Posts Tagged ‘Term Prospects’
Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Amidst all of the market uncertainty, some advisors find it helpful to email articles that provide a generally upbeat view of mid term prospects.For example, a recent cover story on Macleans featured “The case for optimism.” Other articles come from the Globe and Mail, National Post and Toronto Star.
To view “The case for optimism”, March 24 — go to www.macleans.ca
Globe and Mail Report on Business
“Bear rally or not, there will be a recovery” — March 24, Rob Carrick When the market does come back, it’s going to look a lot like it has in the past couple of weeks
Taking (Buffett’s) measure of the market” — March 12, Derek DeCloet
Where is the bottom? Even Warren Buffett doesn’t want to guess
The art of ignoring the pendulum’s swing — March 13, Dan Richards
The preferred approach” — March 27, Rob Carrick
Banks have lately issued hundreds of millions of dollars in preferred shares, and investors have been ready buyers
“New faith in energy stocks” — March 23, Rob Carrick
Suncor’s bid for Petrocan might be a signal it is time to dip back into the oil patch
Levi Folk, March 26
We now have a market that wants to rally, and that is a very different beast from prior months. U. S. stock markets clawed their way back to gains late in the day yesterday, extending the best monthly result for the S&P 500 in nearly two decades. The catalyst is a string of data suggesting that a massive inventory rebound will take the U. S. economy back from the brink, aided by a flood of cheap financing.
Fairfax Contrarian Cashes in Mightily — March 28, James Dawe http://www.thestar.com/article/609732
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Tags: Decloet, Energy Stocks, Globe And Mail, Late In The Day, Mail Report, Market Uncertainty, New Faith, Oil Patch, Pendulum, Preferred Approach, Preferred Shares, Report On Business, Rob Carrick, Suncor, Swing March, Term Prospects, Theglobeandmail, Toronto Star, Upbeat View, Warren Buffett
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Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
An end of quarter letter to clients — Investment advice from Mark Twain
Given recent events in Japan and North Africa, many clients are looking to their advisors for direction on what they should do.
This template for an end of quarter letter is intended to be a starting point for your own letter to clients. One note of caution — to be effective, it has to reflect your approach, personality and point of view. Be sure to take the time to customize the letter to your own situation.
April 4, 2011
Two critical lessons from Japan
“The only certainty is that nothing is certain”
Pliny the Elder
First century Roman author and naval commander
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.
It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Mark Twain, 1835–1910
At the end of each quarter, I send clients a letter summarizing events of the past three months … and usually try to find a relevant quotation to establish the tone for my note.
For this quarter’s letter, I have selected quotes written 1900 years apart to highlight two important lessons for investors, made tragically apparent from the recent events in Japan. One is the need to construct portfolios that expect the unexpected and anticipate the unanticipated. And the other relates to avoiding one of the costliest traps that ensnares investors.
Before getting into detail on those lessons, here’s a quick recap on the first quarter.
Market performance in the first quarter
Markets in January and February reflected a continuation of last year’s positive sentiment. This was spurred by solid corporate profits and a broad consensus that while the global economy might not experience a strong recovery going forward, it would see growth.
March did begin with an initial setback . The earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11, which took a dreadful toll in human lives, clearly reduced short-term prospects for the global economy. The turmoil in North Africa, while positive for oil prices, also had a negative impact on markets due to concerns about the effect on consumer demand. By the end of March, however, positive economic growth reports in the US and Europe allowed most markets to recover their initial losses.
As a result, developed markets generally saw gains at the end of the first quarter that put them on track for solid performance in 2011. Below are first quarter results for key markets — note that these are in local currencies, so that the effect of swings in the Canadian dollar are not reflected here.
% change (all in local currencies)
Learning to live with uncertainty
If they operate efficiently, stock and bond markets incorporate all the available information at a given point in time. That’s why when sovereign debt problems emerged in Greece early last year, other European countries seen as having potential problems along the same lines saw an immediate spike in the cost of insuring their debt. Even though they hadn’t run into problems yet, the market factored this possibility in.
Market analysts spend many thousands of hours each year on these kinds of issues — with enough time and research, slow forming problems like government debt problems can be identified before a crisis unfolds.
What can’t be anticipated are developments that are by their nature unpredictable. We’ve had at least four such events in the past year:
- Last April’s volcanic eruption in Iceland that spewed ash in the air, shut down 100,000 transatlantic flights and cost the airline industry $2 billion;
- Also last April, the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico;
- Commencing last December, street protests resulting in changes of leadership in a number of countries in North Africa, leading directly to the current war in Libya;
- And of course the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear-reactor crises in Japan.
