How These Women Investors Crushed It In 2020

In an investment industry known for big egos, overconfident analysts and “activists” who routinely tell CEOs how to run their companies, investor Nancy Zevenbergen and her team of four portfolio managers differentiate themselves by simply listening.

Zevenbergen, 61, founder of $5.7 billion (assets) Zevenbergen Capital Investments, believes the crucial job of an investor in today’s economy is to uncover the next great entrepreneur or technological innovation early on. The style is about “optimism and a view toward what the future might be,” she says. According to Zevenbergen, her task is to be curious and “understand the ‘crazy’ visions of new leaders and become investors alongside them.” If she likes a company, her Seattle-based firm will load up and watch from the sidelines, tracking the business patiently and holding their shares so long as growth doesn’t stall. Rarely do they worry too much about valuation.

This humble approach to investing has yielded results that make Zevenbergen among the best investors in the world. She has stuck by mercurial Elon Musk and owned Tesla for about a decade; Tesla’s stock is up 730% this year, and is the top performing stock of the ten years. She discovered Ottawa, Canada-based ecommerce company Shopify and its founder CEO Tobi Lütke in late 2016 when it was trading below $50; it now trades for $1,170.

Last September, Zillow chief executive Rich Barton decided the real estate platform would begin buying homes, leading to complaints from skeptics who sent its shares cratering 20% to below $30. Zevenbergen’s team liked Barton’s experimentation and built a large position. Fifteen months later, Zillow now trades for $140.

Nancy Zeverbergen
Seattle-based Nancy Zevenbergen calls investing with a less than five-year time frame “truly speculative.” Case in point: She’s owned Amazon since it traded in the $60s and still holds shares after a 90-fold rise. Tim Pannell for Forbes

With stock-picks like these, Zevenbergen’s Innovative Growth Fund (SCATX) and Genea Fund (ZVGNX) are up a staggering 126% and 154%, respectively, in 2020. Of over 1,000 peer funds tracked by Morningstar, the two mutual funds rank in the top percentile. 

Zevenbergen created her firm from her living room in the late 1980s with just $500,000 in assets while she nursed a young child. Her flagship strategy has beaten the S&P 500 Index by around four percentage points annually since 1987, but 2020 was a watershed. Assets more than doubled soaring towards $6 billion, based on performance and inflows to her mutual funds.

Zevenbergen is not the only woman fund manager who has crushed competition in 2020. Forbes found at least a half a dozen firms led by women-led funds that have blown away their peers and drawn in tens of billions of dollars in assets collectively since the start of January.

Cathie Wood, founder of Ark Investments, had the best year of anyone. In 2014, Wood, 65, created Ark with the idea of packaging stock-picking into tax-efficient exchange traded funds, and focusing exclusively on breakthrough innovations in genomics, robotics, financial technology, autonomous driving, digital services, and artificial intelligence. 

Six years later, Ark manages nearly $44 billion in assets, up from just $300 million at the end of 2016. This year, Ark funds have pulled in over $10 billion in new assets, led by extraordinary returns. Her flagship Ark Innovation Fund (ARKK) has seen assets soar to $17 billion, fueled by a 154% gain in 2020 and a 46% average annual return over the past five years. Her $6 billion Ark Genomic revolution ETF is up even more this year. “I wanted individual investors to catch the wave,” says Wood of today’s enormous technological change. Her funds were designed for those “willing to step out and away from fixed income and into some of the most exciting stocks in history.”

Ark publishes its financial models, trading logs, and research to the investing public, and the firm’s analysts are happy to engage in discussion on Twitter, opening themselves to criticism and mockery. Wood’s $4,000 a share valuation of Tesla a year ago drew many scoffs on Wall Street. But her heady valuation was spot on. Short sellers have been burned by Tesla’s rise, while female investors like Zevenbergen and Wood have been patient bulls. On Friday, Tesla was added to the S&P 500 Index.

Female investing success in 2020 extends well beyond soaring growth stocks. Women-run funds are leading the way in everything from small cap stocks, to emerging market debt portfolios, dividend paying companies, and sustainable investments.

