Author Archives: David Snowball

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.

May 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to May. May entered English in the 1050s from the Latin Maius, short for Maius mēnsis, “Maia’s month.” But who, you might ask, is Maia? She was a Greek god, eldest of the seven Pleiades, companion of Artemis, and mother of Hermes. The Romans, as was their habit, adopted and repurposed her as a goddess of the green and growing realm. Continue reading →

April 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Spring is a time when we celebrate the small and uncertain signs of hope. Weighed down by the exhaustion of war and politics, pandemic and winter, we look happily at the first crocus to spring which shoulders its way through the autumnal leaf mold. We’re reluctant to invest too much in it, knowing that winter has not yet suffered its final defeat. (Here, anyway. Last Wednesday’s upper 60s was followed by Thursday’s measurable snow.) Continue reading →

Two cheers for active management!

By David Snowball

Devesh and I have an ongoing conversation about the value of active managers. He thoughtfully runs through the arguments – from consistency to tax efficiency – that led him to conclude, “not much value there.” Cool and sensible.

If you want to join the conversation but start with somewhat greater sympathy for the role of active managers, you might consider five arguments. Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Jessica Jouning, First Sentier American Listed Infrastructure Fund (FLIAX)

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 offer one or two managers each month the opportunity to make a 300-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 300 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. 

It’s someday. Continue reading →

February 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to February. It’s a month frequently associated with the color red – as in Valentine’s Day hearts, chocolate boxes, and scandalous lingerie – but investors have started the year seeing a different kind of red.

Here’s a compendium of every Vanguard index mutual fund (one share class for each) but appearances by a handful of special guests. In one month, investors had YTD returns of … Continue reading →

Biggest Bang for your Buck

By David Snowball

Fresh from the MFO Archives! An update on a classic essay.

20 equity funds with the best capture ratios over the entire market cycle

Capture ratio is a sort of “bang for your buck” summary. It’s calculated by dividing a fund’s upside capture (a fund that typically rises 1.1% when the market rises 1% has an upside capture of 1.10) by its downside capture (a fund that typically falls 1.1% when the market falls 1% has a downside capture of 1.10). Capture ratios greater than 1.0 reflect funds that Continue reading →

Intrepid Income Fund (ICMUX)

By David Snowball

Objective and strategy

The fund’s goal is to generate current income. In particular, they want to offer an attractively higher yield than comparable maturity US Treasury securities without taking significant default or interest rate risk.

The managers invest primarily in shorter duration corporate bonds, both investment grade, and high yield. They might also own other income-producing securities such as securitized loans and convertible securities. Generally, the majority of securities in the portfolio are part of smaller issues of less than $500 million.

Comments

For investors, there is only one risk: Continue reading →

January 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Let’s hope it’s a great one.

If you think I’m a bit late on the former, it’s because you think of Christmas as a day rather than as a season. Not so! In 567, the Council of Tours established that the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany – also sometimes known as “Chip’s son’s birthday” – were to be treated as a single holiday. (Her sister was born on Christmas Day so it makes sense she waited to give David a reason to celebrate the other end of the holiday.) In England, in Continue reading →

Investing in 2022: The Indolent Portfolio

By David Snowball

Each year, usually in our February issue, I walk through my portfolio. It gives some folks the shivers, and others, a nice sense of superiority. On the whole, it seemed like a good idea to accelerate the schedule this year. I’ll walk through it using the same five-part process that we’ve urged on others.

Step One: Assess my goals and resources

My overarching goal is to have a portfolio that I don’t have Continue reading →

Terrific twos: Intriguing funds not yet on your radar

By David Snowball

Most funds don’t show up on investors’ radar until they have at least a three-year record, which is also the point at which they receive their inaugural Morningstar rating. That’s a generally sensible, sometimes silly constraint since many funds that have been operating for fewer than three years are actually long-tested strategies managed by highly experienced professionals, which are just coming to market in a new form. Relatively recent examples of such funds include Andrew Foster’s Seafarer Overseas Growth & Income (SFGIX), Rajiv Jain’s GQG Partners Emerging Markets Equity (GQGPX), Abhay Deshpande’s Centerstone Investors (CETAX), and Amit Wadhwaney’s Moerus Worldwide (MOWNX). Collectively, those four managers had overseen more than Continue reading →

Morningstar isn’t very good at mutual funds … and that’s a good thing

By David Snowball

Running them, not assessing them.

Morningstar runs a booming, global asset management business. They have $255 billion under management and advisement (as of 9/30/21).

Of that, $50.5 billion are assets under management, primarily through their Managed Portfolios and Institutional Asset Management services.

They also have 116,627 Morningstar.com Premium members and 17,182 Morningstar Direct licensees.

The managed portfolios traditionally used outside, actively managed funds. In 2018, Morningstar decided Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Grandeur Peak Global Explorer

By David Snowball

On December 16, 2021, Grandeur Peak Global Advisors launched its 10th fund, Grandeur Peak Global Explorer (GPGEX). The fund will pursue long-term capital appreciation through investments in a global portfolio of micro- to mid-cap stocks. Because of its focus on tiny names, the adviser has set a strategy capacity of $35 million for the fund and will close it rather than compromise the ability to execute the strategy.

As a practical matter, Global Explorer pursues Global Reach’s strategy with a management twist. The fund has Continue reading →

Funds in Registration

By David Snowball

The Securities and Exchange Commission, by law, gets between 60 and 75 days to review proposed new funds before they can be offered for sale to the public. Each month we survey actively managed funds and ETFs in the pipeline. This month brings 24 new products in the pipeline, most of which will launch in March 2022.

Including in the funds in registration are funds that are being converted from open-end funds to ETFs and those which have been purchased by new advisers, often with minor tweaks. Two funds in the latter camp which Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball

Updates

As part of Heartland Advisors’ succession plan, founder William (“Bill”) J. Nasgovitz intends to transfer a controlling interest in Heartland Advisors to Will Nasgovitz, the Chief Executive Officer of Heartland Advisors, in 2022. The elder Mr. Nasgovitz launched the firm, and the Heartland Value Fund, in 1984. The younger Mr. Nasgovitz joined the firm in 2006 and co-manages the Heartland Value and Mid Cap Value funds.

On the continuing theme of “rules are for the little people,” the Wall Street Journal reports

Sens. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.) sit on the powerful Senate Banking Committee and have been advocates for Continue reading →

The Younger Defenders

By David Snowball

A handful of young funds, by luck or design, have managed the rare feat of peer beating returns since inception with risk-rated, risk-adjusted returns (MFO rating, Ulcer rating) and risk metrics (downside deviation, bear market deviation, down market deviation).

The US stock market is approaching the most extreme valuation levels of the past 150 years, at least as measured by Continue reading →

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 Continue reading →