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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary (January 29, 2018)

 

The Markets

 

The numbers are coming in.

 

Publicly-traded companies report their earnings and sales numbers for the previous quarter in the current quarter. For example, fourth quarter's sales and earnings are reported during the first quarter of the year, and first quarter's sales and earnings will be reported during the second quarter, and so on.

 

Through last week, about one-fourth of the companies in the Standard & Poor (S&P)'s 500 Index had reported actual sales and earnings for the fourth quarter of 2017. As far as sales go, a record number - 81 percent - of companies sold more than expected during the fourth quarter. That was quite an improvement. FactSet reported:

 

"During the past year (four quarters), 64 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported sales above the mean estimate on average. During the past five years (20 quarters), 56 percent of companies in the S&P 500 have reported sales above the mean estimate on average."

 

The mean is the average of a group of numbers.

 

The money a company makes through sales is called revenue. For instance, if a lemonade stand sells 100 glasses of lemonade for $1 each, then the proprietors have earned $100. That is the stand's 'revenue.' Of course, as every parent who has financed a lemonade stand knows, revenue doesn't include the cost of the product. 'Earnings' are what the company has left after expenses - the bottom line. If every glass of lemonade cost 50 cents, then the stand's earnings are $50.

 

Companies in the S&P 500 are doing pretty well on earnings, too. About three out of four companies have reported earnings higher than expected. Overall, earnings are 4.5 percent above estimates.

 

Through Friday, annual earnings growth for S&P 500 companies was 10.1 percent. It's still early in the fourth quarter earnings season, but the data so far seem likely to confirm that 2017 was a bright, sun-shiny year for U.S. companies.

 

 

Data as of 1/26/18

1-Week

Y-T-D

1-Year

3-Year

5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)

2.2%

7.5%

25.1%

11.8%

13.9%

7.8%

Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.

1.9

7.0

28.2

7.8

5.5

1.6

10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

2.7

NA

2.5

1.8

2.0

3.6

Gold (per ounce)

1.4

4.4

13.7

1.8

-4.0

3.9

Bloomberg Commodity Index

2.6

3.0

2.9

-3.4

-8.4

-7.1

DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index

1.7

-2.8

4.6

2.8

8.2

7.4

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron's, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

 

certain parts of the circular economy probablyadapttocities andtowns better than they do to rural areas.

 

What is the circular economy?

 

It is "a system that reduces waste through the efficient use of resources. Businesses that are part of the circular economy seek to redesign the current take/make/dispose economy, a model which relies on access to cheap raw materials and mass production. For example, car sharing addresses the inefficiency of privately owned cars - which are typically used for less than one hour a day," explains Morgan Stanley.

 

Imagine not owning a car.

 

Clearly, it's not something that would work everywhere. However, if you live in a city or town that has public transportation, ride sharing, car rentals, and bicycles, it's possible. If you're retired and you can organize your days in the way you like, it may even be sensible because owning a car is expensive. Transportation costs are the second highest budget item for most households, reports U.S. News. Housing costs top the list.

 

Giving up a car could help households save a lot of money.

 

According to AAA, owning and operating a new car in 2017 cost about $8,469 annually, on average, or $706 a month. Small sedans are the least costly ($6,354 per year), on average, and pickup trucks are the most expensive ($10,054 per year), on average, of the vehicles in the study. The calculations include sales price, depreciation, maintenance, repair, and fuel costs.

 

AAA's estimate does not include insurance. In 2017, the national average premium for a full-coverage policy was $1,318 annually, according to Insure.com. Auto insurance premiums are highest in Michigan ($2,394) and lowest in Maine ($864).

 

Combining the averages, the cost of auto ownership is almost $10,000 a year. It's food for thought.

 

Weekly Focus - Think About It

 

"Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land."

--Aldo Leopold, American author and conservationist

 

Best regards,

 Lee Barczak

President

 

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary (January 16, 2018)
 
 
The Markets
 
Inflation, inflation, where's the inflation?
 
