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.

October 1, 2017

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

It’s finally fall, my favorite season of the year. The heat abates, the garden quiets, the apples ripen.  Chip and I will soon venture north to Wisconsin for leaf peeking and visits to orchards. You’d be amazed at the variety of flavors found in apples; there are about 200 varieties grown in the US, with the average grocery store stocking just a half dozen (including that flavorless favorite, Red Delicious). You’ve still got time to do better. In the Midwest, anyway, October is the month for Haralson and King David, Golden Russet and Creston, Enterprise and Voyager. Heck, you might find a few Lura Red or Wolf Rivers left, if you’re Continue reading →

The Story without a title

By David Snowball

In journalism, the headlines you read are generally an afterthought, crafted by a headline writer – not the story’s author – to fit the available space and grab attention. For us, story titles function differently: they’re “framing devices,” which we write early and which help us figure out how to explain the entire story.

This is “the story without a title,” because I’ve got Continue reading →

The wise reader’s two most important words. “Uh, no.”

By David Snowball

Having concluded that we’re not willing to pay for the services of professional journalists and editors, we’re increasingly getting what we paid for: stories written by robots, amateurs, dilettantes and self-interested parties posing as journalists. Here’s my monthly roundup of stories that made my head hurt, plus one opening note on Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Ryan Caldwell, Chiron Capital Allocation Fund (CCAPX)

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’ve decided to offer one or two managers each month the opportunity to make a 200 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 200 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.

The good news is that, as a concept, “world allocation funds” makes Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Artisan Global Discovery Fund (APFDX)

By David Snowball

On August 21, 2017, Artisan Partners launched a near-clone of their very successful Artisan Global Opportunities Fund (ARTRX). Artisan organizes their managers into eight autonomous teams, with each team supported by an analyst corps and responsible for one or more funds. Global Discovery will be managed by the Growth team, which is also responsible for Global Opportunities, Mid Cap (ARTMX) and Continue reading →

Funds in registration

By David Snowball

It’s been a quiet month in the land of new fund registrations. There are ten new (mostly) no-load retail funds in the pipeline, as well as a half dozen loaded funds (which I’m mostly ignoring) and a slew of ETFs. The most intriguing development is the question, who’s offering the most pointless ETF? Candidates are the ProShares Decline of Bricks and Mortar Retail ETF which will surely compete with the ProShares Long Clicks/Short Bricks Retail ETF while the USCF Contango-Killer Natural Gas Fund (No K-1) takes on Continue reading →

Briefly noted

By David Snowball

I’ve lost track of many of the funds that we profiled back in the FundAlarm days. This month one surfaced, Capital Advisors Growth Fund (CIAOX), and it was awfully nice to see that (a) they’re still providing exactly what they promised long ago – cautious equity exposure with no glitz – and (b) we were right, nine years ago, in assessing it as an exceptionally solid citizen for equity investors interested in sleeping well at night.

Briefly the number of mutual funds liquidating matched the number of ETFs liquidating, then September 29th came around and Continue reading →

September 1, 2017

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people in Houston and the surrounding Gulf Coast. The receding flood waters end one phase of the disaster and exposes the next.

Several mutual fund families have headquarters, or significant presence, in the Houston area. Those include Ascendant, Bridgeway, Crossmark Global (formerly Capstone), Invesco, Kerns Capital, Salient, Sarofim and Continue reading →

The Land of the Investment Dervishes

By David Snowball

America’s best-selling poet is a Muslim theologian who died 750 years ago. Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (alternately, Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi) is not only namesake to Beyonce’s new child, but also founder of Sufism, a branch of Islam. Sufism is both mystical and ecstatic. Rumi was given to a whirling dance that reflects the boundless joy and energy that overwhelms a believer; it helped believers express and achieve ecstasy, was codified by his son and practiced by dervishes, literally “poor monks.” They became famous as whirling dervishes, who spun with an almost unhuman grace, energy and tenacity.

I thought of them as Continue reading →

Centerstone Investors (CETAX/CENTX)

By David Snowball

Objective and strategy

Investors Fund seeks long-term growth by investing, primarily, in an all-cap global equity value portfolio though there’s no formal limit on its ability to hold fixed-income securities, including private placements. The manager’s value discipline leads him to higher-quality firms whose stocks are selling at a discount to his assessment of their intrinsic value. As the stresses on the firm rise, so does the size of the discount he demands. The goal is to also invest with a margin of safety, which might also lead the fund to hold substantial amounts of cash when attractive and attractively-priced opportunities are not available. As of June 30, 2017, cash and cash surrogates comprise 26% of the portfolio. The manager expects to keep at least Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Driehaus Small Cap Growth (DVSMX)

By David Snowball

On August 21, 2017, Driehaus Capital launched Driehaus Small Cap Growth (DVSMX/DNSMX). There’s reason to pay attention.

The fund will target U.S. small cap (sub $6 billion market cap) growth stocks. The “name rule” obliges them to keep at least 80% in small caps; they allow that the other 20% might be in international stocks that trade on U.S. exchanges or larger cap equities. As is common with Driehaus, it’s a growth-centered fund likely with a fairly high portfolio turnover rate.

