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as of 12/31/23
Following a downturn from the end of July through October, the global markets went on a bull run in the last two months of 2023. Improving inflation data, moderating growth, and dovish comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve spurred an “everything rally.” The end of “higher for longer” rate concerns among investors especially boosted growth and smaller-cap stocks, as the market views these categories as beneficiaries of lower rates. In the U.S., the annual inflation rate dropped to 3.4% in December, while European inflation fell even more to 2.4%. Investor fears of a recession were replaced by optimism that the Fed and the other central banks had successfully orchestrated a “soft landing,” generating further cause for cheer on top of the prospect that they would soon start cutting interest rates. The emerging markets lagged their developed market counterpart largely due to weakness in China, as its slow recovery post the lifting of its zero-COVID policy in late 2022 continued to pressure corporate earnings in that country. The MSCI ACWI Index returned 11.03% in the fourth quarter.
Baron Global Advantage Fund increased in the fourth quarter. Holdings within Information Technology (IT), Financials, and Consumer Discretionary contributed. Health Care investments detracted. Positive performance within IT was broad-based, with 8 out of the top 10 contributors within the sector, including top contributor Shopify Inc. and third largest contributor Endava plc. Gains within Financials were driven largely by Block, Inc. Shares of this mobile payment operator rebounded from the prior quarter’s decline after the company reported healthy gross profit growth and profitability that beat Street estimates. Second largest contributor MercadoLibre, Inc. led appreciation within Consumer Discretionary. Health Care had a disappointing quarter. Declines were led by argenx SE. Shares of this biotechnology company fell on the back of failed clinical trials in two assets that called into question the applicability of the entire FcRn treatment landscape. On the positive side, the strong launch of Vyvgart, with early sales tripling consensus expectations and global approvals coming earlier than guided, should continue to grow revenue and justifies a defensible valuation based on cash flow analysis. We expect 2024 to be another year of solid performance for the company.
Looking ahead, we are encouraged by recent signs of recovery in the global markets and economic conditions overall. However, as long-term investors who have lived through numerous market cycles, we have learned not to try to predict the unpredictable. We remain optimistic about the long-term prospects of the companies in which we are invested and continue to search for new ideas and investment opportunities while remaining patient and investing only when we believe our target companies are trading at attractive prices relative to their intrinsic values.
as of 12/31/23
Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the investment carefully before investing. The prospectus and summary prospectuses contain this and other information about the Funds. You may obtain them from the Funds’ distributor, Baron Capital, Inc., by calling 1-800-99BARON or visiting www.BaronFunds.com. Please read them carefully before investing.
The performance data quoted represents past performance. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate; an investor's shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. The Fund’s transfer agency expenses may be reduced by expense offsets from an unaffiliated transfer agent, without which performance would have been lower. Current performance may be lower or higher than the performance data quoted.
Risks:All investments are subject to risk and may lose value.
The discussion of market trends is not intended as advice to any person regarding the advisability of investing in any particular security. The views expressed on this page reflect those of the respective writer. Some of our comments are based on management expectations and are considered “forward-looking statements.” Actual future results, however, may prove to be different from our expectations. Our views are a reflection of our best judgment at the time and are subject to change at any time based on market and other conditions and Baron has no obligation to update them
Portfolio holdings are subject to change. Current and future portfolio holdings are subject to risk.
The index performance is not fund performance; one cannot invest directly into an index.