May 3, 2020

By David Snowball

It’s May.

Welcome to the Mutual Fund Observer’s ninth anniversary edition. When we first launched in 2011, Chip cautiously observed that the average independent website had a six-week lifespan and a median visitor of … one.

We appear to have beaten the averages by 462 weeks and 1,812,027 readers.

Our decade of readership looks remarkably like the rhythm Continue reading →

The Young Investor’s Baptism by Fire: 2020 and the market beyond

By David Snowball

“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11

“Making far more than a single statement, Cantigny was the doughboys’ baptism by fire, and for those who survived, it became the crucible by which they would measure all subsequent experience, in large-scale fighting at Soissons and the grand Meuse-Argonne offensive … May 28, 1918, was the US military’s coming-of-age—the day it crossed a historical no-man’s-land that separated contemporary fighting methods from the muskets and cannon of the nineteenth century. Continue reading →

Back To Basics

By Charles Boccadoro

“All NAVs are opinions.” ― Richard Jacobs

While March was one of the most turbulent months on record for the S&P 500, with real-estate and oil sectors acutely affected, investors in fixed-income also experienced a rough ride. Funds reaching for yield were hardest hit, especially those employing leverage. There are plenty such funds, driven by a seemingly never-ending period of zero-interest-rate policy.

Warnings of the Continue reading →

The Sparrow’s Revenge

By Edward A. Studzinski

“The only way to success in American public life lies in flattering and kowtowing to the mob.” H.L. Mencken, “On Being an American” (1922)

Plague Investing

A question with which I am regularly peppered (and which I usually decline to answer) is how one should invest during this rather chaotic time. The short answer – circumstances continue to evolve so much, both from a public Continue reading →

Rules Based Investing – Rule #5 Understand the Impact of Taxes on Investments

By Charles Lynn Bolin

Matthew Kenigsberg, Vice President of Investment & Tax Solutions at Fidelity Investments, summarizes the benefits of managing the impact of taxes on investments well in “Are you invested in the right kind of accounts?”

“You can’t control market returns, and you can’t control tax law, but you can control how you use accounts that offer tax advantages—and good decisions about their use can add significantly to your bottom line…” Continue reading →

What I’m thinking

By Chip

I’m so grateful to have stable employment in a position that allowed me to – quickly and fairly painlessly – pivot to a work from home model. I have not yet encountered a task that couldn’t be completed remotely. As a matter of fact, I think I’m being more productive than ever, as we puzzle through various scenarios for offering community college classes over the summer and into the fall semester.

I find my emotions Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Eric Cinnamond and Jayme Wiggins, Palm Valley Capital Fund (PVCMX)

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.

Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Grandeur Peak US Stalwarts Institutional (GUSYX)

By David Snowball

On March 19, 2020, Grandeur Peak launched the U.S. Stalwarts (GUSYX) fund, the third of their “alumni funds.” U.S. Stalwarts will invest primarily in U.S. companies with market caps at the time of purchase of $1.5 billion or more. The fund’s first portfolio disclosure reflects those emphases: 84% US and 75% mid- to large-cap stocks.

Grandeur Peak, founded in 2011 by emigres from Wasatch Advisers which is located four miles down Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Matthews Asia Emerging Markets Equity (MEGMX/MIEFX)

By David Snowball

On April 30, Matthews Asia launched its Emerging Markets Equity Fund. In parsing the name, please note that “Asia” modifies “Matthews,” rather than “Emerging Markets.” That is, this will be the first global equity fund in the Matthews lineup. While this is not the first time that Matthews has considered a fund with global reach (Mr. Matthews and Andrew Foster discussed it a decade ago), this is the first time that the Matthews strategy map encompasses the whole Continue reading →

great horned owl

Bruce Fund (BRUFX), May 2020

By David Snowball

Objective and strategy

The fund seeks long-term gains which it pursues through a primarily domestic stock and bond portfolio. The managers will invest as heavily in stocks as the market warrants, which might be 40% and it might be near 80%. The equity portfolio is not constrained by market capitalization but the managers prefer small cap stocks. The bond portfolio is primarily convertible and long-dated “zero coupon” corporate bonds. The managers might invest in distressed securities, both in the equity and fixed-income portfolios. They may be “a large cash position for a transitional period of time.” At the start of the 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, Funds in Registration gives you a peek into the new product pipeline. Most funds currently in registration are in a scramble to launch by June 30th with the hope that having a “standard reporting period” to share with investors sooner. Continue reading →

old alarm clock

Manager Changes

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 and 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. (Sorry guys.)

And so each month we track Continue reading →

fountain pen writing a note

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball


Chicago Equity Partners Balanced (MBEAX) no more. MBEAX has been a splendid performer that mixed high-quality, larger US stocks (93% mid- to mega-cap) with investment-grade bonds (99.5% BBB or above, at last reading). Effective April 17, 202, it became the AMG GW&K Global Allocation Fund (MBEAX) with a new name, new team, and new discipline. The portfolio shifts from domestic to global in both its equity and bond sleeves.

Investors should treat this as Continue reading →