Jan18, 2021

Broadleaf Partners 2021 Investment Playbook

Each year, we look back at the prior year's Investment Playbook to assess what we got right, what we got wrong, and what we learned in the process. We then turn to the coming year, putting our dominant ideas in writing, with hopes of gaining greater clarity on the factors that might drive our investment returns going forward.  [Read More]

Apr15, 2020

What’s Next?

The markets have enjoyed a record setting bear market rally of nearly 30% from the intraday lows reached on March 23rd, nearly a month ago.  Bear market rallies, defined as short term, powerful upside moves within a bear market environment are commonplace, but this one has been so strong that in the absence of general news, one might wonder if anything unusual was occurring in the world. [Read More]

Mar16, 2020

Bear Market Territory

Wow, what a crazy week it has been. The country is in virtual lockdown as people learn “social distancing” which, it is hoped, will delay and reduce the spread of disease and with it, the burdens on our nation’s hospitals and health care staffs.  Nothing seems too shocking anymore, including news, just in, that all restaurants in Ohio will be shut down after 9pm tonight.  Take-out and delivery service, only. [Read More]

Mar09, 2020

Correction Territory

I left the office yesterday at 3pm and the market was down one percent.  That didn’t feel too bad considering the rapid declines of the past week.  But within sixty minutes, the wheels had fallen off the proverbial truck, with the market sliding 4.4% on the day. It was Tuesday morning, I believe, that a strategist’s comments passed my desk, mentioning that the market had declined more in four days than it had in any four-day period in decades. [Read More]

Jan17, 2020

Broadleaf Partners 2020 Investment Playbook

At the end of each year, we like to look back on the year that was and consider what we got right, what we got wrong, and what we might have learned in the process.  We then turn our attention to the year to come, hoping that by putting our thoughts in writing, we’ll gain greater clarity on the factors that might drive our investment returns in the future.  [Read More]

Jan03, 2020

Fourth Quarter 2019 Performance Commentary and Review

The Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio (BGEP) posted a full year return of 40.4%, well ahead of strong gains posted by the S&P 500.  (This comes after last year's strong results, in which the BGEP was also up in a down year for the S&P 500.) Is a new all-time high reason to be cautious or confirmation that the economy is on stable ground? [Read More]

Oct02, 2019

Third Quarter 2019 Performance Commentary and Review

The third quarter proved to be another volatile one, but managed to finish slightly higher than where we were when the quarter began.  Despite the endless noise of a 24/7 media cycle deeply engaged in the business of emotional manipulation and the deadening drumbeat of President Trump’s Twitter account often in response, the stock market […]

Jul05, 2019

Second Quarter 2019 Performance Commentary & Review

While it was volatile ride, the second quarter of 2019 ended in positive territory with both the Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio and the S&P 500 gaining more than four percent.  Our results continue to outpace those of the S&P 500 on a net of fees basis and we rank highly among our large cap growth […]

Apr01, 2019

First Quarter 2019 Performance Commentary and Review

After a difficult fourth quarter for the stock market last year, the first quarter of 2019 proved to be a kind one for the Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio, which posted a gain of 18.7% net versus 13.7% for the S&P 500.  While we’re encouraged by this recent outperformance, we think you’ll agree that it’s the […]

Jan15, 2019

Broadleaf Partners 2019 Investment Playbook

At the end of each year, we like to look back on the year that was and consider what we got right, what we got wrong, and what we might have learned in the process.  We then turn our attention to the year to come, hoping that by putting our thoughts in writing, we’ll gain […]

Jan02, 2019

Fourth Quarter 2018 Performance and Commentary

It’s not much of a secret that the stock market was pummeled during the fourth quarter, with our portfolio declining in a similar fashion.  Weakness was generally broad based across almost all sectors of the economy as concerns of recession mounted in the face of continued Fed Rate increases.  Given our substantial lead earlier in […]