In light of episodes like these, investors need to take away two key lessons.
Lesson One: Expect the unexpected
The only way to deal with uncertainty and manage the impact of unforeseen events is to build strict risk controls into portfolios, similar to those used by the most sophisticated pension funds. While the risk of one time incidents can’t be eliminated, through diversification and risk management we can limit the damage when negative events occur — whether they be massive frauds such as Enron, sudden bankruptcies like Lehman Brothers, volcanic eruptions, oil rig explosions or earthquakes.
I thought it might be useful to provide an overview of my approach to risk management in portfolio construction. There are three steps in this process.
Step one: Identify target mix
First, we identify the target mix of stocks, bonds and cash that, based on historical precedent and current valuation levels, will over time have a high likelihood of providing the returns you need to achieve your long term goals with a level of volatility you can live with along the way.
Step two: Diversify
Next we and the money managers we work with carefully diversify your portfolio, by placing limits on the exposure to any one company, industry sector or region. For individual holdings, it’s typically an absolute percentage of your portfolio — so for example no one stock should make up more than 5% of your equity holdings and no one bond should represent more than 3% of your fixed income exposure.
As well, no matter how optimistic we are about an industry sector or region, its weight should never be more than 50% above its underlying importance in the market as a whole.
Step three: Stay balanced
In the final step, at least once a year we conduct an in depth analysis of each portfolio. Over time, asset classes, industry sectors and individual stocks that do well will increase their presence in your portfolio and bump up against the risk control limits.
At that point, your portfolios need to be rebalanced back to the target asset allocation and some of the positions that have outperformed might be trimmed to stay within risk control limits. Some investors find this very difficult — after all you’re selling exactly those investments that have done the best.
But it’s the only way to stay truly diversified and control the risk that accompanies overexposure to any one stock, industry sector or geographic region. And it’s also the only way to get some protection from things that simply can’t be anticipated.
Lesson Two: Avoid overconfidence
Aside from the time entailed, there is one big negative to the risk controlled approach to portfolio construction — in the short and mid-term, there will always be someone who’s made a big bet that’s paid off and who is doing better than you as a result. Because it eliminates big bets, a risk controlled approach to investing will seldom give you bragging rights on the golf course.
Investors who take the big bet approach typically have a high degree of confidence in their investments; after all, if you’re absolutely certain about a company or industry, why bother to diversify? On the other hand, research by the University of Chicago’s Richard Thaler has demonstrated that overconfidence is among the most costly traits an investor can have.
Think no further than the Canadians who stuffed their portfolios with Nortel during the tech boom. At its peak, Nortel represented 35% of our market — and 50% plus of many portfolios. While not nearly as extreme, a case can be made that as a result of their strong performance over the past ten years, today many investors have too much of their savings in Canada’s banks, gold, oil and mining stocks and Canadian stocks as a whole. In fact, many global analysts today identify Canada as one of the most expensive stock markets among all the developed countries.
The quote from Mark Twain at the start of this letter says it all — what gets us in trouble aren’t the things we’ve identified as question marks and causes for concern. Rather, portfolios crater because of the things that we’re absolutely positive about — right until unanticipated occurrences catch us by surprise.
We’ve always had unexpected events and always will — and despite these economies have grown, companies have prospered and stock markets have generated positive returns. The key to benefiting from this long term growth has been to diversify so that no single event can create permanent damage to portfolios. When it comes to long term investing, it’s not only that a slow and steady approach wins the race, but more importantly slow and steady survives to cross the finish line.
I believe that we will work through the recent events also — and that investors with a balanced approach and a long term view will be well rewarded. The approach to risk management I’ve described may not be fun or sexy in the short term, but all the evidence at hand suggests that over time it will serve you well, getting you to your goals with the least amount of stress and distress along the way.
At our next meeting, I’d be happy to discuss the impact of rebalancing on long term returns. Should you have any questions in the meantime on your portfolio, the contents of this note or any other issue, please give me a call — I’d be happy to deal with your questions on the phone or at our next meeting.
As always, thank you for the opportunity to work together.
Name of advisor
Tags: Continuation, Corporate Profits, Critical Lessons, First Quarter, Global Economy, Initial Setback, Investment Advice, March 11, Mark Twain, Market Performance, Naval Commander, North Africa, Pliny The Elder, Portfolios, Quarter Letter, Relevant Quotation, Sentiment, Term Prospects, Tsunami In Japan, Turmoil
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Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
These days, so much press and much of the consensus are negative tilted and its hard to find some good articles that you could use to provide your clients with food for positive thought. Sometimes, its not strictly a matter of conviction, its a matter of keeping your clients talking. We found several articles that were positively balanced or motivated that might reinforce some of your discussions about earnings, Canada and its commodity complex, and where to go next (?).
