March 1, 2021

By David Snowball

Welcome to spring!


I first knew that spring had arrived – despite the day’s sub-zero temps – when I noticed that my students weren’t blinking anymore. The cheerful banter and occasional sass of my January term class is a chapel-like silence. Sitting in orderly rows, they look neither right nor left but smile in bland detachment. Footwear begins to shift from winter’s stylish combat boots to sneakers and sandals. The Bold celebrate a 45-degree day by donning shorts and carrying a light jacket over their arms (while The Old stays sensibly zipped up and suspicious of youth and weather both).

I can’t verify that their “fancy lightly turns to Continue reading →

Do As I Say …….

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Snow on the pines
thus breaks the power
that splits mountains.”

Otaka Gengo Tadao (大高源五忠雄,one of the forty-seven Ronin).

Last month, David Snowball opined on Morningstar’s John Rekenthaler’s requiem for mutual funds. And while David agreed with Rekenthaler that the end of the fund industry was not imminent, both feel that it is inevitable. I have felt that to be the case for some time. Rather than be the Cassandra Continue reading →

Inflation, Trends, and Market Manipulation

By Charles Lynn Bolin

This past week has seen some significant market turmoil as the yield on 10-year treasuries climbed quickly to 1.5% while the S&P 500 dipped 2.5% on Thursday, February 25th. I show the Moving Average Convergence Divergence indicator below. The trends are short-term bearish. In this article, I focus on funds that lost less than a half percent on Thursday and were trending up over the past several months for clues on where to invest with the possibility of inflation rising.

This article is divided into four sections for those Continue reading →

Considering the “ESG bubble”

By David Snowball

ESG funds drew over $50 billion of net inflows in 2020, more than double their gains in 2019, according to Morningstar. On the whole, they performed splendidly.

A particularly surprising finding is that ESG-screened funds perform exceptionally well in sharp market corrections, both in market crashes between 2000-2011 and in the 2020 Covid crash. While such funds might marginally trail broader markets in good times, their down-market performance gives them an attractive long-term profile.

A panicked crowd immediately gathered and Continue reading →

Introducing “Dashboard of Launch Alerts”

By Charles Boccadoro

This new tool went live on our MFO Premium site this past month.

The Launches Dashboard compiles and tracks funds first appearing in our “Launch Alert” feature of the monthly MFO commentary. It follows a format similar to the Profiles Dashboard but lists funds by alert date, most recent on top to oldest on the bottom, since MFO launched in May 2011.

Hundreds of new funds are launched annually (e.g., 590 in 2020), but most are not worth mentioning. David highlights just a dozen or so each year.

Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Humankind US Stock ETF 

By David Snowball

In the normal course of events, we screen the fund universe (which includes active ETFs) for intriguing options which had debuted in the preceding three months. In general, that means reviewing “Funds in Registration” columns from the preceding quarter, as well as screening MFO Premium and Morningstar databases.

We arrived at this fund 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. The “actively-managed” proviso allows 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. (The examples are hypothetical but still representative of the idiocy of the moment.) This month brings 15 new products in the pipeline, most of which will Continue reading →

old alarm clock

Manager Changes, January and February 2021

By Chip

Fund managers matter, sometimes more than others. As more teams adopt the mantra, “we’re a team,” if only as window-dressing, more than more manager changes are reduced to “one cog out, one cog in.” Nonetheless, we know that losing funds with new managers tend to outperform losing funds that hold onto their teams, while the opposite is true for winning funds. Strong funds with stable teams and stable assets outperform strong funds facing instability (Bessler et al., 2010). Because of the great volatility of their asset class, equity managers matter rather more than fixed-income investors.

January and February saw changes that affected about 134 funds. Among the most Continue reading →

fountain pen writing a note

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball


On the value of actual human intelligence: The decade’s biggest fund scandal broke on Monday when the SEC accused the advisor of Infinity Q Diversified Alpha Fund (IQDNX) of “adjusting the methodology for obtaining certain asset valuations.” James Velissaris, founder and CIO, was placed on administrative leave while the investigation continues.

The remnants of the fund’s website describe it this Continue reading →