A Kodak Moment

Shares of Kodak soared more than 2,700% from July 27 to July 30. If you had a crystal ball or insider information, you could have turned $100,000 into $2.7 million as the stock rose from $2.13 to $60. The average trading volume for Kodak (KODK) for the past five years has been 481,000 shares. Two days before shares of Kodak climbed sharply, 284 million shares changed hands.

KODK_chart

The price of Kodak soared because they received a $765 million loan under the Defense Production Act so it can begin producing pharmaceutical ingredients.[1] I had no idea they manufactured drugs. Oh, and on the day before Kodak announced its deal, the board of directors awarded its chairman 1.75 million shares of company stock.[2]

Eastman Kodak was founded in 1888, 132 years ago, primarily to produce film for cameras. Eastman Kodak was a powerhouse, a blue-chip. They were added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1930, where it remained for seventy-four years. Eastman Kodak was part of the nifty-fifty, a group of high-flying growth stocks, during the 1960s and 1970s, along with Bristol-Myers, Coca-Cola, GE, IBM, Pepsi, Pfizer, Sears, and Xerox. In 2012, Kodak declared bankruptcy, and one year later, they emerged from bankruptcy protection, a different company to focus on five divisions: print systems, enterprise inkjet systems, micro 3D printing and packaging, software and solutions, and consumer and film.[3] Pharmaceutical manufacturing is not one of their stated divisions.

My first photography class was in 8th grade. I borrowed my aunt’s 35 millimeter Pentax camera for a school project. I went to Thrifty’s Drug Store to purchase a roll of black and white film. When I finished my project, I dropped off the film at the drive-up Kodak kiosk in the mall parking lot. I returned a few days later to pick up my pictures – a few I still have today. When I became a stockbroker in the early 90s, Kodak (EK) was one of the first companies I purchased. It was going to be a cornerstone of my portfolio because of their growth prospects and dividend yield.

The recent move in Kodak shares may tempt you to hunt for undeveloped stocks in hopes of quick riches. Before you take the plunge and start buying low-priced, speculative stocks, here are a few suggestions to help you avoid some common mistakes.

  • Greed. Since peaking at $60, Kodak stock has dropped 72% to $17.05. The stock remains volatile as speculators try to trade around the news and catch another shooting star. I believe most traders will eventually lose money on this stock as greed attracts speculators like a moth to a flame.
  • Diversify. If you plan to purchase companies trading below $5, buy hundreds of them because most of them will lose money. If you can find one Kodak, among 99 losers, you’ll make money. According to YCharts, 2,826 companies are trading between $1 and $5 per share, so choose wisely. Spread your bets around the table.
  • Limit your speculative capital investment to 3% to 5% of your taxable trading account assets If you plan to purchase stocks below $5. If your account balance is $100,000, then your speculative trading pool will be $3,000 to $5,000.
  • Margin. Day traders try to amplify their gains by purchasing stocks on margin. My recommendation is to avoid margin entirely, but if you must use it, limit your debit balance to 10% of your trading account value.
  • Using options to leverage your gains on low-priced stocks is not recommended because an option is a wasting asset. Professional options traders will increase the implied volatility on options contracts for speculative stocks like Kodak, making them very expensive. For example, the implied volatility for Kodak’s August 21 call option with a strike price of 15 is 300, meaning option traders expect the shares to move up, or down, by 18.8% daily. By comparison, McDonald’s implied volatility is 21, or 14 times less volatile than Kodak.
  • Nimble. If you’re one of the lucky ones to buy a low-priced stock before it takes off, enjoy the ride. If possible, sell enough shares to cover your original cost and let the remainder run so you can play with the house’s money. However, if the stock starts to fall, cut your losses and move to a new idea.

Kodak was a juggernaut, generating more than $10 billion in sales in 1981, employing more than 120,000 at its peak, and producing 50 million Instamatic cameras between 1963 and 1970.[4] However, it lost its way, and it’s now trying to rebrand itself – again. I don’t know how Kodak’s deal will develop, so tread lightly and be careful.

Nostalgia often leads to idle speculation. ~ J. Paul Getty

August 4, 2020

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

 

[1] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/kodak-stock-skyrockets-deal-drug-200548406.html?.tsrc=rss, By Michelle Jones, July 29, 2020

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/01/eastman-kodaks-top-executive-reportedly-got-trump-deal-windfall-on-an-understanding.html, Reuters, August 1, 2020.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodak, Website accessed August 3, 2020

[4] https://theweek.com/articles/481308/rise-fall-kodak-by-numbers, The Week Staff, October 3, 2011. Website accessed August 3, 2020

Did You Miss the Rebound?

