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April 2015 Performance Review

May 7, 2015

On March 18, our Aggressive portfolio crossed the 300% mark since inception (3/31/2002). Recent weakness in the markets held us under this meaningless but psychologically cool level. It took us just shy of 13 years. That's an annualized return of about 11.25%. No other so-called fund-of-funds (portfolios of other funds) in Morningstar's massive fund database started before 2004 have as high an annualized return.

You'd never guess this portfolio's winning ways from April's relatively crummy performance, but through the long and wild swings in the market, we've been beating the S&P 500. (The Vanguard 500 Index fund was up "just" 135% with dividends during this same stretch.) We'll have more to say on this in coming weeks, but the big focus here is not the 300% of the past, but where the next 300% is going to come from.

For more on our performance calculations, please go here.

Our Conservative portfolio was up 0.49% in April. Our Aggressive portfolio fell 0.48%. Benchmark Vanguard funds for April 2015: Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX) up 0.95%; Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBMFX) down 0.36%; Vanguard Developed Markets Index Fund (VTMGX) up 4.07%; Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index (VEIEX) up 7.79%; Vanguard Star Fund (VGSTX), a total global balanced portfolio, gained 0.83%.

We had a month of wide dispersion. Our top fund, BKF, was up 11.37% on a great month in general for emerging markets (after years of relative disappointment). Oil rebounded sharply, sending our remaining oil short PowerShares DB Crude Oil Dble Short (DTO) down 43.76%. Of course, we sold 60% of the shares at $111.15 on March 13, a stone's throw from the year's high of $123.81 on this volatile leveraged fund, so the damage was minimized.

Most of our stock funds actually beat the S&P 500 in April, but longer-term bond funds were hit hard, dragging down our portfolios. The exception to the bond slide is our newly added SPDR Barclays Intl. Treasury (BWX), which trades more on currency exchange rates than interest rates and was up almost 2% on a recently strong U.S. dollar. PRIMECAP Odyssey Growth (POGRX) posted a weak month, with a 1.3% slide. This now popular and famous fund is on our watch list to sell.

Stock Funds1mo %
iShares MSCI BRIC Index (BKF)11.37%
[Benchmark] Vanguard Emerging Mkts Stock Idx (VEIEX)7.79%
Vanguard European ETF (VGK)4.84%
Vanguard Europe Pacific ETF (VEA)4.34%
[Benchmark] Vanguard Tax-Managed Intl Adm (VTMGX)4.07%
Vanguard Telecom Services ETF (VOX)3.69%
Wasatch Long/Short (FMLSX)2.80%
Artisan Global Equity (ARTHX)2.40%
Wasatch Frontier Emerg Sm Count (WAFMX)2.37%
[Benchmark] Vanguard 500 Index (VFINX)0.95%
Vanguard MegaCap Growth (MGK)0.10%
Gold Short (DZZ)0.01%
PRIMECAP Odyssey Growth (POGRX)-1.30%
Satuit Capital Micro Cap (SATMX)-2.57%
PowerShares DB Crude Oil Dble Short (DTO)-43.76%
Bond Funds1mo %
SPDR Barclays Intl. Treasury (BWX)1.96%
Vanguard Mortgage-Backed Securities (VMBS)0.15%
[Benchmark] Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX)-0.36%
Vanguard Long-Term Bond Index ETF (BLV)-2.47%
Vanguard Extended Duration Treasury (EDV)-5.62%