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Bridging the Gaps & Celebrating Women’s History Month

Bridging the Gaps & Celebrating Women’s History Month

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    As we celebrate National Women’s History month, we want to take the time to acknowledge our female investors, friends, and colleagues at Fenimore Asset Management. We believe women have never been in a better position to achieve financial independence for themselves and their families.

    The Fenimore team is currently 43% female comprising of women employees across all departments including members of the management team as well as Deb Pollard, Fenimore’s President. We are very proud of this statistic as we all move towards bridging the gaps in the financial services industry.

    Our team knows firsthand some of the unique challenges women can face.

    Some women have handled the family’s finances all along, while others may be new to the world of investing. No matter your level of expertise, there’s always room to learn more and adjust your plan based on your current circumstances:

  • Andrew Boord, Portfolio Manager - Fenimore Small Cap Strategy

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If you are a beginning investor:

  • Decide what you are saving for and how much you can afford to invest. Consider dollar cost averaging and increasing your savings each year. Dollar cost averaging is investing a fixed dollar amount over regularly scheduled intervals over time.
  • Don’t postpone getting started. The financial cost of waiting could be significant over time.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is important to understand the risk, objectives and fees associated with your investments. There are also various account types to consider that may offer different tax treatment.

If you are a more experienced investor:

  • Review your investment strategy to ensure it aligns with your financial goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance. The key is to try to maximize investment returns at a level of risk that you’re comfortable with.
  • Understand what you own and what role each investment plays in your portfolio.
  • Consider the impact of taxes, fees, trading costs, and inflation.

The team at Fenimore Asset Management is here to help.

Contact us at 1-800-932-3271 or  

Email Us


Fenimore Asset Management does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

There is no guarantee that any of the estimates, targets or projections illustrated in this summary will be achieved. There can be no guarantee that the investment objectives of Fenimore will be achieved. Any investment entails a risk of loss. An investor could lose all or substantially all of his or her investment. Clients or prospective clients should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses carefully before investing. You may obtain a copy of the most recent mutual fund prospectus by calling 800-932-3271 and/or visiting www.fenimoreasset.com.

Fenimore Asset Management Inc. is an SEC registered investment adviser; however, such registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training and no inference to the contrary should be made.

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FAM FUNDS 2021 YEAR-END DISTRIBUTIONS

FAM FUNDS 2021 YEAR-END DISTRIBUTIONS

2021 Distribution Details

The following table presents the year-to-date capital gains and income for each fund for 2021.

type Long-Term Capital Gains Short-Term Capital Gains Net Income
FAM Value Fund
Investor Share Class
$4.9129 $0.0363 $0.0215
FAM Value Fund
Institutional Share Class
$4.9129 $0.0363 $0.1966
FAM Dividend Focus Fund
Investor Share Class
$0.6951 $0.0035 $0.0000
FAM Small Cap Fund
Investor Share Class
$1.6346 $0.0000 $0.0000
FAM Small Cap Fund
Institutional Share Class
$1.6346 $0.0000 $0.0000

This is not tax advice. Please await your year-end tax documents for final amounts. Shareholders should contact their tax advisors to review the tax implications of capital gain and income distributions. 

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IRS Form 8937

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Volatility, Inflation, Interest rates, & Supply Chain

Volatility, Inflation, Interest Rates, & Supply Chain

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    February 3, 2022

    By Marc Roberts, CFA®
    Portfolio Manager, FAM Value Fund

    The market volatility over the last several weeks has caused a great deal of uncertainty and has left many investors with unanswered questions. Questions we have heard include:

    1. What are we seeing in terms of volatility, inflation, and the current interest rate and supply chain environment?
    2. What does Fenimore think about markets like these? Is volatility a threat or an opportunity?
    3. How does this affect my investments?
  • Marc Roberts

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Volatility

Fenimore believes volatility creates opportunity. While we would all like a long-term, never-down performance experience, the reality is that markets do fluctuate — they always have — and it is through those fluctuations that some of the best opportunities present themselves.

