Inflation?

Chipotle announced they’re increasing menu prices by 4% because of rising wages.[1] Likewise, Campbell’s Soup is raising prices this summer due to higher costs.[2] According to AAA, gas prices at the pump have increased 48%. The price of lumber jumped more than 32% in the past year. And there is currently a shortage of everything from computer chips to potato chips.

The Consumer Price Index jumped in May, and it’s up 4.93% for the past year – a hot number. The US Inflation Rate currently stands at 4.99%. The 107-year average inflation rate is 3.22%.

Despite the surge in CPI, inflation, gas, lumber, and burritos, the bond market signals a different story. If investors were anxious about inflation, interest rates would be rising, but this is not the case. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury Note is 1.53%, down from 1.74% in March. The 50-year average yield on the 10-year is 5.98%. Also, the yield on the 1-month US T-Bill is .01%, down 93% from last year!

The Federal Reserve said the current surge in inflation is transitory, resulting from the pent-up demand from COVID. Other words for transitory are brief, fleeting, or short-lived. I agree. I believe the surge in inflation will be transitory. If history is a guide, inflation spikes are ephemeral. If you traveled recently or dined in a restaurant, you know the economy is in full swing, but the pace will slow down at some point.

However, if you’re concerned about inflation, here are a few things you can do today to protect your purchasing power.

  • Buy stocks. If Chipotle raises prices, they’ll make more money, and when they do, its stock price will rise. If you’re a shareholder in Chipotle, you’ll also profit. For example, the price of a Disney World Ticket in 1980 costs $7.50, today it’s $109, an increase of 1,353%,[3] whereas Disney’s stock price increased 18,850% during the same time frame. Stocks are an excellent tool for combating inflation.
  • Buy real estate. Real estate prices have historically tracked the rate of inflation. Therefore, if inflation rises, real estate prices should follow.  
  • Buy TIPS. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) will pay you more income as inflation rises. TIP bonds are up more than 7% over the past year. Long-term bonds, by comparison, have fallen 9.5%.
  • Buy commodities. Anything coming out of the ground can perform well in an inflationary environment. Commodities like oil, gold, silver, copper, wheat, soybeans, and sugar are short-term inflation hedges. For example, the Invesco DB Commodity Tracking ETF (          DBC) is up 57% over the past year, but it’s down 21% for the past fifteen years. I’m not a fan of commodities because they don’t perform well over time, but if you want to allocate a few dollars to this asset class, limit your purchase to 5% of your portfolio.
  • Invest in a money market fund. The yield on a money market can rise if interest rates go higher but don’t keep a large cash balance in a money market fund, checking account, or savings account because your purchasing power will fall over time. For example, a US postage stamp cost 10 cents in 1974, so you could buy ten stamps for a dollar. Today you can buy one stamp for one dollar.[4]

Don’t fear a steady rise in inflation. It’s healthy because it signals the economy is growing. A more significant concern is deflation, where prices fall as they did during the Great Depression. The moral of the story is to diversify your assets in stocks, bonds, and cash to take advantage of all market conditions.

There are two main drivers of asset class returns – inflation and growth. ~ Ray Dalio

June 10, 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] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/08/chipotle-hikes-prices-to-cover-the-cost-of-raising-wages.html, Amelia Lucas, June 8, 2021

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/campbell-says-inflation-weighed-on-quarterly-profit-11623245692, Annie Gasparro, June 9, 2021

[3] Money Guide Pro My Blocks

[4] https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/domestic-letter-rates-since-1863.htm

I Want It All!

I’m addicted to stocks. They’re shiny objects to me, and I want to own them all. I’m not impressed with cars or material things, but show me a portfolio of stocks, and I get excited.

I run several stock screens daily, looking for the next market mover, hoping to find a company that can rise 10x or more. I search for large, mid, and small size companies. Some screens filter for earnings, others for dividends. My anxiety surges because I want to buy them all, and I know I can’t; it’s mathematically impossible.

When I started my investment and financial planning firm, I made the gut-wrenching decision to sell my stock holdings in my IRA. I said goodbye to Apple, Home Depot, Microsoft, Pepsi, McDonald’s, and dozens more. It was a tough call, but I had to do it; it was a humbling experience, but I needed to check my ego at the door.

However, I kept my historical allocation of 75% stocks and 25% bonds after buying a basket of mutual funds managed by Dimensional and Vanguard. My passive approach gives me exposure to tens of thousands of companies. I no longer fret about missing the next great company because I probably own it in one of my funds.  

