7 Deadly Sins of a KAISER PERMANENTE Retirement!

Come learn how to project your income in retirement using Plan A, Plan B, the TSA, Senior Advantage Medical benefit, Social Security and any other investments.

KaiPerm Credit Union and SMB Financial have teamed up to provide presentations across the Portland KP campuses. The next presentations are at the Interstate campus on July 15th and 22nd, 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on both dates. Look for the emails announcing room location, but until then, download the pdf below.

Click HERE to download the PDF

KaiPerm CU and SMB Financial are separate entities and are not corporately affiliated.

Health Care Scare

It’s nice to see the sun shine again, on us and especially on the accounts last month. The stock markets are now at their previous highs as fears of a sudden slowdown appear to be in the rearview mirror, but a few concerns still remain.

This afternoon Fed Chairman Jerome Powell stated he was unwilling to cut interest rates at this time. That didn’t help the stock market today because so many were hoping for a rate cut. China trade concerns still linger, but now there’s a report of a deal coming by next Friday. That would be welcome news. Finally, there are concerns related to the 2020 election.

With Biden now officially running there’s no shortage of news of the 20 Democrats campaigning to knock Trump out of the Whitehouse. ONLY eighteen months to go!!! In years past, we’ve downplayed the presidential election as not representing a great impact on the economy or the stock market, but this time feels different. 

An example of this is the talk about Healthcare, and specifically the “Medicare for All” position being proposed among several of the Democratic candidates. This has hammered some of the healthcare stocks we own while the general stock market has trended higher. 

One of our favorite analysts, Matthew Coffina, CFA from Morningstar, had this to say about the Medicare for All issue, “There are good arguments on both sides of the debate as to whether the U.S. would be better off with a single-payer system. However, as an investor, I’m less interested in what should happen in theory than in what is likely to happen in practice. While Medicare for All would be a potentially catastrophic outcome for private health insurers like Anthem, I still think it’s a very low-probability risk.”

He goes on to say that the biggest impediment to Medicare for All is the cost, citing one “conservative” estimate at $32 Trillion over the next 10 years. To fund that would require doubling the personal income and payroll taxes. While employers would get to eliminate the cost of health care, it’s unclear if the savings would flow to paychecks of employees to help offset higher taxes.

He also mentions that Medicare rates are far below commercial rates and that would bring insurers, hospitals, doctors, pharmaceuticals, etc., out of the woodwork to spend heavily on advertising and lobbying against Medicare for All. 

Those powerful interests would be joined by the entire Republican party, which has little incentive to support this type of change. So, Medicare for All probably doesn’t stand a chance unless Democrats win the Presidency, choose a far left candidate like Bernie Sanders in the primary, change the filibuster rules in the Senate, and convince a decent number of moderate Democrats from conservative-leaning states to pass a Medicare for All bill. 

Not impossible, but improbable.

In any event, this speculation has been the reason some of the healthcare stocks we all own in our stock portfolio (United Health UNH and Anthem ANTM) have dipped. We actually think this selloff is a great opportunity to buy and will buy more in all accounts if they continue to fall.

SMB News

We’ll all be around the office for the month of May, but starting in June some of us will be out. I (Tim) will be doing my 3 weeks (usually only 2 weeks) at the Coast Guard, so I’ll be out most the month, but available by email and back in the office in July. Regardless, we’ll make sure there’s someone in to catch the phones and to handle any issues that come up. Please let us know if we can do anything for you and enjoy the nice weather! 

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Guaranteed Income & K-1s

It’s definitely tax time now. Tax professionals are buried and we’re all holding our breath to see what our tax liability will be. Some are paying less this year but we’re hearing of some highly-paid employees who are getting stuck with higher tax bills. Sorry about that if that’s you.

We need to address a specific tax-related issue for our current clients but we’ll save that riveting discussion for the end of the blog. Before we get to that we thought we’d pass along a little new information we’ve discovered recently about annuities.

Typically, we’ve shied away from annuities with income guarantees because of these poor qualities: terrible investment selection, long surrender charges, and high fees. 

