Artisan Global Value (ARTGX), May 2013 update

By David Snowball

 
This is an update of the fund profile originally published in 2008, and updated in May 2012. You can find that profile here.

Objective

The fund pursues long-term growth by investing in 30-50 undervalued global stocks.  The managers look for four characteristics in their investments:

  1. A high quality business
  2. A strong balance sheet
  3. Shareholder-focused management and
  4. The stock selling for less than it’s worth.

Generally it avoids small cap caps.  It can invest in emerging markets, but rarely does so though many of its multinational holdings derived significant earnings from emerging market operations.   The managers can hedge their currency exposure, though they did not do so until the nuclear disaster in, and fiscal stance of, Japan forced them to hedge yen exposure in 2011.

Adviser

Artisan Partners, L.P. Artisan is a remarkable operation. They advise the twelve Artisan funds (the eleven retail funds plus an institutional emerging markets fund), as well as a number of separate accounts. The firm has managed to amass over $83 billion in assets under management, of which approximately $45 billion are in their mutual funds. Despite that, they have a very good track record for closing their funds and, less visibly, their separate account strategies while they’re still nimble. Five of the firm’s funds are closed to new investors, as of April 2013.  Their management teams are stable and invest heavily in their own funds.

Managers

David Samra and Daniel O’Keefe. Both joined Artisan in 2002 after serving as analysts for the very successful Oakmark International, International Small Cap and Global funds. They co-manage the closed Artisan International Value (ARTKX) fund and oversee about $23.2 billion in total. Mr. O’Keefe was, for several years in the 90s, a Morningstar analyst.  Morningstar designates Global Value as a five-star “Silver” fund and International Value as a five-star “Gold” fund, both as of March, 2013.

Management’s Stake in the Fund

Samra and O’Keefe each have more than $1 million invested in both funds, as is typical of the Artisan partners generally.

Opening date

December 10, 2007.

Minimum investment

$1,000 for regular and IRA accounts but the minimum is reduced to $50 for investors setting up an automatic investing plan. Artisan is one of a very few firms still willing to be so generous with small investors.

Expense ratio

1.50% after waivers, on assets of $500 million. There is a 2% redemption fee on shares held less than 90 days. 

Comments

I’m running out of reasons to worry about Artisan Global Value.

I have long been a fan of this fund.  It was the first “new” fund to earn the “star in the shadows” designation.  Its management team won Morningstar’s International-Stock Manager of the Year honors in 2008 and was a finalist for the award in 2011 and 2012. In announcing the 2011 nomination, Morningstar’s senior international fund analyst, William Samuel Rocco, observed:

Artisan Global Value has . . .  outpaced more than 95% of its rivals since opening in December 2007.  There’s a distinctive strategy behind these distinguished results. Samra and O’Keefe favor companies that are selling well below their estimates of intrinsic value, consider companies of all sizes, and let country and sector weightings fall where they may. They typically own just 40 to 50 names. Thus, both funds consistently stand out from their category peers and have what it takes to continue to outperform. And the fact that both managers have more than $1 million invested in each fund is another plus.

Since then, the story has just gotten better. Since inception, they’ve managed to capture virtually all of the market’s upside but only about two-thirds of its downside. It has a lower standard deviation over the past three and five years than does its peers.  ARTGX has outperformed its peers in 75% of the months in which the global stock group lost money.  Lipper designates it as a “Lipper Leader” in Total Return, Consistency and Preservation of Capital for every period they track.  International Value and Global Value won three Lipper “best of” awards in 2013.

You might read all of their success in managing risk as an emblem of a fund willing to settle for second-tier returns.  To the contrary, Global Value has crushed its competition: from inception through the end of April 2013, Global Value would have turned a $10,000 investment into $14,200.  The average global stock fund would have turned $10,000 into … well, $10,000.  They’ve posted above-average returns, sometimes dramatically above average, in every calendar year since launch and are doing it again in 2013 (at least through April).

We attribute that success to a handful of factors:

First, the managers are as interested in the quality of the business as in the cost of the stock.  O’Keefe and Samra work to escape the typical value trap by looking at the future of the business – which also implies understanding the firm’s exposure to various currencies and national politics – and at the strength of its management team.

Second, the fund is sector agnostic. . .  ARTGX is staffed by “research generalists,” able to look at options across a range of sectors (often within a particular geographic region) and come up with the best ideas regardless of industry.  In designated ARTGX a “Star in the Shadows,” we concluded:

Third, they are consistently committed to their shareholder’s best interests.  They chose to close the International Value fund before its assets base grew unmanageable.  And they closed the Global Value strategy in early 2013 for the same reason.  They have over $8 billion in separate accounts that rely on the same strategy as the mutual fund and those accounts are subject to what Mr. O’Keefe called “chunky inflows” (translation: the occasional check for $50, $100 or $200 million arrives).  In order to preserve both the strategy’s strength and the ability of small investors to access it, they closed off the big money tap and left the fund open.

You might consider that a limited time offer and a durned fine one.

Bottom Line

We reiterate our conclusion from 2008, 2011 and 2012: “there are few better offerings in the global fund realm.”

Fund website

Artisan Global Value

2013 Q3 Report

© Mutual Fund Observer, 2013. All rights reserved. The information here reflects publicly available information current at the time of publication. For reprint/e-rights contact us.
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About David Snowball

David Snowball, PhD (Massachusetts). Cofounder, lead writer. David is a Professor of Communication Studies at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, a nationally-recognized college of the liberal arts and sciences, founded in 1860. For a quarter century, David competed in academic debate and coached college debate teams to over 1500 individual victories and 50 tournament championships. When he retired from that research-intensive endeavor, his interest turned to researching fund investing and fund communication strategies. He served as the closing moderator of Brill’s Mutual Funds Interactive (a Forbes “Best of the Web” site), was the Senior Fund Analyst at FundAlarm and author of over 120 fund profiles. David lives in Davenport, Iowa, and spends an amazing amount of time ferrying his son, Will, to baseball tryouts, baseball lessons, baseball practices, baseball games … and social gatherings with young ladies who seem unnervingly interested in him.