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Dividend Investing

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401 Advisor, LLC specializes in building client portfolios using dividend paying stocks due to their long term history of providing superior returns over non dividend payers. I recently contributed to an article posted by U S News on their web site. The article highlights warning signs that a stock may be cutting their dividend in the future.

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Do you have Genworth Long Term Care Insurance?

Just a quick warning to anyone that may have purchased a Genworth Long Term Care product. Genworths stock dropped over 30% on Thursday after they reported earnings. Apparently the restated their financials after recalculating the reserves required for their outstanding Long Term Care Insurance contracts. Simply put, they admitted that they grossly underestimated how long clients would live and thus how long they would utilize their long term care insurance.

What does this mean to an insured? Likely premium increases. LTC products guarantee premiums wont go up on an individual basis, but they can increase premiums across all policies of the same class. Based on what Ive read, expect rates to go up very significantly. 

For more information give us a call and we can review your coverage.

Another Raise

One of our more popular holdings, McDonalds (MCD) has come under a bit of pressure lately  both in the media and on Wall Street. After reaching a high near $102 a share in May of this year the stock price has dropped to below $90 a share in October. The media has pounded their menu saying that the younger millennials are avoiding MCD for healthier alternatives. And yet Ive doggedly held their stock in many  client accounts.

While the jury is still out, we are starting to see the reasons for holding and our continued purchase of MCD. First, MCD is held in our Dividend and Growth strategy accounts. Their dividend has been above 3% even at its peak price. More importantly the dividend has been increased for 38 consecutive years and in this area MCD did not disappoint  they announced a 5% dividend increase payable to shareholders at the end of November. This brings their current yield to 3.59% as of market price on 11/6/2014 and annualizing the dividend.

Part II of my thesis is that McDonalds is still a cherry job for anyone in advertising. Their contract has to be one of the largest in the advertising world. Money buys the best and the brightest. MCD will find a way to come back into the good graces of the fast food consuming public. Surveys are already showing some in roads from campaigns such as this social media campaign that coincides with the relaunch of the McRib sandwich.

MCD is a great example of an investing concept I will come back to in future posts: the difference between buying a company and buying a stock. Stock buyers look for price appreciation in the near term. The media is created for stock traders. Investors like the Warren Buffets of the world buy companies.  Companies generate cash flow that is unaffected by stock price that allows them toraise dividends by 5% even when their stock price slides by 12%.

While Im not happy with the stock, I am happy owning the company, mainly because they pay my clients a 3.59% dividend while we wait for their stock to turn around. And next year we will likely get another raise.

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 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

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

“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.

Market Sends Mixed Signals

On Thursday HorsesMouth.com published an article I wrote on the market’s mixed signals. Despite most predictions to the contrary, interest rates have declined fairly substantially this year. Falling interest rates are usually a sign of (fear) of a slowing economy. The stock market however, despite a short pause in March, has pretty much marched upward in a surprisingly consistent fashion. The stock market is considered a leading indicator for the economy. Therefore a rising stock market portends an improving economy. So which is right?

In the article I reviewed the economic data for May and other indicators. There is no question the economy continues to show improvement, albeit at an unsatisfying slow pace. I believe the bond market sell off is anticipating a rise in short term interest rates IF the Fed were to put an end to their zero interest rate policy (ZIRP). Although the economy shows modest growth, the growth is seen (by the bond market) as too modest to continue if interest rates were to rise.

For investors we continue with our theme of market seasonality. While our portfolios are fully invested, we are in conservative stock holdings pretty much across the board. Focusing on large U.S. stocks and especially dividend payers. It is a strategy that is working well so for this year.

As a side note, I recently talked to a prospect who said the “competition” criticized my recommendations because I did not recommend being “diversified” by holding foreign stocks and bonds (via a mutual fund). After 28 years of doing this, I still don’t get while some people insist on putting money at risk just to be “diversified.” Europe just went to a NEGATIVE interest rate policy. This is extreme, panic type policy. China is in the midst of a slow down as the government cracks down on corruption and lending practices. My suggestion is to keep your money at home, in the U.S. for now. There will be a time to invest overseas, but I will only do so when the risks are much lower.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This article contains forward looking statements based solely on the author’s opinions.


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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