17 Jan 2014

How We Use Past Performance

Yesterday’s insight about the Morningstar Manager of the Year generated a lot of interest and feedback from readers.  Thank you!  I appreciate your replies and make it a point to respond to all of them. While we’re on the subject, I also want to thank you for completing the satisfaction survey that we sent 10 days ago. I am pleased to report that when you were asked whether you would… Read More

16 Jan 2014

Morningstar’s Manager of the Year

Markets were higher today on upbeat earnings and manufacturing data.  The S&P 500 closed at an all time high and is now up 0.07 percent for the year!  Who knew such a little return could be so exciting. Much of the excitement about earnings came from Bank of America (BAC), which posted its highest annual profit since the financial crisis.  Back in 2007, when BAC had a market capitalization of… Read More

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13 Jan 2014

Bond Yields – Spread ’em

Stocks were almost back to even for the year when investors pulled back yesterday beginning after the lunch hour.  There was no obvious single driver sending prices lower, although it appears to have started in consumer discretionary stocks, where losses were the heaviest, down -1.94 percent on news from the retail sector about a slow Christmas. The nervousness among stock investors has sent bond prices higher with the yield on… Read More

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13 Jan 2014

December Jobs Data Disappoints

Markets were slightly higher on Friday despite the surprisingly weak employment situation that was well below expectations. Bonds rallied sharply on the report with the yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond dropping almost one tenth of one percent, from 2.97 percent to 2.88 percent on Friday.

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10 Jan 2014

Are You Liquid?

US stocks were narrowly lower yesterday as markets effectively stood still in front of the employment report coming out this morning.  Bond prices have gained ground as the 10-year Treasury note yield fell to 2.98 percent. Earnings season officially started yesterday with Alcoa, the aluminum maker, whose earnings were poor on two impairment charges for acquisitions made a decade ago.  At the same time, Alcoa reported a settlement with the… Read More

9 Jan 2014

Inflation Measurement or Manipulation?

  US stock markets were almost absolutely flat yesterday, as seen investors digested the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) December minutes. Recall that this was the meeting where the Fed decided to slow down their monthly bond-purchasing program to $75 billion per month, so the minutes were particularly interesting. There were no major surprises (hence the stock markets collective yawn), but it was good to see that there was widespread… Read More

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8 Jan 2014

Growth vs Value in 2013

Looking back at the year that was in 2013, one of the most interesting questions in my opinion is which style won: growth or value?  Before answering the question, let’s take a quick minute to discuss these two styles. In short, value is the tendency for cheap stocks to outperform expensive stocks.  Simple enough, right?  It sounds like something legendary investor Ben Graham or his prodigious student Warren Buffet might… Read More

7 Jan 2014

Ring in the New Year Right

I want to take a day off from looking back at 2013 and forward at 2014, but don’t worry, there is much more in store for you in the coming days.  Today, I want to share with you one of my New Year’s Day rituals.   Credit Review First, I visit www.myfico.com and get my credit report from all three agencies.  MyFico costs about $55 for all three and there… Read More

5 Jan 2014

Less Than Great Expectations

Markets were quiet Friday, partly because last week was the last time to pack in unused vacation days or make the most out of a the partial week. Add in a snowstorm in the northeast and not much happens. Friday was a day of Fed speeches, including Bernanke’s last as Fed Chairman.  Over the weekend, I watched Zero Dark Thirty, the dramatic account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. … Read More

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