Category: Equities


Reaching for Returns

7.5%. That’s been the annual return assumption of pension funds for decades. What mix of assets is required to generate such a return? The answer to that question has changed dramatically over the past 40 years. Let’s take a closer look… January 1981 In 1981, short-term Treasury bills were yielding over 15%, near their highest […]

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How the “Buy the Dip” Generation Came to Be

“Buy the dip.” This has been the mantra for an entire generation of investors. Why? Because we are creatures of habit, and during the last 12 years the best habit you could possibly have had as an investor was to stop worrying and simply “buy the dip.” The fact that dips were often followed in […]

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Expectations Are Everything

This is a story about expectations. But first, I want you to read about Company A and Company B… Company A had revenues of $66.81 billion over the last year and net income of $7.14 billion. It was founded in 1912 and has 114,000 employees. Company B had revenues of $851 million over the last […]

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Where Greatness Lies

Investors today are experiencing one of the calmest markets in history: The S&P 500 has posted a positive return in each of the last 7 months (February – August), and has done so with bond-like volatility (5.2% vs. 5.2% historical average for the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate). This is lower than over 98% of historical periods […]

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When Valuation Matters

“But valuation doesn’t matter anymore.” You’ve probably heard that statement in some form or fashion over the last year as we’ve witnessed a rolling series of manias in markets like never before. And indeed it is true – at least in the moment. During a parabolic advance, sentiment and herd behavior easily trump valuation and […]

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Home Bias and the Best Time to Diversify

“Invest in what you know.” A common piece of advice that’s often taken to heart. Familiarity breeds comfort, and the more comfortable you with an investment, the more likely you are to own it. Which is another way of saying that our feelings and emotions are the primary drivers of our investment decisions, not data […]

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The Ultimate Superpower in Investing

Here’s a list of the top 30 stocks in the S&P 500 over the past 30 years… What stands out? The unfathomable returns, a product of time and the magic of compounding. What’s lost in this graphic, however, are the many periods of excruciating pain that anyone invested in these companies would have experienced. When […]

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A Guide to Moving from Cash to Investments

This is a story many of you will be familiar with. You have money to invest that’s been sitting in cash, either from the sale of a business, a recent inheritance, or built-up savings. This is money you don’t expect to need or access for more than 20 years, if ever. You know that cash […]

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Do Low Interest Rates Justify High Valuations?

You’ve heard the story before: Equity valuations are high… Interest rates are low…. Therefore, high valuations are “justified” by lower interest rates. Why? Some say it’s because stocks are simply the present value of their future cash flows. And lower interest rates (r) in the denominator of that equation should result in a higher present value, and […]

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What Can You Do About High Valuations?

Valuations in the US are high, exceeding all prior periods in history with the exception of the dot-com bubble (March 1998 to December 2000).1 The long-run implications of higher valuations? Lower future returns and higher volatility/drawdowns, on average (see recent post). The natural question that follows: what, if anything, can an investor do about this? […]

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Stocks, Bonds, and Higher Inflation

US inflation expectations continue to rise, now at their highest levels since 2008. If higher inflation is coming (see here for some signs), many investors are wondering how that will impact their portfolio. Let’s take a look at how stocks and bonds have performed historically under various levels of inflation… If we segment calendar year […]

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When a Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Don’t miss our latest insights. Sign up here for our free newsletter… 96.8% of stocks in the S&P 500 are above their 200-day moving average. This is the highest percentage ever. When this many stocks are participating in a rising market, many consider it a sign of strength (“good breadth”) and a bullish indicator for […]

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The Most Important Rule in Investing

“Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.” – Warren Buffett With all due respect to Warren Buffett, the most important rule in investing is not anything close to “never lose money.” In fact, the entire notion is absurd. Anyone who has ever invested in the history of the […]

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What Does a Manufacturing Boom Mean for Stocks?

US manufacturing is booming. In a report released last week, the ISM Manufacturing Index moved up to 64.7, its highest level since 1983. Many are saying that’s great news for the stock market because higher manufacturing activity is evidence of a stronger economy. This seems logical but does the data support such a conclusion? And […]

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The 2 Most Powerful Forces in Markets

Momentum and Mean Reversion. The two most powerful forces in markets. Momentum dictates that what has done the best in the past will continue to do the best and Mean Reversion just the opposite – where what is done the worst will eventually do the best, reverting back to its mean. That both can be […]

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A Billion a Day

Years from now, we’ll look back and say it was obvious. That the signs of a historic mania were clear as day, with a billion a day in SPACs being the most prominent. You read that correctly: $1 billion per day has been raised in the SPAC IPO market this year, an astounding figure. At […]

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Is This 1929 or 1998?

The CAPE Ratio just crossed above 39.1 In layman’s terms, what exactly does that mean? Equity valuations in the US are quite high. How high? Going back to 1871, the only periods in history with a CAPE above 39 are as follows… September 1929 March 1998 to January 2001 Today In September 1929, the CAPE […]

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The Day the Stock Market Became a Video Game

Years from now we’ll look back at today as the day the stock market became a video game, replete with a cast of characters and a storyline to compete with the best of them. To be sure, it didn’t happen overnight. It’s been slowly building towards gamification since the start of the pandemic. Stuck at […]

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Tesla and True Believers

Every bull market has a company that captures the hearts and minds of its investors. Today that company – more than any other – is Tesla. At a market cap of $834 billion, it recently surpassed Facebook to become the 5th largest company in the US. A year ago it had a market cap of […]

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A Clear Signal of Insanity

There’s been a lot of crazy things going on in markets lately, but this one may top them all. Last Thursday morning, Elon Musk sent out this tweet to his 41 million followers… What’s Signal? It’s a messaging app for your phone and an alternative to WhatsApp, which has been criticized recently for privacy concerns […]

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Bonds for the Long Run?

Over the last 20 years, long-term bonds have outperformed stocks (350% vs. 284%). Needless to say, this outcome will come as a surprise to many… (Note: in this post I’m using the S&P 500 Index Fund (VFINX) as the proxy for “stocks” and the Vanguard Long-Term Investment Grade Bond Fund (VWESX) as the proxy for […]

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Pandemic + Recession = Multiple Expansion?

The S&P 500’s P/E ratio has moved from 20.6 at the start of 2020 to 30.3 today, on pace for the highest year-end multiple in history. How is this possible in a year with a global pandemic and the largest economic contraction since the Great Depression? Investors are anticipating much brighter days ahead, with the […]

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245x Sales: The Most Highly Valued Large Cap Company in History?

Snowflake’s price to sales ratio just hit 245 (using TTM sales of $490 million). With a current market cap of $120 billion, this begs the question: has there ever been a company in history as large as Snowflake with a higher valuation? I don’t believe so. Back in the dot-com mania, Cisco briefly hit a […]

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IPO Fever and a Look Back at IPOs Over the Last 10 Years

2020 has become a boom year for IPOs, and it’s not over yet. In the next few weeks Airbnb (ABNB), Doordash (DASH), Wish (WISH), and Roblox (RBLX) are all expected to go public. In November, we saw the highest number of new IPO filings in the last 20 years. Why are companies rushing to cash […]

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