Category Archives: Mutual Fund Commentary

March 1, 2019

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

It’s spring and it’s about 10 degrees above zero here which means it’s Spring Break at Augustana College! Winter term on Augie’s singularly bizarre academic calendar runs from roughly Halloween to Valentine’s Day, gulping down Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s along the way. We offer, I suppose, the antithesis of the old MTV spring break beach parties with raucous guys dancing with girlfriends clad only in whipped cream. Nope, Swedish-Lutherans we, we hand the kids their parkas and urge them to go off and have a good time, but just Continue reading →

The Investor’s Guide to the End of the World

By David Snowball

Human actions are causing our planet’s climate to become increasingly unstable. We are beyond the point where that fact is open to debate. Most Americans, Republicans and Democrats both, now accept the reality of climate change. That’s based on fascinating data visualizations provided by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. Republicans, far more than Democrats and others, are unsure that there’s a human role or that scientists have reached agreement on what is happening.

The short version is that every serious inquiry reaches the same conclusion: the climate Continue reading →

Vanguard – Going, Going, Gone!

By Ira Artman

January 2019 will be remembered by mutual fund and Vanguard investors for a few things.  Besides the stock market recovery that largely reversed the year-end 2018 selloff, the following two things occurred:

  • On January 16th, John Bogle, age 89, died in his home in Pennsylvania. Mr. Bogle’s efforts on behalf of indexing and individual investors were widely honored and remembered.
  • On January 22nd, Vanguard created the PDF for the Wellington Fund Annual Report, dated November 30, 2018.  The US Postal Service distributed paper copies of this report during the first week of February.

Continue reading →

Launch Alert – DoubleLine Colony Real Estate and Income Fund (DBRIX/DLREX)

By Dennis Baran

On December 17, 2018, DoubleLine launched the DoubleLine Colony Real Estate and Income Fund. It seeks capital appreciation and income with returns in excess of its benchmark, the Dow Jones U.S. Select REIT Index over a full market cycle. The managers will use derivatives to create investment returns that approximate the returns of the newly-launch Colony Capital Fundamental US Real Estate Index. To the extent that there’s additional capital available, they will also invest in an Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball

Updates

The Ghost Ship sails every onward. Voya Corporate Leaders (LEXCX, once Lexington Corporate Leaders) continues its skipperless voyage. The fund was launched in 1935 with a simple strategy (buy an equal number of shares of what were then America’s best companies, and never sell) and no manager. Right: no manager changes in more than 83 years ‘cause it’s had no manager in more than 83 years. How’s that working for Continue reading →

February 1, 2019

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Please join me in bidding a fond adieu to January. It was a month in which our increasingly unstable global climate manifested itself in record-breaking cold and snow. Davenport, Iowa, my adopted hometown, saw the lowest temperature (-33, six degrees colder than the old record) and coldest wind chill readings (-54) in its recorded history. Despite having no precipitation in the first eleven days of January, it still managed 30.2” of snow by month’s end, the most since record-keeping began in 1884. Local drivers responded Continue reading →

The long and short of a defensive fund

By David Snowball

People bandy about the phrase “long/short fund” as if it had meaning. It does not. It is, instead, a catch-all term  that includes funds with very different objectives and very different strategies, including some funds that do no shorting at all. Some short individual stocks, some short groups of stocks through ETFs and others short entire markets. Some are market-neutral, some are permanently defensive, some switch between defense and offense, others are always playing offense.

A 2013 analysis of all funds listed as “long/short”  in Morningstar’s database by Long Short Advisors found “just 25 funds that are Continue reading →

Grandeur Peak reopening: the limited time offer

By David Snowball

On January 14, 2019, Grandeur Peak announced the partial reopening of four of their funds: Global Opportunities, International Opportunities, Global Reach and Emerging Markets Opportunities funds. The first three had been hard closed, while the last had been soft-closed. Under the terms of the reopening, the funds are open to additional purchases by existing shareholders but also to new shareholders willing to purchase the funds directly from Grandeur Peak Funds at www.grandeurpeakglobal.com.  Financial advisors and retirement plans with clients in one of these funds will be able to continue investing in the fund for both existing as well as new clients.

Long-term investors should take this opportunity seriously. Continue reading →

Launch Alert: FPA Flexible Income Fund (FPFIX)

By David Snowball

On December 31, 2018, FPA launched FPA Flexible Income Fund (FPFIX). The fund seeks to provide long-term total return, which includes income and capital appreciation, while considering capital preservation. This marks FPA’s first new bond fund since becoming adviser to FPA New Income (FPNIX) in 1984. Morningstar celebrates New Income for “a strong management, process, and risk/reward profile and has been a safe haven from losses and bond-market excess.” FPA hopes to leverage those virtues by applying them to a fund that has permission, but not the obligation, to follow a modestly more aggressive path.

