The Great Delineator -” Management “

March 24th, 2015

March 23,2015

Strange,…. when I was President and CEO of Saati North America, I  never thought of myself as a ” Manager “.

I think my aversion to that label dates back to 1956 at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY  when I was discussing with some classmates which major to choose.  I recall someone mentioning Management, and I recall another classmate saying it didn’t seem intellectually deep enough to him.  To him, management seemed nothing more than common sense.  I suppose on some subliminal level I agreed, so I decided to follow Adam Smith into Political Economy…..and major in Economics.

Now, as an investor, and no longer a manager,  I have a much better idea of what a manager should be, a much higher opinion of the job I did as a manager , and a much lower opinion of some of the CEO managers and their compliant  teams whose work I encounter almost everyday in doing bottom up analysis for potential investments.

To dispose of me as a manager,  and  voir dire my qualifications to express both my opinion of myself and others as managers , I believe I need to relate a little bit of my experience as a manager.  What follows is not a resume’ and , for sure, I am not at all interested in having a job.

As of January 1, 1987  I liquidated my interest in the fabric  importing company I owned  and became an employee of Saati,  ( Italy’s largest  industrial weaver ). I signed  a long term employment contract that gave me unlimited authority and responsibility for the profit of the USA  subsidiary, Majestech.  To me, unlimited authority meant nothing except  use in breaking ties…rare.

If anyone asked me to describe my job , I could easily have said  ” motivational engineer  /  consensus builder “. I was surrounded by in place managers whom I had  hired and  respected.  I saw myself as an outside the box thinker……probably a radical in how companies should operate and interface with their employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders ( in this case , shareholder…Dr Carlo Novarese , President of the world wide Saati Group. ).

I saw my job as  selling  ideas to the management team and adopting their ideas on how we could create a delineated image of ourselves versus our competition and have a hell of a good time, and lots of laughs,  doing it.  Every employee, manager or hourly, was  to be able to articulate to anyone why our company was different,  a great place to work,  and why we were a great source for products and implementation ideas.

I had to be able to go to Italy, quarterly,  and demonstrate via an annual ” Accomplishment  Portfolio ” that we deserved maximum shareholder support in terms of strategy and product development.  We did the same with other  suppliers and we lost no opportunity to demonstrate to our bankers that we knew how they ran their business and would only bring them bankable transactions.

Every employee of the USA subsidiary participated in a monthly ” Sales Bonus Pool ” based on sales growth and the perception that it wasn’t only our Field Representatives who sold.  We considered everyone who had an  opposite number at our  Swiss, German and Japanese competitors to be in sales.  Our  mission was to outperform the competition in any area where the customer could draw a positive or negative conclusion about us. This  individual and collective  effort to impress and delineate   was considered  a sale and it included the switchboard operators,  warehouse employees ,  accounts receivable employees etc. ..

The monthly sales bonus check for hourly employees could be as high as the monthly lease payment for  a BMW 325i.  This was in addition to a 401K plan, pension plan, medical plan and 100% tuition refund plan.  That’s right, we had full time employees  wrapping packages who were in line to receive a liberal arts or  accounting degree from one of the local colleges.

By now, you are probably thinking that it was easy to do this because we were selling a product with a highly delineated competitive advantage. Wrong.  In fact,  we were importing a product which was in reality a set of specs that any of our competitors could probably deliver, and maybe at a much lower price if they set their mind to it.  In fact, we were importing a commodity like product.  What we did ( as a management team ) was surround it with a  portfolio of excellent  peripheral products which made it part of a  system whose other components we either manufactured or bought on exclusive and favorable terms.  We spent time on  the factory floor of IBM, Revlon, and Champion Knitwear showing them and others, how to use our portfolio successfully. We  had a steady  stream of visitors to our ” in house ” lab including ATT and Northern Telcom..

Long story short,  the net worth of the USA subsidiary grew at a compound annual rate of 25% plus during the 13 years I had direct control of sales, operations and the budget.  Its only now, when looking back and remembering  the words of Hall of Fame NFL Coach, Bill Parcells……

” You  are what your record says you are “,….. that  I allow myself  to smile.

