Tuesday, September 02, 2008

August 2008 Report

This month was OK, we lagged the MSCI index by about 1% resulting in a negative return and loss of net worth in US Dollar terms and gains in Australian Dollar terms, due to the 9% fall in the Australian Dollar over the month. The pound fell 8% and the Euro 6% against the USD.

As result, total returns (or accumulation index) in Australian Dollar terms have now caught up with total returns in US Dollar terms, which had been outperforming in the last few years, as measured from the 1996 inception point:

MSCI total returns are now also back in line with SPX total returns over the entire period though still outperforming over the last 5 years. It's depressing that we've made very little progress since the beginning of this decade, but neither have the major stock indices. The SPX has returned just 0.22% per year (this includes dividends) since 31st December 1999 while the MSCI has returned 1.98% per year. I've returned 4.66% per annum in USD terms and 2.10% in AUD terms. After taxes and inflation all of these are probably negative returns. In Australian Dollars the MSCI has returned -1.15%.

So there was again negative progress on our annual goals, which is reported on in the first part of this report. Other statistics appear towards the end of the report. All amounts are in U.S. Dollars unless otherwise stated.

1. Net Worth Goal: Reaching $500k In US Dollars we fell back $12,979 to $391,463, while in Australian Dollars we gained $A27,728 to reach $A457,209. Despite the increase in Australian Dollars, we are still way below the year's starting point at $A511,281.

2. Alpha Goal: Alpha of 8.5% The point of this goal is to earn at least an average wage from risk-adjusted excess returns. Using my preferred time-series method, our returns had a beta of 1.07 and an alpha of 6.0% with respect to the MSCI World index, which lags our annual goal and is worse than last month. The risk adjusted excess return for August based on this analysis was -0.8%. Multiplying this by net worth gives a loss of $3,124. For the year so far, the risk-adjusted excess return in dollar terms has been $3,982. Using the estimate of alpha, the smoothed annual income is $23,715. Most other performance metrics are equally poor in recent months. I "re-equitised" too soon and then didn't "de-equitise" enough at the May peak though I did do some rebalancing. I then increased leverage again too early in the down wave from the May high to the July low.

3. Increasing Non-Retirement Net Worth by More than the MSCI Index The point of this goal is to make sure that we only spend out of non-investment income and excess returns and don't use the normal market return on investments to fund spending. In other words, this makes sure we have positive saving. So far this year these accounts have declined by 5.11% more than the MSCI return so that we are dissaving, by this measure.

4. Achieving Break-Even on U.S. Taxable Accounts We made a $1,636 or 2.26% gain this month on US Taxable and Roth IRA accounts. My Interactive Brokers account gained 9.24%. The NDX gained 1.26% for the month. We are still more than $10,000 from breakeven after achieving breakeven in May.

5. Make at Least $10,000 from Trading Realised gains this month were $1,059 and so far this year $3,149. Even though I didn't do any active trading I closed positions in PSPT and NNDS and I mark to market my CFD position.

Background Statistics

Income and Expenditure

Expenditure was $3,598, which is what it typically is when there are no unusual expenditures and just day to day living costs. Non-investment income was also at baseline levels. Non-retirement accounts had $3,579 in underlying gains while retirement accounts did much better this month with $9,383 in gains. Foreign currency movements removed $25,348 from USD net worth.

Investment Performance

Investment return in US Dollars was -3.06% vs. a 2.11% loss in the MSCI (Gross) All Country World Index, which I use as my overall benchmark. Returns in Australian Dollars and currency neutral terms were 6.71% and 3.20% respectively. So far this year we have lost 14.05%, while the MSCI has lost 14.55%.

The contributions of the different investments and trades are as follows:

The big winner was Australian shares as represented by the CFS Geared Share Fund, Conservative Fund, Developing Companies Fund, and Future Leaders Funds as well as Clime Capital, the SPI CFD, and Qantas among others. Takeovers of NDS and PeopleSupport also generated nice returns. The worst performer was the EBI listed hedge fund of funds whose decline mostly represents an increase in the discount to net asset value. On the other hand, Allco Equity Partners saw a decline in its discount. Resource stocks also declined and the former Loftus Capital Partners continued its miserable share price performance. At least the company is buying back stock.

Asset Allocation

Allocation was 47% in "passive alpha", 73% in "beta", 2% was allocated to trading, 8% to industrial stocks, 3% to liquidity, 3% to other assets and we were borrowing 36%. Due to the use of leveraged funds, our actual exposure to stocks was 134% of net worth. Leverage declined and we increased exposure to private equity and reduced exposure to stocks:

The first two columns of percentages in the table indicate how much of net worth was allocated to investment in each asset class in July and August. The fourth column gives the percentage of total underlying assets in each asset class. In other words, rather than accounting for a levered share fund by how much we are investing in it, we are counting the shares that they own. In total we are borrowing an additional 85 cents explicitly or implicitly for each dollar of net worth. Due to using levered stock funds and derivatives the shares of the non-equity asset classes are lower than their shares in net worth. I didn't account for leverage in non-equity funds, but probably I should in future. I also broke out managed futures for the first time under "commodities". We have less than 1% exposure to this asset class.

Our currency exposures were roughly 54% Australian Dollar, 24% US Dollar, and 22% Other and Global.

No comments: