Small Can Be Mighty: Opportunity in the Large, Inefficient Smaller Cap Universe

Stock selection, and fund manager selection, are critical in the smaller market cap investment universe, where a skilled active manager can add meaningful value.

  • December 2019

A Large, Inefficient Microcap Universe

  • Smaller market cap stocks afford a broad opportunity set to investors
  • However, they receive less attention from Wall Street analysts and garner lower levels of institutional ownership
  • These realities restrict information flow, resulting in an inefficient investment landscape and broader performance outcomes for investors

Microcap stocks exhibit wider performance dispersion — from the best to the worst performers — than those in other market segments, creating an opportunity for active managers to add value

Performance Spreads Between Top and Bottom Quintile Companies

 Ten Years Ending December 31, 2019

Source: Factset, MSCI, Russell. Large Cap, Midcap, Small Cap and Microcap are respectively represented by the S&P 500, the Russell Midcap, the Russell 2000, and the Russell Microcap Indices. Performance spread is the difference between the annualized total return of the top and bottom quintile ranked company within the index. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The same is true for microcap fund managers —  illustrating the opportunity for investors to capture significant upside through skilled active  management

Performance Spreads Between Top and Bottom Quintile Companies

 Ten Years Ending December 31, 2019

Source: Morningstar. Microcap Funds are defined as those with an average market cap <$1B. Small Cap Funds exclude those with market cap <$1B. No market cap restrictions were applied to the Large Cap and Midcap categories. Funds within each group include growth, blend and value funds. Only actively managed, open end funds are included. Performance spread is the difference between the annualized total return of the top and bottom quintile ranked actively managed funds. Number of Funds includes all share classes. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

A Fund to Consider: AMG Managers Cadence Emerging Companies Fund

Growth of $10,000
Ten years ending 12/31/19

Source: FactSet. Please see below for standardized performance information. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

AMG Managers Cadence Emerging Companies Fund

As of 12/31/19, MECIX was rated 4, 2, 4 and 4 stars for the Overall, 3-, 5-, and 10-year periods against 571, 571, 505 and 379 Small Growth funds, respectively.

Investment philosophy:

Cadence believes that a company’s improving fundamentals signal the potential for price appreciation, and that a reasonable valuation enhances the potential for reward at reduced risk. They view stock selection as critical for achieving above-average results, and believe that a highly disciplined process promotes repeatability.

Fund highlights:

  • Subadvisor employs a growth-at-a-reasonable-price (GARP) strategy, allowing it to invest in companies that exhibit both growth and value characteristics
  • Companies are analyzed for factors such as strength of management, competitive industry position, business prospects and improving earnings fundamentals
  • Invests in primarily U.S. small-cap, emerging companies that have improving fundamentals and reasonable valuations

Average annual returns (%)1 (as of 12/31/19)

  Inception QTD YTD 1 Yr 3 Yr 5 Yr 10 Yr Since Incpt

Expense Ratio5

(%, Gross/Net)

MECAX (Class N)









1.17 / 1.11

MECIX (Class I)









1.05 / 0.99

MECZX (Class Z)






0.95 / 0.89

Russell Microcap® Growth Index







Russell 2000® Growth Index








1 Returns for periods greater than one year are annualized.
2 Since the inception of the Fund's Class N shares on April 1, 1996.
3 Since the inception of the Fund's Class I shares on June 25, 1993.
4 Since the inception of the Fund’s Class Z shares on May 31, 2017.
5 The Fund's Investment Manager has contractually agreed, through October 1, 2020, to limit fund operating expenses. The net expense ratio reflects this limitation, while the gross expense ratio does not. Please refer to the Fund's Prospectus for additional information on the Fund's expenses

The performance data shown represents past performance. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Current performance may be lower or higher than the performance data quoted. The investment return and the 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. For performance information through the most recent month end please call 800.835.3879 or visit our website at

Investors should carefully consider the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing. For this and other information, please call 800.835.3879 or visit for a free Prospectus. Read it carefully before investing or sending money.

The Fund is subject to the special risks associated with investments in micro-cap companies, such as relatively short earnings history, competitive conditions, less publicly available corporate information, and reliance on a limited number of products.

The Fund is subject to risks associated with investments in small-capitalization companies, such as erratic earnings patterns, competitive conditions, limited earnings history and a reliance on one or a limited number of products.

The Fund invests in growth stocks, which may be more sensitive to market movements because their prices tend to reflect future investor expectations rather than just current profits. Growth stocks may underperform value stocks during given periods.

The Fund is subject to special risk considerations similar to those associated with the direct ownership of real estate. Real estate valuations may be subject to factors such as changing general and local economic, financial, competitive, and environmental conditions.

Companies that are in similar businesses may be similarly affected by particular economic or market events; to the extent the Fund has substantial holdings within a particular sector, the risks associated with that sector increase.

The S&P 500® Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks. The S&P 500 Index is designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

The Russell Microcap® Index tracks the microcap segment of the U.S. equity market. It makes up less than 3% of the U.S. Equity market and is represented by the smallest 1,000 securities in the small-cap Russell 2000® Index plus the next 1,000 securities.

The Russell Microcap® Growth Index measures the performance of the microcap growth segment of the U.S. Equity market. It includes those Russell Microcap Index companies with higher price-to-book ratios and higher forecasted growth values.

The Russell 2000® Index is composed of the 2000 smallest stocks in the Russell 3000® Index and is widely regarded in the industry as the premier measure of small-cap stock performance.

The Russell 2000® Growth Index measures the performance of the Russell 2000 companies with higher price-to-book ratios and higher forecasted growth values.

Unlike the Fund, the Indices are unmanaged, are not available for investment and do not incur expenses.

© 2020 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Some of the information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar, its content providers nor the AMG Funds are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. For each fund with at least a three-year history, Morningstar calculates a Morningstar Rating™ based on a Morningstar Risk-Adjusted Return measure that accounts for variation in a fund’s monthly performance (including the effects of sales charges, loads and redemption fees), placing more emphasis on downward variations and rewarding consistent performance. The top 10% of funds in each category receive 5 stars, the next 22.5% receive 4 stars, the next 35% receive 3 stars, the next 22.5% receive 2 stars and the bottom 10% receive 1 star. (Each share class is counted as a fraction of one fund within this scale and rated separately, which may cause slight variations in the distribution percentages.) The Overall Morningstar Rating for a fund is derived from a weighted average of the performance figures associated with its three-, five- and ten-year (if applicable) Morningstar Rating metric. Morningstar Rating is for the share class indicated only (see ticker); other share classes may have different performance characteristics. The Ranking may reflect the waiver of all or a portion of the fund’s fees. Without such waiver, the Rankings may have been lower.

AMG Funds are distributed by AMG Distributors, Inc., a member of FINRA/SIPC.

Not FDIC Insured | May Lose Value | Not Bank Guaranteed

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About Cadence Capital Management

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Cadence Capital Management uses a proprietary quantitative model that seeks to invest in high-quality growth investment strategies across the capitalization spectrum.

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