Category Archives: Economy

Market Summary

Posted April 13, 2018 by paragon. tags:Tags: , , , , , ,
Changes Ahead_opt

Written by David Young, President & Founder of Paragon Wealth Management

The markets have been strong the past few years — and they have been exceptionally strong since Donald Trump was elected. Most of the strength was based on investor expectations. Specifically, that Trump’s free market policies and tax reform would benefit stock prices. As a result, last year the markets were up 10 to 20 percent depending on the market. Volatility was almost nonexistent.

The broad market hit a peak on Jan. 26, 2018. Since then, volatility has picked up significantly and the market has been acting more like its old self. Three issues are currently pushing it around.

First, valuations have been at the upper end of fair value for some time. Whenever valuations get this high, investors start looking for reasons to sell rather than buy. They tend to look at everything through a negative lens.

Second, Trump has been pushing a protectionist trade agenda and recently announced tariffs against China. Investors do not like tariffs. Throughout history, tariffs have always caused more harm than good. Every time tariff news comes out, the market sells off.

Third, tech stocks (specifically the FANG stocks, i.e. Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Google and Amazon) have been leading the market up for the last 18 months. But recently, they have had more than their share of bad news, which is causing them to put a downward pressure on the market.

Overall, excellent market fundamentals are still in place, which forces us to stay invested. However, with interest rates slowly rising, we are on “high alert” more than we have been in some time.

CHANGES AT PARAGON

If When I founded Paragon 32 years ago, it was because I couldn’t find a fiduciary firm that managed my money the way I wanted.

I had sold several businesses and needed a place to invest my hard-earned money. I met with Shearson Lehman, Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch and Northwestern Mutual, to name just a few. None fit the bill.

I wanted them to invest my money as if it were their own. I wanted to cut unnecessary investment costs wherever possible. I wanted a proactive investment manager who would adjust my account depending on whether the markets were going up, down, or sideways. I didn’t want them to passively buy an investment, hold it forever, and pray it worked out.

When I started Paragon, I was trading through Fidelity Investments. Each of my clients had to sign a limited power of attorney so I could trade their accounts. We called in our trades on land phone lines, one by one, because there was no internet.

After a few years, Charles Schwab became the leader in the newly developed RIA industry. They were at the cutting edge. We moved from Fidelity to Charles Schwab, because Schwab allowed us to provide the best technology and lowest costs to our clients.

We have been at Charles Schwab for almost 25 years and have enjoyed that working relationship. However, after an in-depth review, it is time for a change. Looking to the future, we believe making some significant changes will provide our clients with a better technology platform, lower transaction costs and outstanding client service.

We did not make this decision lightly. Moving 330+ accounts and upgrading multiple technology platforms is not my idea of a good time.

But change is always painful … in the short term. We are doing this because it will allow us to better serve you and provide you with the best technology available to trade and monitor your accounts.

TD AMERITRADE

TD Ameritrade is at the forefront of technology in the Registered Investment Advisor space. TD Ameritrade is a leader in trade execution. We have negotiated trade pricing that is either the same or one-fourth the cost of what we were paying, depending on the account. Better trade execution and lower costs ultimately lead to better investment results.

Safety and security of the accounts is of the utmost importance. TD Ameritrade is committed to delivering one of the highest levels of security in the industry and carries FDIC, SIPC and additional insurance against fraud up to $152 million per client.

ORION

In conjunction with moving to TD Ameritrade, we will also be implementing a new portfolio administration package from the industry leader, Orion. The Orion platform will cost Paragon five times more annually than our current provider, but that cost will not be passed on to our clients. Your costs will go down while ours go up. We believe you are worth it.

In addition to enhanced trade order management, cost basis, tax reporting, compliance, and RMD distributions, this state-of-the-art Orion platform will provide you with an incredible array of tools.

Each client will have an online portal, which will provide them with immediate access to accounts and performance across multiple timeframes. We will build these reports for you, as simple or as complicated as you desire. We will use an aggregator, which will allow you to view any of your bank accounts, or other financial accounts that are outside of Paragon. You will have immediate access to your accounts and a variety of reports via your smartphone, computer or through the mail — whichever you prefer.

EVEN MORE…

In an effort to provide you with the best client service, we will also be upgrading our client contact software. This industry-leading client software, known as “Wealthbox,” will allow our staff to take your already excellent service experience to the next level.

Finally, we are significantly upgrading our Financial Planning Software. The state-of-the-art software will make it easier to build and update your plan online. Your plans will be updated daily since they pull in the data data directly from your investment accounts. They will also be available online through your portal. Whether it is a Retirement Income plan, a tax estimate, a Roth Conversion, or Social Security Optimization, our hope is to make it easy for you to understand your plan, access it and update it as needed.

Our ultimate goal is to provide you with the VERY BEST in the Investment Advisor space. We are excited with these enhancements, and over the coming months, we will reach out to you as we get everything put in place.

Disclaimer: 1. Investment performance reflects time-weighted, size-weighted geometric composite returns of actual client accounts. 2. Investment returns are net of all management fees and transaction costs, and reflect the reinvestment of all dividends and distributions.  3. The S&P Index is a market-value weighted index comprised of 500 stocks selected for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index is a benchmark index made up of the Barclays Government/Corporate Bond Index.  4. Benchmarks are used for comparative purposes only. The Paragon Top Flight Portfolio is not designed to track the S&P Index and will have results different from the benchmark. The Paragon Managed Income Portfolio is not designed to track the Barclays Bond Aggregate Index. 5. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Back To Normal?

Posted April 11, 2018 by paragon. tags:Tags: , , , ,
Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 4_opt

Written by Nathan White, Chief Investment Officer

After a tremendous start in January (and what seemed like a continuation of 2017), the markets finally hit some long-anticipated turbulence in February and March.

The stock market had been riding a nice wave. Last quarter, I suggested it was a prudent time to review allocations and risk exposure while the markets were doing well. Now that volatility has returned, let’s review current conditions and factors, as well as future considerations.

The current economic conditions are generally considered to be exemplary of the late stage of an economic cycle. However, cycles can run longer than anticipated, and there is no way to know exactly when they will end. The effects of the fiscal stimulus are helping to extend the economic cycle, but they could also increase the potential for inflation to finally rear its head. A characteristic of a late economic cycle is where the economy continues to do well, but asset price declines or increases only moderately.

