At a time when investors are inundated with the “best of” performance rankings for 2016, a recent MarketWatch article by Mark Hulbert advises against chasing the winners. The best thing to do, he writes, is “sit on your hands.”
Hulbert suggests that investors “consider those that were in the top quartile for performance three years ago. Believe it or not, many of them were in the bottom quartile for performance over the last 12 months.” This according to data from the “Persistence Scoreboard,” a report produced by S&P Dow Jones Indices:
Regression to the mean, Hulbert explains, is “just another way of saying that performance over a 12-month horizon is largely due to luck rather than skill.” That said, Hulbert asserts, the regression to the mean cannot explain all mutual fund performance, and investors shouldn’t simply gravitate to the worst-performing funds.
“Instead,” he writes, “the proper conclusion is that you should be judging funds on the basis of returns over periods that are far longer than a year.” His rule of thumb, he says, is to look at 15-year results. While there are no guarantees that you’ll beat the market, he says, “your odds of success are far greater than when focusing on just the one-year winners.”