MPG Core Tactical 60/40: March 2015 Performance Update

 MW-BB798_sm6040_20130422180557_MDDear Mr. Market:

You don’t have to be a professional money manager to be aware that the swift decline in oil prices has been one of the most impactful financial headlines in years. As a matter of fact if you didn’t own a computer, read a newspaper, or have basic access to media, you would still know that oil has dropped like a rock. All you had to do was go to the gas station and see that it costs far less to fill up your tank today than it did last year.

What you may not have noticed, however, is the huge appreciation in the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar index compares the dollar with a basket of other currencies and it spiked up 50% in the first couple weeks of March. It has already risen almost 8% year to date and this has impacted the stock market in ways that many are unprepared for. With any situation like this there are silver linings and opportunities that we’ll discuss later in this article.

First let’s review where we’re currently at and what we did last month:

Here’s the current summary of the MPG Core Tactical 60/40 portfolio mix, which is updated as of this writing (April 1, 2015).

Click here to compare our portfolio against the benchmark

What adjustments did we make?

The following moves were made during the month of March:

3/13/15:  Bought 200 more shares of VO (Vanguard Mid Cap Index) @ $126.19 ~$2 worth

3/25/15:  Bought 75,000 final shares of MONIF (Monitise) @ $0.191 ~$14k worth Continue reading

MPG Core Tactical 60/40: February 2015 Performance Update

MW-BB798_sm6040_20130422180557_MDDear Mr. Market:

For a guy who is usually full of surprises you’re scripting 2015 like a boring rerun of last year. As you’ll recall we had a rough start to the year with the S&P 500 dipping -3.1% in January but then February came around and erased all the negative returns for the year with a very strong month. As a matter of fact the S&P 500 had its best month in almost five years with a gain of +5.5%. The Nasdaq bubbled up (pun intended) even higher at +7%.

Everything is fine and dandy, right? The media is as giddy as they’ve been in ages. They’re showing us charts and comparisons of Nasdaq 5,000. Nothing could go wrong from here, could it? Is this another perfect backdrop for the four most dangerous words in investing?

It’s different this time”. Continue reading

Alibaba – The next hot stock?

Alibaba with chineseDear Mr. Market:

Every investor is looking for the next opportunity that looks like a ‘sure thing’. Throughout 2014 we’ve seen a plethora of IPO’s hit the market with the majority of them being well received. Currently there is a giant lurking out there and the markets have been licking their chops waiting to get a piece of it.   The stock is a behemoth based in China…Alibaba (anticipated to be listed as BABA).

Wall Street is expecting the IPO to hit the market sometime after the Labor Day holiday and this could certainly be an early Christmas present for the markets if it lives up to the anticipation. We have not seen hype like this surrounding a potential IPO since the dot-com era of the late 1990’s. Before you rush out in an attempt to participate in the IPO or buy through the open market, lets take a look at Alibaba to see if it warrants a position in your portfolio….

Summary:

It is challenging for the average U.S. investor to understand how large and diversified Alibaba is. Essentially Alibaba is: Amazon, eBay, PayPal, Cloud Services and much more wrapped up in one company. It has the fastest growing online commerce market in the world, last year it had transactions that totaled just under $250 billion! That is more than eBay (EBAY) and Amazon (AMZN) combined. To truly put the size of Alibaba in perspective let’s break down its largest components: Continue reading

3 Common Diversification Mistakes

Dear Mr. Market:Diversification 2

Whether you handle your portfolio or hire a professional to manage it, there is no way you have not heard of the importance of diversifying your investments. The reality is, however, most investors fall prey to one of three major diversification mistakes; which of the three is your issue?

First and foremost, let’s briefly review what diversification is:

Investopedia defines Diversification as: ‘A risk management technique that mixes a wide variety of investments within a portfolio. The rationale behind this technique contends that a portfolio of different kinds of investments will, on average, yield higher returns and pose a lower risk than any individual investment found within the portfolio.

At first glance this makes sense and doesn’t appear to be complex, right? We find that investors typically appear to be in one of three different camps when it comes to diversification:

  1. Under Diversification
  2. Improper Diversification
  3. Over Diversification

Let’s take a moment to look at each and how investors can get their portfolios back on track. Continue reading

MPG Core Tactical 60 /40: March 2014 Performance Update

MW-BB798_sm6040_20130422180557_MDDear Mr. Market:

March has turned in another month of stubborn market defiance as the investment world is waiting for a correction yet it never seems to come or fully develop! It’s without question that many of the warning signs continue to lurk below the surface but the S&P 500 has still managed to tack on about another +1%. Year to date we’re just about 1% of where we started 2014 but it sure feels uncomfortable for many.

If this is your first time reading about our MPG Core Tactical Portfolio please refer back to our first post. (click here) In short you will see what adjustments we make throughout the year on a $1 million dollar portfolio and how that performs relative to a portfolio that is rebalanced once per month with an allocation of 60% Stocks and 40% Bonds. Continue reading

Update: March Madness: Final Four Investing Bracket 2014

March MadnessThe 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament certainly had an eventful weekend!  52 games have been played across the country with 5 of them going into overtime. The $1 Billion that Warren Buffet offered to anyone that had a perfect bracket is now a distant memory. Every year there are plenty of surprises and this year has been no different:

  • 3 of the 4 teams that were seeded as #12 in their brackets posted wins over teams seeded #5! The one team that lost was beaten by only 3 points in overtime!
  • #1 seed and ‘media darling’ Wichita State lost to #8 Kentucky in the 2nd round.
  • The 2 longest winning streaks in the country have both come to an abrupt end – Wichita State with 35 and S.F. Austin with 29.

 Here are some other mind boggling numbers to take into consideration with the NCAA Tournament:

  • The odds of winning Buffet’s $1 Billion prize was 1 in 4,294,967,296!
  • It is estimated that Vegas takes in over $100 Million from bets on the NCAA Tournament – experts think this represents only 4% of all the money wagered on games!
  • The NCAA tournament costs businesses $1.7 Billion in lost productivity during the month of March.

Continue reading

How did your Portfolio do in January of 2014?

MW-BB798_sm6040_20130422180557_MD

Dear Mr. Market:

Apparently you’re kicking off February much like you wrapped up January; in correction mode.

A stock market correction is actually not a bad thing and in this case it’s actually a MUCH needed one. If you’re anything close to being a long-term investor you should be hoping for at least a 10% haircut at some point before 2014 wraps up. Without a breather or some form of consolidation this market has no chance to build a base and move to higher levels by year-end.

If you had a fairly well balanced and allocated portfolio in 2013 you probably looked at your statements and saw that bonds were not just dead weight but rather a huge drag on performance. Not only did the overall bond market lose at least -2% for the year, the proverbial “writing on the wall” was being etched in permanent ink ; bonds had zero upside and only risk associated with them. If rates are to rise, as so many speculate they will, we could see bonds sting investors worse than any other time in history. Bottom line: That’s scary stuff for anyone in the typical 60 / 40 model…

The place to be in 2013 was stocks, but let’s be honest… Did you really trust them to keep going higher and higher? Did a +32% return for the S&P 500 feel “real” to you? Most people we talk to still don’t trust stocks but they ironically weren’t invested in them as much as they would’ve liked. Those that couldn’t resist a record breaking stock market finally cut bait on their bonds. Unfortunately, the reality is that our 5 year stock market party is possibly coming to an end…or at least a healthy pause. Continue reading