Amy Zhang, portfolio manager of the Alger Small Cap Focus Fund (AOFIX) and Mid Cap Focus Fund (AFOIX) was hired in 2015 to expand Alger’s presence in niche small and mid-cap stocks. When Zhang arrived at Alger, the Small Cap Focus Fund had just $16 million in assets. Now, after a 54% return in 2020 and a 30% annual average return over the past five years, Zhang’s Small Cap Focus Fund has $7.5 billion in assets.

Top holdings include refrigerated logistics upstart CryoPort and fast casual restaurant Wingstop. Her Mid Cap Focus Fund, launched in mid-2018, has attracted over $500 million in assets as it has soared by 84% in 2020, bolstered by casino operator Penn National Gaming and power equipment manufacturer Generac.

Long before sustainable investments became a prolific buzzword, Karina Funk, an MIT-educated engineer at Baltimore-based mutual fund giant Brown Advisory, was a pioneer in bringing sustainable investments mainstream. Funk, 48, a vegetarian who watches her carbon footprint by biking to work, launched the Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth Fund in June 2012, alongside David Powell, with a goal to back about 35 companies with products improving social and environmental sustainability, or efficient operating footprints.

Its focus on companies like Ball Corp. and American Tower has made it one of the best funds on the planet during down markets. Even in 2020, the fund has gained 38% despite its defensive posture, thanks to savvy picks like life sciences conglomerate Danaher and Etsy, which has empowered many small businesses during the pandemic. Funk can be a tough customer. She exited Facebook in the fall of 2018 due to data privacy concerns.

“Sustainability is a means, not an end in and of itself,” she told Forbes as part of a profile three years ago, when the fund’s assets were just $1.1 billion. “Our end goal is performance. We achieve that by finding fundamentally strong companies using sustainability strategies to get even better.” The fund’s assets have since soared to $4.6 billion.

Other female-led funds that have done well include Capital Group’s $128 billion American Funds New Perspective (ANWPX), led by a team of managers including Joanna Jonsson and Noriko Chen, and the $36 billion in assets JPMorgan Equity Income Fund (HLIEX), led by Clare Hart. The New Perspectives fund has beaten its benchmark by four percentage points annually over the past decade, while Hart’s Equity Income Fund has returned an annualized 11.65%, two percentage points annually above its benchmark, according to data from Morningstar.

Rebecca Irwin, Natasha Kuhikin and Kathleen McCarragher of the $1.3 billion in assets PGIM Jennison Focused Growth Fund (SPFAX) have returned 68% in 2020 and 25% over the past five years, ranking in the top decile of peer funds. At Alger, Ankur Crawford, co-manager of the Alger Spectra Fund (ASPIX) and Alger Capital Appreciation (ACCAX) has seen returns surpass 40% this year.

In fixed income, Tina Vandersteel of the $4.4 billion in assets GMO Emerging Country Debt Fund (GMCDX) has been able to outperform emerging market bond indices despite underweighting China and many Gulf-states due to her skepticism of the veracity of their economic data.

The bull market of 2020 is also creating new opportunities for female fund managers to shine. Two years ago, Julie Biel of Los Angeles-based Kayne Anderson Rudnick, was a rising star at the $30 billion (assets) firm and excited about the looming public offering of software company DocuSign. Known for investing in established businesses, Kayne had never participated in an IPO. Biel was late in her pregnancy as the IPO progressed and trying to win an allocation. She needed a doctor’s note to fly to the Bay Area to meet with DocuSign’s management. Kayne eventually won a large block of shares, quickly becoming one of its largest outside investors.

Biel also began to manage the firm’s KAR Small Mid- Sustainable Growth strategy around that time and made DocuSign the fund’s top holding. Its shares have risen 225% in 2020. This year, Biel’s fund has returned 42% through November. In December, Kayne decided to launch a mutual fund version, launching the strategy, called the Virtus KAR Small-Mid Cap Growth Fund (VIKSK), with Biel in charge.

