Stock market volatility recently returned to normal levels after a few years of abnormally low volatility. It’s a good time to remind ourselves how to take advantage of this very natural dynamic of investing rather than be deceived by it.
Here are five important reminders:
1. Volatility is your friend.
The very reason equity markets offer the possibility of higher returns than saving or investment vehicles with less perceived risk, such as U.S. Treasury Bonds or Certificates of Deposits (CDs), is the higher risk and greater volatility associated with such holdings.
This is called the risk premium, something investors as a whole build into liquid, open, transparent financial markets every business day of the year around the world.
For instance, the S&P 500, over the last 90 years returned about 10% per year.* However, there were very few individual years it actually returned that amount. The reality is that in 40 of the 90 years, the index was up more than 20% or down more than 20%.
So, remember, the premium (return over less risky assets) you are seeking to receive in risk assets is precisely for accepting the bumpy ride associated with the investment vehicle.
So long as you genuinely are a long-term investor who can ride out the bumps to the level you have accepted, history demonstrates you can be fine. Exhibit 1 illustrates the long-term historic view of what broad asset classes look like: **
1. We find little evidence of excess in the economy that usually results in a recession, and this gives us reason to think the next recession is still some time away.
2. The investment markets are re-pricing for a slowdown in economic growth, but absent a recession, the bull market is likely to resume.
3. Non-U.S. stocks and value stocks offer some attractive opportunities given their respective cycles.
January High-5 from Janiczek
A monthly recap of articles designed to inform and inspire on a variety of topics related to investing and wealth management.
In this edition:
- 2019 Outlook / 2018 Top Takeaways and Market Review
- Investing in Volatile Markets
- Wealth & Health in 2019
- More Freedom in 2019
- All for One, One for All
- Ten years after the 2008 market meltdown, U.S. equities are up over 200% and posting fresh new all-time highs.
- Higher interest rates during the quarter presented some headwind for bond investors, but bonds can still generate decent returns within a long-term trend of higher interest rates.
- The underlying economy boasts plenty of strength, with economic growth during the rest of 2018 expected to remain above 3%.
MLPs May Increase Portfolio Performance
Owning oil and gas pipelines can add octane to a portfolio’s performance, particularly in today’s energy and economic backdrop.
It’s our job to help clients gain the proper exposure to safety, market and aspirational asset categories. It’s also our job to identify pockets of the market that, when available, have attractive fundamentals and/or characteristics worth considering. Oil & Gas MLPs in the midstream space (storing and transporting energy) has caught our interest for years and remain an asset class of interest. While we take care of researching and handling the details for our clients, it doesn’t hurt for you to pipe into the conversation. Here’s a quick primer on the space.
Long-term strategies may challenge investors to stay focused. The fight against short-term thinking is getting harder as we accomplish so many things with increasing ease and speed.
There is more computing power in an iPhone than what NASA had during the first landing on the moon. Remember when Netflix mailed DVDs to your home? Now we can stream just about anything to our smartphones. And what would you have said ten years ago if I had told you the President of the United States’ main communication tool in 2018 would be Twitter?
But speed doesn’t change everything.
I’m not sure Yogi Berra is big source of investment knowledge for most investors. But, that doesn’t mean his words of wisdom, “déjà vu all over again,” don’t apply.
Today’s Wall Street Journal included an article titled, “Value Investors Face Existential Crisis After Long Market Rally.” It discussed the “rut” that value investing has experienced since 2009. No arguments there. Value stocks are down about 1% year-to-date while growth stocks are up nearly 8%. The tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite Index, which holds many of the favorite tech names among growth investors, is at its all-time high.
A Familiar Scenario
But as I sipped my morning coffee and read further, I didn’t ask myself how we should change our current value approach (for the portion of our portfolios dedicated to value investing) to match the current environment. Instead, I found myself thinking about earlier in my career, the late 1990s. Tech ruled the day from 1995 through 1999, and value investors lagged back then too.
Is The Market Getting Ahead of Itself?
I recently attended an event at which General George W. Casey spoke to a crowd of emerging business, civic, and non-profit leaders. General Casey served as U.S. Army Chief of Staff and was Commanding General of the Multi-National Force in Iraq from 2004 through 2007. He described his experiences in the Middle East, and his words offered some key truths for us all.
In his remarks, he referenced the “vuca” world in which we live: volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. He then stated how important relationships are to the success of any objective in such a world, in his case, peace in Iraq.
The challenge of performance measurement
Periodic reviews of an investor’s portfolio helps ascertain whether the investment process is working, but more importantly, whether it’s on the right course for the individual investor.
The Beardstown Ladies was a 12-woman investment club that gathered monthly and managed their own stock portfolio. They became celebrities in the mid-1990s when news of their track record went viral: since their 1983 inception, The Beardstown Ladies claimed their portfolio had returned 23.4% versus the S&P 500’s 14.9% return. But in 1998, an audited performance record was released showing the club’s actual returns were actually 9.1% per year.
The role of tax strategies in trading and managing investment portfolios
Certain tax strategies can add a meaningful boost to portfolio performance because taxes are an explicit cost to any portfolio and, therefore, a detractor from performance. Although tax situations are unique to each individual, any strategy that limits or delays the tax bill and retains more after-tax return for investors will face little argument.
“Avoidance of taxes is not a criminal offense. Any attempt to reduce, avoid, minimize, or alleviate taxes by legitimate means is permissible. The distinction between evasion and avoidance is fine yet definite. One who avoids tax does not conceal or misrepresent. He shapes events to reduce or eliminate tax liability and upon the happening of the events, makes a complete disclosure. Evasion, on the other hand, involves deceit, subterfuge, camouflage, concealment, some attempt to color or obscure events, or making things seem other than what they are.”— Internal Revenue Manual Code 184.108.40.206.2.1 (05-15-2008) 26 USC §7201 – Avoidance Distinguished from Evasion
Assuming all investors pay taxes either now or later, the chart below illustrates the benefit of delaying taxes. We assume a portfolio of 60% stocks, 40% bonds that is rebalanced every year. The solid line depicts the growth of the 100% taxable portfolio, while the dotted line shows portfolio growth in a 100% tax-deferred portfolio. Of course, the taxman arrives eventually, so we show the hit (a worst-case all-at-once tax consequence) to the tax-deferred line when withdrawing at ordinary income tax rates.