommodative monetary policies should support financial asset prices in the coming quarters. However, we are aware that there are factors that could weigh on equity returns. We believe the corporate earnings growth rate will continue to decelerate due to rising labor costs and the waning benefits of the 2017 federal tax reform. Additionally, we think market volatility may persist until there is more clarity into how the long-standing U.S.-China trade tensions will be resolved, and we are concerned that global trade policy uncertainty may further dampen capital spending and other growth-driving efforts.

While we remain cautious, we believe markets could receive a boost if there is resolution on geopolitical and monetary policy risks. Moreover, we believe the impact of these risks has been moderated in part by optimism that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates in 2019, which could support equity markets.

We believe a rebound in corporate earnings will depend on improving global economic conditions, particularly outside the U.S. However, in our view, the global economic outlook remains subdued—most developed economies aregrowing below their potential, emerging markets are struggling with the strong U.S. dollar, and the trade conflict between the U.S. and China is corroding business confidence and capital spending.

Volatility can be unsettling, but it can also yield better stock-picking opportunities for active managers, providing opportunities to buy and sell companies at more attractive prices. Regardless of the stock market’s day-to-day performance, our investment strategy remains the same, relying on the insights of our research analysts to identify favorable long-term investment opportunities in each sector of the S&P 500 while keeping sector weights close to those of the benchmark.

The views expressed reflect the opinions of T. Rowe Price as of the date of this report and are subject to change based on changes in market, economic, or other conditions. These views are not intended to be a forecast of future events and are no guarantee of future results.

RISKS OF STOCK INVESTING

As with all stock mutual funds, the fund’s share price can fall because of weakness in the stock market, a particular industry, or specific holdings. Stock markets can decline for many reasons, including adverse political or economic developments, changes in investor psychology, or heavy institutional selling. The prospects for an industry or company may deteriorate because of a variety of factors, including disappointing earnings or changes in the competitive environment. In addition, the investment manager’s assessment of companies held in a fund may prove incorrect, resulting in losses or poor performance even in rising markets.


GROWTH OF $10,000

This chart shows the value of a hypothetical $10,000 investment in the fund over the past 10 fiscal year periods or since inception (for funds lacking 10-year records). The result is compared with benchmarks, which include a broad-based market index and may also include a peer group average or index. Market indexes do not include expenses, which are deducted from fund returns as well as mutual fund averages and indexes.

AVERAGE ANNUAL COMPOUND TOTAL RETURN

EXPENSE RATIO

FUND EXPENSE EXAMPLE

As a mutual fund shareholder, you may incur two types of costs: (1) transaction costs, such as redemption fees or sales loads, and (2) ongoing costs, including management fees, distribution and service (12b-1) fees, and other fund expenses. The following example is intended to help you understand your ongoing costs (in dollars) of investing in the fund and to compare these costs with the ongoing costs of investing in other mutual funds. The example is based on an investment of $1,000 invested at the beginning of the most recent six-month period and held for the entire period.

Please note that the fund has four share classes: The original share class (Investor Class) charges no distribution and service (12b-1) fee, Advisor Class shares are offered only through unaffiliated brokers and other financial intermediaries and charge a 0.25% 12b-1 fee, R Class shares are available to retirement plans serviced by intermediaries and charge a 0.50% 12b-1 fee, and I Class shares are available to institutionally oriented clients and impose no 12b-1 or administrative fee payment. Each share class is presented separately in the table.

Actual Expenses
The first line of the following table (Actual) provides information about actual account values and expenses based on the fund’s actual returns. You may use the information on this line, together with your account balance, to estimate the expenses that you paid over the period. Simply divide your account value by $1,000 (for example, an $8,600 account value divided by $1,000 = 8.6), then multiply the result by the number on the first line under the heading “Expenses Paid During Period” to estimate the expenses you paid on your account during this period.

Hypothetical Example for Comparison Purposes
The information on the second line of the table (Hypothetical) is based on hypothetical account values and expenses derived from the fund’s actual expense ratio and an assumed 5% per year rate of return before expenses (not the fund’s actual return). You may compare the ongoing costs of investing in the fund with other funds by contrasting this 5% hypothetical example and the 5% hypothetical examples that appear in the shareholder reports of the other funds. The hypothetical account values and expenses may not be used to estimate the actual ending account balance or expenses you paid for the period.

Note:T. Rowe Price charges an annual account service fee of $20, generally for accounts with less than $10,000. The fee is waived for any investor whose T. Rowe Price mutual fund accounts total $50,000 or more; accounts electing to receive electronic delivery of account statements, transaction confirmations, prospectuses, and shareholder reports; or accounts of an investor who is a T. Rowe Price Personal Services or Enhanced Personal Services client (enrollment in these programs generally requires T. Rowe Price assets of at least $250,000). This fee is not included in the accompanying table. If you are subject to the fee, keep it in mind when you are estimating the ongoing expenses of investing in the fund and when comparing the expenses of this fund with other funds.

