And so are we… The world stopped pretty much everything at one point during the pandemic and sports were of course no exception. For true sports fans there was nothing more depressing than watching cornhole tournaments or empty arenas void of fans, sounds, and energy. Even if you don’t like or follow college basketball, we think you’ll enjoy what we pioneered and have put together.
We’re proud to say that My Portfolio Guide, LLC was the first investment firm to publish a March Madness investing bracket where we share our picks and match them up against each other. We break down and assign each of the four “regions” with an asset class and then pick teams (stocks) that we think have the best chance at doing well relative to others.
Not only is this “exercise” a way for us to share our ideas from a macro perspective, but it offers a fun platform to dig into a couple specific investments and themes we are following or excited about in the year ahead.
Click here or below to enlarge and see the entire bracket for 2023.
You’ve behaved fairly well after some insanely raucous behavior last year. You (the market) has actually surprised a lot of folks just barely six weeks into the year. While there is plenty of calendar left in 2023, we’re watching you and it’s simply interesting to see that half the room doesn’t trust your next move while the other half wants to… but still can’t!
The books are closed on 2022, and what a year it was! The past few years have brought the word “unprecedented” to a whole new level. Both stocks and bonds were down in 2022, which is extremely rare and actually only happened twice in the past 100 years! (1931 and 1969). We won’t rehash it all but it’s not just that stocks were down almost -20%, but rather that what was supposed to offset some of that drawdown, never did. Historically bonds have basically always mitigated some of the pain of stocks getting tattered but not last year. 10-year treasury bonds were also down -15% and if you want real pain, 30 year bonds got torched by almost -30%. Name a stretch in your lifetime that was worse? Even if you’re 90 years old…you can’t.
So, enough about what has happened but our focus today is on how this plays with your mind. Below we’ve written a list of all the financial media talking heads as well as economic experts who are notpredicting a major recession. Look through our extensive list of names and what do you see?
Oh wait…there are no names listed. Feel free to comment below or let us know if we missed anyone but rarely have we ever seen such an environment of groupthink that it begs the question…what if they’re all wrong? There have been some major economists who in times past have really missed the mark but for some reason they still have a platform and the ability to get your attention. In a future article (or letter to you, Mr. Market) we’ll do a little report card on all the “gurus” who somehow still command everyone’s eyeballs but often can’t correctly guess how many fingers they have. OK…perhaps we’re laying it on a little thick here but hopefully you get the point. There is too much groupthink going on right now and it’s times like these when it pays to take a little bit of a contrarian view.
We wrapped up January in surprisingly good fashion (again…almost everyone got it wrong but we’ll modestly remind clients we did not). Couple that with what is the proverbial “Santa Claus” rally period and you have some interesting history to look at. When stocks are lower the year prior, but gained during the Santa Claus period and first five days of January…we’ve seen a market average +27% the next year. Could it happen this time? Maybe not to that extent but if it doesn’t it will be the first time ever it didn’t at least go higher (nine for nine prior).
Now nobody said it would be smooth sailing (it rarely is). Expect a bit of a cooling down period as we now digest Q4 earnings season until month end. It also happens to be seasonally be a time for a natural pause or break with the back half of February being historically weak.
Regardless, barring some major unexpected calamity, this likely pause in the markets is a perfect opportunity to not only catch your breath (with Mr. Market) but also take a few chips off the table in areas you’ve been wishing you had earlier. For example, most people who had way too much tech on the way up got slaughtered in 2022 with the Nasdaq peeling off -33%. Now that we’ve seen a nice bump in tech stocks to start the year, why not sell some and reallocate to another area?
If you read the recent quarterly newsletter from My Portfolio Guide, LLC, you’ll note the areas we still like. Commodities are down to start the year…what a great place to be building a hedge if you missed their run-up prior. Along those same lines, what also helped our model portfolios last year (relative to what most people had outside of stocks and bonds) was gold. The dollar will retreat some more (unhitching the trailer) so we couldn’t be more bullish on gold being a key component in this environment. One more area that has slumped a bit to start the year are oil stocks (another rare bright spot in 2022). In typical human and emotional fashion, people somehow don’t want single digit multiple (i.e. cheap!) stocks with high yielding dividends. What’s not to like?!? Even Joe Biden told us earlier this week during the State of the Union that we’ll need oil for at least another 10 years…
Lastly, if you’re in the mood on making bets….Here’s a tip for all those watching the Super Bowl this Sunday. If you don’t have a dog in the hunt and are simply “hoping for a good game”…change your tune right now; you should want a blowout (perhaps not for entertainment value but for the market). In years when there is a single digit win during the Super Bowl the market only averages +5% and higher less than 60% of the time. However, on years with double digit margins of victory the market averages +11% and a 79% chance of going higher.
As silly as the “Super Bowl Indicator” is by the way, we did write about it last year (click here) and true to form…perhaps that’s why the market got drilled (kidding!). The Eagles are slight favorites but if you’re just an investment geek and want to root for a team…the football Gods all say the Chiefs need to win and ideally by 10 points or more. It likely won’t happen so enjoy the game and those expensive commercials. By the way, they used to cost advertisers a cool $1 million a few years ago for a primetime spot but are now upwards of $7 million! (and we have the gall to complain about $7 eggs?!?)
In a year where the stock market has provided zero safe places to hide…you may have changed, the markets certainly have, but one thing has not; the Permanent Portfolio.