After many many years, the insurance companies have finally put their heads together and are starting to address these concerns. I’ve been researching three insurance companies recently, Lincoln, Jackson and Nationwide, and am coming to some interesting conclusions. See below for my thoughts (meant to be educational only):

  • Investment Selection – Annuities in the past have given only a handful of options. Jackson and Nationwide are offering over 100 funds to choose from now. A big step in the right direction.
  • Surrender Charges – Because the annuities in the past paid the advisor a large commission, they felt the need to “lockup” the money with charges if a client left early. These new fee-based annuities don’t pay advisors a commission. Therefore, there’s no need for any surrender charge at all on some, and low charges on others.
  • High Fees – Some income guarantees that annuities offer charge in excess of 3% per year in fees. Contrast that with our average fee of 1% that’s charged on our investment accounts. I’ve calculated these new annuitie’s fees to be as low as 1.5% for Lincoln, and as high as 2.5% per year for Jackson. Still on the higher end, but clients are getting guaranteed income for life for the extra cost.

These are not ideal for every client and should only be used for a portion of anyone’s total portfolio. However, they are starting to get interesting. Contact us if you’d like any more education on these.

Clients with K-1s

Now for tax time! For many years we owned certain stocks that sent our clients a tax form called a K-1. We sold all those for most people last year so we wouldn’t have to continue to deal with the confusion of this additional form. So, fortunately, this is the last time we’ll have to deal with them.

This year TD Ameritrade is sending a letter to all clients that owned any of these stocks in an IRA in 2018. To paraphrase the letter, TD is asking all clients to mail their K-1s to them, so they can determine if an additional form needs to be filed with the IRS. I don’t want to contradict TD Ameritrade and I’m not a tax advisor, so keep that in mind, but to our knowledge, this extra form has never been needed with any client we’ve researched in all the years we’ve owned these.

With that in mind, here are some options on how to proceed:

  1. You can certainly follow TD’s instructions and send the K-1s to them if you have them. That is the safest option.
  2. If you don’t have the K-1s but would like some assurance that once again a form doesn’t need to be filed for you and no tax paid, Jeremiah can look up most K-1s to determine if TD needs to file the form for you (UBTI > $1,000 on all K1s found in the red box of the image). We checked five clients yesterday and no one was even close. It takes about 10 minutes to look each client up and Jeremiah will be in the office Tuesday ready to do this.
  3. Wait for TD Ameritrade to do the work to determine who needs to have the form filed. It is their responsibility to file the form and they have access to these K-1s just like we do.

In the future, we won’t have this issue because we sold the K-1 producing companies in all accounts, with one or two exceptions.

The financial news is giving us a break right now and the stock market and most accounts have been drifting back to where they were in October. We’re thankful for that, but as always, we await the next dramatic headline!

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Catch Our Breath

The snow is falling here in Portland this week and stocks are rising! Hooray! After a tough end of the year for 2018, we’re getting some relief as the stock market posted its best January since 1987. With that kind of start, we feel like it’s a great time to catch our breath and prepare for the next chapter.

We’ve already started getting calls on taxes, so we know that’s on everyone’s mind. TD Ameritrade has confirmed all tax info should be out no later than Feb 13th. If for some reason you don’t get that in the mail or lose it, please call us and we can resend it to you after that date.

The other tax news is the new tax law taking effect this year. The changes in the law will yield different results for everyone, but it appears the main benefactors of the tax cut were small business owners and corporations. The corporate tax cut was in part why the stock market was positive in 2017.

Those individuals paying a little more in taxes this year will be those who had a significant amount of itemized deductions in the past. Those have been limited to just a handful now: local taxes capped at $10,000, charitable gifts, and mortgage interest are the big ones that have been left.

With taxes in mind, we thought we’d share a tax tip for the charitable givers and a few other financial planning tips that you may want to consider:

Charitable Giving

If you are the charitable type and know you’ll be giving to a charity this year, there is something you can do to maximize your deduction – gift those dollars from an IRA.

