November yielded another difficult month to read for equity investors. While the performance of various indices finished in positive territory, we have been hard pressed to find anyone actually comforted by that fact. The month was full of volatility, troubling market and economic signals and ominous political developments. Perhaps the slight positive performance of both the S&P 500 and the TSX Composite were cold comfort to equity investors because of the sheer magnitude of the drop in October, making the bounce seem paltry. For us at Forge First, the month brought a slight decline with negative performance driven largely by the reasonably low cyclical exposure that we do have, namely in energy and industrials. In particular two of our highest conviction long positions, Parex Resources Inc. (PXT.CA) and Parkland Fuel Corp (PKI.CA) were a disproportionate percentage of the decline, something we truly do not believe is going to be repeated. Positive contributions came from our consumer focused companies, real estate exposure, and market protection option strategies. Unsurprisingly, TSX positive performance was driven by the most defensive sectors with consumer staples, utilities and telco’s leading the positive performance.
Four months shy of its 10th birthday, October marked this equity bull market's 2nd 10% drawdown of 2018. Unless an investor was in cash, held a short book or perhaps a fund whose underlying assets aren't marked to market on a monthly basis, it was a tough few weeks. Each of the S&P 500 & the TSX delivered total return losses of greater than 6% for the month, leaving Canadian equities red year to date. The Class F Lead Series of our Forge First Multi Strategy LP declined 1.11% net of fees while our Forge First Long Short LP Class F Lead Series fell 2.19% after fees. However, as shown in the table below, each of our funds remains solidly positive year to date and for the rolling 12 months.
“When it rains it pours” is one of the more common expressions in our vernacular. Its near ubiquitous meaning implies that situations often occur in rapid succession or even all at once. In our line of work we strive for consistent, predictable net returns, by mapping out the coming months and quarters for markets (macro) and catalysts (micro) for the individual securities in our portfolios. We then allocate capital in the manner that most appropriately balances the risk & reward potential from our opportunity set.
But sometimes when it rains, it pours, and September was one of those times. Our funds posted their best month in recent times and the success we achieved to close out the third quarter can be attributed to a confluence of events impacting positions that ironically played out within the same 30 day period. So before tabling our view on market prospects for the fourth quarter of 2018 let’s review what contributed to September’s performance.
We like consistent performance at Forge First, steadily growing client capital over time, featuring the occasional substantial up months but avoiding big down months. Delivering on that goal explains why our funds feature the solid risk metrics and Sharpe ratios shown in the table below that covers their 6+ year track record.