Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Madame X: International Stock Funds

On to Madame X's international stock funds and a hopefully interesting lesson in passive vs. active management:

(something seems to be seriously wrong with Yahoo's index return figures for the last few years).

ETINX and FSIIX are both international (developed countries) index funds and as you can see almost exactly replicate each other. Madame X has both of these because they are in different accounts. The Fidelity one is just slightly better than the E-Trade version until this last year when it has slightly underperformed. On the other hand FDIVX, an actively managed fund has positive alpha (market-risk adjusted return) and better performance than either of the index funds despite its much higher expense ratio and much larger size. Low expense ratios are not the be all and end all of fund selection. This fund was in the upper quartile of its category in the last 5 years but has drifted downward in performance in the last few years. I wouldn't sell it, but it wouldn't be on my buy list either.

VEIEX is an emerging markets index fund. Its alpha and beta are measured relative to the developed country international index - its performance relative to emerging market funds is not as fantastic, but still respectable - in the last year it was in the top 20%. It's probably not a bad fund for exposure to emerging markets.

None of these international funds could be responsible for the possibly negative performance of Madame X's portfolio.

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