You should also be aware that the expenses shown in the table highlight only your ongoing costs and do not reflect any transaction costs, such as redemption fees or sales loads. Therefore, the second line of the table is useful in comparing ongoing costs only and will not help you determine the relative total costs of owning different funds. To the extent a fund charges transaction costs, however, the total cost of owning that fund is higher.


Unaudited




The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.

Unaudited




The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.

Unaudited




The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.

Unaudited




The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.

Unaudited





















The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.

Unaudited




The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.

Unaudited




The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.

Unaudited




The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.

Unaudited

NOTES TO FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

T. Rowe Price U.S. Equity Research Fund, Inc. (the fund), formerly the Capital Opportunity Fund, Inc., is registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the 1940 Act) as a diversified, open-end management investment company. The fund seeks to provide long-term capital growth by investing primarily in U.S. common stocks. The fund has four classes of shares: the U.S. Equity Research Fund (Investor Class), the U.S. Equity Research Fund–Advisor Class (Advisor Class), the U.S. Equity Research Fund–R Class (R Class), and the U.S. Equity Research Fund–I Class (I Class). Advisor Class shares are sold only through unaffiliated brokers and other unaffiliated financial intermediaries, and R Class shares are available to retirement plans serviced by intermediaries. I Class shares require a $1 million initial investment minimum, although the minimum generally is waived for retirement plans, financial intermediaries, and certain other accounts. The Advisor Class and R Class each operate under separate Board-approved Rule 12b-1 plans, pursuant to which each class compensates financial intermediaries for distribution, shareholder servicing, and/or certain administrative services; the Investor and I Classes do not pay Rule 12b-1 fees. Each class has exclusive voting rights on matters related solely to that class; separate voting rights on matters that relate to all classes; and, in all other respects, the same rights and obligations as the other classes.

NOTE 1 - SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES

Basis of PreparationThe fund is an investment company and follows accounting and reporting guidance in the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)Accounting Standards CodificationTopic 946 (ASC 946). The accompanying financial statements were prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (GAAP), including, but not limited to, ASC 946. GAAP requires the use of estimates made by management. Management believes that estimates and valuations are appropriate; however, actual results may differ from those estimates, and the valuations reflected in the accompanying financial statements may differ from the value ultimately realized upon sale or maturity. Certain prior year amounts in the accompanying financial statements and financial highlights have been restated to conform to current year presentation.

Investment Transactions, Investment Income, and DistributionsInvestment transactions are accounted for on the trade date basis. Income and expenses are recorded on the accrual basis. Realized gains and losses are reported on the identified cost basis. Premiums and discounts on debt securities are amortized for financial reporting purposes. Income tax-related interest and penalties, if incurred, are recorded as incometax expense. Dividends received from mutual fund investments are reflected as dividend income; capital gain distributions are reflected as realized gain/loss. Dividend income and capital gain distributions are recorded on the ex-dividend date. Distributions from REITs are initially recorded as dividend income and, to the extent such represent a return of capital or capital gain for tax purposes, are reclassified when such information becomes available. Distributions to shareholders are recorded on the ex-dividend date. Income distributions, if any, are declared and paid by each class annually. A capital gain distribution may also be declared and paid by the fund annually.

Class AccountingShareholder servicing, prospectus, and shareholder report expenses incurred by each class are charged directly to the class to which they relate. Expenses common to all classes, investment income, and realized and unrealized gains and losses are allocated to the classes based upon the relative daily net assets of each class. The Advisor Class and R Class each pay Rule 12b-1 fees, in an amount not exceeding 0.25% and 0.50%, respectively, of the class’s average daily net assets

New Accounting GuidanceIn March 2017, the FASB issued amended guidance to shorten the amortization period for certain callable debt securities held at a premium. The guidance is effective for fiscal years and interim periods beginning after December 15, 2018. Adoption will have no effect on the fund’s net assets or results of operations.

IndemnificationIn the normal course of business, the fund may provide indemnification in connection with its officers and directors, service providers, and/or private company investments. The fund’s maximum exposure under these arrangements is unknown; however, the risk of material loss is currently considered to be remote.

NOTE 2 - VALUATION

The fund’s financial instruments are valued and each class’s net asset value (NAV) per share is computed at the close of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), normally 4 p.m. ET, each day the NYSE is open for business. However, the NAV per share may be calculated at a time other than the normal close of the NYSE if trading on the NYSE is restricted, if the NYSE closes earlier, or as may be permitted by the SEC.

Fair ValueThe fund’s financial instruments are reported at fair value, which GAAP defines as the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date. The T. Rowe Price Valuation Committee (the Valuation Committee) is an internal committee that has been delegated certain responsibilities by the fund’s Board of Directors (the Board) to ensure that financial instruments are appropriately priced at fair valuein accordance with GAAP and the 1940 Act. Subject to oversight by the Board, the Valuation Committee develops and oversees pricing-related policies and procedures and approves all fair value determinations. Specifically, the Valuation Committee establishes procedures to value securities; determines pricing techniques, sources, and persons eligible to effect fair value pricing actions; oversees the selection, services, and performance of pricing vendors; oversees valuation-related business continuity practices; and provides guidance on internal controls and valuation-related matters. The Valuation Committee reports to the Board and has representation from legal, portfolio management and trading, operations, risk management, and the fund’s treasurer.

