Diversification has been called the only free lunch in investing. Many investors consider total-market funds, such as Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX), to be not only the most efficient (based on modern financial theory and, specifically, the efficient markets hypothesis) but also the most diversified. Leaving aside the question of whether Vanguard’s fund is the most efficient portfolio, let’s evaluate whether it’s the most diversified.
The evidence is overwhelming that past performance is a poor predictor of active managers’ performance. Studies have found that, beyond a year or two, there is little evidence of performance persistence. A newly published academic study reveals why it’s so hard for active managers to persistently beat a benchmark.
To see how well Janus’ actively managed funds have performed for its investors, I’ll compare the results of its actively managed equity funds to those of index funds from Vanguard and the structured asset class funds of DFA.
Previously, I analyzed the performance of some of the leading and largest actively managed mutual funds that focus on high-dividend strategies. Today, I’ll examine the strategy of investing in companies that have shown persistent growth in dividends.
While it is not yet resolved whether the low-volatility and low-beta anomalies can be fully explained by exposures to other well-known factors, their popularity certainly has changed the valuation metrics of low-volatility stocks. At the very least, this should raise a flag of caution for investors who have been enticed by the historical data.
Low-vol strategies have attracted a lot of attention, in part because they portend to offer investors a free lunch – higher returns with lower volatility. But they carry hidden risks that every investor must understand.
Given the heightened interest in dividend strategies, I’ll take a look at how some of the leading providers of actively managed dividend-based strategies have performed.