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If you enjoy my #CFA2010 tweets…

…you may also enjoy my free monthly e-newsletter with practical tips for your client communications. You’ll also find at least one investment or wealth management article. 

I often report on presentations to the Boston Security Analysts Society, so you know you’ll see topics of interest to CFA charterholders.

Topics in the May 2010 issue included

  • Watch out for inflation, says veteran value investor, Jean-Marie Eveillard
    Treasurys vs. Treasuries–Which is the right spelling? 
  • How to guest-blog on personal finance or investing 
  • Poll: How do you sign your business emails? 
  • Last month’s reader poll about ghostbloggers 
  • Morgan Creek Capital’s Yusko on investing

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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Small-cap investing opportunities according to Artio’s Dedio

“Opportunities in Smallcap Investing” was the title of the presentation that Samuel Dedio, head of US equities for Artio Global Management, delivered to the 2010 annual conference of the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts. The growth of options trading was his most interesting theme, in my opinion. By the way, if you don’t recognize the name Artio Global Management, it was formerly Julius Baer. 

Where the opportunities lie 
Dedio identified opportunities in financials sector, including regional banks, online brokerage companies, and insurance. He figures that “industry consolidation and stimulus spending may potentially benefit this area.” 

Industrials and materials stocks will benefit from emerging markets’ demand. For example, Dedio likes silver, where supply is not keeping up with demand. Compared with gold, silver has many more industrial applications, yet it trades at a discount to gold.

In healthcare, Dedio likes companies that can help implement cost savings. This means companies in diagnostics, medical technology, pharmaceuticals, and home healthcare providers.

The survivors of the 2009 shakeout in retailers will benefit in 2010. “We expect margins (and earnings) to recover more rapidly than in prior cycles,” wrote Dedio in the consumer discretionary section of his handout.

Finally, in technology, Dedio focused on the undervalued importance of semiconductors. 

Options: Why online brokerage may thrive 
Dedio particularly likes online brokerage companies with exposure to options trading as a play on demographics and rising interest in making money through options. 

“The younger generation eats it up,” said Dedio, referring to options trading. This is apparently tied to younger investors growing up with computers and to educational efforts by companies such as Think or Swim.

“Don’t 85% of options expire worthless?” asked an audience member. That’s exactly what makes options a great business, according to Dedio. Investors have to buy more options on an ongoing basis. 

Dedio displayed a graph showing that total monthly equity option trading volume has more than doubled since the year 2000. Monthly trading volume, which was under 100 million until January 2004, has been  200 million–and sometimes exceeded 350 million–during the period January 2008 to September 2009.

Dedio’s one concern about options trading is pricing pressure. However, cost cutters are at a disadvantage in the options arena, where education remains critical. Education requires more robust margins than cost cutters manage.
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Receive a free 32-page e-book with client communications tips when you sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  

Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Morgan Creek Capital’s Yusko on investing

“Alternative Thinking About Investments” was the topic addressed by Mark Yusko, CEO and chief investment officer, Morgan Creek Capital Management, when he spoke at the annual conference of the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts on May 7. Yusko’s wide-ranging talk was provocative and entertaining, with some great one-liners that became tweets that I quote below.


Alternatives deserve more attention

Yusko thinks investors should put more into alternative strategies. A small allocation simply cannot have a big enough impact.

This is a lesson that target date fund (TDF) managers should consider, suggested Ryan Alfred, co-founder and president of BrightScope, in response to my tweet. As he explained,

Going back to Yusko, he also suggested that your clients should have at least one-third of their assets in illiquid investments because such investments “win” after recessions. He’s assuming that your clients have plenty of money that they plan to pass on to others in their wills. Yusko didn’t specify which illiquid assets he was talking about.


Provocative 
Yusko isn’t fond of mainstream media. “Cancel your subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. It’s all wrong, it’s all biased.” He used the example of the war between Russia and Georgia to make his case, mentioning that Morgan Creek pays someone to read Russian newspapers for them. 

Yusko also spoke in favor of high fees. He seemed to suggest that fees rise along with the investment manager’s ability to deliver performance.

Humorous Yusko 
In closing, here is some Yusko humor.


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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Roger Ibbotson attacks asset allocation "folklore"

“The time has come for folklore to be replaced with reality” says Roger Ibbotson in “The Importance of Asset Allocation” in CFA Institute’s Financial Analysts Journal (March/April).

Folklore means “the idea that asset allocation policy explains more than 90 percent of performance,” which is a misinterpretation of the classic 1986 article, “Determinants of Portfolio Performance” by Gary Brinson, Randolph Hood, and Gilbert Beebower, says Ibbotson. 

