January 1, 2020

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to the New Year. May it be blessed and joyful, full of mirth and mischief (really, what’s life without a bit of mischief?) for us all.

As I finish this essay on New Year’s Eve Day, the stock market is handing out returns with the enthusiasm (and responsibility) of a politician handing out tax cuts or a central banker handing out liquidity boosts. The Vanguard Total Stock Market Index (VTSMX) stands to end the year with a 30% gain.

Heck, it was almost impossible Continue reading →

“We’re here because you’re looking for the best of the best of the best, sir!”

By David Snowball

When I first started writing regularly about funds and investing, it was as an analyst for FundAlarm, a site whose publisher proclaimed

Our view of the mutual fund industry is slightly off-center. We help you decide when it’s time to sell a fund, instead of when it’s time to buy. The mutual fund industry is full of broken promises, arrogance, greed, hypocrisy — the list goes on. We try to shine a light in the darker corners, and poke holes in balloons that could use some poking.

In honoring that heritage, we routinely Continue reading →

In celebration of Ted Didesch (1937-2019)

By David Snowball

On 9 December 2019, the longest-tenured member of the MFO Discussion Board passed away. Theodore J. Didesch, universally known as “Ted” though he dearly wished for the sobriquet “The Linkster,” died of congestive heart failure.

We mourn his passing even as we celebrate his life. I’d like to share a few words about Ted, interspersed with the comments left by other members of our community on a memorial thread.

FundAlarm launched its “moderated Bulletin Board” in 1998. Ted arrived Continue reading →

San Francisco Treat

By Charles Boccadoro

“Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.” ― Horace Greeley

My home state of California rates a close second to Pennsylvania.

On what scale?

Assets under management (AUM) by the fund companies.

At $6 trillion, it sports twice the AUM of New York.

While Pennsylvania is home to fund behemoth Vanguard, California is home to about Continue reading →

Vanguard – I can get it for you retail!

By Ira Artman

By Ira Artman, December 2019

Do we pay attention to the competitive environment? Absolutely. Are we reactive to what one competitor does? Absolutely not…

Investors always have to ask themselves when they see an offering like this [zero fee expense ratio mutual funds], ‘What’s the catch?”‘ The question becomes what else are investors going to be charged in other products? … Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Michael Carne, Westwood Flexible Income (WFLEX)

By David Snowball

Since the number of funds we can cover in-depth is smaller than the number of funds worthy of in-depth coverage, we’ve decided to offer one or two managers each month the opportunity to make a 200-word pitch to you. That’s about the number of words a slightly-manic elevator companion could share in a minute and a half. In each case, I’ve promised to offer a quick capsule of the fund and a link back to the fund’s site. Other than that, they’ve got 200 words and precisely as much of your time and attention as you’re willing to share. These aren’t endorsements; they’re opportunities to learn more.

Michael Carne manages WFLEX which launched December 19, 2018. He joined Westwood in Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Harbor Robeco US Conservative Equities

By David Snowball

On December 2, 2009, Harbor Funds launched six new offerings, including four overtly “conservative equities” funds. Those funds are:

  • Harbor Robeco US Conservative Equities
  • Harbor Robeco International Conservative Equities
  • Harbor Robeco Global Conservative Equities
  • Harbor Robeco EM Conservative Equities

All four are being advised by a team from Continue reading →

MFO Premium Webinar

By Charles Boccadoro

On Wednesday January 15th, we will host a webinar discussing latest features of the MFO Premium search tool site. Topics covered will include the new home page and user portal, the MultiSearch Portfolios tool, updated metrics for risk adverse investors, expense rating, expanded category averages, revised “Include Averages and Benchmarks” options, and finally allocation indices across ten decades.  

There will be two sessions, one at 11 am Pacific time (2pm Eastern) and one at 2pm Pacific time (5pm Eastern). The webinar will be enabled by Zoom. Please use the following links 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, Funds in Registration gives you a peek into the new product pipeline. Most funds currently in registration will not become available until late February.

We found 24 funds in the pipeline. What stands out is Continue reading →

fountain pen writing a note

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball


Seafarer thrills! Russ Kinnel, anyway. Russ’s December 30thThe Thrilling 34” article sought to create “a short list of outstanding funds accessible to individual investors.” The plan was to screen for the more important investment factors, “and let them do the weeding for me.”  They are

  • Expense ratio in the category’s cheapest quintile.
  • Manager investment of more than $1 million in the fund.
  • Morningstar Risk rating below the High level.
  • Morningstar Analyst Rating of Bronze or higher.
  • Parent rating better than average/neutral.
  • Returns above the fund’s benchmark for a minimum of five years.
  • Must be a share class accessible to individual investors

On a list dominated by Continue reading →