The MFO Screener: Learning By Doing

Our screener has two functions. The first is to allow side-by-side comparisons of a dozen or more funds over meaningful time periods. The second is to allow you to generate lists of funds whose accomplishments are particularly meaningful to you.

Here’s an example: you might want to discover which small-cap funds bounced back most quickly from the 2007-09 debacle. That would likely reflect funds that had modest drawdowns and strong rebounds.

That’s easy: start by setting checking small value, small core and small growth in the fund category box (upper left). For display period (upper right) pick “Full Cycle 5: 200711 – Present.” Click. Now you’ve got 413 candidates. On the results table, click on the “recovery” column to sort your results from shortest to longest recovery. On the bad end of the scale, you’ll find three funds that have never recovered despite six strong years in the market: Stonebridge Small Cap Growth (SBSGX), Jacob Small Cap Growth (JSCGX) and Nysa (NYSAX). I’d avoid those.

At the other end of the spectrum is one fund that recovered in under a year: Intrepid Endurance (ICMAX) and five more that recovered within two years. They are:

  • Heartland Value Plus (HRVIX)
  • Dreyfus Opportunistic Small Cap (DSCVX)
  • Artisan Small Cap Value (ARTVX)
  • Catalyst Small Cap Insider Buying (CTVAX), and
  • Diamond Hill Small Cap (DHSCX).

Now toughen the standard by demanding raw returns in the top 20% of their peer group since a risk-conscious fund that doesn’t make money isn’t nearly so nice as one that does. You do that by choosing “Refine Search Criteria” and clicking “Return Group 5” in the return group box (top center).

Now three remain:

  • Intrepid Endurance (ICMAX)
  • Dreyfus Opportunistic Small Cap (DSCVX), and
  • Diamond Hill Small Cap (DHSCX).

Scroll over to the column labeled “Open” and you’ll see that Dreyfus is closed to new investors. Intrepid remains open. Diamond Hill announced on November 6, that the fund is closing December 31, 2015.

If you’re willing to relax your standards just a bit and look for a recovery period of under two-and-a-half years rather than under two years, your options open up substantially:




For the sake of focus, I used the “hide columns” command to get rid of everything except the few data points we were just talking about.

Congratulations! You’ve translated your curiosity into a practical search and have identified the two options that might best warrant further (though quick) study.