“Asset allocation is very important, but nowhere near the 90 percent of the variation in return is caused by the specific asset allocation mix,” writes Ibbotson. Rather, active management plays a role equal to that of asset allocation, as shown by “The Equal Importance of Asset Allocation and Active Management,” an article co-authored by Ibbotson with James Xiong, Thomas Idzorek, and Peng Chen in the same issue of the Financial Analysts Journal.

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Receive a free 32-page e-book with client communications tips when you sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  

Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Watch out for inflation, says veteran value manager Jean-Marie Eveillard

Value investing was the focus of the presentation by Jean-Marie Eveillard, senior adviser and board trustee to the First Eagle Funds and senior vice president of First Eagle Investment Management, LLC, to the Boston Security Analysts Society (BSAS) on April 13. Eveillard also opined on the world economic outlook.

Three economic scenarios
Eveillard thinks there are three potential directions for the U.S. from here.
1. A typical post-WWII expansion— In this scenario, the authorities lever up the system again, so we get a three- to five-year expansion, Eveillard said. This would mean that we are still in a post-World War II environment. Eveillard is concerned about the short-term, even speculative orientation of investors in an environment in which equity mutual funds average 100% annual turnover.
2. Japanese-style stagflation–As the private sector continues to deleverage, the U.S. might fall into stagflation similar to that experienced in Japan for the past 20 years. This would happen if lenders don’t want to lend and borrowers don’t want to borrow, despite the government’s efforts to combat their resistance. Eveillard considers this unlikely because, unlike the Japanese, Americans are not resigned to economic stagnation. We’ll act.
3. Negative, unintended consequences including inflation–Eveillard is concerned about the unprecedented scale of the U.S. government’s intervention. This includes a gigantic budget deficit, zero interest rates, and the ballooning of the federal balance sheet.

The third scenario is most likely, said Eveillard, who spoke about the lessons of the Austrian school of economists. The main lesson: If you’re stupid enough to get into a really bad credit boom, you’ll have a bad credit bust. However, the Austrians also say not to do a short-term patch after a bust because you’ll compromise the medium-term and long-term recovery. This seems to be one of the roots of Eveillard’s fear of the third scenario.

But Eveillard’s inflation fears haven’t made him give up on stocks. People make the mistake of thinking that inflation is all bad for stocks, he said. He believes in owning the stocks of companies that are able to raise prices as their costs rise. For example, that’s something that newspapers were able to do back in the 1970s.

Eveillard did not comment on specific stocks that he favors now. “If I knew what my five best ideas were, that’s all I would own,” he quipped.

Benjamin Graham and The Intelligent Investor
Eveillard spent most of his time with the BSAS talking about the history of value investing. For him, the two big names are Benjamin Graham, author of The Intelligent Investor, and well-known investor Warren Buffett.

Graham’s emphasis on the role of humility, caution, and order in investing make sense to Eveillard. He illustrated Graham’s approach to investing as finding a business with an intrinsic value of $50 per share, buying it at $30-$35 per share, and starting to sell it at $40. This is what Warren Buffett called the cigar butt–one puff and it’s over, said Eveillard.

Although Eveillard conceded that Graham’s approach to investing is static and balance sheet-oriented, it still offers opportunities. There are “Ben Graham-type stocks” in Japan, especially among small caps, he said. Because “net cash is greater than market cash…you get the business for less than nothing,” he said.

Warren Buffett added qualitative to quantitative
Benjamin Graham was “all about numbers.” Even today,  value investors all start with companies’ publicly available financial information, and then move on only if they’re satisfied with the public numbers, said Eveillard.

Warren Buffett added qualitative analysis on top of Graham’s quantitative analysis, said Eveillard. For example, Buffett likes companies that have a “moat,” a sustainable competitive advantage.


Comparing Graham and Buffett, Eveillard said that the Graham approach is much less time-consuming, though potentially less rewarding, than the Buffett approach. The First Eagle Funds started out in Graham style, then switched to Buffett’s style after adding the analysts that enabled them to do the necessary research, said Eveillard.


The case for value investing
Eveillard gave two reasons for pursuing value investing. First, it makes sense. Second, it works over time. He doesn’t buy the argument that value investing works only in the U.S. In fact, First Eagle has never opened offices overseas because it doesn’t want to be influenced by how the locals think. Still, he noted, “There are few genuine value investors in the U.S., but even fewer outside the U.S.”


Why so few value investors? For starters, it’s hard work. “Sell-side research is seldom useful” because of its six- to 12-month time horizon, said Eveillard. When your time horizon is five years, it makes a big difference in how you look at a business. That’s why First Eagle’s 11 analysts are “the true heart of our operation,” he said.


The psychological hurdle to value investing is even higher than the research hurdle. It’s not easy sticking with value investing’s long-term time horizon. That’s especially true when it means your investment performance may lag its benchmark in the short-term. First Eagle lost seven out of 10 investors during the period when its performance lagged from Fall 1997 to Spring 2000, said Eveillard.

