Top 20 Countries In Q4

Dec 28, 2012 in Country Funds

Final 2 days of the year and S&P 500 is the only index of the top 20 countries that is down in Q4.  Taken as a portfolio since end of September (equal-weight) --- the return is +6.8%.

 

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Gold Since 1982

Dec 13, 2012 in Gold

Below is price of Gold from 1982 to 2002.   Yes, it underperformed even T-bills and it was obviously a time of great prosperity for the US economy.

 

 

Now let's look at it annually, since 1982 with the larger bold years being those that are the only years the GLD etf has been in existence:

 

 

There have been no negative calendar years yet for GLD (the ETF).    So the big question is:  do you consider Gold a core portfolio holding or a tactical holding?  

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Taking A Simplistic High-Level Look at S&P 500 Earnings

Dec 10, 2012 in Earnings | S&P 500

The S&P 500 is expected to earn about $110-$112 in earnings in CY 2013.   With the S&P 500 cash index closing at 1,418 yesterday, the P/E is 12.7x.

In January, you can be sure to hear a lot about earnings and speculation on what will happen to that ~$111 figure.   It is probably too high given that is the norm.  That is,  estimates usually start high and then move down somewhat throughout the year.   That has not been bearish in the past -- that is the normal 'expected' result (there are many, many examples of the market doing well as earnings dropped). What is significant is if it falls sharply -- or rises even modestly-- those are not normal.

Recessions cause S&P earnings to drop sharply so that is of course the ultimate in concerns.   What is always interesting is for an earnings report from XYZ company to come out and then various commentators will try to extrapolate a forthcoming big disaster for the economy based on that result.   Those people have been consistently run over in this bull market.  

With that all in mind, here are some high level numbers to help keep it in perspective -- just the S&P 500 companies alone are projected right now to do about $1.04 trillion in net income (with a 't').   So that means that each $1 in S&P index earnings per share is about $9.3 billion in actual after-tax income dollars.   Next time you hear about some company that is going to drive the economy off a cliff, think about that statistic.   Is it so bad as to take -$93 billion off S&P aggregate earnings --- if it is, then that will cost the S&P -$10 of its ~$111.

Taken a step further, a recession might cause EPS to drop back well below $100. But to get from $112.00 down to say $90.00 (a -$22 per share) --- that works out to be about ~$202 billion less in net income.

That is quite a drop.   Wal-mart is projected to do about $18 billion in 2013 so we need the equivalent of 11 Wal-Marts to all simultaneously become profitless.  

We will have another profit downturn someday because we will have another recession someday -- but that is about all you can say as there is nothing right now that would indicate this is happening.  Indeed, financial sector earnings have actually increased over the last 90 days -- led by Bank of America, a company expected to do $11 billion of earnings in 2013 -- which is still down by about 50% vs expectations ~5 years ago.   Yes, tech earnings have weakened and energy has had a very poor earnings year -- so of course we will continue to pay attention to those developing situations.

Then again, you don't need any of that to happen just to have a market correction.   Be diligent and manage risk of course --- but keep this all in mind next time you hear how Caterpillar is taking its profit estimate down by $300 million for 2013 --- which is not even the equivalent of a nickel of the ~$111.00 S&P index earnings per share.   For S&P earnings to drop real materially,  you need a major sector to pretty much implode (like Tech in 2001 and Financials in 2008) ---  and then for a real doozie of a drawdown, you need the problem child sector to also drag others down with them into the abyss.   That is what causes the largest market drawdowns. 

 

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Allocation ETF Overweight Example

Dec 01, 2012 in Strategy

Quick mini-analysis of an ETF we are long in our Allocations Board models (EPP).

 

 

Here is a summary of the rationale:

We went long EPP on an Allocations Board portfolio during a small pullback in late August.  (members can see allocation board for details).  Why EPP and why then?

First, EPP is a regional ETF covering developed markets in the Pacific ex-Japan region.   This means companies based in Australia, Hong Kong & to a lesser extent Singapore and New Zealand.   Note that none of these are considered emerging markets --- though all are clearly closely tied to the growth of Eastern Asia, which in turn are all emerging Markets  (ex-Japan).

EPP began by performing well on a relative strength basis during the summer of 2012 vs various lists we keep on constant monitor.

EPP is very volatile -- so we wanted to expose the model to strong relative strength -- but also be sure to plan ahead in case things went adversely against us.    This can be a tricky situation because you absolutely must give yourself a chance to participate in the uptrend by giving it some room in the short-run ---- but we wanted also to have a plan in place to avoid large portfolio drawdowns.    Below is a snapshot using the Ratio MA module to manage the individual position.   Also included are some pullbacks which are normal for a volatile security like this.    These would be buying opportunities within a perceived uptrend.   This is not meant to be how anyone else should choose to manage a position.   This is just a snapshot of how we were thinking about it.    

 

 

 

The exact parameter settings should not be the focus here.  Investing is not a pure science, in our view.   It is much more like a game of poker,  partly mathematical and partly behavioral/psychological.   Good poker players don't take wild risks with no plan in place if things go adversely.   They start out with a plan for each part of the hand and then make adjustments and often have to make some tough decisions as more information is revealed that is adverse to their position.   Sometimes they make a mistake and fold the best hand (like a trading whipsaw) --- but over time, good long-term decision-making is what makes a good investor (and a good poker player).  PLAN YOUR HAND.

Note that the ETF in discussion here (EPP) was not chosen in the first place because of this ratio MA analysis -- that is just a second more detailed view of how we planned to manage the position.   EPP was instead originally chosen because we like what the ETF represents on a fundamental basis (companies based in Australia, Hong Kong & Singapore) AND it also was showing strong signs of a new uptrend beginning (this is what good relative strength analysis does -- it locates particular strength in the market that over time suggests continuation rather than reversal).
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