Morningstar Investment Conference 2017: Six smart guys

By David Snowball

I’ll tell you about the six smart guys. They represent a bit over half of the interviews and discussions I participated in during Morningstar’s annual Fest at the McCormick. My normal schedule mixed one-on-one interactions with sitting in on panels and keynote presentations; the changing emphasis of the conference, rather away from hearing from mutual fund managers and strategists, and toward the business concerns of the advisors, led me to focus exclusively on talking with interesting folks.

Many of these interviews will serve as the seedbeds for upcoming fund profiles. In particular, we hope to celebrate Continue reading →

The Fifty Year Reich

By Edward A. Studzinski


“It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.”

  George Bernard Shaw

Some thirty-odd years after its founding, the transformation of Morningstar is complete. From a firm that got its start providing tools and research to assist the individual investor, we now see a firm that exists to offer tools, support, and research to financial advisors or intermediaries. To a large extent, that evolution was necessary given the changes in the marketplace for mutual funds, as well as the changes in the regulatory environment. And once Morningstar became a public company, it would have been incumbent upon its employees and management to focus on Continue reading →

Observations from Morningstar Conference – Chicago 2017

By Charles Boccadoro

Morningstar held its annual investment conference in its headquartered city of Chicago last week. That’s a couple months earlier than typical, perhaps to give it some distance from September’s ETF conference. Pink and purple tulips lined Michigan Avenue and Millennial Park. April showers abounded. The Intelligentsia coffee bar at 53 West Jackson Blvd each morning never smelled better. Continue reading →

Planning a Rewarding Retirement, Part 4

By Robert Cochran

Planning for Future Health Care Expenses, 

The fourth in a series of articles

My original intent was to retire when I turned 70. However, as I noted in Part 2 of this series, the realization that “it’s time” bumped up my retirement to this fall, when I turn 67. Thus the mental switch was flipped. Then the “Can I afford to retire?” review and decision was made. In my last blog (#3), I was able to determine the anticipated timing and amount of distributions from my retirement plan account. Now I come to health care – what might future costs be, how to survive the gauntlet of Medicare, Medicare Supplement Insurance, Prescription Drug Insurance, and other pieces of this constantly changing puzzle.

The changes since the Affordable Care Act was implemented are Continue reading →

great horned owl

RiverPark Short Term High Yield Fund (RPHYX/RPHIX), May 2017

By David Snowball

This is an update of a profile first published in July 2011.


The fund seeks high current income and capital appreciation consistent with the preservation of capital, and is looking for yields that are better than those available via traditional money market funds. They invest primarily in high yield bonds with an effective maturity of less than three years but can also have money in short term debt, preferred stock, convertible bonds, and fixed- or floating-rate bank loans. 


RiverPark Advisers. Executives from Baron Asset Management, including Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Adam Strauss, Appleseed Fund (APPLX/APPIX)

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 or 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 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.

Adam Strauss is, along with his brother Joshua, one of the three managers of Appleseed Fund. Both joined the firm in 2004 after careers outside the financial services sector. The third manager, Bill Pekin, has been Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Rondure Overseas Fund and Rondure New World Fund

By David Snowball

On May 1, 2017, Rondure Global Advisors, headquartered in Salt Lake City and one of the nation’s few woman-owned fund advisers, launched Rondure New World Fund (RNWIX/RNWOX) and Rondure Overseas Fund (ROSIX/ROSOX ). Rondure Global operates in partnership with Grandeur Peak Global, which offers back office and trading support, as well as the opportunity for collegial investment discussions. Rondure’s founder, CEO and lead portfolio manager is Laura Geritz, who describes this partnership as “one of our key competitive advantages” since it will give her the opportunity, rare for a manager launching a new firm, to focus on investment rather than management.

Both funds will follow the same Continue reading →

old license plates on a wall

Funds in registration, May 2017

By David Snowball

A couple of this month’s nominally “new” funds are actually repackaged versions of existing products.  Congress Small Cap Growth Fund is just the reorganized version of Century Small Cap Select Fund (CSMVX), a two-star small cap growth fund with a 17-year record. Long-time manager Alexander Thorndike gains a co-manager, Gregg O’Keefe. Similarly, Oak Ridge Global Resources & Infrastructure Fund is a new name for Ridgeworth Capital Innovations Global Resources and Infrastructure Fund (INNAX), a solid but tiny fund. Sadly, that might be the most interesting stuff going on this month. Continue reading →

old alarm clock

Manager changes, April 2017

By Chip

Each month, many funds under partial or complete changes in their management teams. Most are inconsequential, because they involve marginal changes in teams or the substitution of one inoffensive MBA-holder for another. Because bond fund managers, traditionally, had made relatively modest impacts of their funds’ absolute returns, Manager Changes typically highlights changes in equity and hybrid funds.

Out of this month’s 40 tracked changes, the switch to AMG Managers Fairpointe Focused Equity Fund – which places star manager Thyra Zerhusen solely in charge of a struggling small fund – is interesting and the announcement that Salim Hart and Sam Chamovitz are the managers of Fidelity Low-Priced Stock Fund was briefly terrifying (the announcement did not make clear that Mr. Tillinghast remained). Jamie Harmon, has, however, Continue reading →

fountain pen writing a note

Briefly Noted . . .

By David Snowball

On April 20, 2017, UMB announced that it signed an agreement to sell Scout Investments and Reams Asset Management to Carillon Tower Adviser, a wholly owned subsidiary of Raymond James. In announcing its 2016 creation, James described Carillon as “new company to provide transparency and create efficiencies among its asset management firms.” As I note in our story on the Morningstar interviews, Carillon wasn’t particularly transparent and the guy representing Scout was curt to the point of being rude.

Sentinel Asset Management has agreed to sell its mutual funds to Touchstone. Details aren’t yet available.

The previously announced plan to Continue reading →