At Fenimore, we are staying the course and will:

  1. Continue to evaluate the companies we own. While this is always happening at Fenimore, we consider these particularly important times to be assessing all aspects of our investments, and whether there are other opportunities that we can take advantage of at this time. As we like to avoid overpaying for the companies we invest in, we seek to find great value in buying during times of market stress.
  2. Work with our clients to do the same and to think about these as opportune times to add capital to their accounts — to invest more at a time when prices are a bit lower. Over the long term, this should make a significant difference in the overall return and growth of their savings.

    Learn More

Inflation & Interest Rates

Over a prolonged period,[1] multiple decades, interest rates have remained low. While interest rates are up off the bottom, they are still very low by historical standards. These low rates typically support high valuations for financial assets like stocks and real estate.

Will they rise? Will inflation be permanent at a high level forcing interest rates to go up? These are questions that we ask ourselves frequently. Although we have no crystal ball to predict the level of inflation and interest rates, the recent headline inflation figure of 7% was elevated by several factors that may not reoccur:

  • The base-rate effect — 2021 prices were relative to 2020 levels when the economy was shut down
  • A rebound in energy prices that should not repeat to the same magnitude
  • Increases in new and used car prices driven by a shortage of semiconductors that is limiting the ability to build new cars
  • The mismatch of huge stimulus created demand coinciding with a virus constrained supply chain

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the average change in prices over time paid by consumers for a basket of goods and services. The CPI chart below illustrates the 5 key categories that account for the 7% increase in inflation, with gasoline and vehicle prices representing more than 50% of the increase as of December 2021.[2]

As the aforementioned factors show a reduced impact, we would expect headline inflation readings to soften. On the other hand, we must acknowledge that not all factors impacting inflation figures will reverse. Higher wages, living expenses, and increased prices for value-added goods and services may be here to stay.       

Supply Chain

Supply chain factors should get resolved over time. Corporate management teams are reacting to the challenging environment — manufacturing locations are being reconsidered, capacity is being increased, and new sources of supply are being uncovered. In addition, pandemic-driven bottlenecks should unwind as businesses continue to adapt to today’s operating environment. Over time, as supply rebalances, inflationary pressures from the supply chain should ease.

The bond market seems to know all this, which is why forward-looking prices in the bond market have the inflation rate over the next 10 years estimated at about 2.5%.[3]  We will continue to monitor these market-based expectations closely.

Fenimore’s View

At Fenimore, we consider ourselves as your trusted investor. Our active investment approach since 1974 has helped us navigate multiple economic and financial market cycles. This proprietary, research-intensive process reinforces active oversight and incorporates:

  • Creating and maintaining detailed models for each company we follow
  • Analyzing financial statements
  • Meeting with management and participating in quarterly conference calls
  • Speaking with suppliers, customers, and competitors
  • Monitoring the potential business impact of macroeconomic events
  • Sifting our investment ideas through four investment criteria filters: Quality Business, Financially Durable, Proven Management, Margin of Safety

In our experience, this proactive process helps us manage risk, especially during downturns, and can be one of the better ways to potentially grow wealth over the long term and outpace inflation. Our investment research team will continue to be active and take the long view and look for opportunities to invest more in what we believe are quality businesses — both among our current holdings and in enterprises we’ve admired and desired to own but were too richly priced for us.

We can never know the future, but our team knows our holdings — both the businesses and the management teams. This gives us the confidence we need to execute Fenimore’s long-term strategy: buying stock in what we deem to be quality businesses that meet our rigorous standards and are ideally positioned to do well in good times and persevere through adversity.

What Should Investors Do?

As advisors well know, the key is to have a comprehensive, understandable, long-term investment plan that can serve as a foundation — it is hard to stay the course if you do not know the course.

The better you understand what you are invested in and why, the more confidence you have in your investments. Fenimore’s distinctive, firsthand knowledge of the companies behind your investments is crucial and helps to maintain a long-term focus regardless of any stock market, economic, or geopolitical uncertainty.