Various valuation techniques and inputs are used to determine the fair value of financial instruments. GAAP establishes the following fair value hierarchy that categorizes the inputs used to measure fair value:

Level 1 – quoted prices (unadjusted) in active markets for identical financial instruments that the fund can access at the reporting date

Level 2 – inputs other than Level 1 quoted prices that are observable, either directly or indirectly (including, but not limited to, quoted prices for similar financial instruments in active markets, quoted prices for identical or similar financial instruments in inactive markets, interest rates and yield curves, implied volatilities, and credit spreads)

Level 3 – unobservable inputs

Observable inputs are developed using market data, such as publicly available information about actual events or transactions, and reflect the assumptions that market participants would use to price the financial instrument. Unobservable inputs are those for which market data are not available and are developed using the best information available about the assumptions that market participants would use to price the financial instrument. GAAP requires valuation techniques to maximize the use of relevant observable inputs and minimize the use of unobservable inputs. When multiple inputs are used to derive fair value, the financial instrument is assigned to the level within the fair value hierarchy based on the lowest-level input that is significant to the fair value of the financial instrument. Input levels are not necessarily an indication of the risk or liquidity associated with financial instruments at that level but rather the degree of judgment used in determining those values.

Valuation TechniquesEquity securities listed or regularly traded on a securities exchange or in the over-the-counter (OTC) market are valued at the last quoted sale price or, for certain markets, the official closing price at the time the valuations are made. OTC Bulletin Board securities are valued at the mean of the closing bid and asked prices.A security that is listed or traded on more than one exchange is valued at the quotation on the exchange determined to be the primary market for such security. Listed securities not traded on a particular day are valued at the mean of the closing bid and asked prices. Actively traded equity securities listed on a domestic exchange generally are categorized in Level 1 of the fair value hierarchy. OTC Bulletin Board securities, certain preferred securities, and equity securities traded in inactive markets generally are categorized in Level 2 of the fair value hierarchy.

Debt securities generally are traded in the OTC market and are valued at prices furnished by dealers who make markets in such securities or by an independent pricing service, which considers the yield or price of bonds of comparable quality, coupon, maturity, and type, as well as prices quoted by dealers who make markets in such securities. Generally, debt securities are categorized in Level 2 of the fair value hierarchy; however, to the extent the valuations include significant unobservable inputs, the securities would be categorized in Level 3.

Investments in mutual funds are valued at the mutual fund’s closing NAV per share on the day of valuation and are categorized in Level 1 of the fair value hierarchy. Financial futures contracts are valued at closing settlement prices and are categorized in Level 1 of the fair value hierarchy. Assets and liabilities other than financial instruments, including short-term receivables and payables, are carried at cost, or estimated realizable value, if less, which approximates fair value.

Thinly traded financial instruments and those for which the above valuation procedures are inappropriate or are deemed not to reflect fair value are stated at fair value as determined in good faith by the Valuation Committee. The objective of any fair value pricing determination is to arrive at a price that could reasonably be expected from a current sale. Financial instruments fair valued by the Valuation Committee are primarily private placements, restricted securities, warrants, rights, and other securities that are not publicly traded.

Subject to oversight by the Board, the Valuation Committee regularly makes good faith judgments to establish and adjust the fair valuations of certain securities as events occur and circumstances warrant. For instance, in determining the fair value of an equity investment with limited market activity, such as a private placement or a thinly traded public company stock, the Valuation Committee considers a variety of factors, which may include, but are not limited to, the issuer’s business prospects, its financial standing and performance, recent investment transactions in the issuer, new rounds of financing, negotiated transactions of significant size between other investors in the company, relevant market valuations of peer companies, strategic events affecting the company, market liquidity for the issuer, and general economic conditions and events. In consultation with the investment and pricing teams, the Valuation Committee will determine an appropriate valuation technique based on available information, which may include both observable and unobservable inputs. The Valuation Committee typically will afford greatest weight to actual prices in arm’s length transactions, to the extent they represent orderly transactions between market participants, transaction information can be reliably obtained, and prices are deemed representative of fair value. However, the Valuation Committee may also consider other valuation methods such as market-based valuation multiples; a discount or premium from market value of a similar, freely traded security of the same issuer; or some combination. Fair value determinations are reviewed on a regular basis and updated as information becomes available, including actual purchase and sale transactions of the issue. Because any fair value determination involves a significant amount of judgment, there is a degree of subjectivity inherent in such pricing decisions, and fair value prices determined by the Valuation Committee could differ from those of other market participants. Depending on the relative significance of unobservable inputs, including the valuation technique(s) used, fair valued securities may be categorized in Level 2 or 3 of the fair value hierarchy.

