Category Archives: Mutual Fund Commentary

February 1, 2023

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to February. It’s a month we associate with love, St. Valentine’s Day. As holidays go, it’s another triumph for the marketers. The holiday began life as a Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia, and its attendant parties. Eventually, the Christian church made the same move here as they did with the pagan year-end festival; they repurposed the December solstice festival into Christmas and the February fertility festival into St. Valentine’s Day. The moves gave them one more tool for converting party-loving pagans into … well, party-loving Continue reading →

One of a Kind: American Century Avantis All Equity Markets ETF (AVGE)

By Charles Lynn Bolin

My last article on Seeking Alpha suggested that value, international, small caps, and emerging markets would outperform over the coming years. David Snowball wrote “The Investor’s Guide to 2023: Three Opportunities to Move Toward” last month along the same lines and offers his insight into these asset classes along with some excellent funds. I follow the Bucket Approach, where some Buckets have similarities to Dr. Snowball’s “Terrified Investor,” “Exhausted Investor,” or “Enterprising Investor.” A Reader on Seeking Alpha asked my opinion about Continue reading →

Richard Cook, “Where there’s mystery, there’s margin”

By David Snowball

I’m a sucker for an intriguing headline, and CityWire’s John Coumarianos came up with a doozy: “EM managers had (another) year to forget. But one fund defied the gloom” (1/9/2023). The triumphant reveal was:

only one out of the 816 funds in the Morningstar Diversified Emerging Markets category with a 2022 track record posted a positive number. That was the relatively unknown Cook & Bynum fund (COBYX), which returned 9.29%. Continue reading →

In Defense of Taking Risk

By Devesh Shah

The S&P 500 Index peaked at 4800 in December 2021. Thirteen months later, at the end of January 2023, the Index is down 16%, at a level of 4076. Suppose you did a Rip Van Winkle and woke up just in time for the New Year 2024 celebration… and found the S&P 500 index trading at 2400, putting the index 50% below its all-time peak. Would you buy the market, perhaps doze off again, or would you sell? The record is clear: Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Matthews Emerging Markets ex-China Active ETF

By David Snowball

On January 11, 2023, Matthews Asia launched Matthews Emerging Markets ex China Active ETF (MEMX). It is an actively managed ETF that might invest in every country in the world except China, the United States, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and most of the countries in Western Europe.

Our January issue originally, and mistakenly, suggested that the fund had launched on 12/31/2022. That was corrected as soon as Matthew’s representatives let us know of the error. Our regrets!

The fund will be Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By TheShadow


The sad saga of Phaeacian Global Value and Phaeacian Accent International Value funds rolls on long after the funds’ liquidation. As MFO readers know, both started life as (entirely excellent) FPA funds. FPA and the managers negotiated a deal with London-based Polar Capital for the funds and their teams to be adopted by Polar under the Phaeacian brand. In principle, the deal made sense for both parties, with the funds receiving broader distribution and FPA receiving a revenue-sharing agreement and a chance to refocus on their core products.

In reality, the partnership Continue reading →

January 1, 2023

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to winter.

Dame Edith Sitwell, a poet and crank, observed, “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home” (Taken Care Of: An Autobiography (1965)).

How could you not be drawn to someone who said of herself, “I am not eccentric. It’s just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular Continue reading →

Long-dated TIPS bonds: A margin of safety

By Devesh Shah

Happy New Year to everyone. May there be peace in your home, on the planet, in the stars, and in all living beings. I am very glad to share that I have recently published a book of children’s stage plays.

Growing up in Mumbai, India, I studied at a school where theatre and drama were an important part of our education. Many of our school plays were then drawn from English literature. A few years ago, I was asked to take on a project to translate nine plays written in Gujarati, my first language, to English. Acclaimed playwright Prakash Lala wanted to make his stories available to young children everywhere. The average 10-12-year-old child in India has a different upbringing than the American kid. Family, grandparents, household help, and even neighbors play a much larger role in raising the kid than we see in society here. I’ve enjoyed translating the plays, working with my own kids on editing, and recently publishing the book on Amazon. Look for the title “Nine Children’s Plays.” I hope you will Continue reading →

The Investor’s Guide to 2023: Three Opportunities to Move Toward

By David Snowball

I have no idea what the best investment of 2023 will be, and neither does anyone else. The annual exercise in futility and fantasy is well underway in the financial press and market pundit community, notwithstanding the fact that their 2022 forecasts were laughably wrong, as were their 2021, 2020, 2019 …

Section 1, The Terrified Investor

Section 2, The Exhausted Investor

Section 3, The Enterprising Investor

The Terrified Investor

If you’re obsessed about 2023, our best advice is Continue reading →

MFO Premium Webinar, 2022 Year End Review

By Charles Boccadoro

On Friday, 6 January, we will be conducting our year-end webinar to review funds and MFO Premium. If you can make it, please join us by registering here. There will be just one session this year: 9 a.m. Pacific (noon Eastern).

We will use MultiSearch Pre-Set screens and other custom criteria to review fund performance in 2022. MultiSeach is the site’s main tool, enabling searches with numerous screening criteria. We will also demo some of the many features across the site.

MFO Premium includes the Continue reading →

Fortune favors the prudent

By Charles Lynn Bolin

(And by implication, frowns on celebrity endorsements)

Happy New Year! I wish everyone a prosperous 2023. It is that time of year again when investment companies, analysts, and pundits create outlooks for the coming year. The quote attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower that “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable,” is applicable as there are risks to the outlook, which is the first section in this article. The second section is my outlook and strategy for 2023. The final section is the outlook from the Federal Reserve, The Conference Board, and Vanguard. Links to other outlooks are included in the Appendix.

Thanks to the notice by David Snowball, I have become a premium subscriber to The Independent Vanguard Adviser. I use the Continue reading →

Briefly Noted . . .

By TheShadow

Disruptors disrupted: the suite of Fidelity Disruptive funds is being converted to ETFs in June 2023. 

The funds are approaching their three-year anniversary, but only one has reached to $100 million AUM threshold. Fidelity offers that the conversion might provide “lower net expenses, additional trading flexibility, increased portfolio holdings transparency, and the potential for enhanced tax Continue reading →

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 →