2013 is closed for the books and this had been a good year on the stock market and for me also. A while ago, I created a profile and a fund at Marketocracy.com. It is a website for running simulated mutual fund portfolios. The founders state their mission is to find and reward up and coming investment managers, whether they are professionals in the field or amateurs. You are given a hypothetical amount of money to manage according to SEC-like mutual fund rules, including management fees, positions restrictions, etc. There are other websites to run and track simulated portfolios like that and Marketocracy has its shortcomings (I find notably it is not the fastest website, and tracking of corporate events can be improved). But overall it is a great place to showcase your investment management skills and your business.
As of December 31, it showed that my flagship KMF mutual fund was up by almost 28% after fees for the year, compared with almost 32% for the S&P 500 index. However you’ll notice my fund was more or less flat from its start in October 2012 until April 2013. It was almost two-thirds in cash or in short-term bonds in the beginning of the year. That was due to a lack of investing ideas to start and I don’t like to trade on companies when their annual report is close to being due. I scarcely pay attention to quarterly reports and, since the vast majority of companies have their year-end in December, I basically sat on my hands rather than try to put that cash to work in stocks in the latter part of 2012 and in early 2013. So comparing the performance since the beginning of April, when I got around to investing most of the portfolio following the annual reports releases, to December 31, the performance of my fund was 27% after fees, compared to the 22% for the S&P 500 and 24% for the Russell 2000 index, a representative index for small companies.
It is entirely foolish to extrapolate what was basically 9 months’ worth of good performance into the future. Do I expect my outperformance to continue in 2014? While that would be nice, I shouldn’t expect that every single quarter or every year. If anything, all great investors had periods of time where they lagged the market, often for 2-3 years at a time or more. So of all people, I’m very unlikely to be different in that respect. I do, however, have the utmost confidence in my portfolio and my process, and I do think I’ll be able to outperform the market in the long term. As for the stock market in general for 2014, I can’t predict what’s going to happen. Neither can most trained analysts and managers for that matter. So I won’t jump into a fool’s game. Some people think that because the market went up so much in 2013, it must come down in 2014. There’s nothing preordained, just because it went up doesn’t necessarily mean it will come down sooner rather than later. That said, the market does seem to be trading at above average levels compared to overall profits. And I’ve found it to slightly harder these last few months to find new ideas. So maybe we will have a down year, who knows. Since I try to find well-defined undervalued situations, I don’t care much what the stock market will do. I think my portfolio is well protected on the downside and any correction will only help me find more opportunities.
So my fearless prediction for 2014? Like the old saying goes, “it will vary”.
My Marketocracy fund can be found here so you can track my performance for yourself.