Welcome to Mutual Funds: Janus Unconstrained Bond Class A vs Class C Shares

Sep 29, 2014 in Mutual Funds


We wonder how many investors possibly understand this extremely simple concept.   ETFs do NOT HAVE SHARE CLASSES.   Mutual funds have share classes for one reason -- to make more fees for the fund company and brokers.

Below is image highlighting the tradeoff in 2 classes of Janus Unconstrained Bond Fund.    Bill Gross the manager just manages one large sum and probably doesn't even look to see which share class has the assets --- it doesn't matter to him, he just buys and sells bonds for the aggregate portfolio.   But for investors,  the fund is divided into segments.

In this case,  you could go with Class A shares which have a 4.75% sales front load fee and an expense ratio of 1.08%.    Or you could buy Class C shares and pay no front load --- but pay a 1.83% expense ratio  and owe 1.00% as a back load --- when you sell it you are stuck an extra 1%.

Now think about it from a brokers perspective.   Which do you want your clients to buy?   If you have incentives to push load funds,  perhaps you stick your clients with the A shares because your firm gets that juicy 4.75% upfront fee.     However,  note the 12b1 fees.   Class A has a 0.25% 12b1  and Class C has a 1.00% 12b1 fee.    What is a 12b1 fee?   It's an ongoing kickback from the fund company to any outside broker who puts their clients in that fund.   So for example,  you are a broker that works for a company that is not Janus --- Janus will pay you an ongoing fee forever to keep your clients in it.    That fee is IN ADDITION TO whatever management fee you charge your clients.   The great part about 12b1's is that they are hidden! 

Do ETFs have 12b1 fees?   Nope.     So doesn't that make you wonder, why would a broker ever put a client in an ETF when they can earn 1.00% forever from Janus?  The problem with those silly ETFs is that how do you make any money off them?     Exactly.     This is the very essence of the problem.     Yet ETF assets continue to grow and grow and grow.  How is that?   Because many investment advisors are content with simply charging a straightforward fee and do the right thing and don't buy fees with loads and 12b1's.     Fees like 12b1 fees have been totally outlawed in other countries as too much of a conflict of interest.   But not in the USA.   

That all said,  Janus C shares might be a RELATIVE bargain compared to many hedge funds.    Happy investing.



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CFA Curriculum Type of Blog Post: Reward vs Risk

Jul 02, 2014

When you study finance, you have to first learn the basic fundamentals of portfolio theory. When you eventually move to real life, you quickly realize how theory is only a starting point. Nevertheless, it is useful to know the "book theory" because it provides something of a very basic framework. That said, in the words of the great investor Mike Tyson "Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth." First, here is the look of a list of ETFs that climb up the risk curve.



Note that this was posted on this given date covering this very specific time period. Using those precise assumptions, the book theory held up nearly perfectly -- a line going from lower left to upper right --- more return for more risk. But you have to remember --- that was using some very careful selections. Here is an example of a different time period where equity investors were punched in the mouth, Tyson-style:


The point is that the volatile ETFs that are towards the right side of the chart will be the ones to have large intermediate-term drawdowns and large intermediate-term returns.     The ETFs on the left side will have low drawdowns and low returns.     These are very generic ETFs.    Where this gets much more interesting is when you use other ETFs that track more interesting indices.


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Financials Sector Earnings Per Share

Jul 01, 2014 in Earnings | Sectors

A look at Financial Sector Earnings. 





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Country Funds vs Their Moving Averages

Jun 21, 2014 in Country Funds | moving average

It was interesting to read bearish stories in March and April given that the Global Market was at that very moment IMPROVING.    While U.S. has been in an unbroken bull market,  you can see how there may be better opportunities for new leadership elsewhere....


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ETFreplay Top 100 Trillion Dollar Real-Money Portfolio Update

Jan 12, 2014 in ETF Multi-Asset 100

ETF investors in the top 100 exchange-traded products made +$136 billion in 2013.  Actually, they made more than that if you count inflows -- but we calculate the ETFreplay 100 by locking in starting assets as this captures the big themes quite well.

We began the ETFreplay 100 project a year ago to try to show a proxy for how investors are ACTUALLY doing.   The fact of the matter is that most people with wealth do not hold just 1 type of investment -- they own a portfolio and that portfolio consists of more than just US Stocks and Bonds.   There is no universally accepted benchmark -- nor should there be --  your individual benchmark is dependent on various factors that differ:  ie,  your age, your risk tolerance, your liquidity needs, your time-horizon etc...

So investors in reality own an allocation of different assets that hopefully corresponds to their profile.   What we do with the ETF 100 is aggregate all those by using ETF asset levels and then monitoring that total return performance over time.    The $136 billion in profits equates to a +12.7% total return for the year.