All the above is to set the stage for my next post ….How I find public companies with exemplary managements who use their prosperity to push ahead and simultaneously reward employees and shareholders .  Those are the companies I want to own.

 

Richard Maurice Gore

 

 

 

Market Tremors

March 14th, 2015

March 15, 2015

As of  Monday,  March 2, we were breezing along with the  December 30, 2011 SPY trade 803 days old, ahead 74.37% and everything rosy.

SPY ( a basket of the S & P 500 stocks trading as one stock ) representing the USA stock market, and the USA economy ,was 5.07% ahead since  Nov 1.,  ( half way to May ), with all engines humming.

Then, came the whispers about the Fed  intending to raise interest rates in June.  Since the price of money (  interest yield  ) competes with the price of equities ( earnings yield ) for new money. there should be no doubt whatsoever that investors perceptions of what happens to interest rates is the  major underpinning for this market.   Trouble is,  its really easy to over simplify this issue .  The Fed is at zero !  Which  interest rate percentage,   relative to earnings yield percentage, will be the tipping point, and how fast it will get there, will be the real drivers for equity re-valuation.

What is happening now is equivalent to jet  passengers enjoying the reverie of cruising soundlessly at  30,000 feet suddenly feeling a bit of  wind turbulence.  Grab an an armrest and squeeze !  Now ….. silence.   Hear anything ?,  Feel  anything ?  OK,  back to serenity ! Whew !

Last week you could have had $1 million invested in stocks but still close Friday with a profit or loss of just $ 159 for the week.!   ( In fact,  SPY did close down 1% for the week ( $10,000 loss  on a $ million ).  My portfolio would have closed down only $159 for the week.  Why the different result ?  Read on .

By Friday, the Monday whisper about a June interest rate rise was undercut by economic data sufficiently weak to give rise to the thought the Fed would never consider  a June interest rate hike after digesting the weak data released. Bad news to the rescue ! Whew !

It seems Europe is starting to react positively to the stimulus package.  That means not as much new European money will be arriving at our shores and the EURO will find a bottom.   And, that is good for  the USA.  Nobody ever said the Dollar needed to crush the EURO and the YEN.  We want stable currency rates that allow for measured investment and sales planning. !  We want balance, not a tilt !

At present the dollar is still strong enough to drastically shrink the size of profits that are needed to contribute  profits on the global income statements of USA companies doing business overseas.  My reaction is to give a wide berth to USA equities  that rely on exports or profits generated in overseas markets.  Since SPY contains our largest companies, you can assume that  the still strong dollar creates headwinds for their profits.

My reaction is to choose USA stock  indexes such as IJR which contain small cap companies and are less likely to export or manufacture overseas. Since November 1,” IJR”  ( I Shares Small Cap 600 Index ) is ahead 4.41% while SPY  ( I Shares S&P 500 Big Cap Index  ) is ahead 2.01%.  The almost 2.5%  difference  shows what can happen over a short time frame ( say one quarter ) when you just sit with SPY versus  working through the logic of finding an alternative and acting on it. Hopefully I will be back in SPY with a profit from IJR  in my purse by the time the logic changes.

Conversely,  I am investing in European and Japanese stocks able to export because of the  strong dollar.  I am investing via index funds which hedge the strong dollar risk out of portfolio profits .  Examples are HEDJ ( Wisdom  Tree Europe Hedged Equity ETF ) , up 15.8%  and DXJ  ( Wisdom Tree Japan Hedged Equity ETF  )  up 0.75% since November 1.

At this point, my only exposure to SPY is the May 15 , $199 SPY Put which I sold on March 4 for $2.27.  If  it expires worthless May 15 , my profit will be $2.27 per share…..approximately 6.84% per annum. Not exactly money market rates.  The risk….SPY gets assigned to me at its current 200 day moving average level..$199. I’m prepared to own SPY at $199 and then write more Puts.

I am 60 % invested and ready to purchase more shares of  companies I already  own such as AAPL , CVS,  UNH, UA, DIS,  TWX, GLW, BX, SWHC, DLTR, ORLY ….if prices weaken – ( because I’ve done my ” internals ”  homework ) ….( Or ),

More shares of the following Sector ETFs :  FBT, ITA, XLV, HEDJ,  XHB, QQEW,  DXJ, if prices weaken, because logic tells me that these positions should prosper given the present macro economic conditions. These positions are not as ” iron clad ” as my equity positions because Sector conditions  can change much more quickly.