When I owned individual stocks, I checked my IRA balance constantly, trying to absorb every tick. Now that I invest in mutual funds, I go days or weeks without looking at my balance. My IRA is in capable hands, so I don’t feel the urge to micromanage the investments. And my anxiety level has dropped.

My IRA rebalances a few times per year if the allocation gets too aggressive or too conservative, so my turnover is low, and I will keep my 75% allocation to stocks for the foreseeable future. Since I converted to a passive investment model, my average annual return for my IRA has been 11.9%.[1]

Another reason to go passive is that most active fund managers and stock pickers fail to outperform their benchmark. According to Morningstar’s SPIVA study, more than 80% of large-cap mutual fund managers underperform the S&P 500.[2]

It was hard to surrender my stock-picking model, but I did it, and so can you. My passive IRA gives me global stock exposure, reduces my stress, frees up my time, and generates decent returns – not too shabby.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. ~ James 4:10

May 6, 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] Last five years, ending May 6, 2021.

[2] https://www.evidenceinvestor.com/morningstar-active-passive-barometer/, Robin Powell, April 1, 2021

Why Worry?

As the market climbs higher, investors are worried about a correction. Just because stocks go up, does it mean they must come down? Of course, stocks fluctuate daily. They rise and fall as they react to reports or headlines or opinions.  Since 1970, the S&P 500 has finished a calendar year in positive territory 82% of the time. Over the past 50 years, the index has been up 41 years and fallen nine.  The average gain was 18.5%; the average loss was 15%. And, year-to-date, it’s up 9.90%.[1]

During the same time frame, there have been seven bull markets with an average gain of 294% and an average duration of 77 months.  There have also been nine bear markets with an average drop of 32% and an average length of nine months.[2]

If you are worried about a stock market correction, then consider adding bonds to your portfolio. In the chart below, the S&P 500 fell 31% last March. Let’s compare the all-stock index to three different globally diversified portfolios.[3]

  • The seventy portfolio is 70% stocks and 30% bonds and cash. During the COVID correction, it fell 26.5%, or 14.5% less than the market.
  • The sixty portfolio is 60% stocks and 40% bonds and cash. During the COVID correction, it fell 23.5%, or 24% less than the market.
  • The fifty portfolio is 50% stocks and 50% bonds and cash. During the COVID correction, it fell 19.5%, or 37% less than the market.

By November, the market and all three portfolios recovered their losses and were profitable for the year. The index is 100% stocks, so it makes sense it fell further and recovered faster than the globally balanced portfolios.

Regardless of your risk tolerance, a hefty allocation to stocks can give your wealth a boost. Do not let short-term pain get in the way of long-term gains.

April 14, 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] Dimensional Fund Advisors 2020 Matrix and YCharts

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

When To Sell?

The stock market is trading at all-time highs. The S&P 500 topped 4,000 this week, it’s up more than 53% over the past year, and investors are euphoric.  As the market climbs, is it time to sell stocks? Unfortunately, there is no one simple answer for everyone, so let’s examine a few reasons to sell your holdings.

  1. You need money. If you don’t have an emergency fund or your cash balance is low, sell some shares to meet your needs.
  2. You need your money in one year or less. Stocks have generated substantial returns over time, but they can be extremely volatile in the short term, producing significant gains or painful losses. If stocks drop when you need the money the most, it may impact your goal.
  3. You’re 100% invested in stocks. If you’re allocated 100% to equities, sell shares to add bonds or cash to your portfolio. The bonds and cash will lower the volatility in your account.
  4. Your risk exposure is too high. Last year, stocks soared. If you didn’t rebalance your account, your stock exposure might be too high. For example, if your target equity exposure is 70% and jumped to 80% last year, sell 10% of your holdings to reduce your risk. 
  5. One or two stocks dominate your portfolio. If a stock accounts for more than 25% of your assets, consider selling some shares to reduce your exposure to 10% or less.

According to Dimensional Fund Advisors, when stocks reach all-time highs, they keep going. After one year, stocks were 14% higher.[1] As stocks continue to rise, enjoy the ride. Don’t worry about a correction, instead focus on your goals and your plan. If your plan is working, stay the course.

Given a 10% chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time.” — Jeff Bezos

April 7, 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] DFA 4S Framework: Stock Market Conditions – 1926 to 2018.

