Morningstar Investment Conference (2016)
“I see investing as the responsible act of the broad middle class, yet there’s still so many people we don’t touch today.” — Don Phillips, Morningstar
The annual shareholder meeting of Berkshire Hathaway has been called the Woodstock of capitalism, drawing tens of thousands of investors from all over the world.
I think the Morningstar Investment Conference might be “bigger” than the annual pilgrimage to Omaha.
Really? Yes, really. On a per capita basis, comparing the number of investors in Omaha versus the over 2000 advisors and practitioners in Chicago, the Morningstar Investment Conference, or #MICUS, might be a bigger “show.” Before you scoff, consider the population of registered advisors and representatives vs. how many attend. Morningstar puts on an effective event and while you’re scratching your head over the per capita comparison, don’t forget there’s an admission price for the Chicago program.
Make no mistake. Don Phillips and the Morningstar gang throw one heckuva party. We’re reminded about rampant fallacies with respect to passive vs. active investing, a growing discovery and emphasis on sustainability, the mistaken generalizations about advisors vs. registered reps, the new DOL fiduciary regulations and a litany of topics worthy of consideration and discussion.
- “Supporting responsible investing is actually more closely related to behavior modification.” — Don Phillips
- We’ve been fans of the Morningstar MOAT Fund for some time. Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn (LNKD) provides quite a boost to the fund’s value in recent days. The merits of LinkedIn — and investment thesis — were covered by Morningstar’s Elizabeth Collins during an early panel session.
- Best Ideas: Biogen (BIIB) and Williams-Sonoma (WSM). (Elizabeth Collins)
- “Global growth over last four years has been slower … but it’s actually closer to long-term norms.” Prevalent themes: persistent strong U.S. dollar, U.S. treasury yields not justified and some scattered opportunities in emerging markets. (Michael Hasenstab, Franklin Templeton)
- “Investors should not use a shot gun approach with respect to emerging markets. Use a rifle instead.” (Hasenstab)
- Reminiscent of a couple of previous Morningstar conferences, Bill Bernstein served as this year’s “Grumpy Old Man” but he seems to agree with many of us on many issues. But he’s a delightful curmudgeon.
- “The case for index and passive investing has been dramatically overstated.” (Phillips)
- “Alternative funds are not an investment. They are a compensation scheme.” (Bernstein) [Told you …]
- What hasn’t been overstated? The cleavage between high-cost and low-cost. (Phillips, Bernstein)
- “I pride myself on not knowing what stocks are in my portfolios. I’m a Quant.” (Cliff Asness, AQR)
- I respect and enjoy the work of Rob Arnott (Research Affiliates) and Cliff Asness (AQR). But watching them debate like sumo wrestlers trying to give each other a wedgie in a cage match on the head of a pin is not my favorite post-breakfast activity. I’m glad they believe in “Tin Cup”, grant permission for us to “sin a little” with asset allocation and speculation and I now have a greater appreciation for Smart/Strategic Beta and I’m thankful that at it’s core — we have been doing a lot of the factor-based opportunity stuff for a long time. But most of all, I’m grateful for the elegant simplicity of our methods. It’s a powerful reminder about Occam’s Razor.
(Continuing with our regularly scheduled programming and weekly update …)
MANIFEST 40 Updates
- 9. Cisco Systems (CSCO)
- 10. Qualcomm (QCOM)
- 12. Walgreen Boots (WBA)
- 37. CVS Health (CVS)
- 40. LKQ Corp (LKQ)
Round Table Stocks: Cisco Systems (CSCO), CVS Health (CVS), Gentex (GNTX), Inteliquent (IQNT), ITC Holdings (ITC), LKQ Corp (LKQ), Neustar (NSR), Qualcomm (QCOM), Synaptics (SYNA)
Results, Remarks & References