Posts tagged ‘NFL’

The September to Remember

This article is an excerpt from a previously released Sidoxia Capital Management complimentary newsletter (October 2, 2017). Subscribe on the right side of the page for the complete text.

Given the volume of recent memorable events, it appears September will become a month to remember. Not only did we witness horrific natural disasters in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Mexico but Americans have also had to digest the saber rattling by the North Korean Rocket Man leader, Kim Jong Un*. If that wasn’t enough, there were a slew of headlines detailing the Washington gridlock and dysfunction over healthcare legislation / tax reform; hackings at Equifax affecting up to 143 million credit accounts; the planned unwinding of the Federal Reserves $4.2 trillion bond portfolio; and a controversy over NFL football players kneeling during the national anthem.

Despite all these notable events, the Dow Jones Industrial Average just posted its 8th consecutive quarter of advances. For the three months ending in September, the Dow impressively climbed more than 1,000 points (+4.7%) to a new record high of 22,381. For the year, the Dow remarkably has risen approximately +13%, excluding dividends, which translates into a total 2017 return of more than +15%, thus far.

However, not everybody has participated in the financial party. Negative political headlines have by and large paralyzed the hearts and minds of the general public, but as I have been writing for some time, stocks do not care much about governmental affairs – stock prices care about fundamentals. There have been two critical, fundamental components fueling the repetitive new highs experienced in the stock market: 1) The extraordinarily persistent surge in corporate profits (see chart below); and 2) The stubbornly declining interest rates,  which are near generationally-low levels. When investors are offered next-to-nothing interest rates in their bank accounts, and coupon payments on Treasury bonds remain paltry (10-Year Treasury closed month at a yield of 2.33%), suddenly stock opportunities can look much more attractive in a scarce investment environment.

Source: Yardeni.com

And geographically speaking, the rise in corporate profits has not been limited to the U.S. There has also been a synchronized escalation in corporate earnings globally. Whether we are talking about Europe, China, or emerging markets, in general, the economic recovery in these regions is now occurring coincidentally with the U.S. Case in point is the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which serves as a broad indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector. The chart below highlights the clear recovery that has been ongoing in the global manufacturing sector over the last year and a half.

Source: Yardeni.com

In addition to these numerous positive factors, a cheaper (weaker) U.S. dollar has also contributed to our nation’s economic tailwind. More specifically, a lower valued dollar makes American goods sold abroad cheaper for foreign buyers. This currency exchange rate dynamic is important because 43% of Fortune 500 sales (S&P 500) are derived from American products and services sold in foreign countries.

Tax Reform to be Born?

You probably don’t need me to tell you that gridlock in Washington D.C. is alive and well, but new details surrounding potential tax reform legislation that surfaced last week has lifted short-term investor optimism. As you can see from the chart below, the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate among 35 developed countries in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), thereby making U.S. business less competitive globally. In hopes of reversing this trend, a basic framework was introduced by the President that proposed a top corporate rate of 20%, top small business rate of 25%, and streamlined personal tax brackets of 12%, 25%, and 35% (down from 7 brackets). Other key elements of the tax plan include, a doubling of the standard deduction for middle-class Americans; the elimination of the estate tax for the wealthy; the repeal of the alternative minimum tax; and immediate tax write-offs for business capital investments.

Source: The Financial Times

Many other important details have yet to be released and further specifics remain to be negotiated on Capitol Hill. For example, the removal of deductions for state and local taxes was announced, however additional information explaining how the estimated $2.2 trillion in tax cuts will be funded has yet to surface.

Regardless of the tax reform outcome, the economy continues to chug along at a healthy clip. Most recently, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the central statistic in measuring the health of the U.S. economy, was revised higher to a respectable +3.1% rate in the second quarter. The latest natural disasters may clip third quarter growth temporarily, however, the consensus remains the economic expansion stands on firm ground, despite the financial drag of the hurricanes.

While geopolitical, meteorological, and athletic anthem headlines have made this a “September to Remember,” fundamental strength and other factors have contributed to this enduring and unforgettable bull market. There will be many more noteworthy headlines to occur in coming months and years, but placing these events in the proper context and investing wisely will lead to a much more positive, memorable existence.

*The article was written before the Las Vegas tragedy on October 1, 2017.

www.Sidoxia.com

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients hold positions in certain exchange traded funds (ETFs), but at the time of publishing had no direct position in EFX or any other security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC Contact page

 

October 2, 2017 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

Autumn, Elections and Replacement Refs

Article is an excerpt from previously released Sidoxia Capital Management’s complementary October 1, 2012 newsletter. Subscribe on right side of page.

As September has come to a close, the grand finale of our annual seasons has commenced… autumn. How do we know autumn is here? Well, for starters, the leaves are changing colors; the weather is about to cool; and the NFL replacement referees are watching Sunday football games from their couches.

