Damien Klassen


MB Fund November Performance

Stock markets around the world have fallen precipitously over the last 3 months, and our portfolios have not been immune to the effects. We have maintained our overweight cash and bond positions which helped to stem the losses and helped our portfolios outperform – although falling by less than competitors is rarely of much solace


Six problems with super

With the royal commission awaiting the final report, we have been treated to a range of superannuation specific stuff-ups from major institutions. Most were through the master-trust structure that pools all the money and you end up in the situation where you as an investor find yourself paying for tickets to the tennis for HostPlus super clients,


UBS: Labor franking reform to boost buybacks

Via UBS: …Labor’s proposed franking ‘scale-back’ also makes the near-term return of excess franking credits more attractive. Figure4 ranks the franking balances of companies relative to market capitalisation in the ASX150. Among the large caps, BHP Group and Rio Tinto have already announced off-market buybacks. Our survey of UBS analysts highlights that Woolworths and Wesfarmers


Is your fund manager swimming naked?

Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been swimming naked. Warren Buffett It is a market truism that a rising stock market can hide a lot of sins, and it is only when markets fall or become volatile that you can see who has been simply taking lots of risk in a


Correction: MB Fund performance

Note – Chant West asked us to clarify the fund performance data below. In our original post it was unclear as to the source of the inception data. Chant West is out with its latest super fund returns: Chant West senior investment research manager Mano Mohankumar says: “Despite a disappointing October, growth funds still have a


October 2018 MB Fund Performance

Global equities had the worst monthly fall since May 2012 when the euro sovereign debt crisis and Grexit loomed large. The sell-off was sparked by rising bond rates, some disappointing earnings results in the US (more on outlook than numbers) and weaker global economic data. Sentiment worsened in October due to a cocktail of worries


Limits to LNG prices

The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies has an in-depth piece out on the cost of LNG plants, looking in detail at the drop in LNG construction costs and how maintainable the falls are in construction costs: As you can see, the Australian plants dominate the top of the cost table, with many of the more recent plants


MB Fund September Performance

After a strong August performance, September saw a pull-back in most of our portfolios amid concerns surrounding trade tensions, China’s economic growth and the outlook for interest rates, as the US Federal Reserve hiked US interest rates by 25 basis points. All of those factors extended into October (and then some), with stock markets down close


MB Super webinar: Drivers of Volatility

This week’s webinar at 12:30 pm AEST, Thursday 18 Oct is a focus on the drivers of the recent volatility in stock markets around the world: – How to hedge against volatility – What does it mean for your portfolio – Investment opportunities Add to your Calendar. Click here to watch Join us on our live


MB Fund webinar: Cold War 2.0

Join Damien Klassen, David Llewellyn Smith and Tim Fuller as we discuss the new cold war between the US and China and how it affects the world of investment. Listen in to a replay of our webinar Find out below: Take us on your daily commute ! Podcasts now available on iTunes and all major Android


Do financial advisers add any value?

Trying to work out how much value an investment adviser adds to the investment process is difficult, but Vanguard has had a go at quantifying it anyway.  Vanguard’s conclusion is that there are seven key areas adding to around 3% per annum (intermittently rather than every year) that could be added by an adviser (see here for


A statistical rival for Anscombe’s quartet

Quantitative and statistical models are extremely useful in investing. But they are guides, not gospel. Forgetting there are real consumers behind the sales numbers and real companies beneath the profit numbers is the first step to an investment model that is going to fail when you need it most. There is a reason you never


Have US earnings peaked?