This is where I say ” I’ll be back.”

Richard Maurice Gore

 

 

Oil versus Apple

February 26th, 2015

February 26, 2015

So, with oil selling in the low $50 range and representing 8% of SPY, where are the headwinds ?

Just as I indicated in my post of November 21, 2014 ” Who is Afraid of the Big Black Swan ” ,  the equity market is still the only logical place to put money.  Our 10 year Treasury is yielding less than 2% thanks to the demand arising out of even lower interest rates in Europe and Japan.

Full employment and a healthy housing market are goals of the Fed and it doesn’t pay to fight the Fed.

Since November Spy has advanced almost 5%, well on its way to creating the wealth effect for the American consumer who represents 70% of GDP. And, as expected,  the American  consumer is awakening , the brainpower of  American ingenuity is meeting every challenge to the point where you may be driving an Apple car sooner than you think !

I’m ignoring all ” FIRE ” ! calls until I see bond interest yields  competing with earnings yields.  Everything else is noise.

All that remains to be accomplished is an invigorated housing market.

And the housing market is  where there is a bit of a problem to be overcome.

People are not buying because they are able to sell their existing housing

We are back to 20% down payments and,  banks are sticky with their credit.  Who can blame them.  Would you lend someone at 3.5% for 30 years when you don’t know what your cost of money will be a few years from now.  Banks are not walking their ” come on in ” talk.

And, it seems to me rental construction will revive before residential construction.  Why ?  the amount of student loans outstanding has created a formidable obstacle to capital formation for use as a down payment by couples in their twenties and thirties.

My post of December 26 ,2011 put forth a suggestion to solve this problem.  My idea was to allow early withdrawals from 401K type plans without penalty if the money goes toward a housing down payment.

Who loses on this ?…….  Brokers and wealth managers.    Certainly, the five too big Banks won’t fight  the idea of all those mortgage securities being created.  But  not so fast.  The biggies first want remove the ” push out ” provision of  Dodd- Frank legislation which removes FDIC protection for the biggies on  activities  involving swaps….credit insurance gambling   ( gambling ? …trust me, 40 to 1 leverage is gambling ).  Selling and trading portfolios of mortgages is where its at for the biggies, and you can include Morgan Stanley , Deutche Bank,and  UBS  as wanting to be in the ” tranche “game with Citi, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman.

So, it looks as if  renting rather than owning will be driving housing for awhile.

Until then, equities look like the way to go.  Looking back only a couple of years, I am amazed at how my methodology  of selecting stocks has changed. I have always heard that Warren Buffett needs to ask only a few questions before he knows whether or not he wants to buy a company. I do believe I have narrowed in on that answer but, I won’t pass it along until its been rigorously road tested by me.  That,  and everything involving a concept called ” shareholder yield ” as opposed to earnings yield and dividend yield.

I’ll be back.

Richard Maurice Gore

 

 

 

 

 

Half Way There

January 31st, 2015

January 31, 2015

If you take ” Play till May ” seriously, as I do,  you are forced to keep a double set of  ” performance measurement” books…

Annual – January 1, to December 31….and

Annual -November 1, to October 31.  With January in the books, we are halfway to May with SPY  down 2.96% since November 1.

If you are an average investor,  and would heed the advice of  Warren Buffett ( Berkshire Hathaway ) and John Bogle ( Vanguard ), don’t let SPY’s negative performance ( since November ) throw you because even the very best analysts  have an ongoing  problem keeping pace with SPY’s results.  No need to read further.  Just keep investing in SPY through the ups and downs… and your reward ( down the road ) could be significant.

For those of you still reading,  you are entering my domain,…. the domain of pride and hubris, risking your savings to challenge the ” Buy and Hold ” results of SPY,  (  An ETF  basket of stocks  representing the USA’s largest capitalization equities ) .