The first few minutes of a flight are exhilarating as the pilot throttles the plane down the runway and points its nose heavenward. A stock market recovery is fast and furious, particularly after a steep drop. If you miss the start of a recovery, you will forego substantial gains. From the March 23 low, the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and NASDAQ have climbed substantially. The NASDAQ is up 57% while the S&P 500 and Dow Jones have risen more than 45%.

^IXIC_^SPX_^DJI_chart (1)

Did you miss the rebound? Is it too late to get back in the market? If you liquidated your portfolio in March, should you now repurchase your stock holdings? If you’re still standing on the tarmac looking up at a soaring stock market, you can take comfort in knowing that the Dow Jones and S&P 500 are down to flat on the year.

^SPX_^DJI_chart

Outside of large-cap technology stocks, most sectors are performing poorly this year. Small-cap stocks, international companies, and real estate holdings are trading in negative territory. Small-cap and real estate stocks are down more than 14% for the year.

^MSEM_^SML_^MSEAFE_^SPCSERES_chart

Despite the recent rally, it’s not too late to invest in the markets, especially if you purchase a diversified portfolio of funds. It doesn’t make sense to time the market if you own a basket of funds because you will always have some sectors trading up and others trading down. It’s better to stay fully invested so you can take advantage of the long-term trend of the markets. You will miss opportunities if you regularly buy and sell your investments.

Also, markets move. Today’s winner could be tomorrow’s loser. As I mentioned, large-cap technology stocks are outperforming most sectors this year, but it hasn’t always been the case. From 2000 to 2010 the NASDAQ lost 44% while emerging markets rose 102% and small-caps were up 68%.

^IXIC_^SML_^MSEM_chart

According to Dimensional Fund Advisors, a 60% stock and 40% bond portfolio has generated an average annual return of 8.97% since 1926. A moderately balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds has weathered 94 years of booms, busts, wars, pandemics, corrections, depressions, and recessions. And, for the brave who refuse to sell, it has produced generational wealth. A one-dollar investment in 1926 is now worth $3,350. Of course, 94 years is a long time, so what has it done lately?[1]

A Dimensional 60/40 model is up 6.36% for the year and more than 16% for the past twelve months. For the past three, five, and ten years, it has returned more than 10% per year.  On a rolling ten-year calendar, the model has never lost money. The best ten-year performance for this model started in 1982, averaging more than 17.5% per year. The worst decade started in 1929, generating a gain of .21% per year.[2]

Rather than trying to time the market, focus on your financial plan and your personal goals. A portfolio that you own for decades based on your goals will yield better results than attempting to buy at the bottom or sell at the top.

Let time in the markets work for you and your family.

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.” Harvey Mackay

July 21, 2020

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

[1] https://returnsweb.dimensional.com/, data ending 6/30/2020. The 60/40 index consists of the S&P 500 and long-term government bonds

[2] Ibid

What I Miss?

The NASDAQ, Dow Jones, and S&P 500 are posting positive returns over the past year, and the NASDAQ is up more than 9% for the year. These leading indices were down more than 30% less than three months ago as investors reacted to the COVID-19 virus. Since the virus outbreak, our country has experienced depression-era economic data and witnessed civil unrest. Investors have been scratching their heads to try and reconcile the performance in the stock market with the reality on the streets.

The stock market is up more than 40% from the March 23 low, and it has turned in the best 50-day performance in history. It’s hard to fathom a stock market trading at all-time highs while our economy and cities struggle. We have experienced the worst pandemic in more than 100 years, the bleakest economy since the depression, and, according to some, racial tensions not seen since 1968. However, the market is forward-looking and data-driven, and it’s anticipating our country will realize better days ahead.

In March, investors, and a few financial professionals, panicked. One prominent investment firm in Texas sold their client’s entire stock holdings in early March to ride out the storm. I believe his clients are still in cash.  A renowned hedge fund manager said, “Hell is coming.”[1] Another stated, “I would say it’s one of the most overvalued, maybe the second-most overvalued I’ve seen.”[2] Sometimes the safest investment strategy is to do nothing. And trying to time the market is a fool’s errand

With hindsight, market timing appears easy, but it’s not. It’s impossible. Boeing is now trading above $200, so buying it in March at $95 seemed like a no brainer. But, at the time, airline capacity had fallen by 95%, and Boeing was battling the government to obtain certification for its 737 Max. There are twenty-two analysts that follow Boeing, and their average price target is $157, or 26% below its current price.[3] Despite Boeing’s recent performance, it is still down 47% from its high.

