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Commentary iM DBi Hedge Strategy ETF Third Quarter 2021 Commentary

During the quarter, iM DBi Hedge Strategy ETF declined by 1.94% versus the HFRX Equity Hedge benchmark gain of 1.28%. Year to date through September 30, the ETF gained 3.27% versus the benchmark’s 9.28% gain.

Performance data quoted represents past performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate so that an investor’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Current performance of the fund may be lower or higher than the performance quoted. Short term performance is not a good indication of the fund’s future performance and should not be the sole basis for investing in the fund. Performance data current to the most recent month end may be obtained by visiting www.partnerselectfunds.com.

Quarterly Review

During the third quarter, markets struggled with three issues: slowing growth coupled with persistent supply chain bottlenecks raised the alarming prospect of global stagflation; despite this, the Federal Reserve appears ready to taper asset purchases by year-end; and China, opaque under the best of circumstances, expanded a mysterious economic crackdown just as the domestic real estate industry (e.g., Evergrande) buckles after years of debt-fueled expansion. The “good” inflation thesis of early 2021 has shifted to a “bad” one, with the transitory versus permanent debate still raging. With shifting expectations, global equites in general rose sharply in July and August only to reverse in September; rates fell then spiked; growth materially outperformed value then gave back most of it; and crude oil plummeted then recovered. Growing uncertainty caused a flight to safety to the US dollar and out of emerging markets and small cap stocks.

Hedge funds had a mixed quarter. While equities, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, soared 5% over July and August, returns were disappointingly flattish – blamed on the sharp reversal of the value trade and inflation theme. By contrast, when equities fell the same amount in September, hedge funds rose slightly – by some measures, one of the best months in a decade. Overall, stock pickers fared poorly as longs underperformed shorts by more than 300 basis points, and many emerging markets focused funds were caught offsides as some Chinese stocks became “uninvestable.” On the positive side, supply side inflation created short-term windfalls, such as the 30%+ spike in natural gas in the last few weeks of the quarter. Single manager dispersion is the norm, and among our target hedge funds, the spread between best and worst performers this year is well over 50%.

Performance and Positioning

During the quarter, DBEH returned -1.94% based on market price and -2.70% on NAV versus a return of 1.28% for the HFRX Equity Hedge Index (“HFRXEH”). Since inception on December 18, 2019 to September 30, 2021, the Fund has returned 14.19% on market price and 14.24% on NAV on an annualized basis, compared to 7.82% for HFRXEH.

During the quarter, underperformance relative to the HFRXEH index and target portfolio of hedge funds was larger than expected. The Fund entered the quarter with approximately two thirds of its equity exposure allocated to small/mid cap stocks and emerging markets. That exposure proved costly as those market segments declined 3% and nearly 9%, respectively – the latter due primarily to the unexpected economic crackdown in China. While overall equity risk remained relatively constant during the quarter, emerging markets exposure was significantly reduced in favor of tech, international developed and small/mid cap markets. We believe the difference in performance is attributable primarily to the fact that hedge funds rotated out of emerging markets faster than our models detected. Since inception, DBEH has outperformed the performance of the illiquid, high-cost target portfolio of hedge funds, and with the client-friendly features of an ETF, and we believe this performance should continue.

Portfolio Characteristics

Asset Class Exposure (%)
US Equities49%
International Developed Equities12%
Emerging Market Equities3%
US Dollar-31%
Fixed Income-99%
Top 5 Holdings
2 Yr Treasury
Eurodollar
S&P 400 MidCap
Nasdaq
EAFE

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DISCLOSURE

The funds’ investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses must be considered carefully before investing. The statutory and summary prospectuses contain this and other important information about the investment company, and it may be obtained by calling 1-800-960-0188, or visiting partnerselect.com. Read it carefully before investing. 

Investing involves risk. Principal loss is possible. Shares of any ETF are bought and sold at market price (not NAV), may trade at a discount or premium to NAV and are not individually redeemed from the funds. Brokerage commissions will reduce returns. The Fund is “non-diversified,” so it may invest a greater percentage of its assets in the securities of a single issuer. As a result, a decline in the value of an investment in a single issuer could cause the Fund’s overall value to decline to a greater degree than if the Fund held a more diversified portfolio.

The Fund should be considered highly leveraged and is suitable only for investors with high tolerance for investment risk. Futures contracts and forward contracts can be highly volatile, illiquid and difficult to value, and changes in the value of such instruments held directly or indirectly by the Fund may not correlate with the underlying instrument or reference assets, or the Fund’s other investments. Derivative instruments and futures contracts are subject to occasional rapid and substantial fluctuations. Taking a short position on a derivative instrument or security involves the risk of a theoretically unlimited increase in the value of the underlying instrument. Exposure to the commodities markets may subject the Fund to greater volatility than investments in traditional securities. Exposure to foreign currencies subjects the Fund to the risk that those currencies will change in value relative to the U.S. Dollar. By investing in the Subsidiary, the Fund is indirectly exposed to the risks associated with the Subsidiary’s investments. Fixed income securities, or derivatives based on fixed income securities, are subject to credit risk and interest rate risk.

A commission may apply when buying or selling an ETF.

Shares of any ETF are bought and sold at market price (not NAV), may trade at a discount or premium to NAV and are not individually redeemed from the Fund. Brokerage commissions will reduce returns.

basis point is a value equaling one one-hundredth of a percent (1/100 of 1%)

The S&P 500 Index consists of 500 stocks that represent a sample of the leading companies in leading industries. This index is widely regarded as the standard for measuring large-cap U.S. stock market performance. 

Index performance is not illustrative of fund performance.  An investment cannot be made directly in an index. 

iM Global Partner Fund Management, LLC  has ultimate responsibility for the performance of the PartnerSelect Funds due to its responsibility to oversee the funds’ investment managers and recommend their hiring, termination, and replacement. 

The PartnerSelect Funds are Distributed by ALPS Distributors, Inc.