The Wall Street Journal suggests that they may have: I’m not seeing it yet in my data: I use Factset rather than the Bloomberg data used by the Wall Street Journal, and so maybe there is a timing issue. But Thomson Reuters data concur with Factset: Also, it is worth noting the fall in earnings in the


MB Fund August Performance

International stock markets ripped higher in August and both the Australian dollar and bond yields fell, completing a trifecta of investment themes that we have been positioned for. With this backdrop all of our portfolios performed strongly: Given our portfolio tilt toward Quality stocks, our portfolios once again performed strongly over the month of August. Our


Investment tips for the Nervous Investor

This post is dedicated to all of the Nervous Investors out there: you know who you are.  You want to start investing, or invest more, but are frozen by a myriad of concerns: are you buying at the wrong time? you wanted to buy last year but didn’t get around to it, and now you


Risk schmisk! Why US stocks are bullet proof

Investment markets are late in the economic cycle,  the issue being that you never know when the end will come. However, there are some signs that it is not here yet for US equities at least – and there is the potential that US equities will hold the rest of the world out of the abyss


What Trump policies should you worry about?

In The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy there is a galactic president: The President is very much a figurehead… the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage. For this reason the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not


MB Fund July Performance

July marked our first full year of live investment for the MB Fund. We started the year with a view that with Australia at the tail end of historic mining and housing booms, and the US in the middle of a tax-cut driven boom was that the best strategy was to invest heavily in offshore


She’ll be right mate: Privacy edition

With the royal commission showing that bank staff are busy working out how to keep billing dead customers, or busy coming up with reasons to explain why they have charged fees for services not provided, its no wonder that there isn’t enough time to train staff in Australia properly: No. 1 by a country mile!


Another financial crime band-aid

News broke yesterday morning that ASIC Chairman James Shipton has greenlit the prospect of tactical taskforces to be embedded in our banks (for up to 8 weeks at a time) in an attempt to address the surging and endemic misconduct present in our banking system. Treasurer and chief Royal Commission resister, Scott Morrison, has backed


Royal Commission deems NAB “hopelessly conflicted”

There was more from the Royal Commission grilling of National Australia Bank yesterday.  “Hopelessly Conflicted” is one term that I’m hoping will catch on: The process that saw NAB’s superannuation trustee NULIS advised by the bank’s wealth management arm was hopelessly conflicted, the Hayne royal commission has heard. Counsel assisting Michael Hodge QC put to


Disruptive technology and investment

Here is an interesting table from Technology Foresight showing the most disruptive technologies and a timeline for when they are expected. I have shown the most imminent ones below, click the image below for the full table as a pdf: I’m interested in your thoughts (preferably with supporting research or at least some sort of reason to


Golden Rules for Tax Efficient Investing

Fairfax has been running a series of articles (see here and here) on the collapse of Great Southern and the hardships it has caused, a timely reminder of the perils of mixing debt, investment and tax breaks. Almost every case consists of investors borrowing to invest on the advice of a “trusted professional”, large amounts


Property insiders expect the correction to continue

From the AFR: The owners of Australia’s $117 billion listed real estate sector are expecting the market to ‘correct’ and have kept their gearing to historically low ranges in anticipation of this according to feedback received by S&P Global Ratings. At event in Sydney on Tuesday where the impact of tighter credit on property prices was discussed,


US earnings still powering ahead

A frequent focus point for the media is whether a company “beat” its earnings forecasts or not. But the definition of a beat or miss is poorly constructed, and often misleading. For me, changes in forward estimates are a more reliable indicator of whether a reporting season is progressing well or not. On that basis,


R&D changes: Policy short-termism at its best

Front page of the AFR today: Sorry – no R&D grants because we need the money so that we can give tax cuts to companies so that they can spend more on R&D (disclaimer: more R&D will only occur if there is enough cash is left after paying higher dividends, performing more buybacks and awarding managers bigger


Did Macquarie just leap from the “glass cliff”?

Correlation doesn’t equal causation. But sometimes it does. I would like to know whether the board of Macquarie are Freakonomics listeners or just unwitting participants in a glass cliff experiment – Australian edition. The ABC sets the scene (emphasis mine): Shemara Wikramanayake is set to become the first female chief executive of Macquarie Group, taking over from Nicholas Moore,


Why you should get your money out of Little China

Vested interests are everywhere, chipping away at the moral fibre of politicians, tilting taxes in their favour and diverting resources. In a more diversified economy, the vested interests compete with each other for government favours – a waste of money I’m sure, but there is some benefit in that no one type of vested interest