Small Cap Diversified Value Fund (HWVIX)

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The performance data quoted represents past performance and does not guarantee future results. Current performance may be lower or higher. Investment return and principal value of the fund will fluctuate, and shares may be worth more or less than their original cost when redeemed. Click quarter-end or month-end to obtain the most recent fund performance.

Manager Commentary
Period ended March 31, 2018

 
MARKET COMMENTARY

In the first quarter of 2018, the Russell 2000 Index fell -0.1%.  The Russell 2000 Growth Index returned +2.3% while the Russell 2000 Value Index fell -2.6%, extending growth’s recent performance advantage.  Over the last 10 years, the small value index has returned +128% cumulatively compared to +182% for the small growth index (+8.6% and +10.9% annualized, respectively).  The only other period that favored growth to such an extent was the internet bubble of the late 1990s.  While the broad market’s valuation today is much less extreme than it was in 1999, many small growth stocks exhibit rich valuation multiples.  We believe this poses risks for passive investors because they are, either consciously or naively, allocating capital to excessively valued securities.  Very few people would buy a new house, car, or even a meal without regard to price, but this frame of mind seems to breakdown at times when buying stocks.  In our view, to justify the current valuations of today’s most richly valued stocks, many things have to go perfectly right for a very long period.  In our experience, such unbridled optimism rarely materializes.

Fortunately for active investors, some segments of the small cap market offer attractive valuations for the risks at hand, in our opinion.  In recent years we have been partial to industrials and consumer discretionary.  Our focus has been on attractively valued, well-managed companies with strong balance sheets and good prospects for growth.  The sectors are composed of mostly cyclical businesses but with different end markets.  Different industries experience cyclical troughs at different times and therefore exhibit compelling valuation opportunities at different times.  Thus, we have been overweight both sectors for an extended period but our investment mix has changed through time. 

Financials represents the largest sector weight in the portfolio, though our exposure is close to that of the benchmark.  Despite healthy stock price appreciation in recent years, banks continued to trade at valuations well below their historical averages.  Critics argue that lower valuations are justified because banks will be unable to earn the same returns on capital they have earned in the past due to more stringent capital requirements.  We agree, but competitively advantaged banks like the ones we own should be able to earn above cost-of-capital returns.  Accordingly, we view 11x normal earnings and a small premium to book value as compelling valuations, particularly considering that the excess capital on their balance sheets reduce the risk profiles dramatically. 

We are modestly overweight energy relative to the index.  We believe oil prices have been unsustainably low and that a rise in commodity prices will be necessary to bring global supply in line with global demand growth.  Accordingly, we have positions in predominantly upstream energy companies that are positively exposed to changes in crude prices.  We have a strong preference for companies with good balance sheets so that we are not exposed to shareholder dilution in the event the reversion in oil prices takes longer than we anticipate. 

Over long periods, value has outperformed growth, and we have no reason to believe we have entered a paradigm shift that would change this going forward.  Style shifts can occur quickly and powerfully, and we believe we are well positioned for such a reversion.  We continue to be encouraged by the portfolio’s valuation discount relative to the value benchmark and the broad benchmark. The portfolio trades at 10.1x normal earnings and 1.3x book value, a notable discount to the Russell 2000 Value Index (14.9x and 1.5x, respectively) and an even larger discount to the Russell 2000 Index (17.3x and 2.2x, respectively).  We remain committed to maintaining our unwavering dedication to the principals of long-term, fundamental value investing, and that while fads can drive short term performance fundamentals prevail in the long run.   

ATTRIBUTION: 1Q 2018

The Hotchkis & Wiley Small Cap Diversified Value Fund (Class I) outperformed, by declining less than, the Russell 2000 Value Index in the quarter.  Stock selection was positive or neutral in 8 of the 11 GICS sectors, which drove the outperformance.  Stock selection in technology and utilities helped the most, along with the underweight position in REITs.  On the negative side, the underweight and stock selection in healthcare hurt relative performance along with negative stock selection in industrials.  The overweight in energy was a modest detractor. 

Mutual fund investing involves risk. Principal loss is possible. Investing in smaller and/or newer companies involves greater risks than those associated with investing in larger companies, such as business risk, significant stock price fluctuations and illiquidity. The Fund may invest in foreign securities which involve greater volatility and political, economic and currency risks and differences in accounting methods.

Fund holdings and/or sector allocations are subject to change and are not buy/sell recommendations. Current and future portfolio holdings are subject to risk. Certain information presented based on proprietary or third-party estimates are subject to change and cannot be guaranteed. Portfolio managers’ opinions and data included in this commentary are as of 3/31/18 and are subject to change without notice.  Any forecasts made cannot be guaranteed.  Information obtained from independent sources is considered reliable, but H&W cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness.  Attribution is an analysis of the portfolio's return relative to a selected benchmark, is calculated using daily holding information and does not reflect the payment of transaction costs, fees and expenses of the Fund. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Diversification does not assure a profit nor protect against loss in a declining market.

Investing in value stocks presents the risk that value stocks may fall out of favor with investors and underperform other asset types during a  given periods. Equities, bonds, and other asset classes have different risk profiles, which should be considered when investing. All investments contain risk and may lose value. 
 

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