Tag Archives: Craig Lazzara

Concentration Concerns

Readers of this morning’s Wall Street Journal learned (on the front page, no less) that many of the largest investors in the U.S. equity market hold similar portfolios.  “The overlap in the top 50 stockholdings between mutual funds and hedge funds…now stands at near-record levels, a study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch found.”  An Read more […]

Buffetted Performance

Tomorrow, Warren Buffett and 30,000 of his closest friends will gather in Omaha for Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting.  The loyalty of long-term Berkshire shareholders is the stuff of legend, as is the investment performance that produced it.  $100 invested in Berkshire stock at the end of 1968 would have grown to more than $850,000 by Read more […]

Performance Trickery, part 2

Here is a 22-year history of a (hypothetical) actively-managed portfolio and its benchmark: Results have been decisively mediocre. The portfolio outperformed in only five years out of 22, for a hit rate of 22.7%. Its cumulative return (68.2%) lagged that of the benchmark (74.0%), and its volatility was higher (4.79% vs. 4.25%). The manager’s marketing department Read more […]

Active Management for Volatile Times?

This morning brought a report that “retail investors have returned to Wall Street, pouring money into mutual funds focused on US equities for the first time since early 2015, according to data from TrimTabs Investment Research…. ‘Maybe people think, in times of higher volatility, active managers will do a better job,’ Winston Chua, an analyst Read more […]

Momentum Bubble Deflating?

Yesterday’s decline in the U.S. and global stock markets is striking not simply because of its magnitude but also because it represents a radical reversal of factor returns from the first three quarters of 2018. Readers of our quarterly factor dashboard will recognize this graph, which shows the total return of the S&P 500 and Read more […]

Performance Trickery

Suppose you, as a hypothetical financial advisor, encounter a hypothetical marketer who presents the following hypothetical performance data: Last Year Trailing 3 Years Trailing 5 Years Trailing 10 Years Portfolio 25.0% 11.9% 16.0% 8.8% Benchmark 21.8% 11.4% 15.8% 8.5% Not only did the portfolio beat its benchmark handily in 2017, says our marketer, but it Read more […]

Proximate Cause

Our colleagues at S&P Global Market Intelligence recently completed a paper analyzing the impact of exchange-traded funds on stock-level pricing.  Their work found that “…the impact of ETF trading is transient and of only a modest magnitude under even extreme assumptions” (my italics).  This conclusion is a rebuttal to critics who believe that the growth Read more […]

The Skew Is Not New

Market observers have noted that the S&P 500’s performance so far this year has been dominated by a small number of technology stocks.  This observation is certainly correct, although it’s fair to question the relevance of a statistic based on fewer than two months’ data.  What’s more important is to bear in mind that this Read more […]

Getting What You Pay For

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal featured a long article arguing that Morningstar’s star ratings for mutual funds were a “mirage.”   Since these ratings exert a powerful influence over fund flows, their usefulness is obviously of keen interest to investors.  To its credit, Morningstar, although arguing that its ratings are a “worthwhile starting point,” Read more […]

Capitalization and Its Discontents

Last week, readers of the Financial Times were regaled by suggestions that capitalization-weighted index funds were “hugely biased,” “undiversified,” and “too trusting of the market’s judgment on a handful of very large stocks.”  Criticisms of cap weighting aren’t new, of course, and at least in the near term seem not to have been very effective Read more […]