In previous posts, I have argued my belief that it  doesn’t take much expertise or work to beat SPY ” Buy and Hold ” via trend trading.  And, back testing to the year 2000 has shown that this is true with SPY being involved in only six trades  ( five of them winners )   The one trading  loss was for 5.82%.  My methodology for trend trading SPY is explained in previous posts.

The latest such trade dates to December 31, 2011.  It has been an open trade for 774 days and has resulted in a gain of 280% while SPY  ” Buy and Hold ” has gained 91.3% for the same period.   Do I have your attention ?

Are you part of that trade ?  I’m not, although I intend to get in sync with it at my first opportunity to do so,  ( a buy signal at a month end following a sell signal at a previous month end).  It seems to me that the only way to gain from this situation is to assume the investment climate for equities is benign until the SELL signal appears at some month end down the road.  If the December 30, 2011 trade sets the trading climate…it says nothing about the  trading weather.

The trading  weather… head windy and tail windy for SPY, is  based on a whole lot of factors.   SPY contains equities that benefit from low oil prices and equities that suffer from low oil prices. SPY contains equities that benefit from a strong dollar and those that suffer from a strong dollar. SPY contains equities that benefit from low interest rates and equities which see low interest rates as a problem. Lately, there has been an unusual amount  of pushing and pulling inside SPY,  giving rise to the notion that this is a market for individual stocks, not  Indexes,  and could best be described as a stock picker’s market.

I have been selecting equities  I believe will  benefit from a strong dollar, low interest rates and low oil prices.  And, so far, I must be doing something right because my equity portfolio  ( based on ” smart ” criteria and current conditions )  is ahead 5.4% since November 1, while SPY is down 2.96%.

But I’m not taking any bows because stock picking is only half the battle.  Knowing when to sell is just as important.  Just ask Cinderella about her late exit from the ball !  And, maybe that is one of the virtues of trend trading SPY.  It may be like watching grass grow but it doesn’t require the daily attention of 25 different equities, each with its own daily story.   Under the circumstances , to reduce the specific risk of holding individual equities I’m working on trigger strategies to follow when considering the sale of an individual equity.

In terms of selling everything on a SELL signal , in addition to the trend trading SELL signal, I’ve decided that knowing when the market is priced  too exuberantly could be a very good DEW line against a Bear attack ( not necessarily Russian ) .  And, what I am focusing on is the divergence between equity yields and bond yields.   Recently,  the equity / bond yield divergence is widening…. an indication that investors are still afraid of equities and are buying more bonds irrespective of the lower yields bonds offer.  To me, this is a good sign because it  means there are a lot of dollars in bonds still waiting to be convinced its safe to buy equities.  Once the divergence narrows to the point where it seems the market is saying its just as safe to buy equities as bonds,  I’ll be checking my canary very carefully and very often.

As for selling an individual equity….my primary warning sign is when the equity  begins to slip relative to SPY’s (November till now ) performance.  Your portfolio  can’t outperform SPY if your portfolio is chock full of equities which are lagging SPY.  This means staying on top of strength relative to SPY and then finding answers for a negative divergence  which could quite possibly result in a sale.  More work, more small losses  and more commissions to erode the overall result.  The positive offset to this is the internal growth of unrealized profits in your portfolio and how that result compares to the unrealized profit in your SPY holding.The equities currently in my portfolio are  SWHC, GLW, CVS, LUV, BX, NOC, UNH, ANTM, JBLU, DIS, HXL, DLTR, ORLY, DAL, AAPL, ALL, ALK, GD, TWX, RTN,, UA, TASR, NTES, PCYC, NOVO….all purchased since November 1, all outperforming SPY since November 1..

I am treating SPY as a bond substitute, writing Puts in exchange for a premium and an opportunity to take delivery of SPY  at prices ranging from $199 to $190 instead of the $205 I would have paid to purchase SPY with no premium to me  ( 7 % to 10% per annum ).

Hope this gets you thinking about your portfolio and how it compares to SPY from November 1 and from January 1. …Richard Maurice Gore

 

 

 

Keys to the Kingdom

January 1st, 2015

 

January 1, 2015

When it comes to New Years Resolutions ,  the words of my 8th grade teacher, Sister Monica, always point me toward more effort.

Master Gore,  remember….” Good, Better, Best, Never let it Rest, till your Good is Better and your Better is your Best “.

