John Barr: I manage the Needham Aggressive Growth Fund, Chris manages the Needham Small-Cap Growth Fund, and together we co-manage the Needham Growth Fund. We focus on investing in domestic growth equities ? but at a reasonable price. And our objective is to create wealth for long-term investors.
To put our view of the market opportunity in perspective, we continue to believe that central bankers worldwide will maintain accommodative monetary policies, which should be positive for equities. Everywhere we look, there are accommodative policies. The ECB has a massive quantitative easing program through September 2016.
Europe has seen negative interest rates. U.S. first quarter GDP is probably negative, which means that U.S. rates aren?t going to be normalized soon. Then we look to China where they?ve had the largest lowering in their reserve requirement since 2008. There?s been a monetary easing somewhere in the world every third day since 2009.
But we continue to see opportunities for small-cap investors and for small-cap investments in our Funds.
Now I will turn it over to Chris to talk about mergers and acquisitions, which is one of the major themes that we see in our universe, and in growth investing.
Chris Retzler: I want to highlight the impact of mergers and acquisitions within the equity world in the first half of 2015, which has brought great excitement and a rebirth to large companies deploying capital into high growth, small and mid-cap companies. That benefits many of the investment ideas that we typically invest in.
In the first quarter, we benefitted from of a handful of acquisitions of our portfolio companies. Companies include Life Time Fitness (NYSE: LTM), Micrel (Nasdaq: MCRL), Aruba Networks (Nasdaq: ARUN), Entropic Communications (Nasdaq: ENTR), Borderfree (Nasdaq: BRDR) and Emulex (NYSE: ELX). And we expect to see an increase in activity over the next 12 to 18 months.
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