Category Archives: Mutual Fund Commentary

Confession is good for the soul, honest reflection is even better: My mid-year review

By Devesh Shah

Irresponsibility might not be the gravest sin committed by internet pundits, but it’s surely one of the most widespread. We are forever regaled by advice from “the strategist who called the 2008 crash” has announced the 2022 recession will be worse than 2008, though we are spared the messy details about the source’s other 49 missed guesses. It’s the nature of the internet that Continue reading →

Retirement Part 1: The Certainty of Death and Taxes

By Charles Lynn Bolin

“Things as certain as death and taxes can be more firmly believed” was written by Daniel Defoe in “The Political History of the Devil” in 1726. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” in 1789. Few subjects I have written about elicit such a passionate response as “Roth Conversion” and “Deferring Social Security Benefits.” This article is the first of a three-part series describing Continue reading →

New Income: New Adventures, New Opportunities

By David Snowball

FPA New Income (FPNIX) is a remarkable fund, simultaneously conservative and aggressive. It is an absolute return-oriented fixed income fund that embodies FPA’s corporate discipline:  don’t buy it if you don’t have a margin of safety and the prospect of decent returns. The explanation of the fund’s investment strategy begins with a simple declaration: “We do not like to lose money.” It is simultaneously an unconstrained and a very constrained strategy. It is unconstrained in that it can invest pretty much wherever opportunities arise though at least 75% of the portfolio investments must earn the “High Quality securities” designation, with the remainder likely in cash or Credit Sensitive issues. It is very constrained, though, by a long-standing and non-negotiable absolute Continue reading →

Retirement: Planning The Next 365 Days

By Charles Lynn Bolin

By the time this article is published in Mutual Fund Observer, I will have been retired for one day as I near my 67th birthday. I spent 25 hours this past month listening to audiobooks about the psychology of retirement and an equal amount of time searching the internet for ideas generated from these books. I concluded that I should ease into retirement and plan on what to do for the next 365 days, sometimes called the Retirement Honeymoon Phase. This article is the second of a three-part series describing my experiences as I retire. Continue reading →

Your portfolio … in the Disco Inferno!

By Mark Freeland

Rapidly rising inflation, bear markets, Congressional hearings over political misdeeds, geopolitically related energy price spikes. What next? Bell-bottom pants? The return of disco? These are not echoes of the 70s that people might have hoped for.

We are living in a time with many similarities to that era, including concerns about how to protect one’s portfolio – with cash losing value to inflation and the stock market suffering the worst six-month start of a year since 1970. There are also some differences. The unemployment rate is lower than during the stagflation of the 70s. On the other hand, at least on a nominal basis, bonds in the 70s paid a fair amount of interest unlike Continue reading →

Dirty sex, your spanked portfolio and planning for “the next market”

By David Snowball

Many and many a year ago, in the kingdom of ABC, Woody Allen was one of my very first guests. And we consented to take questions from an eager audience of mostly young people. Like ourselves.

The questioner looked like a high school girl and shouted to Woody from the balcony, “Do you think sex is dirty?”

Allen: “It is if you do it right.”

(Dick Cavett, “As the comics say, These kids today! I tell ya.” New York Times, 9/13/2013)

I’d rather hoped Continue reading →

Having Faith in Sensible Investing

By Devesh Shah

Retail investors or advisors serving retail investors can choose to keep it simple with portfolios that follow a handful of easy-to-grasp rules:

  1. Buy assets where there is a genuine underlying source of return (corporate earnings, interest income, and rental income).
  2. Diversify across asset classes so that you don’t depend on any one stream of returns.
  3. Choose asset weights that reflect the investor’s different needs: Income, Growth, Safety, Speculation
  4. Reduce unneeded fees
  5. Be strategic about the impulse to buy and, especially, to sell so that you can keep capital gains taxes reasonably low.
  6. Rebalance across the asset classes when one of the asset classes moves too much.
  7. Hold the portfolio of these diversified assets for decades.

Continue reading →

Briefly Noted…

By TheShadow

Note to our readers:

On June 3, AlphaCentric and Garrison Point, investment advisor and sub-advisor respectively, to the AlphaCentric Income Opportunities Fund, were fined by the SEC for failing to implement its compliance policies and procedures concerning its role in valuing fund securities. From May 2015 through July 2015 and from January 2017 through February 2019, AlphaCentric failed to implement policies requiring it to assist with the process of determining the fair value of the fund holdings. According to the order, Continue reading →

June 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to June and the unequivocal beginning of summer. I celebrated my 38th set of Augustana graduates.

Those of you who attend professional sports events think you’ve experienced “the roar of the crowd.” Pfah. Until you’ve been there on the moment when a young person becomes the first member of their family, ever, to earn a college degree, you’ve heard nothing.