Like Zevebergen and Wood, Biel is starting small and manages just $60 million. But the investment industry rewards performance above all, hinting at much larger things to come. Entering 2021, Biel’s portfolio is loaded with hidden gems like Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and MarketAxess that could grow for years to come. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

Antoine Gara

 Antoine Gara

I’m a staff writer and associate editor at Forbes, where I cover finance and investing. My beat includes hedge funds, private equity, fintech, mutual funds, mergers, and banks. I’m a graduate of Middlebury College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and I’ve worked at TheStreet and Businessweek. Before becoming a financial scribe, I was a member of the fateful 2008 analyst class at Lehman Brothers. Email thoughts and tips to agara@forbes.com. Follow me on Twitter at @antoinegara

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How Adrian Cheng Is Rejuvenating A 50-Year-Old Business By Targeting China’s Millennials

When Adrian Cheng looks across Hong Kong’s harbor from Tsim Sha Tsui, he sees his family’s legacy writ large across the city’s skyline. There, from a balcony atop the new luxury apartment building of his Victoria Dockside development, he can view the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on the opposite side of the harbor.

With its curved glass and massive sloping roof, the convention center is said to resemble a bird taking flight. His grandfather Cheng Yu-tung, founder of the family’s flagship property firm New World Development, came up with the ambitious plan for the building, which included a manmade island, back in the early 1980s when the market was in a slump and other developers had no interest. Undeterred, Yu-tung turned the convention center into a Hong Kong icon, showcasing New World’s capabilities. Yu-tung reportedly once said the convention center was one of the two projects of which he was most proud.

And the other project? It was the New World Centre, a mixed-use complex that was demolished about a decade ago to allow the development of Victoria Dockside. Cheng has overseen this project from the start, building on the site of his grandfather’s former landmark, as part of a wider strategy to develop his K11 brand.

“I’m not inheriting a 50-year-old family business and trying to preserve it and hold it tight. That’s not me,” Cheng says. “I’m disrupting it and rejuvenating it to create a new business model.” While Cheng’s father, Henry Cheng Kar-shun, continues to serve as New World’s chairman, his eldest son is executive vice-chairman and general manager, a position he has held since 2017.

As with the convention center, the $2.6 billion project was risky. The launching of Victoria Dockside, which has opened in stages from 2018, comes as Hong Kong suffers its worst downturn in a decade. Hit by months of protests and the U.S.-China trade war, Hong Kong’s third quarter GDP contracted 3.2% from the previous quarter, after retreating 0.4% in the second quarter—its first recession since the global financial crisis in 2009.

Victoria Dockside was a gamble in another way. Cheng could have taken the safe route, choosing a conservative design. Instead, Cheng endorsed an innovative design expressing the ideals of his K11 brand, which he created and has refined since 2009. This complex is the biggest and most elaborate expression of the brand. The 65-story office tower is called K11 Atelier, the luxury apartments K11 Artus and the shopping mall with art galleries K11 Musea. The only major non-K11 brand in the complex is Rosewood Hong Kong, part of a luxury hotel chain that the family also owns.

K11 is a novel concept—blending “art, people and nature.” It is meant to fuse together elements of artistic, cultural and environmental design in public and private spaces. “I don’t see [K11 Musea] as a shopping mall, but as a place for millennials to learn, acquire knowledge and be immersed in different cultures.”

To fulfill his vision, he hired 100 designers, architects and artists from around the world, each overseeing a different part of the complex, even utilitarian areas such as the carpark. Coordinating it all was New York’s Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, one of the world’s leading architectural firms.

One striking example of K11’s brand DNA is the atrium of K11 Musea, which soars eight stories and features twin circular skylights and a geodesic sphere measuring 10.4 meters in diameter suspended over the space whose interior is reserved for performances or exhibitions.

Cheng’s gamble is showing early signs of paying off: even as Hong Kong’s economy contracted, K11 Musea opened last August with 97% occupancy and K11 Atelier has around 80% occupancy at rental rates above HK$100 per square foot ($13)—33% above the average rent for grade-A office space. The complex has won multiple awards—even one for its carpark, which features graffiti by Cara To, a Belgian artist born to Hong Kong parents.

