April 1, 2021

By David Snowball

No one knows quite when the April Fool’s (or All Fool’s) tradition arose. The internet is rife with simple, self-assured explanations that are flawed only by the fact that they’re wrong. “Attestations,” that is, contemporary historical recordings referring to the event, are scarce and most of the explanations (“it’s all about the Gregorian calendar in France!”) fail to account for all of the observed behavior.

My preferred speculation: spring,  it felt like a good time to do silly things.

Huge swaths of the Continue reading →

Scale Matters

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them.” Margaret Thatcher, interviewed on This Week, 5 February 1976

Another month of equities hitting new highs across the indices. In many instances, active equity managers, especially value managers, are again outperforming passive strategies. Sadly, the same has not been Continue reading →

Right Beneath My Nose

By Charles Lynn Bolin

VictoryShares Enhanced Volatility Weighted ETF (CDC), a Great Owl with an Eye on Volatility

Each month, I sift through funds in my Ranking System, as well as trending funds, using the Mutual fund Observer MultiSearch screen. I search for high risk-adjusted returns across many asset classes for diversification. In March, I discovered VictoryShares Enhanced Volatility Weighted ETFs right under my nose. In this article, I look at the difference between low volatility funds and funds with high-risk adjusted returns.

 This article is divided into sections for those who wish to Continue reading →

The case for a stock-light portfolio, version 4.0

By David Snowball

“Stocks for the long-term!” goes the mantra. That chant has two meanings: (1) in the (very) long-term, no asset outperforms common stock. And (2) in any other term, stocks are too volatile to the trusted so if you’re going to buy them, be sure you’re doing it with a long time horizon.

My own non-retirement portfolio, everything outside the 403(b), embeds a healthy skepticism about stocks. The strategic asset allocation is always the same: 50% equity, 50% income. Equity is 50% here, 50% there, as well as 50% large and 50% small. Income tends to be the same: 50% short Continue reading →

great horned owl

SmartETFs Dividend Builder ETF (DIVS), April 2021

By David Snowball

Formerly Guinness Atkinson Dividend Builder (GAINX) and, prior to 2014, Guinness Atkinson Inflation Managed Dividend Fund.

Objective and Strategy

SmartETFs Dividend Builder ETF seeks consistent dividend growth at a rate greater than the rate of inflation by investing in a global portfolio of about 35 dividend-paying stocks. Stocks in the portfolio have survived four Continue reading →

MFO Premium Webinar – Thursday, 15 April 2021

By Charles Boccadoro

On Thursday, April 15th, we will host two webinars about the MFO Premium search tool site.

The site helps individual investors and financial advisers 1) sort through the vast number of funds available today based on criteria important to them, 2) maintain candidate lists of promising funds to conduct further due diligence on, and 3) monitor risk and return performance of Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Phillip Toews, Toews Hedged US Fund (THLGX)

By David Snowball

Phillip (Felipe) Toews (“Taves”) founded Toews Asset Management in December 1994 with the aim of providing intelligently risk-managed portfolios for clients. Headquartered in New York, the firm manages $2.2 billion between its six mutual funds, two Agility Shares ETFs and separately managed accounts. In addition to managing investments directly, it has an active advisor education program to help advisors effectively incorporate behavioral insights into Continue reading →

Launch Alert: T. Rowe Price Global Impact Equity

By David Snowball

On March 15, 2021, T. Rowe Price launched T. Rowe Price Global Impact Equity (TGPEX).

Socially responsible investing is all the vogue, and for good reason. The great bulk of such funds have a limited mandate: do no evil. They’re not trying to change the world, they’re just charged with avoiding the worst actors in it.

A minority of funds accept a greater Continue reading →

old license plates on a wall

Funds in Registration

By David Snowball

The Securities and Exchange Commission, by law, gets between 60 and 75 days to review proposed new funds before they can be offered for sale to the public. Each month we survey actively managed funds and ETFs in the pipeline. We thought the “actively-managed” proviso would allow us to avoid the pain of reporting on the endless array of ETFs that have commissioned indices of … oh, SPACs plus cannabis or cryptocurrencies plus hotel stocks or stocks also loved by Gamestop investors. Sadly, we were wrong because there are now actively managed ETFs (below) proposing to target marijuana (2), bitcoin (2), and Continue reading →

old alarm clock

Manager Changes, March 2021

By Chip

Each month we track changes to the management teams of actively managed, equity-oriented funds and ETFs. That excludes index funds and most fixed income funds. The index fund exclusion is pretty straightforward: in a passive fund, the managers are interchangeable cogs whose presence or absence is almost always inconsequential to the fund’s performance.

Similarly, most bond fund managers have a very limited ability to add value. Over the past 10 years, for instance, the top performing Core Bond fund in the Lipper universe outperformed Continue reading →

fountain pen writing a note

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball


On March 26, 2021, Guinness Atkinson Asia Pacific Dividend Builder Fund (GAADX) and the Guinness Atkinson Dividend Builder Fund (GAINX) were converted into ETFs.

Following the model pioneered by GA, Adaptive Fundamental Growth Fund, Adaptive Hedged High Income Fund, Adaptive Hedged Multi-Asset Income Fund, Adaptive Tactical Outlook Fund, and Adaptive Tactical Rotation Fund are being converted into the Adaptive Fundamental Growth ETF, Adaptive Hedged High Income ETF, Adaptive Hedged Multi-Asset Income ETF, Adaptive Tactical Outlook ETF, and Adaptive Tactical Rotation ETF, respectively.

DFA, the other firm Continue reading →