After more than thirty years in the investment business, I’m still looking for a better strategy than buy and hold. Owning a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost funds is still hard to beat. During the first few weeks of the market rout, bonds performed well. They provided safety and support.  As the market recovered, the baton was passed to different asset classes like growth stocks, value stocks, international companies, emerging markets, real estate, and small-cap stocks. Each sector performed well at one time or another. Each category contributed to the performance of the portfolio.

Our investment models were active during the market correction. They are designed to keep our client’s asset allocation and risk tolerance in check. Initially, we were selling bonds to buy stocks, and then as the market rebounded significantly, we sold stocks to buy bonds. At one point, our models were allocating money to real estate funds, despite being down more than 40%. I was hyperventilating as our software allocated funds to this asset class. The real-estate allocation has been a stellar performing asset class over the past couple of months, outperforming most of our other asset classes. Our models are now in positive territory for the past year.

A globally diversified portfolio of mutual funds is not sexy. While some funds are rising, others are falling. It seems I’m forever apologizing for an underperforming asset class. Investors, apparently, only want to own funds that grow in value, but the funds are always changing leadership positions, which is the root of diversification.

What is the best way to find a portfolio that is the right fit for you? A financial plan is a powerful tool to help you define and refine your goals. Your advisor will use the data to align your investments with your objectives. If your finances are in sync with your aspirations, you’re more likely to stay invested through thick and thin. As the markets fell, we were regularly stress-testing our client’s financial plans, and the drop impacted not one. Despite the rout, our client’s financial plans remained intact. If your strategy is working and you’re on track to reach your goals, do not make any changes, and dare to stay invested.

Most experts do not know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and the stock market has been tormenting professionals for centuries. Do not let the opinions of others derail your dreams. Instead, focus on your goals, think long-term, pay attention to your plan, and hold onto your investments.

“Sometimes, the most important thing to do is to do nothing.” ~  Debasish Mridha

June 5, 2020

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and are not suitable for every investor.

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/27/hell-is-coming-how-bill-ackmans-tv-interview-tanked-the-markets-and-made-him-26bn, Rubert Neate, March 27, 2020.

[2] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-second-most-overvalued-stock-market-that-billionaire-investor-david-tepper-has-ever-seen-2020-05-13, William Watts, May 14, 2020.

[3] https://money.cnn.com/quote/forecast/forecast.html?symb=ba#:~:text=Boeing%20Co%20(NYSE%3ABA)&text=The%2022%20analysts%20offering%2012,the%20last%20price%20of%20184.30., website accessed June 5, 2020

Too Late to Sell?

The Dow Jones is down 18.8% for the year, so is it too late to sell? Investors have sold $34 billion in equity mutual funds and $17 billion in bond funds as they seek safety from the rout in global assets.[1] The news is ominous, and the headlines are bleak. Investors are voting with their dollars, and it’s clear they don’t want to own stocks.

In December of 2018, investors sold $133 billion in funds before stocks rose significantly in 2019. In October of 2008, investors liquidated $128 billion in mutual funds, a few months before one of the great bull markets in history.

It’s never too late to sell because stocks can always fall further. William O’Neil, the founder of Investor’s Business Daily, recommends selling your shares if they fall 7% to 8% because a small loss can turn into a big one if you don’t cut your losses. He said, “You don’t want to take a loss, so you wait, and you hope, until your loss gets so large it costs you dearly. This is by far the number one mistake most investors make.” Enron shareholders had the opportunity to sell their shares at $90, or $80, or $70, or $60, or $50, or $40, and so on before it traded to zero. I’m sure investors in Enron would have loved to sell at any price above zero, regardless of their cost basis.

An investor who sold their holdings in August of 1987, avoided the stock market crash on October 19, 1987. If you knew the Oil Embargo of 1973 was coming, you could have sold your stocks in 1972 and avoided a 41% drop in the S&P 500 from 1973 to 1974. If you sold your shares in 2007 before the Great Recession, you missed a 50% drop in the market. Of course, selling before a correction when stocks are at an all-time high is difficult, and predicting the future is impossible.

When stocks are falling, emotions transcend facts. Not many people care that stocks produce superior long-term results when their accounts have lost 20% in a few weeks.

It’s easy to look in the review mirror and say what you would have done, but what should you do today? Should you sell? Here are a few suggestions to help you decide.

