Sunday links

13Nov05

As a follow-up to our discussion of the Savings Glut, comes an article by Andrew Ross Sorkin in the New York Times on “The Great Global Buyout Bubble.? For Sorkin the big question is who are all these buyout firms going to sell to in a few years?

How will this shake out? Will the bubble pop? For some, absolutely. There will be bankruptcies, restructurings and fire sales. Others, who made the right bets, may be luckier and be able to ride out the bad years.

“In hot markets, you can sell crummy companies,” Mr. James said. “In less ebullient markets, the really marginal companies take more than their disproportionate share of the pain. That’s where you’ll see it.”

Paul J. Lim in the New York Times on the prospects for the Fidelity Magellan fund (FMAGX) under its new management. While Harry Lange is thought to be a “go-anywhere? fund manager, he will still be operating under the onus of having to invest a large sum of capital that will make nimble investment in smaller caps more difficult.

Why is it so hard for a huge go-anywhere fund to dabble in small stocks? Well, if Magellan were to invest in dozens of small stocks, a handful of winners wouldn’t make much of a dent in its overall performance. What’s more, Magellan couldn’t make meaningful bets on small stocks without buying major stakes in them. And such big stakes would later be difficult to unload.

The bottom line is that if you’re banking on Magellan to give you adequate exposure to small-cap stocks, don’t hold your breath. The same advice goes for any other large go-anywhere fund.

You can read another take on the difficulty of managing megabucks.

Rhonda Brammer in Barron’s asks the question: “Is the glorious run in small-cap stocks finally petering out??

After six sizzling years, you’d think the mighty mites would be entitled to a bit of a breather. Instead, their pause has set off a hue and cry — or at least a fair number of “bewares” — from the market cognoscenti. Knowingly citing rising interest rates and the prospect of tightening credit, both supposedly poison for small companies and their stocks, the gathering consensus is that big- caps are where the action is destined to be.

The small-cap cycle is definitely long in the tooth by historical standards, but there are some cross-currents at work. Two times in the past month we have noted signs of small cap overvaluation: Low quality stock valuations stretched and Dow dogs attractive.

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