Fenimore Asset Management: Fenimore, manager of the FAM Funds, has been providing differentiated investment management solutions for nearly five decades. Learn more about our unique history and how we partner. Call 800-721-5391.

[1] https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DGS10

[2] https://www.bls.gov/cpi/tables/supplemental-files/home.htm

[3] https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/T10YIE

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Our Fundamental Analysis Gives Us Confidence

OUR FUNDAMENTAL ANALYSIS GIVES US CONFIDENCE

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    John Fox, CEO

    Investors often ask me, “How does Fenimore manage its investments so confidently when the future is so unsure?”

    My answer,

    “You don’t have to know the future, but you do have to know your companies.”

  • John Fox, CEO

    John Fox, CEO

For example:

  1. Early in the pandemic, I spoke with the leader of one of our long-term industrial holdings. He said he expected the U.S. to soon be in the midst of an economic shutdown, that it would be at least a year before we returned to any sense of normalcy, and that they were ready. He said their revenue could decrease by as much as 50% and they could still break even due to their financial profile. This was a solid business, in our opinion, and these insights gave us confidence to maintain our stake even as the stock price dropped significantly. Today, we are very pleased with the stock price.
  1. Our research analysts conducted an in-depth review of a longtime automobile industry holding in the spring of 2020. We know their leaders and wanted to assess if they could survive with their showrooms closed due to the virus. With $600 million in cash, access to ample credit, and manageable debt we believed they could. Our thesis was correct and we estimate that they have a long runway for growth.
  1. Simultaneously, there were several holdings where we lost confidence, so we sold them and redirected dollars into what the portfolio managers viewed as higher quality businesses with staying power. Our personal knowledge of these operations helped us make educated decisions.

We can never know the future, but our researchers know our holdings and their management. This gives us the confidence we need to execute our long-term strategy: buying stock in what we deem to be quality businesses that meet our exacting standards and are ideally positioned to do well in good times and persevere through adversity.

As fundamental value investors with a long-term mindset, the firsthand knowledge we have of our companies, their industries, and their competitors, delivers high-conviction portfolios.

Fenimore Asset Management: Fenimore, manager of the FAM Funds, has been providing differentiated investment management solutions for nearly five decades. Learn more about our unique history and how we partner. Call 800-721-5391.

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Fenimore’s 2021 Year-End Newsletter

Fenimore’s 2021 Year-End Newsletter

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Fenimore Asset Management’s 2021 newsletter features:

  • Investment Insights from CEO John Fox: “You don’t have to know the future, but you do have to know your companies.”
  • President Deb Pollard’s message on Fenimore’s commitment to delivering useful investment knowledge to you when and where you want it.
  • Founder & Executive Chairman Tom Putnam’s article that explains the next step in Fenimore’s carefully designed evolution.
  • Year-end details on charitable gifts and IRA contributions.
  • All the latest on how the Fenimore team is growing for you — in numbers and service capabilities.
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Charitable Contributions from IRAs

Charitable Contributions from IRAs

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    Did you know that, if you are at least 70½ years old, you can make tax-free charitable donations directly from your IRA? By making what’s called a qualified charitable distribution (QCD), you can benefit your favorite charity while excluding up to $100,000 annually from gross income. These gifts, also known as “charitable IRA rollovers,” would otherwise be taxable IRA distributions.1

    How QCDs work

    In order to make a QCD, you simply instruct your IRA trustee to make a distribution directly from your IRA (other than SEP and SIMPLE IRAs) to a qualified charity. The distribution must be one that would otherwise be taxable to you. You can exclude up to $100,000 of QCDs from your gross income each year. And if you file a joint return, your spouse (if 70½ or older) can exclude an additional $100,000 of QCDs. Note: You don’t get to deduct QCDs as a charitable contribution on your federal income tax return — that would be double-dipping. QCDs count toward satisfying any required minimum distributions (RMDs) that you would otherwise have to receive from your IRA, just as if you had received an actual distribution from the plan. However, distributions that you actually receive from your IRA (including RMDs) and subsequently transfer to a charity cannot qualify as QCDs.