A research report from NDR (Ned Davis Research, Economics/Global Comment March 2018) indicates that two-thirds of countries are growing above their long-term growth potential, which last happened in 2000 and 2007 before major recessions. However, the dangerous threshold could still be a year or so out, and the timing can be tricky. Does this mean we are bearish? No. We are just getting cautious. There are still a lot of positives, but it is our job to investigate the risks.

Our risk models are indicating a rise in risk. Our trend and breadth models, while still bullish overall, have deteriorated. We are monitoring these closely. Equity valuations are still broadly high, but earnings are forecasted to grow nearly 20% for the year. We will be watching for changes to these results and expectations. Another characteristic of a late economic cycle is a flattening yield curve. This occurs when short-term rates exceed long-term rates. The curve has been flattening as the Federal Reserve increases interest rates, but for various reasons, long-term yields have not moved commensurately. The following graphic on the next page helps put the current environment in perspective.

Investing is a long-term game, and trying to time exits can be hazardous to returns — especially if future returns are harder to come by (i.e. lower). You will need to keep exposure to get returns. Stay invested — but be flexible in the mix of those investments.

Remember, pullbacks are a normal part of market action and create opportunities. What is not normal is the absence of pullbacks (like we experienced in 2017). The trillions of dollars — pumped into the markets by global central banks since the Financial Crisis — has smoothed out volatility and market corrections. The latter should increase as central banks begin to reverse course. Keeping interest rates so low for so long has encouraged massive borrowing at cheap rates. Corporate borrowing has surged with U.S. companies’ debt reaching their highest levels since 2000. Many companies have been able to borrow at rates and amounts that wouldn’t

have been possible in a “normal” rate environment. As rates rise, the cost of servicing this debt will increase and could expose many weak hands. This is healthy in the long-term, though, as it discourages wasteful or inefficient use of precious resources. The real question is that as credit conditions normalize, what will be the effects on markets and the economy? I believe current market conditions to be exemplary of returning to a more normal environment.

STRATEGY REVIEW

The S&P 500 ended down for the quarter, and only two of 11 S&P 500 sectors posted gains and outperformed — Technology and Consumer Discretionary. Bonds were also down for the quarter as they face an uphill battle of rising interest rates. Within TopFlight, all three of the strategies (Fundamental, Momentum, and Seasonality) were up slightly for the quarter. Some of the best performers within our Momentum strategy were Nvidia, NetApp and Micron Technology. Our small cap momentum stocks generally lagged in the first quarter but closed the gap by quite a bit in March. Within our Fundamental stocks, the best performers were Northrup Grumman, Ruths Hospitality and Eastman Chemical. After a difficult 2017, our Seasonality strategy posted a gain for the quarter as well. We continue to like the valuation position of our current stock holdings. Their collective forward P/E (price/earnings) multiple is about 14.8 versus 17.4 for the S&P 500, which is about 15% less expensive. Many of these holdings are industrial and materials companies that could benefit more from the tax cuts and possible infrastructure spending.

Our Managed Income portfolio ended the quarter slightly down, primarily due to the slide in equities. We continue to maintain about 40% of the portfolio in short-term corporate bonds, which will allow us to capture the rise in interest rates without getting hit with significant capital losses. Another 15% of the portfolio is in intermediate Treasuries. We continue to avoid long-term bonds.

Going forward, our models still indicate a reasonable case for further stock market gains, but probably not on the level of past years. Inflation trends are still positive for now, and the strong economy and earnings growth outweigh the concerns I discussed earlier. But as the risks increase and the economic cycle matures, it is important to have a more flexible approach with your investments to control risks and take advantage of opportunities. This is exactly the way we like to manage investments.

If you have questions about your allocation and risk exposure, please give us a call. We are here and happy to help.

Disclaimer: 1. Investment performance reflects time-weighted, size-weighted geometric composite returns of actual client accounts. 2. Investment returns are net of all management fees and transaction costs, and reflect the reinvestment of all dividends and distributions.  3. The S&P Index is a market-value weighted index comprised of 500 stocks selected for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index is a benchmark index made up of the Barclays Government/Corporate Bond Index.  4. Benchmarks are used for comparative purposes only. The Paragon Top Flight Portfolio is not designed to track the S&P Index and will have results different from the benchmark. The Paragon Managed Income Portfolio is not designed to track the Barclays Bond Aggregate Index. 5. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Not What Anyone Expected

Posted January 20, 2018 by paragon. tags:Tags: , ,
Snow Trees_opt

Written by David Young, President and Founder of Paragon Wealth Management

Two-thousand and seventeen was a banner year for stocks. Not just in the U.S., but around the world. Investors with a long-term perspective were rewarded once again.

It was not a good year for the market forecasters. Their primary talent is consistency — and they were consistently wrong.

At the beginning of last year, most Wall Street Strategists forecasted a gain of 4% or less for the upcoming 2017. The actual gains were five times more than those projections. Following their advice would have been disastrous.

Between U.S. tensions with North Korea, the new presidential administration, and the state of politics in America, the forecast was increased market turmoil. Instead, we saw a calm in the markets we had not seen in decades. The VIX, which is a measure of market volatility, unbelievably closed below a level of “10” more times last year than any other year in its history.

In addition, the forecasts regarding global growth and inflation were off base. If you have been a client for a while, you understand why we never invest based on market forecasts.

Successful investors, on the other hand, focused on the upbeat fundamentals. Corporate profit growth was sparked by economic gains at home and abroad. The political push to decrease regulations and effectively free the “free market,” combined with the recently passed tax plan, increased positive expectations even more.

The U.S. economy grew at 3.3% in the third quarter. That was the second quarter in a row the GDP exceeded 3% — a feat that hasn’t occurred in three years. Even more impressive, fourth quarter estimates by the NY Fed expect GDP to come in at almost 4%, which is higher than anyone previously forecast.

The S&P 500 performance reflected the strength of the economy and was positive every single month in 2017. That has not happened since 1970.