Valuation InputsThe following table summarizes the fund’s financial instruments, based on the inputs used to determine their fair values on June 30, 2019 (for further detail by category, please refer to the accompanying Portfolio of Investments):

NOTE 3 - DERIVATIVE INSTRUMENTS

During the six months ended June 30, 2019, the fund invested in derivative instruments. As defined by GAAP, a derivative is a financial instrument whose value is derived from an underlying security price, foreign exchange rate, interest rate, index of prices or rates, or other variable; it requires little or no initial investment and permits or requires net settlement. The fund invests in derivatives only if the expected risks and rewards are consistent with its investment objectives, policies, and overall risk profile, as describedin its prospectus and Statement of Additional Information. The fund may use derivatives for a variety of purposes, such as seeking to hedge against declines in principal value, increase yield, invest in an asset with greater efficiency and at a lower cost than is possible through direct investment, to enhance return, or to adjust credit exposure. The risks associated with the use of derivatives are different from, and potentially much greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in the instruments on which the derivatives are based. The fund at all times maintains sufficient cash reserves, liquid assets, or other SEC-permitted asset types to cover its settlement obligations under open derivative contracts.

The fund values its derivatives at fair value and recognizes changes in fair value currently in its results of operations. Accordingly, the fund does not follow hedge accounting, even for derivatives employed as economic hedges. Generally, the fund accounts for its derivatives on a gross basis. It does not offset the fair value of derivative liabilities against the fair value of derivative assets on its financial statements, nor does it offset the fair value of derivative instruments against the right to reclaim or obligation to return collateral. As of June 30, 2019, the fund held equity futures with cumulative unrealized gain of $55,000; the value reflected on the accompanying Statement of Assets and Liabilities is the related unsettled variation margin.

Additionally, during the six months ended June 30, 2019, the fund recognized $93,000 of realized gain on Futures and a $69,000 change in unrealized gain/loss on Futures related to its investments in equity derivatives; such amounts are included on the accompanying Statement of Operations.

Counterparty Risk and CollateralThe fund invests in exchange-traded or centrally cleared derivative contracts, such as futures, exchange-traded options, and centrally cleared swaps. Counterparty risk on such derivatives is minimal because the clearinghouse provides protection against counterparty defaults. For futures and centrally cleared swaps, the fund is required to deposit collateral in an amount specified by the clearinghouse and the clearing firm (margin requirement), and the margin requirement must be maintained over the life of the contract. Each clearinghouse and clearing firm, in its sole discretion, may adjust the margin requirements applicable to the fund.

Collateral may be in the form of cash or debt securities issued by the U.S. government or related agencies. Cash posted by the fund is reflected as cash deposits in the accompanying financial statements and generally is restricted from withdrawal by the fund; securities posted by the fund are so noted in the accompanying Portfolio of Investments; both remain in the fund’s assets. While typically not sold in the same manner as equity or fixed income securities, exchange-traded or centrally clearedderivatives may be closed out only on the exchange or clearinghouse where the contracts were traded. This ability is subject to the liquidity of underlying positions. As of June 30, 2019, securities valued at $255,000 had been posted by the fund for exchange-traded and/or centrally cleared derivatives.

Futures ContractsThe fund is subject to equity price risk in the normal course of pursuing its investment objectives and uses futures contracts to help manage such risk. The fund may enter into futures contracts to manage exposure to interest rates, security prices, foreign currencies, and credit quality; as an efficient means of adjusting exposure to all or part of a target market; to enhance income; as a cash management tool; or to adjust credit exposure. A futures contract provides for the future sale by one party and purchase by another of a specified amount of a specific underlying financial instrument at an agreed upon price, date, time, and place. The fund currently invests only in exchange-traded futures, which generally are standardized as to maturity date, underlying financial instrument, and other contract terms. Payments are made or received by the fund each day to settle daily fluctuations in the value of the contract (variation margin), which reflect changes in the value of the underlying financial instrument. Variation margin is recorded as unrealized gain or loss until the contract is closed. The value of a futures contract included in net assets is the amount of unsettled variation margin; net variation margin receivable is reflected as an asset and net variation margin payable is reflected as a liability on the accompanying Statement of Assets and Liabilities. Risks related to the use of futures contracts include possible illiquidity of the futures markets, contract prices that can be highly volatile and imperfectly correlated to movements in hedged security values, and potential losses in excess of the fund’s initial investment. During the six months ended June 30, 2019, the volume of the fund’s activity in futures, based on underlying notional amounts, was generally less than 1% of net assets.

NOTE 4 - OTHER INVESTMENT TRANSACTIONS

Consistent with its investment objective, the fund engages in the following practices to manage exposure to certain risks and/or to enhance performance. The investment objective, policies, program, and risk factors of the fund are described more fully in the fund’s prospectus and Statement of Additional Information.