While 2012 is split into quarters, football games and investment seasons are also divided into four quarters. Right now, the economic fourth quarter has just started and the home team is winning. As we can see from the stock market scoreboard, the S&P 500 index is up +15% this year (+6% in Q3) and the NASDAQ index has catapulted +20% through September (+6% also in Q3). The U.S. home team is winning, but a fumble, blocked kick, or interception could mean the difference between an exciting win and a devastating loss.

Another game divided into four parts is the game of presidential politics. However, presidential elections are divided into four years – not four quarters. Five weeks from now, we’ll find out if our Commander in Chief Obama will get to lead our team for another game lasting four years, or whether backup quarterback Mit Romney will be called into the game. The fans are getting restless due to anemic growth and lingering joblessness, but for now, the coach is keeping the president in the starting lineup. Both President Obama and Governor Romney will take some head-to-head practice snaps against each other in the first of three scheduled presidential debates beginning this week.

Bernanke Changes Rules

The New York Jets have Tim Tebow for their secret weapon (1 for 1 yesterday!), and the United States economy has Ben Bernanke. Although our home team may be winning, it has required some monetary rule-changing policies to be instituted by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to keep our team in the lead. Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Bernake instituted QE3 (3rd round of quantitative easing), which is an open-ended mortgage buying program designed to lower home buying interest rates and stimulate the economy (see Helicopter Ben to QE3 Rescue). The short-term benefits of the $40 billion monthly bond buying binge are relatively clear (lower borrowing costs for homebuyers), but the longer-term costs of inflation are stewing patiently on the backburner.

Source: Calafia Beach Pundit (Scott Grannis)

As you can see from the chart above, August median home prices are up +10% for existing single-family homes over the last year. Housing affordability is at extremely attractive levels, and although the bank loan purse strings are tight, a modest loosening is beginning to unfold.

Economy Playing Injured

Our starters may still be playing, but many are injured, just like the jobless are limping through the employment market. Encouragingly, although unemployment remains stubbornly high, the number of people collecting unemployment checks is a lot lower (-1.25 million fewer than a year ago). Not great news, but at least we are hobbling in the right direction (see chart below).

Source: Calafia Beach Pundit (Scott Grannis)

Time for Fiscal Cliff Hail Mary?

If a team is losing at the end of a game, a “Hail Mary” pass might be necessary. We are quickly nearing this fiscal Armageddon situation as the approximately $700 billion “fiscal cliff” (a painful combo of spending cuts and tax hikes) kicks in at the end of the year (see PIMCO chart below via The Reformed Broker).

Running trillion dollar deficits in perpetuity is not a sustainable strategy, so for most people, a combination of spending cuts and/or tax hikes makes sense to narrow the gap (see chart below). Last year’s recommendations from the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission, which were ignored, are not a bad place to start. What happens in the lame-duck session of Congress (after the elections) will  dramatically impact the score of the current economic game, and decide who wins and who loses.

Source: Calafia Beach Pundit (Scott Grannis)

Heated debates continue on how the gap between expenses and revenues will be narrowed, but regardless, Democrats will continue to push for capital gains tax hikes on the rich (see tax chart below); and the Republicans will push to cut spending on entitlements, including untenable programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The game is not quite over, but the fourth quarter promises to be a bloody battle. So while the replacement refs may be back at home, the experienced returning refs have been known to blow calls too. Let’s just hope that autumn, the season of bounteous fecundity, ends up being a continued trend of sweet market success, rather than a political period of botched opportunities.

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

www.Sidoxia.com

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients hold positions in certain exchange traded funds (ETFs), but at the time of publishing SCM had no direct positions in any other security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC Contact page.

 

October 1, 2012 at 11:29 am Leave a comment

Turkey Day Tidbits

Well, I have managed to pull away from my turkey, mash potatoes, and pumpkin pie to scribble down some Cliff Clavin-like trivia as it relates to Thanksgiving.

Did you know?

