Stock Trends for 2017 Beating the Market

The Stock Trends for 2017, comprised of 21 handpicked stocks (discretionary style), is beating the major market indices by a healthy margin. The Nasdaq Composite is the closest but still trails by four percentage points. In order to be even, the Nasdaq would have to improve its year-to-date results (12.24%) by 30%.

The Dow Jones and S&P 500 would have to more than double their year-to-date gains in order to match the portfolio gains.

Year-to-Date Results:

  • Stock Trends for 2017: +16.16%
  • Nasdaq Composite: +12.34%
  • S&P 500 Large Cap Index: +6.49%
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: +5.96%

Note: Dividends not included in calculations.

Fun Facts:

  • 15 of the 21 stocks show a gain
  • 13 of the 21 stocks show a double digit gain
  • 6 of the top 8 gainers are triple digit stocks (5 started that way)
  • The average gain of the positive stocks is +24.77%
  • The average loss of the negative stocks is -5.36%
  • MBLY is the leading stock, with a 62.43% gain, after being bought by INTC (another stock on the list)

I will continue to follow the logic of the opening paragraph from the original post:

The trends that I am watching in 2017 are not much different than what I have been following and investing in over the past two years. As Newton’s first law stated, “An object in motion continues in motion…”. I could search for the “next hot thing” each year but why make investing more difficult than it already is when certain trends, technologies, products, services and companies continuously work.

The plan is to keep riding all winning positions higher, until the market trend changes.

Stock Trends for 2017

The trends that I am watching in 2017 are not much different than what I have been following and investing in over the past two years. As Newton’s first law stated,

“An object in motion continues in motion…”.

I could search for the “next hot thing”each year but why make investing more difficult than it already is when certain trends, technologies, products, services and companies continuously work.

Perhaps this list is old and boring (Buffett likes boring) but we’re here to make money, not be sexy.

Investing in the stock market should not be exciting or a path to get rich quick, rather it’s meant to moderately grow our existing capital over longer periods of time.

As I grow older, I have learned that I can beat most investors by being average. By investing (longer term) in low cost index funds and an assortment of stocks that have proven their worth, my returns have consistently outperformed social media stock pickers, active managers and mutual funds.

In fact, I suggest that 99% of all investors stick with low cost index funds and skip individual stocks altogether.

Ask yourself: why would you risk your capital with an active manager who will likely underperform over time, once the fees and activity eat away at the gains?

The S&P has provided an annualized gain of 14.5% over the past 8 years while the Nasdaq 100 has provided a 20.4% annualized gain. That’s a cumulative gain of 195% and 339% respectively.

I haven’t seen many active managers do better than this over the same period. Once again, why risk the guess work of tops, bottoms, trends, fees, commissions, etc.? If active managers were performing 2x-3x+ the averages, over 10+ year periods, then I would consider their services.

Now, let’s get to the list (which contains much of the products and services I use, as well as several of the stocks I already own):

*NOTE: the overall health of the markets must be positive for many these investments to do well.

Digital Currency:
As I did in 2015 (Stock Trends for 2015), I will skip the details surrounding blockchain and Bitcoin (which is above $1,000 as this post). Cash is still king worldwide, as more than 80% of all transactions globally (and 40% in the United States) are still carried out using cash, particularly transactions involving small amounts of money. So why is this good? Because the growth opportunity of electronic transactions is still substantial. I own several on the list and would recommend any of the seven.