PARAGON PORTFOLIOS 

An interesting surprise with this year’s rally is how many individual investors did not benefit from it. Throughout the last nine-year surge, after the devastating market of 2008, individual investors have continuously pulled money out of funds that own U.S. stocks. Nearly $1 Trillion has been pulled out since the start of 2012, according to EPFR Global, a fund tracking firm.

From a trading perspective, this has been a difficult market. Why? When markets consistently go up they don’t require a lot of trading. They require you to be in the right place and hang on.

Additionally, straight up markets, like the one we experienced last year, create false confidence amongst investors. Many people decide they are investment geniuses. And they are … until they aren’t anymore.

Investing based on luck, without a strategy, is impossible to replicate. Since no one knows in advance when the market is going to go up, go down, or run sideways, relying on luck rather than strategy eventually catches up with investors. Just like the temporarily successful gambler, it is just a matter of time before they implode and suffer significant losses. As the saying goes, no one rings a bell at the top when it is time to sell.

And then there were Bitcoin experts this holiday season. They sought me out at seemingly every event I went to. But they had a puzzled look on their face when I asked them to explain exactly “what” it was that they were investing in, or why their Bitcoin fortune would vanish if they lost their account password.

Another axiom we dodged this year was that traditional wisdom of “sell in May and go away.” If we had done that, we would have missed significant gains between May and November. That was another obstacle that could have cut your returns by more than half. Fortunately. our models kept us invested all year.

Overall, we were pleased with our portfolios. All performed well in the context of the risk level they are invested in.

Managed Income acts as the anchor to the portfolios. As long as interest rates stay pushed to the floor, its returns will be relatively low, but still better than bank rates. On a positive note, it looks as though we may see an increase in rates this year, which should help Managed Income. Regardless, its primary purpose is to provide stability for our portfolios.

Top Flight, with all of the changes we made a year ago, performed well. If you would like more detail on the three portfolios — momentum, fundamental and seasonality — that make up Top Flight, give us a call and we will happily walk you through them.

The new Balanced Portfolio and the two Private Funds both had a strong performance this year as well.

GOING FORWARD 

Our Consumer confidence or individual optimism is the highest it has been in 17 years. Investor sentiment is also the most bullish it has been as far back as we are able to track it.

This puts us in a tricky spot. Historically, we know that as investor sentiment moves higher we are approaching a market correction. The theory is that once everyone who is going to invest is invested, there is no one left to push the market higher.

The difficulty with market sentiment as an indicator is timing — you don’t know exactly when such a correction will occur. As a result, we are also watching internal market technicals but with a more skeptical eye than normal. Trend indicators, Advance/Decline lines, Industry Breadth, etc. all still look good.

Last year we updated Top Flight with our best individual stock models. In an effort to match or exceed the returns of the broad markets, we tied Top Flight’s more directly to those broad markets than we had historically. Our belief is it is better for Top Flight to accept more short-term downside volatility so that its returns over the long term will increase.

With this year’s market strength, along with the changes we made to Top Flight last year, it is important to correctly set the amount of volatility you are willing to accept. We can effectively reduce your overall volatility by decreasing your exposure to Top Flight and increasing your exposure to our more conservative portfolios. Getting that right is one of the pillars of investment success.

If you would like to talk about how you are positioned or make any changes, please give us a call. We are always happy to hear from you. Have a great 2018!

Disclaimer: 1. Investment performance reflects time-weighted, size-weighted geometric composite returns of actual client accounts. 2. Investment returns are net of all management fees and transaction costs, and reflect the reinvestment of all dividends and distributions.  3. The S&P Index is a market-value weighted index comprised of 500 stocks selected for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index is a benchmark index made up of the Barclays Government/Corporate Bond Index.  4. Benchmarks are used for comparative purposes only. The Paragon Top Flight Portfolio is not designed to track the S&P Index and will have results different from the benchmark. The Paragon Managed Income Portfolio is not designed to track the Barclays Bond Aggregate Index. 5. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Calm Seas?

Posted January 10, 2018 by paragon. tags:Tags: ,
Pier at Sunset_opt

Written by Nathan White, Chief Investment Officer

For the stock market, 2017 was a year of unprecedented smooth sailing. The S&P 500 has risen for 14 months straight, a new record. It also didn’t have a monthly decline, which has never happened before. Volatility was non-existent. The economy continues to move along with no signs of an imminent recession. Moreover, there have been no corrections in sight.

The latest global manufacturing indexes (PMIs) ended with the strongest reading in nearly seven years. Many of our forward-looking economic indicators also point to even faster growth in the coming months. New orders and export orders are at their highest levels since early 2011. The ratio of new orders to inventories matched its strongest level since June 2014. Backlogs are at the highest point since May 2010. On the back of this strong data, job growth looks set to expand further. (Source: NDR – Economics, Global Comment, 1/3/2018) 

Price pressures are strong but have not exploded, which means inflation is still modest. In 2018, we will be watching to see if the tax cuts and possible infrastructure spending will push inflation expectations higher. Interest rates are still low overall, but moving up. The bond market could become a problem in the coming year (more on that later). Other risk factors coming from our models are high equity valuations and extremely optimistic investor sentiment. Most of our models are still positive, so it remains a bull market until proven otherwise.

2017 REVIEW 

The best performing areas of the equity market last year were large-cap stocks, growth stocks and the technology sector. Small-cap and value stocks, while still up for the year, lagged the broader market. It will be interesting to see if value stocks make a comeback in 2018.

Top Flight had good performance being up 18.5% for the year. It was up about 11.9% for the last six months of the year, which was about a half percent better than the S&P 500 after fees. As you know, in 2017 we started taking individual stock holdings that comprise about 60-64% of the Top Flight portfolio. We have been pleased with the result. Our stock holdings overall averaged nearly 21.5% for the year. The stock portfolio is broken down into two segments. The first is a fundamental-based approach that focuses on stocks with the least downside risk. These stocks performed well and were up about 25.5% for the year. Considering these stocks have somewhat of a value/quality aspect, this was an impressive showing. The second segment of our stock holdings is a momentum or trend-based approach. This segment was up just shy of 18% for the year. Within this segment, the small-cap names did the best, particularly in the last half of the year. Overall, the best performing individual names were Home Depot, United Health Group, Domtar, Owens Corning, and Northrop Grumman.