Securities LendingThe fund may lend its securities to approved borrowers to earn additional income. Its securities lending activities are administered by a lending agent in accordance with a securities lending agreement. Security loans generally do not have stated maturity dates, and the fund may recall a security at any time. The fund receives collateral in the form of cash or U.S. government securities. Collateral is maintained over the life of the loan in an amount not less than the value of loaned securities; anyadditional collateral required due to changes in security values is delivered to the fund the next business day. Cash collateral is invested in accordance with investment guidelines approved by fund management. Additionally, the lending agent indemnifies the fund against losses resulting from borrower default. Although risk is mitigated by the collateral and indemnification, the fund could experience a delay in recovering its securities and a possible loss of income or value if the borrower fails to return the securities, collateral investments decline in value, and the lending agent fails to perform. Securities lending revenue consists of earnings on invested collateral and borrowing fees, net of any rebates to the borrower, compensation to the lending agent, and other administrative costs. In accordance with GAAP, investments made with cash collateral are reflected in the accompanying financial statements, but collateral received in the form of securities is not. At June 30, 2019, there were no securities on loan.

OtherPurchases and sales of portfolio securities other than short-term securities and U.S. Government securities aggregated $170,090,000 and $215,333,000, respectively, for the six months ended June 30, 2019.

NOTE 5 - FEDERAL INCOME TAXES

No provision for federal income taxes is required since the fund intends to continue to qualify as a regulated investment company under Subchapter M of the Internal Revenue Code and distribute to shareholders all of its taxable income and gains. Distributions determined in accordance with federal income tax regulations may differ in amount or character from net investment income and realized gains for financial reporting purposes. Financial reporting records are adjusted for permanent book/tax differences to reflect tax character but are not adjusted for temporary differences. The amount and character of tax-basis distributions and composition of net assets are finalized at fiscal year-end; accordingly, tax-basis balances have not been determined as of the date of this report.

The fund intends to retain realized gains to the extent of available capital loss carryforwards. Net realized capital losses may be carried forward indefinitely to offset future realized capital gains. As of December 31, 2018, the fund had $269,000 of available capital loss carryforwards.

At June 30, 2019, the cost of investments for federal income tax purposes was $488,238,000. Net unrealized gain aggregated $295,783,000 at period-end, of which $314,702,000 related to appreciated investments and $18,919,000 related to depreciated investments.

NOTE 6 - RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

The fund is managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. (Price Associates), a wholly owned subsidiary of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. (Price Group). The investment management agreement between the fund and Price Associates provides for an annual investment management fee, which is computed daily and paid monthly. The fee consists of an individual fund fee and a group fee. The individual fund fee is equal to 0.04% of the fund’s average daily net assets; prior to June 1, 2019, the individual fund fee had been 0.20%. The group fee rate is calculated based on the combined net assets of certain mutual funds sponsored by Price Associates (the group) applied to a graduated fee schedule, with rates ranging from 0.48% for the first $1 billion of assets to 0.265% for assets in excess of $650 billion. The fund’s group fee is determined by applying the group fee rate to the fund’s average daily net assets. At June 30, 2019, the effective annual group fee rate was 0.29%.

Effective June 1, 2019, the Investor Class is subject to a contractual expense limitation through the limitation date indicated in the table below. During the limitation period, Price Associates is required to waive its management fee or pay any expenses (excluding interest; expenses related to borrowings, taxes, and brokerage; and other non-recurring expenses permitted by the investment management agreement) that would otherwise cause the class’s ratio of annualized total expenses to average net assets (net expense ratio) to exceed its expense limitation. The class is required to repay Price Associates for expenses previously waived/paid to the extent the class’s net assets grow or expenses decline sufficiently to allow repayment without causing the class’s net expense ratio (after the repayment is taken into account) to exceed the lesser of: (1) the expense limitation in place at the time such amounts were waived; or (2) the class’s current expense limitation. However, no repayment will be made more than three years after the date of a payment or waiver.

The I Class is also subject to an operating expense limitation (I Class Limit) pursuant to which Price Associates is contractually required to pay all operating expenses of the I Class, excluding management fees; interest; expenses related to borrowings, taxes, and brokerage; and other non-recurring expenses permitted by the investment management agreement, to the extent such operating expenses, on an annualized basis, exceed the I Class Limit. This agreement will continue through the limitation date indicated in the table below, and may be renewed, revised, or revoked only with approval of the fund’s Board. The I Class is required to repay Price Associates for expenses previously paid to the extent the class’s net assets grow or expenses decline sufficiently to allow repaymentwithout causing the class’s operating expenses (after the repayment is taken into account) to exceed the lesser of: (1) the I Class Limit in place at the time such amounts were paid; or (2) the current I Class Limit. However, no repayment will be made more than three years after the date of a payment or waiver.

