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.

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball

Updates

A Gold medal for T. Rowe Price: Morningstar has upgraded their assessment of T. Rowe Price’s Retirement Series funds to Gold, their highest endorsement. It’s an endorsement we share. Twenty-four of T. Rowe Price’s funds – including many of the retirement date funds – earn our “Great Owl” designation for consistently top-tier risk-adjusted-performance. We have recognized the firm Continue reading →

April 1, 2021

By David Snowball

No one knows quite when the April Fool’s (or All Fool’s) tradition arose. The internet is rife with simple, self-assured explanations that are flawed only by the fact that they’re wrong. “Attestations,” that is, contemporary historical recordings referring to the event, are scarce and most of the explanations (“it’s all about the Gregorian calendar in France!”) fail to account for all of the observed behavior.

My preferred speculation: spring,  it felt like a good time to do silly things.

Huge swaths of the Continue reading →

The case for a stock-light portfolio, version 4.0

By David Snowball

“Stocks for the long-term!” goes the mantra. That chant has two meanings: (1) in the (very) long-term, no asset outperforms common stock. And (2) in any other term, stocks are too volatile to the trusted so if you’re going to buy them, be sure you’re doing it with a long time horizon.

My own non-retirement portfolio, everything outside the 403(b), embeds a healthy skepticism about stocks. The strategic asset allocation is always the same: 50% equity, 50% income. Equity is 50% here, 50% there, as well as 50% large and 50% small. Income tends to be the same: 50% short Continue reading →

SmartETFs Dividend Builder ETF (DIVS)

By David Snowball

Formerly Guinness Atkinson Dividend Builder (GAINX) and, prior to 2014, Guinness Atkinson Inflation Managed Dividend Fund.

Objective and Strategy

SmartETFs Dividend Builder ETF seeks consistent dividend growth at a rate greater than the rate of inflation by investing in a global portfolio of about 35 dividend-paying stocks. Stocks in the portfolio have survived four Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Phillip Toews, Toews Hedged US Fund (THLGX)

By David Snowball

Phillip (Felipe) Toews (“Taves”) founded Toews Asset Management in December 1994 with the aim of providing intelligently risk-managed portfolios for clients. Headquartered in New York, the firm manages $2.2 billion between its six mutual funds, two Agility Shares ETFs and separately managed accounts. In addition to managing investments directly, it has an active advisor education program to help advisors effectively incorporate behavioral insights into Continue reading →

Launch Alert: T. Rowe Price Global Impact Equity

By David Snowball

On March 15, 2021, T. Rowe Price launched T. Rowe Price Global Impact Equity (TGPEX).

Socially responsible investing is all the vogue, and for good reason. The great bulk of such funds have a limited mandate: do no evil. They’re not trying to change the world, they’re just charged with avoiding the worst actors in it.

A minority of funds accept a greater 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. We thought the “actively-managed” proviso would allow us to avoid the pain of reporting on the endless array of ETFs that have commissioned indices of … oh, SPACs plus cannabis or cryptocurrencies plus hotel stocks or stocks also loved by Gamestop investors. Sadly, we were wrong because there are now actively managed ETFs (below) proposing to target marijuana (2), bitcoin (2), and Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball

Updates

On March 26, 2021, Guinness Atkinson Asia Pacific Dividend Builder Fund (GAADX) and the Guinness Atkinson Dividend Builder Fund (GAINX) were converted into ETFs.

Following the model pioneered by GA, Adaptive Fundamental Growth Fund, Adaptive Hedged High Income Fund, Adaptive Hedged Multi-Asset Income Fund, Adaptive Tactical Outlook Fund, and Adaptive Tactical Rotation Fund are being converted into the Adaptive Fundamental Growth ETF, Adaptive Hedged High Income ETF, Adaptive Hedged Multi-Asset Income ETF, Adaptive Tactical Outlook ETF, and Adaptive Tactical Rotation ETF, respectively.

DFA, the other firm Continue reading →

March 1, 2021

By David Snowball

Welcome to spring!

Virtually.

I first knew that spring had arrived – despite the day’s sub-zero temps – when I noticed that my students weren’t blinking anymore. The cheerful banter and occasional sass of my January term class is a chapel-like silence. Sitting in orderly rows, they look neither right nor left but smile in bland detachment. Footwear begins to shift from winter’s stylish combat boots to sneakers and sandals. The Bold celebrate a 45-degree day by donning shorts and carrying a light jacket over their arms (while The Old stays sensibly zipped up and suspicious of youth and weather both).

I can’t verify that their “fancy lightly turns to Continue reading →

Considering the “ESG bubble”

By David Snowball

ESG funds drew over $50 billion of net inflows in 2020, more than double their gains in 2019, according to Morningstar. On the whole, they performed splendidly.

A particularly surprising finding is that ESG-screened funds perform exceptionally well in sharp market corrections, both in market crashes between 2000-2011 and in the 2020 Covid crash. While such funds might marginally trail broader markets in good times, their down-market performance gives them an attractive long-term profile.

A panicked crowd immediately gathered and Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Humankind US Stock ETF 

By David Snowball

In the normal course of events, we screen the fund universe (which includes active ETFs) for intriguing options which had debuted in the preceding three months. In general, that means reviewing “Funds in Registration” columns from the preceding quarter, as well as screening MFO Premium and Morningstar databases.

We arrived at this fund 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. The “actively-managed” proviso allows us to avoid the pain of reporting on the endless array of ETFs that have commissioned indices of … oh, SPACs plus cannabis or cryptocurrencies plus hotel stocks or stocks also loved by Gamestop investors. (The examples are hypothetical but still representative of the idiocy of the moment.) This month brings 15 new products in the pipeline, most of which will Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball

Updates

On the value of actual human intelligence: The decade’s biggest fund scandal broke on Monday when the SEC accused the advisor of Infinity Q Diversified Alpha Fund (IQDNX) of “adjusting the methodology for obtaining certain asset valuations.” James Velissaris, founder and CIO, was placed on administrative leave while the investigation continues.

The remnants of the fund’s website describe it this Continue reading →

February 1, 2021

By David Snowball

The Delights of January

I’m writing this on the final day of my January (aka J-term) class, Advertising and Consumer Culture. The course, like Propaganda, falls within the purview of my academic specialty, mass persuasion and compliance-gaining. It starts with the deceptively simple query: what might the consequences be of hearing the same message – you should be dissatisfied with your life, you need more! – 100,000 times?

Not to keep you in suspense but “not good.”

I approached the class with a sense of Continue reading →

Funds in Reg

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. Fund companies anxious to have a new fund up and running by December 31st need to have it in the hopper by the third week in October at the latest. This month brings a far more sedate pace of launches with 20 new products in the pipeline, most of which will launch in April or May.

It’s a distinctly mixed-bag this month. Expense ratios range from 0.10% to 2.93%. Mandates range from crystal clear to “trust us! Continue reading →

American Beacon Continuous Capital Emerging Market Equity Fund (CCEYX)

By David Snowball

Objective and strategy

Continuous Capital pursues long-term capital appreciation through investing in a diversified portfolio of EM equities. The managers view their core competence as security selection. They try to keep the portfolio roughly sector- and country-neutral relative to their benchmark so that the portfolio’s performance will be driven primarily by their security selection. Security selection, in turn, is driven by the interplay of three factors: value, quality, and dividends. In consequence, the fund’s “style” might appear more growth-oriented in some markets and more value-oriented in others.

The portfolio is broadly diversified, with a commitment to including both mid- and small-cap stocks. The managers anticipate Continue reading →