Top 3 “Less is More” Hurricane Florence Stocks

Dear Mr. Market:Ambulance-Chasers

We don’t make it a regular practice to be ambulance chasers every time there is a tragedy or natural disaster. That being said, almost every major event (whether it’s considered good or bad) can create an opportunity for your investment portfolio.

Conversely, the old adage of “less is more”, could certainly apply here. We’re not simpletons just for the sake of it but in general the ‘less is more’ approach can greatly benefit your finances. Think about it…and if you haven’t already, we’ll spell out several major ways that having less of something will benefit your wallet: Continue reading

3 old stories rattling the stock market in 2016

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Dear Mr. Market:

You’ve certainly kicked 2016 off with a bang! Even investors that rarely, if ever, look at their portfolio are aware of the rough start to the New Year. Over $8 trillion in market valuations has seemingly disappeared in the blink of an eye. Many are pounding the table with a bear market narrative capturing your attention and emotions but is there anything truly different this time?

There are many different factors at play in this volatile market environment but in our opinion none of them are really all that new nor are they indicative of a bear market, a recession, or impending crash. We’ll briefly touch on each of them but at the end of this article you may be surprised to learn why we believe this market could bounce strongly when least expected.

Currently there are three factors that are dramatically impacting the markets: China, Oil and the Fed. It appears that when these are combined it creates a combustible combination that not even the most seasoned analysts know how to handle! The reality is that the stock market and all the ‘experts’, who analyze and report on it, seem to have short-term memories. For lack of a better description people have also been put to sleep and forget what it’s like to see a normal market correction. Let’s quickly break them down and attempt to put them in perspective: Continue reading

MPG Core Tactical 60/40: May 2015 Performance Update

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Dear Mr. Market:

If you’re new to this monthly series…remember what we’re doing. This exercise, as we like to call it, is not an attempt to pick the best stock or “time the market”. We leave that futile task to those who own time machines and If you’re new to this monthly series…remember what we’re doing. This exercise, as we like to call it, is not an attempt to pick the best stock or “time the market”. We leave that futile task to those who own time machines and accurate crystal balls. For a refresher, see our first article on the MPG Core Tactical 60/40 portfolio.

Here’s the current summary of the MPG Core Tactical 60/40 portfolio mix, which is updated as of this writing (June 5, 2015).

Click here to compare the portfolio against the benchmark

What adjustments did we make?

We didn’t make any portfolio moves in May. Aside from collecting nice dividends through BND, LQD, and Conoco Philips (COP), the market environment did not warrant making any adjustments.

Why? Continue reading

March Madness: Final Four Investing Bracket 2015

basketball on cashWelcome to the fifth year of our March Madness Investing Bracket! This series of articles is always one of the most popular investing articles on the internet! We’re proud to admit that we were one of the first investing nerds to combine our love for the markets with the passion that college basketball brings!

It’s common knowledge that people love excitement and surprises. It’s also human nature to root for the underdog and many times those two themes can certainly play out on the basketball court as well as on the stock market floor. Much like two college basketball teams that never play each other our imaginations are swept up in wondering who will “win” between a relatively unknown investment or a popular stock that has the media in a frenzy.

You may be asking what does a basketball tournament have to do with managing your portfolio or the investment world in general? At first glance there might not be much but we thought we would have a little fun and couple it with some asset allocation parallels. After all, there are many folks who have simply thrown their hands in the air at one time or simply succumbed to the notion that investing is like educated gambling. There could be some truth to that depending on your approach…

For those of you that are not familiar with the NCAA and its annual basketball tournament there are 68 teams selected and each is seeded according to their results throughout the regular season and their relative rankings. Every March the NCAA holds a single elimination tournament to crown an undisputed champion. Part of the appeal of such a tournament is that theoretically any team that makes the “big dance” has a shot at winning it all. Each and every year there is a proverbial “Cinderella” team that surprises everyone including all the ‘so-called’ experts. Prior to the tournament there is always plenty of banter and opinion on who wasn’t invited or further arguments around the seeding of the teams that did make it. That’s where we see a parallel of sorts to investing and having to make decisions among the multitudes of investment choices. With so many investment choices available, there are also as many differing opinions.

