The 5 Components of Our Closed End Fund Strategy

The strategy seeks to create portfolios of Closed End Funds (CEF’s) that provide a high level of current income with the potential for capital appreciation.

1.  Investment Strategy: The strategy will invest in CEF’s that are trading at significant discounts to Net Asset Value (NAV) and that provide high levels of current income. These portfolios will primarily invest in the following CEF sectors: Emerging Market, High Yield, and Energy/Resources. MLP’s and REIT’s may also be used.

2.  Characteristics of a Closed End Fund: Closed End Funds have similarities to Exchange-Traded Funds, but also important differences. CEF’s are launched through an initial public offering. The proceeds from the offering are invested by the fund manager according to the fund’s strategy. The CEF is then configured into an equity security which trades on an exchange in the secondary market. Investor activity that takes place in the secondary market has no impact on the underlying assets or NAV of the fund. An ETF has a market maker who can either create more shares or redeem shares to keep the value of the ETF close to its NAV. A CEF does not have this mechanism, leading to periods when the market price of the CEF may differ substantially from the NAV. Such deviations tend to occur during periods of extreme volatility and investor sentiment in the marketplace. CEF’s are frequently leveraged and become “little income producing factories.” This leverage is typically 25%-35% of the assets of the fund.

3.  Inefficient Market: The CEF is a relatively complex investment vehicle which makes it both less liquid and more volatile than other fund structures, such as ETF’s or mutual funds. The dealer community does not normally follow CEF’s and the CEF market is too small for institutional investors. These conditions make CEF’s a retail product followed by a relatively small group of sophisticated investors. This market environment frequently creates opportunities during periods of extremely negative market sentiment when investors are desperate to liquidate their holdings. 

4.  Our Process: We monitor the CEF universe for funds with high levels of current income that are trading at deep discounts to their NAV. We compare the current discount to the historical discount using a variety of valuation measures to determine the relative attractiveness of the price in relation to the fund’s NAV. We also employ top down analysis by examining global macro trends - studying countries, industries, and sectors for possible opportunities. For example, we may choose to overweight emerging market fixed income CEF’s because we feel they are attractive and will outperform oil CEF’s. After we determine that a fund meets these criteria we then take into consideration the following in our bottom up analysis: the people involved in the management of the fund, the process the fund manager employs, the positioning of the fund, the risk/return characteristics of the fund, the fees, and the leverage level. Diversification among funds is not a primary concern; we won’t diversify into an area we don’t like just for the sake of diversification.

5.  Best Time to Use the TFS Closed End Fund Strategy: The best time to invest in CEF’s is when market sentiment has been very negative, and funds are trading at deep discounts to NAV. Since this only happens occasionally, it is difficult for money managers to develop a sustainable stand-alone CEF strategy. We believe the best use of CEF’s is to augment existing portfolios when opportunities present themselves.

The best use of the strategy is to build up the income component of the Fixed Income portfolio while waiting until the CEF’s return to more normal pricing.