Market update

Money pasteThe stock market has had a five week “correction” followed by a one week recovery – that recouped 70% of the corrections losses. While sentiment has seemingly shifted from an extreme doom and gloom outlook over the past few weeks, statistically the stock market retests its lows about 67% of the time. Meaning we will likely give up this week’s gains.

aWhile I remain cautious, we did buy a couple of holdings for our portfolios this week. Notably P&G for our dividend strategies. P&G is THE dividend aristocrat based on its history of paying a dividend every year since the mid 1890’s (that’s not a typo!). P&G just hasn’t been cheap enough to meet my criteria. Yesterday I gave in and took a position across our dividend portfolios. P&G released earnings this morning and we were rewarded with a 3% gain in early morning trading.

Our growth portfolios are also seeing changes. We will focus more on individual stocks as we rotate into the “Buy in October” seasonal strategy.

I’ve also added an article on the bond market that was published yesterday at horsesmouth.com. The main takeaways are 1. While the stock market can’t decide if the economy is too strong (meaning the Fed will start raising interest rates) or too cool (economy drops to recessionary levels) the bond market seems pretty convinced that the economy will continue in the “just about right” pace. And 2.  Even if the Fed raises short term rates, longer term rates aren’t likely to keep pace. While the economy is growing it is too soft to support a sharp rise in long term interest rates. While Fed action could spark a recession it is likey  4- 5 years out. My caveat to that is Europe. Major European bank failures will roil our market and economy. PDF:  Horsesmouth _ Bonds

The take away is this. Many advisors are recommending clients move into short term bonds as a defensive move against rising rates. However, the bond market is telling us that intermediate bonds – in the 8 – 10 year maturity range may actually be affected less if the Fed starts to raise short term rates.

Spooked Markets: Is This the Correction?

Horsesmouth | William DeShurkoHere is an article that posted on www.horsesmouth.com today.

One advantage technical analysis has over fundamental analysis is that it should take the emotion out of investment decisions. Graphs and charts don’t lie, they are what they are. And what they are now is pretty darn ugly. For a full review read the entire article can be downloaded: Spooked Markets.

The short summary is that we have been selling our more aggressive holdings for a month now. We will be moving all 401(k)’s 50% into a cash position, raising another 20% cash in our Growth” strategy and will likely look to hedge our Dividend strategies with a “short” ETF.

 

Market Commentary

In the real world study of schizophrenia known as the stock market some of you (ok probably about all of you with a life) may have missed this news over the weekend:

“This past weekend, China printed their September Import and Export data, and brother did it surprise everyone with how strong these two components were. September Exports rose 15.3% VS a year ago, and Imports rose 7% for the same time frame. The consensus was for 12% and -2 respectively, so not only did Exports and Imports kick some tail and take names later, they beat the forecasts! I think that this data is good proof in the pudding that China will show a recovery in the economy in the 3rd QTR, and really improve in the 4th QTR.” The Daily Pfennig

Why is this important enough to warrant a blog post? Because the “market” can’t decide whether to panic over the economy being too good – and the Fed raising interest rates soon, or whether to panic because the global economy is so bad that a slowdown will cross onto our shores and deflate our record high corporate earnings that have kept this market rally alive.

While Europe is still the big question, the prospect of a further slowdown of the Chinese economy has also spooked commodities and the industrial sectors. Maybe with some optimism that Chinese growth has bottomed we can put a floor on the market and end the current selloff.

As I have mentioned many times, it’s best to make your investment plans before events happen, taking the emotions away from decision making. I noted earlier that we began building our “arc” months ago. We have raised substantial amounts of cash in our Dividend and Growth managed portfolios – in the 35% range. And have about 20% cash in our Growth portfolios. Even if the markets turnaround from here, many stocks have seen fairly large selloffs and I have a shopping list of discounted equities that I am ready to buy.

On a side note, OPEC led by the Saudi’s, has continued to produce oil at their previous pace despite a global slowdown in demand. Normally you can count on the Saudi’s to cut production to prop up prices. This time however they have chosen to keep the pedal to the metal so to speak and maintain production. Why the change in strategy? Because they feel that by lowering the cost of a barrel of oil they will slow down the growth of U S and Canadian production which they see as a threat to their economy. What goes around…comes around…

Even more ironically, with gas prices dropping by about $.50 a gallon over the last year, the average driver is saving about $100 a month at the pump. By giving the U S consumer a little extra spending money, the Saudi’s have done what our own politicians are incapable of – creating a policy to help out us poor working stiffs in the middle class!