Because the new standard deduction is $24,000 joint and $12,000 single (more if the tax payers are over 65), many people will have a hard time reducing taxes from charitable gifts. When you gift directly from your IRA, you are guaranteed to get the deduction because the distribution from the IRA will not be taxable.

This will have the effect of raising your standard deduction. Call us if you find yourself in this situation so we can help you make a good decision.

Review Risk

After such a bumpy end to the year, now is a good time to review risk tolerances to see if you would rather be more conservative, or more aggressive. No one likes to see accounts go down, but when it causes you to lose sleep it may be time for an adjustment.

Update Beneficiary Designations

This is an easy task that’s often overlooked. When that happens, it can have devastating consequences. We’d be happy to report what your current beneficiaries are and then prepare paperwork to update if necessary.

Organize Your Documents

We’ve recently been making a push to get one of our Allevi-8 Books in everyone’s hand. We’ve heard recently this book has been the catalyst people have needed to get their financial situation together so they can Allevi-8 The Hassle of organizing their estate for their loved ones. They’re available on Amazon.com (search: Allevi-8) now, but free for our clients. If you haven’t received one, please call us so we can get one to you.

SMB Financial News

This year we’ve been settling into our new office in Tigard, where we’ve been for just over a year now. We especially enjoy rolling the Traeger grill out of our garage door and grilling salmon and tri-tip for client lunches. We did this probably 20 times last year. If you haven’t had the chance to come in for lunch, please ask! We love to do it.

Our most recent hire, Jeremiah Forrister, has been with us about a year and a half now and is doing a fantastic job! I’m not sure how we functioned without him. He’s been the lead on administration details and he’s also a licensed advisor looking to grow his own book of clients.

He and his wife also just celebrated their third child, Willow Forrister, last August. 

Please congratulate him next time you call in if you haven’t already!

Brian Bradley has now been a part of SMB for four and a half years and he continues to become a vital part of the operations of the firm. Brian has been extremely helpful in putting together complicated financial plans and helping me tackle high level operational tasks that come up. This has made him an invaluable asset to the team.

One thing Brian is celebrating this year is NO MORE KIDS! Brian had his fourth girl, Opal Bradley, a year and half ago and he’s looking forward to keeping the family that size.

Bruce has had a busy year! On September 16, 2018 Bruce married Maiza Fatureto, who is originally from Brazil. They were married in Ashland, OR with a group of friends from Bruce’s flying club. Please congratulate Bruce when you talk with him.

Bruce has also begun to sell some of his half of the business to me (Tim). Ownership now stands at 60% Tim/40% Bruce. With that change Bruce will be in the office less, but has no plans to retire.


Finally, Holly and I (Tim) haven’t had many life changing events this year, but the family is still growing like a weed. Henry (7) is in first grade now and is a champion at math. Lucy (5) started preschool and amazed Holly and I with how quickly and easily she took to it. Penny is now two and a half and is the most gregarious of the three. Our favorite part of watching Penny is when she tries to boss her two older siblings around. It’s hilarious.

The business really has been the thing that’s kept me busy this year. As I step further into the lead role, we’ve been blessed with multiple partnerships that have been incredibly fruitful for us.

We continue to manage money for the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, and we’re setting up retirement plans for the 1,100 attorneys and firms that are a part of that group. We started a relationship with KaiPerm Credit Union this year and are handling their member’s financial planning and investing needs. That’s led to meetings at each Kaiser Permanente facility here in town, where we do the 7 Deadly Sins of Retirement presentation and have begun to meet with retiring Kaiser employees looking for help with their finances.

Finally, after winning the Enlisted Person of the Year award for the Coast Guard last year, I received a handwritten letter (above) from a retired Admiral to see if I could help the Coast Guard manage their $30 million portfolio! This is a phenomenal opportunity and I’m still working to see how I can assist them, but just the request was such an honor. I’ll keep everyone posted if I make any headway on this.

Needless to say, this has been a busy year and we are so excited for the future of our firm. Thank you for being with us and helping make it so special. We have the best clients of any firm and we love the great relationship we get to have with each one of you.

As always, please let us know if there’s anything we can help you with.