Control

Markets are soaring to all-time highs as the world awakes from its COVID slumber. Year-to-date, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 hit record highs, and the NASDAQ is not far behind. Since the Covid outbreak, all three indices have performed well.

However, if you’re not saving money or can’t control your spending, you will never build generational wealth. Saving and spending are the only two things you can regulate. Market forces drive stock prices and interest rates.

Don’t worry about outperforming the market. If you save and invest regularly, the market will take care of itself and bring you along for the ride.

April 5, 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.

The NCAA Tournament and Investing

It’s finally here! The greatest sporting event is back after last year’s hiatus. Though fans, bands, cheerleaders, and mascots are missing, it’s still exciting to watch. My family and I look forward to competing against each other with our brackets, and I always participate in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge, hoping that I will be the one with the perfect bracket. However, after Oral Roberts beat Ohio State, I’m out, and so are 95% of the other participants. Picking winners is not easy. The odds of a perfect bracket is 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. If you know something about basketball, your odds improve to 1 in 120 million.[1]

According to ESPN, there are 108 perfect brackets out of 14.7 million submitted or .000735% after the opening games. And 93 participants lost every game! Is this an ideal bell curve? I rank 8.9 million after selecting nine winners, so I still have a chance. My choice to win it all is Baylor because they’re a good team, and it’s my daughter’s alma mater. I’m also rooting for Gonzaga because of their affiliation with the West Coast Conference and Arkansas since their head coach is a graduate of the University of San Diego.

The only thing harder than picking a perfect bracket is selecting a basket of individual stocks that outperform the market every year.  Yes, it’s possible to beat the market in the short-term. I’m sure several individuals bought Peleton, Zoom, DocuSign, or NIO last year and made a lot of money riding the COVID wave. However, have they been profitable for five, ten, or thirty years? Also, the more stocks you own, the closer your portfolio will resemble an index fund. What is the magic number of stocks to hold? In one study, it’s twenty.[2] How are the four companies faring this year? They’re down 12.5%, underperforming the S&P 500.

Standard & Poors SPIVA study revealed that 82% of large-cap fund managers did not outperform the S&P 500 over ten years, and 87% failed to do so after fifteen years. The same data holds for small and mid-cap money managers. The study found that 74% of mid-cap managers did not beat the S&P 400, while 75% of small-cap managers failed to match the S&P 600.[3] I know what you’re thinking; I’ll only invest in the winners. Some professional money managers outperform the market over time, but can you identify them before they start their run?

Peter Lynch, the legendary fund manager of the Fidelity Magellan mutual fund, was thirty-three when he took over managing the fund. The fund only had $18 million in assets in 1977. The fund’s assets would swell to $14 billion when he retired. Before taking over as the lead money manager, the fund lost 42% in 1973 and 28% in 1974. If you invested $10,000 in the fund, you lost 70% of your capital. Would you have remained invested in the fund as Mr. Lynch took the helm? If you sold out to find a better money manager, you missed incredible returns. Mr. Lynch posted eye-popping returns from 1977 to 1990 as the fund generated an average annual return of 29.2%, more than double the S&P 500. In hindsight, Mr. Lynch was an obvious choice. His fund returned 2,570%. A $10,000 investment grew to $267,420![4]

I bet the person who currently has a perfect bracket is posting about it on social media letting the world know they picked Oral Roberts and North Texas. The same is probably true for people who chose a few winning stocks last year. I will let them enjoy their fifteen minutes of fame. If they can do it every year, then I will give them the credit they deserve.

In the meantime, I would recommend investing your money in a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost mutual funds. If you want to take a flier on a stock or two, then allocate 1% to 3% of your investment capital to your ideas.

Invest for the long-term, buy the dips, save your money, follow your plan, and good things will happen.

It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen. ~ John Wooden

March 20, 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] Google

[2] https://www.investopedia.com/investing/dangers-over-diversifying-your-portfolio/, by Brian Beers, 1/13/2020

[3] http://www.ginsglobal.com/articles/80-of-us-fund-managers-underperform-sp-500-over-5-years/#:~:text=Over%20the%20past%2010%20years,ending%20June%2030%2C%202020), Webiste accessed 1/20/2021

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fidelity_Magellan_Fund

Rate of Return

Do you know the rate of return on your investments? Have you ever calculated your total return? In my experience, most investors don’t know what they earn on their money. Of course, I often hear about winning stock trades – never the losers, nor do people tell me how much they allocate to their trades. A 10% gain on a million-dollar investment is more impactful than one where you only commit $100.

