The Mama Bear Portfolio

The Mama Bear is based on the forthcoming book Muscular Portfolios (2018). The portfolio is a clone of a strategy tracked since 2006 and publicly described by Steve LeCompte, editor of CXO Advisory.

The Mama Bear is designed to (1) keep losses small during bear markets, (2) underperform the S&P 500 with less volatility during bull markets, and (3) wind up with superior performance over each complete bear-bull market cycle.

Check your portfolio only once a month, on the same day of your choosing each month.

The Mama Bear menu consists of low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track nine asset classes. Your portfolio allocates roughly equal dollar amounts to the three ETFs with the strongest momentum, as determined by the strategy rules.

Strategy rules:

  1. Select any consistent day of the month to reallocate your portfolio.
  2. Momentum Rule: Before the market closes on your chosen day, note the ETFs with the highest 5-mo. return (the green rows with a Buy percentage).
  3. If, because of a previous month’s rankings, you already own all of the ETFs in the green rows, do nothing.
  4. Sell any ETF you own that now has no Buy percentage.
  1. Use the cash from any sales to buy any indicated ETF you don’t already own. Exact percentages are not crucial.
  2. Hold each of the top 3 ETFs, whether the 5-month return is positive or negative. Even if slightly negative, the strongest ETFs tend to rise in the following one month or more.
  3. Once purchased, there’s no need to rebalance an ETF back to its exact Buy percentage unless the ETF is more than 20% off its target dollar amount.

Execution Rule: Buy or sell an ETF only if its bid-ask spread is less than 1.0%. (If greater than 1.0%, a “flash crash” might be occurring. Check an hour later to see whether an orderly market has been restored.) Popular ETFs typically have spreads below 0.2%, but some bond and commodity ETFs have legitimately higher spreads due to trading differences.



5-mo. return is equal to an ETF’s nominal total return (not inflation-adjusted but including dividends) over the past 105 trading days.

Prices and returns, at least 20 minutes delayed, are recalculated approximately every 10 minutes while the market is open. To refresh your browser window, press F5 or Command+R.

Bid-ask spread is the difference between the bid price and ask price of a security, typically expressed as a percentage.

A flash crash is a temporary situation lasting a few minutes, during which prices and spreads suddenly move far from their typical values.

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