Eq: Large Cap
There are a lot of anniversaries to pay attention to this month, not least of which is the 10-year anniversary of the Financial Crisis. This has unsurprisingly sparked a whole wave of articles portending the next crisis. However, another kind of anniversary might be even more troublesome—that stocks are now higher priced than in the dotcom era. While the S&P 500’s P/E ratio is still not quite as high as then, rich valuations are more pervasive now, and price to sales valuations are higher, according to one market analyst. Actually, price to sales is the more worrying metric as stocks in the S&P 500 are now trading at 2.7x revenue versus just 1.2x in 2000.
FINSUM: Stocks are very richly valued right now, that is certain. However, that does not, in itself, portend any immediate problem for the market.
JP Morgan just published what could be the most well-documented financial crisis forecast ever written. The bank’s quant team put out a 143-age report chronicling how the next crisis will unfold which features the opinions of almost 50 of Wall Street’s top analysts and strategists. The consensus is that there will be a major “liquidity crisis” with huge selloffs in major asset classes, and no one to step in to buy. The losses will be exacerbated by the shift to passive management and the rise of algorithmic trading. JP Morgan says that the Fed and other central banks may even need to directly buy stocks, and there could even be negative income taxes. The bank thinks the crisis will hit sometime after the first half of 2019, most likely in 2020.
FINSUM: Assessing the validity of these kinds of predictions is always hard. While we have no idea about the timing, or whether this will actually happen, the argument is well thought out and quite logical.
The Fed seems almost certain to hike later this month, as well as in December. Rates heading higher looks like a certainty. So what does that mean for high yielding equity sectors which many Americans rely on for dividend income? The answer is a mixed picture. Pure rate-driven sectors like utilities, real estate, and telecoms will likely be hurt, but high-yielders like healthcare and and consumer staples should hold up better because their businesses can generate a lot of cash that can be returned to shareholders via dividends and buybacks.
FINSUM: Pharma has returned over 12% this year while real estate is just around 2%, showing how the former can outperform in rising rate environments.
A REIT as an ETF might be an odd concept for some advisors. Since REITS are a special asset class unto themselves, and ETF made up of them could seem foreign. Their big advantage is that they are much cheaper than actively managed real estate strategies. However, risks abound, especially as many REITs tend to focus only on the US market, which could be very risky at the moment. One good REIT ETF is the Schwab US REIT, which has returned over 5% this year despite rising rates, and sports a 4%+ yield. Schwab points out that one of the best parts of REITS is that they “do not move in lockstep with either stocks or bonds.” The Vanguard Real Estate ETF is another good REIT choice. For global exposure try the SPDR Dow Jones Global Real Estate.
FINSUM: We like REITs in principal, but rates are a big worry at the moment. They seem like a good way to earn yield right now, but should probably be hedged.
Safe dividend stocks are absolutely prized by America’s retirees. No group relies on dividends more than retirees, and most seek safe and reliable dividends with underlying businesses that can provide some price appreciation too. With that in mind, three stocks to look at are McDonalds, Corning, and Starbucks. All three companies have strong and growing businesses and seem committed to rewarding shareholders. They also have the formidable capital position to be able to invest in continuing robust growth even in changing times.
FINSUM: We don’t know much about Corning, but McDonalds seems like a good bet to us. The company has responded well to the shifts in consumer tastes and it has been innovative in adapting its menu and model to the new environment.
Retail clients, and some advisors, are adopting an increasingly defensive outlook on the market as the economy roars and rate hikes look more and more certain (not to mention soaring valuations). So what are the best defensive ETFs to protect a portfolio? The range of defensive strategies is broad—from dividend-focused, to shorting, to multi-factor. Some of the most popular include the AdvisorShares Dorsey Wright Short ETF, the Fidelity Dividend ETF for Rising Rates, or the Principal Mega-Cap Multi-Factor Index ETF.
FINSUM: It seems a smart choice to have defense ETFs be a decent portion of one’s portfolio right now. That said, we would be anxious to make shorting-focused ETFs a substantial holding.