“Our slogan for New World Development is we create, we are artisans,” Cheng says. “I want everyone to believe that they are a creator, that they can innovate and create things.” Victoria Dockside’s tenants include Cartier and Gucci, and several brands new to Hong Kong such as Fortnum & Mason’s first store outside the U.K., a Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and a Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry school (only the second such school in the world).

Cheng, 40 and an avid art collector, first tested K11 in Hong Kong in 2009 with a six-story “art mall” in Kowloon’s Masterpiece building, a joint venture between New World and Hong Kong’s Urban Redevelopment Authority. He then developed K11 projects in mainland China—Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang, Tianjin and Wuhan—all of which combine commerce with art. He plans to keep expanding the K11 brand, with plans for a total 36 projects opened across China by 2024. He also runs the nonprofit K11 art foundation and the for-profit K11 Investment fund.

“The hardest thing I think is the tenacity and the perseverance of testing that product for the first few years, and believing that it would work, not blindly or egotistically, but knowing it would take time,” Cheng says of his vision for K11.

More on Forbes: ‘Shop King’ Tang Shing-bor Became A Billionaire Flipping Hong Kong’s Derelict Properties

To further his interest in art, Cheng has taken high-level roles at some of the world’s leading art institutions, including being a board member of New York’s Museum of Modern Art PS1 and a trustee of London’s Royal Academy of Arts. He likes to pepper his social media with posts about art.

On the business side, Cheng also runs two private investment ventures from Hong Kong. The first is C Ventures, which he runs with Clive Ng, a veteran entrepreneur and investor in media and internet companies in Asia.

C Ventures has investments in about 20 fashion, media and lifestyle startups. Among them is Golong, a Hangzhou-based site selling cosmetics from trendy brands such as British brand Man Cave and Korean brand SNP. The company claims to be valued after its latest financing round at over $300 million. The K11 Investment fund invests in tech firms in areas such as AI, virtual reality and big data.

Beyond making money on the investments, Cheng sees these funds as a way to stay on top of quickly evolving tastes and technology, especially among China’s younger generation. “The paradigm shifts very fast,” says Cheng. “We’re looking at the consumer habits of millennials and Generation Z.”

Looking beyond K11 and Victoria Dockside, Cheng is continuing to expand New World through other real estate projects. Two of New World’s biggest projects under way are the HK$20 billion Skycity and the HK$30 billion Kai Tak Sports Park. The first will cover 25 hectares, and when fully completed in 2027, will be one of the largest mixed-use complexes in Hong Kong. The Kai Tak Sports Park, meanwhile, will be on the site of the former Kai Tak airport. The complex will be home to a 50,000-seat main stadium, a 10,000-seat indoor sports center, a 5,000-seat public sports ground and other facilities, and is slated for completion in 2023.

Over the next five years, New World would like to more than triple its portfolio of investment properties in Hong Kong, from 2.3 million square feet to 9.8 million. In mainland China, the company’s rental portfolio is expected to grow from 0.2 million square meters to 1.3 million. The company, he says, wants to reposition itself to focus on China’s “greater bay area”—an area within about a 100km radius around Hong Kong that China would like to develop into an integrated megalopolis, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai.

Demonstrating China’s importance to New World, the family privatized its formerly listed New World China Land in 2016 so it could have more direct control over its mainland strategy. More than 50% of its China landbank is now located in Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

All this expansion comes at a cost. Among Hong Kong’s big developers, New World has one of the higher ratios of debt to equity, at 32% in 2019 compared with the previous year’s 29%. Yet Cheng is confident that New World can handle the debt load. For the fiscal year ended in June, the company’s revenues—generated through a mix of property sales and its rental business—rose 26% to HK$77 billion, while underlying profit was up 10% to HK$8.8 billion.

In December 2018, New World diversified its business further when it bought FTLife Insurance for HK$22 billion through its infrastructure subsidiary NWS Holdings. The acquisition was aimed at expanding the firm’s life and medical insurance business after it launched in the same year Humansa, a Hong Kong-based healthcare service for the elderly in the greater bay area.

To help with the need for more affordable housing in Hong Kong, New World announced last September that it would donate around 20% of its agricultural landbank, some 280,000 square meters, to the government, where it will construct over 100 apartments for low-income families by 2022. Explaining this act of generosity, Cheng says: “What I learned from my father and my grandfather is that you need to have a very big heart.”

