1st Quarter 2018 Commentary

Rollercoaster Rides Are Scary BUT They Do Stop

I have met so many people in the financial industry, outside of the industry, investors, and money managers, and they all say the same thing: “this market is exhausting.” If we look at 2017 as one of the least volatile years on record, 2018 has begun as its’ bitter cousin. 2016-2017 will be seen as the Trump party, and now we must come back to earth and deal with reality. Our forecast is for muted returns this year verses last year and headwind risks are likely trade wars and higher interest rates. Eventually, the market will digest these items.

The 1st quarter volatility of 2018 came with a vengeance. The January to February selloff took most major averages down in the double digit range. At the peak, the drop was over 10%. Most of what we all are experiencing has little to nothing to do with the true value of the companies in the market. The stock market is reacting to the highly unpredictable style of the president. During this quarter, the market has all but ignored the strong earnings growth momentum, tax cuts and repatriation. These bullish facts will become more apparent during the first quarter earnings report season. We still think it make sense to overweight financials and selective technology. In general, we think market fundamentals are strong and on pace. At this point, we favor value companies over growth, and would also use this year to take some gains.

In the first quarter, the Dow was down 2.5% which ended to its’ nine-quarter gain streak. The S&P 500 was down 1.2% which also broke its’ rally record. In divergence, the NASDAQ was up 2.3% and the Russell was down 0.4%. Overall, the New Year came in with the winds of worry. We believe that some of this volatility will settle down as the geopolitical risks abate. While it continues, we suggest that our investors adopt the same attitude as Warren Buffet. Mr. Buffet believes that most of the political and other noise that we hear that stirs up market volatility needs to be tuned out. He thinks that market volatility causes more people to unintentionally harm themselves than anything else. We tend to agree.

Warmest Regards,

Zandy Campbell

Fourth Quarter 2017 Commentary & 2018 Outlook

2017 Performance and 2018 Outlook:

2017

·         The Trump Bump accounted for a 6.5 trillion dollar increase in the U.S. economy, low interest rates, and more jobs created by any President in recent memory.

·         The S&P 500 closed up the year over 21% in positive returns and the only asset class to be negative was commodities.

·         The Tax Deal was completed in late 2017 and will take effect in 2018 and should be a net positive for the markets. Everything from lower corporate taxes to a one time low tax on repatriation of large corporate profits held overseas could add quite a kick to our New Year.

·         Foreign stocks and emerging markets were a good place to be in 2017

·         Geopolitical tensions began to ease at year end with increasing domestic political tension.

2018

·         Increased volatility due to extended bull market. Speculators will aggressively trade the dollar, bitcoin, and the VIX index itself. Everyone will be looking to call an end to this long bull market.

·         For reference purposes, the longest bull market in history was from 1990 to 2000 and extend over 113 months. Today, this bull market is standing at 105 months.

·         We advise 15-20% cash taken from high flyers and equity profits. In the equity space, we generally feel that clients should ride out their holdings. Options, short term bonds, and cash can be used to minimize volatility; therefore, the theme is to stay “long” quality equity and not panic, no matter what the volatility.

·         The biggest risk we have faced over the past 30 years is time spent “out “of the market and an inability to return to it.

·         Our outlook is for 2018 to be a year of higher volatility, an increase in domestic political fighting with the upcoming midterm elections, and a general increase in corporate profits. Stocks are still going to be “the place to be,” provided that investors can handle the natural corrections. We also favor international investments in that there are still values to be enjoyed in those markets. Finally, we are net bearish on bonds of all types. We would prefer tax free to taxable in general and would stay away from any type of junk. Short term municipals would be our alternative to treasuries or cash.

·         For those interested in which companies will benefit the most from the tax deal, we would suggest the industrials, consumer staples and telecom. These companies were taxed at generally the highest rates.  Most of the benefit has already been derived by the Energy and Technology sectors, but the actual implementation will still be felt in their balance sheets. Finally, consumers and small business will be net winners.

·         In summary, this is a year when knowing your risk tolerance and asset allocation will be as important as any.

Happy New Year!!!!

Third Quarter 2017 Opinion/Commentary

3rd Quarter 2017 Market Commentary

The third quarter enjoyed another wonderful performance by the market. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones were both up over 4%, and the trailing 12 months of both of these indices are up over 18%. Our take on all this joy related to the “Trump Bump” is that there has been supporting data to create a great market. There has been low inflation, low interest rates, better corporate earnings on balance, and the promise of lower taxes and a better health care system. Admittedly, these are unfulfilled promises, but it paints a picture of a business friendly environment.

