Buy The Rumor, Sell The News?

Is America waking up from its COVID slumber? The number of people getting vaccinated is increasing daily. Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas eliminated the mask mandate, and he’s allowing businesses to open up at 100% capacity. Mississippi is doing the same. President Biden anticipates most Americans will receive the vaccine by May. Are we ready for another Roaring Twenties?

The NASDAQ has fallen 6.5% over the past couple of weeks. High-flying stocks like Tesla and Peloton are trading in negative territory for the year; Zoom has dropped 17% since peaking last month at $451 per share. Netflix is down 10% from its all-time high. Are investors selling the working-from-home stocks now that the economy is opening up? It appears so because companies like Carnival, Southwest Airlines, and American Express are flying.

One possible outcome of the reopening economy is a broad sell-off in stocks as we start to live our lives again.  We have been staring at screens for the past year with little to do besides ride an indoor bike, binge-watch our favorite shows, and trade stocks. Investing was gamified. Individuals day-traded stocks based on posts on Twitter, Reddit, or WallStreetBets – and the more rocket emojis, the better! As we emerge from our outdoor hibernation, will we still focus our energy on buying heavily shorted stocks with poor balance sheets? I don’t think we will.

The market is forward-thinking; individual investors are concerned with the here and now. Markets are a collection of millions of investors, and the collective reasoning is that the reopening trade is already factored into the current valuation. The recent price action could be sending us a signal that the market may fall when we can roam freely.

If there is a correction, should you sell your stocks? If you own a globally diversified basket of funds, the answer is no. You likely own thousands of companies, so no need to worry about being in the right stock at the right time, nor do you need to time the market. However, if you have been feasting on a few speculative names, then selling some shares is recommended.

Your time horizon is another consideration. If your time frame is three to five years or more, use a market correction to add to your equity holdings – buy the dip. If you need your money in one year or less, sell your stocks and put the proceeds in a money market fund.

Another reason to buy or sell stocks during a correction is your ultimate financial goal. For example, if your goal is to retire with $2 million and your account value is $3 million, reduce your stock exposure because you reached your destination. However, if your portfolio is $1 million, you still need to save and invest to reach your target. In this case, buy stocks if they fall.

Last, the NASDAQ is up 85% from the March 2020 low, and several stocks climbed substantially. If you were fortunate to catch a few shooting stars, lock in some profits. It doesn’t hurt to take some money off the table.

A financial plan can help you quantify your goals and determine your asset allocation if you’re unsure how to proceed. It will guide your investment decisions. During the COVID correction last March, we were stress-testing our client’s plans regularly. The financial plans allowed our clients to remain invested through the correction, and as a result, enjoy the gains from the market rebound. We made our decisions based on facts, not rumors.

I have a strict policy. I will not and do not publicize unsubstantiated rumors about anyone — unless they’re very funny. ~ Jimmy Kimmel

March 3, 2021

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management 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.

This blog is not an offer to buy and sell Bitcoin. I do not own any cryptocurrencies because I don’t understand them as well as I should. If you want to trade this asset class, do your homework.

I Want A Correction

Stocks have been on a tear since the March COVID pullback, rising 103%! Several companies have soared more than 500%, including Tesla, Nautilus, Tupperware, and Moderna. ARK Funds, led by Cathie Wood, had three funds rise more than 170%. And don’t get me started on Bitcoin, Gamestop, or the Reddit traders. Despite the outperformance from a few sectors, I’m hoping we get a correction, and the sooner, the better.

Why do I want a correction? Am I violating my fiduciary duty if I wish for stocks to fall? After all, investors fear losing money or getting wiped out as they did in 1929. For some, it is their worst nightmare. I’m often asked when stocks will fall, and some people only call me when their account is down. Despite their concerns, I have not met anybody who has lost all their money from investing, especially if they own a globally diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, and cash. Despite concerns about a correction, they’re normal and healthy.