Nov20, 2018

Waterboarded, Mr. Market Style

The markets this quarter haven’t been much fun. In fact, it’s felt a little like a waterboarding – a few brutal down days are followed by a single up day reprieve – which allows for a moment to catch one’s breath – before the deluge resumes once again. Rinse, cycle, repeat. We have had the […]

Oct04, 2018

Third Quarter 2018 Commentary and Review

The Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio enjoyed absolute gains in the third quarter, rising 7.2% and bringing year to date results to 23%, net of fees.  Performance gains continued to come from the technology and consumer discretionary sectors during the quarter, as has been the case for most of the year, but market breadth also improved, […]

Jul03, 2018

Second Quarter 2018 Performance Commentary and Review

The Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio enjoyed another strong quarter, gaining 8.5% net of fees, compared to 3.4% for the S&P 500.  Performance has continued to be dominated by results from the technology sector as well as specific areas of the consumer discretionary space. For the rest of our thoughts on the quarter and our investment […]

Apr27, 2018

New Talent and Aging Stars

I’m sitting at my desk right now, watching the endless stream of earnings shoot across my screen, and I can’t stop thinking of the strong parallels to a Wall Street Journal article from this morning on The Changing of the Guard in the NBA. The article talks about the current NBA playoffs and the emerging […]

Apr03, 2018

First Quarter 2018 Commentary and Review

The Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio continued a recent run of strong relative results, even in the down and volatile market experienced during the first quarter.  Short, intermediate and long term, our results are ahead of our benchmarks on a net of fees basis. Passive management vehicles (index funds) have been crowing about their outperformance relative […]

Jan19, 2018

Looking Back, Looking Forward

At the end of each year, we like to look back on the year that was and consider what we got right with our Investment Playbook, what we got wrong, and what we might have learned in the process.  We then turn our attention to the year to come, hoping that by putting our thoughts […]

Jan03, 2018

Fourth Quarter 2017 Commentary and Review

Growth stocks enjoyed strong results in the fourth quarter, bringing full year 2017 returns on a net of fees basis to 36% for the Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio.  After lagging the major indices considerably last year, 2017 was certainly growth’s opportunity to shine. Our annualized returns are ahead of the S&P 500’s over the past […]

Oct03, 2017

Third Quarter 2017 Commentary and Review

Growth stocks enjoyed strong third quarter results, bringing our year to date return on a net of fees basis to 24.2% for the Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio.  After lagging the major indices considerably last year, 2017 has been growth’s opportunity to shine, something we  discuss further in the market review and outlook section, below. Our […]

Jul05, 2017

Second Quarter 2017 Performance Commentary

Growth stocks continued their strong first quarter run during the second quarter, bringing the year to date net of fees results to 16.6% for the Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio.  This year is a perfect example of mean reversion, as last year’s strong relative outperformance for value stocks has given way to the same in 2017 […]

Apr04, 2017

First Quarter 2017 Commentary and Review

Unlike last year which was one of the worst starts for the market in recent memory, 2017 has started out on a strong note.  The Broadleaf Growth Equity portfolio gained nice ground on the indices during the first quarter of the year, up 10% net of fees.  Since inception and over the past ten years […]

Jan17, 2017

Looking Back, Looking Forward

At the end of each year, we like to look back on the year that was and consider what we got right, what we got wrong, and what we might have learned in the process.  We then turn our attention to the year to come hoping that by putting our thoughts in writing, we’ll gain […]

Jan04, 2017

Fourth Quarter 2016 Commentary and Performance

There is no sugar coating the obvious.  In a complete reversal of our strong absolute and relative results from 2015, this year was an outright disappointment for the Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio and many other growth fund managers.  While we were essentially flat for the full year, the degree to which we underperformed in 2016 […]

Nov09, 2016

Brexit is Beautiful, Act 2

The results of last night’s election are no doubt worthy of an Economic Update. As I shared my initial thoughts with others on Facebook last night – the possible reason behind the Trump surprise and the likely impact on the financial markets today – I found it far easier to re-post what I had written […]

