Category Archives: Mutual Fund Commentary

September 1, 2021

By Chip

Dear friends,

It’s fall! We’re back! And we hope you are, too.

Well, it’s “meteorological fall” anyway. “Astronomical fall” (or is it “anatomical fall”? I can’t recall) holds off until September 22. With two classrooms full of students (one studying Propaganda with me, the other Advertising and Consumer Culture), my brain assures Continue reading →

The Catastrophe Portfolio

By Charles Lynn Bolin

What if you had to build a portfolio now and could not change it for the next five years other than annual rebalancing? The most obvious real-life situation might be preparing in case a spouse who does not know much about investing needs to manage finances; hence the name, “Catastrophe Portfolio”. A different scenario is the Rip Van Winkle scenario where you fall asleep for five to ten years and wake up to see what your portfolio is worth. And of course, there is the K.I.S.S philosophy. 

The obvious question would be, “Why not use an investment advisor and/or an independent financial planner?” I have talked with Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Virtus KAR Small-Mid Cap Value

By David Snowball

On August 3, 2021, Virtus Partners launched their latest collaboration with Kayne, Anderson, Rudnick (KAR), Virtus KAR Small-Mid Cap Value. The fund is managed by the KAR of the title: Kayne, Anderson Rudnick Investment Management, Virtus’s largest wholly-owned subsidiary. KAR, based in Los Angeles, manages rather more than $17 billion in assets.

Across all of their portfolios, KAR emphasizes Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball

Updates

Effective immediately, Neuberger Berman Commodity Strategy Fund‘s investment strategy will permit the fund to invest up to 5% of its assets in cryptocurrency investments through bitcoin futures and investments in the securities of exchange-traded funds organized and listed for trading in Canada to gain indirect exposure to bitcoin.

WisdomTree Cloud Computing Fund, an active ETF, now solemnly swears not to invest in … you know, weapons systems, coal, or tobacco. In short, it’s declared itself to be Continue reading →

August 1, 2021

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

As we announced in June, the Observer is on hiatus for the month of August.

Hmmm … you know, it’s gone fishin’.

Disconnected.

Chillaxin’.

This is my first scheduled break from publishing in 25 years, and Chip’s first in nearly a decade. We took the opportunity for our first out-of-town trip – back to Chip’s native state of New York – in 18 months. We celebrated the marriage of Chip’s son David (in the company of her father, David) on the 17th and spent a bit of time with her Continue reading →

Launch Alert: T. Rowe Price Retirement Blend Funds

By David Snowball

On July 28, 2021, T. Rowe Price launched its fourth set of target-date funds, the Retirement Blend Series. The Retirement Blend strategy has been in operation since 2018 but has been available only through collective investment trusts. The new fund series complements the existing Retirement and Target Series (as well as the Retirement Hybrid series that’s available only through a collective investment trust). All four series invest, primarily, in other T. Rowe Price funds. Retirement and Target invest, primarily but not Continue reading →

Retrospection is a Hard Metric to Match

By Charles Lynn Bolin

I turned 66 last week and bought a retirement home in Colorado last month. By most measures, I am prepared for retirement with pensions, social security, and savings. I continue to work for several reasons including the uncertainties of markets facing seismic shifts. In the 50 years since I was in high school, so much has changed, both good and bad. These secular trends that have occurred in my life have significance for young and old investors. As Bear Bryant said, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.”

In Section #1 I look at seven long term trends that will Continue reading →

July 1, 2021

By David Snowball

Welcome to July, dear friends.

It’s summertime, an especially blessed and cursed interval for those of us who teach. On the one hand, we’re mostly freed from the day-to-day obligation to be in the classroom. Some of us write, some travel, some joke about “going topless at the beach” which translates to leaving their masks at home, some undertake “such other duties as may from time to time be assigned” by our colleges. On the other hand, we hear the clock ticking. All year long, as we try to face down a stack of 32 variably literate essays at 11 p.m. Sunday night, we think “if I can just make it to summer, I’ll recharge and it’ll be great!” About the first thing we notice when summer does arrive, is that summer is almost Continue reading →

Uncorrelated Funds for Building a Low Risk Portfolio

By Charles Lynn Bolin

Correlation measures the relationship between two assets such as stocks and bonds and has a value of +1.0 for two assets that are perfectly correlated and -1.0 for two assets that move in the opposite direction. The most common example of correlation is that the S&P 500 has a correlation of about zero to US Bonds. The balanced 60 stock and 40 bond portfolio is familiar to investors as a way of building a portfolio of these two uncorrelated assets. In this article, I search for Continue reading →

Launch Alert: First Eagle Small Cap Opportunity Fund

By David Snowball

On July 1, 2021, First Eagle Investment Management launched the First Eagle Small Cap Opportunity Fund (FESAX / FESCX / FESRX). The investable universe is primarily domestic small- and micro-cap value stocks. In general, they’ll own 180 – 300 of them.