The U.S. Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates in anticipation of higher inflation.
 
In its 2018 forecast, Goldman Sachs indicated it expected to see "a gradual increase in global core inflation, albeit to levels that are still below central bank targets in most places."
 
At year-end 2017, Barron's wrote:
 
"Economists have raised the specter of inflation for several years, only to be disproved time and again. There's reason to believe, however, that 2018 will be different - that prices will finally rise in a more sustained pattern, forcing stock- and bond-market investors to react to a new trend. 'An unanticipated acceleration in inflation is probably the biggest risk for markets in 2018,' says Larry Hatheway, chief economist at GAM Investments...Economists like Hatheway aren't expecting runaway inflation, as in the days of disco and leisure suits, when prices rose by double digits. They're girding for an annual increase of 2 percent to 2.5 percent at the most."
 
Last week, data released by the Department of Labor showed U.S. inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, ticked higher (0.1 percent) during December. With food and energy excluded, the index was up 0.3 percent. Shelter, which reflects the cost of rent, rose the most (0.4 percent). The indices for medical care, new vehicles, used vehicles, and vehicle insurance all increased during December.
 
Some publications are predicting December's uptick in inflation will lead to a March rate hike by the Federal Reserve. It's difficult to say with certainty, however, until January's inflation report is released on February 14.
 

Data as of 1/12/18
1-Week
Y-T-D
1-Year
3-Year
5-Year
10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)
1.6%
4.2%
22.7%
11.2%
13.6%
7.0%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.
0.9
3.7
26.1
7.8
5.0
0.6
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)
2.6
NA
2.4
1.9
1.9
3.8
Gold (per ounce)
1.2
2.8
10.6
2.9
-4.4
4.0
Bloomberg Commodity Index
1.0
0.7
0.3
-4.5
-8.7
-7.5
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index
-3.1
-5.1
2.9
3.1
8.1
8.0
S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron's, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
HOW LONG DO YOU WANT TO LIVE? In 2013, the Pew Research Center asked Americans about the ideal lifespan. More than two-thirds (69 percent) gave an age between 79 and 100. Four percent wanted to live to be anywhere from 101 to 120, and another four percent wanted to live beyond 120.
 
It's interesting to note the lifespans named by survey respondents generally matched to some scientists' predictions about the hardiness of humans. One of the authors of a much-debated article in the journal Nature reported, "It seems highly likely we have reached our ceiling...From now on, this is it. Humans will never get older than 115."
 
A slew of billionaire investors falls into the dissenting camp. They're starting companies and funding research with the goal of making death optional, reported The New Yorker.
 
LiveMint wrote:
 
"Death is an old technology but, like the umbrella, it has endured...Most of the billionaires who have waged the war against ageing and death are from Silicon Valley because they are the sort of people who have been trained to believe that a problem, because it is a problem, must have a solution."
 
While human longevity is interesting to think about, it also has some practical applications. For instance, the life expectancy chosen for a retirement plan should be carefully considered. It influences the amount saved, the investments chosen, and the retirement income withdrawn.
 
If you would like to talk about your retirement and how it factors into your financial plans, give us a call.
 
Weekly Focus - Think About It
 
"It's paradoxical, that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn't appeal to anyone."
--Andy Rooney, American journalist
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary (November 27, 2017)

 

The Markets

 

There was a lot to be thankful for last week.

 

Stock markets around the world may have ripened to full-slip sweetness this year. Emerging markets have delivered the most attractive returns year-to-date. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index was up 34 percent year-to-date, last week. The United States and Europe have marched higher, too. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up about 16 percent year-to-date, while the Euro Stoxx Index was up 11.3 percent, reported Barron's and The Wall Street Journal.

 

The question is, "Have markets become overripe?' As you might expect, opinions on the matter vary:

 

  • Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, told CNBC, "I don't see the elements of a bear market but I certainly think 2018 can bring us a correction or at least just a more challenging market."