  • PYPL: $39.47. PayPal operates as a technology platform company that enables digital and mobile payments on behalf of consumers and merchants worldwide. The stock appears to be building a solid base above the up-trending 200d ma. A few more solid earnings reports and I can see the stock making a 50% move in 2017, from $40 to $60, riding that 200d ma higher.
  • AMZN: $749.87. Amazon Payments service competes with PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Wallet, already owns a sizeable market share and may be its most “underappreciated” business, per RBC Capital. The stock is consolidating near it’s 200d ma and if it holds, could be poised for the next leg higher ($750 to $1,000?).
  • V: 78.02. Visa operates the world’s largest retail electronic payments network and is one of the most recognized global financial services brands. The stock has been mostly sideways over the past 6-12 months and is currently below the 200d ma during a multi-year up-trend. As a long-term shareholder, I’m holding, until it proves otherwise.
  • MA: 103.25. MasterCard operates the world’s second largest retail electronic payments network. Like Visa, I will continue to ride and recommend this stock until it proves otherwise.
  • AAPL: 115.82. Apple trailed its peers and the broader market in 2016 but may launch a comeback in 2017. The stock can be listed in several “trends” but I’ll place it here due to Apple Pay. The stock is back above its 50d and 200d ma’s. It needs a catalyst to make a run, perhaps the iPhone 8, a new technology and/or its electronic pay network? Deep down, I question whether the magic is gone, now that Jobs is long gone. We’ll see, but for now, I am still bullish on the company and stock. Adding shares below $100 has proved profitable over the past two years.
  • GOOGL: 792.45. Alphabet has both Google Wallet and Android Pay (I am an Android guy, without a doubt). The stock is consolidating above the 200d ma and could be setting up for a run towards $1,000. With wallet, pay, advertising, self-driving cars, etc., the stock could be listed under most trends on this post.
  • VNTV: 59.62. Vantiv is an electronic payment processing services to merchants and financial institutions in the United States. I placed the lesser known company/stock on my “13 Stocks for 2013 – 2nd Half” portfolio. I was early, as the stock traded mostly flat for the next 12 months but then it took off and more than doubled since. Like V and MA, it’s in a profitable business with excellent earnings. I can see this stock trading at $100 per share in the future.

Autonomous Driving:
Tesla, Ford, Uber, etc., each of these companies keep touting the revolution of self-driving cars. It’s coming and the technologies keep expanding. Nvidia was highlighted in 2015 and became the leader by going on a 440% tear, from $19.96 to a high of $119 in December 2016. The chips are hot again, therefore I added Intel to this list (another blast from the past).

  • NVDA: 106.74. NVIDIA Corporation, operates as a visual computing company worldwide. The stock is up big over the past 6-12 months and may need some time to digest the gains. I would advise new investors to allow the stock to consolidate on lower volume above a support area, such as the 50d ma.
  • MBLY: 38.12. Mobileye develops computer vision and machine learning, data analysis, and localization and mapping for advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving technologies. The stock is down since making my 2015 Trends list and has had a volatile ride with a high above $64 and a low of $23.57. Look for the stock to stabilize and mature a bit in 2017, now that the IPO is in the rear-view mirror. I could see a move from the upper $30’s to above $50 in 2017, however, it must recapture its major moving averages first.
  • INTC: 36.27. Intel designs, manufactures, and sells integrated digital technology platforms worldwide. Like NVDA, Intel is now in the self-driving game with its chips. The stock gained more than 20% from its low point of 2016 and is currently in an up-trend above the rising 200d ma. Chip stocks appear to be all the rage again (is this good or bad, as memories of the dot-com bubble appear in my head).
  • TSLA: 213.69. Tesla Motors Inc. designs, develops, manufactures, and sells electric vehicles and stationary energy storage products. What can I say, I’m a big fan of Elon Musk. I added the stock due to the Musk factor but I am suspect. It’s struggling to recapture and sustain a move above its 200d ma. December was a big month for the stock but since 2015, it has been mostly flat with lots of volatility (similar to MBLY).

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My Wife’s Buy & Hold Strategy Still Crushing the Professionals

My wife’s buying habits are beating the pants off the market, most mutual fund managers, hedge fund managers, retirement plans, pension funds and short term traders. And all at NO FEE (free here on this personal blog).

In what started as an experiment two years ago (after years of discussing the strategy), a buy-and-hold portfolio of 22 stocks was put together to see how it would perform against the market and professional traders alike. The idea of the portfolio was to buy and sit on the stocks (no active trading – ride the ups and downs of the market with high quality companies that sell goods and services that we use most often within our household).

I put the portfolio together on August 6, 2014, exactly two years ago, titled: My Wife’s Personal Mutual Fund Outperforms the Pros.

