Meb Faber Interviews Larry Swedroe – A Must Listen

Head over to the Mebfaber.com website and listen to a master class on factor investing (smart beta).  Two of the best quantitative researchers on the subject do a deep dive into their findings and how most investors don’t implement the strategy correctly.

Larry believes there are 5 rules to help you evaluate factors: 1) Is the factor “persistent” across long periods of times and regimes? 2) Is it “pervasive”? For instance, does it works across industries, regions, capital structures and so on. 3) Is it “robust”? Does it hold up on its own, and not as a result of data mining? 4) Is it “intuitive”? For instance, is there an explanation? 5) Lastly, it has to be “implementable,” and able to survive trading costs.

The guys then switch to beta. Larry mentions how valuations have been rising over the last century. He references how CAPE has risen over a long period, and points out how some people believe this signifies a bubble. But Larry thinks this rising valuation is reasonable, and tells us why. Meb adds that investors are willing to pay a higher multiple on stocks in low-interest rate environments such as the one we’re in.Next, Meb directs the conversation toward a sacred cow of investing – dividends. He asks about one particular quote from Larry’s book: “Dividends are not a factor.” Larry pulls no punches, saying, “there is literally no logical reason for anyone to have a preference for dividends…” He believes investors over overpaying for dividend stocks today. He thinks it’s unfortunate the Fed has pushed investors to search for yield, inadvertently taking on far more risk. Dividend stocks are not alternatives to safe income. There’s plenty more on this topic you’ll want to hear.

Source: Episode #28: Larry Swedroe “There is Literally No Logical Reason for Anyone to Have a Preference for Dividends” | Meb Faber Research – Stock Market and Investing Blog

A Squandered Opportunity

This is from the Wall Street Journal this week and it is absurd.  Millennials are missing out on the greatest edge they have investing – time.

Source: Start Now

Third Quarter 2016 Asset Class Returns

Asset Class Index Performance YTD 2016
Emerging Markets MSCI EM 13.8%
REITs NAREIT Equity REIT Index 13.13%
High Yield Bonds Barclays Global HY Index 14.49%
US Bonds Barclays Aggregate 5.8%
US Large Cap S&P 500 7.84%
Commodities Bloombery Commodity Index 8.63%
Developed Intl. Markets MSCI EAFE -.85%
US Small Cap Russell 2000 11.46%

Want a Hedge Fund Job? Knowing About Wavelets Improves Your Odds

Hedge funds that have relied on people to make bets are hiring quants like never before in search of answers to lackluster returns. They’re playing catch-up to firms such as Renaissance Technologies and Two Sigma Investments, among the leaders in using complex mathematical models for investing.

Source: Want a Hedge Fund Job? Knowing About Wavelets Improves Your Odds – Bloomberg

How do the Mechanics of Negative Interest Rates Work?

Do bond holders that have a negative yield  pay the issuer?

chart-interest-option1

Now let’s look at an example with negative yields. If you buy the same bond at $101, and it matures a year later at $100, then your yield is -1%. You paid more for the bond than you received back when the bond matured, and you didn’t receive any coupon payments along the way. And this same mechanic can work for a bond that pays coupons. Say there is another bond that pays a $1 coupon in one year, along with the $100 you get back in maturity proceeds, in total you get $101. If you pay $102 for that bond today, then in a year you have again earned a yield of around -1%. You paid $102 in return for total cash flows of ($100+$1) = $101.

Source:  How do negative interest rates work?

Day to Day Noise in the Markets – Brexit Edition

“It is easy to confuse day-to-day noise with actual and significant signals. If you are merely reacting to the latest market action, then what you have is not a plan — you have an instinctual, fear-driven reaction, and it’s the makings of a disaster.”

Source: The Big Picture – Macro Perspective on the Capital Markets, Economy, Geopolitics, Technology, and Digital Media

Sequoia Fund Bails Out of Valeant Pharmaceuticals and You Don’t Have to Make Your Money Back in the Stock You Lost it In

Our new leadership elected to sell our position in Valeant Pharmaceuticals, exiting completely by mid-June. Valeant was our largest position to start the year and its 80% decline through June 30 badly penalized our results. – Sequoia Fund Shareholder Letter

Sequoia Fund management’s decision to finally exit their stake in Valeant Pharmaceuticals ends a painful almost year long slide in their biggest position and what was at one time their best performing holding.

Sequoia was an early investor in the Mike Pearson era Valeant.  A strong believer in what they saw as a savvy manager who took a value approach to buying healthcare assets and wringing efficiency from them.   Sequoia started purchasing Valeant in early 2010, probably at prices in the mid teens, and by the end of the year the position accounted for 10% of the funds assets.  At year end they already had a gain of 78%.  A fantastic return on investment in less than one year and a big boost to the fund’s performance.

The fund managers continued to build a position over the next five years and were enjoying the outperformance the stock added to the fund’s returns.  By 2015 the position reached 20% of the fund’s assets and Sequoia also became Valeant’s single largest shareholder.

Then in August of 2015 the position began to lose money.  You can’t fault the fund managers for sitting on the position while the stock declined in August along with the rest of the global markets. Continue reading