In the “real” March Madness tournament this year there appears to be a hands down favorite with the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. Hardly any office pool or basketball analyst is betting against such a heavily favored team. If they win it all it will be the first time in over 30 years that a team stays unbeaten the whole season. Our own version of this (using investment themes and choices) shares the premise that we have four very decent #1 seeds but there is no slam-dunk pick that everyone agrees on. For this reason, our 2015 bracket is perhaps as important as ever to understand that a dark horse could win it all…

Before we begin digging into each “region” of our bracket, let’s revisit something everyone claims they know but so very few actually follow with consistent discipline. (Asset Allocation)

If you have ever looked at a chart of all the different asset classes and how they perform year to year…there is rarely a pattern or consistent way to determine next years “winner”.

For the purposes our annual investing bracket we have “seeded” or ranked four major asset classes (like the regions) and chosen several individual picks within each. There is some basic science applied to this process. We consider how the “pick” did over the past 12 months and also how it has trended over the past three months. In some cases we gave a lower performing investment a higher seed if it was trending well with recent strength or was more consistent over a longer period of time.

Each asset class (Large Cap, Small Cap & Mid Cap, Bonds/Alternatives, and International) was ranked and seeded, then corresponding seeds were assigned to “picks” that we are either adding to the portfolio or establishing new positions in. Note that we’re not highlighting 68 new investments and will only discuss some investments that we are either actively involved in or looking to add to most portfolios.

OK…Let’s dig into some of the key match-ups and explain why our Final Four going into Q2 2015 looks the way it does (CLICK HERE to view our 2015 Bracket):

Large Cap

This is typically viewed as the ‘efficient’ asset class. Continue reading

Should you buy oil stocks now?

Oil price 4Dear Mr. Market:

Just a few short months ago we experienced the seasonal sensation known as Black Friday where consumers lose grasp of reality all in the search for a great deal. People camp overnight on sidewalks in an effort to be one of the first shoppers inside a big box store and take advantage of a bargain they can brag about to all their friends. Buying a large screen television at 50% of retail is certainly exciting but do the same individuals get excited when the equity markets present similar opportunities?

Investors display behavior that is nearly a complete opposite when the markets or an individual stock drop in price when compared to a retail store sale. Rather than racing to get in a store at the crack of dawn they dash for the exit, submitting sell orders as quickly as they can with no rhyme or reason. Throughout various market cycles and economic environments Mr. Market presents investors with buying opportunities yet few actually take advantage of them. You don’t have to look far to find a sector that has experienced a price reduction of 50% in the last six months (the majority of that correction taking place in just the last three months!). You would have to be living ‘off the grid’ or under a rock to not realize that what we are talking about is oil. Continue reading

Is the energy sector spOILing your portfolio?

OIl#2Dear Mr. Market:

The price of oil has been dropping like a rock! On Monday (12/8/14) the price of oil hit a new five-year low at $63.05 per barrel; earlier this year it was trading at over $100. We haven’t seen prices this low since October 2009!   The press and media can’t stop talking about oil prices lately and that has many investors thinking that the sky is literally falling around them!

Many investors portfolios are over allocated to energy stocks as the sector has delivered impressive returns along with some very attractive yields the last several years. This decline is impacting many well-known energy stocks like: ConocoPhillips (COP), Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) and Chevron Corp. (CVX) as they are all posting negative returns this year and several of them are down -20% or more in the last 3 months alone.

The media is quick to point fingers as to who or what is to blame for causing this drastic price decline. When you look at both domestic and international factors it is challenging to figure out where to even start! Is OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), ‘fracking’, shale production, simple supply/demand imbalances, global economies or countless other factors to blame? Our answer might actually surprise you… it doesn’t matter! Even if you knew what was causing this volatility, would it make the situation you currently find yourself in any better? This is the perfect example of a time when listening to the financial media will not help you or your decision-making; especially if you have too much exposure in the energy sector. Continue reading