Pursuant to these agreements, expenses were waived/paid by and/or repaid to Price Associates during the six months ended June 30, 2019 as indicated in the table below. Including these amounts, expenses previously waived/paid by Price Associates in the amount of $178,000 remain subject to repayment by the fund at June 30, 2019. To the extent any expenses are waived or reimbursed in accordance with an expense limitation, the waiver or reimbursement is charged to the applicable class or allocated across the classes in the same manner as the related expense. Any repayment of expenses previously waived/paid by Price Associates during the period would be included in the net investment income and expense ratios presented on the accompanying Financial Highlights.


In addition, the fund has entered into service agreements with Price Associates and two wholly owned subsidiaries of Price Associates, each an affiliate of the fund (collectively, Price). Price Associates provides certain accounting and administrative services to the fund. T. Rowe Price Services, Inc. provides shareholder and administrative services in its capacity as the fund’s transfer and dividend-disbursing agent. T. Rowe Price Retirement Plan Services, Inc. provides subaccounting and recordkeeping services for certain retirement accounts invested in the Investor Class, R Class and Advisor Class. For the six months ended June 30, 2019, expenses incurred pursuant to these service agreements were $34,000 for Price Associates; $175,000 for T. Rowe Price Services, Inc.; and $9,000 for T. Rowe Price Retirement Plan Services, Inc. All amounts due to and due from Price, exclusive of investment management fees payable, are presented net on the accompanying Statement of Assets and Liabilities.

The fund may invest its cash reserves in certain open-end management investment companies managed by Price Associates and considered affiliates of the fund: the T. Rowe Price Government Reserve Fund or the T. Rowe Price Treasury Reserve Fund, organized as money market funds, or the T. Rowe Price Short-Term Fund, a short-term bond fund (collectively, the Price Reserve Funds). The Price Reserve Funds are offered as short-term investment options to mutual funds, trusts, and other accounts managed by Price Associates or its affiliates and are not available for direct purchase by members of the public. Cash collateral from securities lending is invested in the T. Rowe Price Short-Term Fund. The Price Reserve Funds pay no investment management fees.

The fund may participate in securities purchase and sale transactions with other funds or accounts advised by Price Associates (cross trades), in accordance with procedures adopted by the fund’s Board and Securities and Exchange Commission rules, which require, among other things, that such purchase and sale cross trades be effected at the independent current market price of the security. During the six months ended June 30, 2019, the fund had no purchases or sales cross trades with other funds or accounts advised by Price Associates.

NOTE 7 - SUBSEQUENT EVENTS

Effective November 1, 2019, the fund’s I Class operating expense limitation will be reduced from 0.05% to 0.04% of average net assets. This agreement will continue until at least April 30, 2022, and may be terminated only with approval of the fund’s Board.

At a Board of Directors meeting held on July 31, 2019, the Board approved the reorganization of the T. Rowe Price Institutional U.S. Structured Research Fund (Acquired fund) into the fund. On or about November 18, 2019, pursuant to the reorganization, the fund will acquire all of the assets and liabilities of Acquired fund in exchange for I Class shares, creating a combined fund with blended holdings of both funds. After the closing of the reorganization, the assets of the fund are expected to increase substantially.

INFORMATION ON PROXY VOTING POLICIES, PROCEDURES, AND RECORDS

A description of the policies and procedures used by T. Rowe Price funds and portfolios to determine how to vote proxies relating to portfolio securities is available in each fund’s Statement of Additional Information. You may request this document by calling 1-800-225-5132 or by accessing the SEC’s website, sec.gov.

The description of our proxy voting policies and procedures is also available on our corporate website. To access it, please visit the following Web page:

https://www3.troweprice.com/usis/corporate/en/utility/policies.html

Scroll down to the section near the bottom of the page that says, “Proxy Voting Policies.” Click on the Proxy Voting Policies link in the shaded box.

Each fund’s most recent annual proxy voting record is available on our website and through the SEC’s website. To access it through T. Rowe Price, visit the website location shown above, and scroll down to the section near the bottom of the page that says, “Proxy Voting Records.” Click on the Proxy Voting Records link in the shaded box.

HOW TO OBTAIN QUARTERLY PORTFOLIO HOLDINGS

Effective for reporting periods on or after March 1, 2019, a fund, except a money market fund, files a complete schedule of portfolio holdings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for the first and third quarters of each fiscal year as an exhibit to its reports on Form N-PORT. Prior to March 1, 2019, a fund, including a money market fund, filed a complete schedule of portfolio holdings with the SEC for the first and third quarters of each fiscal year on Form N-Q. A money market fund files detailed month-end portfolio holdings information on Form N-MFP with the SEC each month and posts a complete schedule of portfolio holdings on its website (troweprice.com) as of each month-end for the previous six months. A fund’s Forms N-PORT, N-MFP and N-Q are available electronically on the SEC’s website (sec.gov).