  • Andrew Boord, Portfolio Manager - Fenimore Small Cap Strategy

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Why are QCDs important?

Without this special rule, taking a distribution from your IRA and donating the proceeds to a charity would be a bit more cumbersome and possibly more expensive. You would request a distribution from the IRA and then make the contribution to the charity yourself. You’d include the distribution in gross income and then take a corresponding income tax deduction for the charitable contribution. But due to IRS limits, the additional tax from the distribution may be more than the charitable deduction. And due to much higher standard deduction amounts ushered in by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in 2017, itemizing deductions may have become even less beneficial in 2018 and beyond, rendering QCDs even more potentially appealing. QCDs avoid all this by providing an exclusion from income for the amount paid directly from your IRA to the charity — you don’t report the IRA distribution in your gross income, and you don’t take a deduction for the QCD.

Fenimore Asset Management does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

1 Beginning after 2019, if you make deductible contributions to an IRA for the year you reach age 70½ or beyond, this could reduce the allowable amount of your QCD.

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Q3 Earnings: Resilient Small Caps

Q3 Earnings: Resilient Small Caps

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    • Small-cap earnings are strong, from our viewpoint, in an environment that is working through supply chain and inflationary challenges. Per Bloomberg, 87% of Russell 2000 companies reported earnings with 60% beating sales expectations and earnings estimates (as of 11/12/2021). 
    • Supply chain disruption has negatively impacted the ability of many businesses to procure adequate supplies. Less supply has also led to input cost inflation. Additionally, numerous companies are reporting hiring challenges resulting in wage inflation.
    • Many firms that we have heard from expect these issues to last well into 2022. To the extent they last longer, margins will probably be pressured at most businesses. 
    • Despite these challenges, demand remains strong, the consumer is healthy, and many enterprises have successfully raised prices to combat these issues.
    • Fenimore remains focused on the long term. Some of our small-cap holdings will likely face short-term disruption. Several should find it easier to withstand these shocks and some should actually benefit. Regardless of the current issues, we believe that all our holdings are high-quality and remain positive as it relates to their long-term prospects.    
  • Kevin Gioia

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    Kevin Gioia, CFA
    Portfolio Manager, FAM Small Cap Fund

THE QUEST FOR QUALITY SMALL-CAP STOCKS

White Paper – Read Here

Podcast – Listen Here

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A Quarter Century of Finding Value in Dividend-Paying Mid-Cap Companies

A Quarter Century of Finding Value
in Dividend-Paying Mid-Cap Companies

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    Before the internet boom went bust in the early 2000s and prior to FAANGs1 dominating passive investors’ portfolios, one mutual fund strategy found that the most straight forward approach led to creating long-term wealth via investing in great companies.

    This year marks the 25th anniversary of Fenimore’s FAM Dividend Focus Fund, which has outperformed2 with a concentrated portfolio of mid-cap names with long-term growth potential. According to the fund’s Co-Manager Paul Hogan, who has managed the fund since its inception, the fund’s strong emphasis on quality rather than riding fashionable market trends is what makes the difference. The fund’s mantra is that of Fenimore Founder Thomas O. Putnam in seeking out investments to make “the train go faster not longer.”

  • Andrew Boord, Portfolio Manager - Fenimore Small Cap Strategy

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In searching for the right stocks, mid-caps are a fertile space because they typically grow at a faster clip than large-cap companies. For the most part, the faster a company grows, the faster it can grow its dividend to shareholders as well. The dividend provides additional yield that in turn boosts long-term portfolio gains. While there are numerous mutual funds focused on large-cap dividend paying strategies, FAM’s focus on the mid-cap sector essentially doubles the number of companies to consider.

When evaluating these companies, Mr. Hogan and Co-Manager William Preston travel extensively to meet management teams in-person to not only get a sense of the company ethos but gain insights on whether a company is best in class and has room to grow.

Trade shows too offer a unique vantage point to see a company’s potential in action. A key question Mr. Hogan and Mr. Preston seek to answer is why clients want to do business with a particular company. Such events offer confirmation. Mr. Hogan recalled that about a decade ago one of the fund’s original holdings IDEX Corporation unveiled a new battery-operated ‘jaws of life’ tool demonstrating how with little training anyone could save a life.