I recently watched a Bitcoin evangelical promote the compounding rate of return for the popular digital currency.  He was touting annual gains of 200% to the host and millions of TV viewers as if it was normal. At 200%, a $100,000 investment will be worth $5.9 billion (with a B) in ten years! If you earned 200% for twenty years, you’d be worth $348 trillion (with a T) – totally normal. After thirty years: $20,589,113,209,464,900,000, or $20 quintillion. Regulators would throw me in jail if I touted annual returns of 200%.

Rates of return matter, and being aware of what you earn is essential. Your money doubles every ten years at 7%. If you make less than 3% per year, inflation will wipe out your gains. Risk and reward are connected. A portfolio of stocks earns more than a portfolio of bonds, but the risk level is higher. The 100-year return for stocks has been 10%, but there have been several years of negative performance and numerous market crashes. During the same time frame, the one-month US Treasury Bill never lost money – not one negative year, but it generated a paltry average annual return of 3.3%.[1] Since 2005, the S&P 500 is up 224%, while short-term bonds have increased by 5.75%. The S&P had several corrections, including a 51% crash in 2008 and a 30% decline last year; bonds barely budged.

A financial plan can give you a glimpse of your future. Most planners can review your performance and risk level to determine how much of both are needed to reach your goals. If you’re far from your target, owning more stocks is recommended. A sizable allocation to equities will allow you to generate higher rates of return. If you have more than you need, allocating a bigger percentage to bonds can help maintain your wealth.

A balanced portfolio of 60% stocks, 40% bonds produced an average annual return of 9% since 1926.[2] It lost 44.5% in 1931, but it rebounded 82% in 1932, and 36% of the time, it lost money. However, the portfolio never lost money on rolling 10-, 15-, and 20-year periods.[3]

Balancing risk and return is part art and science. Allocating too little to stocks can negatively impact your wealth. If you’re young, stocks will benefit from your time horizon. If you’re retired, investing in stocks can help you maintain your purchasing power. Investing too conservatively at any age can have dire consequences to your wealth.

My best investment, so far, has been Amazon. I bought a few shares for my daughter’s education account in 2005, and it has generated an average annual return of 31%, or 6,647%. It’s not 200%, but it has helped us pay for college.

Happy Investing!

“In investing, what is comfortable is rarely profitable.” — Robert Arnott

March 10, 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] Dimensional Fund Advisors 2020 Matrix Book

[2] Dimensional Fund Advisors Returns Web – 1926 to 2021.

[3] Ibid

Bamboo Shoots

I’m reading Chop Wood Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf.

In one chapter, he writes about planting and growing bamboo. After planting the bamboo seed, it must be watered every day. It’s possible to see little to no growth after three to five years. The author adds: “What you don’t see happening is what is taking place beneath the surface. Beneath the surface, a massive, dense foundation of roots is spreading out all throughout the ground to prepare for the rapid growth that the bamboo will experience. So, you keep water it and watering it, and eventually, after five years of seeing nothing at all happen above the surface, the bamboo tree shoots up to over ninety feet tall in just six weeks.”[1]

The author highlights the invisible growth and hard work it takes to be successful – to trust the process. He adds, “Most people want the ninety-foot-tall bamboo tree without the five years of process.

Investors can learn much from this passage in the book. Investors want instant gratification, with little downside. If a stock doesn’t rise quickly, it’s replaced by another in hopes it will fare better. If a portfolio is not growing fast enough, investors want to overhaul it to accelerate the growth rate.

From January 2000 through January 2011, the S&P 500 generated a negative return, eleven years without growth. If you sold the fund in 2011, you missed a 262% return on your investment.[2]

It requires patience, courage, and wisdom to create generational wealth.

January 4, 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] Chop Wood Carry Water, Joshua Medcalf, page 64

[2] Vanguard 500 Index Fund, 1/1/2000 to 1/4/2021, YCharts

The Pendulum

The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a tragic loss. I learned about her life from the movie On The Basis of Sex, and I’ve enjoyed reading the recent articles about her accomplishments. She opined on many issues, and one quote from a 2017 interview with the BBC particularly stood out to me.  Justice Ginsburg said, “I am optimistic in the long run. A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle. It is the pendulum. And when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back.”

