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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.

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The 2009 Effect

Going....going....almost gone.

On the main "Quote" page of every fund covered by Morningstar is a chart showing the growth of $10,000 over the last 10 years (for funds that are 10 years or older). In 18 days the return figure for 2009 will disappear. For many funds, especially in the technology and growth sectors, this will make an enormous difference to their headline 10 year total return.

For example, FSELX returned an astonishing 85% in 2009. Yet in the decade since it has frequently lagged its category. Its standout performance in 2009 clearly contributed massively to its 10 year total return of almost $102,000.

Personally, I'll be glad to see the figures for 2009 disappear. They have distorted the performance of many, if not most, mutual funds and ETFs. Hopefully, a more accurate picture will emerge from 2020 onward.

Wishing everyone here a very happy holiday season.


  • Thank you @Simon for making comment about 2009 falling off from the rolling 10 year returns.

    I can tell from your approach you are not the typical person that vists the board.

    Please keep posting and making comment.

  • msf
    edited December 2019
    @Simon makes an excellent point about how single years can skew figures. Regarding 2009, it would likely be more informative to include both 2008 and 2009 or neither. Volatile funds tended to crash harder in 2008 and surge higher in 2009 than other funds. These effects may have somewhat balanced themselves out.

    Another year to watch out for with respect to this fund is 2019. YTD it is beating its category by 25%, even more than the 23% by which it bested its category in 2009. And because 2019 is the current year, this one year of superb performance skews not only the 10 year performance figure, but the five, three, and one year figures as well.

    The growth of $10K to $101,253 (a total return of $91,253) is not the growth over 10 years, but the growth over nearly 11 years. Don't let M*'s new pages confuse you into thinking that they're presenting standardized figures.

    The growth over the past ten years is shown on this M* chart. $10K grew to $58,483. This chart shows that FSELX left its peers in the dust, even excluding all but 18 days (and fewer trading days) of 2009.

    The "new" M* performance page reports a 19.32% annualized 10 year rate of return as of Dec 13. That means that $10K grew to $10K x (1+ 19.32%) ^ 10 = $58,497. Give or take rounding, that's the same result as shown in the 10 year chart.

    Here's the chart for the fund for the two years 2008 and 2009. It shows that FSELX crashed and burned relative to its peers, let alone the S&P 500, but it also recovered faster and higher than its peers and the S&P 500. All curves are U shaped, with this fund looking rather impressive, at least for those with strong stomachs.

  • I agree with @msf on this....10 year returns don't currently tell the whole story given there has been no major market correction during that time (unless you believe the central banks have permanently eliminated those inconvenient market corrections!). Its seems reasonable to look back to 1/1/08 or so as a start date if you want get a better sense for performance over a full market cycle.
  • Agree. However, that data (full market cycle) is not always available.
    Its seems reasonable to look back to 1/1/08 or so as a start date if you want get a better sense for performance over a full market cycle.
  • I certainly do not want to see only latest 10y, and when not too lazy set my start date to 1/1/07
  • Average 2018 and 2019 together and the growth is not so dramatic as I see it. All in all the longer the time period the better picture of performance. By the way - what is a full market cycle? How does it relate to both buggy whips and home computers? I have had some funds for over 40 years. Will the full market cycle end when I sell them? I think what you are calling a market cycle I am calling a time period.
  • edited December 2019
    What have you held since the late 1970s?
  • edited December 2019
    edited after consulting the legacy M* graph interface ---

    good patience --- $10k held since midsummer '79 has grown to $589k, woohoo

    (triple that for FCNTX)
  • How hard would it be to procure and post here the 2008 return for every mutual fund registered at the time? Personally, I doubt I’ll be buying many (if any) new funds going forward. But what a sobering effect it has had on me to be able to easily view the 2008 performance of any fund I was contemplating buying over the past decade.
  • @hank- Sounds like a great project for you on a snowy day up in your cabin...
  • My wife and I opened Roth IRAs at the end of 1998, at Fidelity. At that time. we only invested in mutual funds. We figured on a long time frame so I wasn't worried about volatility. I told her "here are the two best Fidelity funds -- Select Electronics and Select Home Finance. Which do you want."
    She said "I want the very best one."

    So we put her $2000 in FSELX. (2K was the max annual Roth IRA contribution back then.) Two years later we put another $4000 in FSELX.

    Now it's worth $30,330. Fidelity calculates the total gain at 405%.

    That's certainly been helped by 60% this year.

    Meanwhile, I put my $2000 in Home Finance, which went in the tank in 2008.
    So that's been dumped.
    But I did buy a bunch of FSELX in my Fidelity 403b a few years ago (now my Rollover IRA).

    It tilts our portfolio to "aggressive", for sure. We balance it with some dividend-paying stocks and S&P 500 funds and ETFs.

    I feel more lucky than smart about it all.


  • "I feel more lucky than smart about it all."

    Boy, ain't that the truth! Same here.
  • edited December 2019
    Gary said:

    By the way - what is a full market cycle?

    Good question. I’ve seen different definitions and I don’t believe any of them. Hussman claims he understands and that he’s investing based on a full market cycle - and look what’s happened to him. I’d say it’s not something you can measure in years, but rather by major trends and turning points (whatever they are).

    If you want to look at years however, take a look at this performance chart for DODBX. It doesn’t go all the way back to the fund’s birth sometime in the 1920s. But it does give performance for every year beginning in 1961 - which happens to be the year I entered high school. So - I’d assume there’s a complete market cycle in there somewhere.

    Added: I looked at Investopedia expecting to find the simple (and inadequate) standard definition of a market cycle as: the period during which an equity market travels from “peak” to “trough” and back to a new “peak” again. To their credit, they indicate (as I suggested) that identifying a market cycle is far more complex and difficult.

    Old_Joe said:

    @hank- Sounds like a great project for you on a snowy day up in your cabin...:)

    @Old_Joe - Thanks for the suggestion. I was already hard at work compiling all that stuff when BECKMANB posted his great response in the “Find a Good Site to Observe 2008 Fund Results” thread (above) tonight.

    Kinda took the fun out of the evening. But I owe you one none the less.:)
  • @hank- Not at all sure that I like the sound of that.
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