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funds that are holding up in bad markets, thriving in good

I'm always curious to learn and, in particular, learn about who's managing well across different environments since those strike me as candidates for long term holdings (though certainly not sure things). I ran a quick screen at Morningstar looking for funds that have top 15% returns over the past month (through 3/9/2020) and over the past three years as well.

Here's the code: fund / category / 4 week percentile rank / 36 month percentile rank / 36 month APR. In each category I took the fund with the lowest combined rank: a fund in the 1st percentile and 4th percentile would beat out a fund in the 5th percentile and 1st percentile (total 5 versus total 6). With more time, I would have done something more sophisticated.

Columbia Thermostat / 15-30% equity / 3 / 2 / 7.2%.
Madison Conservative Allocation / 30-50% equity / 1 / 9 / 5.3%.
Walden Balanced / 50-85% equity / 9 / 3 / 6.5%
PIMCO Stocks Plus Long Duration / 85%+ equity / 1 / 1/ 20%
ATAC Rotation / tactical allocation / 1 / 2/ 10.8%
Voya Global Perspectives / world allocation / 7 / 2 / 5.6%

iShares Edge MSCI Minimum Volatility USA / large blend / 4 / 1/ 10.9%
Akre Focus / large growth / 1 / 3 / 18.5%
BMO Low Volatility Equity / large value / 1 / 1 / 7.3%

ABR Dynamic Blend Equity & Volatility / long-short equity / 1 / 1/ 10.5%. Ummm ... up 20% in the past four weeks?
Infinity Q Diversified Alpha / multi-alternative / 1 / 2 / 7.7%

Government Street Mid-Cap / midcap blend / 5 / 2/ 6.6%
T Rowe Price New Horizons / midcap growth / 1 / 2 / 18.2%
Virtus KAR Mid-Cap Growth / midcap growth / 2 / 1 / 21.2%
Jensen Quality Value / midcap value / 3 / 2 / 4.0%. A sad reflection on the state of value investing

Calvert Small-Cap / small blend / 5 / 3 / 3.3%
Wasatch Ultra Growth / small growth / 5 / 2 / 21.3%
Camelot Excalibur Small Cap / small value / 1 / 5 / -0.4%. Eeek.

The ABR fund invests in the S&P500, VIX futures and cash. In low vol markets, it increases equity and in high vol markets, it increases exposure to the VIX. Expensive but it's sort of worked.

Akre is amazing. New Horizons, likewise. Columbia Thermostat keeps cropping up. Government Street Mid-Cap is tiny but excellent. The Virtus KAR folks are mostly closed, mostly really good.

Just some thoughts on what's been working a bit.



  • akre is the new bill miller
  • Did Bill Miller ever make a come back?
  • @prinx - Mr. Miller has managed Miller Opportunity fund LMOPX since 1999.
  • competing with heebner and berkowitz
  • Interesting report Mr. Snowball, thank you for pulling that data.

    David - not sure I agree with you re the comparison to Bill Miller/Akre

    While you can make the argument that many of AKREX portfolio holdings are way overvalued, they are well run, relevant, established, good cash flow, leaders in there market segment, high ROIC holdings.

    I do like that you have a "grey beard veteran" in Mr Akre at the helm along with younger talented associates.

    I recall that many of Mr Miller's portfolio holdings were "moon shot" type of holdings and he had somewhat eclectic, outside of the box approach to investing (just my recollection)

    Over time, I'll take my chances with Akre's process/investing approach (did like that they increased their cash holdings in Q4/19')


    Baseball Fan
  • Moon-aiming or not, Miller outperformed for a very long stint (a decade, was it?) and through all sorts of markets --- which is all I was pointing out. I maybe recall it being touted as prudent at the time, some of the time anyway. Not gogo.
  • Not as familiar with Akre's approach. In general, I think it is better to go with funds/families which do not rely heavily on the brilliance of one leader, but the soundness of its approach, principles and operational discipline. Humans are subject to biases (confirmation, personality following), asymmetric skill sets (better in certain investment climate, for example), decline of mental faculties (analytical, memory, inspirational, creative), and eventual retirement/death. Some brilliant leaders also put together effective systems that can persist beyond them. If one does not want to take manager risk, just buy the indices per your allocation.
  • Hi, Kaspa. You might be interested in the story of Akre in our "manager changes" article this month. It feels rather like a Mairs & Power-ish management transition (which is to say, seamless and nearly invisible) has been underway.

    Hi, david. I may have pointed out at the time that Mr. Miller's "streak" was an illusion engendered, in part, by luck and year-end window-dressing. If, instead of measuring 1/1 - 12/31, you picked 12/1 - 11/30 ... or virtually any other month-end, the streak vanished. Mr. Akre's outperformance seems rather more consistent, in the sense that pretty much any time I check in, his trailing numbers are top-tier. That might be because his discipline is a bit more ... disciplined? mechanical? than Mr. Miller's. I don't have any metric to capture that suspicion, though the fact that his downside capture ratio is in the 60s seems reassuring.

    For what that's worth,

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