Quick Take: Adam Friedman describes the investment philosophy of the team that runs the Armada Small Cap Value Fund/A (AMRRX) as “good value, good news.”
First, Friedman and the fund’s three other managers scan for small companies with what they judge to be attractive multiples of price to sales, cash flow and book value. The second part of the investment formula, “good news,” refers to a catalyst that can get a stock moving.
Although the fund lost 10.8% in 2002, it beat its small-cap value fund peers, which fell 12.7%. But over the longer term, the portfolio has the edge. Armada Small Cap Value gained 6.6% annualized, versus 2.5% for its small-cap value peers, for the five-year period ended in January. The fund carries a 4-Star rank from Standard & Poor’s.
The Full Interview:
Adam Friedman says he and Dan Bandi, who help run the $808-million Armada Small Cap Value Fund, have seen their share of corporate book-keeping gimmicks, and they distance themselves from businesses that use them.
“If a company has complicated accounting, even if the stock looks good, we’ll most likely walk away from it,” says Friedman. “We’ve always been focused on reading [quarterly and annual reports] when many investors didn’t.”
At the same time, the managers aren’t fond of complex companies. For example, Friedman says they sold Chiquita Brands Intl (CQB) in December, in part because the distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables was difficult to analyze, given that it had assets around the globe.
Friedman says he also lost confidence in Chiquita at year end because while management said the company would meet Wall Street estimates, it offered nothing concrete to back up its words. The fund’s managers also thought banana prices had peaked, which would hurt the stock, Friedman adds.
In picking the fund’s 120-140 stocks, the managers initially look for companies with market caps of $100 million to $2 billion whose stock prices are inexpensive compared to the company’s cash flow, book value and sales. They exclude stocks with trading volume of less than $750,000 a day.
Next, the managers scan for a catalyst that can boost a stock, such as new product introductions, or improved outlooks by analysts.
Among the latest additions to the fund, portfolio manager Bryan Tinsley cited Hercules, Inc (HPC), which makes chemicals used by paper and paint producers. Tinsley sees the company benefitting if, as he expects, oil prices start declining. It should also be helped by rising prices in the paper industry, according to Tinsley.