As of August 6, 2016, the 22 stocks have performed as follows:

  • Total gain of 36.08% (not including dividends)
  • Total gain above 40% with all dividends re-invested
  • 20 of the 22 stocks are positive
  • A 91% success ratio

Further:

  • 18 of the 22 stocks have a double digit gain, averaging 44% (80% of portfolio)
  • The leading gainer, the 2nd highest priced buy, is up 145%: Amazon $AMZN
  • 2 stocks show a loss: $KORS at 36.27% and $XOM at 5.62%
  • The portfolio is crushing the DOW, S&P 500 and Nasdaq
  • NOTE: Dividends have not been calculated into these stats (2 years of dividends increase the gains).

2016_08-06_Wife-Mutual-Fund-Image

Not bad for buy “quality” and hold.

I completely understand that the market has been in an up-trend for much of the past two years so all I can do is compare against the general market indexes, fund benchmarks and professional results. In all three cases, this buy-and-hold portfolio outperformed them all. And they outperformed each of them without incurring additional fees, additional time wasted for research or any time actively trading in-and-out.

I wrote an update on the 2014 blog post about six months ago (February 21, 2016), showing how the strategy was winning: My Wife’s Personal Mutual Fund Crushes the Markets, AGAIN

The portfolio of 22 stocks:
$AAPL – Apple
$SBUX – Starbucks
$GOOG – Alphabet
$AMZN – Amazon
$FB – Facebook
$COST – Costco
$TGT – Target
$COH – Coach
$KORS – Michael Kors
$CVS – CVS Health Corp
$NFLX – Netflix
$DIS – Walt Disney Co
$JNJ – Johnson & Johnson
$PG – Proctor & Gamble
$V – Visa
$MA – MasterCard
$PEP – Pepsico
$TJX – TJX Companies
$HD – Home Depot
$VZ – Verizon
$XOM – Exxon Mobile
$WFC – Wells Fargo

The older I get, the more I realize that buy and hold (over a period of time), for a retail investor, will outperform most strategies within the market. Retail investors should just buy and hold low cost index funds and not entertain an idea such as the above buy if you must trade in the market, consider buying and holding the stocks of companies that you do the most business with. Know what you invest in.

The next step will be to see how this portfolio of stocks performs during a down-turn or major correction. Of course the stocks will lose value but how will they perform compared to the major indexes and other active investing strategies and professional traders.

I think they’ll do fine.

P.S.: KORS should be replaced with $MSFT (considering we use Microsoft every day – this was an oversight and bias two years ago).

The Only Way the 99% Should Invest in the Stock Market

I often get random questions from family members, friends, colleagues and social media followers that sound something like this: “I want to invest but I’m not sure what to buy, so can you recommend a few stocks.”

Or

I am saving for retirement (college fund, etc.), so where should I place my money (funds that they need to invest, commonly from an old 401k, a recent bonus, an inheritance, a stale IRA or whatever…).

They tell me that they trust my advice because I seem to know what I am doing. Perhaps it’s because I have a blog, twitter account or a Stocktwits following but I immediately reply by saying: well, be careful because I am not independently wealthy (yet), based solely on my market investments so take my advice with a grain of salt. I then go on to say: But if you are asking…

Index Funds!

What? INDEX FUNDS!

Says the guy who writes about stock investing and trading…?

I strongly suggest that the majority of people stay away from actively managed mutual funds, active investment managers, day trading, swing trading, trend trading, any trading, etc. I am not opposed to individuals buying and holding a handful of dividend paying blue chip stocks but why bother with the headache; go for the index fund and save your time for doing something fun.

2016_04-03_Actively-Managed-Odds

Place at least 90% of your available investment cash “the serious money” into index funds and then actively speculate with no more than 10% of the rest. This 10% can be used to buy your speculative investments like $FB, $AAPL, $GOOG, $AMZN, $TSLA, $V, etc…

William Bernstein (author of The Four Pillars of Investing) once wrote:

“It’s bad enough that you have to take market risk. Only a fool takes on the additional risk of doing yet more damage by failing to diversify properly with his or her nest egg. Avoid the problem – buy a well-run index fund and own the whole market”.

I agree: invest in one or more well-run index fund(s) that will promise a market return but with significantly lower fees. The average guy or gal in the 99% is not smart enough to “pick” the right stocks or mutual funds (or manager) at the right time. Heck, most fund managers in the 1% (Wall Street professionals) can’t do this either (data shows that greater than 80% of all fund managers fail to outperform the market over time).

