Alternative Data Could Be Last Hope for Active Managers

Stock pickers believe that alternative data—including digital footprints such as social media information, satellite images, etc.—can lead to outperformance against indexes, but the complexities associated with using such data can be a deterrent. This according to a recent article in Institutional Investor. Citing results of a survey conducted by Greenwich Associates (and sponsored by FactSet), the article reports, “60 percent of portfolio managers—the majority of them active—think that alternative data can help generate alpha, or returns above a benchmark. Yet only 28 percent were currently using alternative data in their investment shops.” It cites comments by FactSet’s head strategist Justin […]

Jason Zweig Says Active Managers Also Underperform in Down Markets

Although the data continues to show that stock pickers have underperformed the market, writes Jason Zweig in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “active managers insist that they will make a comeback.” The article cites data provided this month by Bank of America Merrill Lynch that shows “63% of active fund managers investing in large U.S. stocks outperformed their benchmarks in April, the best since February 2015.” Active managers, writes Zweig, claim that the pricey market has made it difficult to pick winners, but that they will “prove their worth again when the market finally goes down.” However, he argues […]

Ned Davis Sees a Passive Investing Bubble Expanding

As they relate to U.S. economic growth, the lofty expectations concerning the Trump administration seem to be cooling off, says a recent article in Barron’s. Since March 1st, the article states, the fifty biggest stocks in the S&P 500 are down by 1.8% and the fifty smallest are off by 5.4% (citing data from Bespoke Investment Group). Overseas valuations are more moderate, it asserts, and the dollar has “failed to rally further even after an interest rate-hike this month.” While Trump’s pro-growth agenda fueled the post-election run-up in the market, the recently-aborted health care plan vote was a dose of […]

Active Investing Showing Signs of Life

Active managers have been struggling and stock hedge funds have seen a nearly eight-year performance slump, but a shift could be in the offing according to an article in last Friday’s Wall Street Journal. The article offers data from Bank of America Merrill Lynch showing that 58% of active stock managers beat their benchmarks in the third quarter and explains, “stock pickers say it is only a matter of time before they again ride high. When the market hits an extended rough patch, overpriced stocks will drop and investors will value the ability of managers to distinguish between companies with […]

Active vs. Passive Results Linked to Market Cycles

Fees contribute heavily to the variance in performance among active and passive fund managers. A recent article in Investment News says that, according to Morningstar data, “higher fees have the biggest impact on performance,” with the largest variance existing in large-cap stock strategies. The data also shows that the divergence worsens as the time period gets longer. However, the article also highlights other research suggesting that results depend on more than just fee structure. Scott Opsal, director of research at The Leuthold Group, found that the relative success of active and passive management styles can also be linked to market […]