We’ve reviewed the Permanent Portfolio before but believe it’s time to check in and provide an update on how it’s doing relative to the broad markets now as well as chime in on whether the strategy still has merit going forward. For some quick background, our first original review was written in June of 2013 (click here to see that). Most recently we revisited the topic with an update in November of 2020 (click here) as we climbed out of one of the wildest years in world history amidst a global pandemic.
If you didn’t hit the embedded article links above, the Permanent Portfolio is pretty simple at face value. The Permanent Portfolio is a seemingly basic portfolio allocation strategy created by investment advisor Harry Browne in the 1980’s and outlined in his book Fail-Safe Investing back in 2001. Here’s the secret (simple) sauce and how each asset class should do during repeatable economic cycles:
That’s exactly where we’re at right now. We’re not going to wait for the financial media to announce it or tell us that it’s only a bear market if we officially drop -20% or more. The intent of this article is to explain not only what a real bear market is, and how this one has behaved differently, but also what to do next.
Does the old stock market adage of “sell in May and go away” make sense? We’ve actually written about this one spring about nine years ago where we actually advocated taking some chips off the table, however it had less to do with a cute stock market rhyme and more due to profit taking. Where are we at now going into May and is this allegedly poor seasonal time of year appropriate to sell or perhaps not?
When it comes to the stock market it’s easy to see the road we just traveled; what’s more difficult is trying to assess and figure out where we’re going. In last quarter’s newsletter from My Portfolio Guide, LLC we put out a fairly bold prediction of the S&P 500 hitting 5,000 and the Dow Jones reaching 40,000 within the next year. Also included in that edition of “the Guide” (click here to view it if you haven’t already), we discussed some common behavioral biases that we’re all vulnerable to. As we head into Thanksgiving and then the last month of the year, the fear levels are beginning to mount again. There’s plenty to worry about, such as inflation, and speaking of that, it’s sort of like your in-laws visiting….They arrive earlier than you expected and stay longer than you’d like!
While we’re not telling people to be 100% into equities…it’s becoming more and more clear that for the foreseeable future there is no better horse to ride. We’re going to call this proverbial horse “Tina” and share why in a moment. Sure, our gold hedge is not providing instant riches but remember that is not why we bought it. Additionally, we’re seeing more and more people buying crypto as the “new gold” yet most can’t even explain what it actually is. We’d prefer to see Tom Brady pitching Subway sandwiches but now he’s doing crypto commercials. Bonds are awful and going nowhere (yet to some degree justified as part of your overall allocation). Cash is still earning “point zero nothing”. Real estate has exploded and bubbled upwards some more but does it feel smart to you to be the highest bidder on a property right now? All this leads us back to our horse TINA… There Is No Alternative.
Last week was a microcosm of how stock market headlines can really lead you to hear one thing yet see another. For a while now we’ve been barking about how the FAANG stocks have artificially propped the market as there are some serious underlying health concerns. As a reminder for our newer readers, FAANG refers to the five major U.S. technology companies – Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), and Google (GOOGL). These household names have driven the markets and camouflaged some warning signs of risk on the horizon for quite some time. If you want a peek under the hood or a refresher on just what their impact, valuation, and market caps are relative to the broad market, please click here. (pay close attention to figure 18 which shows market cap with and without FAANG as well as Figures 13 & 14 for some relative earnings/revenue performance)
So…what happened last week? Why did the markets get hit so hard? It was indeed a rough week but then again not too many weeks feel all that bad when we take a quick look in the rear view mirror. (last year there were some mornings when the stock market was down literally -9% before you had your first sip of coffee) Albeit not a pleasant memory, don’t ever forget that (we’ll touch on why later in this article).
You’ve heard us barking about this before but as the world navigates its way out of the Covid-19 pandemic, it won’t be just the stock market that recovers. In many respects the market has mainly bounced back due to a lot of “sugar in the blood” from massive fiscal stimulus and has still primarily been led by some mega cap names. What’s brewing below the surface and actually could turn into something far more sustainable, is a boom in commodities.
Have you ever heard the expression “Even a blind squirrel find a nut once in a while?”
We typically write you letters about your volatile actions and the erratic behavior you bestow upon us as investors. Many of our letters also try to put certain economic events into perspective so that people don’t let your wild stock market swings force them into making bad decisions. All that said, it’s come to our attention that we can finally roll out the answer to a question that is not always obvious:
What should an investor do if a standard stock market correction turns into a bear market?
First off, let’s revisit the basic definition of a correction versus an official bear market. Click here for an article we wrote during the last correction in February, which incidentally at the time felt like the end of the bull market had finally come. Although the market sold off almost -10% in a short span, it clearly came back to reach record highs until October came around.
We have discussed many times how emotionally driven you are. On some days you tempt us with your record setting high wire acts and on others we have our lips virtually wrapped around the barrel of a gun in desperation; the stock market is a wicked playground.
We don’t believe that computers or sophisticated investment algorithms can completely mitigate the perils of the stock market or protect everyone from getting out of their own way, but it can at least be used as a starting point. My Portfolio Guide relies on some very unique tools that assess the stock market each month with a fresh set of eyes. While our method of “reading the tea leaves” is not necessarily a crystal ball, it’s definitely not what most investment advisors use….which is the rear view mirror. Sadly enough, many investment advisors are just like you…they’re human and they chase recent returns and mistakenly look back in history as to what has done well. While this method of analysis is the easiest to sell clients (and themselves) it’s not as effective as taking a completely fresh look at what is happening right now and how that is statistically likely to play out in the near-term. Continue reading →