When we look at our investment strategy, the first thing we are always concerned about is preservation of capital,” said Mr. Hogan. “So for us it’s first preserve capital, second generate an attractive return, and third, let the compounders compound.”

1 Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), and Alphabet (GOOG).
2 Morningstar 3, 5, 10 year periods vs. the Russell Midcap Index.

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5 Helpful Tips to Long-Term Investing

5 Helpful Tips to Long-Term Investing

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    A successful investor maximizes gain and minimizes loss. Though there can be no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful and all investing involves risk, here are basic principles that may help you invest more successfully.

    1. Long-term compounding can help your nest egg grow

    It’s the “rolling snowball” effect. Put simply, compounding pays you earnings on your reinvested earnings. The longer you leave your money at work for you, the more exciting the numbers can get.

    For example, imagine an investment of $10,000 at an annual rate of return of 8 percent. In 20 years, assuming no withdrawals, your $10,000 investment would grow to $46,610. In 25 years, it would grow to $68,485, a 47 percent gain over the 20-year figure. After 30 years, your account would total $100,627.[1]

  • Vibrant Green Forest

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This simple example also assumes that no taxes are paid along the way, so all money stays invested. That would be the case in a tax-deferred individual retirement account or qualified retirement plan. The compounded earnings of deferred tax dollars are the main reason experts recommend fully funding all tax-advantaged retirement accounts and plans available to you.

While you should review your portfolio on a regular basis, the point is that money left alone in an investment offers the potential of a significant return over time. With time on your side, you don’t have to go for investment “home runs” in order to be successful.

2. Endure short-term pain for potential long-term gain

Riding out market volatility sounds simple, doesn’t it? But what if you’ve invested $10,000 in the stock market and the price of the stock drops like a stone one day? On paper, you’ve lost a bundle, offsetting the value of compounding you’re trying to achieve. It’s tough to stand pat.

There’s no denying it — the financial marketplace can be volatile. Still, it’s important to remember two things:

  1. The longer you stay with a diversified portfolio of investments, the more likely you are to reduce your risk and improve your opportunities for gain. Though past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, the long-term direction of the stock market has historically been up.
  2. Take your time horizon into account when establishing your investment game plan. For assets you’ll use soon, you may not have the time to wait out the market and should consider investments designed to protect your principal. Conversely, think long-term for goals that are many years away.

3. Consider your time horizon in your investment choices

You’ll need to consider how quickly you might need to convert an investment into cash without loss of principal (your initial investment). Generally speaking, the sooner you’ll need your money, the wiser it is to keep it in investments whose prices remain relatively stable. You want to avoid a situation, for example, where you need to use money quickly that is tied up in an investment whose price is currently down.

Therefore, your investment choices should take into account how soon you’re planning to use your money. If you’ll need the money within the next couple of years, you may want to consider keeping it in a money market fund or other cash alternative whose aim is to protect your initial investment. Your rate of return may be lower than that possible with more volatile investments such as stocks, but you may find comfort knowing that the principal you invested is relatively safe and quickly available, without concern over market conditions on a given day.

Conversely, if you have a longtime horizon — for example, if you’re investing for a retirement that’s many years away — you may be able to invest a greater percentage of your assets in something that might have more dramatic price changes, but that might also have greater potential for long-term growth.

4. Dollar-cost averaging: investing consistently and often

Dollar-cost averaging is a method of accumulating shares of an investment by purchasing a fixed dollar amount at regularly scheduled intervals over an extended time. When the price is high, your fixed-dollar investment buys less; when prices are low, the same dollar investment will buy more shares. A regular, fixed-dollar investment should result in a lower average price per share than you would get buying a fixed number of shares at each investment interval. A workplace savings plan, such as a 401(k) plan that deducts the same amount from each paycheck and invests it through the plan, is one of the most well-known examples of dollar-cost averaging in action.[2]

Remember that, just as with any investment strategy, dollar-cost averaging can’t guarantee you a profit or protect you against a loss if the market is declining. To maximize the potential effects of dollar-cost averaging, you should also assess your ability to keep investing even when the market is down.