With this in mind, and with her admonition to avoid  becoming  an idler, I now refocus for a better performance in 2015’s stock market.

But before that, I do hereby resolve to change ” Ready, Fire, Aim ” …….into ” Ready, Aim, Fire “.  And for me, that isn’t easy !

Before I “pull the trigger “, each and every time I need to ask my self the following questions:

Question # 1.  Should I be investing in this market, or not.

Answer: For me –

A1 – Is VTI above its 200 day moving average as of the last day of last month ?  If ” yes ” proceed ( 10 years, 5 trades, all winners )

A2- Follow the Money.  Water is always wanting to flow lower.  Money is always wanting to flow toward the highest risk and inflation adjusted return. Example: Is money leaving Russia ?  Yes .  What is happening to its stock market, its currency and the bond yields on its debt Negative Action.  Is money flooding into the USA .  YES !  What is happening to the USA’s stock market, its currency and the yields on its 10 year debt. Couldn’t be better!

A3-  What is the differential between the earnings yield on 10 year Treasuries and the Stock Market’s earnings yield….2.3% versus 5% plus . Very positive for equities.

A4- Where are we in the calendar year….November 1 to April 30 ( generally, full speed ahead ). May 1 – October 31 ( caution sharp curves  ahead )

 

Question 2 – If I am to invest, should it be in Index ETFs, Sector ETFs or Individual Stocks or all  three to some degree.  The answer depends on my risk / reward tolerance and how much time I can spare to follow my  investments….bearing in mind that the amount of time I spend may sometimes carry an inverse correlation to a positive  result.

For me….I prefer a blend as follows:

Index ETFs  (    40%  )

Sector ETFs  (    10%  )

Fixed Income ETFs  ( 10% )

Individual Equities   ( 40% )

Sectors need to be ahead of SPY and answer  the question …WHY ?  Examples

IYT ( Dow Transport Index )  Cheaper Fuel,

XLU ( Utilities ) Cheaper fuel,

VNQ ( REITS ) lower interest rates equal lower borrowing expenses  ,

FBT ( BIOTEC ) Rx for Empty pharma pipelines,

XLV  ( Health Care )  Do you actually  believe the Lobbyists will allow the profit to be drained from Obamacare ?

XLK ( Technology ), the Cloud, mobile devices, etc. ,

XLF ( Finance ) With the “push out” voided from the Omnibus Bill, and housing needing more of a jump start, the Big Five Too Bigs will be back with more collateral debt games and  not so much leverage,… at first.

Not VDE ( Energy )   For the moment I believe supply has the upper hand.

Question 3….What about Equities ? 

For me ? I’m only interested in USA equities doing business principally in the USA.  The strong dollar will have a negative impact on USA companies competing overseas.  I like DFS, TWX, DIS, RTN, HCA, CVS, UA, LUV, DAL, and UNH until they get overvalued ( in my opinion ).

Question 4. What about other equities. if I’m too busy or too lazy

Unless I believe I can outperform SPY what is the point ?  So my search starts with equities which are already outperforming SPY  and which conform to smart criteria such as

1) the ratio of price to free cash flow,

2) growing revenues based on an organic competitive advantage ( I don’t like companies that grow only by acquisition because to me it means that the original advantage has hit a ceiling ),

3 )very little or no debt ( I don’t like buybacks or dividends financed by borrowing ),

4) the ability to hold or raise prices in the face of competition,

5) sustainable and growing operating margins,

6) very reasonable cap ex requirements,

7) shareholder friendly managements with skin in the game.

A good place to start ?  I am continuing to cherry pick candidates  from PKW  which is an ETF focusing on holding equities embodying the attributes such as enumerated above  Or, if I’m too busy, or too lazy, I can simply purchase PKW and know it will give SPY a very good run for the money.

 

Happy hunting in 2015. !

Richard Maurice Gore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Sum Up – 2015 Changes

December 28th, 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

If you made only one trade during the past twelve months – – bought SPY,   December 31, 2013, and held until now, you would be ahead 13.4% for 2014.

