Reprinted by permission of Morningstar, Dec. 18, 2020
Alger Spectra Z ASPZX A winning team and approach.
Morningstar's Take ASPZX
emerging firms with strong business models, increasing product demand, and growing market share. Others are established businesses undergoing changes that could spur growth, such as new management or product advancements. The managers can allocate up to 10% of the portfolio to short stocks, typically firms they believe are likely to lose market share to competitors, especially those owned in portfolio as long positions. Kelly and Crawford aren’t afraid to go against the grain; as of August 2020, the portfolio’s largest active weightings were in firms such as Alibaba BABA, while the duo was underweight three of the five so-called FAANG names. This approach has stood the test of time. From Kelly’s September 2004 start through October 2020, the A shares’ 14.8% annualized gain topped the Russell 3000 Growth Index’s 11.5% and placed in the top decile of large-growth Morningstar Category peers. The strategy has fared well so far through 2020’s market volatility. From the start of the year through October, the A shares rose 25.9% versus the benchmark’s 19.1% and the typical peer’s 16.6%. Strong healthcare and consumer discretionary picks drove the recent outperformance.
management or product advancements. The strategy is able to short up to 10% of assets. The managers typically short stocks they believe are likely to lose market share to competitors, especially those owned in portfolio as long positions. They believe satellite radio firm Sirius XM Holdings SIRI, for example, is operating legacy technology and facing competition from streaming services such as Apple’s AAPL Apple Music Radio. The duo turns to its analyst team for deeper research. The analysts generate one-, three-, and five-year target prices for each company, modeling earnings and cash flows out five years. Kelly and Crawford pick stocks they believe have the most upside potential relative to their price targets. They monitor risk/reward trade-offs and often trim positions once they come within 10% of their price targets, a discipline which contributes to the portfolio's above-average portfolio turnover versus the typical large-growth category peer. Managers Patrick Kelly and Ankur Crawford manage a top-heavy strategy. As of August 2020, the approximately 130-stock portfolio’s 10 largest weightings consumed 51% of assets versus the Russell 3000 Growth Index’s 44%. Overweightings to Alibaba and Visa V drove much of the large top-10 allocation. However, the portfolio’s weightings to index titans Facebook FB, Amazon AMZN, Apple , Netflix NFLX, and Alphabet GOOG (or the FAANG stocks) in August was 24.1% versus the benchmark’s 27.3%. The managers have increased the portfolio’s short positions to 6.6% of assets in August from just 1.7% in November 2018. The portfolio has lost some of its distinctive flair. The strategy’s active share (a measure of how differentiated a portfolio is from an index) has decreased as its name count has dropped in recent years. In July 2014, the 189-stock portfolio’s active share was 71% versus the Russell 1000 Growth category index; active share and name count were down to just 52% and 129, respectively, as of
Morningstar Analyst Rating
Morningstar Pillars Process
Role In Portfolio Core Fund Performance Year
Total Return (%)
YTD 2019 2018 2017 2016
39.11 32.61 -0.57 31.47
8.92 0.71 1.52 3.80 -3.06
Data through 11-30-20
11-20-20 | by Tony Thomas, Claire Butz
Alger Spectra’s experienced team employs a time- tested aggressive-growth approach. All share classes earn a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Bronze except the pricier C shares, which warrant Neutral. Managers Patrick Kelly and Ankur Crawford are proven leaders. Kelly is an industry and firm veteran; he has managed this strategy with competitive results since September 2004. Crawford joined the strategy in June 2015 after rising through the analyst ranks at Alger. Her technology sector expertise is an asset for this tech-heavy portfolio. The managers continue to add to their experienced lineup of five dedicated analysts, hiring two in 2020.
Associate analyst Claire Butz contributed to this report.
Above Average | Tony Thomas,
Claire Butz 11/20/2020 Managers Patrick Kelly and Ankur Crawford's skilled use of Alger's firmwide growth approach to investing merits an Above Average Process rating. Kelly and Crawford look for companies that are poised for growth in one of two stages. Some are emerging firms with strong business models, increasing product demand, and growing market share. Others are established businesses undergoing beneficial changes such as new
The managers have skillfully picked winning growth firms. The team looks for companies poised for growth in one of two stages. Some are
Reprinted by permission of Morningstar, Dec. 18, 2020
August. The median active share for actively managed large-growth category peers was 57% that month.