Looking ahead for 2018, we like the valuation position of our equity holdings. The forward PE (price/earnings) multiple of our stock holdings is about 16.8 versus 19.8 for the S&P 500. This means our current holdings are about 15% cheaper based upon projected earnings for next year. Not a bad place to be after the significant upward move in equities.

Top Flight also includes two other strategies based on ETFs. One strategy is a seasonality approach that rotates among various sectors and industries. This strategy comprises 20-25% of Top Flight and was up about 11% for 2017. While up for the year, seasonality was our weakest performing strategy last year. However, in the prior three years it was our best performing ETF strategy. Our approach with Top Flight is to diversify by strategy. No strategy will outperform every year, and due to its solid long-term record, we still have confidence with the seasonality method. The second ETF strategy we employ is a single ETF momentum-based strategy. This strategy, which comprises 10% of Top Flight’s allocation, performed well on the year and was up over 25%. Most of this performance came from the PowerShares QQQ, which is heavily weighted in large-cap technology.

On the conservative side, our Managed Income portfolio had a net return of about three percent. Still not ideal, but we are constrained by the environment of low yields. We achieved similar returns to our benchmark, but with a lot less risk to rising interest rates. To get a higher return, we would have had to load up on risky debt, which would have only produced an additional 1-2% return. Not worth it in our estimation. We still do not recommend long-term bonds. The bond market is getting backed into a corner. As interest rates rose last year, it was short-term rates that moved up while the yields on longer maturity bonds didn’t move (or went down slightly). The difference in yield between the two and 10-year Treasury bonds is now only about a half percent. The Federal Reserve is set to raise interest rates another 0.75% to 1% next year. If longer maturity bond yields do not start going up, it won’t take long for short-term bond yields to exceed them. This is called an inverted yield curve and is often a harbinger of recession. If longer maturity bond yields do move up with the Federal Reserve actions, then 10-year Treasury could lose at least 5%, and longer maturities 15% or more. Because of these dynamics in the bond market, we are not as exposed to interest rate risk as most bond portfolios. We don’t hold any maturities longer than 10 years and the Treasuries we do hold are a hedge against any possible stock market correction. Keeping most of our fixed income exposure to shorter-term maturities allows us to increase our yields as interest rates rise without getting hit with significant capital losses.

MAKE HAY WHILE THE SUN SHINES 

The roaring stock market offers investors an opportunity to review their asset allocation. Now is the time to rebalance — not when the inexorable correction comes. Most have the tendency to put money into whatever has been doing well. To keep the proper risk exposure, investors should trim their exposure to stocks as stocks increase. One of my favorite axioms is to take what the markets give you, but unfortunately, investors have short memories. The increase in the stock market has simultaneously increased allocation to stocks. When the correction occurs, those who have not re-allocated will take a bigger hit to their portfolios than they can actually stomach. Please contact us if you would like to re-view your allocation.

We appreciate your trust and business and wish you a prosperous and happy 2018!

Disclaimer: 1. Investment performance reflects time-weighted, size-weighted geometric composite returns of actual client accounts. 2. Investment returns are net of all management fees and transaction costs, and reflect the reinvestment of all dividends and distributions.  3. The S&P Index is a market-value weighted index comprised of 500 stocks selected for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index is a benchmark index made up of the Barclays Government/Corporate Bond Index.  4. Benchmarks are used for comparative purposes only. The Paragon Top Flight Portfolio is not designed to track the S&P Index and will have results different from the benchmark. The Paragon Managed Income Portfolio is not designed to track the Barclays Bond Aggregate Index. 5. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Stocking Up

Posted October 22, 2017 by paragon. tags:Tags: , ,
Fall Time in the Park_opt

Written by Nathan White, Chief Investment Officer

How long will this upward move in stocks last? It’s a constant and valid concern, especially considering how well the markets have done for years. What will end the rally?

We are currently dealing with elevated valuation and sentiment levels, historically low volatility, rising interest rates, reversal of quantitative easing, terrorism, natural disasters, political uncertainty, and more. It is impossible to know what concern will finally “stick” and be the material cause for a correction. Sometimes markets just simply get exhausted to the upside. However, as there are always market concerns, being on the right side of the trend is more important. The current trend and economic indicators remain supportive of further stock outperformance. The market quite literally climbs a continual wall of worry. We will keep monitoring our models for indications of risk, but for now the weight of the evidence remains bullish.

If I had to pick my primary concern, it would be the potential effects from the Fed’s reversal of quantitative easing. The Fed’s quantitative easing actions (i.e. bond asset purchases) have provided tremendous liquidity to the markets. How long the markets will be able to move higher in the face of this withdrawal remains to be seen. There is usually a lag time for Fed actions to be felt in the economy and markets. As the Fed is starting slow, it may be some time before what is now being dubbed quantitative tightening (QT) has a material effect. We will watch the process with great interest.

On the constructive side, economic data continues to be positive globally. According to our indicators, recession is still not in the cards anytime soon. U.S. economic growth grew at 3.1% in the second quarter, which was slightly higher than expected. Manufacturing activity is the highest in 13 years and service-sector activity is the highest in 12 years. While stocks are expensive right now, they are not at extremes. Corporate profit growth remains positive and is offsetting the slow pace of rising interest rates. While interest rates are rising they are still extremely low on a historical scale. The prospect of fiscal policy being passed is still supporting the markets due to the potential economic shot in the arm it could provide.

Another positive is that we are heading into what is seasonally the best time of year for stocks. Additionally, the majority of global markets are trading above their moving averages, suggesting that momentum continues to support further gains.

Before this quarter, one of our concerns was that the breadth of the market advance was not very wide — only a few sectors and stocks were making up the bulk of the advance. However, last quarter alleviated some of these worries as the first half laggards such as small caps, energy, and value stocks rallied nicely. The final weeks of the quarter saw a rotation back into many of the “Trump trade” stocks.

