ASTON/River Road Independent Value Fund (N: ARIVX) (I: ARVIX)
Fund Quarterly Commentary
2nd Quarter 2011 Commentary
Stocks Flat Following a Volatile Quarter
It was a volatile quarter for equity markets with stocks gyrating on robust earnings early in the period followed by weak economic data. Although management comments provided advance warning of a contraction in growth, the pivot point occurred on April 29 when the slowdown officially appeared in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers. A stream of disappointing economic news continued through May, particularly in housing and labor, which weighed on equities. In June, the fiscal crisis in Greece added to the turbulence, with investors initially fearing a broader debt contagion and later celebrating the passage of austerity measures. Toss into the mix the end of the second round of quantitative easing (QE2), more economic braking in China, and the deficit stalemate in Congress and investors were given considerable reason to reduce risk exposure during the period.
Despite the macroeconomic uncertainty, the broader equity market (as represented by the S&P 500 Index) eked out positive gains. The performance of small-cap stocks, however, reflected the market’s heightened volatility and investor risk aversion. After rallying to an all-time high in late April, the Russell 2000 Index plunged 10% through mid-June before rebounding in the final week of trading to end the quarter with a 1.61% loss. Growth outperformed value across all market-caps, with small-cap value trailing primarily due to smaller weightings in the Healthcare and Consumer Discretionary sectors and a larger relative weighting to lagging Financials. –READ MORE–