 

  • David Lebovitz, global market strategist with J.P. Morgan Asset Management, wrote in Barron's, "Healthy earnings growth suggests that there is still upside in U.S. equities, but this area of the global equity market is most expensive relative to its long-term average. However, history has shown us that expensive stock markets can get more expensive before they get cheaper, as multiples tend to expand in the final stages of a bull market."

 

  • Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, told CNBC, "This boat is now standing room only...I still can't figure out why some think there is no euphoria in markets when one has to go back 30 years to see this wide a spread between bulls and bears."

 

Boockvar was referring to an early November Investors Intelligence Sentiment Survey, which gauges the attitudes of U.S. advisors. CNBC reported 63.5 percent of those surveyed were bullish and just 14.4 percent were bearish. A gap of 30 points is a sign of elevated risk, while a 40-point difference suggests defensive measures may be appropriate.

 

Individual investors aren't quite as confident. Last week's AAII Sentiment Survey showed 35.5 percent were bullish, 29 percent were bearish, and the remainder were neutral. It's important to note, there was a distinct shift toward bullishness and away from bearishness in last week's survey.

 

 

Data as of 11/24/17

1-Week

Y-T-D

1-Year

3-Year

5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)

0.9%

16.2%

17.6%

7.9%

13.1%

6.3%

Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.

1.8

23.0

25.8

4.1

5.5

-0.3

10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

2.3

NA

2.4

2.3

1.7

3.9

Gold (per ounce)

0.5

11.3

8.8

2.5

-5.9

4.5

Bloomberg Commodity Index

0.3

-0.6

2.3

-9.5

-9.5

-7.1

DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index

0.5

9.8

14.5

8.1

10.9

8.1

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron's, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

 

and some people worry about zombies. Turkeys have played a central role in the history of the United States. In a letter to his daughter, Ben Franklin offered praise for the bird, which he called, "...a true original native of America...(though a little vain and silly tis true, but not the worse emblem for that) a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on."

 

He was correct about turkeys' aggressive streaks, but lately they haven't been after the British. Nope. Turkeys have been terrorizing Americans. WBUR in Boston reports turkeys, which had disappeared from New England in the 1800s, have been successfully reintroduced to the region.

 

The victory isn't being celebrated in all quarters, though. According to reports, turkeys seem to prefer suburbia where they've been "clashing with residents who say they destroy gardens, damage cars, chase pets, and attack people."

 

The problem isn't unique to Massachusetts.

 

In fact, turkey aggression has become so acute wildlife officials have offered the equivalent of a wild turkey survival guide. First, they recommend, cover windows and shiny objects (turkeys may respond aggressively to sparkly items and their own reflections). Second, Americans who are being intimidated by turkeys should not "...hesitate to scare or threaten a bold, aggressive turkey with loud noises, swatting with a broom, or water sprayed from a hose. A dog on a leash is also an effective deterrent."

 

Climbing trees is not an effective way to escape the menacing fowl. Domestic turkeys cannot fly, but wild turkeys can soar at speeds of up to 55 mph for short distances, according to LiveScience.com. Next time you spot a rafter of turkeys, remember: "Turkeys in the wild are far stronger and faster than the ones that land on Thanksgiving tables."

 

Weekly Focus - Think About It

 

"Three econometricians [people who prepare economic statistics] go hunting, and they spot a large deer. The first econometrician fires but his shot goes three-feet wide to the left. The second econometrician, he fires also, but he misses. His shot goes three feet to the right. The third econometrician starts jumping up and down shouting: We got it! We got it!"

--Planet Money, radio show

 

Best regards,

 

 Lee Barczak

 

President

 

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

 

 

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Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary (November 27, 2017)

 

The Markets

 

There was a lot to be thankful for last week.

 

Stock markets around the world may have ripened to full-slip sweetness this year. Emerging markets have delivered the most attractive returns year-to-date. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index was up 34 percent year-to-date, last week. The United States and Europe have marched higher, too. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up about 16 percent year-to-date, while the Euro Stoxx Index was up 11.3 percent, reported Barron's and The Wall Street Journal.