  1. If your stocks are keeping you up at night, then sell your shares. If you’re losing sleep, you own too many stocks.
  2. If you need your money in one year or less, do not invest in stocks. My nieces and daughter must use their money to pay for tuition, room, board, and books, so they invested in a money market fund. I don’t need my retirement money for 10 to 15 years, so I’m 75% invested in stocks.
  3. If you’re retiring in the next two or three years, invest in U.S. Treasury Bills to cover three years’ worth of household expenses.
  4. If you don’t have a safety net, sell stocks. A recommended safety net is three to six months of expenses. If your monthly expenses are $10,000, keep $30,000 to $60,000 in cash.
  5. If you have high levels of debt, sell your stock to reduce your obligations – returns are fleeting, expenses are forever.
  6. If you need money to purchase a home, car, boat, plane, or any expensive item, sell your stocks and move the proceeds to cash.
  7. If you’re 100% allocated to stocks, reduce your equity exposure, and sell some of your holdings.
  8. If you know stocks are going to drop 20% tomorrow, sell today.

With the drop in stock prices and interest rates, bonds may be a riskier investment than stocks. The current yield on the 30-Year U.S. Treasury is 1.5%. The ten-year average Is 3.1%, and if rates rise back to the average, bonds will fall by 20%. In 1980, the 30-Year U.S Treasury yield peaked at 15.08%. If rates returned to their all-time highs, bonds would fall 75%![2] The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) is up 26.3% for the past year, but it fell 10.5% this week as interest rates rebounded from their remarkable lows.

Money market funds and savings accounts offer low rates. The one-month U.S. T-Bill is yielding .33%.  The current inflation rate is 2.33%, so you’re losing 2%, before taxes, to park your money in a safe account. Cash accounts and short-term bonds are not sustainable solutions for creating wealth over time.

The Dow is down 18.7% year-to-date and off 9.8% for the past year. It’s up 30.6% over the past five years, 118% for the past ten years, and 9,390% since 1930.[3] It’s impossible to know what stocks will do tomorrow, but over time they will rise.

My first full year in the investment business was in 1990, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.25% that year; from June to December, it dropped 21%. I was devastated because every stock I bought plunged in price. However, 30 years later, the Dow is up more than 740%.

Is it too late to sell? If selling your stocks will bring you peace, then sell. However, stocks have always recovered, so make sure you’re selling for the right reasons and not from a position of fear.

Be strong, keep the faith, follow your plan, think long-term and good things will happen.

We have nothing to fear but fear itself. ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt

March 15, 2020

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://ici.org/research/stats/flows/combined/combined_flows_03_11_20, Website accessed 3/14/2020.

[2] https://www.macrotrends.net/2521/30-year-treasury-bond-rate-yield-chart

[3] YCharts

Do you remember July 7, 1986?

Do you remember July 7, 1986? I don’t. I was probably concerned with three things. Was I going to the beach? Were the Dodger’s winning? Where was I going to eat lunch?

On July 7, 1986, the Dow Jones dropped 3.3%. I’m sure the newspaper headlines were full of doom and gloom. The “experts” were probably pontificating that this was the beginning of the end and that the buy and hold strategy was over forever.

If you were fortunate enough to buy the S&P 500 Index on that horrible day and hold it until the end of February 2020, you made a lot of money. Let’s say you purchased $100,000 worth of the Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund on July 7, 1986. Your investment is now worth $2.4 million, generating an average annual return was 10.3%, including this week’s stock market thrashing.

I still believe in the buy and hold strategy. When the market comes down, it allows you to invest in great companies at lower prices. It’s like flying. The only way to get on an airplane is when it’s on the ground. If you’re not on that plane when the pilot leaves the gate and roars down the runway, you lose.

However, I realize that not everybody has the confidence or courage to buy during a market meltdown, so here are a few suggestions to help strengthen your portfolio.

  • If you need your money in one year or less, do not invest in the stock market, keep your money in cash or short term investments like U.S. Treasury Bills or CD’s.
  • If you’re going to retire in five years or less, then I would recommend keeping three years’ worth of expenses in cash, short term CD’s or U.S. Treasuries. For example, if your annual expenses are $100,000, then your cash holdings should be $300,000.
  • If you’re in your 20’s or 30’s, I would back up your pick-up truck and buy as much stock as you can to buy great companies at discounted prices.
  • If you are concerned about international turmoil, invest in small and mid-cap companies headquartered in the United States. Small companies typically do not have much international exposure.
  • Invest in dividend-paying companies. According to YCharts, over 1,588 companies are yielding more than 3%.
  • Asset allocation and diversification still work. A balanced portfolio of stocks, bonds, and cash will treat you well over the long term.
  • If your timeframe is 3 to 5 years or more, I would recommend holding on to your investments.