As an investor, the pendulum analogy resonated with me because markets, all markets, have wide gyrating swings and rarely remain stagnant. Since 1926, the S&P 500 has generated an average annual return of 10%, but it has never closed a calendar year with a 10% gain. The range of returns has been far and wide. In 1931 the S&P 500 fell by 43%; in 1933, it rose 54%. Extreme market moves are not limited to stocks. US long-term interest rates rose from 6% to 15% from 1972 to 1982. They fell back to 6% in 1992. The spot price for West Texas Intermediate Crude climbed to $133 from $47 in three years. It would collapse back to $47 one year after reaching its peak price. Gold hit a high of $637 per ounce in 1980, and it did not breach this price again until 2007. Recently, gold climbed above $2,000 per ounce, passing the previous high set in 2011. It dropped 42% from 2011 to 2015. Markets are continuously moving, which is emotionally challenging for investors.

When a trend is in place, investors assume it will last forever, and forever is a long time. From January 1995 to March 2000, the NASDAQ rose 542%. Convinced it would continue, individuals were buyers of stocks. It peaked in March 2000 and then fell 75%. It would not eclipse its previous high for another fifteen years.

Growth stocks have outperformed value stocks for the past two decades, and investors are confident value is dead. A Google search for “Is value dead?” will produce thousands of articles. At some point, value will beat growth, but no one knows when this will occur.

A shifting market can be beneficial to investors. When the pendulum swings too far to the left and stocks become cheap, use it as an opportunity to buy great companies at lower prices. When it swings too far to the right and stocks become overvalued, sell some shares to lock in your profits. A market in motion is favorable to the enterprising investor.

What if you don’t want to own fluctuating investments? Can you altogether avoid risk? Yes, in the short term. The one-month US T-Bill has never lost money if held to maturity. It’s considered the safest investment in the world. Of course, you won’t make money either after taxes and inflation. The 94-year average annual return for the one-month T-Bill has been 3.3%, and inflation averaged 2.9%, so your net return, before taxes, was .4%. A $1 investment in 1926 was worth $22 in 2019. The same $1 invested in the S&P 500 increased to $9,237, or 41,886% more than the safe investment.[1]

Of course, no trend lasts forever. The Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs were cursed never to win another World Series until they did in 2004 and 2007, respectively. In 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship, the cities first major sports title since 1964.

If trends don’t last forever, how can you take advantage of an ever-changing market?

  • Plan. Set goals. A financial plan can help you prioritize and quantify your goals. It can also keep your emotions in check as you oscillate between greed and fear.
  • Diversify your assets. Diversification allows you to own several asset classes like stocks, bonds, and cash.  A diversified portfolio exposes you to a wide variety of investments, some of which should perform well.
  • Cash. Allocating a portion of your portfolio to cash gives you a chance to purchase stocks when they fall.
  • Take Profits. When stocks or bonds rise above your price target, sell some shares, and lock in your profits.
  • Rebalance. Rebalancing your portfolio once or twice per year will help you maintain your risk level and asset allocation. Automating this process will help you to buy low and sell high without emotion.

Markets fluctuate, it’s what they do, so don’t worry when the pendulum swings too far to the left or right. Rather than worrying about extreme cycles, focus on your plan and goals – and the facts of the case.

“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” ~ Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 23, 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] Dimensional Matrix Book 2020

Which Market?

The NASDAQ is soaring this year despite the political turmoil, racial tensions, and a global pandemic. It has risen 18% so far, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down as it climbs a wall of worry. A few media outlets and financial experts are referring to the rise as a bubble. Market Watch had this to say about the stock market, “If you still do old-fashioned, cold analytical analysis based on numbers, you’ll see that the stock market is significantly above the mother of support zones. It is now a bubble.”[1]

When individual investors refer to the market, it is the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Is it up? Is it down? Will it keep rising, or will it crash? If the Dow falls more than 250 points, it’s considered breaking news even though it’s less than a 1 percent decline. The Dow Jones gets all the attention, but what about other markets? Is it fair to lump all markets together? What about the other indices?

Morningstar tracks more than 84,000 indices or markets, so when someone asks what I think about the market, I wonder which one they’re referencing. If you own a diversified portfolio of funds, you probably have exposure to dozens of markets.

To find out if the market is overvalued, let’s dissect a traditional 60/40 portfolio – 60% stocks, 40% bonds.