FPA tends to be the home of absolute Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball

Updates

Effective January 1, 2019, Castle Financial & Retirement Planning Associates discontinued its voluntary fee waiver for All-Terrain Opportunity (TERIX) and will not seek reimbursement of any fees it voluntarily waived.

Welcome back to our readers employed by the Securities and Exchange Commission! The whole “shut the government down” thing struck me as unproductive lunacy and ended up with a number of our readers (most visibly the SEC folks) furloughed. Continue reading →

Optimism is not always the answer

By David Snowball

But, it is, in general, the best place to begin the search for the answer. Optimists, who assume things will work out, tend to see more paths forward, more options worth considering, than pessimists (often dubbing themselves “realists”) who know that it’s eternally time to duck-and-cover.

The word “optimism” entered the English language (1759, in French 1737) several generations before pessimism (1794) did. 

The psychological research on Continue reading →

Terrific twos: Intriguing funds not yet on your radar

By David Snowball

Most funds don’t show up on investors’ radar until they have at least a three year record, which is also the point at which they receive their inaugural Morningstar rating. That’s a generally sensible, sometimes silly constraint since many funds that have been operating for fewer than three years are actually long-tested strategies managed by highly experienced professionals which are just coming to market in a new form. Relatively recent examples of such funds include Andrew Foster’s Seafarer Overseas Growth & Income (SFGIX), Rajiv Jain’s GQG Partners Emerging Markets Equity (GQGPX), Abhay Deshpande’s Centerstone Investors (CETAX), and Amit Wadhwaney’s Moerus Worldwide (MOWNX). Collectively, those four managers had overseen more than $100 billion using strategies later embodied in their “too new to be on the radar” funds.

As a result, MFO Premium has Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Artisan International Small-Mid Fund (ARTJX)

By David Snowball

Effective 4 December 2018, the Artisan Partners officially rechristened Artisan International Small Cap as Artisan International Small-Mid Fund. Four other consequential changes were attendant to it:

On 15 October 2018, the fund reopened to new investors

On that same date, a new manager, Rezo Kanovich, took control of the fund. Mr. Kanovich and his analyst team, all of whom resigned on rather short notice, have guided Oppenheimer International Small-Mid Company (OSMAX) since early 2012.

On 4 December 2018, the fund’s investment guidelines formally changed to broaden the investable universe, though Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Centaur Total Return (TILDX)

By David Snowball

On November 1, 2018, the Board of Trustees of the Centaur Total Return Fund announced an epochal change: Zeke Ashton, Centaur Fund’s longest-tenured manager and one of its four founding managers, had notified the Board that he intended to resign after a run of 13.5 years. The Board announced an interim management agreement, effective November 15, 2018, under which DCM Advisors, LLC, would assume responsibility for the fund.

While the fund will Continue reading →

Briefly noted

By David Snowball

Both the stock market’s recent volatility and the financial service industry’s ongoing revolution (there’s blood in the streets!) create and foreclose opportunities. Each month we note, briefly, the recent developments that might change the number and nature of opportunities available to you.

And, in the ongoing spirit of our predecessor FundAlarm, we do occasionally point and Continue reading →

December 1, 2018

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Winter is coming.

I’m so thankful.

Traditionally, year’s end has been a slower time. The growing season has ended, and both the farm fields and the sports fields lie mostly empty in this part of the country. Going out at night is just a touch less attractive when “night” settled in at about 4:30. New projects and wild ambitions are set aside for the new year. Traditionally, it’s a season for festivals and celebrations, only occasionally draped in religious garb. In the northern hemisphere, every religion and every culture seems to have reached the same conclusion: it’s cold, it’s dark, it’s time to get together!

Too, it’s time to reflect on the year just past and all the things we have to be thankful for. (Yes, I was awake pretty much all year in 2018, but that doesn’t change my sense of Continue reading →

Emerging markets value: a rare ray of sunshine from GMO’s strategists

By David Snowball

GMO monthly issues their “7‐Year Asset Class Real Return Forecasts” for 10 – and, beginning this month, 11 – asset classes. Their method is fairly simple: assume that things – P/E ratio, profit margin, sales growth and dividend yield – will revert to “normal” over the next 5-7 years and sketch the line from here to there. The “real” part is that you deduct the effect of inflation from the resulting “nominal” returns.

Several scholars have examined their predictive validity and found it to be pretty robust. One, examining projections from 2000-2010 then comparing them with Vanguard index funds concluded Continue reading →