Market Outlook

cantin1For sometime now we have remained fully invested, but very nervous. Starting in mid-September, I have been cutting back on our risk exposure. Our Seasonal Growth model has been in more conservative (lower beta) equities since May. In addition we are now about 25% in cash as well. For our Dividend portfolios I started moving out of some of our more cyclical stocks in September as well. While we may look fully invested, the Toews High Yield Fund is currently 100% in cash. Additionally I continually look at our holdings and am only looking to buy stocks that are particulary cheap.

For those that enjoyed this week’s red moon/lunar eclipse, you might (or might not) enjoy this bit of stock market history from thedailypfennig.com:

“As it happens, we find ourselves smack in the middle of an astronomical/market phenomenon known as a “Puetz window.” In the early 1990s, researcher Steve Puetz looked into eight epic market crashes — starting with Holland’s tulip mania of the 17th century, ending with Japan’s meltdown in 1990 and  including the U.S. crashes of 1929 and 1987.

Turns out every one of them took place within a few days of a full moon/lunar eclipse. And each time, that  lunar eclipse took place within six weeks of a solar eclipse. (We’ll spare you the suspense: A solar eclipse is
coming up on Oct. 23.)

Puetz ran the numbers and concluded the odds of these circumstances being sheer coincidence were 127,000-to-1.

We leave it to others to debate the validity of the “Puetz window” as a useful forecasting tool. We’ll note here the current one continues through the end of the week. We’ll note further that while epic crashes tend to occur during Puetz windows, not every Puetz window results in a crash.

The next Puetz window, you wonder? Early next April. About six months from now.”

 

(photo from nasa.gov)

While the markets have shown some recent volatility, the one thing we can count on is our dividends and dividend increases. One of our popular holdings, Microsoft (MSFT) announced a dividend increase yesterday. Their quarterly payment has been upped from $.28 to $.31 giving investors an 11% raise in their income. When is the last time you received an 11% raise?

For more information on how to have a life long stream of rising income schedule a free portfolio analysis today!

bill@401advisor.com

Investors.com quote

Here is a link to an article, Biotechnology ETFs Show Rebust Health In August I was quoted in posted at investors.com – the online publication of The Investor’s Business Daily (IBD). Short article focusing on two of the hottest market sectors, biotech and solar/green energy. My take is that it is mainly a consequence of a “risk on” market attitude that comes from global central banks jointly adding money into their respective economies. “Don’t fight the Fed” is particularly appropriate when multiple Fed’s are all pursuing the same easy money policy. Especially now that the ECB has decided to join the party.

Fed Policy and the Market

Below is an excerpt from our Monday report from Sterne Agee, (emphasis added):

“Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a balanced assessment of the labor market in her keynote speech at Jackson Hole last week, according to Standard and Poor’s Economics. She said there is no “simple recipe for appropriate policy.” She indicated that the economy is improving and that the FOMC now is questioning the degree of slack, and repeated that faster progress toward the employment and inflation goals could speed up rate hikes. She also reminded us that if progress is disappointing, then the accommodative stance could remain intact longer. In other words, the Fed remains data dependent.

 What does all this mean for the timing of the exit from zero interest rates? We still think it is likely to come sometime in the second quarter of 2015.

During the next round of rate increases, investors appear to be fairly confident that equity prices will hold up, theorizing that an improving economy…should help support, if not boost, share prices. In addition, they point to two prior Fed tightening periods in which the S&P 500 held up remarkably well.”

Now let me translate. The consensus amongst Wall Streeters is that rates will increase in the second quarter of next year. This is a case where perception is far more important than reality as this could change if the economy progresses or regresses at a faster pace than anticipated. So “Data dependant” means that moderately bad economic news – the economy is growing, but at a slower pace than expected, will continue to be good news for the market as that would lessen the odds of a near term rate increase. But really bad news, as in recessionary news, or really good news (faster economy = faster rate increases) will be bad news for the stock market. In other words, we are in the bad news is good news market cycle.

Without extreme news, expect a continuation of the stock market rally from here into the end of the first quarter of 2015. The key to a rally continuation will come from first quarter 2015 earnings results. The question will be if an accelerating economy and theoretically rising sales can offset rising pressure on wages and rising costs from interest expenses.