Thanks for reading,

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

On the Rebound

Just a note to report some good news! Yes, I said good news. I wrote three emails/blogs in December warning everyone about how ugly the stock market was and I’m desperate to report some good news. So far in the six trading days this year the S&P 500 has gained back 3.4% of the -9% it lost in December.

This is important for those folks who are just getting their investment statements from last month. While your totals will be down, things are already headed back in a positive direction. Depending on the portfolio, some accounts have already recovered half the losses of December.

We’re still a long way off the top, and it’s too early to sound the “all clear” alarm, but it’s nice to report we’re on the rebound.

See chart below for the Dec 1 – Jan 9 performance of S&P 500

As we watch political chaos and dueling partisan broadcasts from Washington it’s natural to ask how will this affect me this next year? 

Bank of America Merrill Lynch says this, “The best stock market returns occur when Washington, D.C., is locked in the ‘gridlock’ that comes with different parties controlling the two houses of Congress…The best S&P 500 returns under a Republican president occurred while Congress was split, with that scenario producing 12 percent annual returns.”

Let’s hope they’re right.

Bob Doll, CFA from Nuveen investments is someone else we’ve been watching closely for the last few years. He usually has some good insight into the year ahead  (8 for 10 in last year’s predictions). 

“The biggest question for markets is whether the U.S. is heading into a recession,” writes Doll. “Recessions are inevitable, but we think one is unlikely to commence in 2019. If we’re right, equities will probably see gains over the next 12 months. If we’re wrong, it will be a tough year for the markets and for our predictions.”

In either case, Doll expects “markets will remain choppy and frustrating and stocks will bounce around with extended runs and declines,” not unlike the stock market’s performance in recent months.

Doll’s 2019 Predictions (click for article):

1. Economic Expansion Continues – The U.S. expansion becomes the longest in history despite GDP slowing to a still-above-trend increase of 2% to 2.5%.

2. Higher Wages – Unemployment bottoms in 2019 while wage growth continues to rise.

3. Wider Credit Spreads – The Treasury yield curve flattens and credit spreads widen due to late cycle concerns.

4. Earnings Growth? – Corporate earnings growth estimates weaken for 2019 and 2020 as both revenue and profit pressures rise.

5. Stocks Get Positive – U.S. equities experience a positive return (predicting about +8.5% return for 2019) but fail to reach record highs for the first time in 10 years.

6. International Stocks Beat US Stocks – Non-U.S. stocks outperform U.S. stocks as the dollar sags.

7. Sector Breakdown – The information technology, financial and healthcare sectors outperform utilities, REITs and materials.

8. Federal Deficit Sets a Record – The annual federal budget deficit approaches $1 trillion, a level unprecedented absent a recession.

9. Geopolitics – U.S. and global politics spark more market volatility as the cold wars within the U.S. and with China persist.

10. Dems Scramble to Take on Trump – A double-digit number of Democrats run for president, while President Donald Trump is challenged within his own party.

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Crisis without the Crisis

One month ago I reported the stock market’s 10% drop from Oct 1st was Not That Interesting. Then, the market dropped an additional 10% bottoming on Christmas Eve for a total of 20% pullback. Ok, now it’s getting interesting! A 20% pullback has only happened three times since I’ve been in the business.

Meanwhile, the financial media’s worked itself into a frenzy trying to find the most crisis-like headlines to capture more viewers….

WORST CHRISTMAS EVE IN 40 YEARS!!!

WORST MARKET SINCE 2011!!! 

WORST MONTH SINCE 2008!!!

(see charts for comparisons)

The only problem? There’s no crisis.

Rising interest rates are perfectly normal for this point in the business cycle, slightly slower growth of the economy is no crisis, and the slowing demand for housing is actually healthy.

This overreaction to normal events reminds us of some timeless words, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to tear down and time to build…a time to weep and a time to dance…a time to keep and a time to throw away…a time for love and a time to hate.”  These words are from the Old Testament Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 written into a Pete Seeger song from the 50’s, and popularized by The Byrds in 1965.

