August 1, 2017

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

For those of us who teach, August is a bittersweet month. Each year we approach summer like a gaggle of penitent drunks. This time, we promise, it’ll be different. We’ll do better. Trust us: we will revise all of our courses for fall. We will catch up on that mountain of books heaped beside the chair. We will finish that book manuscript (Miscommunication in the Workplace, 2d ed., in my case.). On top of which, we’ll see our children without the use of small electronic devices, we’ll be out there running at 6:00 each morning, we’ll get our roughage and Continue reading →

Morningstar’s universe

By David Snowball

We regularly lament the fact that several hundred consistently four- and five-star funds have lost Morningstar analyst coverage over the years. Our almost-monthly feature “Left Behind by Morningstar” profiles a fund that once received analyst coverage but has now been ignored for five or more years. This month we profile Evermore Global Value (EVGBX / EVGIX), rated four-star for the past three years, past five years and overall. It’s a Euro-centric special situations fund run by David Marcus, whose roots are in the Mutual Series funds from the days of Michael Price’s reign. It’s both good and a good diversifier.

At the same time, we want to celebrate funds that have Continue reading →

For Whom Does the Bell Toll?

By Edward A. Studzinski

In the dawn, although I know

It will grow dark again,

How I hate the coming day.

                        Fujiwara No Michinobu

Buffett’s irreproducible edge

First, some addenda to last month’s comments, as there were a number of readers interested in private equity. One reader, whom I happened to agree with, identified Berkshire Hathaway as a private equity proxy, given that (a) Buffett is dealing with permanent capital with a true long-term time horizon, and (b) he has been clearly disciplined and dedicated to going where opportunities surface that others are inclined or required to ignore. It has actually been quite instructive to watch him complement his major holdings in Berkshire’s insurance businesses as well as the equity investments that he owned pieces of, such as American Express and Coca Cola, with the wholesale acquisition of an Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Matthias Knerr and Andrew Manton, Shelton International Select Equity (SISLX/SISEX)

By David Snowball

Since the number of funds we can cover in-depth is smaller than the number of funds worthy of in-depth coverage, we’ve decided to offer one or two managers each month the opportunity to make a 200 word pitch to you. That’s about the number of words a slightly-manic elevator companion could share in a minute and a half. In each case, I’ve promised to offer a quick capsule of the fund and a link back to the fund’s site. Other than that, they’ve got 200 words and precisely as much of your time and attention as you’re willing to share. These aren’t endorsements; they’re opportunities to learn more.

The first to do it was Harry Houdini, on January 7th, 1918. Criss Angel upped the ante with a herd in 2013. Penn & Teller gave it a comic twist in 2015 with their “Vanishing African Continue reading →

Evermore Global Value (EVGBX/EVGIX), August 2017

By David Snowball

Objective and Strategy

Evermore Global Value Fund seeks capital appreciation by investing in a global portfolio of 30-40 securities. The Fund’s special situations strategy is to identify companies trading at substantial discounts to their estimates of intrinsic value, and where catalysts exist to close these gaps.  Although they are opportunistic investors and can buy securities of any market capitalization, their sweet spot has been in micro to mid-cap opportunities.  They also have the ability to invest beyond the equity market in “less liquid” investments, such as distressed debt, can hold short positions in merger/arbitrage situations or to hedge market risk, and are willing to hold a up to 15% in cash.

Adviser

Evermore Global Advisors, LLC. Evermore was founded Continue reading →

Moerus Worldwide Value (MOWNX / MOWIX)

By David Snowball

Objective and strategy

Moerus Worldwide Value pursues long term capital appreciation, primarily by investing in foreign and domestic common stocks that it believes are deeply undervalued. The portfolio is constructed from the bottom-up through fundamental analysis; which is to say the manager cares about finding 15-50 great stocks with no particular interest in paralleling some indexes sector, size or country weightings. As of May 31, 2017, the fund is invested in 37 stocks.

Adviser

Moerus Capital Management, LLC. Moerus is a Continue reading →

Funds in Registration

By David Snowball

It’s rare that I encounter the term “quantamental” twice in the same set of filings. Okay, it’s unheard of. I think they just made it up to irk me.

It’s also rare that Vanguard launches two new funds, much less the global version of two of their most legendary funds: Wellesley and Wellington. It’s hard to imagine why these won’t be $10 billion funds in, oh, about a year.

Calvert Ultra-Short Income NextShares

Calvert Ultra-Short Income NextShares will seek to maximize income, to the extent consistent with preservation of capital, through investment in short-term bonds and Continue reading →

Manager changes, July 2017

By Chip

On July 27, 2017, Morningstar researchers confirmed what we’ve known for years: most manager changes are utterly inconsequential. Messrs. Hawkins and Cates have a combined 54 years at Longleaf Partners (LLPFX); the arrival of a young co-manager is unlikely to make a marked difference. Two interesting consequences that they did observe are that manager changes trigger fund outflows and that the outflows are greatest at large funds, perhaps because media coverage of those funds makes the changes more visible and portentous.

And yet there are times when we ought to note manager changes for entirely different reasons. This month Dowe Bynum, following the discovery of a brain tumor, stepped aside from management of The Cook & Bynum Fund (COBYX). Dowe is a good guy to talk with, funny and smart, a caring spouse and a dad with young children. We’re sanguine about the fund’s operation: there’s always been a contingency plan in place, they’ve recently added analytic support and they pursue a low turnover (9%) discipline. We know Dowe is receiving very good care and want to add our voice to the chorus of support and good wishes. Continue reading →

Briefly noted

By David Snowball

The industry appears to be in full summer-beach mode, or its doing so splendidly that there’s no need to even think about changing anything. In any case, July saw the smallest number of announced changes in about five years.

Updates

Our July 2017 profile of Matthews Asia Credit Opportunities (MCRDX/MICPX) described it as investing in high-yield bonds. That’s correct but incomplete. Manager Satya Patel reminded us that the fund’s core investments can include “convertibles, hybrids and derivatives with fixed income characteristics.” Indeed, since inception convertible bonds have represented 20-25% of the portfolio. We’ve corrected the profile to reflect that. The fund has built a substantial performance advantage over its peers since inception, similar to the consistent success of its older Continue reading →