APPROVAL OF INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT

Each year, the fund’s Board of Directors (Board) considers the continuation of the investment management agreement (Advisory Contract) between the fund and its investment advisor, T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. (Advisor), on behalf of the fund. In that regard, at an in-person meeting held on March 11–12, 2019 (Meeting), the Board, including a majority of the fund’s independent directors, approved the continuation of the fund’s Advisory Contract. At the Meeting, the Board considered the factors and reached the conclusions described below relating to the selection of the Advisor and the approval of the Advisory Contract. The independent directors were assisted in their evaluation of the Advisory Contract by independent legal counsel from whom they received separate legal advice and with whom they met separately.

In providing information to the Board, the Advisor was guided by a detailed set of requests for information submitted by independent legal counsel on behalf of the independent directors. In considering and approving the Advisory Contract, the Board considered the information it believed was relevant, including, but not limited to, the information discussed below. The Board considered not only the specific information presented in connection with the Meeting, but also the knowledge gained over time through interaction with the Advisor about various topics. The Board meets regularly and, at each of its meetings, covers an extensive agenda of topics and materials and considers factors that are relevant to its annual consideration of the renewal of the T. Rowe Price funds’ advisory contracts, including performance and the services and support provided to the funds and their shareholders.

Services Provided by the Advisor
The Board considered the nature, quality, and extent of the services provided to the fund by the Advisor. These services included, but were not limited to, directing the fund’s investments in accordance with its investment program and the overall management of the fund’s portfolio, as well as a variety of related activities such as financial, investment operations, and administrative services; compliance; maintaining the fund’s records and registrations; and shareholder communications. The Board also reviewed the background and experience of the Advisor’s senior management team and investment personnel involved in the management of the fund, as well as the Advisor’s compliance record. The Board concluded that it was satisfied with the nature, quality, and extent of the services provided by the Advisor.

Investment Performance of the Fund
The Board took into account discussions with the Advisor and reports that it receives throughout the year relating to fund performance. In connection with the Meeting, the Board reviewed the fund’s net annualized total returns for the 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, and 10-year periods as of September 30, 2018, and compared these returns with the performance of a peer group of funds with similar investment programs and a wide variety of other previously agreed-upon comparable performance measures and market data, including those supplied by Broadridge, which is an independent provider of mutual fund data.

On the basis of this evaluation and the Board’s ongoing review of investment results, and factoring in the relative market conditions during certain of the performance periods, the Board concluded that the fund’s performance was satisfactory.

Costs, Benefits, Profits, and Economies of Scale
The Board reviewed detailed information regarding the revenues received by the Advisor under the Advisory Contract and other benefits that the Advisor (and its affiliates) may have realized from its relationship with the fund, including any research received under “soft dollar” agreements and commission-sharing arrangements with broker-dealers. The Board considered that the Advisor may receive some benefit from soft-dollar arrangements pursuant to which research is received from broker-dealers that execute the fund’s portfolio transactions. The Board received information on the estimated costs incurred and profits realized by the Advisor from managing the T. Rowe Price funds. The Board also reviewed estimates of the profits realized from managing the fund in particular, and the Board concluded that the Advisor’s profits were reasonable in light of the services provided to the fund.

The Board also considered whether the fund benefits under the fee levels set forth in the Advisory Contract from any economies of scale realized by the Advisor. Under the Advisory Contract, the fund pays a fee to the Advisor for investment management services composed of two components—a group fee rate based on the combined average net assets of most of the T. Rowe Price funds (including the fund) that declines at certain asset levels and an individual fund fee rate based on the fund’s average daily net assets—and the fund pays its own expenses of operations (subject to a contractual expense limitation with respect to the I Class). The Board concluded that the advisory fee structure for the fund continued to provide for a reasonable sharing of benefits from any economies of scale with the fund’s investors.

Fees and Expenses
The Board was provided with information regarding industry trends in management fees and expenses. Among other things, the Board reviewed data for peer groups that were compiled by Broadridge, which compared: (i) contractual management fees, total expenses, actual management fees, and nonmanagement expenses of the Investor Class of the fund with a group of competitor funds selected by Broadridge (Investor Class Expense Group); (ii) total expenses and actual management fees of the Advisor Class of the fund with a group of competitor funds selected by Broadridge (Advisor Class Expense Group); and (iii) total expenses, actual management fees, and nonmanagement expenses of the Investor Class of the fund with a broader set of funds within the Lipper investment classification (Expense Universe). The Board considered the fund’s contractual management fee rate, actual management fee rate (which reflects the management fees actually received from the fund by the Advisor after any applicable waivers, reductions, or reimbursements), operating expenses, and total expenses (which reflect the net total expense ratio of the fund after any waivers, reductions, orreimbursements) in comparison with the information for the Broadridge peer groups. Broadridge generally constructed the peer groups by seeking the most comparable funds based on similar investment classifications and objectives, expense structure, asset size, and operating components and attributes and ranked funds into quintiles, with the first quintile representing the funds with the lowest relative expenses and the fifth quintile representing the funds with the highest relative expenses. The information provided to the Board indicated that the fund’s contractual management fee ranked in the first quintile (Investor Class Expense Group), the fund’s actual management fee rate ranked in the first quintile (Investor Class Expense Group, Advisor Class Expense Group, and Expense Universe), and the fund’s total expenses ranked in the first quintile (Investor Class Expense Group and Advisor Class Expense Group) and first and second quintiles (Expense Universe).