You would have received 5.82 times  the return of a 10 year Treasury Note ( @ 2.3% ),  and with $500,000  invested your investment would have earned $67,000,  which is 1.25 times the annual median income for USA households ( $53,891 ).  Capitalism at work.

But, there is no guarantee Buy and Hold will work during 2015.  The writer’s 200 day / month end trading strategy had no opportunity to be used during 2014.

Looking forward, all I can say is that the general environment for USA stocks focused on doing business in the USA…couldn’t be better !

I intend to respect the  “Play till May”  proverb unless I see a continuance of the conditions  I see now.  I have already switched my record keeping to a November 1 / October 31 basis with a review April 30.

Also, I intend to invest only half my financial capital in the 200 day / month end SPY timing model…if the opportunity to do  so arises.  Otherwise , I’ll do my best to be long SPY when I believe it makes sense to do so…or be writing SPY – Puts with the hope of earning a premium and obtaining a lower  SPY entry point.

I am really satisfied with the performance of my hand selected portfolio of individual ” smart criteria ” equities which have outperformed SPY from November 3, until today. SPY is up 3.1% while my portfolio is up 5.7%.

Portfolio has varying amounts of BX,  DIS, DFS, CVS, UNH, GLW, SNE, NOC,  LUV, RTN , NOV,  SWHC, DAL, HCA, AAPL,  MU, TWX

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year

Richard Maurice Gore

 

 

 

Privatize the Gain / Nationalize the Pain

December 18th, 2014

 

 

December 18, 2014

What the above headline means is that, once again, when Wall Street takes big risks and wins, it will keep the  money.  But when the risk implodes, as it did with AIG and Lehman Brothers,  taxpayers will take the loss via taxpayer funded FDIC guarantees to the ” Too Big to Fail ” banks…..Citicorp, JP Morgan Chase,  Bank of America, Wells Fargo and  Goldman Sacks.

Is this a laugher…or what ?  And, it gets much, much better !.

On Thursday night the Republican controlled House  passed the Omnibus Spending Bill which funds the federal budget  through September 2015.  Next, the bill goes to the Republican controlled Senate where it is expected to pass.

What is at issue is a last minute  amendment inserted in  the Omnibus Bill  which voids the very important” push out ” provision included in Dodd Frank regulatory legislation .

Dodd Frank pushed the riskiest bank derivative bets out from under the protective FDIC umbrella ( held by you ) ,  to new,  non bank  entities which would shoulder the entire risk for any bets made using risk money raised separately  for such specific  purpose. If the inserted ( voiding )  amendment passes the Senate, it will allow the big five banks to make any bet they want knowing the FDIC will guarantee their loss.

The amendment with no hearing, no chance of further modification and no debate was inserted into a major piece of legislation, Omnibus,  by a lame duck House.

The big five ” too big to fail ” banks control 90% of the risky multi trillion dollar derivatives market so there is a lot of bonus money at stake ( if they win their bets ) and a downside only for taxpayers such as you ,  if they lose.  They want to be in this game, but with your skin in it , not theirs !!

It gets better….

It is said that Citicorp’s main Washington lobbyist  wrote the actual language of the amendment ! !!.. and then found someone,   Congressman Kevin Yoder, Republican, Kansas ) to put his name on the amendment and submit it.  Yoder is known to be heavily dependent on political contributions from financial interests.  Ever since his name has emerged tied to this amendment he has become invisible and reportedly  refuses to answer  any  and all questions relating to his motives for  his involvement,  given  this  type of legislation has almost  no relevancy  to the agenda  of the Kansas farming community he represents.

It is being reported that many of his constituents are leaving less than gracious messages on his Facebook page ! It is also being said that he is counting on this blowing over by the time he comes up for re-election.

Bottom line, after reading this blog, it should be causing you to have some anxiety  about the linkage between Wall Street and Washington DC,  and the revolving employment  door between Banks, the Congress and Lobbyists.

What to do?   Make absolutely certain this amendment gets a good airing in the Senate by contacting your Senator and letting him know how you feel about you  guaranteeing Wall Street’s bets!

And, if you need even more motivation to contact your Senator, read the speech given on the Senate floor by Democratic Senator , Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts. Just Google her name and look for  the Huff Post article “The Speech that Could Make Elizabeth Warren the Next President of the United States”  . You will have the option to read or listen to the speech !