Approaching New Year’s Eve we can identify with these themes: planting investments and uprooting others—keeping some and throwing away others—some caused weeping others caused dancing—some investments we loved, others we hated. 

Just to be clear, we still have concerns. Namely the stability and the predictability on the part of Washington. Many are now wondering what our principles, priorities, and policies are, and how we arrive at them. Changes usually debated publicly and signaled in advance are sprung on the world. This new style excited investors two years ago, but may now be causing exhaustion.

Regardless of the concerns, there are always risks to investing. Although all our statements will show a negative next month, one comforting thought is after every 20% downturn I’ve been through in the last 13+ years (2008, 2011 and 2018) comes a bounce. Whether it takes 3 months or three years, the last three downturns I’ve witnessed have been wonderful buying opportunities. This is why we keep buying when investments go down.

Here’s a breakdown of the buys we’ve made after the market started down:

For the growth stock portfolio, we bought Fortinet FTNT a cybersecurity company, made an additional buy in Square SQ the payment processor, and sold at a gain and rebought lower Mercadolibre MELI the South American Amazon.

For the Moderate and Conservative portfolios we bought First Trust Internet Fund FDN and after a 15% pullback in the market, we bought the high-income Pimco Dynamic Income Fund PDI.

We’re confident these will be good buys as the market trends higher, however, if it turns negative again, we have cash for an additional buy in each of the portfolios.

We hope you have a wonderful New Years and look forward to seeing you in 2019!

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Looking for Good News

Often times in the news, positive headlines sink to the bottom and the negative headlines float to the top. Such is the case regarding the economy and the stock market currently.

With that in mind, I thought I’d send out a positive prediction for 2019 that caught my eye from a well-known bank, JP Morgan Chase. They sent out a letter to their clients recently predicting a 17% gain in the stock market next year!

You can read the article and the details yourself here, but they’re essentially saying the S&P 500 will end next year at 3,100. After today the index is now at 2,545. They state that investors will be lured back into the stock market because: 1) the economy will continue to grow into next year, 2) the trade war with China will likely be resolved, and 3) companies are paying dividends and buying back their own shares next year to the tune of $1.5 Trillion.

What’s even more encouraging is that 14 other strategists surveyed feel similar to JP Morgan Chase and believe the S&P 500 will end close to the same high levels.

While there certainly are predictions stating the opposite, it doesn’t benefit us as investors to focus on them. In fact, selling out and sitting in cash even for a few “UP” days can be incredibly detrimental to a portfolio. Listen to these statistics over the last 10 years:

1) 8 of the 10 biggest up days happened within 1 month of the biggest down days.

2) If an investor in the stock market missed the biggest 5 days they would have lost 32% of their total return over the last 10 years.

The bottom line is while the market continues to be dramatic and price in the worst case scenario, it really does pay to sit tight.

At our KaiPerm Credit Union presentation last week, a gal asked if we were going through another 2008-9 situation. I kindly had to remind her that this is nothing like 2008.

To put it into perspective, the wheels were coming off the financial system back then and the fear was a total collapse of the banking system. Today we suffer from concern stemming from a little bit of slower growth. Serious enough for a pullback, not serious enough to ruin your holidays.

Thank you for reading! We’ll be in the office over the next few weeks, so please feel free to reach out if we can do anything for you.

Happy Holidays from all of us at SMB,

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Not That Interesting

The view outside our office has been beautiful this week. Crisp mornings and sunshine are helping to brighten the mood the financial news is trying to darken.

“What is it now?” you ask.

Today’s “scary” headline is the arrest of the CFO of a Chinese telecommunication company called Huawei (pronounced wa-way), for violating sanctions with Iran. This sparked new concerns we’re angering the Chinese and they’ll be less likely to compromise on a new trade deal.

The news generated fresh pessimism in the stock market which was already struggling from trade tariff and inflation concerns. Today’s drop saw the stock market down 10% off its highs from the end of September, until it rebounded to end the day flat.

So, what should we do as investors? Below are the highlights from a Morgan Housel article I saved 2.5 years ago that helps give perspective in times like these.

