Correction, or Bear Market?

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA On February 21st, I was helping an investment advisor I consult with pick stocks for a new client's portfolio.  He lamented that there were not enough stocks at good valuations. This is one of the hardest parts of being an investment advisor: a client expects the advisor to build a portfolio of stocks which should do well, but sometimes, especially in late stage bull markets, most stocks are overvalued.  I reminded him, "The Constitution does not guarantee anyone the right to good stock picks."  He agreed, but he still had to tell his client that...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part III: Before You Invest

Tom Konrad, CFA Before you consider green stock market investments, invest in yourself. A reader of my article on asset allocation for green energy investors brought up an important point: we may have green opportunities in our own lives, such as improving the energy efficiency of our homes, which will return much safer and higher returns than green stocks, especially when the market as a whole is as overvalued as I currently believe it is. Homeowners typically have a large number of high-return energy efficiency investments they can make.  Since energy efficiency reduces energy use, it both produces returns...
VLEEY vs FR.PA

Trading Options and Foreign Stocks: When Low Trading Volume Is Not Illiquid

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA As usual, I am putting together my Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2020 model portfolio for publication on January 1st or 2nd next year.  As I wrote in November, expensive valuations for the US clean energy income stocks I specialize in mean that the 2020 model portfolio will contain more than the usual number of foreign stocks, and I am also planning on including a little hedging with options. Why option strategies are now affordable I have never included options in the model portfolio before because the commission structure did not make it cost effective for small investors...

Do You Need To Invest In Oil To Benefit From Expensive Oil?

Two months ago, Tom told us how he'd dipped a toe into the black stuff (i.e. bought the OIL etf) on grounds that current supply destruction related to the depressed price of crude oil would eventually lead to the same kind of supply-demand crunch that led oil to spike during the 2004 to mid-2008 period. If you need evidence that the current price of crude is wreaking havoc in the world of oil & gas exploration, look no further than Alberta and its oil sands. The oil sands contain the second largest oil reserves in the world after...

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

With the market's rapid rebound from March lows and the Nasdaq Composite stock index closing higher than it was at the end of last year, many of us are probably asking ourselves: Did I miss my chance to buy at the lows?  or: Will I ever make up for my losses? These questions point to dangerous emotions for stock market investors.  Fear of missing out often leads to investment mistakes.  This is why investment advisors always tell their clients that they are better off not looking at their portfolios in a downturn. A big loss makes some people want to sell everything, for fear...
Permaculture flower - finance

Free Talk: A Permaculture Portfolio

For readers in the Hudson Valley, I will be giving a free talk next Monday night.  I will speak about applying permaculture design principles to your investment strategy.  While I developed my own strategy over the last two decades without any reference to these design principles, now that I'm familiar with them, I realize that I have been thinking along these lines for a long time.  The design principles are remarkably robust and intuitive. I used to think Permaculture was just about redesigning our food systems, but it's much much more than that. The talk is sponsored by the Rondout Valley...

The Catholic Church Shouldn’t be Investing in Abortion Clinics

Tom Konrad CFA Jesus Saves, but where does he invest? Photo via Bigstock. This article is not about the Church, or abortion.  As far as I know, the former does not invest in the latter. This article is about investing, and morality. Since 350.org began its campaign to get endowments and pensions to divest from fossil fuels, I've heard two basic criticisms of the movement from my colleagues in the investment management profession. Endowments selling their fossil fuel investments won't stop us from using fossil...

How to Buy Losers: Tricking Yourself with Cash-Covered Puts

It's that time of year again.  I've started studying for the third (and final) CFA® exam, and my readers are "treated" to my theories of the market and trading.  No stock picks today; put your thinking caps on!  CAPM: Nice Theory, Too Bad About the Market In Level II of the exam, we studied efficient-market theories, such as CAPM and APT.  I actually like an elegant theory (I spent nearly decade of my life studying mathematics), but as a market practitioner, I know the market doesn't work that way.  I learned this lesson the hard way.   Early in my...
ADR

Buying Foreign Stocks: To ADR or Not To ADR

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Since my 10 Clean Energy Stocks for 2021 list contains 5 foreign stocks this year, a reader asked about the relative merits of buying a foreign stock compared to a US ADR.  Here is a summary of the relative merits (for US investors) of buying a foreign stock directly compared to buying the American Depository Receipt (ADR). First, let’s look at the tickers for the five foreign stocks in the list.  There are four types of ticker in the list this year: The stock on its home exchange in the local currency.  These have the form...