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a senior editor based in Hong Kong. I’ve been reporting on Asia’s wealthiest people for Forbes and Bloomberg for about a decade. Previously, I worked with British diplomats at the consulate general in Hong Kong. Any tips, please contact me at rolsen@forbesasia.com

Source: How Adrian Cheng Is Rejuvenating A 50-Year-Old Business By Targeting China’s Millennials

May.08 — Adrian Cheng, executive vice chairman at New World Development, discusses how the U.S.-China trade negotiations are impacting investor confidence in real estate, the property market in Hong Kong, his current projects, priorities in China, China’s property market and Chinese consumption trends. He speaks exclusively on “Bloomberg Markets: Asia” from the sidelines of the JPMorgan Global China Summit in Beijing.

Don’t Give Your Kids An Inheritance, Give This Instead

What Can Be Better Than An Inheritance? A Personal Matching Program

Getting an inheritance can be a good thing – or a bad thing.

While Millennials may wish their inheritance will someday pay for their retirement, that may or may not happen. According to a 2018 Charles Schwab Study, more than half (53%) of young people ages 16-25, “believe their parents will leave them an inheritance, versus the average 21% of people who actually received an inheritance of any kind.”

And, if they do receive an inheritance when they are close to retirement, that may not help them. It turns out that one out of three Baby Boomers who received an inheritance spent it within two years, according to research conducted by Dr. Jay Zagorsky, Senior Lecturer at Boston University Questrom School of Business, based on data from the Federal Reserve and a National Longitudinal Survey funded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that studied the period 1985-2008.

A Better Option: A Savings Program With A Kick

Wouldn’t it be a better option to help youthful members of the family set up a savings program with a kick to it – a match that you arrange to ignite interest, leverage time and boost returns through compounding?

Let’s say your son “Steve” is a 20-year-old college student who lives at home with you. Steve has a part-time job during the school year and works full time over summer breaks.

Steve hasn’t developed a rule set for saving money. He is not eligible for a 401(k) at work. He is not thinking about a far-off retirement, but he believes he might benefit from a nice inheritance, probably just when he might need the money when he retires.

As Steve’s Mom or Dad, you know better. You’d like Steve to learn how to become financially secure in his own right.

Let’s Make A Deal

Here’s how you can help. You make a deal with Steve:

“For every dollar you save, I will match you dollar-for dollar for five years. But there is a catch. My match goes into a retirement plan for you, a Roth IRA, that you must agree not to touch until you retire someday in the far away future.” 

That gives Steve something to think about. If he saved, say $500 a month of his own money, he would have $30,000 of savings in five years. He would also have an additional $30,000 funded by his parents in a Roth IRA that he would agree not to touch. Nothing wrong with that deal. . . But what about the constraint on not using that Roth money until retirement?

Maximizing Roth Limits While Avoiding Gift Taxes

That $500 monthly ($6,000 yearly) figure is magical.

It is the maximum ($6,000) that can be contributed to a Roth IRA per year, the annual limit for funding a Roth, according to the IRS.

It also happens to avoid a gift tax obligation (the parents’ match is a gift). Since $6,000 is well under the $15,000 annual exclusion, Steve’s parents would not be subject to gift taxes for funding the Roth. (Read “IRS Announces High Estate And Gift Tax Limits For 2020.”)

Will Steve Accept The Offer?

For Steve to see the full potential of the matching program, you’ll want to show him what the Roth can accomplish over the decades between now (age 20) and age 65, a period of 45 years. The Roth will need to be invested for long-term capital appreciation potential. The best way to do that is through a simple S&P 500 Index Fund.

What If The 45 Years Turn Out To Be Terrible Markets?

This is where history comes in handy.

For skeptics, we can look at the worst performing 45 year market periods since the 1920s. For the optimists, we can review the best. While history will not repeat itself exactly, history does provide a frame of reference.

Let’s go back in time to see the worst outcome for a five year program of monthly investments in an S&P 500 Index Fund with a 45 year horizon.