Warren Buffett once noted that the moral of a story, as told in his 2005 Annual Report, is:

“For investors as a whole, returns decrease as motion increases.”

What does that mean? Well, let’s use a recent example of a bet Buffett made with a bunch of hedge fund managers back in 2007. The bet shows how an index fund mirroring the S&P 500 can outperform their actively managed funds, after fees, over a ten year period. They made a million dollar bet (winnings will be donated to charity) based on this premise and as of February 2016, eight years into the bet, Buffet is beating the all-star hedge fund managers 65% to 21%.

His Index Fund selection is crushing them and all he had to do was make a click or call to purchase the index fund and then he was done (not another minute was spent worrying about the investment). These managers (charging 2% on assets + 20% of performance) manage their funds daily and they are only 1/3rd of the return of Buffett’s choice (to date). So not only are they losing, they have spent eight years in their “professional job” losing to a fund that mimics the market.

Time = money so how do we even begin to quantify the hours spent by the hedge fund managers vs. the cumulative time that Buffett has saved doing other things. The extra time value is overwhelming so Buffett is much further ahead based on this ancillary bonus.

John Bogle (the founder of Vanguard) explains it this way in his book, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing:

“The way to wealth for those in the business is to persuade their clients, “Don’t just stand there. Do something”. But the way to wealth for their clients in the aggregate is to follow the opposite maxim: “Don’t do something. Just stand there.” For that is the only way to avoid playing the loser’s game of trying to beat the market.”

It means that the higher the level of investment activity, the greater the cost of investment fees and taxes, which ultimately results in a lesser net return for the investor.

I am an architect by degree so when I recall the famous quote by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, “Less is More”, I suggest everyone apply it to investing as well.

Less activity equals more return for the investor while more activity results in more profit for the fund managers leaving you, the retail client, with less retirement money in your pocket (see the charts and expense ratio matrix below).

2016_04-03_Expense-Ratio-Chart-Diff

Charlie Munger stated:

“The general systems of money management [today] require people to pretend to do something they can’t do and like something they don’t. That is a funny business because on a net basis, the whole investment management business together gives no value added to all buyers combined. That’s the way it has to work. Mutual funds charge two percent per year and then brokers switch people between funds, costing another 3-4 percentage points. The poor guy in the general public is getting a terrible product from the professionals. I think it’s disgusting. It’s much better to be part of a system that delivers value to the people who buy the product.”

So based on what Buffett, Bernstein, Bogle and Munger have said…

Where do you now think the 99% should invest their money? What should YOU be doing with your money?
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Beware Leveraged Investments: How Decay ate Half my Profits

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius

I placed a UWTI trade because I wanted to understand the decay first hand. Of course I could have done a mock-trade, a paper-trade or any other applicable simulation but would I fully understand the implications?

Of course I would but it always sinks in better (with me at least), when “I do it”.

Experiences last in your memory and experts say they influence future behavior. I may be able to argue that I wanted to “experience” the decay first hand so I would avoid these garbage products in the future and stick to products with less decay and daily expenses. I wanted to overcome my allure to the “3x” aspect of these products.

Here’s my trade:
Buy $UWTI 2/9/16 at $1.59
Sell $UWTI 3/7/16 at $2.23

+ 40.2%

What’s wrong with a 40% gain? Nothing, I’ll take that gain over any 4 week period but in this particular case, the product did not provide a 3x return so I was robbed. A true 3x gain would have been closer to 80% but I knew, full well, going into the trade that substantial decay would occur if I held more than one or two days.

What is UWTI (VelocityShares 3x Long Crude Oil ETN):
The investment seeks to replicate, net of expenses, three times the daily performance of the S&P GSCI Crude Oil Index ER. The index comprises futures contracts on a single commodity and is calculated according to the methodology of the S&P GSCI Index. – Yahoo Finance.

As a comparison:
$WTIC was up 26.10%
$USO was up 17.01%

These results occurred during the same period (NOTE: WTIC was up 46.47% during this period as my entry and exit was not the exact open and close on 2/9 and 3/7).

2016_03-17_WTIC-Trade

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