Large-Cap Growth Stocks. This sector has been red hot for more than a decade. The primary fund for this asset class is the Invesco QQQ Trust – The Qs! Stocks in this index include Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet, Tesla, NVIDIA, and Netflix. This star-studded index is up more than 490% for the past ten years, and it is up 24% on the year. If stocks are in a bubble, it’s this sector.

Large-Cap Value Stocks. Value stocks have trailed growth stocks by a wide margin for the past few decades, and this year is no different. The Vanguard Value ETF is down 16% for the year and up 115% for the past ten. Companies in this index include Johnson & Johnson, Berkshire Hathaway, Exxon Mobil, Pepsi, and Amgen.

International Developed Markets. International stocks have barely budged for the past ten years, rising a paltry 24%. The MSCI EAFE Index (EFA) is down 10.2% for the year, hardly a bubble. Companies in this sector include Nestle, Novartis, Toyota, and Unilever.

International Emerging Markets. This sector is one of the worst-performing asset classes over the past decade. It has risen 6.4% – total, not per year. A $10,000 investment a decade ago is now worth $10,640. Popular stocks in this category include Alibaba, Tencent, JD.com, and Baidu.

Small-Cap Growth. This sector is showing some life this year because it invests in growth stocks. It is up 2.25% for the year, and it has risen 233% for the past decade. Stocks in this index include DocuSign, Moderna, Teledoc, The Trade Desk, and Pool Corp.

Small-Cap Value. As far as US stocks go, few have fared worse than this sector, falling more than 23%. In the past ten years, it has generated an 87% total return. Small-cap and value have been a disastrous combination this year. Companies in this index include PerkinElmer, Allegion, Gaming and Leisure Properties, and ON Semiconductor.

Mid-Cap Index. Mid-Cap stocks are down 6.6% for the year. Over the past ten years, they’re up 171%. This sector includes companies like Lululemon, Splunk, Chipotle, and Clorox.

International Small-Cap. This international sector is down 12.4% for the year, but up 57% over the past ten years. Companies in this index include Rightmove, Bechtle, and Avast.

Real Estate. Working from home (WFH) is taking a toll on real estate stocks. Malls, shopping centers, office buildings, and senior living centers are not doing well in the COVID-19 environment. Does it make sense to allocate money to this sector with all the negative headwinds? I believe it does because real estate stocks will also give you exposure to data centers, cell towers, storage units, and timber. Real estate stocks are down 16% for the year and up 63% for the past decade.

Short-Term Bonds. Short-term US government bonds are the safest investment in the world. They have risen .42% for the past decade, and they’re up .32% on the year. Treasury bills are shelter investments, providing you with liquidity and safety.

High-Yield (Junk) Bonds. Lower rated bonds, known as high-yield or junk bonds, trade more like stocks than bonds, especially when stocks fall. Junk bonds have lost money for the past ten years, falling 12%, and they’re down 6.75% in 2020. A few names in this sector include Ford, American Airlines, and Netflix.

Corporate Bonds. Corporate bonds are having a good year, rising 6.2%. They have risen 26% for the past decade. Companies in this category typically have strong balance sheets. A few quality names in this sector include Anheuser-Busch, Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle.

Gold. Gold typically does well when investors or scared or there is a hint of inflation. This year gold has risen 18%, and over the past decade, it has risen 42%.

Commodities. A commodity index includes gold, oil, sugar, soybeans, corn, copper, zinc, silver, etc. It has been a challenging decade for commodities, losing 14%. This year it is up 7% rising on the strength of gold, silver, and copper.

Your portfolio may include some of these components. At the start of this year, it would have made sense to allocate 100% of your assets to large-cap growth companies, but it’s not possible to know, in advance, which sector will outperform the others. For example, from 2000 to 2010, the large-cap growth index lost 49%, while emerging markets rose 102%.

So, is the market in a bubble? It depends on the market, of course. One of the best ways to protect your assets is to own a diversified portfolio of low-cost funds and rebalance them as needed. Rebalancing your accounts will keep your asset allocation and risk level intact.

Rather than worrying if we’re in a bubble and trying to time your buys and sells, focus on your goals, think long-term, and let the stock market help you create generational wealth.

History shows us, over and over, that bull markets can go well beyond rational valuation levels as long the outlook for the future earnings is positive.” ~ Peter Bernstein

July 11, 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.

The data source for the investment categories, names, and returns come from YCharts.

[1] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-latest-sign-of-a-stock-market-bubble-small-companies-claiming-to-disrupt-large-industries-2020-07-06, by Nigam Arora, July 7, 2020