Category Archives: Equities

Why are active managers lagging?

In late 2013 and early 2014, we heard considerable chatter about the coming “stock picker’s market.”  2014 would favor stock selection strategies, it was said, because intra-market correlation was falling as macro-economic risks receded.  This morning’s Wall Street Journal reports that the contrary view — that low levels of stock market dispersion would make 2014 an Read more […]

Creating a Performance Tailwind

Some stock selection schemes seem silly.  This weekend’s Wall Street Journal reports the results of two hypothetical portfolios which are clearly intended to be nonsensical.  One example, the so-called “Graham and Buffett Portfolio” comprises stocks whose ticker symbols consist only of the letters found in the names “Benjamin Graham” and “Warren Buffett.”  Silly it may sound, but Read more […]

Average Performance

This morning’s Wall Street Journal advised us that the performance of many large institutional investors has lagged that of the equity market since the beginning of the recovery five years ago.  The Journal attributed this performance gap to institutions’ moves into alternative investment categories such as hedge funds and private equity.  The explanation may be Read more […]

Even Worse Than You Think

It’s commonly recognized that the average active manager underperforms the market. There are good theoretical reasons why this should be true, and ample empirical evidence that it is true. On average during the last ten years, e.g., 59% of large-cap U.S. equity managers lagged the S&P 500, with comparably poor results for mid- and small-cap Read more […]

Caught between a rock and hard place – Congress

Caught between a rock and hard place – Congress, and in an election year no less (definitely a commentary, and not a company endorsed position) Congress needs money – to spend (extending existing programs), and raising taxes only tends to be popular when the payer doesn’t pay taxes (or pays very little) or doesn’t contribute Read more […]

Buying A Tail Wind For EPS

Commentary (ain’t no bodies opinion but my own): Companies reached into their deep pockets this quarter and spent an extra $30 billion more than the prior quarter on buybacks, buying more than they issued and reducing their share count Takeaway: companies bought a tail wind for EPS, in a quarter when they needed it most Read more […]

Is Small The New Big?

The recent launch of our S&P Dow Jones Indices India Index Dashboard brought to my notice the S&P BSE Small Cap Index. While the month’s report card was mostly green for the Indian indices due to the optimism in the Indian stock markets, the S&P BSE Small Cap Index did shine through. The S&P BSE Small Read more […]

The Power of Blind Luck

This is a story about the power of randomness, and its application to investing. A good few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Bob “The Rock” Cooper. Bob, an otherwise unassuming sales manager from London, had just won the world championship in the princely sport of “Rock Paper Scissors”. Yes, there is such a Read more […]

Risk On, Risk On

Central banks do more than set interest rates in an attempt to guide the economy. They also push and prod market psychology to move the economy in the direction they think best. Easy money and low interest rates send messages to take risks, spend money, boost a slow economy and be confident that the central Read more […]

Quality: A Distinct Equity Factor?

Size, momentum, volatility and value have all been shown to be partly responsible for explaining equity returns over the long run but they do not seem to fully capture the returns of some companies. This has therefore given credence to the idea that a fifth factor – quality – exists and, when combined with other Read more […]