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Expert Analysis and Commentary
Larry Swedroe Oct 26, 2016
After reading the article, one skeptical reader questioned why I chose a 15-year lookback. I chose it simply because it’s convenient, as it’s the longest period Morningstar shows on its site. The reader guessed, however, that it was because BRK.A was shown to outperform over longer periods, and I selected the timeframe in which my “desired outcome” was displayed.
To address that question, I decided to go back and review the results over longer periods (to include the inception dates of the comparable funds). Thanks to my colleague, Dan Campbell, we can see the data over various longer periods. Using data from Bloomberg and Lipper, he was able to update the figures to show annualized returns through September 30, 2016. Returns are net of fund expenses. (Full disclosure, my firm, Buckingham, recommends DFA funds in constructing client portfolios.)
|15 Years||16 Years||17 years||18 Years||19 Years||20 Years||21 Years||22 Years||23 Years|
|DFA U.S. Large Cap Value||8.67||8.24||8.01||8.52||7.66||9.25||9.37||10.37||9.88|
|DFA U.S. Small Cap Value||11.01||10.31||10.78||11.22||9.24||10.88||11.02||11.58||11.46|
|DFA Average Minus BRK.A||2.03||1.42||1.02||2.45||-0.19||0.07||0.25||-0.72||-1.12|
|Vanguard Value Index||7.09||5.4||5.87||6.68||6.3||7.74||8.22||9.04||8.65|
|Vanguard Small Cap Value Index||10.1||9.5||9.89||10.13||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Vanguard Average Minus BRK.A||0.79||-0.41||-0.51||0.99||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
When examining the data for the two Vanguard funds, it’s important to understand that the biggest difference between their index funds and the DFA funds is that by design the DFA funds have significantly more exposure to the size and value factors, which have historically provided premiums.
At any rate, whether we are looking at 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 or 21 years of data, it seems hard to conclude that investors in BRK.A were well rewarded for taking the risk of concentrating their assets in just one stock rather than in a broad portfolio of stocks. How many investors in an actively managed fund would be willing to accept such long periods of underperformance and still cling to the belief that they are likely to be rewarded for taking concentration risk going forward?
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