June 1, 2019

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Oops … I did it again!

On May 19, 2019, I helped launch my 35th cohort of Augustana grads on an unsuspecting world. With modest pomp, stirring music, one thoughtful address (that no one will remember) and one clunky one (likewise, thank God), I participated in the college’s 159th commencement. Afterward, by long tradition, the graduates filtered through the throng of faculty, exchanging tears and laughter, thanks and hugs.

And then they were gone. It’s bittersweet to have a career forever predicated upon bidding farewell to amazing young folks just as they hit their stride. They were a challenge, and they’re Continue reading →

What Color Are the Swans?

By Edward A. Studzinski

 “Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies.”

     Honoré de Balzac, Epigrams (trans. Jacques Leclercq, 1959)

When last our heroes met at the end of April, the market had been on a tear pretty much since the beginning of the year. Many domestic funds were showing total returns in the high teens. International funds were likewise showing total returns in the vicinity of twenty percent at April 30th. Active fund managers, to the background music of “Happy Days are Continue reading →

Morningstar Investment Conference – 2019 #MICUS

By Charles Boccadoro

When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable …

But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear …

the negatives escalate until we become overloaded.

At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates.

Barry Schwartz in Paradox of Choices

If last year’s Morningstar Investment Conference, which consolidated the once separate ETF venue, was one of the worst in memory, this year’s was one of the best.

Once again, it occurred in the beautiful and vibrant city of Chicago, where the 35-year old company Morningstar is headquartered, on May 8-10 at the sprawling but impressively run McCormick Place, which happens to be the largest convention center in North America. The conference’s 1350 registered Continue reading →

great horned owl

Index Funds S&P 500® Equal Weight NoLoad (formerly Index Funds S&P 500® Equal Weight), (INDEX), June 2019

By David Snowball

At the time of publication, this fund was named Index Funds S&P 500® Equal Weight.

Objective and strategy

The fund equally weights all of the stocks in the S&P 500 index and rebalances its portfolio quarterly.


The Index Group, LLC, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While they are Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Zeo Sustainable Credit Fund (ZSRIX)

By David Snowball

On May 31, 2019, Zeo Capital Advisors launched Zeo Sustainable Credit Fund (ZSRIX). The fund seeks to provide risk-adjusted total returns consisting of income and moderate capital appreciation. This marks the launch of Zeo’s second fund, after Zeo Short Duration Income (ZEOIX).

ZEOIX has performed exceedingly well over its eight years. The fund’s risk-adjusted returns have been best-in-class and its expenses have fallen. The limitation perceived by some of its major investors is that it is duration-constrained; that is, it doesn’t have the flexibility to pursue many attractive longer-duration opportunities. ZSRIX is designed to Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Paul Privitera, Virtus Newfleet Dynamic Credit ETF (BLHY)

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 300 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 a few hundred 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. 

Virtus Newfleet Dynamic Credit ETF (BLHY) is an Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Cannabis Growth Fund (CANNX/CANIX)

By David Snowball

On February 22, 2019, Foothill Capital Management launched the Cannabis Growth Fund (CANNX/CANIX). The fund seeks to provide long-term capital appreciation through investing globally in companies “engaged exclusively in legal cannabis activities under applicable national and local laws, including U.S. federal and state law.” This marks the launch Continue reading →

old license plates on a wall

Funds in Registration

By David Snowball

Before funds and ETFs can be offered to the public, they’ve got to be submitted to the SEC which has 70 days to review the application. In general, advisers try to launch just before year’s end because that allows them to have clean “year to date” and calendar year results to share. In general, launching new funds in July and August is a dumb idea. Investment returns in summer are, in general, miserable and you lose the advantage of being able to report a full calendar quarter.

Happily, not many fall victim to that trap. Well, these guys Continue reading →

old alarm clock

The Top Five Manager Changes

By David Snowball

Each month dozens of funds and ETFs undergo partial or complete turnover in their management teams. This month we found 85 funds and ETFs making a change. The vast majority of those changes are inconsequential to anyone other than the folks losing (or gaining) jobs: one manager on a five person team might be popped out and replaced by another, resulting in little net change.

In deference to our impending trip to Ireland, we’ve decided to report just five changes that caught our eye for now with the whole big list returning in July. Continue reading →

fountain pen writing a note

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball


The Balter Invenomic Fund (BIVIX) is in the process of shedding Balter. As a practical matter, that will translate to a name change, Invenomic Fund, and little more. BIVIX is, as we noted in our May 2019 profile, an exceptionally strong performer with steady asset growth.  The manager is both talented and self-assured, so I’m not particularly concerned though I am curious. The proxy document offers this somewhat cryptic explanation for the change:

BLA (i.e., Balter Liquid Alts) informed the Board that it was making this request because it is currently exiting the investment advisory business due to uncertainty involving a “seed investor” which could potentially affect its ability to provide services to the Fund and other funds in the future. BLA believes that this transition is in the best interest of the Fund and its shareholders as it will provide continuity for the Fund and create a more direct relationship between shareholders and Invenomic. The seed investor currently holds a non-voting equity interest in BLA and initially contributed seed capital for the Fund. 

Continue reading →