Category Archives: Mutual Fund Commentary

December 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to the darkest and brightest season of the year. Each year we share the reminder of a long and resolute human impulse: to stare into the gathering gloom, frozen fields, and biting winds and to declare, “we will not surrender to the darkness, within or without. Light the fires, summon the family, call our friends and set the table. Tonight, we rejoice together.” Continue reading →

Towpath Focus: Adventures of a Growth Manager in Valueland

By David Snowball

On December 31, 2019, Oelschlager Investments launched the Towpath Focus Fund (TOWFX). The fund invests in 25-40 domestic stocks regardless of market capitalization. The fund is managed by Mark Oelschlager.

Towpath is a concentrated, all-cap equity fund. The portfolio currently holds 41 securities. About 15% of the portfolio is invested in non-US stocks and 12% in cash. Compared to its Morningstar peers, the fund has more cash, more international, and more small-cap exposure. The portfolio stocks are higher growth companies (measured by sales, cash-flow, and book value growth) that sell for lower prices (measured by price-to-book, price-to-earnings, and price-to-sales) with higher returns than either their peers or their index. Continue reading →

What Really Matters…is that we are American investors

By Devesh Shah

We are approaching the end of an extraordinary year, one that has left many of us – citizens, investors, employers, workers, and parents – feeling whipsawed, anxious and confused. Much of that comes from the sense that we can’t figure out what’s behind this year, so we don’t have much hope about managing, much less thriving in, the year ahead.

I entirely agree with your feelings, but I’m here to suggest that you take a deep, cleansing breath. We’re doing better than you know, and if we keep our wits about us, we’re going to do okay. Continue reading →

Worries About Inflation Giving Way to Recession

By Charles Lynn Bolin

I hope that Readers enjoyed their Thanksgiving as much as I did and wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.

I expect this Santa Claus Rally will give way to a New Year’s hangover as investors start to anticipate a recession more than they fear inflation. On November 10th, the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers was released to show the inflation rate increased by 7.76% from a year ago and 0.44% from the previous month which is still a high annual rate of 5.3%. The minutes of the November Federal Open Market Committee Meeting provide insights: Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Fidelity Hedged Equity (FEQHX)

By David Snowball

On September 1, 2022, Fidelity launched Fidelity Hedged Equity (FEQHX) which is also available in five Fidelity Advisor share classes.

The goal is Fidelity Hedged is to provide capital appreciation. Presumably, it’s also to provide capital appreciation with less volatility than the stock market, hence the “hedged” piece. The strategy is to invest in an S&P 500-like stock portfolio. That means some growth and small value but mostly large cap. The managers then apply “a disciplined options-based strategy designed to provide downside protection” mostly by buying put options, which appreciate when the relevant underlying asset depreciates. Generally, the hope is Continue reading →

Briefly Noted . . .

By TheShadow

Bridgeway’s Omni Tax-Managed Small-Cap Value Fund will be converted into the Omni Small-Cap Value ETF. The conversion will require the approval of existing shareholders. If the conversion is approved, it is expected to take effect on or about during the first quarter of 2023.

Fidelity, likewise, is moving more funds into an ETF wrapper. Two and a half years ago, Fido launched a series of trendy funds which promises to find the disruptors, not just the innovators, and profit from them.

To date, the funds have gathered Continue reading →

November 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Happy New Year

On behalf of my Celtic forebears, happy New Year! November 1 marks the traditional beginning of the Celtic year at a fire-rich festival called Samhain (or Samhuinn or something like it). It’s a curious cultural choice: the old year ends with the harvest, and the new year begins “the darker half” of the year, a period of confinement and, frequently, gnawing hunger.

On whole, the Romans chose the bright path: they began the year around March 1st when the first hopeful sprouts of spring appeared. The Celts, made of sterner stuff, looked the darkness Continue reading →

Kinetics Mutual Funds: Five Star funds with a Lone Star Risk

By Devesh Shah

The great charm of traditional index funds is that they offer broad market exposure at a low cost. Critics deride their diversification as “diworsification,” where a portfolio automatically contains too little of the really great stuff and too much of the really poor stuff. Bold and confident managers have staked their careers – or at least their investors’ fortunes – on their ability to find one or two great (and greatly misunderstood) companies and then pour resources into them.

At its peak, the legendary Continue reading →

Federal Reserve Rate Hikes – The Next Nine Months

By Charles Lynn Bolin

2023 Sleeping Bears in Waiting

We are in a classic late stage of the business cycle with the Federal Reserve raising rates to reduce demand in order to control inflation. What is different this time is that the inflation is likely to be higher for longer because it is a global issue resulting from a combination of factors, including COVID-related supply chain disruptions and related stimulus, an extended period of low-interest rates and easy monetary policy, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine that, in addition to being a tragic loss of lives, also disrupted supply chains. I look at the base case of the Federal Reserve raising the Fed Funds (FF) target rate in November and December and holding the rate relatively constant next year. The next six to nine months are key to determining Continue reading →

Vela Large Cap Plus I (VELIX)

By Dennis Baran

Let’s be blunt!

Why bury the lead?

“90% of everything is crap.”





That’s Ric Dillon, the fund’s PM, quoting Theodore Sturgeon (1918-85), a science-fiction author frustrated by a prevailing thought of his time– that works of science fiction are universally bad.

His defense of his chosen field, argued in a New York University lecture hall, can be boiled down to a simple argument. Continue reading →

Briefly Noted . . .

By TheShadow

Aristotle Capital Management is to buy Pacific Asset Management, the specialist credit manager with about $20 billion AUM from Pacific Life. Afterward completion, Aristotle will be renamed Aristotle Pacific Capital.

Lazard US Convertibles Portfolio is in registration. The principal investment strategy is to invest in convertible securities economically tied to the United States. The portfolio managers/analysts will be Arnaud Brillois, Andrew Raab, Emmanuel Naar, and Zoe Chen. Open share total annual portfolio operating Continue reading →

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 →

Rebalancing, Portfolio Restructuring, Tax Loss Harvesting

By Devesh Shah

Down years in the financial markets are a heavy burden on asset holders. (We presume you’re noticed.) Holding assets through down years is the price we pay for earning long-term risk premia embedded in assets. Years like this are particularly challenging because the current downswing feels so very abnormal: it’s a correction in the financial markets (normal but painful) in which both investment grade bonds and speculative tech stocks are falling sharply and simultaneously (utterly abnormal and still painful), and the trajectory of the decline Continue reading →

Shining the Light into Black Box Funds

By Charles Lynn Bolin


A reader on the Mutual Fund Observer Discussion Board asked “how do you feel about putting monies into funds that have a somewhat ‘black box’ dynamic to them…yes, they explain their positions but sometimes I wonder, how safe of an investment are some of these funds?”

For those not familiar with black box investing, Investopedia explains: “a black box is a device, system, or object which produces useful Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By TheShadow

Not a major surprise, but there are a load of active ETFs in the pipeline.  Fidelity has launched Fidelity Tactical Bond ETF. John Hancock will have John Hancock International High Dividend, and Hartford is launched Hartford Sustainable Income, managed by a team from Wellington. iShares is launched an active U.S. Consumer Focused ETF, but such funds have always felt a bit gimmicky to us. Finally, Neuberger Berman Commodity Strategy Fund is becoming an ETF on or about October 21, 2022.

Akre ups international flexibility. Effective November 28, 2022, Continue reading →