Last quarter was good for the stocks in our Top Flight portfolio, which was up 6.3% for the quarter compared to 4.5% for the S&P 500 Index. Our stock portfolio is broken down into two segments and is currently comprised of 30 holdings of 2% each (60% total). The first is a fundamental based approach that focuses on stocks with the least downside risk. These stocks gained about 6.4% on average for the quarter. The second segment is a momentum or trend-based approach. The small cap segment of this approach was up about 11.2% and the large/mid-cap segment was up about 9.8% for the quarter. The best performers came from the auto parts industry with BorgWarner and Lear both up around 20% and 18% respectively for the quarter. Other good performers were building material companies such as Owens-Corning and Continental Building. Vertex Pharmaceuticals performed nicely after positive data on its cystic fibrosis drug. We also saw continued good performance from our aerospace and defense holdings of L3 Technologies, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Booz Allen Hamilton. Many of the small and mid-cap names did particularly well in September, accounting for much of the gain for the quarter.

Top Flight also includes two ETF based strategies. One strategy is based on a seasonality approach that rotates among various sectors and industries. It is comprised of three to five positions of 5% each. This strategy has been an underperformer this year and is only up about 2%. It was dragged down in the first half of the year by energy and retail exposure. While seasonality has been disappointing this year, it has been a good performer in prior years, sometimes attributable for the bulk of the gains in Top Flight. We still have confidence in this approach. The other ETF strategy is a single ETF momentum-based strategy, which is about 10 percent of the portfolio. This segment has had a single holding all year so far, the PowerShares QQQ, which is heavily weighted in technology. It is up about 22.5% for the year.

We are still grinding along in the Managed Income portfolio. Due to the low yields and the risk of extremely high prices, we are still keeping our powder dry. We are getting similar returns as the benchmark (for a lot less risk) and we are not locked into today’s low rates. Most broad-based bond funds or conservative portfolios are comprised of various mixes of longer-dated bonds. As interest rates rise, the losses on those bonds will offset the meager yields offered. Most fixed income funds or portfolios are sitting on a pile of future potential losses. There is no avoiding the dilemma, and even if interest rates didn’t rise they would be stuck with their current low yields. Therefore, we have minimized our exposure to longer-dated bonds. We believe our portfolio to be more conservatively positioned. We still prefer shorter maturity bonds, and as interest rates have risen their yields have improved. Short maturity bonds allow us to increase our yields as interest rates rise without getting hit with capital losses. While we know it is hard to accept low returns, it is better than reaching for yield and taking bigger risks like so many investors are doing. Don’t succumb to the desperation many are giving in to! Yield chasing can be hazardous to your financial health. It’s better to get a lower, more stable return than to put too much at risk.

Disclaimer: 1. Investment performance reflects time-weighted, size-weighted geometric composite returns of actual client accounts. 2. Investment returns are net of all management fees and transaction costs, and reflect the reinvestment of all dividends and distributions.  3. The S&P Index is a market-value weighted index comprised of 500 stocks selected for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index is a benchmark index made up of the Barclays Government/Corporate Bond Index.  4. Benchmarks are used for comparative purposes only. The Paragon Top Flight Portfolio is not designed to track the S&P Index and will have results different from the benchmark. The Paragon Managed Income Portfolio is not designed to track the Barclays Bond Aggregate Index. 5. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Keep On Keeping On

Posted October 15, 2017 by paragon. tags:Tags: , ,
Fall Mountains-1

Written by David Young, President and Founder of Paragon Wealth Management

Last quarter was a continuation of what has gone on since last year’s election: The markets keep going up. Leadership changed and rotated to Small Caps taking the lead this quarter. Small Caps lagged in the first quarter (and again in August), but then took off in September to get back in line with the other averages.

The leading indexes change from quarter to quarter, rotating between the S&P 500, the NASDAQ, Emerging Markets, International Markets and Small Caps. But the bottom line is that the market trend is up.

Assuming your investment strategy is sound, this past quarter proves the “long term argument” of waiting patiently for your strategy to pay off. Our portfolios continue to provide good performance.

I am repeatedly asked, “How long can this market keep going up?” and “With all of the problems and concerns, why does the market keep going up?”

Regarding “how long,” no one knows for sure. We are currently breaking records for the period of time we have gone without a correction. Based on our models, the market is fully valued. We are to be cautious — but still stay invested.

History shows that markets can continue going up even when they are at full value. Last year, before the election, many pundits recommended jumping out of the market. Sadly, they are now significantly behind and are still waiting for their opportunity to get back into the market. Others got out during the 2008 Crash … and have still never gotten back in. The markets are seemingly biding their time and waiting for earnings to catch up with stock prices. Usually, you would have seen a sell-off by this stage in the cycle.

THREE PERCENT GROWTH 

To answer the question of why the market is going up, I’ve pulled some content from a recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Phil Gramm and Michael Solon. They were making an argument unrelated to the stock market, but I will use talking points from their article to explain the “why.”

Stock valuations are based on their underlying earning power. When companies are expected to make more money, their stock price goes up. Conversely, when companies are expected to make less money, their stock price goes down.

Complicating things, stock prices are not necessarily based on what is actually happening; they are based on investor expectations.

Looking at the big picture, GDP is a measure of the growth of the U.S. economy. In the postwar era, the U.S. averaged 3.4% annual growth from 1948 through 2008. We averaged 3% growth for half of the George W. Bush presidency (2003-06).

Only with 3% or higher growth does America experience measurable progress in poverty reduction, strong job creation and income growth.

Many talking heads argue that the days of 3% growth are gone and that America’s economy has lost its ability to grow at 3% above inflation.

From 2009-12, the Obama administration, the Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Reserve all thought they saw 3% growth just around the corner. If the possibility of 3% growth is gone forever, it hasn’t been gone very long.

America enjoyed 3% growth for so long it’s practically become our national birthright. Census data show that real economic growth averaged 3.7% from 1890-1948. British economist Angus Maddison estimates that the U.S. averaged 4.2% real growth from 1820-89. Based on all available data, America has enjoyed an average real growth rate of more than 3% since the founding of the nation, despite the Civil War, two world wars, the Great Depression and at least 32 recessions and financial panics. If 3% growth has slipped from our grasp, we certainly had it for a long time before we lost it.

During the Obama presidency, growth slipped to an unbelievable low of 1.47%. As a result, many Americans believe 3% growth is gone forever.

Phil Gramm argues that most of the growth constraints we face today are directly attributable to the Obama era policies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that labor-productivity growth since 2010 has plummeted to less than one-quarter of the average for the previous 20, 30 or 40 years. Productivity fell during the current recovery, not during the recession. With high marginal tax rates, especially on investment income, new investment during the Obama era managed only to offset depreciation, so the value of the capital stock per worker, the engine of the American colossus, stopped expanding and contributed nothing to growth.

