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, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Our hearts go out to people around the world whose lives are being wracked by forces beyond their control, whether that’s the madness of dictators or the ravages spawned by the world’s increasingly unstable climate. Those folks represent needs far beyond the annoyance caused by our collective loss of $9 trillion in the stock market’s ongoing revaluation.

Those of us only indirectly affected by such tragedies have three imperatives:

  1. Help those in need now. No, you can’t fix everything but you can do some good. Charity Navigator offers credible guidance whether you’re concerned about the brave souls in Ukraine or the stunned survivors of Hurricane Ian.
  2. Turn our energy, resolve, and creativity to preventing their reoccurrence.
  3. Celebrate the daily beauty and joy of life. Really. Notice the good, not just the bad. That will leave you both more resilient and more able to manage adversity when it presents itself.

Continue reading →

Do not be afraid: Advice to investors and other friends

By David Snowball

An impending civil war in the US. A planet on fire. The worst drought in 1500 years. The prospect of Putin using nuclear wars in Europe. A market decline that might be accelerating rather than slowing. Inflation at 40-year highs. Crazy people storming the Capitol. Voter restrictions. Politicians increasingly willing to assert control over women’s lives. Continue reading →

September 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to the end of summer. Traditionally, in the markets and on college campuses, it’s a quiet time of year. Trading volumes drop, traders and sensible people alike flock to beaches, and facilities crews at colleges like Augustana work 12-hour days trying to address all the issues that can’t be dealt with in a college jammed with people.

But come this first weekend of September, a new chapter begins … Continue reading →

Harbor International Small Cap (HIISX / HNISX), September 2022

By David Snowball

Objective and strategy

Harbor International Small Cap Fund pursues long-term growth by investing in a diversified portfolio of international small-cap stocks. They have three particular preferences:

  1. demonstrate traditional value metrics primarily on a price to book, price to earnings, net asset value (NAV), and/or dividend yield basis;
  2. well-capitalized and transparent balance sheets and funding sources; and
  3. business models that, through a complete business cycle, generate returns on equity or invested capital in excess of their cost of capital.

Continue reading →

Disciplined Growth Investors (DGIFX), September 2022

By David Snowball

Objective and strategy

Disciplined Growth Investors pursue both long-term growth and modest current income at reasonable risk. Approximately 65% of the portfolio is invested in stocks and approximately 35% in bonds and cash. The managers can gradually shift equity exposure down to about 55% or up to about 70% if market conditions warrant.

The managers invest primarily in smaller US stocks, currently defined as those with market capitalizations between $1 billion and $15 billion. They “don’t mindlessly diversify across every market, sector, and asset class.” They focus on Continue reading →

August 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Chip and I escaped for a bit this month. We headed northeast to Door County, the peninsula that extends above Green Bay, Wisconsin. Like the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, Door County represents “my happy place.” For folks unfamiliar with it, imagine a less commercialized version of Cape Cod: water on both sides, farms in between, cherries everywhere, no chain restaurants at all, and a series of small lakeside or bayside towns whose permanent populations number in the hundreds.

Here was the plan: disconnect from the outside world, Continue reading →

July 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

As you read this, Chip and I will be on vacation in Door County, the idyllic peninsula just north of Green Bay, Wisconsin. While I’m sure there have been years when she and I more needed time away, I surely cannot remember when. I was introduced, this year, to the term “trauma-informed pedagogy” and to the realization that perhaps three-quarters of our young people have taken a few more hits than they’re currently capable of managing.

Having managed their mental health for the past year, we’re going to work on our own for Continue reading →

New Income: New Adventures, New Opportunities

By David Snowball

FPA New Income (FPNIX) is a remarkable fund, simultaneously conservative and aggressive. It is an absolute return-oriented fixed income fund that embodies FPA’s corporate discipline:  don’t buy it if you don’t have a margin of safety and the prospect of decent returns. The explanation of the fund’s investment strategy begins with a simple declaration: “We do not like to lose money.” It is simultaneously an unconstrained and a very constrained strategy. It is unconstrained in that it can invest pretty much wherever opportunities arise though at least 75% of the portfolio investments must earn the “High Quality securities” designation, with the remainder likely in cash or Credit Sensitive issues. It is very constrained, though, by a long-standing and non-negotiable absolute Continue reading →

Dirty sex, your spanked portfolio and planning for “the next market”

By David Snowball

Many and many a year ago, in the kingdom of ABC, Woody Allen was one of my very first guests. And we consented to take questions from an eager audience of mostly young people. Like ourselves.

The questioner looked like a high school girl and shouted to Woody from the balcony, “Do you think sex is dirty?”

Allen: “It is if you do it right.”

(Dick Cavett, “As the comics say, These kids today! I tell ya.” New York Times, 9/13/2013)

I’d rather hoped Continue reading →

June 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to June and the unequivocal beginning of summer. I celebrated my 38th set of Augustana graduates.

Those of you who attend professional sports events think you’ve experienced “the roar of the crowd.” Pfah. Until you’ve been there on the moment when a young person becomes the first member of their family, ever, to earn a college degree, you’ve heard nothing.

I also bade farewell Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Artisan International Explorer Fund

By David Snowball

On 16 May 2022, Artisan Partners launched the Artisan International Explorer Fund (ARDBX / ARHBX). The fund is the public manifestation of their International Explorer strategy which launched in November 2020. Since inception, the IE strategy is up 41% annualized while its benchmark is up 31%. Currently, the fund is open only to advisors ($250,000 minimum) and institutions.

Artisan Partners is organized into autonomous management teams, each responsible for their own investment strategies and teams. This fund is overseen by the International Value team which is headed by David Samra and which advises the five-star Artisan International Value Fund. The IV team describes itself as Continue reading →

Conestoga Micro Cap Fund (CMCMX / CMIRX), June 2022

By David Snowball

Objective and strategy

The Fund seeks to provide long-term growth of capital. The plan is to invest in 25-40 microcap stocks that are attractively priced relative to their growth prospects. Across the firm, the managers favor companies which have sustainable earnings growth rates, high returns on equity, low debt levels, and capable management teams. The strategy aims to produce consistent returns with low volatility and reduced downside capture.

Adviser

Conestoga Capital Advisors, LLC. Headquartered outside of Philadelphia, Conestoga had its origins in the 1980s but Continue reading →

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 →