Eq: Large Cap
It has been stewing for a while, but antitrust regulation regarding some of the stock market’s largest companies is starting to look like more of a reality. However, it is not in the way one might expect. Trump has long said he wanted to work on anti-trust regulation—with Amazon the frequent target of his ire—but now he is taking steps that actually support big companies and corporate power. The way the administration is going about is through the Justice Department filing many legal arguments in cases where it is not even a party. In this way, it is trying to influence how the courts handle competition cases, and it has generally been pushing patent-holder friendly positions and undercutting lawsuits of other enforcement agencies.
FINSUM: This does not track very well with Trump’s general rhetoric, but it does follow a general Republican economic line. It seems positive for stocks.
At this point it might seem natural to think that the stock market simply rises a bit everyday. Stocks have been so steady and so quiet for so long that it is almost disconcerting. The current “quiet” streak is one of the longest ever. The current number of days without a 1% move is the sixth longest streak since 1969 and the third longest since 1995. One analyst described the situation this way, saying “Right now it’s very, very tough to fight this trend … There’s a reinvigoration in the idea that we will see better growth”.
FINSUM: The huge rise in stocks from the Crisis through the last decade was generally characterized by steadiness. We don’t see this as any surprise.
If you are looking for dividends in this low rate world, you still have some good options. What about dividend growth stocks? They can be a nice investment in a low rate market, but where to look? Healthcare and tech stocks look like a great place. Analysts think dividends in those sectors will rise 10% and 9% respectively, handily outperforming dividend-focused sectors like utilities and REITs. Healthcare looks particularly healthy. Check out Abbvie (5.3% yield), Gilead 3.9%), Pfizer (3.9%), and Eli Lilly (2.2%).
FINSUM: Profits in healthcare have been ballooning and executives seem to be quite focused on returning money to shareholders.
It should not be this easy to beat the Dow, but it is. In the last ten years, investors could have used a very simple strategy to outperform the index by a significant level. The strategy is called “Dogs of the Dow”, which is the method of buying the ten highest yielding stocks in the Dow. Over the last decade, the strategy outperformed the index in 7 years and overall outpaced the Dow by 1.7% per year, returning an average of 15% per year for a decade. It also outperformed the S&P 500 considerably.
FINSUM: Who sad value investing is dead? This is a classic strategy that has worked to great effect.
The best thing an investor can do right now is to ignore all the market predictions being released for 2020. Every research department has to put out a prediction, and most of them are not worth the paper they are written on. So what does one do? Invest in dividend stocks. It is an important but preciously little known fact that the lowly dividend has historically accounted for 45% of all stock market returns. They are also tangible and predictable in a way stock prices are not, giving them a crucial place in a portfolio.
FINSUM: An additional stimulus for dividend stocks is that the aging population is hungry for them since bond yields are so anemic. Check out AT&T at 5.3%.
The media is currently doing its level best to scare junk bond investors. There have been many analyst and media warnings lately about the pending fall of high yield bonds (some of which we have featured). Most argue that in an economic downturn, BBB bonds will suffer. Others says there has been no rise in underlying performance to justify the rise in prices. Others have focused on CCCs and their movements. Initially the worry was that CCCs had not rallied like the rest of the market, which was taken as a sign of deteriorating credit conditions. Now the media is warning (see Barron’s) that since they have rallied, it is again a warning sign.
FINSUM: Everything is a warning sign! Our own feeling is that we are generally moving toward a more risk-on environment and the trend for high yield is improving as the economic outlook does.