The current markets are not fun, but this can be an opportunity for you to reexamine your investment holdings and financial goals to make sure they’re in line with your long-term financial plan.

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. ~ 1 Corinthians 16:13.

February 10, 2020.

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

 

 

I Missed Tesla

Tesla’s stock performance has been electrifying, rising 20% yesterday, 15% today, and 86% for the year. Since June, it’s soared 415%. On August 7, 2018, Elon Musk tweeted, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”[1] Tesla’s stock is up 142% from this now infamous tweet.

Initially, I missed several “obvious” winners over the past three decades, like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and so on. I did, however, eventually buy these stocks. In 1993 I purchased DELL Computer in my IRA and quickly doubled my money. After it doubled, I sold it so I wouldn’t lose my profit. DELL would rise another 20,000% or so over the next several years, a valuable lesson to let your winners run.

I’m not worried I missed Tesla, because I own it indirectly through several funds. Who knows what’s ahead for Tesla, but if it follows the path of previous highfliers, I may get another opportunity to buy it at a lower price. When I started in the business as a stockbroker, I recommended Coca Cola stock to clients, despite the fact it went public in 1919, 71 years before I started. Coke stock has risen over 1,000% since January of 1990[2], so investors still made money despite its strong performance during the previous seven decades.

Missing a winning stock doesn’t cause me any regret because I’ve also passed on losers like Enron, Worldcom, Global Crossing, Gamestop, and several others. In a diversified portfolio of individual stocks, you’ll probably own a few winners, a few losers, and numerous also-rans. A winning stock like Amazon or Tesla can have a significant impact on your portfolio. A losing stock, likewise, will be an anchor, dragging your performance down.

Tesla is a popular stock, getting most of the headlines and screen time on CNBC, but other stocks are performing better this year. Nanoviricides is up 331%, LMP Automotive Holdings Inc is up 114%, and Interups is up 110%.[3] Owning mutual funds will give you exposure to companies not on your radar screen.

What should you do if you’ve missed a highflying stock that everybody else appears to own? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Be patient. What goes up will come down. Amazon stock fell 92% in 2001 and 60% in 2008. Apple fell 85% in 1985, 82% in 1997, 79% in 2003, and 56% in 2008. Facebook fell 54% in 2012 and 38% in 2018.[4] Stocks fluctuate and oscillate between over and undervalued.
  • Buy fewer shares. If your goal is to buy 100 shares, start with 50 or 25.
  • Buy a fixed dollar amount. Rather than focusing on shares, start with dollars. A prudent allocation is 3% to 5% of your account balance.
  • Set a limit. Enter a buy-limit to purchase the stock at a specific price. You can set any price you want, but you must buy the stock if it trades at or below your limit price; however, you’re not guaranteed to get the stock at the price you set.
  • Sell a put option. Selling a put option obligates you to buy shares at a specific price. Because you’re a seller, you’ll collect a premium. The premium is yours to keep, regardless of what happens to the price of the stock. For example, Tesla’s April 2020 $500 put option is currently selling for $6.75, meaning, for every contract you sell, you’ll collect $675, before fees. One option contract equals 100 shares of stock, so if you sold one contract at $500, you’re obligated to buy it at that price if the stock trades at or below the strike price when the contract expires in April – 100 shares of Tesla at $500 is a $50,000 purchase. If you’re going to pursue this strategy, please work with an advisor who understands option trading, because options involve risk, and they’re not suitable for every investor.
  • Buy a mutual fund. The following mutual funds own shares of Tesla: Baron Partners (BPTUX), Harbor Capital Appreciation (HRCAX), Vanguard Extended Market (VEXMX) and Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ)

Chasing a high-flying stock is a risky proposition, so develop a trading plan and tread lightly. Don’t over commit capital and avoid leverage. Be patient, and work your plan.

“The trick is not to learn to trust your gut feelings, but rather to discipline yourself to ignore them. Stand by your stocks as long as the fundamental story of the company hasn’t changed.” ~ Peter Lynch

February 4, 2020.

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/08/teslas-chaotic-year-after-musks-funding-secured-tweet.html, By Michael Wayland, August 8, 2019.

[2] YCharts: January 1, 1990 – February 3, 2020.

[3] YCharts

[4] Ibid

Are Zero Commission Rates Good?