An alternative to dollar-cost averaging would be trying to “time the market” in an effort to predict how the price of the shares will fluctuate in the months ahead so you can make your full investment at the absolute lowest point. However, market timing is generally unprofitable guesswork. The discipline of regular investing is a much more manageable strategy, and it has the added benefit of automating the process.

5. Focus on the forest, not on the trees

As the markets go up and down, it’s easy to become too focused on day-to-day returns. While only you can decide how much investment risk you can handle, in our experience we believe it’s good to keep your eyes on your long-term investing goals and your overall portfolio.

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[1] This hypothetical example may not reflect the actual growth of your savings or investments and it does not consider the effects of inflation. Past performance does not indicate future results.

[2] Dollar-cost averaging is a plan of continuous investment in securities regardless of their inconsistent prices. Of course, you must consider your financial ability to continually purchase shares. As with all investment methods, there is no performance guarantee.


IMPORTANT FENIMORE ASSET MANAGEMENT DISCLOSURES

Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax
professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fenimore Asset Management or its officers. Fenimore Asset Management or its officers have no editorial control over the content of the article or subject matter, and is independent of Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

The information herein is subject to change and is not intended to be complete or to constitute all of the information necessary to evaluate adequately the consequences of investing in any securities or other financial instruments or strategies described herein. These materials also include information obtained from other sources believed to be reliable, but Fenimore does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. In no event shall Fenimore be liable for any use by any party of, for any decision made or action taken by any party in reliance upon, or for any inaccuracies or errors in, or omissions from, the information contained herein and such information may not be relied upon by you in evaluating the merits of participating in any transaction.

In part, the purpose of this presentation may be to provide investors with an update on financial market conditions. The description of certain aspects of the market herein is a condensed summary only. This summary does not purport to be complete and no obligation to update or otherwise revise such information is being assumed. These materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not otherwise intended as an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to purchase, any security or other financial instrument. This summary is not advice, a recommendation or an offer to enter into any transaction with Fenimore or any of their affiliated funds.

We undertake no duty or obligation to publicly update or revise the information contained in this presentation. In addition, information related to past performance, while helpful as an evaluative tool, is not necessarily indicative of future results, the achievement of which cannot be assured. You should not view the past performance of Fenimore funds, or information about the market, as indicative of future results.

All projections, forecasts and estimates of returns and other “forward-looking” information not purely historical in nature are based on assumptions, which are unlikely to be consistent with, and may differ materially from, actual events or conditions. Such forward-looking information only illustrates hypothetical results under certain assumptions and does not reflect actual investment results and is not a guarantee of future results. Actual results will vary with each use and over time, and the variations may be material. Nothing herein should be construed as an investment recommendation or as legal, tax, investment or accounting advice.

Clients or prospective clients should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses carefully before investing. You may obtain a copy of the most recent mutual fund prospectus by calling 800-932-3271 and/or visiting www.fenimoreasset.com.

There is no guarantee that any of the estimates, targets or projections illustrated in this summary will be achieved. Any references herein to any of Fenimore’s past or present investments, portfolio characteristics, or performance, have been provided for illustrative purposes only. It should not be assumed that these investments were or will be profitable or that any future investments will be profitable or will equal the performance of these investments. There can be no guarantee that the investment objectives of Fenimore will be achieved. Any investment entails a risk of loss. An investor could lose all or substantially all of his or her investment. Unless otherwise noted, information included herein is presented as of the date indicated on the cover page and may change at any time without notice.

Fenimore Asset Management Inc. is an SEC registered investment adviser; however, such registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training and no inference to the contrary should be made.

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Letter from Cobleskill – Autumn

Letter From Cobleskill

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    Dear Fellow Shareholder,

    Since the pandemics onset, we have taken two steps forward and one step back on several occasions. This is another one of those times. Corporate earnings for 2021’s first two quarters exceeded expectations and stock prices followed upward. During the third quarter, however, we saw the economy, earnings, and stock market slow down. It happened suddenly, but it is nothing to be alarmed about from our long-term investment perspective.