Senator Warren comes off as  a bristling REFORM fighter ( ex Harvard Law Professor ). I would love to watch her in a debate with Hillary and then , Jeb. !!

Richard Maurice Gore

 

 

Could Black Gold be the Black Swan ?

December 11th, 2014

December 11, 2014

Not being part of the soon to be 3 year old  VTI trade, I maneuver in the market  using VTI and / or  SPY strictly as a  buy / sell signal.

For instance, I  had  written ( sold )  twenty plus  SPY 195 December puts which I closed out for pennies on the dollar this past Monday. That was my exposure to SPY.  My actions were saying I would rather own SPY at $195  than at $208, especially because I was being paid a premium to take the lesser risk of accepting delivery of  SPY  at a price  6% less than its 52 week high.

There are two ways I can approach SPY.

#1  Consider available macro data such as the falling price of oil in terms of what it means for SPY and act on my conclusions, or

#2 Wait until December 31 to see whether the month end price of VTI or SPY triggers a signal to sell  my entire ETF and equities portfolios.

If I had a day job, I’d probably follow path #2 relying on back tested history relating to SPY’s month end performance.  But, I’ve been retired since December 31 2006 so I am more of an activist when I believe what I see on the road ahead.  If I can make a case to myself for early action, I’ll lighten up a bit.  I don’t like sitting with accumulating losses.

In my last post I proclaimed that I had no fear of a Black Swan ( outlier ) disrupting the market because I have the Fed on my side with low interest rates almost forcing investors to consider equities.

I still feel the same way, except that it has been pointed out to me that the price of oil and the price of SPY have a history of travelling in the same  direction.  But, the market has been making new highs almost daily for all the reasons I enumerated in previous blogs despite the precipitous drop in the price of oil.  But does that mean  the directional divergence will continue ? !

I do know  that oil represents 8.2% of  SPY’s   value.  So, at some point,  the falling  price of oil must,  at the very  least, represent a head wind for SPY.

And, while lower oil prices are adding money to the USA  consumers purse it is also having a negative  impact on economies less able to withstand the oil price drop ( including Russia which is Europe’s largest trading partner ).  So, what happens to Europe’s ability to purchase from the USA if  it ‘s exports to Russia wither ? And, how does that impact 2015 profits of USA / SPY companies exporting to Europe…especially with the added  barrier of  paying for  imports from the USA with a weaker Euro.

At some point the world’s problems become ours as we shoot for higher highs.  So this has the potential to become more than a head wind.

In terms of my actions in the market, I have almost no  SPY exposure because of the Puts I retired.

Overall.  I am now  a little over 50% invested in the market  and geared to buy and hold or liquidate on December 31.  I like the quality of what I am holding, but, again, I don’t like the feeling of being submerged if I think the dunking could be more than a temporary phenomena !

I am holding   Sector ETFs  and some individual stocks which conform to ” smart ” criteria and depend on USA business rather than exports etc..

The Sector ETFs I’m holding are XLV ( health care ) FBT ( biotech ) IYT ( transportation ) and XLU.  The equities I am holding are TWX, BX, UNH, CVS, DIS,  DFS, RTN, LUV, C, and NOC.

What I am learning is to never say never about owning equities.  My equities have outperformed SPY since November 1.and  I am gaining confidence about how to reduce the specific risk of equities.  But,  SPY should always be a significant piece of my portfolio

 

Richard Maurice Gore

SPY Indexing vs Allocation

December 2nd, 2014

December 2, 2014

I’ve indicated in previous posts  that ” SPY ”  ( S& P 500 ETF ) is the benchmark against which market professionals., and  gurus  are measured for performance.

Thus far in 2014 ( eleven months )  SPY has appreciated 12.4%.  That is  5.3 times  the 10 year Treasury yield  ( 2.34 % ).

Would you be good with that,  ( 12.4% )  for the entire year ?  Or, would you want more ?  Remember, John Bogle and Warren Buffett  strongly suggest you don’t go any further.  Just “Buy and Hold” for the long run and your returns should set the pace for some very high priced money managers who,  at this very moment , are scrambling from behind in an all out attempt to catch SPY before 2014 draws to a close.