Whether you are a Donald Trump fan or not, there has been $5 Trillion of new wealth created since his election in our stock market. Part of this euphoria is based on legislative change in terms of corporate tax rates and not gridlock. We will see.  We feel the market headwinds picking up possibly in the 4th quarter and choppier in 2018. Why? The market has been positive for 7 back to back quarters. That is almost unparalleled. Additionally, the Fed has signaled that they are tightening again in December and probably 2-4 times next year. They are also reducing their balance sheet. While all of this economic unwinding is occurring and rates move slightly higher, we see this action as a negative for stocks. At the very least, there will most likely be more uncertainty. Finally, the American market has priced in the tax cuts, and it is not a done deal yet. We believe that there will be cuts, but when and how much are the variables that concern a market potentially dominated by more short-termism. The good news is that for the 3rd quarter, market volatility is at an all-time low, and things appear a little quieter on the foreign affairs front.

What are our recommendations? Take some profits, and eliminate that long term capital loss that just never quite seemed to revive itself. We feel that a 15-17% cash position in case we get that 5-10% correction is warranted now. As importantly, keep your bond portfolios short to intermediate, and make sure you own your share of financials and technology. These two areas stand to benefit the most in our markets under these financial circumstances. Finally, if you really don’t have any money overseas, now is a good time to position oneself there. They are still behind the moves in our markets but are beginning to show real performance. Emerging markets outperformed our indices by several percentage points, and Brazil was the strongest index market. Part of Brazil’s performance was mainly due to reform progress.

At this point, stay long stocks, raise some cash via harvesting some rewards, and don’t be undone by future volatility. It is expected and our opportunity.

Warmest Regards,

Zandy Campbell

Second Quarter 2017 Commentary

2nd Quarter 2017 Investment Commentary

The United States economy looks better than it has in a long time. The U.S. GDP was somewhat slow in the first quarter at 1.2%. We think the second quarter growth might be closer to 2.5%. Generally speaking, unemployment has dropped to its lowest levels in 17 years, but we are not naïve to the fact that there are many who are still under-employed. Additionally, there are those people who simply are not qualified or trained for today’s labor force. Stocks have hit their highs this year and have outperformed bonds for six years in a row. The first half of the year was dominated by lower price/earnings multiples and increased market volatility.

The political songs of excitement of the first quarter have all but faded to the monotony of Washington’s log jam that is endless and uninspiring. Can the Republicans get “repeal and replace” done? Few think so. Can the Republicans get anything they promised done? We’ll see. The main streets of America need some healthcare, tax, and regulation relief and so do our companies. For the best possible outcome, there will have to be true bipartisanship; therefore, count on something in between.

Finally, on a positive note, the corporate earnings train of the 2nd quarter looks promising. The forecasts or consensus is for year over year earnings to rise at the 8% level for the second quarter and 11% for the year. Wages remain sluggish which is very likely due to the current business environment which is still over regulated. Europe and other countries have far more favorable valuations than the U.S. at this time and global trade could drive this leadership even more.

A.G. Campbell Advisory, LLC believes that the Fed will continue to raise rates one more time this year and with President Trump’s new Fed appointee, Randal Quarles, the Fed will focus on dissecting Dodd-Frank. All of this bodes well for financials and industrials. It is our opinion that growth will moderate over the next 6-12 months but will continue due to positive corporate earnings. This tends to be exactly the type of environment where stock pickers often fair better than passive investors. We will see what fate holds for us.

Wishing you an enjoyable summer,

A.G. Campbell Advisory, LLC

First Quarter 2017 Commentary

1st Quarter Commentary 2017:   Back To The Future

Hold on sports fans, it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings. Feeling like 1985? Kind of Reaganesque? Whoa Bessie, as Jim Cramer loves to say, “Now we are over the tips of our skis.” Here’s what we know: we elected a President who is definitely business friendly and wants very badly to take 100% of the credit for reigniting the American economy. Since his victory in early November of 2016, the increase in the S&P 500 has been nearly 10%! Please understand, this move in the market is based completely on what may come. We all enjoyed this drunkenness through February of 2017 and then we began treading water. The first obvious cold water on our party was the unsuccessful healthcare bill that was never to be. That loss put a question in the mind of Mr. Market as to whether Trump’s other agenda items would be any more successful than his first legislative attempt. Consequently, March of 2017 traded in a fairly tight range and most broad equity indices ended relatively flat on the month, but up between 4-6 percent on the year.

The 1980’s were characterized by Reagan in two specific areas: military strength and the courage of his convictions, and tax reform with the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Without some corporate tax relief and a semblance of a new healthcare program, the markets could definitely lose confidence in “The Donald.” Currently, without some very positive earnings, most stocks are poised to move sideways and to be very susceptible to political bombshells. So, what does one do? Is the Fed going to increase rates again any time soon? Is North Korea going to be properly held in check by China? What could any and or all of these items do to our market, and what is the proper strategy?

Simply put, check your cash for upcoming needs and make sure it’s in the money market. Other than that, we advise staying long the market just as we did through the 80’s which included 10/19/87 because there isn’t a better game in town. Also, have enough cash to take advantage of a 1987 or a 2008 type of scenario. Look at the returns on monies invested very shortly after those periods. Finally, turn off CNBC and get ready to enjoy a beautiful spring.

Warmest Regards,

A.G. Campbell Advisory, LLC