Oct04, 2016

Third Quarter 2016 Commentary and Performance

We enjoyed a nice third quarter rebound following the second quarter, Brexit-induced swoon.  The market’s returns were relatively narrow; technology as a whole did very well and select positions within the health care and consumer discretionary sectors helped our portfolio relative to the market. On a year to date basis, we are finally back into […]

Aug31, 2016

Dead Lawns and Short People

What a boring few weeks it has been.   Following a post Brexit bounce that was surprising to many,  August has largely been, well,  August – about as exciting as dead summer lawns, and  for the kids, the thought of going back to school. But is this a calm before the storm?  We don’t think so. […]

Jul05, 2016

Second Quarter 2016 Commentary and Performance

The markets continued to recover from their first quarter lows, but there is no doubt that it has not been easy going with last week’s Brexit decision the most recent speedbump in a sideways market now over eighteen months in duration. For further information on the second quarter and our investment outlook, please view a […]

Jun24, 2016

Brexit is Beautiful

Brexit is not the end of the world, but the beginning of a new future.  The financial markets will get rocked in the short run, but the excitement I feel for a country making an active decision to endure the well advertised short term pain for what it believes to be a superior long term […]

Apr26, 2016

Getting Your Ducks in a Row

The behavior of the markets over the course of the last six weeks has reminded me of the phrase “getting your ducks in a row.”  While I know the analogy may not be a perfect fit for what I perceive is occurring in the markets, to me, it nevertheless feels right.   “Getting one’s ducks in […]

Apr04, 2016

First Quarter 2016 Performance and Commentary Review

The first quarter was a tale of two halves. During the first half, the stock market came under significant pressure as oil prices fell to new lows, broader credit concerns became elevated, and recessionary risks rose.  The second half was marked by a bounce in oil prices on a hoped for production quota agreement from […]

Feb08, 2016

What If?

After a brief upswing, the markets were caught in a downdraft last week with many of the innovative growth companies we own coming under significantly greater selling pressure.  In the past, I’ve noticed that growth stocks, particularly those that are innovators and less susceptible to economic pressures, tend to do well in all types of […]

Jan15, 2016

What We’re Thinking

The markets are off to a rip-roaring start this year — in the wrong direction.   We are hearing all sorts of sensationalized firsts, including the fact that we just endured the worst first few days of January on record.  While this is a painful fact, it is also one that is perhaps more sensationalized than […]

Jan05, 2016

Fourth Quarter 2015 Commentary and Performance Review

Our portfolio and the stock market bounced back aggressively in the fourth quarter following the Chinese Yuan induced swoon during the third.  We finished the full year in positive territory, substantially ahead of our comparative indices and peer group. While there has been much gnashing of teeth over the narrowness of the market’s gains this […]

Dec22, 2015

Broadleaf Partners 2016 Investment Playbook

It’s that time of year again.  Time to take stock of the year that was and time to try pondering what 2016 could look like. Every now and then someone asks us how the stock market will do next year.   Sometimes, they aren’t asking for a range but an actual number, and I suspect an […]

Nov13, 2015

Little League Trophies

The financial markets have worn many masks this year.  Like a ping pong ball, wide and powerful swings from Fed pronouncements, movements in the dollar, and the price of oil have contributed to violent and swift changes in mood.  Perception and reality are almost entirely a function of macroeconomic news, but for the very brief […]

Oct02, 2015

Third Quarter 2015 Commentary and Performance Review

Happy Ten Year Birthday, Broadleaf! As most people know, this was a difficult quarter for the stock market and our portfolio was not immune.  Weakness was broad based across all sectors, with only utilities and select areas of the consumer discretionary space providing positive returns.  Thanks to a strong first half performance, our results remain […]

Sep04, 2015

Heading into the Labor Day Weekend

As we head into the extended Labor Day Weekend, we thought it would be a good idea to share some quick thoughts on the continued volatility in the global stock markets, including our own. In addition to our own long weekend, the markets in China will also reopen on Tuesday, after being closed for their […]

