Four Reasons Why You Should Allocate At Least 20% to A Strategy Designed to Play Both Offense and Defense

Many Investors Are Ditching 60/40 and Integrating Funds Like MBXIX That Are Designed to Thrive in Both Bear and Bull Markets

By Michael Schoonover | September 30, 2022

If your investment portfolio feels derailed this year, you are not alone. Few investments are holding up well. For 2022 year-to-date, stocks are in bear market territory and bonds are close. Even the historically safer 60/40 stock/bond portfolio is close to bear market territory.

Unfortunately, the outlook remains bleak with rising rates, inflation, and geopolitical risks abound. In fact, even many typically optimistic market strategists predict that the worst may not arrive until late 2023 or 2024. Combine this with the fact that both equity valuations and bond yields are still far from historical averages, and it looks like 2022 has set the stage for a lost decade–a decade where an asset class generates negative returns–for both stocks and bonds.

A lost decade can derail an investor’s long-term financial goals. But today we’ll explain why not all hope should be lost on investors. By allocating at least 20% to a strategy that is designed to thrive in  bear and bull markets by playing both offense and defense in the same portfolio, like the Catalyst/Millburn Hedge Strategy Fund (MBXIX), investors are positioned to thrive in almost all market environments, including a lost decade.

IS 2022 THE TURNING POINT THAT LEADS TO A LOST DECADE FOR BOTH STOCKS AND BONDS?

Source: Catalyst Capital Advisors LLC and Bloomberg LP. Data as of 09/30/2022. 60/40 Portfolio represented by 60% allocation to the S&P 500 TR Index and 40% allocation to the Bloomberg Agg TR Index (rebalanced monthly).

Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Trying to manage upside participation and downside market risk makes a fund like the Catalyst/Millburn Hedge Strategy Fund (MBXIX) a potentially compelling option for a portfolio. MBXIX combines an allocation to long-only equity ETFs with a long/short futures portfolio that spans 125+ global markets. This strategy has the potential to provide positive returns in both bear and bull markets.

In an environment with limited options for positive returns,
many investors have been looking to strategies like MBXIX.

Here are four reasons why investors have been reallocating from their traditional asset class exposure to MBXIX.

1.

MBXIX delivered positive returns during Every Bear Market Since Inception in 1997.

MBXIX’s strategy combines two distinct components. During a structural bear market, which is what tends to occur during a Lost Decade, the Fund’s futures component has the potential to play defense and produce returns that more than offset any losses from the offensive equity component. This has been the case for all structural bear markets since 1997 where MBXIX produced positive returns.

How does MBXIX currently implement its strategy?

Passive Equity Portfolio
Approximately $0.50 of notional exposure for every $1.00 invested

  • Designed to provide beta exposure to equities for normal, upward trending markets
  • Domestic, developed, and emerging market exposure via ETFs
  • U.S. equity exposure diversified by market capitalization (small, mid, and large)

Futures Program
Approximately $0.70 of notional exposure for every $1.00 invested

  • Designed to leverage uncorrelated nature for both incremental returns and to offset equities during periods of long-term structural market change
  • Multiple model approach
  • Implements machine learning technology

Approach cannot be replicated through two different funds as $1.00 allocated separately to futures and equities will only give an investor $1.00 in exposure. More than 100% notional exposure is possible because collateral required for futures is less than the notional exposure provided (i.e., $.030 in collateral may be needed for %.50 in exposure).

MBXIX delivered positive returns during every structural bear market since 1997…

Source: Catalyst Capital Advisors LLC and Bloomberg LP. Data as of 09/30/2022. 60/40 Portfolio represented by 60% allocation to the S&P 500 TR Index and 40% allocation to the Bloomberg Agg TR Index (rebalanced monthly).

Past performance is not indicative of future results.

…Resulting in Long-Term Outperformance Versus the S&P 500 and a 60/40 Portfolio

Source: Catalyst Capital Advisors LLC and Bloomberg LP. Data as of 09/30/2022. 60/40 Portfolio represented by 60% allocation to the S&P 500 TR Index and 40% allocation to the Bloomberg Agg TR Index (rebalanced monthly).

Past performance is not indicative of future results.

2.

MBXIX More Than Doubled During the Last Lost Decade for Stocks and is Off to a Strong Start for the New Lost Decade.

The last Lost Decade for stocks occurred from 2000 to 2009. During this period, the S&P 500 TR Index lost more than 9% of its value. Losing 9% over ten years certainly isn’t a good way to help meet financial goals when the cost of living keeps rising. On the other hand, MBXIX more than doubled by the end of 2009. If 2022 turns out to be the start of the new lost decade, MBXIX is off to a similarly strong trajectory.

MBXIX Generated a +164% Return During the Last Lost Decade for the S&P 500 Index and is On a Similar Trajectory for the Potentially New Lost Decade.

Source: Catalyst Capital Advisors LLC and Bloomberg LP. Data as of 09/30/2022.

Past performance is not indicative of future results.

3.

MBXIX Has Delivered in Bear and Bull Markets, Never Producing a Negative 5-Year Rolling Return.

