Sunday, January 04, 2009

December 2008 Report

Finally an up month, and a market beating one at that, in US Dollar terms at least. However, due to the rise in the Australian Dollar this month we lost in AUD terms and AUD net worth also declined.

Income and Expenditure

Expenditure was $5,181 ($A7,420). We bought a TV (Samsung 32", Full HD (1080), LCD, about $A,1400), some furniture (about $A400), a bike for Snork Maiden ($A750), and health insurance for her stepfather who will be visiting Australia (about $A350). Non-investment income of $6,465 due to the refund of Snork Maiden's China trip costs. Retirement contributions were $684. Before taking into account foreign exchange movements non-retirement accounts gained and retirement accounts lost money. They both gained in USD terms after taking into account the change in exchange rates.

Net Worth

Net worth rose by $10,158 to $205,660 or in Australian Dollar terms fell by $A4,202 to $294,558.

Investment Performance

USD returns were 4.12% vs. 3.67% or 1.06% for the MSCI and SPX respectively. In AUD terms we returned -2.41%.Using my preferred time series method, portfolio beta to the MSCI index was 1.36 with an annual alpha of 1.4%. Other methods now give a negative alpha. Individual investments made the following contributions to the result:

International and small cap Australian stocks made positive contributions. The top performer was the Challenger Infrastructure Fund which made an asset sale at carrying value during the month boosting confidence in its valuations. The fund is still trading at a massive discount to NAV. A similar positive valuation effect was seen for NDS following the European Union approving the buyout by News Corp and Permira. However, private equity funds MVC, 3i, and IPE all fell as did the TIAA Real Estate Fund and Everest Brown and Babcock despite the seeming resolution of the negative issues surrounding the fund.

Asset Allocation

At the end of October the allocation was 46% in "passive alpha", 60% in "beta", 1% was allocated to trading, 3% to industrial stocks, 5% to liquidity, 5% to other assets, and we were borrowing 20%. Due to the use of leveraged funds, our actual exposure to stocks was 104% of net worth. We regeared slightly. In November we were borrowing 17 cents for each dollar in equity; we are now borrowing 20 cents. When we take into borrowing by the leveraged funds we are invested in, borrowing per dollar of equity rose from 63 cents to 65 cents. Looking at asset classes:

Exposure to non-US foreign stocks rose due to market gains and purchases and exposure to hedge funds fell mainly due to the poor performance of EBI. We moved slightly towards our long-term asset allocation. The story of total assets (includes assets owned by leveraged funds) over the last few months is shown in this chart:

Our ownership of US stocks was particularly badly hit (13% of gross assets in August 4% now) due to market declines and subsequent margin calls.

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