Life in the Jungle: Terrific at Two, Dead at Four

By David Snowball

Our last review of “the Terrific Twos” ran in January 2019. We highlighted 10 funds. Here’s what became of them.

Four of the ten were liquidated: Ladder Select Bond (LSBIX), which earned fours stars but never drew over $20 million; BlackRock Emerging Markets Equity Strategies (BEFAX) died in April 2020; WisdomTree Dynamic Long/Short US Equity (DYLS) was liquidated in May 2020 as part of a long and painful housecleaning at WisdomTree; and State Street Disciplined Global Equity (SSHAX) became Defensive Global Equity, drew little interest, trailed a world stock index, then liquidated on May 14, 2021

Four of the ten grew into outstanding performers: Holbrook Income (HOBIX), a five-star fund with $670 million; Catalyst/Millburn Hedge Strategy (MBXAX) earned four stars and quickly grew to $3.2 billion; Cognios Large Cap Growth (COGEX) became F/m Investments Large Cap Focused (IAFLX), a four-star fund with $90 million and Cognios Large Cap Value became AXS Alternative Value Fund (COGVX), a four-star fund with $1.6 million. The latter two were the long portion of the Cognios Market Neutral which itself became AXS Market Neutral (COGIX).

You might note that six of the eight funds had their fates controlled by market forces rather than investment performance: Cognios spun off its funds but continues to sub-advise them because it couldn’t generate traction in the market and the four liquidated funds were all deemed unprofitable.

The remaining two funds are decent performers whose tiny asset bases will eventually kill them: Guggenheim Diversified Income (GUDPX) is a three-star fund with $9 million in assets and which has been housed in three different Morningstar peer groups while Columbia Sustainable International Equity Income ETF (ESGN) is a three-star ESG fund with a Silver rating from Morningstar, low beta … and just $5 million in assets.

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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.