Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion

Here's a statement of the obvious: The opinions expressed here are those of the participants, not those of the Mutual Fund Observer. We cannot vouch for the accuracy or appropriateness of any of it, though we do encourage civility and good humor.

    Support MFO

  • Donate through PayPal

Barron's on Funds & Retirement, 2/24/24

edited February 24 in Fund Discussions
This ad-hoc feature returns this week. LINK BarronsLINK

FUNDS. Use active funds to exploit the fire sale in HEALTHCARE stocks. MANY biotech stocks were selling below their cash on the balance sheets in 10/2023 and there has been a good rebound since with XBI +40% (still well below 2/2021 peak). Mentioned are BHCFX (37% SC/MC), JAGLX, PHSTX (value), PRHSX (all-caps with some risky bets), VGHCX (giant/biggest, so LC orientation). (By @LewisBraham at MFO)

ECONOMY. EVERYONE knows that BOGLE/ Vanguard started the first SP500 mutual fund. But who started the first US total market index? That was Wilshire 5000 (W5000) in 1974 by Dennis TITO/ Wilshire Associates (names after a CA blvd) and now several firms/indexers offer total stock market indexes. While a catchy “5000” has always been in the name, W5000 had 7,378 stocks in 1998, and only 3,392 in 01/2024. The number of US stocks has shrunk from M&A, LBOs, bankruptcies, and the new listings haven’t been enough. W5000 has gone through several hands and prefixes – FT-, DJ-, back to None-, and now again FT- (so, FT W5000). Vanguard was probably the 1st to offer a total stock market FUND in 1992 under a license from Wilshire Associates, but Vanguard has changed the underlying index several times – to MSCI, and now CRSP. Wilshire Associates also started the mutual fund WFIVX / WINDX in 02/1999 (current AUM $253.4 million only). Dennis Tito, 84, sold Wilshire Associates in 2021 to two private-equity firms (CEO a former FTSE executive Mark MAKEPEACE) and they spun off Wilshire Indexes to a group that includes themselves, Mark Makepeace, FT, Singapore Exchange. And obviously, Wilshire indexes have gone global. (By Allan SLOAN, an award-winning independent journalist)

Q&A/Interview. Suni HARFORD, President of Asset Management, UBS. She thrives on business challenges and financial crises. She thinks that the US stocks below the highflying mega-caps are fine. Russia-Ukraine war has been a huge setback for Europe. Asia has been dragged down by China that can turn on a dime, but Japan has been rallying. Many countries will have elections in 2024, so that should be a support for economies. Allocation 60-40 is making sense again, but she recommends carving out 20% for alternatives – real estate, private-equity, private-credit, etc. Interest rates are normalizing and aren’t high by historical standards. Customized direct indexing for separately managed accounts (SMAs) is in favor and is a big and growing business for UBS. The ESG is less popular in the US as there is lot of anti-ESG misinformation; even Texas has 30% from renewable energy now. But ESG is growing in Europe and Asia with new twists – nature-based solutions, blended investment-finance combo projects, etc. Women have come a long way in business and finance, but more are needed. This industry offers more flexible schedules but requires hard work and has good rewards. Her husband retired 12 years ago, and her UBS stint in 2017 was to be a short post-retirement job, but she may finally leave after the Credit Suisse integration.

RETIREMENT. Target-Date Funds (TDFs) were thought to be set-and-forget funds, but their short history has revealed some problems. The TDFs have adjusted by offering variations within each TDF 20XX as some wanted slightly more or less equity. So, instead of glide-path, we have glide-band. Many TDFs are passive, but several are active or with active-passive mix; some include both mutual funds and ETFs. Their bond sleeves have been stodgy, often with too much of TIPS, but some are now including HY, EMs, FR/BL, etc. (TDFs benefitted hugely from the laws that allow them to be the default options for 401k/403b/457 plan auto-signups and auto-escalations)


Sign In or Register to comment.