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Daily Shot: (T Rowe Price) Latin America Fund - "Lying With Charts" + Bonus: Baron Small Cap Fund

edited September 2015 in Fund Discussions
Received this from the Daily Shot: [Link: ]
Here is an excellent example of lying with charts. This Latin America fund looks amazingly steady and yet the recent losses have been worse than at any time since 2008 - all thanks to a bizarre construction of the y-axis.

Note: Chart is, I believe, the third chart from the bottom.

Frankly, rather disappointed and surprised at the folks at TRPrice. Have others noticed other deceptive performance graphs in annual reports, at either TRP or other firms? Thanks.

The original can be seen on page 11 of the fund's most recent semi-annual report, available here:


  • beebee
    edited August 2015
    Using M* chart for same time period. This seems to squeeze the data vertically (on the x axis)...neither seem accurate. In fairness to the fund, a $10k investment in 4/05 was worth $21kish in 4/15.


    Since May of 2015 through the last down draft (8/15), the fund experienced a 25% loss similar to EEM (Emerging Market Index).


    Brazil and Mexico seem to occupy many of the top 25 holdings of this fund and the fund doesn't spread itself around too much with only 46 holdings and with the top 25 holdings making up about 82% of the fund's holdings according to M*.
  • edited August 2015
    The chart looks as it should at TR Price's web site. Scroll down a bit on the left side of page.

    Where did the author of "Daily Shots" obtain his chart???

  • edited August 2015
    From page 11 of the fund's most recent semi-annual report:

    I've added this link to the original post.
  • edited August 2015
    Lying is a little strong, but yeah, you gotta look at the axes. Everything in life is smooth and/or minor if you just get the right aspect ratio:). I sometimes wish they did not even use log for y.
  • My other TRPrice funds do not/did not use a logarithmic scale - if that's what TRPrice used for their Latin America fund. [*]

    They used increments that were uniform and regular. Somebody - at least internally - should receive a spanking here, IMHO.

    [*] For example - TRP New Era's vertical axis has [10K, 20K, 30K, 40K, 50K, 60K] values on its vertical axis.
  • In response to the original post, I found an even more deceptive depiction of performance in the most recent Baron Funds quarterly report. I don't know how to insert the table from the report (p. 9 of report). I hope this link works.

    When I looked at the table, I said to myself, "Huh?" There are column headers for 10-year, 5-year, and 3-year returns along with average excess returns. I had to study the table and footnotes for 30 minutes to see what they did. At first (and second) glance, one would get the impression that BSCFX has been performing wonderfully. By using the entire history of the fund, they have whitewashed over its "recent" performance. BSCFX uses the Russell 2000 Growth Index as its primary prospectus benchmark. I looked at returns of BSCFX compared to the ETF IWO (iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF). If you were a new investor, or added to your account in the past 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, or 13 years, you would have trailed the ETF/benchmark, and with a higher tax cost ratio.

    Number of Years Cumulative Return BSCFX
    Begin Date End Date BSCFX IWO Annualized Underperformance
    6/30/2002 6/30/2015 13 226.34% 252.77% -0.66%
    6/30/2003 6/30/2015 12 223.88% 250.71% -0.73%
    6/30/2004 6/30/2015 11 156.60% 167.07% -0.40%
    6/30/2005 6/30/2015 10 120.37% 156.46% -1.65%
    6/30/2006 6/30/2015 9 104.96% 124.22% -1.09%
    6/30/2007 6/30/2015 8 71.40% 92.24% -1.54%
    6/30/2008 6/30/2015 7 99.71% 115.67% -1.22%
    6/30/2009 6/30/2015 6 154.73% 186.54% -2.31%
    6/30/2010 6/30/2015 5 113.90% 142.93% -3.00%
    6/30/2011 6/30/2015 4 51.67% 69.41% -3.11%
    6/30/2012 6/30/2015 3 57.98% 73.93% -3.80%
    6/30/2013 6/30/2015 2 27.52% 40.43% -5.58%
    6/30/2014 6/30/2015 1 4.05% 12.54% -8.49%

    I found Baron's report egregiously deceptive. When this fund was new and nimble, it sidestepped the debacle. Since then, its quacks like an index fund with a grossly high 1.30% ER. Even as assets continue to overwhelm this fund, it continues to charge a 0.25% 12b-1 fee to attract even more assets.
  • edited September 2015

    Thanks for note. I think [can you confirm] that you are talking about the table that appears on the bottom of "Page 9", which I agree is a complex mess.

    HOWEVER, the linked document ALSO contains a table that appears on the left side of "Page 28". [*]

    That table includes performance for 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, and [wait for it] "since inception".

    If you look at that table - which compares the Baron Small Cap Fund to the R2000 Growth & the S&P500 indices, it is clear that the fund has under-performed both, *consistently* for the last 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years.

    Another way to see this is to look at the M* [Performance] tab for this fund:

    for these periods. If you do - as of 09-02-2015 - you will see that the fund has been resting fairly consistently among the bottom (worst) third or so of its peers for the last 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years.

    To almost coin a phrase, there is no need to feed this dog. This dog won't hunt. Thanks to the folks at Baron for providing (diligent at least) investors with the table (on Page 28) that shows the weakness of the fund.

    [*] Note: If someone knows how to link images and has the time, that would be a great help! Thanks [!] in advance [?].
  • Regarding the table, it's part of an on-line pdf document, and can't be linked via the usual methods. The only thing that I can think of would be to take a screen shot, and upload that graphic to a personal "cloud account", and refer to that rather than the original.
  • edited September 2015
    In the middle of this page, the Baron website has a bunch of interactive tools.
    There is a tool called Growth of $10,000 chart, with a bunch of "radio buttons" to select among the time periods discussed.

    You can use this tool to select various time periods, and (once the buttons are working, which they were as of Sep 3) you can easily see the extent to which the fund has under-performed it's R2000 Growth Benchmark.

    Thank you, Crash, for confirming.

    Thanks again, meconti!
  • Those buttons seem to work for me.
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