Augustana in autumn

October 1, 2017

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

It’s finally fall, my favorite season of the year. The heat abates, the garden quiets, the apples ripen.  Chip and I will soon venture north to Wisconsin for leaf peeking and visits to orchards. You’d be amazed at the variety of flavors found in apples; there are about 200 varieties grown in the US, with the average grocery store stocking just a half dozen (including that flavorless favorite, Red Delicious). You’ve still got time to do better. In the Midwest, anyway, October is the month for Haralson and King David, Golden Russet and Creston, Enterprise and Voyager. Heck, you might find a few Lura Red or Wolf Rivers left, if you’re Continue reading →

The Story without a title

By David Snowball

In journalism, the headlines you read are generally an afterthought, crafted by a headline writer – not the story’s author – to fit the available space and grab attention. For us, story titles function differently: they’re “framing devices,” which we write early and which help us figure out how to explain the entire story.

This is “the story without a title,” because I’ve got Continue reading →

Morningstar ETF Conference – Chicago 2017

By Charles Boccadoro

If someone invented levitation tomorrow, it would still take five years to catch on.

             Alan H. Epstein

The last panel, entitled “Meet the Pundits,” enjoyed a winner’s circle atmosphere this year. It included Barron’s Crystal Kim, Morningstar’s Ben Johnson, Matt Hougan of Inside ETFs , Tom Lydon of ETF Trends , and Continue reading →

“One for the Gipper”

By Edward A. Studzinski

“There is much to be said in favor of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.” Oscar Wilde

A recurring theme in investment letters, usually when one suspects that performance or personnel issues (often directly related) need to be glossed over, is a discussion about the need to have “team players” in the investment management and research process. Now there were hedge funds, such as Tiger Management in its heyday and Maverick Capital which used to make a virtue of recruiting former athletes in high school or Continue reading →

Rolling Averages, Finally!

By Charles Boccadoro

Maybe the mind’s best trick of all was to lead its owner to a feeling of certainty about inherently uncertain things.

        Michael Lewis’ The Undoing Project

Took a while, but we’ve finally added rolling average analysis to the MFO Premium site.

The new Rolling Averages tool provides insight into how returns vary for selected rolling periods of interest. Each period overlaps the next, separated by one month, across the life of the fund. This insight is especially important when establishing expectations based on an investor’s risk tolerance and time-line, as it reveals Continue reading →

The wise reader’s two most important words. “Uh, no.”

By David Snowball

Having concluded that we’re not willing to pay for the services of professional journalists and editors, we’re increasingly getting what we paid for: stories written by robots, amateurs, dilettantes and self-interested parties posing as journalists. Here’s my monthly roundup of stories that made my head hurt, plus one opening note on Continue reading →

Elevator Talk: Ryan Caldwell, Chiron Capital Allocation Fund (CCAPX)

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.

The good news is that, as a concept, “world allocation funds” makes Continue reading →

Launch Alert: Artisan Global Discovery Fund (APFDX)

By David Snowball

On August 21, 2017, Artisan Partners launched a near-clone of their very successful Artisan Global Opportunities Fund (ARTRX). Artisan organizes their managers into eight autonomous teams, with each team supported by an analyst corps and responsible for one or more funds. Global Discovery will be managed by the Growth team, which is also responsible for Global Opportunities, Mid Cap (ARTMX) and Continue reading →

Manager changes, September 2017

By Chip

Thirty funds saw complete or partial manager changes, which is a very modest talent. Most months see between 50-70 changes. The most consequential are the changes coming to the Third Avenue funds. The best description we have is that a bunch of the guys hired by founder Marty Whitman were purged during the Barse years. With Mr. Barse’s unceremonious departure, a number of his acolytes have now been shown the door, including “Chip” Rewey, the amiable soul hired to right the ship three years ago. In place of the recent departees, some of the previously purged folks have returned. No word from Mr. Whitman, now 93 and described by Forbes as Continue reading →

Funds in registration

By David Snowball

It’s been a quiet month in the land of new fund registrations. There are ten new (mostly) no-load retail funds in the pipeline, as well as a half dozen loaded funds (which I’m mostly ignoring) and a slew of ETFs. The most intriguing development is the question, who’s offering the most pointless ETF? Candidates are the ProShares Decline of Bricks and Mortar Retail ETF which will surely compete with the ProShares Long Clicks/Short Bricks Retail ETF while the USCF Contango-Killer Natural Gas Fund (No K-1) takes on Continue reading →

Briefly noted

By David Snowball

I’ve lost track of many of the funds that we profiled back in the FundAlarm days. This month one surfaced, Capital Advisors Growth Fund (CIAOX), and it was awfully nice to see that (a) they’re still providing exactly what they promised long ago – cautious equity exposure with no glitz – and (b) we were right, nine years ago, in assessing it as an exceptionally solid citizen for equity investors interested in sleeping well at night.

Briefly the number of mutual funds liquidating matched the number of ETFs liquidating, then September 29th came around and Continue reading →