In its initial year of operations, Alluvial Fund returned 29.6% net of fees and operating expenses. As an investor in the partnership, I am as pleased as anyone with our results since we launched. As the manager of the partnership, my satisfaction is tempered by the knowledge that the prudent investor is rarely rewarded for his labors so quickly or so steadily. I once again urge partners to judge the success of Alluvial Fund and my abilities as its manager only after the conclusion of three to five years, especially if those years include periods of market losses.
We are now in the quietest part of the year for Alluvial’s portfolio. Many small companies with December 31 fiscal years take the full allotted ninety days to file their annual reports. This doesn’t mean I’ll be sitting on a beach somewhere with a choice beverage. The lack of news flow is a perfect opportunity to go ACM searching for new opportunities and return to half-finished research projects. There’s always another industry to understand or another company to evaluated. I never get bored!
I don’t pay much mind to the movement of the broad market, but it does appear that at current levels, shares of many companies are pricing in a scenario where a Goldilocks economy allows for uninterrupted growth in corporate profits. Perhaps this is exactly how the coming years will unfold, and buyers of these shares will enjoy enviable returns. But perhaps…not. I have a strong preference for securities priced at levels that allow for positive outcomes even if the business environment proves more challenging than anticipated. I believe the securities we hold in Alluvial Fund are very attractively priced even if company revenues fall short of expectations, or margins compress, or funding costs rise. That is not to say the prices of securities we own would not decline in adverse scenarios, whether economy-wide or company-specific. They don’t call it a stock market for nothing and the collective euphoria or despair of market participants can drive the price of any security to extremes. But by avoiding securities priced to perfection, I believe we reduce risk and create a portfolio that is robust to a variety of market and economic outcomes.
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