Aug21, 2015

Earnings Voids and the Emergence of Plausible Risk

We had put the finishing touches on a market update celebrating our first ten years in business, but were rudely interrupted by the first violence in the markets we’ve seen in nearly a year. Yes, a year. We don’t want to minimize the severity or swiftness with which many stocks have been hit in the […]

Jul06, 2015

Second Quarter 2015 Commentary and Performance Review

The Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio (BGEP) enjoyed another nice gain in the second quarter, both on an absolute basis and relative to the S&P 500.  Performance gains were relatively broad based, both at the sector and individual security levels.  Technology and consumer discretionary related holdings were particular sources of strength during the quarter. Over the […]

May07, 2015

Many Shades of Grey

We’re getting towards the end of earnings season, which provides a little breathing room to make a few comments on the overall market.  The action has been choppy since the beginning of April, with a host of “firsts” leaving the typical investor more confused about the next move than necessarily concerned.  As we mentioned in […]

Apr01, 2015

First Quarter 2015 Commentary and Performance Review

The Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio (BGEP) enjoyed a nice gain in the first quarter both on an absolute basis and relative to the S&P 500.  Performance gains were relatively broad based, both at the sector and individual security levels.  Technology and health care related holdings were particular sources of strength during the quarter along with […]

Mar03, 2015

Nevis & NASDAQ 5000

Fifteen years ago, the tech-stock heavy, dot-com laden NASDAQ hit 5000, a level it hasn’t seen since – until today – March 2nd, 2015.  Whether or not it will maintain a closing price above 5000 remains a work in progress, but in all likelihood, we’ll get there. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure that […]

Jan06, 2015

Fourth Quarter 2014 Commentary and Performance Review

The Broadleaf Growth Equity Portfolio gained a solid 2.6% during the fourth quarter, bringing its full year return to 11.8%.  While lagging the overall market’s return for the year, our results on a one, three and five year basis remain in the top half of our peer group and are in solidly positive territory.  Our […]

Dec22, 2014

Broadleaf’s 2015 Investment Playbook

It’s been a good year. The U.S. stock market has done well, gas prices are down at the pump, and the job market continues to improve. CEO confidence has returned, with merger and acquisition related activity finally joining stock buybacks and dividend increases as worthy uses of shareholder capital. The local builder is putting the […]

Nov21, 2014

A Tale of Two Worlds

The U.S. markets enjoyed a strong open today but have experienced a slow bleed off the early morning highs.  News of rate cuts in China and more serious discussion of quantitative easing (QE) as a policy tool in Europe have given a market leading bid to energy, materials, and industrial stocks today, leadership these sectors […]

Oct16, 2014

A Moody Market

For those that may not have noticed, stock market volatility has been on the rise in October, with more up and down 1-2% days and powerful intraday moves than we’ve seen since the Great Recession.  Weak overseas economies, fears over what rapid declines in energy prices could mean, and Ebola are just a few of […]

Oct01, 2014

Third Quarter 2014 Commentary & Performance

Our portfolio enjoyed very strong third quarter results in both absolute and relative terms, bringing year to date returns slightly ahead of the S&P 500.   While no one should focus on short term investment results, it’s amazing what a difference a quarter can make.  The performance was relatively broad based across the portfolio, with notable […]

Sep16, 2014

America in the Driver’s Seat – Enjoy the Ride

Like clockwork, earnings season has drawn to a close, creating an information vacuum for the stock market, one in which the media spends more time “making” the news than perhaps reporting it.  The marginal dollar at trade – or the price maker in a high frequency dominated trading world – is one more likely to […]

Aug21, 2014

Our Take on the Fed Minutes

I hate to blow up everyone’s inbox with a second Economic Update in just over a week, but I guess I just did.  Usually, I don’t have anything intelligent to say more than once every month or so and since I’m not a journalist, I’m never forced to make stuff up just to sell papers. […]

Aug14, 2014

Quick Thoughts 2

Our last piece, Quick Thoughts, generated one of the highest open rates of any Economic Update we’ve sent, so we’ll take that as a clue and stick with the format. Before we get started, we would like to make a short comment on Robin Williams life and death. While he, quite sadly, was not the […]