Schwab dropped a bombshell on Tuesday when they announced they’ll reduce commission rates on stocks, ETFs, and options to zero! Not to be outdone, TD Ameritrade and E*Trade quickly followed suit. As a result of the announcement, Schwab’s stock fell 14%, TD Ameritrade slumped 28%, and E*Trade plunged 19%. The loss of trading commissions will result in a significant drop in revenue for these firms. Their pain is your gain.

Trading with zero commission reminds me of a visit to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Walking into a buffet is exciting when you see the endless sea of culinary delights. On your first pass through the buffet line, you pile your plate high with a wide variety of food items. You know it’s not a good idea to make a fifth trip through the buffet line, but you need to try several desserts before you leave. Eating at all-you-can-eat buffets will have harmful consequences on your health as will excessive trading on your wealth.

Now that commission-free trading has gone mainstream, this may entice individuals to trade more often, and more trading is not good. During the internet boom, Morgan Stanley introduced a commission-free trading account called Choice. Clients paid a fee based on the level of their assets. As a branch manager, I reviewed accounts and trades. One of our clients was trading more than 200 times a month, and it wasn’t going well. She was not a good trader, incurring significant losses. The losses didn’t detour her because she felt empowered to trade by not paying commissions on each trade.

An unfortunate byproduct of excessive trading is short-term capital gains. Short-term capital gain rates are much higher than long-term capital gain rates because they’re taxed as ordinary income. Another potential issue is the wash rule. The wash rule disallows a loss if you buy or sell the same security within 31 days before or after your trade.

Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg are billionaires because of their stellar business skills and the excellent performance of their company stock. A significant portion of their wealth has come from sitting, not trading. Most of the time, they’re doing nothing with their shares. Do you think Bill Gates and Warren Buffett day trade their accounts? LOL.

Commission rates were deregulated on May 1, 1975. With commission rates no longer fixed, Wall Street firms were now able to set their own rates. Charles Schwab (the person) launched his firm as a result of the new rule, and a revolution was born.[1] Commission rates have been low for years, and some firms already offer free trades through zero-fee trading on ETFs.

Long-term wealth is created by being patient, and one of the best ways to increase your wealth is to buy and hold a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost mutual funds.

As commissions drop, how can you take advantage of lower rates and fees? Here are a few ideas.

  • Move your account to a custodian currently offering zero-rates for trading like TD Ameritrade, Schwab, or E*Trade.
  • Most registered investment advisors work with a custodian to handle client accounts. Make sure your advisor uses one of the custodians from above.
  • Hire a Certified Financial Planner® with low fees, ideally well below the industry standard of 1% of your assets.
  • Conduct a fee audit on your accounts. Brokers post their charges, and advisors list theirs in their ADV. A Certified Financial Planner® can help you review your statements to make sure your costs are low.
  • Hire a firm that offers financial planning in addition to investment management. The financial plan should be included in the fee you’re being assessed to manage your assets
  • Avoid manufactured products like annuities or permanent life insurance. These insurance products have substantial fees and deferred sales charges, meaning if you sell your investment early, you’ll incur heavy penalties.

Are zero commission rates good? Lower rates are a boon to investors. The less you pay, the more you keep. However, there’s no free lunch, so read the small print to find out how your firm makes money.

 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.  No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

October 3, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/charles-schwab-ending-online-trading-commissions-on-u-s-listed-products-11569935983, By Alexander Osipovich and Lisa Beilfuss, October 1, 2019

 

50 Days or 50 Years?

The summer season started 50 days ago, and 50 years ago, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. One short-term, one long.

Traders are short-term focused, and they use a bevy of indicators to try to gain an edge. One of their tools is the moving average. What is a moving average? Here is a definition from Investopedia: “A moving average (MA) is a widely used indicator in technical analysis that helps smooth out price action by filtering out the “noise” from random short-term price fluctuations. It is a trend-following, or lagging, indicator because it is based on past prices.” Since it’s a trend following system, traders will try to ride it for as long as possible.

Traders can focus on several moving averages – 10, 20, 30, 50, 100, or 200 days. When an index trades above its moving average, it’s considered a bullish sign for it to climb higher. When the index dips below it, traders consider it a bearish sign that the market will fall further.

Traders and commentators love to focus on a moving average as a key indicator of short-term moves in the market because it’s an easy indicator to follow. When the index crosses above the moving average, buy. When it dips below, sell. It sounds so simple.

Here’s a look at the most recent 50-day moving average for the S&P 500.