The fund pursues an opportunistic small-cap value strategy, investing in companies that the portfolio management team believes to be attractively valued and have the potential to benefit from a catalyst—such as new management, a more favorable business cycle, product innovation and/or margin improvement—for a recovery in earnings growth. Small caps are very sensitive to asset flows and even small changes in underlying economic conditions, as a result, Continue reading →

Launch Alert: AMG Yacktman Global

By David Snowball

On July 1, 2021, AMG Funds and Yacktman Asset Management launched the AMG Yacktman Global Fund (YFSNX).

Sort of.

In reality, Yacktman chose to dump the least attractive name in their stable – AMG Yacktman Focused Fund – Security Selection Only – in favor of the simple “Global” moniker. Yacktman manages two of the most outstanding funds in excellent: Yacktman (five stars, Silver-rated, Great Owl, multi-million dollar investment by the lead managers, top 2% returns over 15 years) and Yacktman Focused (five stars, Silver-rated, Great Owl, multi-million dollar investment by the lead managers, top 1% returns over 15 years). Yacktman Global uses the exact same security selection process Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Semper Brentview Dividend Growth Equity

By David Snowball

On June 1, 2021, Semper Capital Management (semper as in “semper fidelis”) launched Semper Brentview Dividend Growth Equity Fund (SEMBX) in partnership with Brentview Investment Management. Both are minority-owned advisers, with Semper being veteran-owned as well. Brentview has an AUM of $175 million, so they’re a capable firm. They intend to provide both a high level of risk-adjusted current income and the prospect of capital growth.

The fund is currently available only to Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball

Updates

AMG River Road Long-Short is no more. At an as-yet-unspecified date following the inevitable shareholder approval, the $20 million / four-star AMG River Road Long-Short Fund will be wiped away, with its regulatory paperwork giving rise to AMG River Road International Value Equity Fund. Its portfolio (which has only 5% international equity exposure) will be liquidated and replaced with a new all-cap, absolute value portfolio. The new managers will be Continue reading →

June 1, 2021

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to summer.

On the morning of Sunday, May 23, Dean Wendy Hilton-Morrow sent the following short email from the floor of the convention center in which our commencement was held.

Subject: It’s showtime!

The stage is set.

The players are gathering, nervously, outside. Over the next eight hours we’re going to celebrate Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Alger 35 ETF

By David Snowball

On May 4, 2021, Fred Alger Management launched the Alger 35 ETF (ATFV), their second active/nontransparent ETF (known colloquially as an ANT). The fund will invest in 35 stocks, typically US, typically mid- to large-cap (98% of the portfolio), and uniformly high growth.

Alger was founded in 1964 as a growth investor with all of its strategies using the same underlying discipline that focused on Continue reading →

Tactical Sleeve for the Conservative Minded

By Charles Lynn Bolin

Momentum is contrasted with “Buy and Hold” to develop a Tactical Sleeve. The objective is to increase risk-adjusted returns and benefit from the evolving business cycle.

I have written articles on Mutual Fund Observer about investing according to the business cycle, fund rotation, and trend following as well as finding funds that manage risk over the complete business cycle. As an individual investor nearing retirement, I like to evaluate Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball

Updates

The fund-to-ETF train appears to be leaving the station.

On May 7, 2021, the Adaptive Growth Opportunities Fund became the Adaptive Growth Opportunities ETF.

At some time in the third quarter of 2021, Water Island Long/Short Fund will become the AltShares Event-Driven ETF. That’s a more convoluted change since the fund will change Continue reading →

May 1, 2021

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

The Tenth Year … and the Ninth Inning

Ten years ago this month, we launched the first issue of the Mutual Fund Observer, “a site in the tradition of FundAlarm.” As the antiquated text below notes, FundAlarm was one of the industry’s most independent, critical voices for 15 years, from 1996-2011. I had the privilege of writing for FundAlarm over its last five years. While the publisher and curmudgeon-in-chief Roy Weitz knew that his time was drawing to a close, he and over 100 readers were sure that the mission of FundAlarm – to be a thoughtful voice and unabashed champion of “the little guy” – was not.

And so the Mutual Fund Observer was born. Continue reading →

Hacking through the green wilds

By David Snowball

It’s become increasingly clear that the global climate is becoming dangerous. Google Earth now has a time-lapse feature that allows us to watch changes in the planet – from the disappearance of glaciers to the drying of the Aral sea to the disappearance of Brazilian rainforests – over the past 37 years. The West and Southwest are locked in drought with record-low reservoir levels. Atmospheric CO2 is at its highest level in 650,000 years with the 20 hottest years in recorded history all occurring since 1998.

But you knew that already. Increasingly we (young and old, liberal and conservative, individual and corporation) accept that we’re in Continue reading →