Tag Archives: 2019

Stock Pickers: Hope Springs Eternal

The Wall Street Journal recently quoted several active managers who claim that “conditions for stock picking are improving”. Their rationale is that declining correlations among stocks in the S&P 500 have made it easier for active managers to select stocks based on fundamental analysis. We have heard this argument before, most notably in 2014 when, Read more […]

The Road Less Traveled

It is a truth universally acknowledged that liquidity is critical to market health; typically when liquidity falls, volatility rises.  The Financial Times recently cited claims that the increased use of passive investment vehicles had caused trading volumes in individual S&P 500 constituents to decline.  Should we be alarmed? In reality, the notion that single-stock traders Read more […]

Unicorns: Only in Fairy Tales

“A company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is” -Description of company marketed during the South Sea Bubble (1720) Private companies, particularly those hailing from Silicon Valley and combining just the right mix of buzzwords, have captured both headlines and investor attention.  The media report breathlessly on Read more […]

Happy Birthday to the Communication Services Sector

The Communication Services sector turns one year old on Sept. 24, 2019. A year ago, the Global Industry Classification Standard® (GICS®) replaced the old Telecommunication Services sector with a new Communication Services sector, which combined telecom with some companies that had formerly been classified in the Information Technology and Consumer Discretionary sectors. As a result, Read more […]

Illustrating the Value of Liquidity

Let’s suppose for a moment that you are given a choice between two hypothetical exchange traded funds (ETFs) tracking the same index.  Fund A has an annual management fee of 0.4% while Fund B has an annual management fee of 0.1%.  At first glance, Fund B seems like the better option: it offers similar performance Read more […]

The Importance of Being Large-Cap

The performance of U.S. equity factors during Q2 was lackluster, with most underperforming the S&P 500, as seen in Exhibit 1.  While Minimum Volatility and Low Volatility were notable exceptions, Value, Quality, High Beta, and Momentum all lagged the benchmark – in large part because of their tilt toward smaller companies.  Since most factor indices Read more […]

A Changing Stride for an Ageing Bull

  Taking a cue from Frank Sinatra, the S&P 500® was riding high in April, shot down in May, and got back on top in June.  But the current bull run is feeling its age, and we may be witnessing a change in its stride.  Coming into the end of the quarter (all figures are Read more […]

Mayday, Mayday!

Coming into month-end, and as the street prepares its monthly summaries, (all figures are as of May 29th), the S&P 500 looks set to complete the month with a loss of around 5%.  So, what went wrong?  Global markets started the year very positively: the S&P 500 was up 18% by the end of April, Read more […]

The Height of the Hurdle

Indexing provides many rewards, including a reduction in volatility. Asset owners should demand higher returns to justify the volatility that active management entails. For managers who put their stock selection skills to the test, it is worth understanding the height of the volatility hurdle in managing a portfolio’s risk/return profile. We can illustrate this by Read more […]

Can All the Children be Above Average?

February has been a great month for factor index performance: of the 17 S&P 500®-based factor indices reported in our quarterly factor dashboard, 11 have outperformed the “vanilla” S&P 500 so far.  Our indices focused on quality and shareholder return are having particularly strong months, with the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats®, the S&P 500 Buyback Read more […]