The Board also reviewed the fee schedules for institutional accounts and private accounts with similar mandates that are advised or subadvised by the Advisor and its affiliates. Management provided the Board with information about the Advisor’s responsibilities and services provided to subadvisory and other institutional account clients, including information about how the requirements and economics of the institutional business are fundamentally different from those of the mutual fund business. The Board considered information showing that the Advisor’s mutual fund business is generally more complex from a business and compliance perspective than its institutional account business and considered various relevant factors, such as the broader scope of operations and oversight, more extensive shareholder communication infrastructure, greater asset flows, heightened business risks, and differences in applicable laws and regulations associated with the Advisor’s proprietary mutual fund business. In assessing the reasonableness of the fund’s management fee rate, the Board considered the differences in the nature of the services required for the Advisor to manage its mutual fund business versus managing a discrete pool of assets as a subadvisor to another institution’s mutual fund or for an institutional account and that the Advisor generally performs significant additional services and assumes greater risk in managing the fund and other T. Rowe Price funds than it does for institutional account clients.

On the basis of the information provided and the factors considered, the Board concluded that the fees paid by the fund under the Advisory Contract are reasonable.

Approval of the Advisory Contract
As noted, the Board approved the continuation of the Advisory Contract. No single factor was considered in isolation or to be determinative to the decision. Rather, the Board concluded, in light of a weighting and balancing of all factors considered, that it was in the best interests of the fund and its shareholders for the Board to approve the continuation of the Advisory Contract (including the fees to be charged for services thereunder).

Item 1. (b) Notice pursuant to Rule 30e-3.

Not applicable.

Item 2. Code of Ethics.

A code of ethics, as defined in Item 2 of Form N-CSR, applicable to its principal executive officer, principal financial officer, principal accounting officer or controller, or persons performing similar functions is filed as an exhibit to the registrant’s annual Form N-CSR. No substantive amendments were approved or waivers were granted to this code of ethics during the registrant’s most recent fiscal half-year.

Item 3. Audit Committee Financial Expert.

Disclosure required in registrant’s annual Form N-CSR.

Item 4. Principal Accountant Fees and Services.

Disclosure required in registrant’s annual Form N-CSR.

Item 5. Audit Committee of Listed Registrants.

Not applicable.

Item 6. Investments.

(a) Not applicable. The complete schedule of investments is included in Item 1 of this Form N-CSR.

(b) Not applicable.

Item 7. Disclosure of Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures for Closed-End Management Investment Companies.

Not applicable.

Item 8. Portfolio Managers of Closed-End Management Investment Companies.

Not applicable.

Item 9. Purchases of Equity Securities by Closed-End Management Investment Company and Affiliated Purchasers.

Not applicable.

Item 10. Submission of Matters to a Vote of Security Holders.

Not applicable.

Item 11. Controls and Procedures.

(a) The registrant’s principal executive officer and principal financial officer have evaluated the registrant’s disclosure controls and procedures within 90 days of this filing and have concluded that the registrant’s disclosure controls and procedures were effective, as of that date, in ensuring that information required to be disclosed by the registrant in this Form N-CSR was recorded, processed, summarized, and reported timely.

(b) The registrant’s principal executive officer and principal financial officer are aware of no change in the registrant’s internal control over financial reporting that occurred during the period covered by this report that has materially affected, or is reasonably likely to materially affect, the registrant’s internal control over financial reporting.

Item 12. Disclosure of Securities Lending Activities for Closed-End Management Investment Companies.

Not applicable.

Item 13. Exhibits.

(a)(1) The registrant’s code of ethics pursuant to Item 2 of Form N-CSR is filed with the registrant’s annual Form N-CSR.

(2) Separate certifications by the registrant's principal executive officer and principal financial officer, pursuant to Section 302 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and required by Rule 30a-2(a) under the Investment Company Act of 1940, are attached.

(3) Written solicitation to repurchase securities issued by closed-end companies: not applicable.

(b) A certification by the registrant's principal executive officer and principal financial officer, pursuant to Section 906 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and required by Rule 30a-2(b) under the Investment Company Act of 1940, is attached.

SIGNATURES

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Investment Company Act of 1940, the registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned, thereunto duly authorized.

T. Rowe Price U.S. Equity Research Fund, Inc.


By     /s/ David Oestreicher
David Oestreicher
Principal Executive Officer     
 
Date     August 16, 2019

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Investment Company Act of 1940, this report has been signed below by the following persons on behalf of the registrant and in the capacities and on the dates indicated.


By     /s/ David Oestreicher
David Oestreicher
Principal Executive Officer     
 
Date     August 16, 2019
 
 
By/s/ Catherine D. Mathews
Catherine D. Mathews
Principal Financial Officer
 
DateAugust 16, 2019