When Market Calls are Wrong

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA. My recent market call now looks premature.  What lessons can we learn? When we make market predictions, we will inevitably be wrong some of the time.  I stuck my neck out at the start of June, saying "We're near the peak."  I later gave some numbers to allow readers to objectively judge if that call was right or wrong.  I said that we should consider it an accurate call if the S&P 500 fell 20% (to 756) before it rose 5% (to 992.)  The S&P 500 has not yet come near 756, but it closed...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part II: How Much To Invest

Tom Konrad, CFA In Green Energy Investing for Beginners, Part I, gave information to guide the choice of green investment vehicles (mutual funds, ETFs, or stocks.) This article is intended to help investors decide how much of their money to put into those vehicles. An informed decision of how much to invest in green energy is at least as important as how you make the investment.  The choice between green Exhange Traded Funds (ETFs) and green Mutual funds rests on a difference of about one percent per year, caused by differences in fees.  Yet in the first three quarters...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part IV: Model Portfolio

Tom Konrad, CFA My target sector allocation for Green Energy Sectors: How much to put in Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Biomass, Biofuels, Energy Efficiency, Alternative Transport, and enabling technologies such as Smart Grid and Transmission. In Part I of this series on green energy investing (see also Part II and Part III), I suggested readers "structure your portfolio to reflect the technologies which are actually going to make a difference."  This is not the same as investing in a market portfolio, because the market tends to overemphasize the most exciting or familiar (as opposed to the most useful) technologies.  This...
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...
Weather Risk Managment: Solar Put

How Weather Risk Transfer Can Help Wind & Solar Development

by Daryl Roberts The Need To Accelerate Renewables Adoption Renewables are growing rapidly as a percentage of new electric generation, but are still being assimilated too slowly and still constitute too small of a fraction of total generation, to be able to transition quickly enough to scale into a low carbon economy in time to mitigate climate change. The issue of providing public support, with subsidies and other reallocation methods, is a politically charged subject. High carbon advocates, for example American Petroleum Institute, argues that support for renewables distorts the market. On the other hand, it has been argued, for example by...
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...

Five Hedging Strategies for Stock Pickers

Investors who feel the market is overvalued have two options: move into other asset classes (cash, bonds), or hedge their market exposure.  Hedging your exposure does not have to be rocket science, but it does require diligent attention to the market and your portfolio.  I recently discussed how it makes sense to be out of the market if you expect that there is a good chance of a large decline, even if that means there is as much of a chance of missing a large upswing as there is a large decline. In my estimation, this is one of...
active vs passive investing

Permaculture Design and Stock Market Investing

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA Passive Investing And Modern Agriculture: Parallels Today's stock market is a dynamic and scary place. Once choosing stocks to invest in based on the fundamental value of the companies they represent (called fundamental or value investing) was the dominant paradigm for investors.  No longer.  In 2017, JP Morgan estimated that only 10 percent of trading came from fundamental investors. The vast majority of trading now comes from computer based algorithmic trading, and passive investors following pre-defined rules, such as index investors.  According to Morningstar, nearly 45 percent of all stocks are owned by passive investors.  These should...

Pop Goes the Clean Energy Stock Bubble

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA 2020 ended with a massive spike in clean energy stock prices.  From the end of October, election euphoria drove Invesco WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (PBW) from $63.32 to $136 at the close on February 9th, a 114% gain in 100 days.   Joe Biden is as strong a supporter of clean energy as Donald Trump was a supporter of big fossil fuel companies, but even with control of the presidency and both chambers of congress, there is a limit to what a president can do in a short time.  This is especially true when their top priority...

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...

Will Climate Advocacy Pay for Shareholders?

On Monday, we learned about big coal companies pushing back against the major US corporations of the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP,) which advocates for mandatory regulation of greenhouse gas with their own lobbyists.   Since I have advocated buying companies that take a proactive stance on climate change, I thought it might be instructive to compare the returns of the original ten members of US-CAP with the returns of the big coal coal companies (more companies have since joined,) over the six months since the Climate Action Partnership issued their Call for Action on Climate Change.   The Payoff ...
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...

Step By Step Fossil Fuel Divesting With Mutual Funds

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA A large and growing number of individual investors are showing an interest in divesting from fossil fuels.  Where in the past I have been asked to give a talk on divestment once every year or two, I’ve spoken on the subject three times so far in 2020.  (Here is a recording of a presentation I did for my college alumni association.) The response to these talks has been overwhelmingly positive, but I’m left with the impression that a lot of the less financially sophisticated attendees are still not sure where to start.  For most of these...
6 month BDI/SALT chart

SALT: Buying the Balitc Dry Dips

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D. CFA The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) is a shipping and trade index created by the London-based Baltic Exchange. It measures changes in the cost of transporting various raw materials, such as coal and steel. Since the BDI is a measure of the income which firms that own dry bulk cargo ships can earn, changes in the BDI tend to drive changes in the stock prices of such companies. Stock Price Correlation Until recently, one such company was Scorpio Bulkers (SALT), one of my Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2021 picks. The chart below shows the last 5 years, with...

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...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part I: Stocks, Mutual Funds, or ETFs

Tom Konrad CFA Investing in green energy can be good for both the climate and your wallet.  How good depends on choosing the right investment vehicles (mutual funds, ETFs, or stocks) and sectors to invest in. This will get you started. More and more investors are investing in green energy.  According to the Cleantech Group, the Cleantech sector is now the largest sector for venture capital investment.   Green Energy is not just for venture capitalists.  Small investors have done well in 2009.  Since the market bottomed at the start of March, the average green energy mutual fund topped...
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