If your answer is  , ” I want more  than 12.4% ” , you may wish to consider each of the following  choices.

# 1 )  Time your  SPY investment by selling SPY when it ends a month below its 200 day moving average and by purchasing SPY when it ends a month above its 200  day moving average.    What could be more simple ! There have been only six round trip  SPY trades  using this methodology since January 4, 2000.  Five of the six  round trips were winners and the only losing trade was for negative 5%.  You would have gained 293.7%  since January 2000 …. a 14 year  average gain of 20.97% per annum versus Buy / Hold,  which would have rewarded you with an average of  7% appreciation per annum. . .   Obviously no guarantee of either of these results going forward…..Or,

# 2 )  ) You can choose to  play both sides of the street and  hedge your bets by trade  timing  half your investment in SPY  and  sitting  with the other  50 percent  through thick and thin as Bogle and Buffett  suggest you do with your entire portfolio.  Or,

#3 )  Maybe you believe you have the time  ,emotions  and  skill to handle more risk . And now, remember,  you are getting into allocation risk  when you begin to slice and dice the S&P 500 and add alternate investments.

With November now in the books,  SPY has appreciated 2.91 % while my combined allocated portfolio appreciated only  1.34% ( My allocated portfolio included SPY,  writing SPY Puts,  Sector  ETFs,  Cash Flow driven equities,  Smart ETFs ( including those which included those based on share Buybacks,  Moats,  Dividends and Momentum  )  The only deployment allocation which beat SPY was my cash flow driven equity selections at 3.85%.  Everything else became a drag on this allocations performance.

I have a great deal of  ground to make up after just one month with five months till May 2015..

SPY and VTI have ended November2014 above their respective 200 day moving averages,  so the ” BUY ” signal for SPY triggered December 30, 2011  continues in effect ,  with the finish line of  three complete years of no trades now in sight.

 

Richard Maurice Gore

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Who is Afraid of the Big Black Swan ?

November 21st, 2014

November 21, 2014

Not me !  I’ve got the Fed on my side, and if you will read on you will see why I feel so confident.

There  is a well known saying in the stock market ” Don’t fight the Fed “.  The reason for this is that the Fed uses  interest rates to fight inflation and foster full employment,  And, their fight can impact  stock prices  in a very significant way.

Inflation is not a threat  at this point in time ( 2% is considered benign ), so the quest for full employment is at the top of the Fed’s  “To do ” list.   And, this is where the linkage to the stock market really starts.

Full employment needs employers who are  sufficiently confident to expand operations. And that, in turn , depends on consumers acting with  confidence.  How to make the consumer confident ?  You can make the consumer confident by creating the  “wealth effect”  which gives the consumer the confidence to increase spending.

How to create the ” wealth effect ” ?  Easy. – lower interest rates to the point where the stock market is the only logical place to put money and lower interest rates to the point where housing activity begins to lift off.  There is nothing like a rising stock market and increasing  housing   prices to make a consumer feel wealthy. It begins to feed on itself.  And, once this phenomena begins to gain momentum, don’t get in the way

And, Europe  and Japan are making it possible for the Fed to have even more of a free hand in its interest manipulation activity because Europe and Japan want to lower their own interest rates to head off deflation.  If you step back you will see that money leaving the very low, but riskier,  interest rate environments of  Europe and Japan will end up allowing the Fed to keep rates low for a long time because this money will end up in New York and  further depress the interest rate  ( yield ) of our 10 year Treasury Note ( 2.34% ).  All this can go on and on until our  economy regains its strength and eventually overheats.  Since it is starting at zero the Fed has plenty of time to sit on interest rates and create the wealth effect both in the stock market and in housing.

What all of this means to me is that I shouldn’t let temporary stock market  dips of dubious sponsorship unhinge me.  I should buy the dips until I see the economy beginning to overheat…indicating a black swan named “Inflation ” is about to float by.  I’ll be watching the Fed standing watch.

These posts are being written for me , (with you privy to my thoughts ) to give me  (and the rest of you newly minted IRA investors),  the courage to withstand all the market gyrations  by those intending  to create trading opportunities for their own benefit..

Richard Maurice Gore