An investor once joked after hearing market-moving news that he “cannot wait to get to my computer in the morning…and do absolutely nothing.”

The most important thing we can do right now is follow this advice. We’re not selling or running from the market. We’re watching things unfold and staying up-to-date, but we’re not worried. If anything, declines become opportunities.

Here’s a question to ask when we’re thinking about whether the global economy – and the stock market – will create value over time, “Did more people wake up this morning seeking to solve problems and make life better for others than do the opposite?” The answer is still firmly “yes.”

Whether it’s a trade war with China, Brexit, 2008 financial crisis, or 9/11, financial markets continually have sharp knee-jerk reactions to big news stories with lots of uncertainty. The attitude among many becomes “sell now, ask questions later.” Many hedge funds and short-term day traders cannot stand not knowing what might happen to their investments over the next, say, 30 days.

As long-term investors, we’re not in that camp.

It’s possible the selloff we’ve seen is justified. But it’s probable that a downward dip is more indicative of people selling because they don’t know what’s going to happen, not because they know something we don’t. That’s why we stay the course.

Let me remind you of this chart. It’s the US stock market over the last 140 years.

Do you know what happened over this time period?

·       1.3 million Americans died while fighting nine major wars.

·       Four U.S. presidents were assassinated.

·       675,000 Americans died in a single year from a flu pandemic.

·       30 separate natural disasters killed at least 400 Americans each

·       33 recessions lasted a cumulative 48 years.

·       The stock market fell more than 10% from a recent high at least 99 times.

·       Stocks lost a third of their value at least 12 times.

·       Annual inflation exceeded 7% in 20 separate years.

·       The words “economic pessimism” appeared in newspapers at least 29,000 times, according to Google.

And the market still increased 10,000-fold.

So, forgive me if we aren’t that excited about the latest headline. It’s just not that interesting.

Patience will constantly be tested but ultimately rewarded — as it always has been.

Please contact us if you have any questions. If we don’t talk before, have a wonderful Holiday and we’ll be in touch after the New Year.

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Back-to-Back

The stock market couldn’t muster two back-to-back “up” days in October… until yesterday. Finally, we saw some relief after Facebook posted good quarterly earnings and the stock market rallied. The good news continued into today with hopes the trade drama with China will be resolved. That being said, the month of October was still negative, and we should all be prepared to see declines on our next statement, unfortunately.

Looking to the end of the year, there are two big dates to watch: Nov. 6th and Nov. 30th. Nov. 6th is obviously midterm election day and Nov. 30th is the date of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. What’s important about Nov. 30th is this is when Trump will meet with the Chinese Premier Xi Jinping to discuss trade. We believe those two dates will contribute to how 2018 will end and how 2019 will fare.

Midterms

Next week we’ll all watch as the votes are counted across the country. Those votes will determine if Trump will be hamstrung with a House controlled by Democrats, or if Republicans will keep control.

If Dems take control (69% chance according to the Economist), we expect increased subpoenas and investigations on the current administration, which would limit Repubs from furthering their agenda. This means building a wall or pushing through another tax cut is probably out, but the ongoing trade negotiations will continue.

Trade Talks

The more important issue is the trade war with China. The increased tariffs already imposed on China are having an effect on our businesses in the U.S. Companies are reporting that costs are increasing based on the 10% tariff already imposed, which is not good.

If there are no productive talks on Nov. 30th, Trump has made it clear he intends to increase the 10% tariffs to 25% on Jan 1, 2019. That will be a shock to many businesses large and small, as well as consumers. We believe this could have a dramatic impact on both the economy and the stock market.

Just today Trump tweeted he had a long talk with China’s Xi on the phone and the talks were going ‘Nicely.’ On that news, the market rallied to end with a back-to-back-to-back gain!

Regardless of what happens in November, we all must remember there’s always uncertainty in the economy. The “all clear” bell is never rung, and we invest knowing these situations will ultimately be resolved. With the trade war issue, it will either be resolved Nov 30th, or as we get closer to the presidential elections two years from now, but we believe a deal will get done.