By several metrics, the market is expensive. Shiller’s CAPE ratio is 34.7, the second-highest reading in 140 years.[1] The previous high was February 2000, before the Tech-Wreck, where stocks fell 49%. Tobin’s Q metric is at its highest level in 76 years. The previous high? February 2000.  Value Line’s three to five-year growth potential for stocks is 35% – a low number. Last March, their indicator touched 145% before stocks rose more than 100%. Last, the dividend yield for the S&P 500 is at its lowest level in two decades, 1.57%. In February 2009, it touched 4% when stocks bottomed following the Great Recession.

My anxiety rises when stocks enter the feeding-frenzy phase as they are now, and like they were in 1999. Social media is fueling the fire as some investors pick stocks based on memes or rocket emojis. It appears easy to make money trading stocks or options with a few clicks of the mouse, but it’s not the case. Yes, you can get lucky if you jump on the bandwagon at the right time, but over time, valuations matter – research matters. Price matters.

I look forward to corrections because I can buy great companies at lower prices. When stocks fall, investors panic. They don’t hold the line, and their diamond hands turn weak. A bear market is where you get the best prices. Also, during a correction, you will have little competition to add quality names to your portfolio. Others will think you’re crazy for buying stocks during a market meltdown, but if you want to create generational wealth, you need the courage to buy when others sell and sell when others are buying – short-term pain for long-term gain. Buy low and sell high.

Of course, stocks can rise forever and can remain overvalued for years. No one knows when the next correction will come, including me. But when it does, welcome it with open arms and a blank check. A friend once told me, “If you’re upset that your stocks are down and you want to throw a brick through my office window, tape a check to it because it’s probably a good time to buy!”

Some of my best purchases occurred during the depths of a bear market, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Disney, and Pepsi. During the Great Depression, Sir John Templeton bought 100 shares of every company trading below $1 per share. Most of the companies he purchased lost money, some remained stagnant, and a few were big winners. His strategy made him a billionaire.[2]

How can you take advantage of a correction? Here are a few ideas.

  • Create a shopping list of companies or funds you want to own.
  • Keep your powder dry, and move some cash to the sidelines and wait for stocks to fall, and then pounce on your best ideas.
  • Diversify your assets. A globally diversified portfolio of funds will limit your downside when stocks fall. Allocating money to bonds, international stocks, or alternative assets is a prudent investment strategy.
  • Rebalance your accounts. Our models were rebalancing some accounts weekly during the March correction because the volatility was off the charts. Our models initially rotated from bonds to stocks because we were selling expensive assets (bonds) to buy cheap ones (stocks). As the market rebounded, our models rotated through all our asset classes.
  • Sell your winners now as stocks trade to all-time highs. Lock in some profits.
  • Write options (sell calls) against stocks you own to generate income and potentially sell at a higher price.
  • Write options (sell puts) on companies you want to own at a lower price. Selling a put below the stock price allows you to generate income and potentially purchase your company at a lower price.
  • Be patient and wait for bargains. Do not chase stocks and fight the urge to follow the crowd.

I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful. ~ Warren Buffett.

February 11, 2021

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management 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] Ycharts – 1881 to 2021.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Templeton

A Correction Is Coming!

The NASDAQ is up 388% for the past ten years, so it’s due for a correction, a pullback of epic proportions. When will it happen? I’m not sure, but it is coming. Get ready.

Before you decide to sell your stocks and buy gold or Bitcoin, let’s review the last decade. A $100,000 investment in the NASDAQ is now worth $488,000, a 388% increase. The index averaged 16.9% per year for the past ten years – a remarkable number. A few components include Apple, Tesla, NVIDIA, PayPal, and Netflix, so I’m not surprised the index performed so well.

However, the NASDAQ rise was not straight-up, but a jagged increase peppered with peaks and valleys. Let’s look at a few of the dramatic declines from the past ten years.

  • 2011. The index fell 17% from April to September.
  • 2012. The index fell 8.7% from March to May.
  • 2013 was a mild year, but the index did fall more than 4% in April and August.
  • 2014. The index fell 6.7% in May, 8% in October.
  • 2015. The index fell 9.6% from July to September.
  • 2016. In February, the index fell 9%.
  • 2017 was tranquil, with one minor dip of 3.7% in July.
  • 2018. The index fell 18% from August to December.
  • 2019. The index dropped 8% in May.
  • 2020. The index dropped more than 30%.

