Or global fund capped off a magnificent 2017 with a strong December ... and a new name.

 

December

Year to Date

Since Inception (Annualized)

Motley Fool Global Opportunities Fund (FOOLX)

-0.04%

30.37%

13.13%

FTSE Global All Cap Index

1.98%

24.41%

12.12%

For a standardized list of performance for the Global Opportunities Fund, please click here. For fund holdings, please click here.

The Independence Fund brought in the new year by getting a name change. Welcome, Global Opportunities!

The Global Opportunities Fund trailed its benchmark in December. However, 2017 was the fund’s best year ever. For the year and since inception, the Global Opportunities Fund outpaced its benchmark.

The best-performing holding in December was XPO Logistics, up 16%. The bulk of the increase came on a single day, when a Recode article speculated that Home Depot might acquire the freight and delivery company. That’s right: A rumor sent the stock soaring. Strategically, it would make sense for Home Depot to own XPO and have better control of product delivery. After all, XPO is the largest last-mile heavy-goods delivery business in the U.S. by a wide margin, so XPO probably already delivers the refrigerators, generators, vanities, and other bulky items you might order online from Home Depot. Notably, one of the key considerations fueling the rumor, according to Recode, was to “keep XPO out of the hands of Amazon.” The implications are clear: E-commerce is growing, delivery is a big piece of the puzzle, and XPO has unique and attractive set of assets and capabilities. Our thesis for XPO looks sound, and the stock is now the fund’s second largest holding.

The worst performer was Align Technologies, down 15%. Align shares had gained more than 160% for the year, making them the best performer in the S&P 500. It’s common for end-of-year profit taking to put pressure on a stock’s price, and we’re betting that’s the reason the stock fell. In our view, it has nothing to do with the business’ performance, which is strong, or the valuation, which is rich, but justified. Nonetheless, Align is a top 10 position in the fund, so the decline did have an impact.

We made one portfolio change during the month, initiating a position in Mexican and Latin American micro-lender Gentera. The company fills a niche in the region’s financial sector by serving the under-banked population. Originally, Gentera’s short-term micro-loans were directed largely toward small-business-owning women, who have proved to be better credit risks than men. But Gentera has grown significantly and is looking increasingly like a traditional financial institution. That’s an acceptable evolution, but the market still punished the shares upon the company’s admission that the new direction would result in lower growth rates and profitability. We’ve followed this business for years, and although its complexion is changing, we believe management will evolve the company’s strategy without sacrificing lending discipline or customer focus.

2017 was a great year for global stocks. Our benchmark, which represents the performance of a global portfolio of stocks, increased every month during the year. That streak isn’t likely to continue every month this year. However, our strategy doesn’t require that kind of tailwind to do well. We invest in individual companies, not the index of global stocks. Our goal is to find 40 businesses or so that, sensibly purchased, will increase meaningfully in value over the long term. We believe that’s an achievable task and one worth taking on -- even if the market of global stocks has a few down months this year. We thank you for your continued trust.

The Global Opportunities Fund changed its name from The Independence Fund on February 28, 2017.

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