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July 1, 2018

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to July! You shouldn’t be here.

Welcome to the Observer’s annual “summer light” issue in which you point out the obvious: you need some time away from the headlines, the daily howling, the apocalypse, the partisan glee, the certainty of boom, doom or gloom (to borrow from the name of Marc Faber’s thoughtful reports).

Setting aside the overtly political headlines, here’s a Continue reading →

Not in Kansas Anymore!

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.”    Mark Twain

With June, we have had the coming of another Morningstar Conference. Repeatedly I studied the agenda. I could not see anything I thought worth hearing. Rather than presenting many of the leading investment professionals of the mutual fund world, this year the key seemed to be Continue reading →

great horned owl

Zeo Short Duration Income (ZEOIX), July 2018

By Charles Boccadoro

“Perhaps time’s definition of coal is the diamond.”

Kahlil Gibran

Objective and Strategy

The Zeo Short Duration Income Fund (ZEOIX), previously known as the Zeo Strategic Income Fund, is a non-diversified, actively managed, total return, fixed-income fund that seeks …

  • “ … to deliver low volatility, risk-managed solutions for the prudent investor.”
  • “ … low volatility and absolute returns consisting of income and moderate capital appreciation.”
  • “ … long-term capital preservation, income and moderate capital appreciation across market environments.”
  • “ … low volatility, absolute returns in a long-only fixed income portfolio.”
  • “ … to deliver a consistent, low-volatility risk profile suitable for both short and long time horizons.”
  • “ … to deliver low volatility.”

Clearly, ZEOIX’s focus is Continue reading →

great horned owl

LS Opportunity Fund (LSOFX)

By David Snowball

Objective and strategy

LS Opportunity Fund pursues three goals: preserving capital, delivering above-market returns and managing volatility. “The secret,” says manager John Gillespie, “is to avoid large losses.” They invest, both long and short, in individual stocks; they do not short “the market,” they don’t use esoteric options and they don’t typically use ETFs. They normally will have 20-40 short positions and 50-70 long ones. The long portfolio is both all-cap and value-oriented, both of which are fairly rare. The short portfolio targets Continue reading →

great horned owl

Holbrook Income Fund (HOBIX)

By Dennis Baran

Objective and strategy

The fund seeks to provide current income with a secondary objective of capital preservation in a rising interest rate and inflationary environment.

The manager’s goal is to achieve a 2% return above inflation, generate income, and protect principal. By managing credit and interest rate risk, limiting duration, and minimizing drawdown to less than 2%, it’s designed to fend against frontal attacks that may ravage the bond market which reduce investor returns and suffocate Continue reading →

old license plates on a wall

Funds in Registration

By David Snowball

VanEck has registered a launch a video-gaming and e-sports ETF, which strikes me as silly in the extreme but at least doesn’t include cryptocurrencies. “Silly in the extreme” means we’re not saying anything more about it. Happily, a bunch of really solid offerings – a new Litman Gregory, a bond fund run by ex-PIMCO guys, an emerging markets offering from LSV and the ETF version of several four-star funds – were filed at the same time. All of these funds and active ETFs are likely available by the end of September. Continue reading →

old alarm clock

Manager changes, June 2018

By Chip

The revolving door slowed dramatically this month, perhaps because it’s summer and the HR people are away on vacation. In any case, we found manager changes at just 40 funds where 60-80 would be typical. That said, several of the changes are consequential. Ben Inker, head of GMO’s asset allocation team, will no longer manage Wells Fargo Asset Allocation, as they shift subadvisement from GMO to Wells Capital Management. Boniface “Buzz” Zaino, one of the senior managers at Royce, is transitioning out of active management.  Rusty Johnson is, for health reasons, stepping back from leadership of Harding, Loevner EM. We wish them all the Continue reading →

fountain pen writing a note

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball

All the developments that are worth knowing but aren’t worth separate stories, including 50 funds that just earned headstones rather than headlines. An absolute disaster? 10% of vanishing funds promising “absolute returns.” Wells Fargo promises that you can trust them, just before announcing millions of additional fines. Tadas moves up, a favorite fund closes quick and hard, Monrad celebrates his 58th and the Mathers Fund leaves this veil of tears after 53 eventful years. Continue reading →