A tidal wave of new rules and regulations across health care, financial services, energy and manufacturing forced companies to spend billions on new capital and labor that served government and not consumers. Banks hired compliance officers rather than loan officers. Energy companies spent billions on environmental compliance costs, and none of it produced energy more cheaply or abundantly. Health-insurance premiums skyrocketed but with no additional benefit to the vast majority of covered workers.

In 2006, when the labor force participation rate was 66.2%, the BLS predicted that demographic changes would push it down to 65.5% by 2016. Under Mr. Obama’s policies, it actually fell further, to 62.8%, and the number of working-age Americans not in the labor market spiked to 55 million.

By waiving work requirements for welfare, lowering food-stamp eligibility requirements and easing standards for disability payments, Mr. Obama’s policies disincentivized work. Disability rolls have expanded 18.6% during the current recovery, compared with a 16% decline during the Reagan recovery.

If reversing the Obama era policies simply eliminated half the gap between the projected 1.8% growth rate and the average growth rates during the Reagan and Clinton recoveries, it would deliver 3% real growth generating nearly $3.5 trillion in new federal revenues over the next 10 years.

Since 1960, the American economy has experienced 30 years with growth of 3% or more. Seventy-nine percent of all jobs created since 1960 were created during those years. The poverty rate fell by 72% and real median household income rose by $20,519. In the 26 years when the economy had less than 3% growth, just 21% of all post-1960 jobs were created, the poverty rate rose by 37% and household income fell by $12,004. With 3% growth, the American dream is achievable and virtually anybody willing to work hard can live it.

BOTTOM LINE 

If you listen to the national narrative about how scary and awful things are, it makes no sense why the market continues to go up.

On the other hand, when you understand that as a result of our last election, most investors “expect” that there will be major tax, healthcare and regulatory reform that should take us back to the policies that brought us 3% growth, the upward market trend starts to make sense.

As always, let us know if you have questions or need anything from us.

Disclaimer: 1. Investment performance reflects time-weighted, size-weighted geometric composite returns of actual client accounts. 2. Investment returns are net of all management fees and transaction costs, and reflect the reinvestment of all dividends and distributions.  3. The S&P Index is a market-value weighted index comprised of 500 stocks selected for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index is a benchmark index made up of the Barclays Government/Corporate Bond Index.  4. Benchmarks are used for comparative purposes only. The Paragon Top Flight Portfolio is not designed to track the S&P Index and will have results different from the benchmark. The Paragon Managed Income Portfolio is not designed to track the Barclays Bond Aggregate Index. 5. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Quiet Summer

Posted July 18, 2017 by paragon. tags:Tags: , ,
Chair on beach_opt 2

Written by Dave Young, President and Founder of Paragon Wealth Management

In terms of market volatility, it’s been a quiet year so far — mild back-and-forth movement with a general upward bias. Unusually quiet.

Stocks outperformed bonds in the second quarter. The NASDAQ Composite was the leader for U.S. markets. Emerging Markets had a strong showing. International markets surprisingly outperformed the U.S. The weakest trades were commodities, gold and the U.S dollar.

The market has appeared stable because of the primary indexes like the Dow and S&P 500. Also, large cap stocks have been fairly consistent through the first half of the year.

However, under the surface, it has been difficult to latch on to any consistency. There has been a random movement between growth and value, small caps and mid-caps, sectors and industries.

In the sectors and industries, the trends have been the most divergent. The Trump trade stalled as congress stopped implementing his agenda, while the FANG trade from 2015 (Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Google) reemerged. Also, the drop in oil prices and the flattening of the yield curve contributed to the dispersion.

All in all, mostly positive so far.

2017 PREDICTIONS… 

It is always interesting to compare what the “experts” predict versus what actually happens. At the beginning of 2017, Wall Street strategists projected the S&P 500 to end the year up about 5.5%, according to Birinyl Associates.

For the first six months, the index is up 8.2%. No one predicted that only five tech companies — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google — would account for about one third of the indexes gain.

In contrast with predictions, The VIX, which measures market volatility and is known as the “fear index,” plummeted to its lowest level in 20 years.

The Fed told us they were going to keep raising interest rates this year — and they have. That factor, combined with the Trump Administration’s pro-growth policies, led investors to plan for the Ten Year Treasury interest rate to move up. Instead, surprisingly, the yield dropped from 2.446% to 2.298% over the past six months.

The U.S. Dollar was supposed to strengthen in 2017. Instead, it has dropped 5.6% since the beginning of the year.

Oil prices were predicted to stabilize after major producers agreed to limit output in late 2016. Instead, U.S. oil prices fell into a bear market in the middle of June and are down 14% year-to-date.

It seems stock prognosticators and fortune tellers still have a lot in common. This is why we ignore forecasts and base our decisions on models that interpret what is actually happening in real time.

WHERE FROM HERE? 

The last time we saw a 5% correction was after the surprise Brexit vote. You probably missed that correction if you weren’t watching the market daily — it came and reversed in a matter of days.

The Brexit correction was 250 market days ago, which set another record of the longest period of time (in the past 20 years) we have gone without a 5% correction.

This low volatility is not normal. Following the first quarter’s low volatility, we only saw two days in the past quarter where the market moved up more than 1% (April 24th) or down more than 1% (May 17th).

In my opinion, we are in a difficult spot. On the one hand, the market is not cheap. But if the S&P 500 is not reasonably priced, then why does everyone keep adding money to it?

There are three pillars holding the market up.

First, the lack of other alternatives has kept the money coming into stocks. Investment options are banks and money markets, which pay nothing. Treasury notes and bonds also pay nothing, and they have significant downside if interest rates go higher. There are annuities, which shouldn’t even be classified as investments, in my opinion. Or there’s real estate, which you have to search long and hard to find anything of value. There just aren’t many decent options.

Second, the economy is fundamentally sound. Historically speaking, stock corrections aren’t usually bad when the economy is on solid footing. If we start to see signs of a recession on the horizon, the risk to the market increases significantly.