Changes to Portfolios

In our growth stock portfolio, we’ve made a few changes. We sold Ebay EBAY, the online sales platform and Ventas VTR, the healthcare real estate company. This gave us some cash to invest during the last couple of weeks which we did. Investing in the point-of-sales company Square SQ, not once, but twice, as the price plunged with the rest of the growth tech companies and then bounced off the lows.

We now have 5% cash ready to buy on the next down day. We’d like to buy another position in Chinese tech to accompany Baidu BIDU, which have been beaten down this year. Another U.S. company we like is Fortinet FTNT, a cybersecurity firm.

In the moderate and conservative accounts, we sold a few stocks as well: Ventas VTR, Proctor & Gamble PG and Amerigas APU. These were stocks we’ve been looking to sell since earlier this year and this latest volatility gave us a good opportunity to get out.

We’ll use that money to reinvest in a growth tech fund called First Trust Internet Fund FDN and a high-yield fund PIMCO Dynamic Income PDI. We’ve also been taking advantage of some higher paying guarantees from insurance companies like Lincoln Financial Group: their 5-year guarantees are at 4.25% now, which is higher than we’ve seen in 10 years.

Apple AAPL reported their quarterly earnings tonight and judging by the reaction, we may have another down day tomorrow. Fear not though, another down day means stocks are on sale and we have our shopping list ready!

Thanks for reading. Please contact us with any questions.

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Sour Mood

What a difference a week makes. One week ago I was wishing we had more growth stocks and less bonds in some of our accounts. Today, I find myself wishing the exact opposite. I wish we had more bonds and less growth stocks because of the drop in the market the last few days.

The volatility we’ve seen this week goes to show how fragile the stock marketcan be. Just a change in mood has been enough to erase most the gains in our growth portfolio this year.

The quick change of mood in the stock market reminds me of how quickly my two girls’ mood can change. This picture of my daughter Lucy shows just about anything – even struggling to put on a tutu – can send her into a tizzy!

So, let’s try to break down what’s causing the sour mood we’ve witnessed in the stock market the last few days:

1.     Economy is still doing well. Unemployment? Low! Economy? Growing! You would think this is good news, but it turns out that it’s not. Jerome Powell from the Federal Reserve wants to raise interest rates more aggressively to slow the economy down so we don’t get inflation. This good news then becomes bad news for the stock market.

2.     Growth and Tech companies are overpriced. These high-growth names, some of which we have in our growth portfolio, were too expensive and are due for a pullback to more normal levels. We’ve felt this way for a long time, but they just kept going up. Unfortunately, when stocks pull back, they don’t do so gently. Hence the saying, stocks take the stairs up, but the elevator down!

3.     China trade worries. Even though we were able to strike a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, a new trade deal with China doesn’t seem to be coming together. My opinion is there’s not much motivation on the part of our president to get this deal done until closer to his election in 2020. Although I hope we get a deal before then, we might have to wait.

There is certainly more to the story than this, but I believe this is most of it. So, what should we do?

1.     Sit tight. Let the rest of this downturn play out and as we head into earnings season and nerves settle down. Companies are reporting earnings as soon as tonight and are expected to continue to show good growth because of the tax reform from last year.

2.     Invest more. After things settle down, we’ll consider adding to the investments from money still in cash. We’ve done this many times now: March 2009, July 2011, Jan 2016, June 2016, Feb 2018… Without exception, putting money to work in the midst of a downturn has been a good decision, including earlier this year.

3.     Discuss other options. If you find yourself in a sour mood about your particular situation, please contact us so we can address those feelings and discuss what changes, if any, we should make to your portfolio in the future.

Just to put this into perspective: there are concerns about the economy – there always are – but, these concerns are mostly in-line with a stock market that’s been growing for a long time now (i.e. higher interest rates, overpriced companies).  While we may be due for a pullback, we don’t expect a crisis like what we went through ten years ago when the wheels were falling off our financial system.

Although it’s uncomfortable to watch values drop, we are comfortable knowing these events are not permanent and we hope to return to normal soon.

Thanks for reading. Please contact us with any questions.

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®