So, my prediction of a significant correction is meaningless because the market always fluctuates – rising and falling, like the tide. Do not fear a pullback; instead, use it as an opportunity to buy quality stocks at reduced prices.

If you attempted to time the market for the past ten years while living in fear of a correction, you missed out on astronomical returns.

Stay invested, my friends.

January 11, 2021

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management 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.

Data Sources: YCharts and Macrotrends

How to Generate Income with Options

In a low-income, zero-interest rate world incorporating an option writing strategy may give your account a boost.  Writing options on stocks you own or want to own is an excellent way to increase your income without altering your asset allocation strategy or investment plan. If you own individual stocks, this could be a strategy for you. 

There are several ways to generate income from trading options, but I will only focus on two popular strategies – covered call and put writing.

Covered Call Writing

A covered call or buy-write allows you to generate income on stocks you own if you’re willing to sell your shares at a specified price. For example, let’s say you own 1,000 shares of Apple (AAPL), currently trading for $123.25 per share, and you would like to sell them at $130. As a result, you sell the January $130 call for $2.00. Because you own 1,000 shares, you sell ten contracts (one contract = one hundred shares of stock). The $2.00 is the option premium you’ll receive, so ten contracts will generate $2,000 income (10 × 2.00 × 100) before fees. The $2,000 will credit your account on the day of your trade.

If Apple stays below $130 on the third Friday in January (expiration), you’ll keep your shares. You can then sell another call option on Apple, expiring in February, March, or April, and repeat the process. If it trades above $130 at expiration, you’re obligated to sell your shares at $130, regardless of how high it trades above the strike price. If Apple closes at $200 on expiration, you’re still obligated to sell the stock at $130 and forgo the $70 profit.

As a warning, never sell a call option without owning the underlying stock position because your risk is unlimited.

Put Writing

Put writing involves selling a put option on a stock you want to own, comparable to placing a limit order on a stock you wish to purchase at a lower price – except you get paid to wait.  For example, if you want to buy Apple at $110, currently selling for $123.25, you can enter a limit order and wait for it to trade to your price, or you can sell a put and get paid.

When you sell a put, you’re obligated to purchase the stock if it trades at or below the strike price at expiration. If you sell an Apple January $110 put, you’ll receive a credit of $1.13 per contract. If you sell ten contracts, the credit will be $1,130 (10 × $1.13 × 100), before fees. If Apple trades at or below $110 per share, you’re obligated to purchase 1,000 shares at $110 regardless of how far it trades below the strike price. If Apple stays above $110, your option will expire worthless, and you’ll profit on your trade, and then you can sell another put option expiring in February, March, or April.

A put-writing strategy is best suited for investors with a high tolerance for risk. It’s also recommended you only sell puts based on the amount of cash in your account. This strategy is known as a cash-covered put. For example, if your cash balance is $25,000, you can sell ten put contracts on a $25 stock (10 contracts = 1,000 shares; 1,000 shares x $25 = $25,000).

I trade options to generate a few extra dollars each month; it’s my side hustle. I mostly sell puts on stocks that fall sharply, which increases volatility and boosts the amount of premium I receive. When stocks fall, fear rises. An ideal trade for me is to sell a put option on a stock that is dropping 20% or more with a delta of less than 20 (If an option has a delta of 20, it means there’s a 20% chance the stock price will touch my strike price). My time frame for selling a put on a stock that’s getting crushed is three to four weeks because an option is a wasting asset, so if the stock recovers, the option will expire worthless, which is my goal.

A stock rarely drops 20% or more two or three days in a row, in my experience. If a company misses its earnings or revenue targets, investors sell the stock and drive it down to unrealistic levels. When this happens, I try to sell my put option when the market opens and fear is spiking. When investors realize the company is not going out of business, the selling will stop, and my option trade becomes profitable.

Of course, not every option trade is profitable, so I’m quick to cut my losses if I’m wrong. I want to live to see another day.

Options involve risk, but they’re an excellent way to generate a few extra nickels.

Happy Trading!