Third, the Trump hope. The market took off when Trump got elected. That didn’t make any sense if you read the papers or listened to the nightly news. However, it did make sense to investors. When the market rallied, investors believed Trump was going to reduce taxes, reduce regulations, fix healthcare and move our economy back toward its free market roots.

Then congress got involved and the Trump hope waned. That is where we are now. However, there is still some of that hope intact. Many investors no longer believe his changes are a slam-dunk, but they do think the changes still “might” happen. The fact it is still a possibility is the third pillar holding up the market.

These three pillars are what’s making an expensive market get more expensive. This is why every time the market acts like it is getting ready to sell off … it doesn’t. So far, everyone who has been sitting on the sidelines lamenting they are missing this run, jumps in when the market starts to go down.

How long will this last? It has already lasted longer than normal. It can keep going until it dies of exhaustion or one of the three pillars is taken out.

IN THE MEAN TIME 

Rule one: Don’t worry. It doesn’t change anything. It makes you feel bad. It is completely pointless.

Rule two: Stick with the basics. Invest according to your risk tolerance. Make sure how you’re invested is aligned with how much money you’re willing to put at risk. Even though it seems like a great idea to get more aggressive when markets are good (like they are now), don’t take the bait. Stay the course. This is a long-term project. Stay invested in a way that makes sense through good and bad market environments. Feel free to reach out to us — we are always happy to re-evaluate your investment strategy and risk tolerance.

Finally, if you haven’t had a chance to look at our new Private Income Fund, give us a call. It is a good option to consider in this market environment.

Have a great summer!

Disclaimer: 1. Investment performance reflects time-weighted, size-weighted geometric composite returns of actual client accounts. 2. Investment returns are net of all management fees and transaction costs, and reflect the reinvestment of all dividends and distributions.  3. The S&P Index is a market-value weighted index comprised of 500 stocks selected for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index is a benchmark index made up of the Barclays Government/Corporate Bond Index.  4. Benchmarks are used for comparative purposes only. The Paragon Top Flight Portfolio is not designed to track the S&P Index and will have results different from the benchmark. The Paragon Managed Income Portfolio is not designed to track the Barclays Bond Aggregate Index. 5. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Mid-Year Review And Outlook

Posted July 12, 2017 by paragon. tags:Tags: , , , ,
Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 4_opt

Written by Nathan White, Chief Investment Officer

Volatility in the equity and bond markets has been at historic lows. The economy has been strong enough to support stocks, but not too strong to disturb bonds. While still on the expensive side, equity markets are being sustained by growing earnings. They are also still anticipating an increase in economic growth based on upcoming fiscal and policy measures. If the intended reforms keep getting delayed, it could result in a return of volatility in the second half of the year.

Global growth has been improving, and so far looks to be around 3.4% for the year compared with 2.3% for the U.S. As growth in places like Europe has improved, the ECB is setting up to follow the Fed’s footsteps in tapering its extremely accommodative monetary stance. Central banks are becoming more hawkish and could be worried about financial stability. That means they need to keep/start tightening to stay ahead of any issues and build up their ammunition. But for now, asset prices keep improving in this low inflation environment.

Recently there have been indications that the leaders of the first half of the year seem to be overdone. Whether it is simply profit taking or an outright rotation remains to be seen. We could see a churning process throughout the summer as the market tries to digest the first half gains and anticipate the environment and factors that will affect the second half of the year. For now, 75% of industries are still in uptrends. The majority of our models are bullish, but we have seen deterioration in some areas. We would like to see a broader advance across all segments rather than just the narrow leadership that has occurred. Our sentiment models are flashing caution, as they are in the overly optimistic zone. Earnings growth must continue in order to support current high valuations in the face of rising bonds yields.

Growth names doing well in a low economic growth enviroment? 

On the face of it, you would think growth stocks would do better in a high-growth environment, as opposed to the current moderate economic growth conditions. Well, markets aren’t always logical. As the stocks that benefitted from the Trump rally stalled along with his reform agenda, growth stocks took over and became first half leaders. Sectors such as Technology and Healthcare have been the best performers. In an environment of moderate growth, investors placed a premium on names that are currently growing. Much of the focus was concentrated in large mega-cap names such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. These five names accounted for about one third of the S&P 500’s year-to-date gain. They are basically defensive names in a low-growth environment. Our exposure to these names has accounted for most of TopFlight’s gains as well.

Our seasonality model, which has performed well the last few years, was a laggard in the first half of the year. The energy sector tends to dominate this model in the first half of a year, but energy stocks have been poor performers due to the drop in oil prices. Seasonality signals are not high conviction through summer months. Small-cap stocks have also been trailing large-cap stocks, as they are more economically sensitive. We have observed this in our small cap momentum stocks as well.

Outlook for the second half of the year 

If a rotation out of the first half leaders develops, we could see a move from growth into value. This would better benefit the energy and financials relative to the technology and large cap growth names. We have had a slant toward value and small-cap in the first half of the year. These stocks will potentially benefit from a shift of growth to value in the second half of the year. We will keep exposure to the high-flying names for now, but want to keep exposure to the value names that have lagged, as they could benefit from a rotation in the second half of the year. If the Trump agenda gets close to becoming reality again, then our small-cap and value exposure could take off.

With oil breaking down, it creates an opportunity in the energy names. Sentiment on the sector is extremely low, and large financial traders drive oil prices in the short run. In the end, low prices are the cure for low prices in commodities. We don’t know where the bottom will be, but are watching this sector for potential plays in the stronger names.

Managed Income 

Interest rates are slowly heading higher. The Fed has raised rates twice this year and is indicating one more increase later in the year and additional ones next year. The Fed also announced it will start to reduce its massive holdings later this year. This will put pressure on bond prices — warranting caution with one’s bond exposure. We still do not recommend buying long maturity bonds, especially as yields have fallen. The extremely low yields are still not worth the risk of owning at these elevated prices. However, we are still in a waiting game until we can lock in higher yields. We have a significant amount of capital to deploy, and we want to wait for a more favorable environment. As yields have come down on longer maturity bonds, they have moved higher for short-term bonds due to the Fed raising rates. A flatter yield curve calls for shifting into cash rather than bonds. We favor short-term corporate bonds where the yields have moved up but the prices have not. We only want to use Treasury bonds as protection as opposed to an outright investment.