I also bade farewell Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Artisan International Explorer Fund

By David Snowball

On 16 May 2022, Artisan Partners launched the Artisan International Explorer Fund (ARDBX / ARHBX). The fund is the public manifestation of their International Explorer strategy which launched in November 2020. Since inception, the IE strategy is up 41% annualized while its benchmark is up 31%. Currently, the fund is open only to advisors ($250,000 minimum) and institutions.

Artisan Partners is organized into autonomous management teams, each responsible for their own investment strategies and teams. This fund is overseen by the International Value team which is headed by David Samra and which advises the five-star Artisan International Value Fund. The IV team describes itself as Continue reading →

An Investor’s Journeys, In Body and Mind

By Devesh Shah

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Continue reading →

Getting Real

By Mark Freeland

Real estate investing has always been haunted by charlatans and scandals. Timeshare condominiums, swampland (ummm … critical wetlands) in Florida, bridges near Manhattan … heck, the whole reason that Greenland is called “Greenland” and not “utterly f’ing desolate wasteland covered with 1000 carnivores who scare even grizzlies land” was a real estate marketing scam.

The cold coast of Greenland is barren and bare,
No seed-time nor harvest is ever known there.
And the birds here sing sweetly in mountain and dale
But there’s no bird in Greenland to sing to the whale.

There is no habitation for a man to live there
And the king of that country is the fierce Greenland bear.

                                “Farewell to Tarwathie,” ca 1850 Continue reading →

Briefly Noted…

By TheShadow

Allianz Global Investors admitted to one count of criminal securities fraud in relation to its Structured Alpha Funds. This admittance resulted in a 10-year ban on Allianz advising on any mutual funds in the U.S.

AllianzGI has agreed to pay more than $1 billion in penalties and $5 billion in compensation to investors.  The Structured Alpha funds suffered huge losses during the Covid episode in March 2020.  The funds offered complex hedge strategies that were intended to Continue reading →

May 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to May. May entered English in the 1050s from the Latin Maius, short for Maius mēnsis, “Maia’s month.” But who, you might ask, is Maia? She was a Greek god, eldest of the seven Pleiades, companion of Artemis, and mother of Hermes. The Romans, as was their habit, adopted and repurposed her as a goddess of the green and growing realm. Continue reading →

To Win Today, Embrace Powerlessness and Dive Deep into the Portfolio

By Devesh Shah

“Be careful what you wish for because it might come true” – someone wise

In this article, I lead by laying out the irony in today’s Federal Reserve behavior and the financial markets. Acknowledging a tough year for the 60/40 portfolio, I look at the worst of historical drawdowns in down market cycles. I benchmark my own expectations for the 60/40 in the current cycle and invite readers to do their own work. Finally, Continue reading →

To Win Tomorrow: Question Everything

By Devesh Shah

There is a risk that 2022 is just the beginning of a treacherous investment decade. If so, it may be time to question what we know about conventional investment practices. In this article, I first highlight the so-called risk of a lost decade of real returns. Then, I raise 4 Questions we need to ask ourselves:

(1) what should be the mix between risky and riskless assets
(2) what about the active vs passive debate
(3) which assets work well during inflation
(4) which investment habits might we want to leave behind if the returns are slim.

After proposing some answers, I suggest Continue reading →

These Uncertain Times

By Charles Lynn Bolin

The Federal Reserve is raising rates to slow the economy, reduce inflation, and reduce bond purchases (Quantitative Tightening). The International Monetary Fund and World Bank are lowering forecasts of global growth, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine is further disrupting supply chains and raising geopolitical tensions. I am at my neutral allocation of 50% to stocks but have shifted away from the most volatile funds and toward more defensive funds that do well during the late stage of the business cycle and higher inflation. This article describes Continue reading →

Briefly Noted . . .

By TheShadow

Artisan Partners launched its Artisan Global Unconstrained and Artisan Emerging Markets Debt Opportunities Funds on April 7. Michael Cirami will be the Lead Portfolio Manager while Sarah Orvin will serve as the Portfolio Manager of both funds. Both Mr. Cirami and Ms. Orvin previously worked for Eaton Vance Management.

Charles Schwab has filed filings to offer Direct indexing, which involves direct ownership of securities and thus can involve a greater level of tax management, sometime in April. Schwab’s direct indexing will have an account minimum of $100,000 and will charge a fee of 40 basis points. Initially, investors will have access to Continue reading →

April 1, 2022

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Spring is a time when we celebrate the small and uncertain signs of hope. Weighed down by the exhaustion of war and politics, pandemic and winter, we look happily at the first crocus to spring which shoulders its way through the autumnal leaf mold. We’re reluctant to invest too much in it, knowing that winter has not yet suffered its final defeat. (Here, anyway. Last Wednesday’s upper 60s was followed by Thursday’s measurable snow.) Continue reading →