Jul17, 2014

Quick Thoughts & Coconuts

The past month and a half have been crazy, personally and professionally. We made a final trip to Latvia to complete an adoption, had a graduation party for my high school senior, and attended orientation weekend at The Ohio State University.  In between all that, we squeezed in no fewer than sixty baseball games for […]

May16, 2014

Mixed Signals and the Road Less Traveled

It has been a month since our last update and, quite frankly, not much has changed.  As the markets flirt with all-time highs and a potential shift in Fed policy, earnings season has not altered the fact that the level of investor uncertainty feels elevated.  Throw in the case of a really bad winter, a […]

Apr11, 2014

In The End, Time Is Everything

If you recall, the S&P 500 got hit 5% at the end of January this year, falling from 1850 to about 1750 in two weeks.  There were a lot of concerns at that time about the earnings outlook given subpar economic releases related to the horrific weather we were experiencing around the country.  Once earnings […]

Mar06, 2014

Cold War: Thoughts on Ukraine Based on a Month Spent in Latvia

Note: This Economic Update is a bit different than most both in subject and writing style.  However, we still thought we had some personal insights and perspectives that were worth sharing.  We’d enjoy hearing your feedback – good, bad or indifferent.    I have been intensely more interested in the situation developing in Ukraine over […]

Jan26, 2014

Broadleaf’s 2014 Investment Playbook

Most sell side firms publish their outlook for the economy and stock market at the end of December and in early January.  As a buy side firm, we really aren’t under any expectation to share our outlook for the coming year and, as funny as it might sound, some of our clients don’t even care […]

Nov13, 2013

Twenty Five

I am not a particularly good salesman.  From the time I first meet a prospect to when they become a full-fledged client, it can often take two years even when they initiate the first meeting.  Fortunately, growing the firm isn’t one of my primary roles, a responsibility that does fall to Bill Hoover, my business […]

Aug08, 2013

Looking Farther Down the Road

The stock market has continued to do very well over the summer months, reaching new, all-time highs and proving to even the most stubborn of skeptics that Great Recessions can become Great Recoveries for those with the appropriate time horizon. While our industry spends a great deal of time and effort focused on relative performance […]

Jun05, 2013

Driving with the Doors Off, Part II

About ten months ago, I wrote about my new bulldozer-yellow Jeep Wrangler, comparing the sensation of Driving with the Doors Off to investing in the New Normal, or as I like to call it, a “slow growth for as far as the eyes can see” environment.  While the pavement had always been a mere twelve […]

Apr26, 2013

Like Baseball in the Snow

The last three months have been rewarding for stocks, but like baseball in the snow, something hasn’t quite felt right.  We’ve enjoyed some gains, but keeping pace with the rapidly rising indices has proven challenging.  Historically, our long term results have almost entirely been a function of strong individual stock picks, but in recent months it has been […]

Mar07, 2013

Flying High

The media has made a spectacle out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching new all-time highs.  Once again, what may prove newsworthy is not only misleading but also, quite frankly, false. Allow us to explain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 indices do not include the compounding effect of dividends paid […]

Jan24, 2013

An Apple’s First Worm

Writing about Apple is painful.  Not because I have lost money in recent months or have no insight to provide, but because the media will likely report on it ad nausea for the next few days.  It is perhaps human nature that the news which is most readily produced is also the news that is […]

Nov14, 2012

Nothing Changed

Many events have transpired since our mid-September update, but not much has really changed.  Economic growth should remain slow for as far as the eyes can see, as each region of the world struggles with its own version of the New Normal.  Capitalistic animal spirits have gone the way of the modern American male and […]

Sep14, 2012

All In

Dissatisfied with progress on the jobs front, the Fed went “all in” yesterday in its much anticipated, most recent policy announcement.  Unlike QE1, QE2 and Operation Twist, the latest addition to the monetary smorgasbord is open-ended, meaning that it has no pre-established termination date. (View a printable version of this Economic Update: All In). Policy, we […]