^SPX_chart

Currently, the S&P 500 is trading below it’s 50-day moving average. Should you sell? If you bought the index 50 days ago when the index was trading above the moving average, you’d be down 1.2% if you held on through yesterday’s close. In the past 50 days, the index has crossed through its 50-day moving average six different times.

Traders also rely on the Golden Cross and Death Cross. The Golden Cross occurs when the 50-day crosses above the 200-day, a bullish sign. The Death Cross occurs when the 50-day crosses through the 200-day and falls below it, an extremely bearish signal.

Should you trade the moving averages? If you’re a disciplined short-term trader, it may give you an edge. However, stocks and indices move through their moving averages constantly so you may get whipsawed by the numerous buy and sell signals.  And which indicator should you follow? A 10-day indicator will give a different signal than the 200-day moving average.

A buy and hold investor can save time and stress by ignoring the moving averages. Rather than looking for trading indicators, focus your efforts on identifying your financial goals so you can take advantage of the long-term trend of the stock market.

Fifty years ago, the S&P 500 closed at 93.94. This past Friday the index closed at 2,918.65 – a gain of 3,006%! If you tried to trade each move through the moving average, your returns probably would’ve been a lot less.

^SPX_chart (2)

The long-term trend of the market is hard to beat, but it hasn’t been a straight line. It has been littered with violent moves. The index has fallen 30% or more seven times since 1969, or about 1 in every 7 years. From September 2000 to February 2013 the index traded flat. Investors who grew frustrated with 13 years of poor performance and sold their holdings missed a 93% return from 2013 to 2019.

Is it better to focus on a short-term trading strategy or concentrate on a long-term buy and hold model? I prefer the buy and hold model. Here are a few suggestions to help you answer your own question.

  • If you need the money in one year or less, keep your assets in short-term vehicles like CDs, Treasury Bills, or money market funds.
  • If your money is earmarked for something like paying for college or buying a new home, then keep your money in short-term investments regardless of the time frame. For example, if you plan to buy a new home in three years, then your money should be kept in short-term, conservative investments.
  • If you want to try your hand at short-term trading, limit your risk capital to 3% to 5% of your investable assets. If you’re successful, it will enhance your returns. If you’re not, it won’t bring financial ruin.
  • If your time horizon is 3 to 5 years or more, invest in stocks.
  • Work with a Certified Financial Planner® to help you identify and quantify your goals.

Timing the market is extremely difficult regardless of the indicator you choose. Rather than trying to time the market, spend time focusing on your financial goals.

We don’t really look at the stock, you know. Because for us, it’s about the long term. And so, we’re very much focused on long-term shareholder value but not the short-term kind of stuff. ~ Tim Cook


August 11, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

Dry Powder

Active stock traders need to keep some dry powder so they can buy stocks when the stock market falls. Dry powder usually means cash. Allocating a portion of your portfolio to cash will be a drag on your returns, especially in a low interest rate environment with a rising stock market.

Traders need to be nimble so they can pounce on stocks when they drop. A cash hoard gives them the opportunity to act quickly without selling another position. This strategy works well when stocks fall, and they act on their impulse. If they time their purchase correctly, they can make a lot of money. Of course, if they don’t act quickly or time their purchase correctly, their strategy is for not. In a stock picker’s market cash is needed.

Traders look for fallen angels and Boeing is a classic example. Due to their unfortunate tragedies, the stock has dropped from its high of $440. Traders felt that Boeing below $400 was a bargain. The stock went through $400 like a hot knife through butter, falling another $62 to $338. Traders took their dry powder to buy it at $400 only to see their investment fall 15%.

Timing the market is extremely difficult. According to one study, asset allocation accounts for 93.6% of your investment return with the remaining 6.4% attributed to market timing and investment selection.[1]

During the fourth quarter of 2018 the Dow Jones fell 12.5% and investors withdrew $183 billion in mutual fund assets. Investors were storing up some dry powder, I guess. This year investors have added $21 billion to mutual funds, or 11.5% of what they took out last year. Meanwhile, the Dow has risen 13.8%. Dry powder?

A better strategy for most investors is to own a portfolio of low-cost index funds, diversified across asset classes, sectors and countries. This portfolio will give you exposure to thousands of securities doing different things at different times. It will allow you to stay fully invested because you never know when, where, why, or how the stock market will take off. It reduces your risk of market timing and eliminates the cash drag on your performance.

But what if, or when, the market falls? In a balanced portfolio you will own bonds of different maturities. For example, during the Great Recession stocks fell 56%. Long-term bonds were up 16.6% while intermediate bonds stayed steady at 2.94%. Dimensional Fund Advisors Five-Year Global Fixed Income fund rose 4.9%. True, they did not offset the entire drop-in stocks, but they did hold their own.