Learning to ignore all the noise on financial TV and twitter about INDIVIDUAL investments and instead focusing in your own process is extremely important.  Differentiate between what 'sounds good' as a one-liner on TV or a blog vs what actually matters -- your PORTFOLIO total return.    In the end, the only question that actually matters is --- did you make progress against your financial goals?

The ETFreplay 100 covers well OVER $1 trillion in assets.   US Stocks were the star performers in 2013.   Below summarizes the results and the most significant contributors and detractors for the year:

For a side comparison,  we compare the results to the most watched hedge fund benchmark:


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SPY S&P 500 Index Total Return For 2013

Jan 01, 2014 in S&P 500 | Total Return


Total return measures capital appreciation AND the return associated with dividends (and any other distributions -- such as capital gains distributions).     It is always surprising how many emails we receive saying our numbers are incorrect because people compare the year-end SPY price to the previous year-end. That is INCORRECT. The correct TOTAL RETURN for 2013 for SPY was +32.3%.    That is +2.6% higher than the price return.   For ETF's with higher yields -- (and/or for those with cap gains distributions) -- this difference will be higher.   

Over a few years, this difference really adds up to be a substantial amount.   



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Performance Update Of Real Money ETF Assets

Oct 07, 2013 in ETF Multi-Asset 100

How are investors as a whole doing in 2013?   If you think the U.S. investment world owns a lot of large-cap U.S. stocks, you would be right.   However,  if you think that is ALL there is to it -- you would be wrong.    There are large amounts of capital invested internationally (Europe, Asia, Pacific) and in non-equity markets (bonds, preferreds, MLPs, REITs etc...).   This reality is why we run the numbers for the ETFreplay 100 -- because it is a much better proxy for how real-world investors are doing than tracking a single asset like the S&P 500, which is just not the best proxy for how investors are allocated.

To give a little perspective,  Exchange Traded Products  (only those that trade on the US exchanges) reached $1.57 trillion in assets in September of 2013:

ETF investors in the top 100 (in assets) taken as a whole started the year with $1.07 trillion and on that base have made approximately +$75 billion (+7.0%) in 2013.   That is, if you held all the asset classes in the same proportions as the amounts actually invested with REAL dollars by investors in ETFs, your YTD total return is +7.0%.   Note that this figure INCLUDES the fees (expense ratios) of the products -- which are automatically removed from the funds and are reflected in total return.

September saw a strong outperformance by international stocks.   The largest International ETF (EFA) rallied +7.8% in September,  which was +460 basis pts (+4.6%) better than the S&P 500.   Brazil (EWZ), an emerging market, rallied +13.0% in September.   Precious metals and precious metals stocks have been a terrible investment in 2013.    Investors have lost over -$25 billion in the largest 5 ETFs in this segment (GLD, SLV, IAU, GDX & GDXJ).   

Many people might see the performance of the ETFreplay 100 at +7.0% YTD and think that is a bad number.  However, it should not be viewed as good or bad --- it should be viewed as simply the reality of achieved investor market returns.   Moreover, the ETFreplay 100 returned +5.4% for the third quarter of 2013 -- and that is +430 basis pts (+4.3%) better than the primary hedge fund index (HFRX Global), which returned just +1.1% in Q3.

Keep in mind, if you are comparing a portfolio of ONLY U.S. stocks to the S&P 500 (as mutual funds report), that is a useful comparison.   But if you are comparing a portfolio of many assets to the S&P 500, that is an apples to oranges comparison.    Even most of the purest index fund advisers that parade the media are they themselves materially underperforming the S&P 500 -- precisely because they are not fully invested in specifically the S&P 500 index.   The term 'index investor' should never be considered the equivalent of '100% invested in the S&P 500'.   

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Of Economic Trends, Surprises & ETF Investing

Sep 18, 2013

Some basic economic data:



But how do you use that to actually execute a portfolio strategy?   Bloomberg Economic Surprise Index hasn't been bullish,  yet market has gone persistently up --- including economically sensitive stocks like Industrials.


Well,  one important way is to watch the trends in the securities (and indexes of securities) themselves.    This guarantees you don't get too far out of sync with what is happening in the financial markets.   You don't invest in economic statistics after all, you invest in securities.    Just remember to keep tabs on your portfolio risk.


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Emerging Markets Index EPS vs S&P 500 Index EPS

Sep 01, 2013 in Earnings | Emerging Markets


Emerging Markets fundamentals as measured by earnings have been very weak.    Will this stay isolated or is it an indicator of weakness that will spill elsewhere?    S&P 500 earnings can be quite resilient to segment weakness -- but stay tuned to see how this plays out as this divergence may also be telling us something:


Source: Bloomberg

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S&P 500 Consensus EPS As Of Aug 9 vs Same Point Prior Years

Aug 09, 2013 in Earnings | S&P 500


Growth for S&P 500 index earnings has been a little north of 6% on a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) basis since 1999.


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