    A visit to your local grocery store provides a telling picture of what is going on — some shelves are sparsely stocked and more customers are wearing masks.

  • Letter From Cobleskill - Fall 2021

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Earlier this year, with COVID-19 cases on the decline and federal stimulus checks in hand, consumers rushed back into the marketplace — buying homes and cars, taking vacations, and attending all sorts of events. This was great for business. Sales were up, corporate profits jumped, and stock prices rose along with them. Until companies just could not keep up.

The reason is when the economy shut down, so did production lines. Then, when consumer demand exploded, manufacturers could not ramp up fast enough or find the employees they needed. Demand is simply outpacing supply. For example, automakers cannot obtain the semiconductors they need to build cars. Homeowners looking to upgrade appliances often cannot find what they need. As a result, people are suddenly spending less.

At the same time, businesses dealing with staffing shortages are reducing hours, further dampening sales. And now the upswing in COVID-19 cases is sending more people back into the safety of their homes and impacting restaurant seatings, air travel, and other elements of the mobile economy. Combined, these economic disruptions have forced some companies to downgrade their earnings estimates and this has slowed stock market growth.

What the fall has in store for us is impossible to predict — and certainly we are concerned about the resurging health impacts of the virus — but in our view the long-term outlook remains bright. Demand for consumer products is still high and the supply chain kinks should get straightened out. Quality businesses typically adapt, continue to grow, and should be bigger and more profitable five years from now than they are today.

We believe this bodes well for the FAM Funds. Our research team seeks quality companies with solid financial footings that we think are ideally positioned to weather any storm and deliver strong results over time. We focus not on the random, day-to-day, short-term turbulence in the economy or market, but on the businesses behind the stocks.

Have there been some unanticipated changes in recent weeks? Sure. But they do not alter our long-term vision. We believe we will take another two steps forward … And the shelves will once again be completely stocked.

Announcing a transition

Fenimore Founder and Executive Chairman Tom Putnam built the framework for a long-term succession plan many years ago to ensure continuity of experience and investment philosophy for years to come. I am pleased to announce the latest step in this plan.

Longtime Fenimore Investment Research Analyst Marc Roberts has been named as a Portfolio Manager of the FAM Value Fund. Marc served successfully in the same role for the FAM Small Cap fund from 2012 to 2016 before relocating to Chicago. He returned to us last year and quickly re-established himself as a key member of our research team. Marc joins me and Drew Wilson in managing the fund.

At the same time, Tom has announced that he will transition away from being a portfolio manager on our funds at the end of 2021 to concentrate fully on his Executive Chairman role. He will continue to be a mentor and an active participant in our research process and strategic direction. The rest of our fund management teams, including those of us who have led these teams for several years, will remain in place. Paul Hogan and Will Preston manage the FAM Dividend Focus Fund and Andrew Boord and Kevin Gioia the FAM Small Cap Fund.

We look forward to continuing Tom’s well-established tradition of collaborative, team management of the FAM Funds and to working diligently every day as we seek to grow your wealth over time.

Lets connect

We value the personal connections we have with our shareholders. You can reach us with any questions at 800-932-3271, through the contact us section of our website, or via info@fenimoreasset.com. Our team also welcomes you to meet with us in either our Albany or Cobleskill office or via Zoom.

We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you for your continued confidence in us.

Sincerely,
John D. Fox, CFA
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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Thomas O. Putnam founded Fenimore in 1974 with two passions: conduct in-depth, firsthand, independent investment research and serve investors with excellence and integrity. Today Fenimore Asset Management, manager of the FAM Funds, is nationally recognized, yet locally rooted and independently owned. Decades have passed, but our approach endures.

Securities offered through Fenimore Securities, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC,
and advisory services offered through Fenimore Asset Management, Inc.

© Fenimore Asset Management. All Rights Reserved.