That 45-year period ended with the Financial Crisis (1963-2008).

Had Steve started his five-year, $500 a month program ($30,000 invested) at the worst of times, his age 65 value would have grown to $1,192,643, an average annual return of 9%.

What If The Next 45 Years Turn Out To Be Terrific Markets?

If Steve had lucked into the best 45 year period (1946-1991), he would have had $4,368,046 at age 65 (highest 45-year holding period), an average annual return of 12.4%.

What If Returns Are Just Average?

What about the median return (1931-1976)? Steve would have had $2,421,743 at age 65, an average annual return of 10.9%.

What If Steve Wanted Safety Over Capital Appreciation?

If Steve had been very conservative, he may have considered the safest option, a money market fund that tracked 90 day T-Bills. The best 45-year period for money market funds (1956-2001) would given Steve an age-65 retirement nest egg of only $356,519, a 6% average annual return.

You can see these comparisons graphically in the chart below.

The point is this: Steve can’t control what type of market he will experience. But history can give him a frame of reference.

Is Steve Convinced?

To accept his parent’s matching proposal, Steve needs to see the benefit of investing in himself (and having others invest in him through the match). His interest needs to be ignited through the math behind the market, the math that leverages time and boosts returns through compounding.

Your Role As A Parent

As we approach the holidays, there will be opportunities to get together with young adults in your family. Why not impart some sage advice – in fact, not just once, but as often as possible.

Your Advice

Start saving now in a Roth IRA. Fund your 401(k) at work as soon as you become eligible; contribute each payroll period without stopping until you retire; maximize your match. Choose investments based on long-term capital appreciation potential. Take advantage of the math of compounding. And, if a parent or family member is willing to match your savings, go for it.

Survey Question

After reading this post, what is the likelihood that you will make a Roth matching proposal with your child, grandchild, niece or nephew? I’d like to know what you think. Click here to take a quick survey.

Look for my next post on what happens when someone in Steve’s position starts contributing to his 401(k) at work.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I got my start on Wall Street as a lawyer before moving to money management more than 25 years ago. My firm, Jackson, Grant Investment Advisers, Inc. (www.jacksongrant.us) of Stamford, CT, is a fiduciary high-net-worth boutique specializing in managing retirement portfolios. I approach investing with a blend of optimism (everyone can do something to improve their financial situations) and a dose of healthy skepticism (don’t invest unless you understand what can go wrong). These themes describe my “voice” whether on-air (NBC Nightly News, CNBC, NPR) or presenting (AARP, AAII, BetterInvesting) or in print. I began writing in earnest in 1996 (You and Your 401(k), an investor’s view of 401(k)s). Recent books are: Retire Securely (2018), offering concise action-oriented insights for retirees, pre-retirees and Millennials (Excellence in Financial Literacy Award “EIFLE”); The Retirement Survival Guide (2009/2017), a comprehensive tool chest for all financial levels and ages (EIFLE Award); and Managing Retirement Wealth (2011/2017), a guide for high net worth individuals (EIFLE Award). I’ve written over 1,000 weekly columns (Clarion Award, syndicated by King Features). When the time is right, I comment on SEC rule proposals.

Source: Don’t Give Your Kids An Inheritance, Give This Instead

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This is Stock Market For Beginners 2019 edition video! This video should help out all beginners in the stock market who want to know how to invest in the stock market in 2019. I try to do a stock market for beginners video each year and this is the 2019 edition. We will discuss how to buy stocks, where to buy stocks, how much money do you need to buy stocks, how to invest in the stock market, what is the best brokerage for buying stocks and so much more. I hope you get a tremendous amount of value out of this stock market for beginners video today. Enjoy! Learn How I pick Stocks in this course linked below. Enjoy! https://bit.ly/2DT5ER9 Learn How To Make Money From Trading Stock Options Here https://bit.ly/2QaHSX6 To join my private stock group click below. https://bit.ly/2OSUMDS * My Instagram is : FinancialEducationJeremy Financial Education Channel Sign Up to Get The Top 5 Investing Apps I Use And How I Use Them http://bit.ly/jeremystop5
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