March 1, 2018

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

I’m often a bit confused. Sometimes it’s as simple as the stuff in my pantry. Why, for instance, is cranberry sauce canned upside down? Look! The part you’ve supposed to open is on the bottom.

Sometimes it’s the challenge of figuring other people out. What was Snap’s board thinking when they gave their CEO at $637 million (an amount equal to 75% of the company’s revenue) bonus? Someone named Kylie Jenner shared the following 19 words on Twitter: “”so does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me? Ugh, this is so sad.” How on Earth did that convince investors to trim $1.6 billion in Snap’s market value in 24 hours? Continue reading →

It Was the Best of Times ……

By Edward A. Studzinski

“I have to change to stay the same.”

Willem de Kooning

Horses for Courses

One of the columnists I have a great deal of time for is John Authers, who writes the “Markets Insight” column for the Financial Times of London. On 22 February, his column discussed the publication of this year’s edition of the Global Investment Returns Yearbook produced annually for Credit Suisse by the Elroy Dimson, Paul Marsh, and Mike Staunton. Historically they have looked at Continue reading →

Funds for the Gun-Shy

By David Snowball

I grew up in western Pennsylvania where even the elementary schools let out classes on the first day of small game season. I’m the son of a veteran and a hunter, and the grandson of a sheriff. I spent a lot of mornings, just after dawn, in blaze orange, walking as quietly as a seven-year-old could. I owned a single-barrel 20 gauge Remington and cared for it well. (I also owned a .22 with a scope I never quite mastered.) I was thrilled when I got to stay overnight in a hunting camp with “the men,” though I modestly regretted both the jar of Limburger cheese that someone had left the season before and the creepy sounds you heard when visiting the outhouse at night. I’ve sheltered in the eerie calm of a Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Ali Motamed, Balter Invenomics (BIVIX)

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.

Ali Motamed manages Balter Invenomic Fund (BIVIX), which Continue reading →

great horned owl

FAM Value (FAMVX/FAMWX), March 2018

By David Snowball

Objective and strategy

The managers seek to maximize long-term return on capital. They can invest in firms of any size, but mostly invest in mid- to large-cap US firms and invest through both common stocks and convertibles. They pursue a patient value approach to investing which favors companies which meet at least one of these three criteria Continue reading →

Launch Alert: JOHCM Global Income Builder

By David Snowball

On November 29, 2017, J.O. Hambro Capital Management launched JOHCM Global Income Builder (JOFIX/JOBIX) managed by the firm’s Multi Asset Value Team. It seeks to achieve a reliable stream of meaningful monthly income distributions, coupled with some capital growth and a vigilant concern for limiting investor losses. It is a multi-asset fund but it is largely unconstrained: it targets US and international income-producing securities including common stock, high-yield and investment grade debt, preferred shares and convertibles, and a variety of hedges including gold, precious metals, currency forward contracts, and inflation-linked vehicles. Continue reading →

The Morningstar Minute

By David Snowball

The Morningstar Investment Conference returns to June and to the McCormick Place. MICUS runs June 11–13, 2018 at McCormick Place, Chicago. Jeremy Grantham and Dan Kahnemann are speaking and folks from a bunch of first-tier small fund firms will be there: Centerstone, FPA, JOHCM, Moerus, Queens Road, RiverPark, Seafarer. Not Grandeur Peak or Rondure. Pity. We’ll be there. Let us know if you’d like to meet. Continue reading →

old license plates on a wall

Funds in Registration

By David Snowball

The SEC requires advisers to give them 75 days to review and comment upon any proposed new fund offering. During those 75 days, the advisers aren’t permitted to say anything about the funds except “please refer to our public filing with the SEC.” At peak times of the year, there might be a couple dozen no-load retail funds and active ETFs in registration. This month the offerings are few but intriguing: a health sector fund from Baron, Matisse Capital’s second fund targeting discounted CEFs, the re-emergence of a successful Scout manager at Oberweis and an intriguing (but unexplained) active ETF that’s Continue reading →

old alarm clock

Manager changes, February 2018

By Chip

Sixty-two funds saw partial turnover in their management teams but no high profile manager stalked off or was shown the door, and no rising star was awarded a new charge. Actually there were rather more than 62, since we don’t track boring bond funds (the value added by the third manager on a Massachusetts muni fund is modest enough that we don’t track those teams; sorry, guys) and, this month only, we’re boycotting changes in the Dreyfus funds. Frankly, Dreyfus got annoying. Their announcements show up in the SEC filings under a bunch of labels (including dozens of Dreyfus series, CitizensSelect, Advantage Funds and Strategic Funds) and were poorly written. We ended up with a headache and the decision to share the following announcement: “about a dozen Dreyfus funds shifted teams this month; if you invest with them, you might want to Continue reading →

fountain pen writing a note

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball


The 2018 Thomas Reuters Lipper Fund Awards have been announced. By their calculation, the top fund families overall are Thrivent Mutual Funds and TIAA Investments. Thrivent represents the universe of small fund companies while TIAA represents large firms. The top small fund families were PRIMECAP (equities), Ashmore (fixed income) and Allianz Global Investors (mixed assets).

Individual funds worth noting Continue reading →