Seafarer Overseas Growth & Income (SFGIX)

By Editor

The fund:

Seafarer Overseas Growth and Income Fund


Andrew Foster, Founder, Chief Investment Officer, and Portfolio Manager

The call:

On February 19th, about 50 people phoned-in to listen to our conversation with Andrew Foster, manager of Seafarer Overseas Growth * Income Fund (SFGIX and SIGIX).   The fund has an exceptional first year: it gathered $35 million in asset and returned 18% while the MSCI emerging market index made 3.8%. The fund has about 70% of its assets in Asia, with the rest pretty much evenly split between Latin America and Emerging Europe.   Their growth has allowed them to institute two sets of expense ratio reductions, one formal and one voluntary. 

Among the highlights of the call, for me:

  1. China has changed.   Andrew offered a rich discussion about his decision to launch the fund. The short version: early in his career, he concluded that emergent China was “the world’s most under-rated opportunity” and he really wanted to be there. By late 2009, he noticed that China was structurally slowing. That is, it was slow because of features that had no “easy or obvious” solution, rather than just slowly as part of a cycle. He concluded that “China will never be the same.” Long reflection and investigation led him to begin focusing on other markets, many of which were new to him, that had many of the same characteristics that made China exciting and profitable a decade earlier. Given Matthews’ exclusive and principled focus on Asia, he concluded that the only way to pursue those opportunities was to leave Matthews and launch Seafarer.
  2. It’s time to be a bit cautious. As markets have become a bit stretched – prices are up 30% since the recent trough but fundamentals have not much changed – he’s moved at the margins from smaller names to larger, steadier firms.
  3. There are still better opportunities in equities than fixed income; hence he’s about 90% in equities.
  4. Income has important roles to play in his portfolio.  (1) It serves as a check on the quality of a firm’s business model. At base, you can’t pay dividends if you’re not generating substantial, sustained free cash flow and generating that flow is a sign of a healthy business. (2) It serves as a common metric across various markets, each of which has its own accounting schemes and regimes. (3) It provides as least a bit of a buffer in rough markets. Andrew likened it to a sea anchor, which won’t immediately stop a ship caught in a gale but will slow it, steady it and eventually stop it.

podcastThe conference call (When you click on the link, the file will load in your browser and will begin playing after it’s partially loaded.)

The profile:

The case for Seafarer is straightforward: it’s going to be one of your best options for sustaining exposure to an important but challenging asset class.

The Mutual Fund Observer profile of SFGIX, Updated March 2013.


 The SFGIX audio profile


Seafarer Overseas Growth and Income Fund website

Shareholder Conference Call

2013 Q3 Report

Fund Focus: Resources from other trusted sources