Some investment products are designed to only play defense and do well when market conditions deteriorate but then fail to deliver–or even deliver negative returns–during good market environments. These “bear market” products are unfortunately difficult to implement as part of a long-term portfolio strategy because the absence of offense means that they tend to lose too much value over good market environments and/or end up out of the portfolio right when an investor needs the product most.

In contrast, MBXIX is designed with the potential to produce positive returns during both bull and bear markets because it plays both offense and defense in the same portfolio. The equity component is always playing offense and, depending on market dynamics, various aspects of the futures program may be dynamically playing offense and/or defense relative to the returns of traditional asset classes. As a result, MBXIX has never generated a negative 5-year rolling return (based on month-end data) since 1997 (as of Q3 2022), compared to the S&P 500, which has negative 5-year returns 20% of the time.

Rolling 5 Year ReturnsMBXIXS&P 500 TR Index
Number of 5-Year Periods250
250
Average 5-Year Annualized Return9.83%
7.48%
Best 5-Year Annualized Return18.02%
23.00%
Worst 5-Year Annualized Return1.66%
-6.63%
Standard Deviation of 5-Year Periods2.99%
7.05%
Profitable Periods (%)100%
80%
Average Profitable Period Return (Annualized)9.83%
9.74%
Unprofitable Periods (%)0%20%
Average Unprofitable Period Return (Annualized)N/A-1.81%

Past performance is not indicative of future results.

4.

Investors Don’t Have to Sacrifice Exposure to Equities When They Allocate to MBXIX.

Despite the drawdown in equities that has already occurred, the S&P 500 TR cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio* is still well above long-term averages (around 18x to 20x), suggesting that equities have a long way to decline before bottoming out. At the end of 2021, the historical probability of a positive 10-year forward return for the S&P 500 Index was only 4%, and today it’s around 50%. Likewise, bond yields remain well below historical averages despite the significant increases this year.

At Today’s Valuations, the Historical Probability of a Positive or Negative Forward 10-Year Return for the S&P 500 Index is the Same as a Coin Flip.

Source: Robert Shiller and Catalyst Capital Advisors LLC based on data from 1900 to July 2022.

Going forward, it’s difficult to predict where markets will end up. In managing money for clients, we understand the goal is to help investors meet their long-term financial objectives, and this implies not only trying to avoid outsized drawdowns, but also generating positive returns that can help an individual meet their financial objectives. It is for this reason we believe it is an ideal time to replace a meaningful portion of any equity allocation you may have with a strategy like MBXIX, which maintains the upside equity exposure but also provides a diversified and non-correlated futures component that could lead to positive returns in various market environments, including the environment we are in for in 2022 and beyond.

Positioning Your Portfolio for A Lost Decade in Stocks and Bonds.

Adding a strategy that can play offense and defense like MBXIX to a portfolio is a potentially attractive option for the current market environment as you can maintain equity exposure but also gain access to a long/short futures portfolio spanning 125+ global markets, providing the potential for positive overall returns during a structural bear market environment and for future bull market environments.

The question for investors then comes down to how to allocate to a strategy like MBXIX. We have published various research on the topic over time, but our findings generally indicate that an allocation of at least 20% to alternatives has historically benefited investors. A common method is 50/30/20, 50% to equities, 30% to bonds, and 20% to alternatives.

The MBXIX strategy is known as a 50/70 hybrid strategy, referring to the 50% notional exposure to equities and 70% notional exposure to a futures program. Historically, an investor that used a 50/30/20 portfolio approach where the 20% allocation was to a 50/70 hybrid alternative strategy would have significantly outperformed a 60/40 portfolio model and would have been better positioned for various market environments.

The Net Benefit of a 50/30/20 Portfolio Over Time is Significant, Especially Compared to the Initial $10,000 Investment Amount

Source: Catalyst Capital Advisors LLC, BarclayHedge, and Bloomberg LP. Data as of 09/30/2022. 60/40 Portfolio represented by 60% allocation to the S&P 500 TR Index and 40% allocation to the Bloomberg Agg TR Index (rebalanced monthly). 50/30/20 Portfolio represented by a 50% allocation to the S&P 500 TR Index, 30% allocation to the Bloomberg Agg TR Index, and 20% allocation to a 50/70 hybrid alternative strategy (rebalanced monthly). The 50/70 hybrid alternative strategy is represented by a 50% allocation to the S&P 500 TR Index and a 70% allocation to the Barclay CTA Index (rebalanced monthly). RoR Estimated of 9/30/22 for 10/4/22 (source: barclayhedge.com).

Implemented a 50/30/20 Portfolio Model with a Strategy Like MBXIX

Investors have a few options for these types of strategies, but investors are choosing MBXIX because of its proven track record, distinct approach, and wide availability across financial firms.

Positioning Your Portfolio for A Lost Decade in Stocks and Bonds.

Adding a hybrid equity/futures strategy like MBXIX to a portfolio is a potentially attractive option for the current market environment as you can maintain equity exposure but also gain access to a long/short futures portfolio spanning 125+ global markets, providing the potential for positive overall returns during a structural bear market environment.