Terms[1]

Contract: One option contract = 100 shares of stock.

Expiration: The day the option contract expires.   Options expire on the third Friday of every month.  Several stocks also have options expiring weekly.

Call Option – Buyer: An option giving the buyer the right to purchase a stock at a specified price.

Put Option – Buyer: An option giving the buyer the right to sell a stock at a specified price.

Call Option – Seller: An obligation to sell stock at a specified price.

Put Option – Seller: An obligation to buy a stock at a specified price.

Premium: The amount you must pay to purchase an option or the amount you will receive when you sell an option.

Strike Price:  The exercise price where you can buy a call or sell a put.

At-the-money: The stock price is equal to the strike price of the call or the put.

Out-of-the-money: A call option where the strike price is above the stock price. A put option where the strike price is below the stock price.

In-the-money:  A call option where the strike price of the call is below the stock price. A put option where the strike price is above the stock price.

Delta: The amount by which an option premium moves divided by the dollar-for-dollar movement in the underlying asset.

Volatility:  The measure of the fluctuation in the price movement in a security over a period of time.

December 14, 2020

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management 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] The Bible of Option Strategies – The Definitive Guide for Practical trading Strategies by Guy Cohen

I Want It All!

A few individual stocks are soaring this year, like Zoom, Peleton, DraftKings, Pinterest, and Bill.com – each one up more than 225%, with Zoom leading the way, rising almost 500%, far outpacing the Dow’s gain of 7.75%. It seems logical to sell boring index funds to buy high flyers; after all, who wouldn’t want to earn 500%?

However, we have seen this movie before. During the last speculative bubble that popped in April 2000, companies like Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Qualcomm, Intel, and Applied Materials were all the rage. If you invested $10,000 into each stock on January 1, 1999, and sold them on April 1, 2000, you made 592.5%!  If you only invested in Qualcomm, you turned $10,000 into $231,510 in sixteen months, a gain of 2,220%. Investors who bought these companies were making money hand over chips.

If you chased these stocks and purchased them on April 1, 2000, and held them through December 31, 2015, you lost 40%. A $50,000 investment ($10,000 for each security) dropped to $29,903.

During frenzied markets, low-cost index funds get a bad rap. Still, during the fifteen-year stretch, where the high-flying technology stocks dropped 40%, a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost funds increased 198%. A basket of five Vanguard mutual funds – Vanguard 500, International Growth, Emerging Markets, Small-Cap Index, and Real Estate Index, performed well.  If you invested $10,000 into each fund, the portfolio grew to $149,304 from April 1, 2000, to December 31, 2015.

The lure of high-flying stocks is difficult to ignore, but you can’t buy them all. A 1% weighting means you’d own 100 companies, and at that point, you may as well purchase an index fund. If you increase the allocation to 5%, you’d own twenty companies. YCharts tracks 23,536 individual stocks. Is it possible to regularly pick the twenty best? Doubtful.

It’s impossible to buy every individual company, but you can purchase a global portfolio that owns more than 7,000 stocks in forty-seven countries through Vanguards’ Total World Stock Fund (VTWAX)[1]. Year-to-date, it’s up 13.88%, and it has generated an average annual return of 10.10%, 11.64%, and 9.41% over the past 3, 5, and 10 years, respectively.

A globally diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds is one of the best ways to create generational wealth, but I understand investors occasionally want to speculate on stocks. If you’re investing in high-flying stocks, limit your initial investment to 3% to 5% of your portfolio. If it climbs, you can continue to hold it, but it will not lead you to financial ruin if it falls.

Happy Trading!

“October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February” ~ Mark Twain

December 8, 2020

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management 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.

Data source: YCharts


[1] https://investor.vanguard.com/mutual-funds/profile/portfolio/vtwsx, website accessed 12/8/20

Forever?

Exxon Mobil is leaving the Dow Jones Industrial Average after 92 years. They joined the Dow in 1928, and it’s considered one of the bluest of blue chips – a stock to own forever. Salesforce will take its spot. It’s not the first perennial holding to be substituted by a newer, swankier company. Walgreen’s replaced General Electric in 2018 after a 112-year run and Apple supplanted AT&T in 2015 after 99 years. The three former Dow Jones members spent a combined 303 years in the popular index. Procter & Gamble is now the longest-tenured company in the Dow at 88 years.

