Displaying items by tag: small caps
As part of our ongoing coverage of the best funds we found and met with at the recent Inside ETFs conference, we want to today suggest our readers take a look at TTAC, TrimTabs Asset Management’s US-focused quality ETF. The fund is predicated on providing investors with the highest quality stocks. In order to do so, TrimTabs focuses on free cash flow, strong balance sheets, and reducing share count. Free cash flow is a particularly important component as it is one of the hardest for companies to doctor, meaning it is a reliable indicator of quality. In order to implement this strategy, the fund uses a quantitative rules-based approach with human overlays that allow for flexibility in terms of sectors, industries, and market caps. TTAC seeks to outperform the Russell 3000 by holding the 100 companies in the index which best embody its investment criteria. The fund has about $125m in AUM and has an expense ratio of 0.59%.
FINSUM: We were very impressed by the folks at TrimTabs. Not only does the CIO, Theodore (Ted) Theodore have the best name in the business, but their enduring passion for their strategy was compelling. We feel this fund has a smart approach and is very competently managed. Definitely worth a look.
Here is potentially good news for investors—the market’s start to this year has been the best since 1987. Both the S&P and Russell have risen considerably in the first 12 sessions of the year, with the former jumping 8.8%. The best start since ’87 sounds good, except that 1987 rivals 2008 as having the worst reputation with investors (shares fell almost 23% in a single day in October 1987). Analysts are urging caution, especially on small caps, as the gains don’t seem sustainable given the huge buildup in leverage that has occurred in small companies over the last few years.
FINSUM: The parallel to 1987 is completely irrelevant, as it is really only based on the percentage gain over 12 sessions.
Small caps are in a major rut. The Russell 2000 peaked in August and is now on the verge of a bear market since then. Interestingly, small caps have fallen farther than their larger peers despite the fact that they are insulated from headwinds like the trade war. So how to pick them? The answer is to stay away from indexes and actually choose individual shares whose fundamental outlooks appear brighter than benchmarks. For instance, one fund manager says that investors should choose “quality value stocks” with “with high free-cash-flow yield, low net debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, or Ebitda, and below-market volatility”.
FINSUM: Small caps are a hugely diverse sector and some shares will inevitably have bright outlooks no matter what else may be going on in the market. The issue, of course, is the time and selection necessary to find such shares. Perhaps actively managed small cap value funds are a good bet?
Investors looking for signs of trouble have no shortage to examine. However, one that might have escaped notice is that small caps are on the brink of a full blown bear market. The Russell 2000 has fallen a whopping 17% since its all-time high close on August 31st. The S&P 500, for comparison, is off 10%.
FINSUM: This is really interesting because it doesn’t make much sense. Both the trade war and the economic situation are more favorable to small caps than their larger peers, yet they are falling more sharply.
One of the guiding mantras of small cap investing has always been that small caps tend to outperform their larger peers over the long-term. While always cyclical, small caps have outperformed large caps over the last several decades. However, in recent years that has all changed. In fact, since 2005, the relative performance between the two share classes has been trendless, with no discernible relationship. This is directly counter to the almost century-long trend that preceded it. One CIO explained the change this way, saying “Market-cap tilts have historically been about catching, and riding, strong and persistent performance waves … Over the last 13 years, in an unconventional fashion, the opportunities to add performance from cap tilts have been relatively small and have required frequent and expert timing”.
FINSUM: Interesting change for small caps. We suspect the change has to do with a combination of the pre-Crisis boom and the extraordinary liquidity thereafter.