May 2017 IssueLong scroll reading

Launch Alert: Rondure Overseas Fund and Rondure New World Fund

By David Snowball

On May 1, 2017, Rondure Global Advisors, headquartered in Salt Lake City and one of the nation’s few woman-owned fund advisers, launched Rondure New World Fund (RNWIX/RNWOX) and Rondure Overseas Fund (ROSIX/ROSOX ). Rondure Global operates in partnership with Grandeur Peak Global, which offers back office and trading support, as well as the opportunity for collegial investment discussions. Rondure’s founder, CEO and lead portfolio manager is Laura Geritz, who describes this partnership as “one of our key competitive advantages” since it will give her the opportunity, rare for a manager launching a new firm, to focus on investment rather than management.

Both funds will follow the same investment discipline. The Overseas Fund will target firms which have “a majority of their assets or revenues attributable to developed countries outside the United States.” New World will invest in firms which “typically have exposure to emerging or frontier markets.”

What do you need to know?

The strategy is thoughtful and tested.

The shortest version of the strategy is that Ms. Geritz seeks “great companies at good prices and good companies at great prices.” Finding them requires her to operate without regard to what her benchmark looks like or what her peers are doing.

She offered, in 2013, a short and useful description of her target: “We focus on high-quality companies, companies with great cash flow statements, great balance sheets, and that can do well in any cycle. And then we marry that with analysis of the country and the particular risk we’re taking in that country.”

This is, she reports, what she’s been doing for a decade.

As for the process at Rondure, it is not new; it is the same one I learned almost two decades ago from my original mentors at American Century and that was enhanced and practiced for years during my long tenure at Wasatch Advisors. I have now covered all asset classes from mega cap to microcap, US to international, emerging to frontier. I’ve worked consistently using one approach to all these asset classes—a focus on bottom up, deep due diligence investing with the goal of selecting the highest quality companies at reasonable prices—a margin of safety. The process is the same across strategies and has been followed by the entire team. At Rondure, we will invest in these same core companies.

The manager is richly experienced and widely respected.

Most investors will know Ms. Geritz from her previous stint with Wasatch Advisors, also of Salt Lake City. She joined Wasatch in 2006 as a senior equity analyst. Her talent and dedication were recognized by her assignment as lead portfolio manager for the Wasatch Frontier Emerging Small Countries Fund (2012 – 2016), co- then lead manager of Wasatch International Opportunities (WAIOX, 2011-2016) and co-manager for Wasatch Emerging Markets Small Cap Fund (2009-2015). Before Wasatch, she worked as a senior analyst on Mellon’s US small- and micro-cap funds and as an analyst for global, US mid-cap and US large-cap stocks at American Century. She earned an M.A. in East Asian Languages and Culture, has lived in Japan and is fluent in Japanese.

Those working with Ms. Geritz, and those following her career, tend to speak in superlatives. Tim Maverick, a Wall Street Daily analyst, judged her a “superb fund manager” who had provided “years of excellent guidance” to her portfolios (2016). The CFA Society of North Carolina (2017) positioned her as one of “four brilliant and tenured emerging markets fund managers” who they invited to speak to their members.  A year ahead featuring her on their cover as one of the small coterie of active managers who “earn their keep” (4/8/2013), Barron’s magazine (2014) placed her on their panel of “four emerging-market managers, each with a long history of investing in Asia” who helped them assess the “risks, trends, and opportunities” in the region. Morningstar asked her to speak with them, mostly on issues of risk management in volatile markets, in 2013, 2014 and again in 2015.

The fact that Grandeur Peak, a firm with vast respect in the investor community, has chosen to partner with Ms. Geritz, is a quintessential “actions speaking louder than words,” endorsement.

The “I” class shares of the fund carry 1.10% expense ratio, with a $2,000 minimum initial purchase. “Investor” shares have the same minimum but carry a 12(b)1 fee of 0.25%.

The fund’s website is thoughtful and offers rich content, especially given its recent birth. As you’re pondering your interest in the funds, you really need to read Ms. Geritz’s letter to her investors. It’s intelligent, heartfelt, reassuring and literate. Of her modest beginnings in the industry, she writes:

I started in this industry as a client relation’s representative. I have and never will forget my time on the phones dialoguing with all levels of clients. The lesson is and always will be that this is not our/my money, it’s yours. It is your dreams and goals we need to deliver. You deserve the utmost transparency from us. It is our goal to provide this. Our beliefs are simple. We are here for you not for 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.