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April 2014 Performance Review

May 3, 2014

Just when taking risks starts to look smart, here comes our Conservative. April was similar to March in that conservative investments outperformed growth. This again played well into our Conservative portfolio, which posted a 1.28% return in April. The portfolio beat the stock and bond markets and most conservative, balanced, and total portfolio funds out there this year at any risk level. The Conservative portfolio is now up 4.28% YTD, pushed along by longer-term investment grade bonds and utilities. Our Aggressive portfolio was up 0.36% in April.

Benchmark Vanguard funds for April 2014: 500 Index (VFINX) up 0.72%; Total Bond Market Index (VBMFX) up 0.77%; International Index (VTMGX) up 1.51%; Emerging Markets Stock Index (VEIEX) up 0.51%; Vanguard STAR (VGSTX), a total balanced portfolio, up 0.25%.

The spread between strong and weak fund category performance was wide again, with smaller cap growth stocks underperforming larger value stocks by about 5%. We've been warning about the excess in small cap growth but a few more spreads this wide between small and larger cap performance will clear up the over-valuation issue pretty quickly.

Latin American stocks were at the top of the international heap, while China was at the bottom. In general, safer, larger foreign markets outperformed emerging markets and smaller cap stocks abroad. Our Vanguard European ETF (VGK) the portfolios' top fund, gaining 4.16%, though Wasatch Frontier Emerging Small Country (WAFMX) surprised with a 2.84% return in an otherwise tough month for risky stocks - and WAFMX is risky.

Losers for April included growth stock fueled PRIMECAP Odyssey Growth (POGRX), down almost 4%, and Satuit Capital Micro Cap (SATMX), down just over 5% in a bad month for smaller cap growth stocks.

In Bondland, longer term investment grade and government bonds were best as rates slipped, pushing up Vanguard Extended Duration Treasury (EDV) almost 3% and Vanguard Long Term Bond Index ETF (BLV) up 2.4%. Energy and utilities were top sectors with financial, healthcare, and technology at the bottom.

Stock Funds1mo %
Vanguard European ETF (VGK)4.16%
Wasatch Frontier Emerg Sm Count (WAFMX)2.84%
Vanguard Europe Pacific ETF (VEA)2.62%
American Century Utility Income (BULIX)2.26%
PowerShares DB Crude Oil Dble Short (DTO)1.76%
[Benchmark] Vanguard Tax-Managed Intl Adm (VTMGX)1.51%
Wasatch Long/Short (FMLSX)0.98%
[Benchmark] Vanguard 500 Index (VFINX)0.72%
Vanguard MegaCap Growth (MGK)0.55%
[Benchmark] Vanguard Emerging Mkts Stock Idx (VEIEX)0.51%
Artisan Global Equity (ARTHX)-0.68%
Vanguard Telecom Services ETF (VOX)-0.81%
iShares MSCI BRIC Index (BKF)-0.86%
Gold Short (DZZ)-0.90%
PRIMECAP Odyssey Growth (POGRX)-3.94%
Satuit Capital Micro Cap (SATMX)-5.01%
Bond Funds1mo %
Vanguard Extended Duration Treasury (EDV)2.95%
Vanguard Long-Term Bond Index ETF (BLV)2.40%
[Benchmark] Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX)0.77%
PIMCO Mortgage Opportunities D (PMZDX)0.38%
DoubleLine Floating Rate N (DLFRX)-0.06%