It’s possible, and recommended, to rebalance an index portfolio on a regular basis. When your asset allocation changes, rebalance your portfolio to return it to its original allocation. This strategy allows you to buy low and sell high on a regular basis. I once heard an advisor compare rebalancing to getting your haircut. When your hair gets too long, cut it back to its original length.

Shouldn’t stock pickers make money in a stock picker’s market? According to Morningstar only 24% of active equity mutual fund money managers beat their passive index over a 10-year period.[2] Is it possible to pick the top quartile funds every year for the next ten years? Doubtful.

Dimensional Fund Advisor’s found that over a 20-year period only 42% of equity funds survived. Their database started with 2,414 funds and only 1,013 survived twenty years. If more than half the funds fail, how will you be able to pick the top 25%?[3]

Rather than keeping dry powder or trying to time the market, focus on your financial goals and invest in a balanced portfolio of low-cost index funds.

Don’t let dry powder blow up your portfolio!

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. ~ Maya Angelou

June 19, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation.

 

 

 

 

[1] Determinants of Portfolio Performance, Financial Analyst Journal, July/August 1986, Vol 42, No. 4, 6 pages; Gary P. Brinson, L. Randolph Hood, Gilbert L. Beebower.

[2] https://office.morningstar.com/research/doc/911724/U-S-Active-Passive-Barometer-7-Takeaways-from-the-2018-Report, Ben Johnson, February 7, 2019

[3] file:///C:/Users/parro/Downloads/2019%20Mutual%20Fund%20Landscape_%20Report.pdf

Better Off Dead?

Dr. Daniel Crosby is the author of The Behavioral Investor. In his book he highlights a story about Fidelity Investments and their attempt to identify their best performing retail accounts. They found that the individuals who owned these accounts had forgotten they existed, or the original account owner had passed away.[1] Fidelity was probably looking for an investment theme to duplicate. However, they discovered that these accounts weren’t being traded or tainted by human hands – living or deceased.

He tells of another story from the book Behavioral Investment Management: An Efficient Alternative to Modern Portfolio Theory written by Greg B. Davies and Arnaud de Servigny. The authors discuss a study about how often people check their investment accounts and their corresponding performance. They found that people who check their account balances daily experienced a loss 41% of the time. Individuals who checked their balances every five years experienced a loss about 12% of the time and those who checked it every 12 years never lost money.[2]

Stocks have never lost money during a rolling 20-year period according to multiple studies. From 1926 to 2018 there have been 74 rolling 20-year periods and stocks have made money 100% of the time.[3] The most recent period, 1998-2018, finished with a positive return. An investment in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) on 1/1/1998 generated an average annual return of 7.10% through 1/1/2018. However, during this 20-year period you would’ve experienced significant losses on several occasions. From 2000 to 2002 the market fell 43.07% and in 2008 it dropped 36.81%. As I mentioned, if you checked your balances daily, your chance of a realized loss was high.[4]

It’s hard to ignore your accounts especially if you’re connected to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. Custodians and brokerage firms also have apps allowing you to check your accounts 24/7. Investment firms offer trading alerts and other notices to keep you in the know. It’s a fast-paced world and reacting to headline news stories may wreak havoc to your long-term wealth.

To protect your wealth from irrational reactions turnoff your account alerts and notices. Rather than reviewing your balances daily, try extending it to a month, then three months, and so on. Extending the time frame for reviewing your accounts will reduce your anxiety and potentially increase your returns.

You don’t have to die to generate solid returns. Rather, incorporate a buy and hold investment strategy with a balanced portfolio of low-cost investments. A diversified portfolio of low-cost mutual funds will reduce your dependence to constantly check your accounts. In doing so you’ll be able to enjoy your life while you’re living.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ~ Matthew 6:13

February 11, 2019

Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.

 

[1] The Behavioral Investor by Daniel Crosby, Ph.D. – Kindle Edition, location 2673, accessed 2/10/19.

[2] Greg B. Davies, Behavioral Investment Management: An Efficient Alternative to Modern Portfolio Theory (McGraw-Hill, 2012), p. 53. The Behavioral Investor by Daniel Crosby, Ph.D. – Kindle Edition, location 1423, accessed 2/10/19.

[3] Ibbotson® SBBI® 2015 Classic Yearbook

[4] Morningstar Office Hypothetical – SPY, 1/01/1198 to 1/1/2018.