Aug06, 2012

Driving with the Doors Off

Two months ago I bought a bulldozer-yellow Jeep Wrangler, replacing my eight year old black Audi A6.  While the A6 had been a wonderful car, I was ready for something new and a Jeep fit the bill.  The Jeep is large enough that I can drive my family around and while the gas mileage isn’t […]

Jun01, 2012

Our Take on Today’s Payroll Numbers

This morning’s payroll numbers were disappointing, a fact that is being reflected in the performance of today’s stock market, now down nearly 2%. Total non-farm payrolls were expected to show a gain of 150K, but increased only 69K, while the total unemployment rate edged up to 8.2% from 8.1% previously.   While still in positive territory, […]

May14, 2012

Plain Vanilla

Last Thursday evening, JP Morgan announced it lost at least $2 billion on trades related to “egregious” errors on its “synthetic” investments.  The complex products that were meant to protect the bank instead blew up in their face.  Perhaps if JP Morgan stuck to the business of making better loans, it wouldn’t be so enamored […]

Apr18, 2012

Quirky Tales and Waves of Change

Four years ago oil prices approached $150 per barrel.  Analysts at Goldman Sachs got all in a lather, with one making the prediction that it would soon hit $200.  Peak oil theory became a hot topic in the American press and our dependence on foreign oil both a national security interest and a polarizing issue […]

Mar01, 2012

Waiting for Eighty

A few times in each generation, a transformative company is born, one which not only revolutionizes industry as it has been done in the past, but often creates significant new wealth for its forward looking owners.   Microsoft, Intel and Cisco Systems (known collectively by the moniker WinTelCo) are three examples that introduced computing and networking […]

Feb03, 2012

American Creativity

It was a rip roaring January for the stock market.  While the pace cooled a bit towards the end of the month, the surge made it among the best Januarys in post war history and the best January since 1997.  After surging nearly 12% in the fourth quarter, last month brought additional gains of nearly […]

Dec19, 2011

Broadleaf Economic Update: Concussed, The Year in Review

At the end of every year I like to take a look back at the year that was and share some thoughts on what worked, what didn’t, and how we see the future.  To be sure, there are still a few days of trading left this year – and by the standards of the past […]

Nov14, 2011

Broadleaf Economic Update: Gump Pong

In the past three months, the behavior of the stock market has been a lot like Forrest Gump practicing ping pong – blazingly fast and completely mesmerizing.  After zoning out for a while, I had to ask myself, did that really just happen?  (View a printable version of this Economic Update: Gump Pong) I’ve experienced many […]

Sep02, 2011

New Broadleaf Portfolio Strategy Piece: When to Sell

Discerning whether or not new investment data is actionable or simply noise to be ignored is one of the most difficult decisions in all of portfolio management.  In our opinion, the first step to gaining wisdom on this subject is having the courage to take an honest look at one’s past.       The […]

Aug29, 2011

Bumped by the US Downgrade

We were scheduled to appear on CNBC this morning to discuss the events of last week and where investors might find value in such uncertain economic and political times.  Unfortunately our appearance will have to be rescheduled given the intense media coverage of Friday evening’s historic downgrade of our nation’s treasury debt. Since our prepared […]

Aug28, 2011

Yellow Jerseys

Over the past two weeks, the media has been consumed by events unfolding in Washington, DC.  While the coverage must be good for television ratings – who doesn’t like to whine about Congress – contemplating actual changes to your investment portfolio based on what happens with the debt ceiling debate could be a mistake without […]

Jan28, 2011

Past Economic Updates

Please click on the links below to review our past Economic Updates: 2011 Bumped by the US Downgrade Yellow Jerseys Silver & Gold, Silver & Gold Forgetful Let Yourself Feel Good Again Steve Jobs Asking the Real Questions 2010 The Year in Review Thanksgiving Pie Chain Gangs & Pipe Dreams Bullish Sea Change in a […]