Arnott (1993) and Odelbo (1995)
Arnott (1993) reviewed characteristics of equity funds with superior returns, finding 17 actively-managed large cap funds outperforming their benchmark in 37 out of 49 rolling 5-year periods ending 1993. A paper by Odelbo (1995) found great stock fund managers did not exclusively follow one investment style while looking for undervalued stocks. The author also found there was no statistical evidence of their superior performance.
Chevalier and Ellison (1999)
A cornerstone of indexing advocates is based on securities markets being efficient. Barron’s defines the efficient markets theory: “…market prices reflect the knowledge and expectations of all investors. Those who adhere to this theory consider it futile to seek undervalued stocks or to forecast market movements.
A fund’s duration can sometimes be a misleading measurement of interest rate risk if the bond fund has a meaningful weighting in convertibles, foreign stocks and bonds or derivatives. Haslem (2003) believes duration is a more accurate measurement when there are small interest rate changes. Duration tends to better reflect interest rate risk of portfolios of high quality bonds.
A number of online brokers provide free online tools for portfolio construction and management. One service known for its simplicity is Motif Investments. Motif offers nine preset and commission-free portfolios; each portfolio is comprised of the same four ETFs from Vanguard and two ETFs from BlackRock (real estate and commodities).
Over the 14-year period 2000-2013, the average forecaster has usually been a poor predictor as to what the S&P 500 actually returned for the calendar year, according to Birinyi Associates (see table).
S&P 500: Average Forecaster vs. Actual Return
As of June 2014, the TIPS marketplace was valued at just under $1 trillion, representing ~ 8% of the Treasury debt market. TIPS represent the only marketable U.S. debt instrument with an inflation hedge—prices are adjusted twice a year to account for CPI increases.
Individuals own ~ 72% of all U.S. municipal debt; individual ownership exceeds any other financial asset class except for U.S. stocks (source: WSJ, June 2014). The website Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA), allows investors to compare trade histories of bonds with similar characteristics.
There is no standard definition of a small cap stock. The methodology used deciding what stocks are included in a small cap index can result in significant return differences. As of the middle of 2014, The S&P SmallCap outperformed the Russell 2000 for 12 of the last 19 years. The Russell 2000 has been tracking small caps for 30+ years; the S&P SmallCap 600 has been around for 19+ years.
S&P SmallCap 600 vs. Russell 2000
According to a May 2014 WSJ article, after 30 years, a $200,000 mutual fund investment (8% gross annualized return) grows to $1.4 million after paying the typical mutual fund annual fee of 1.25%. This was the average expense ratio for mutual funds for 2013 (source: Morningstar). The same investment grew to $2.0 million if annualized returns were the same but a 0.04% annual expense ratio (source: ETF.com).