I was on Fox Business Countdown To The Closing Bell today. It’s also Monday, and markets are closed for Presidents day. Since most of my clients live off their portfolios, I have to do things most wealth accumulators don’t have to think about. Mainly, taking profits so my clients can life their lifestyle.
Below are my thoughts this morning before I went on Fox to discuss what I'm focused on right now. Here is a link to the actual hit - it was a ton of fun.
You may ask if I’m a long-term investor or a short-term trader. When you manage money for mostly retired or soon to be retired individuals, you have to be some form of both. Let me explain.
A long-term trader in my opinion is someone who has about a 8-12 week time horizon. When you send money to retired baby boomers each month you have to know where to pick that fruit. Do you really want to sell stocks a year ago when global markets were down 20%? How do you pair profits in this current big rally without limiting your upside? I have to have a reasonable idea about the weather pattern using four seasons rather than a three-day hope for the best forecast.
You may think that managing the assets of retired investors means being more short term. Nothing could be further from the truth. My clients who are in their 60s will be investing for another 25-35 years. Long term is anything over 10 years. Inflation will decimate your nest egg over a twenty-year time horizon, and heaven forbid you actually live too long. Your best defense in old age is to invest inequities for the rest of your life along side enough cash and fixed income to weather a multi-year storm. Think victory garden versus a stockpile of canned meat.
Here is what I am looking at right now, on a three-day weekend.
First, what is up with GE? It is lagging from the rest of the DJIA. It’s been cheap all year, but at this point we have to ask who is wrong on the direction. The trader (in me) would say when a big bellwether is making a clear concerted effort to go another direction, the DJIA is wrong. I would use some caution on large US stocks until we see this get worked out.
Second, the VIX just screams complacency. This market has been a nice and steady upward movement without a lot of choppiness. Another way of saying this is that the gains have been easy. Look at all the mild Friday market closes where investors haven’t a care in the world committing cash in front of two days Trump can tweet away causing uncertainty. In fact while the many investors don’t seemed concerned at all about the heightened uncertainty of the new administration. That seems odd to me considering how obsessed the country is with this new government. Let’s get real. Small caps got re-priced by the tune of almost 30% based on less regulation and lower taxes. If that doesn’t happen, or if there is a delay in investors’ expectation, the market will school the complacent. Or, as one of my favorite technical analysts, Tom McClellan says, “Complacency must be punished.”
Third, the dollar is not a quant idea. At the start of the year everyone and their brother was in the long dollar trade. Over the last two weeks we have seen a spike in net short USD positions. But we have only seen the dollar rally slow down. We are long emerging markets and they are up 10% this year compared to 5% for the S&P 500. What could that mean? It means I took some profits on emerging markets last week and any correction or selloff in global equities will find me putting those dollars back to work outside the US where a weaker dollar going forward will act as a tailwind.
The bottom line is simple; you have to be invested to make money off of corporate profits. For my unique practice of retired investors that need money each month, now, more than ever, I need to pick fruit when it comes around. This could be seventh inning in this bull market or the ninth. Who knows? All I know is that with bellwethers diverging, complacency needing schooling, and an overpriced dollar, I should be taking gains a little faster. This isn’t bad news. With liquidity big and bullishness hard to break, any weakness should be greeted with open arms and the commitment of fresh cash picked from your bond portfolio.