Best Mutual Funds: Tilson Dividend Fund (TILDX)

Insider Monkey has shown that Whitney Tilson’s alpha is about 5 percentage points per year. Tilson’s Focus Fund (TILFX) has a tiny alpha of around 80 basis points per year. Whitney Tilson has a second mutual fund which invests in value stocks that have high dividend yields. TILDX is a non-diversified mutual fund with more than 150% annual turnover and has an expense ratio of almost 2% per year.

In contrast to the Tilson Focus Fund (TILFX), Tilson Dividend Fund (TILDX) isn’t managed by Whitney Tilson. The mutual fund carries Whitney Tilson’s name but its portfolio manager is Malcolm (Zeke) Ashton. Insider Monkey, your source for free insider trading data, downloaded TILDX’s returns from Yahoo! and calculated the fund’s alpha by using Carhart’s four factor model. Surprisingly TILDX has a monthly alpha of 52 basis points. This is more than 6 percentage points after expenses. This is so far the best mutual fund Insider Monkey has analyzed. Its alpha is even better than the 5 percentage points alpha of Whitney Tilson’s hedge fund,  T2 Partners.

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TILDX has a market beta of 0.69. It invests in mid size companies so it doesn’t have a small cap tilt. Even though Whitney Tilson is a value investor, Tilson Dividend Fund doesn’t have a value tilt. The “value effect” beta is -0.0003. You can’t practically get closer to zero than this. The fund doesn’t chase momentum stocks either. Considering Whitney Tilson has a significant value tilt in his other funds and TILDX doesn’t, we attribute the success of TILDX to Zeke Ashton.

There are thousands of mutual funds with zero or negative alpha, yet which managed to attract trillions of dollars. TILDX has more than 6 percentage points in alpha, comparable to prominent hedge funds like T2 Partners and Dan Loeb’s Third Point, but it manages only $40 Million. This alone shows Insider Monkey that investors don’t know what they are doing, and marketing and sales is the key factor for the financial success of fund managers. Instead of trying to create value (i.e. generate alpha), mutual funds secretly (or openly) mimick indices and produce revenue through management fees.

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