Who does Mr. Market vote for…Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?

Dear Mr. Market:

160323171742-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-investors-780x439How dare we put you on the spot like this?!? What an awful question! How will you (the stock market) react if Trump wins or if Hillary wins? By the way…as an aside….a great client of ours recently asked why everyone refers to Trump by his last name and Hillary by her first name. Why is that?

Depending on which side you’re on, this question may initially seem like simple semantics but it’s not. Are you “presidential” if you roll with a campaign based on your first name? Do you “feel the Bern” or did you “Trust in Ted”? Whether you’re a proponent of Hillary for President or Hillary for prison…it’s still Hillary. Where are we at America?

At My Portfolio Guide, the one thing we typically don’t shy away from is having a clear opinion. There are some great firms out there that simply can’t give you one! You’ll hear what you want to hear. They fear losing your “vote” or ruffling feathers. Yes…we understand that balance too, but as much as our job is about deciphering news versus noise…it does become important to take a stance. 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

What stock market volatility?!?

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Dear Mr. Market:

How crazy has this market been? As always the stock market has been very volatile, right?

Not even close…. The stock market is essentially in a coma right now and you need to ignore whatever news source or preconceived notions that tell you otherwise. The irony is that some of the “smart money” could not have got the volatility prediction more wrong.

In January of this year Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, predicted dramatic swings in many areas of the market. He summarized this sentiment by saying, “I don’t see this volatility going away anytime soon.” We’re not out to point fingers but it’s blanket statements and unaccountable predictions like this that paralyze people or simply clutter their investment strategies and overall mindsets.

We’re actually in an extremely low level of volatility. It’s been eight weeks since we’ve seen a move of at least 1% or more in the S&P 500 and that hasn’t happened in 21 years! We also just wrapped up the first half of 2015 and there wasn’t a gain or loss of 2% which marks the first time that has happened since 2005. (Click here to see 2015 volatility relative to recent years)

As the stock market inches higher it all comes without a healthy and much needed correction. As of this writing we haven’t had a correction (-10%) for 1,359 days! You can look to our previous articles on how often corrections and pullbacks should be occurring to put this flat environment into perspective.

As an investor you actually should be doing what we would call a “volatility rain dance”. Bring it on! You want volatility. If your long-term belief is that the economy will improve and inflation seems to remain very much in check, you want a pullback in the market in order to put some money to work. Cash sitting in a bank earning “zero point zilch” needs to work harder and smarter but without a material pullback in the market it makes it somewhat uninviting to deploy cash.

Low volatility doesn’t necessarily equate to the “quiet before the storm”…although it’s certainly easy to think that way. The market is not a weather system but rather it needs a catalyst to move strongly up or down. Unless we slip into a recession you can expect the stock market to meander along for a while. If we do indeed continue to trade in a range bound fashion don’t feel the urge to make changes just for the sake of it. Lastly, turn off your television because every sensational interview with an analyst needs to grab eyeballs and predicting low volatility doesn’t fall into that category…

Target your sell discipline

Target arrow 1Dear Mr. Market:

There you go again Mr. Market … You’ve trumpeted your tempting sirens and lured in people who were deathly scared of the stock market to now jump in. The S&P 500 is once again flirting with all-time highs but is the music about to stop? You make it easy to buy a stock but why is it so hard for you share the catalysts that tell investors to sell? Mr. Market is famous for encouraging you to sell with emotion but isn’t there a better way?

In our opinion, there are three main criteria that should be used in forming a disciplined and repeatable sell decision. In order to be a successful investor you need to master and take them all into account before you ever buy a stock.

So…what are the three main criteria?

  1. Fundamental Analysis: There are a slew of fundamental issues that could warrant a sell decision. If you’re willing to buy a stock you’ll need to monitor fundamental metrics ranging from earnings, valuation, cash flow, and debt, among others. Lumped into this category should be a keen awareness of key changes in management and their effectiveness.
  2. Technical Analysis: Whether you believe in following the charts and trading patterns of a stock or not…you still need to be aware of them. Like it or not, many decisions from the bulk of the investing world are made or triggered due to technical analysis so even if you think it’s hogwash don’t be short-sighted and ignore them.
  3. Investor Sentiment: Ideally, you’ve kicked the tires and performed your due diligence (reasons #1 and #2 above) on what made you buy the stock in the first place. If the honeymoon phase is no longer there, it may be time to sell. Don’t get us wrong here…this is not about selling because everyone else is. The idea here is to analyze whether the trend is moving in a direction that is not going to help you as a shareholder. Of the three criteria this is perhaps the most challenging to master because it forces you to use your eyes and brain as opposed to your emotions.

Continue reading

Who told you the S&P 500 is your benchmark?

benchmark4Dear Mr. Market:

Everyone wants to be associated with a winner. We are all familiar with the famous quote, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” from ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Imagine that you are at a sporting event, you glance at the scoreboard but it shows nothing … at the end of the game you have no clue if your team won or loss. Some people claim your team won while others are not so sure. Mr. Market does exactly this to investors with their investment portfolios on a consistent basis.   As an investor how do you effectively gauge how your investment portfolio has performed and if you are victorious or humiliated in defeat?

The media would have us all believe that investors should use the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial (DJIA) as a benchmark against their portfolios. Turn on the nightly news or open a newspaper and you will quickly spot what each index closed at and what percentage they are up or down for the year. While everyone would agree that it’s important to have a sense of how the market is performing, is this the proper measuring stick investors should use to gauge how their own investments are performing?

A quick summary of the indices the media force-feed us on a daily basis: 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

MPG Core Tactical 60/40: November 2014 Performance Update

MW-BB798_sm6040_20130422180557_MDDear Mr. Market:

Are you scared of flying? Even if you’re a seasoned traveler and airplane turbulence never fazes you, there are certain flights that would get your attention. If the stock market behavior in October was an airplane flight you undoubtedly survived a violent voyage. It would make the month of November seem like the smoothest flight ever, although anyone in their right mind didn’t trust in a safe landing until the wheels actually touched the runway.

After October brought triple-digit moves for the Dow Jones in 16 of the 23 trading sessions, we only experienced one such day in the entire month of November. Even though the Fed announced the end of its bond-buying program, the markets yawned and continued to stretch out to new highs. Small caps were also on a tear for about six straight weeks until literally the last trading day of November and they ended up sputtering in for a negative month. Continue reading