A proven manager duo with an experienced supporting cast earn this strategy an Above Average People rating.
brought on high-conviction managers, including Amy Zhang of Silver-rated Alger Small Cap Focus in 2015, Weatherbie Capital in 2017, and two managers from Redwood Investments in 2018. The firm created Z shares for its funds in 2010; they are cheaper than other Alger share classes but come in at average compared with the competition. The firm’s success rides on a few mandates, including Zhang’s and flagship Alger Spectra, rated Bronze and run by Patrick Kelly. Zhang and Kelly handle about half of the firm’s nearly $25 billion in assets under management, and though the firm is building dedicated investment teams alongside its central analyst pool, key-manager risk exists. Most Alger strategies have benefited from a market that has favored its style over the past five-plus years, but some strategies, such as Alger’s international offerings, have struggled and endured notable outflows. It’s critical to evaluate expenses, as they come directly out of returns. The share class on this report levies a fee that ranks in its Morningstar category’s middle quintile. That’s not great, but based on our assessment of the fund’s People, Process and Parent pillars in the context of these fees, we think this share class will still be able to deliver positive alpha relative to the category benchmark index, explaining its Morningstar Analyst Rating of Bronze. Price Pillar | Tony Thomas, Claire Butz 11/20/2020
The fund may invest in private firms, but the managers are selective and keep such stakes small. As of August, Kelly and Crawford had a 0.2% position in (now public) big-data analytics firm Palantir PLTR and less than 0.1% in antiviral drug development firm Prosetta Biosciences. Performance Pillar | Tony Thomas, Claire Butz 11/20/2020 Over lead manager Patrick Kelly’s tenure, this strategy has had a topnotch record. Since Kelly took the reins in September 2004 through October 2020, the A shares’ 14.8% annualized gain topped the Russell 3000 Growth Index’s 11.5% and placed in the top decile of large-growth category peers. The fund’s aggressive growth profile resulted in more volatility, as measured by standard deviation, than both its benchmark and peers over that period, but the fund’s risk-adjusted results were still strong. The strategy tends to fall harder than its bogy during market drawdowns but gain more in market rallies. Over Kelly’s tenure, the strategy captured 104% of the benchmark’s losses, though it secured 113% of its gains. The strategy fared a bit better than its bogy during 2020’s market drawdown. From the benchmark’s Feb. 19 peak to its March 23 trough, the A shares fell 30.8% versus the benchmark’s 31.4% loss. Consumer discretionary picks such as Alibaba helped buoy the strategy during the market plummet. The strategy also outperformed during the subsequent market rebound due to communications services and healthcare names such as Pinterest PINS and diagnostics and research firm Danaher DHR, a leading company in COVID-19 testing. From the start of the year through October, the A shares gained 25.9% versus the benchmark’s 19.1% and the typical peer’s 16.6%.
Since taking the helm here and at Alger Capital Appreciation ACAZX (which cannot short stocks, unlike this strategy) in September 2004, lead manager Patrick Kelly has successfully executed the firm’s aggressive growth approach. Both strategies have consistently been top performers in the large-growth category, as has Alger Focus Equity ALZFX, which Kelly began managing in late 2012. The strategy benefits from comanager Ankur Crawford’s deep experience in the tech sector. Crawford joined Alger in 2004 and rose through the firm’s analyst ranks, ultimately leading the central analyst team’s tech group. Her analytical experience helps Kelly handle this strategy’s typically large tech stake. The managers continue to build out their dedicated analyst team. Five dedicated analysts, two of whom joined the strategy in 2020, provide research for the managers’ three-fund suite. Each averages 18 years of industry experience. Kelly and Crawford also regularly draw upon the firm’s approximately 15-person central analyst team, especially when analyzing names in the portfolio’s lighter sectors such as industrials.
Kelly invests at least $2.1 million total across the pair’s three shared strategies, and Crawford more than $300,000.
Average | Tony Thomas, Claire
Butz 07/20/2020 Fred Alger Management is home to some strong strategies, but a lot is riding on them. The firm earns an Average Parent rating. Like other investment boutiques, Alger faces industry challenges from investors’ preference for passive investing as well as fee pressure. Alger has responded by differentiating its signature growth approach by further concentrating some of its existing equity strategies or launching new focused options. Through that process it has