Senior Analyst’s Due Diligence Trip

Every year members of Comstock’s research team conduct site visits to the offices of investment managers.  In June, James Engelbrecht, Senior Research Analyst, took advantage of a client meeting in California and the cooler West Coast weather to conduct several in person meetings as part of our due diligence process.   This Second Quarter trip included three currently recommended managers.

The first stop took James to Newport Beach, California where he spent most of the day with Research Affiliates. John West, Head of the US Institutional Group, hosted him at their office and provided full access to the team.  Quality members of the research team, such as Dr. Feifei Li who is Head of Research, provide the backbone to a very strong research driven process which is difficult to match. Overall, the RAFI strategy remains consistent and in line with expectations.

While in Los Angeles James was able to visit Aristotle Capital.  Howard Gleicher, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer, along with Steve Borowski, President, started Aristotle Capital after a long tenure at Met West.  The fund has made significant strides in getting off the ground and on their way towards building a solid foundation for future growth.  Their process remains very much the same as how Mr. Gleicher ran the Met West Large Cap Strategy.  As they continue to build out the team, Comstock will continue to monitor and assess their progress.

On the way back, James stopped in Salt Lake City to spend time with the team at Wasatch.  He met with Laura Geritz who is one of the Co-Portfolio Managers.  Due to the nature of the international companies Wastach invests in, he was fortunate she was in town and not off in some remote part of the world meeting with corporate management.  She provided him with great insight into not only current holdings, but he was also able to delve deeper into the investment making process as well.  Comstock remains bullish on this space in the market and the fund.

Overall, the trip provided Comstock with a great opportunity to interview managers investing in drastically different ways.  Each one has a proven track record of success, but with different styles and niches, has a different roll to play in a portfolio.  The key thread that unites them is a repeatable, process driven approach to investing.  When we hire a manager, we are hiring a process. As illustrated with the historical success of these managers, the process has driven consistent performance and is a necessary element in order for any manager to make it to our recommended list.