 

The question is, "Have markets become overripe?' As you might expect, opinions on the matter vary:

 

  • Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, told CNBC, "I don't see the elements of a bear market but I certainly think 2018 can bring us a correction or at least just a more challenging market."

 

  • David Lebovitz, global market strategist with J.P. Morgan Asset Management, wrote in Barron's, "Healthy earnings growth suggests that there is still upside in U.S. equities, but this area of the global equity market is most expensive relative to its long-term average. However, history has shown us that expensive stock markets can get more expensive before they get cheaper, as multiples tend to expand in the final stages of a bull market."

 

  • Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, told CNBC, "This boat is now standing room only...I still can't figure out why some think there is no euphoria in markets when one has to go back 30 years to see this wide a spread between bulls and bears."

 

Boockvar was referring to an early November Investors Intelligence Sentiment Survey, which gauges the attitudes of U.S. advisors. CNBC reported 63.5 percent of those surveyed were bullish and just 14.4 percent were bearish. A gap of 30 points is a sign of elevated risk, while a 40-point difference suggests defensive measures may be appropriate.

 

Individual investors aren't quite as confident. Last week's AAII Sentiment Survey showed 35.5 percent were bullish, 29 percent were bearish, and the remainder were neutral. It's important to note, there was a distinct shift toward bullishness and away from bearishness in last week's survey.

 

 

Data as of 11/24/17

1-Week

Y-T-D

1-Year

3-Year

5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)

0.9%

16.2%

17.6%

7.9%

13.1%

6.3%

Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.

1.8

23.0

25.8

4.1

5.5

-0.3

10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

2.3

NA

2.4

2.3

1.7

3.9

Gold (per ounce)

0.5

11.3

8.8

2.5

-5.9

4.5

Bloomberg Commodity Index

0.3

-0.6

2.3

-9.5

-9.5

-7.1

DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index

0.5

9.8

14.5

8.1

10.9

8.1

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron's, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

 

and some people worry about zombies. Turkeys have played a central role in the history of the United States. In a letter to his daughter, Ben Franklin offered praise for the bird, which he called, "...a true original native of America...(though a little vain and silly tis true, but not the worse emblem for that) a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on."

 

He was correct about turkeys' aggressive streaks, but lately they haven't been after the British. Nope. Turkeys have been terrorizing Americans. WBUR in Boston reports turkeys, which had disappeared from New England in the 1800s, have been successfully reintroduced to the region.

 

The victory isn't being celebrated in all quarters, though. According to reports, turkeys seem to prefer suburbia where they've been "clashing with residents who say they destroy gardens, damage cars, chase pets, and attack people."

 

The problem isn't unique to Massachusetts.

 

In fact, turkey aggression has become so acute wildlife officials have offered the equivalent of a wild turkey survival guide. First, they recommend, cover windows and shiny objects (turkeys may respond aggressively to sparkly items and their own reflections). Second, Americans who are being intimidated by turkeys should not "...hesitate to scare or threaten a bold, aggressive turkey with loud noises, swatting with a broom, or water sprayed from a hose. A dog on a leash is also an effective deterrent."

 

Climbing trees is not an effective way to escape the menacing fowl. Domestic turkeys cannot fly, but wild turkeys can soar at speeds of up to 55 mph for short distances, according to LiveScience.com. Next time you spot a rafter of turkeys, remember: "Turkeys in the wild are far stronger and faster than the ones that land on Thanksgiving tables."

 

Weekly Focus - Think About It

 

"Three econometricians [people who prepare economic statistics] go hunting, and they spot a large deer. The first econometrician fires but his shot goes three-feet wide to the left. The second econometrician, he fires also, but he misses. His shot goes three feet to the right. The third econometrician starts jumping up and down shouting: We got it! We got it!"

--Planet Money, radio show

 

Best regards,

 

 

 

Lee Barczak

President

 

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

Continue reading
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Weekly Market Commentary (November 20, 2017)

 

 

 

Weekly Market Commentary (November 20, 2017)

 

The Markets

 

Are investors more like tigers or African wild dogs?