We are watching some oversold names in the REIT and telecom space. For example, in the heavily damaged retail space, Tanger Factory Outlet Center (SKT) is looking attractive. With its modern stores and attractive locations, it has been drawing customers away from traditional malls. Its retail tenants comprise unique desired brands along with a discount aspect enabling Tanger to boast a 95% occupancy level. The stock also has a 5.2% yield.

Disclaimer: 1. Investment performance reflects time-weighted, size-weighted geometric composite returns of actual client accounts. 2. Investment returns are net of all management fees and transaction costs, and reflect the reinvestment of all dividends and distributions.  3. The S&P Index is a market-value weighted index comprised of 500 stocks selected for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index is a benchmark index made up of the Barclays Government/Corporate Bond Index.  4. Benchmarks are used for comparative purposes only. The Paragon Top Flight Portfolio is not designed to track the S&P Index and will have results different from the benchmark. The Paragon Managed Income Portfolio is not designed to track the Barclays Bond Aggregate Index. 5. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Investment Choices in a Low Rate World

Posted April 29, 2016 by paragon. tags:Tags: , , ,
Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11_opt(2)

On March 29, Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a speech to the Economic Club of New York. Before you fall asleep, as is usually justified when it comes to mind-numbingly boring economic talk, let’s discuss how her comments will directly affect your investments. Yellen advocated for letting the economy run hot before continuing to raise interest rates. She basically admitted that the small increase administered by the Fed in December was a mistake, and that global and market events have significant influence on policy. (You don’t say …)

So now that the expectation of “lower for longer” interest rates is all but set in stone, how will this affect your investments?

First and foremost, the yields offered on savings and money market-type accounts will remain paltry. It will be hard to find and earn a safe return. Simply put: If you want a return, you’re going to have to take on more risk. Taking on more risk exposes one to a higher degree of losses and volatility. (Ironically, this is exactly what investors looking for a “safe” return want to avoid.) The search for anything with yield has caused the prices of bonds and other income-yielding assets to rise dramatically in price.

Many investors seeking yield have turned to alternative assets such as junk bonds, MLPs, utility, telecom and other dividend stocks. Whereas these can be valid long-term investments, many are treating these assets as “bond proxies” while ignoring their stock-like risks. These alternatives do have better yields than many safe assets, but they are exposed to the gyrations of the stock market. It doesn’t take much of a drop in the equity market to wipe out the small yields these alternatives offer. Plus, they’re expensive, and these assets are sensitive to changes in rates. At today’s low rates, this risk has become even greater.

Because bond yields move inversely to bond prices, it is getting harder to squeeze price returns out of bonds as interest rates get lower. The closer rates get to zero, the more sensitive bond prices become to changes in rates. As bonds increase in price, their future returns are lowered. This is true even if rates go sideways from current levels.

To understand the current situation for a conservative asset and what it implies about future returns, refer to the displayed chart. This chart presents the historical interest rate (black line) and the total return (red line) for the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond since 1928. Interests rates peaked in 1981 as the Fed finally hiked rates dramatically to kill inflation that had hobbled the economy for an extended period. Notice the sharp increase in the total return line that corresponds with the long drop in interest rates since the peak in 1981. During this period, shaded in blue, bonds performed very well. Now review the area shaded in green, which displays a period of rising interest rates. The red total return line barely rises during this period, illustrating the poor performance of bonds during this 41-year period. The point of the chart is to compare where interest rates are now and what happened to future returns the last time they were at this level. At a current yield of around 1.75% for 10-year Treasury bonds, the future return of bonds does not look good.

The Fed and other central banks are putting on a full court press to get higher inflation. But what happens if they actually get what they want? Inflation is the No. 1 enemy of bonds because it erodes the future value of bonds’ interest payments and return of principal. Central banks must raise interest rates to offset the negative effect of inflation. As interest rates rise, the prices of bonds go down. The lower rates go, the less cushion (in the form of interest earned) there is to offset decline in bond prices that come with increases in interest rates. Not predicting rampant inflation, but even a return to “normal” inflation can significantly affect bonds at their current prices. That is at the heart of what makes the current environment so risky.

So, in this low-return environment, how will we generate returns in Managed Income? Fierce flexibility and continued commitment. We look at the risk first, and then compare it to the potential return. We are more opportunistic. We expertly use a combination of strategies to offset risks — and work endlessly for your best interests. One thing is certain: Our flexible strategy will be the best approach to this uncertain future.  Here are some current investment choices that we feel offer better return for the risk versus the average alternatives that many investors chasing high yield are opting for:

High Yield/Higher Risk

  • Long Maturity Bonds
  • High Yield (Junk) Bonds
  • High Dividend Stocks

 

Better Option

  • Short to Intermediate Corporate Bonds
  • Preferred Stocks
  • Some REITs and Closed-End Funds
  • Dividend Growth Stocks

 

Disclaimer Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Current Thoughts on the Market

Posted February 16, 2016 by paragon. tags:Tags: , ,

By Nathan White, Chief Investment Officer of Paragon Wealth Management

The following video agrees with our current readings on the economy and the fears regarding a recession.  While we acknowledge that there are notable risks to the economy the bulk of the economy is still growing slowly and the data does not currently support a recession call.   The global economy is adjusting to lower energy and commodity prices and the resultant effects on associated companies and countries.  There’s not much the central banks can do at this point and so we’ll just have to struggle through.  The latest global economic data (e.g., leading indicators, PMI’s and sentiment) continues to show signs of stabilizing.  We will continue to monitor actual conditions but for the current time the data does not indicate a recession.  If actual conditions change then we will act accordingly.

Regarding the markets:  We are by no means overly bullish but the current downturn is showing signs of being overextended.  While it is impossible to call bottoms we are seeing extremely negative sentiment expressed in the current volatility and the rush to gold and treasuries.  We will need to see oil stabilize as markets have been attached to its movements.  However, the recent downturn is creating opportunities we have been waiting for in many areas.  Valuations, which was one of our biggest concerns have come down to very reasonable levels.  Our portfolios have significant cash levels to help protect against the downside and to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/11/stocks-are-close-to-a-bottom-paulsen.html

Disclaimer Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

 

Blog Role

Meta