Investors have a few options for these types of strategies, but investors are choosing MBXIX because of its proven track record, distinct approach, and wide availability across financial firms.

About the Author

Michael Schoonover is Chief Operating Officer of Catalyst Capital Advisors LLC and Rational Advisors, Inc. and Portfolio Manager of a share buyback strategy fund at Catalyst Funds. He began his association with Catalyst in 2011 as a research consultant supporting the implementation and back testing of quantitative strategies. In March 2013, he became a senior analyst at Catalyst to provide investment research for several mutual funds. From 2005-2011, he served in various technical and scientific management roles with the Perrigo Company. Mr. Schoonover has an MBA with high distinction from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and a BS from the University of Michigan.

Performance (%): Ending September 30, 2022
Annualized if greater than a year

Share Class/Benchmark 1 Year 3 Years 5 Years 10 Years Since Inception*
Class I 12.69 9.55 7.48 9.38 10.66
S&P 500 TR Index -15.47 8.16 9.24 11.70 8.31
ML 3 Month T-Bill Index 0.62 0.60 1.15 0.68 2.02
Class A 12.43 9.28 7.22 n/a 9.16
Class C 11.55 8.45 6.41 n/a 8.33
S&P 500 TR Index -15.47 8.16 9.24 n/a 10.62
ML 3 Month T-Bill Index 0.62 0.60 1.15 n/a 0.99
Class A w/Sales Charge 5.97 7.14 5.96 n/a 8.20

The Fund’s maximum sales charge for Class “A” shares is 5.75%. Investments in mutual funds involve risks. Performance is historic and does not guarantee future results. Investment return and principal value will fluctuate with changing market conditions so that when redeemed, shares may be worth more or less than their original cost. Current performance may be lower or higher than the performance data quoted. To obtain the most recent month end performance information, please call the fund, toll free at 1-866-447-4228. 

There is no assurance that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. You cannot invest directly in an index and unmanaged index returns do not reflect any fees, expenses or sales charges. Performance shown before December 28, 2015 is for the Fund’s Predecessor Fund (Millburn Hedge Fund, L.P.). Gross expense ratios for share classes A, C, and I are 2.29%, 3.04%, and 2.04%, respectively. 

*The price-earnings ratio is the ratio of a company’s share price to the company’s earnings per share and is used to determine the value of a company. 

Glossary of TermsLost decade – a decade in which a traditional asset class (equities, bonds, commodities, etc.) generates negative returns.

Bull market – a market in which share prices are rising, encouraging buying.

Bear market – a market in which prices are falling, encouraging selling.

Beta – the measure of the volatility of a security or portfolio compared to the market as a whole.

Long/short futures – an investment strategy that takes long positions in stocks that are expected to appreciate and short positions in stocks that are expected to decline

Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the Catalyst Funds. This and other important information about the Fund can be obtained by calling 866-447-4228. The Catalyst Funds are distributed by Northern Lights Distributors, LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Catalyst Capital Advisors, LLC is not affiliated with Northern Lights Distributors, LLC. 

Important Risk Considerations: 

Investing in the Fund carries certain risks. The Fund will invest a percentage of its assets in derivatives, such as futures and options contracts. The use of such derivatives and the resulting high portfolio turn-over may expose the Fund to additional risks that it would not be subject to if it invested directly in the securities and commodities underlying those derivatives. The Fund may experience losses that exceed those experienced by funds that do not use futures contracts, options and hedging strategies. Investing in commodities markets may subject the Fund to greater volatility than investments in traditional securities. Currency trading risks include market risk, credit risk and country risk. Foreign investing involves risks not typically associated with U.S. investments. Changes in interest rates and the liquidity of certain investments could affect the Fund’s overall performance. The Fund is non-diversified and as a result, changes in the value of a single security may have significant effect on the Fund’s value. Other risks include U.S. Government securities risks and investments in fixed income securities. Typically, a rise in interest rates causes a decline in the value of fixed income securities or derivatives owned by the Fund. Furthermore, the use of leveraging can magnify the potential for gain or loss and amplify the effects of market volatility on the Fund’s share price. The Fund is subject to regulatory change and tax risks; changes to current rules could increase costs associated with an investment in the Fund. These factors may affect the value of your investment. 

Performance shown before December 28, 2015 is for the Fund’s Predecessor Fund (Millburn Hedge Fund, L.P.). The prior performance is net of management fees and other expenses including the effect of the performance fee. The Predecessor Fund had an investment objective and strategies that were, in all material respects, the same as those of the Fund, and was managed in a manner that, in all material respects, complied with the investment guidelines and restrictions of the Fund. From its inception through December 28, 2015, the Predecessor Fund was not subject to certain investment restrictions, diversification requirements and other restrictions of the 1940 Act or the Code, which if they had been applicable, might have adversely affected its performance. In addition, the Predecessor Fund was not subject to sales loads that would have adversely affected performance. Performance of the predecessor fund is not an indicator of future results. 

Alternative investments may not be suitable for all investors and an investment in alternative funds is suitable only for investors who can bear the risks associated with the illiquidity of the fund’s shares and should be viewed as a long-term investment.

7067-NLD-10062022

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