Tag Archives: U.S. Equity Market

Sector Dispersion and Active Management

Market volatility is a function of both dispersion and correlation, as shown in this schematic: Dispersion measures the degree to which the components of an index perform similarly.  If the components are tightly bunched, dispersion will be low and, other things equal, the index’s volatility will be low.  Correlation is a measure of timing; it measures Read more […]

Infrastructure Preferreds, +4.96% YTD

Over a three-year period, the annualized returns of the U.S. preferred market have been more bond-like than equity-like.  The S&P U.S. Preferred Stock Index had a three-year annualized return of 7.95% as of March 27, 2015 while long U.S. Treasury bonds have returned 8.14% in the same period.  Meanwhile, the three-year annualized return of the Read more […]

Dreams to Sell

If there were dreams to sell, a poet asked, what would you buy?  Much more prosaically, if you could design your dream investment process, what would it look like? A simple way to think about the question is to separate success into two dimensions: frequency and magnitude.  Frequency means how often we “win” (i.e., how Read more […]

The Value of Skill

2014 was an extraordinarily difficult year for active equity managers, especially in the U.S. market; our year-end SPIVA report, e.g., showed that 86% of large-cap equity funds underperformed the S&P 500.  This observation is hardly unique, nor original to us.  What’s unusual about 2014’s results is that the rate of failure was extraordinarily high — between 2000 Read more […]

Too Much Indexing?

Active management is difficult; most of its practitioners underperform passive indices most of the time; and 2014 was a particularly tough year.  Not surprisingly, active managers are not touting last year’s performance.  Instead, the pitch for active management increasingly cites its putative social benefits — arguing, e.g. that “Markets are efficient only because active managers buy underpriced Read more […]

Crisis and Opportunity

Last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal carried an excellent list of “16 Rules for Investors to Live By.”  I was particularly impressed by rule #1: “All past market crashes are viewed as opportunities, but all future market crashes are viewed as risks.”  Serendipitously, the 16 rules followed close on the heels of our latest white paper, which deals with Read more […]

No Big Deal

Twenty years from now, some bright young analyst looking at data for the U.S. stock market could be excused for thinking that the S&P 500’s 2.4% total return for October 2014 was no big deal – just one more routine good month in a long bull run.  If the analyst is particularly inquisitive, he might Read more […]

Sorry, Wrong Number

Last week brought yet another indication that 2014 is proving to be a very difficult environment for active stock selection strategies.  With the majority of large cap U.S. equity managers underperforming the S&P 500, “only performances in 2006, 2010 and 2011 have been as bad or worse than the current year’s pace.” Well, in any Read more […]

Back to the Future for Small-caps

Suppose you were a financial advisor during the height of the financial crisis in the first quarter of 2009, and you presciently theorized that the market was bottoming as Federal Reserve policies and emergency U.S. Treasury rescue programs took hold to reestablish confidence in capital markets. Your theory was to favor small-cap stocks because you Read more […]

High Yield Gives Up Ground To Investment Grade

After having risen 19 basis points the first week of July, the yield on the S&P/BGCantor Current 10 Year U.S. Treasury Bond Index dropped 20 basis points from the July 3rd 2.72% to its current 2.52%, offsetting the initial increase.  The move up in yield to start July was the largest weekly jump since last Read more […]