October 1, 2021

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Welcome to autumn. Or, at least, our current attempt at autumn. Temperatures here in Iowa remain in the 80s and there’s only the barest hint of typical autumnal weather: a bit cooler nights, pumpkins studding the fields, the steady flow of apples out of the orchards, and bits of color emerging on the maples.

And, speaking of pumpkins it’s time to celebrate  … Continue reading →

A Leap of Faith – MICUS Chicago 2021

By Charles Boccadoro

The Welcome
Last week Morningstar’s CEO Kunal Kapoor welcomed 700 in-person attendees to Chicago and the Morningstar Investment Conference [MICUS 2021, the “US” short for United States]. This was the first such in-person event since before COVID. Another 1400 attended virtually. This hybrid approach to conferencing likely signals the way forward.

While many 2021 events were being rescheduled or canceled because of the unexpected Delta variant surge, Morningstar pressed on. And it was so welcomed! [Literally, attendees could watch the sunrise over Lake Michigan Continue reading →

Time to take out the trash: 25 huge funds with serious questions

By David Snowball

It is unfair and irrational to judge a fund solely on its total returns, much less on whether it has managed to “beat the market” lately. The former concern ignores a long series of important questions, the most important of which is “how much risk does the strategy expose you to in exchange for those returns?” Many would argue that receiving 20% of the market’s gains is great if you bear only 10% of its risk, and that’s what you signed up for in the first place.

The latter concern is simply lunatic. Rational people do not invest with the goal of beating the market. Rational people invest with the goal of ending up with resources that match or exceed their needs. If you beat the market ten years straight and your resources are less than your needs, you have lost. If you trail the market ten years straight and your resources exceed your needs, you have won. Continue reading →

Comparing Fidelity Strategic and Multi-Asset Income Funds (FADMX, FMSDX, FSRRX)

By Charles Lynn Bolin

This article takes a closer look at Fidelity Advisor Multi-Asset Income (FMSDX/FAYZX), Fidelity Strategic Real Return (FSRRX), and Fidelity Advisor Strategic Income (FADMX/FSIAX) which I have identified in previous articles as funds with high risk-adjusted-performance. They are managed by Adam Kramer, Ford O’Neil, and a strong team of co-managers.

This article continues the theme from the long-term trends identified in Retrospection Is a Hard Metric to Match. Recently Lance Roberts wrote Deficit Deniers & 40-Years of Economic Erosion covering the same 40 year period but emphasizes Continue reading →

Between Scylla and Charybdis

By Edward A. Studzinski

“What is this optimism?” asked Cacambo.
“Alas!” said Candide, “it is the madness of maintaining that everything is right when it is wrong.”

~ Voltaire, Candide: or, The Optimist (1762)

Suffice it to say that September was not an easy month for equity investors. The equity markets entered the month overextended in terms of valuation metrics. And by the Continue reading →

Launch Alert: CrossingBridge Pre-Merger SPAC ETF

By David Snowball

On September 17, 2021, CrossingBridge Advisors, LLC, launched their actively managed Pre-Merger SPAC ETF (SPC). CrossingBridge, primarily an institutional/high net worth advisor located in Pleasantville, New York, has approximately $970 million in assets under management and is responsible for the CrossingBridge Low Duration High Yield, CrossingBridge Ultra-Short Duration, and the CrossingBridge Responsible Credit funds.

While the buzz surrounding SPACs is that they are a high-risk, get-rich-quick scheme, the CrossingBridge fund is 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. This month brings 33 new products into the pipeline, most of which will launch by the end of late November.

French historian Jean Francois Marmontel (1723-99) coined, and the American agitator Thomas Paine (in The Age of Reason, 1793) popularized, the phrase “from the ridiculous to the sublime.” This month’s offerings perfectly capture that sentiment, ranging at they do from a bunch of marketing confections destined for Continue reading →

old alarm clock

Manager changes, September 2020

By Chip

Each month we track changes to the management teams of actively managed, equity-oriented funds and ETFs. That excludes index funds and most fixed income funds. The index fund exclusion is pretty straightforward: in a passive fund, the managers are interchangeable cogs whose presence or absence is almost always inconsequential to the fund’s performance.

Similarly, most bond fund managers have a very limited ability to add value. Over the past ten years, for instance, the top-performing Core Bond fund Continue reading →

fountain pen writing a note

Briefly Noted…

By David Snowball


And the beat goes on. Five more mutual funds are becoming ETFs. On October 22, 2021, the Adaptive Fundamental Growth Fund, Adaptive Hedged High Income Fund, Adaptive Hedged Multi-Asset Income Fund, Adaptive Tactical Outlook Fund, and Adaptive Tactical Rotation Fund will be converted into the AI Quality Growth ETF, Adaptive High Income ETF, RH Hedged Multi-Asset Income ETF, RH Tactical Outlook ETF, and RH Tactical Rotation ETF, respectively. While the names and structure change, the investment strategies do not.

DFA is dancing to that very beat. Two more active DFA mutual funds have converted to ETFs: Dimensional International value ETF (DIV) and Dimensional DFA World ex US Core Equity 2 ETF (DFAX). That brings the DFA tally to Continue reading →