401 Advisor, LLC’s position in our Dividend Income Plus strategy is currently 100% invested, with a rotation to what we deem to be higher quality issues. While the media focus is on the middle east and  domestic turmoil, the real issues are Europe’s economy heading to recession, and China’s aggression in the far east. We’re invested…but nervous with the bailout plan in place.

No Need to Worry: Positive Trends Remain in Place

Last week I published an article at horsesmouth.com that can be downloaded here: Liquidity Worries.

The short version is that the stock market seems to be continuing along in its uptrend. Despite a few recent bumps and a little volatility the trend is firmly in place. However, and this is becoming a more and more troublesome however, there is definitely some signs of worry appearing. You may have heard or read about a selloff in high yield bonds. Or you may have noticed that we sold a large position from your account (BKLN) if you are a client in our Dividend and Growth Strategy. High yield bonds have in the past acted as an early warning signs to trouble in the stock market. A sharp selloff is worth watching.

Specifically in this case, it is my opinion that such a selloff has occurred because there is way too much money in the high yield market that doesnt really belong there. That is normally safe money that would be in bank CDs or maybe higher quality corporate or even government bonds or mutual funds. But since yields and interest rates are so low, the money has migrated up the risk sladder to grab the 5%+ yields in the high yield market. Money that is stretching for yield is typically skittish it heads for the exits quickly with a hint of trouble. And that is what we saw at the end of July into early August.

The point of my article is that the same conditions safe money stretching for return, exists in the stock market. CD money is eschewing sub 1% interest rates for 3%+ dividend yields. Investors have taken out record amount of margin debt (borrowing money using stocks as collateral to buy more stocks). Record high margin levels as we have now were associated with both the Tech Wreck of 2000 and the Financial Crisis collapse in 2007. Although I dont see a particular reason for a stock market collapse, should a selloff get started it could very easily begin to snow ball, and a normal 10% correction could become twice that or more very quickly.

Bottom line. Now is not the time to take on added risk to your portfolios unless you have a very defined plan to act and act quickly should a market selloff start. We have refocused our portfolios on high quality dividend payers, and have sold our high yield investments. Im currently targeting a 25% cash position.

For more information read the entire article here, or give me a call at 937-434-1790, or send an email to: bill@401advisor.com

Defensive investing in a Bull Market

Building equity portfolios in a bull market is hard. Clients get caught up in the exuberance and reckon the more stocks they own, the better diversified they are. Protect your stock enthusiasts with a diversified portfolio built on low correlation, low-beta equities, and the appropriate number of asset classes. Your clients will thank you when their mania wanes.

Article posted on Horsesmouth.com July 10, 2014.

Horsesmouth _ Defensive Investing

“The time to build an arc is when the sun is shining.”

The stock market is reaching new highs while the economy seems to be sputtering along. This has created an environment that has led Brian Nelson, CFA of Valuentum Securities appropriately using a baseball analogy during the baseball All Star Game and Home Run Derby to say, ” If there is an environment more difficult to hit a pitch out of the ball park, I don’t think I’ve seen one.”

My take is similar. The economy is improving and I don’t fear a rise in short term interest rates from the Fed. I’m in the camp that we need modestly higher interest rates to encourage banks to lend. On the other hand, while I don’t see any reason for a market correction, we are definitely due a routine 10% – 20% correction. What I am afraid of is that conditions exist such that an innocuous 10% correction could quickly become a full blown sell off – and very quickly.

And thus we have decided to start building our “arc.” My intent is to stay fully invested within the parameters of our investment models. However, we are definitely rotating our stock holdings into quality holdings. We’ve sold some of our higher yielding but lower quality investments and have sought out low cost, dividend growing cash flow kings that have proven they can weather a storm. We have backtested our holdings against several market scenarios and feel very comfortable should we get a surprise on the down side. At the same time, if the market continues its trek up, I think we will be well rewarded for holding low priced quality stocks.

This is when being “small” works to our advantage. With slim pickings in the markets for stocks that meet our stringent criteria, I am happy to hold 15 – 25 non-correlated stocks in a portfolio and not be forced to own hundreds of issues like a mutual fund.

I recently described my portfolio building process in an article for horsesmouth.com, a subscription site for financial advisors. A copy of the full article has been posted in the Library section of this web site.


bill@401advisor.com • 937.434.1790

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Charles H. Dow Award Winner 2008. The papers honored with this award have represented the richness and depth of technical analysis.

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