They’re attempting to find “fundamentally strong companies,” which obliges them to evaluate the company’s competitive position, industry dynamics, potential growth catalysts and its financial strength. They also account for comparative stock valuations and external factors (behavioral and macro-economic) likely to impact the Continue reading →

Funds in Registration

By David Snowball

Wow. Finally, a lot of intriguing new investment opportunities. David Sherman, whose RiverPark Short-Term High Yield (RPHYX) fund has both a one-star rating and the universe’s best Sharpe ratio (by a lot) over the past five years, is launching a CrossingBridge Low Duration. Polen Capital, which runs three splendid funds – large growth, global and international – is adding a small cap offering. Thrivent, which has very solid, low-profile funds, offers up a no-load, no-minimum international fund with 0.09% expenses. And Mark Wynegar, whose Tributary Small Company Fund (FOSCX) has a great record for low risk, low turnover, low drama performance, adds a small-to-midcap fund to his portfolio.

And, oh yeah, you can also track Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball

Updates

PIMCO fee roulette. PIMCO is changing the advisory fees on a bunch of their funds, some up, some down, and some both. Here’s the snapshot:

PIMCO All Asset Fund (PASAX), management fees go up 0.05% for D shares.

PIMCO All Asset All Authority Fund (PAUAX) up 0.05% for D shares

PIMCO Total Return Fund (PTTAX) up 0.05% for D shares, down 0.05% for A shares.

PIMCO Unconstrained Bond Fund (PUBAX), down 0.11% for all asset Continue reading →

August 1, 2017

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

For those of us who teach, August is a bittersweet month. Each year we approach summer like a gaggle of penitent drunks. This time, we promise, it’ll be different. We’ll do better. Trust us: we will revise all of our courses for fall. We will catch up on that mountain of books heaped beside the chair. We will finish that book manuscript (Miscommunication in the Workplace, 2d ed., in my case.). On top of which, we’ll see our children without the use of small electronic devices, we’ll be out there running at 6:00 each morning, we’ll get our roughage and Continue reading →

Morningstar’s universe

By David Snowball

We regularly lament the fact that several hundred consistently four- and five-star funds have lost Morningstar analyst coverage over the years. Our almost-monthly feature “Left Behind by Morningstar” profiles a fund that once received analyst coverage but has now been ignored for five or more years. This month we profile Evermore Global Value (EVGBX / EVGIX), rated four-star for the past three years, past five years and overall. It’s a Euro-centric special situations fund run by David Marcus, whose roots are in the Mutual Series funds from the days of Michael Price’s reign. It’s both good and a good diversifier.

At the same time, we want to celebrate funds that have Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Matthias Knerr and Andrew Manton, Shelton International Select Equity (SISLX/SISEX)

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’ve decided to offer one or two managers each month the opportunity to make a 200 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 200 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.

The first to do it was Harry Houdini, on January 7th, 1918. Criss Angel upped the ante with a herd in 2013. Penn & Teller gave it a comic twist in 2015 with their “Vanishing African Continue reading →

Evermore Global Value (EVGBX/EVGIX), August 2017

By David Snowball

Objective and Strategy

Evermore Global Value Fund seeks capital appreciation by investing in a global portfolio of 30-40 securities. The Fund’s special situations strategy is to identify companies trading at substantial discounts to their estimates of intrinsic value, and where catalysts exist to close these gaps.  Although they are opportunistic investors and can buy securities of any market capitalization, their sweet spot has been in micro to mid-cap opportunities.  They also have the ability to invest beyond the equity market in “less liquid” investments, such as distressed debt, can hold short positions in merger/arbitrage situations or to hedge market risk, and are willing to hold a up to 15% in cash.

Adviser

Evermore Global Advisors, LLC. Evermore was founded Continue reading →

Moerus Worldwide Value (MOWNX / MOWIX)

By David Snowball

Objective and strategy

Moerus Worldwide Value pursues long term capital appreciation, primarily by investing in foreign and domestic common stocks that it believes are deeply undervalued. The portfolio is constructed from the bottom-up through fundamental analysis; which is to say the manager cares about finding 15-50 great stocks with no particular interest in paralleling some indexes sector, size or country weightings. As of May 31, 2017, the fund is invested in 37 stocks.

Adviser

Moerus Capital Management, LLC. Moerus is a Continue reading →

Funds in Registration

By David Snowball

It’s rare that I encounter the term “quantamental” twice in the same set of filings. Okay, it’s unheard of. I think they just made it up to irk me.

It’s also rare that Vanguard launches two new funds, much less the global version of two of their most legendary funds: Wellesley and Wellington. It’s hard to imagine why these won’t be $10 billion funds in, oh, about a year.

Calvert Ultra-Short Income NextShares

Calvert Ultra-Short Income NextShares will seek to maximize income, to the extent consistent with preservation of capital, through investment in short-term bonds and Continue reading →

Briefly noted

By David Snowball

The industry appears to be in full summer-beach mode, or its doing so splendidly that there’s no need to even think about changing anything. In any case, July saw the smallest number of announced changes in about five years.

Updates

Our July 2017 profile of Matthews Asia Credit Opportunities (MCRDX/MICPX) described it as investing in high-yield bonds. That’s correct but incomplete. Manager Satya Patel reminded us that the fund’s core investments can include “convertibles, hybrids and derivatives with fixed income characteristics.” Indeed, since inception convertible bonds have represented 20-25% of the portfolio. We’ve corrected the profile to reflect that. The fund has built a substantial performance advantage over its peers since inception, similar to the consistent success of its older Continue reading →