To be a value investor, “there has to be a willingness on the part of the investor to take the short-term pain.” In addition, you have to be willing to move away from the herd when it’s nearing the cliff, said Eveillard, citing Warren Buffett. Value investing takes a temperament that many lack.

If you’d like to learn more about Eveillard’s views, he’s scheduled to appear on Bloomberg TV on Wed., April 14 April 14 at 5 p.m. EST, according to the First Eagle Funds website.

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The next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors starts April 22. Sign up to receive my free monthly newsletter.Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Question re: client portals–is there a way to capture your emails to clients?

It’s tough to separate investment communications from technology, especially given the strict retention guidelines of the SEC and FINRA. That’s why my ears pricked when an investment manager said that client portals can’t retain emails sent through them. I took that as a challenge.

I discovered that at least one client portal, FamilyOfficeNetwork (FON), satisfies this retention need. 

“FamilyOfficeNetwork does retain messages sent within our portal and they meet the SEC’s retention requirements. We can also have any notification email sent from our system BCC to any email address a firm desires,” wrote FON’s Aaron Pickett in response to my inquiry.

Bill Winterberg, I must thank you again for helping me find an answer to a technology question.

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The next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors” will start in April. For more information, sign up to receive “Information on upcoming classes, workshops, and other events” as well as my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Fidelity’s head of technical research addresses "Where will the stock market go from here?"

Will the bull market continue? 

Investment professionals are always curious. So naturally the question came up during a Q&A session with David Keller, who oversees technical analysis as a managing director of research for Fidelity Investments. The question followed Keller’s March 23 presentation to the Boston Security Analysts Society on “Applying Technical Analysis to a Fundamental Investment Strategy.”

The bottom line: It appears that the market is in an uptrend and the offensive sectors will outperform their defensive peers. 

However, Keller framed his comments cautiously, saying that there is little evidence that the stock market is not in a sustained uptrend. Nor does he see evidence that the market is overbought.

“I can’t say,” replied Keller, when asked to identify his favorite sector. He’s looking at groups that are traditionally considering offensive. “But it’s not as clear cut as in the past,” he said.

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The next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors” will start in April. For more information, sign up to receive “Information on upcoming classes, workshops, and other events” as well as my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Institutional equity research job hunters, check out this site!

If you’re an analyst looking for a job in institutional equity research, you should read the ResearchWatch blog published by Integrity Research.

The blog will help you stay current on trends and players–especially independent research firms–in institutional equity research. Some recent topics included 

You can subscribe to ResearchWatch by email or RSS feed.

Some ammo for job-hunting — and client-seeking — CFA charterholders

Employers–and potential investment management clients–don’t understand why they should hire a CFA charterholder instead of a non-charterholder. That’s the lament of some job-hunting and client-seeking colleagues of mine in the Boston Security Analysts Society.

Fund managers with CFAs take fewer risks than those with MBAs, study says,” an article by Ian McGugan in Canada’s The National Post, provides one reason for choosing a CFA charterholder. Charterholders are going to take fewer risks in portfolios compared to MBAs.

“This result is surprising and may have something to do with the ethics instruction that is part of the CFA course but not most MBA programs,” writes McGugan.

This newspaper article is based on research by Oguzhan C. Dincer of Illinois State University, Russell B. Gregory of Allen Massey University – Department of Commerce, and Hany A. Shawky of SUNY at Albany – School of Business and Center for Institutional Investment Management.

You can download “Are You Smarter than a CFA’er?”  from the SSRN website, where registration may be required. 

Thank you, Matthew Andrade, member of the Calgary CFA Society, for bringing the National Post article to my attention!
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Susan B. Weiner, CFA
If you’re struggling to pump out a steady flow of good blog posts, check out my five-week teleclass for financial advisors, “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read,” and sign up for my free monthly
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Strong words from editor of Financial Analysts Journal

“…I hereby consign the shibboleth of ‘uncorrelated return’ to the scrap heap of asset allocation lingo, where it shall be available only to unscrupulous sellers, credulous buyers, and unschooled investment analysts.”

— Richard M. Ennis, executive editor, Financial Analysts Journal

These strong words from Ennis appeared in in his “Editor’s Corner” entitled “The Uncorrelated Return Myth,Financial Analysts Journal (Nov./Dec. 2009). 

Ennis asserts that “The notion of the existence of ‘uncorrelated return’ assets with handsome risk premiums flies in the face of financial theory and conflicts with empirical evidence.” 

When he says “financial theory,” Ennis is referring to the capital asset pricing model, which accords positive risk premiums to market-correlated assets. He also says that evidence shows that so-called uncorrelated assets such as real estate, hedge funds, and private equity are actually highly correlated with the stock market.

What do YOU think about this topic?