 

It appears investors - retail and institutional - have become rather like predators. They patiently stalk shares, waiting for a dip, and then they strike - buying stocks when prices fall.

 

Consider last week. Barron's described it like this: "The Dow traded down nearly 80 points on Monday, 170 points on Tuesday, and 170 points on Wednesday, but each time the blue-chip benchmark finished off its lows. That was followed by the Dow's 187-point rally on Thursday, as everyone bought the dips."

 

Investors' remarkable behavior led the publication to speculate, "What if higher volatility, instead of scaring investors away from the stock market, brings them in? In that case, this bull market could still have a long way to go."

 

Buying low and selling high is a foundational principle of investing. However, it remains to be seen how successful buying dips will prove to be in a market that some believe is too highly valued.

 

One measure of valuation is the 12-month trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, which tracks a company's current share price against its earnings during the previous 12 months. Last week, FactSet reported the trailing P/E ratio for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was 22. The five-year average is 18.2, and the 10-year average is 16.9. Some prefer to look at forward P/E ratios, which compare share price to expected future earnings. The forward P/E ratio for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was 18, while the five-year average is 15.7, and the 10-year average is 14.1.

 

Only time will tell whether investors' dip buying will more closely resemble the hunts of tigers or those of African wild dogs. When hunting prey, tigers are successful 5 to 10 percent of the time. African wild dogs take down prey 85 percent of the time, according to BBC's Discover Wildlife.

 

As always, much will depend on the investments selected.

 

 

Data as of 11/17/17

1-Week

Y-T-D

1-Year

3-Year

5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)

-0.1%

15.2%

17.9%

8.1%

13.2%

6.1%

Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.

-0.4

20.8

24.5

3.9

5.6

-0.4

10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

2.4

NA

2.3

2.3

1.6

4.1

Gold (per ounce)

0.0

10.8

4.7

2.8

-5.8

5.1

Bloomberg Commodity Index

-0.6

-0.9

4.9

-9.6

-9.5

-7.0

DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index

-0.6

9.3

16.2

8.3

11.0

7.5

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron's, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

 

and now for something completely different. Online sales aren't the only threat to traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. Direct-to-consumer (DTC - also abbreviated as D2C) companies have been implementing a brand new business model. They're skipping retailers and selling direct to consumers. Early entries in the DTC space targeted product areas dominated by big, established companies that have been enjoying high profit margins. DTC firms often are offering better price points and far superior customer service, reports Forbes.

 

In the future, some may remember the emergence of DTC as the onset of the razor wars. In 2010, the world's largest razor blade company had 70 percent market share in the United States. Its gross margins (sales minus the cost of the product) were as high as 60 percent, reported The Economist. Soon after, the company found itself competing with two subscription razor blade services offering no cost trials and money-back guarantees. The DTC business model proved to be attractive and the market share of the world's largest maker of razor blades has fallen to 54 percent.

 

Will DTC have staying power? The Economist wrote:

 

"...a growing number of startups are reimagining everyday household items - from pants and socks to toothbrushes and cookware. These [DTC] companies bypass conventional retailers and bring their products straight to customers via their online stores. They began several years ago to catch the attention of venture-capital (VC) firms, which have poured in more than $3bn since 2012. But the success of some [DTC] firms has attracted a lot of wannabes, making this a crowded market and leaving some wondering whether the boom has reached its limits."

 

While analysts ponder the viability of the new business model, the behemoths of consumer goods and retailing have begun buying DTC firms. Consequently, we may see a steady stream of new entrants to the market.

 

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration!

 

Weekly Focus - Think About It

 

"Intelligence alone does not get us where we need to go or even necessarily where we want to go. For that, the human creature must exercise harder-won capacities of wisdom, and wise action."

--Krista Tippett, American journalist and author

 

 

Best regards,

 

Lee Barczak

President

 

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

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