For decades, shareholders of Exxon, GE, and AT&T considered themselves set for life. A portfolio consisting of these three companies turned $30,000 into $1.2 million from 1983 to 2016, generating an average annual return of 11.8% – far outpacing the S&P 500. Yet, from 2016 through 2020, this three-stock portfolio has fallen 45% while the S&P 500 is up 68%, a difference of 113%![1]

XOM_GE_T_chart (1)

From 1930 to 1960, Exxon, GE, and AT&T were a few of the largest companies in the world, and AT&T held the top spot for four decades. Exxon was the largest company in the world in 2011.[2] It’s now the 34th largest company in the US.

Big Board

In addition to the long-term investment success of this blue-chip triad, they generated significant dividend income over the past three decades. Exxon’s dividend yield averaged 3.15%, GE’s average payout was 2.95%, and AT&T paid 4.54%. These former juggernauts raised their dividends by an average of 495% during this stretch.

However, time’s change and Exxon’s revenue has declined 31% over the past decade, and its dividend payout ratio is 207% – an extremely high metric. Exxon’s stock price has risen 68 cents over the past twenty years, and GE’s stock hasn’t budged a dime in twenty-eight years. AT&T has followed a similar path. Its share price is down more than 40% from its 1999 peak.[3]

Cisco Systems is an excellent example of not getting married to a stock. Its share price soared 3,500% from 1995 to 2000. By 2002, it had fallen 85%. Over the past twenty years, it’s down 42%, and it has never returned to its all-time high of $72.19 set in April 2000.[4]

CSCO_chart

Today, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, and Tesla are the largest companies, and investors plan to own them forever. And rightfully so. If you owned a basket of these high-flyers, you’d be up 97% this year! It’s hard to imagine that one of these companies could follow the fate of Exxon, GE, or AT&T, but it’s possible.

What should you do if you own a stock that you want to hold forever? Here are a few suggestions.

  • If your company is performing well, and it’s meeting your needs, do nothing. Let it run.
  • If the stock becomes a significant percentage of your wealth, consider reducing it, and redeploying your capital into another company or two. What is a large percentage? When your stock approaches 10% or more of your portfolio, start paying extra attention to it. When it breaches 25%, sell some shares to drop your weighing to 10% of your account balance or lower.
  • Trust, but verify. Review earnings reports and company announcements. Is the trend intact? Are they generating positive revenue, earnings, and cash flow? Is the company innovating and producing products and services people will use? If so, hold on to the stock.
  • Keep an eye on management. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk are legendary leaders and visionaries. A strong management team is a crucial component to the success of a company, so keep an eye on their lieutenants as well. You can track critical employees on Morningstar or Yahoo! Finance.
  • Take profits. It’s okay to take profits after a strong run. Apple and Tesla announced stock splits a few weeks ago, and their stock prices have risen 31% and 47%, respectively. After a substantial gain, it’s okay to trim your holdings to lock in a profit.
  • Average up. Most people are comfortable averaging down, but few like to average up. What is averaging up? Let’s say you purchased 100 shares of Apple at $150 in 2019, and you bought more at $250 and $350 and $450. Your average cost is $300. Apple is currently trading for $500 per share, so your gain is $200, or 67%, despite buying the stock at higher prices.
  • Sell it. If your company’s fortunes change, sell it, and move on to a new company. There are thousands of companies and investment opportunities, so don’t get wedded to a stock.

Owning great companies is one of the best ways to create wealth and concentrating your holdings into a few stocks can magnify your returns. But, it’s essential to review your investments regularly to make sure they’re meeting your goals and objectives. Do not ignore fundamentals and pay attention to popular trends. Times change and being flexible to pivot to new ideas will allow your account to grow over time.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. ~ Anonymous

August 26, 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] Morningstar Office Hypotheticals – April 1983 to July 2020

[2] Dimensiional Funds

[3] YCharts

[4] Ibid

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