Six Simple Steps to Protecting Your Portfolio With Puts

Tom Konrad CFA Storm Sailor (Photo credit: Abaconda) Sailing into a Storm Despite the unresolved European debt crisis and America’s fiscal cliff, stock markets remain buoyant.   With politicians bickering, that is mostly due to aggressive action from central banks.  Yet despite the Federal Reserve’s third (and largest) round of quantitative easing (QE3) and the European Central Bank‘s unlimited bond buying program, politicians still have the capacity to throw a monkey wrench in the world economy.  Worse, doing nothing is all they have to do to mess things up.  Doing nothing is what politicians...
10 clean energy stocks for 2020- total return through March.

Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2020: Trades

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA Four weeks ago, I predicted that the 12% market correction we had seen would turn into a true bear market.  Bear markets are often defined as a decline of more than 20% for the major market indexes, but I find it more useful to focus on long term changes in investor sentiment. What I did not predict was just how severe the effect of the coronovirus shutdown would be on the economy.  I thought we would need the combined of the effect of the shutdown and investors re-assessing their risk tolerance to bring us into full...

Market Call: We’re Near the Peak

Tom Konrad, Ph.D. The current rally from the March 5 bottom has been breathtaking, especially in Clean Energy, with my Clean Energy Tracking Portfolio up 70.5% since it was assembled at the end of February (as of May 1), 11% higher than it was at the three month update last week, and the S&P 500 is up 41% from its March low.  Even in a better economic climate, gains of this magnitude would have me running for cover.  In the current economic climate, with a gigantic mountain of debt keeping consumers out of the stores, makes me feel this...

The Big Short and Picking a Money Manager

If you're going to have someone else manage your money, consider their incentives carefully. I just finished reading Micheal Lewis's excellent book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine on the Wall Street's role in the subprime mortgage meltdown and the few investors who saw it coming. I began with a low opinion of the effectiveness of the vast majority fund managers and advisors who manage other people's money for a living, but the the highly-paid gross negligence and/or incompetence of the people running the CDO operations of the big Wall Street banks in the years leading...

An Elephant Hunter Explains Inflection Point Investing

John Petersen In "An Elephant Hunter Explains Market Dynamics" I discussed the two basic types of public companies; earnings-driven companies that are “bought” in top-tier weighing machine markets and event-driven companies that are “sold” in lower-tier voting machine markets. Today I'll get a bit more granular and show how "sold" companies usually fall into one of two discrete sub-classes that have a major impact on their stock market valuations. As a starting point, I'll ignore the China-based companies that are listed in the US because their quirky metrics would only confuse the analysis. Then I'll break...

A Quick Clean Energy Tracking Portfolio

Yesterday, I outlined a strategy to approximately replicate the performance of a Clean Energy mutual fund at much lower cost, with only a couple hours of effort.  I gave a cost example based on $5000 invested in 5 stocks, with another $1000 worth of a single stock added in each subsequent year.   This is the procedure I would use to select the initial five stocks. Collect all the top five or ten holdings of the available Clean Energy mutual funds.  This data is available from Morningstar, and on fund sponsor's home pages. A few of these holdings may...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners: How Many Stocks Should You Own?

Tom Konrad, CFA In stock portfolios, deciding how many stocks to own involves weighing a trade off.   A smaller portfolio can be built (and sold) with fewer commissions, and also requires less time to research.  On the other hand, a portfolio with fewer stocks will gain fewer benefits of diversification, and likely be both more volatile and harder to sell in a crisis.  These trade offs are also affected by the size of the portfolio, and the market capitalization and liquidity of the companies in the portfolio. Diversification is widely accepted as a nearly costless way to reduce...
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