First, on the subject of corporate earnings. Three bellwether stocks from the Capital Goods, Pharma, and Chemicals sectors may be a clue to an economic revival.
Surprising Profits on Cuts Show Steadying Economy, Bloomberg, July 21, 2009
July 21 (Bloomberg) — Caterpillar Inc., Merck & Co. and DuPont Co. were among companies reporting earnings that beat analysts’ estimates by cutting jobs while projecting rising demand. The surprises may signal the recession is near its end.
Second, an article about the global importance of Canada’s commodity complex, in particular, the oil patch to the world’s new consumers, like China, whose government and companies have the means to fund acquisitions, provide capital for exploration and development, and the impetus to secure future reserve requirements. These are exciting long term prospects for the Canadian resources sector.
Why China has its eye on Canada’s oil patch, Globe and Mail, July 21, 2009
July 21, 2009 — Today there are really three cities that really drive the oil and gas business. The most important city is actually Houston: it’s the real No. 1, it’s the capital of the U.S. industry, and the U.S. industry remains today the most important industry in terms of depth of market, number of companies, and number of transactions. It is followed by London; not by number of companies or transactions, but just sheer market size in terms of companies doing business there. The third most important city would be Calgary, but I quickly would say that Calgary is … I don’t want to say it’s third of three in a pejorative sense because Calgary remains a very important centre in the global picture.
Third, here is an article which provides a logical discussion for investment selection based on historical evidence of which segments of the market tend to outperform following periods of high or low favour. For example the author points out that during the preceding period of 2003–2007, emerging markets outperformed strongly, and if history is any guide, odds are against the likelihood of a continuance of this trend. On the other hand, technology stocks and large blue-chip and good quality growth stocks with strong balance sheets underperformed in the same period and odds are currently favouring their outperformance in the period ahead.
July 18, 2009 — WHICH investments are most likely to perform best in a bull market?
…James B. Stack, editor of the InvesTech Market Analyst newsletter, notes that the stocks that tend to lose the most in a bear market are the best performers in the previous bull market. “But then, coming out of those downturns, very often you’ll see those same sectors regain their leadership status,” simply because they fell the most, Mr. Stack said. “The question is, will that continue? In many cases, it will not.”
Fourth, maybe because of the way that money can mess around with our heads, DIY investing is not such a good idea for the majority of investors, and just in case your clients are thinking of bypassing the wonderful world of investing advice, this would be a good article for reinforcing that now is a time when they need you more than ever. I’m assuming, of course, that you provide a valued service to them. They do need you, and though this article does not discuss the importance of having a good advisor, it does discuss the psychological and social impact that money can have on us all. At the very least it will be good, as a revealing piece on something that we all suspect, but can’t necessarily admit.
Apparently, just counting lots of money can reduce sensitivity to social rejection. See, money can be a replacement for lousy friends.
How Money Messes With Your Mind, The New York Times, July 20, 2009
July 20, 2009 — Money may have a bigger psychological impact on us than we realize. A new study in the journal Psychological Science finds that merely thinking about money can affect how we perceive physical pain and feelings of social rejection.
… People who counted the real money also reported feeling less pain when their fingers were immersed in hot water for 30 seconds than those who counted the paper.
Tags: Acquirers, Amp, Array, Bellwether, Bloomberg, Canadian Resources, Capital Goods, Caterpillar Inc, China Petroleum And Chemical, China Petroleum And Chemical Corp, Chinese Companies, Cnooc China, Cnpc China, Corporate Earnings, Doing Business, Dupont, Dupont Co, Earnings, Economic Revival, Economy, Emerging Market Stocks, Energy Production, Estimates, Foreign Markets, Fund Acquisitions, Future Energy, Gas Business, Global Importance, Globe And Mail, Globe Mail, Impetus, Jobs, Margins, Merck, Mutual Funds, National Petroleum, New Money, New York Times, Offshore Oil, Oil And Gas, Oil And Gas Companies, Oil Patch, Pejorative Sense, Petroleum Corp, Positive Thought, Profits, Recession, Resources Sector, Sinochem, Sinopec, Sinopec China, Stock Funds, Surprises, Term Prospects, Three Cities
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