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as of 03/31/22
After a strong 2021, a convergence of negative factors set the stage for a difficult start to 2022. U.S. stocks closed out the worst three months since the first quarter of 2020 - the “COVID shutdown quarter.” Growth stocks took the biggest hit as investor fears of rising interest rates, inflation, and a slowing economy prompted a steep risk-off rotation. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine added another level of uncertainty. However, we expect the United States to be impacted less than many other economies given its energy independence and lower share of commodity consumption in GDP.
While consumer sentiment worsened in response to higher prices, the U.S. labor market remained healthy. Moreover, U.S. households now have over $2.5 trillion more in savings than before the pandemic, which offers some cushion in the face of rising costs. While the Fed appears committed to monetary tightening, this risk factor for markets is now largely priced in. Overall, we think 2022 still looks to be a year of above-trend growth, as strong household and corporate balance sheets keep the economy on solid ground.
Baron Partners Fund declined in the quarter. No sector contributed. The Information Technology (IT), Communication Services, and Industrials sectors detracted the most. All six IT holdings gave up gains, led by second largest detractor Shopify Inc. Top detractor Spotify Technology SA drove declines within Communication Services and third largest detractor CoStar Group, Inc. drove weak performance within the Industrials sector.
While market volatility can be nerve-wracking, over our 40 years of managing money, we have seen multiple cycles and periods like this. As long-term investors, we are committed and disciplined in our process, strategy, and philosophy. We believe the slow-to-moderate-growth, low-rate market environment since the financial crisis is now transitioning to one that will be marked by higher inflation and interest rates. Stock returns dispersion, a measure of market breadth, is now well above its average since the financial crisis. In this environment, we believe stock selection becomes more important as companies navigate more challenging conditions with differing degrees of success. We believe this strategy is best achieved through a focus on high quality companies – e.g., those with strong free cash flow, healthy balance sheets, and the like – something we have always emphasized at Baron.
as of 03/31/22
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.