  • Origin of Thanksgiving: The genesis of Thanksgiving dates back to the fall of 1621 when only half of the pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower survived. The survivors were thankful to be alive and therefore decided to have a thanksgiving feast. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving before Franklin Roosevelt (in office from 1933-1945) changed it to the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage holiday shopping (in case there was a fifth Thursday). As you can see, our infatuation with consumer spending existed all the way back to the first half of last century.
  • Turkey Chasing Trivia: For a plump delicious item consumed with gravy from my plate at a leisurely pace, I was surprised to discover wild turkeys can run up to 20 miles per hour and burst into flight speeds of approximately 50-55 miles per hour in a matter of seconds. Glad my fork and knife can contain this fast fowl from escaping its destiny into my belly.
  • Turkey Eating Trivia: The number of turkeys raised in the U.S. is estimated at 250 million in 2009, down about 8% from the $4.5 billion and 7.9 billion pounds produced in 2008. Minnesota, the “Gopher State,” is expected to be the top turkey producing state, registering in at 45.5 million gobblers. The annual turkey consumption of an American averaged 13.8 pounds in 2007 – with a healthy portion of that consumed during the Thanksgiving holiday period.
  • Other Fixins: You can’t have Thanksgiving turkey without cranberries, which explains the 709 million pounds of production expected in 2009 (more than half coming from Wisconsin). Cranberries are considered one of three native fruits to North America (the others are Concord grapes and blueberries).  There were about 3 billion pounds of sweet potatoes and pumpkins produced in 2008 (North Carolina and Illinois were the leading producers, respectively.).
  • Wishbone History: Back in the days of the Etruscans (about 1200 BC–550 BC), chickens were used for fortune-telling and the dried wishbones of the dead fowl were stroked for good luck. The tradition evolved through Roman times and the wishbone practice was modified to include the breaking of the bone. Eventually the custom made it to England, and the English took it to the New World.
  • Holiday Football: Ever since the league was created, the National Football League (NFL) has played games on Thanksgiving. The Detroit Lions have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day since 1934, with the exception of World War II (1939–1944).

More than all the trivia, I enjoy this holiday as a time for contemplation. The daily rat race hits us all to some degree and can distort our views of reality. On days like today, it’s nice to suppress the craziness (albeit temporarily) to reflect on those issues important to us, thereby reshaping our lives back into proper perspective.

And oh yeah, squeezing in some football on the boob-tube and stuffing my face with pie and ice cream makes it all the more enjoyable.

A happy and healthy Thanksgiving to all,

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper. 

DISCLOSURE: No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

November 26, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

The Hidden Train Wreck – Professional Athlete Portfolios

train-wreck

Need capital for a floating furniture venture? How about an oxygen absorbing skin procedure? Well, if you are having any difficulty, just call an NFL, NBA, or MLB rookie. Even wealthy professional athletes have been impacted by the financial crisis, not to mention the aggressive sales tactics of the investment industry and the players’ poor money management skills. Many players are too busy concentrating on winning games, while their portfolios are suffering losses. The statistics are staggering. Here are the findings, according to an article published in Sports Illustrated earlier this year:

  • “By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.”
  • “Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.”
  • The divorce rate for pro athletes ranges from 60% to 80%, based on estimates from athletes and agents.
  • “According to the NFL Players Association, at least 78 players lost a total of more than $42 million between 1999 and 2002 because they trusted money to financial advisers with questionable backgrounds.”

These are not old, dementia-suffering widows living in Florida we are talking about, but rather professional athletes, many of which made multi-million fortunes during their playing careers. The article goes out of its way to demonstrate this is not a fringe issue affecting a minority of professional athletes. Numerous examples were provided, including the following:

  • Ten current and former Major League Baseball players, including outfielder Jonny Damon of the New York Yankees, had some of their money tied up in the alleged $8 billion fraud perpetrated by Robert Allen Stanford.
  • Raghib (Rocket) Ismail lost a fortune by investing in excessively risky ventures, including a movie about music label COZ Records; a cosmetics procedure company; a nationwide phone-card dispensing venture; and a framed calligraphy company opened in New Orleans two months before Hurricane Katrina hit.
  • Drew Bledsoe, Rick Mirer and five other NFL retirees each invested a minimum of $100,000 in a failed start-up, which touted “biometric authentication” technology that potentially could replace credit cards with fingerprints. The players eventually sued UBS (the financial-services firm) for allegedly withholding information about the company founder’s criminal history and drug use.
  • Torii Hunter, outfielder for the Los Angeles, invested almost $70,000 in living-room furniture that included inflatable rafts – perfect for those consumers living in flood zones. Suffice it to say, the results did not meet initial expectations.
  • In addition to his legal problems, NFL quarterback Michael Vick filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year partly because he could not repay about $6 million in bank loans that he directed toward a car-rental franchise in Indiana, wine shop in Georgia  and real estate in Canada.
  • Retired NBA forward Vin Baker’s seafood restaurant in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, was foreclosed on in February 2008 due to nearly $900,000 in unpaid loans.
  • “NBA guard Kenny Anderson filed for bankruptcy in October 2005. He detailed how the estimated $60 million he earned in the league had dwindled to nothing. He bought eight cars and rang up monthly expenses of $41,000, including outlays for child support, his mother’s mortgage and his own five-bedroom house in Beverly Hills, Calif.—not to mention $10,000 in what he dubbed “hanging-out money.” He also regularly handed out $3,000 to $5,000 to friends and relatives.”
  • “Former NBA forward Shawn Kemp (who has at least seven children by six women) and, more recently, Travis Henry (nine by nine) have seen their fortunes sapped by monthly child-support payments in the tens of thousands of dollars.”

Besides irresponsible spending, and greedy advisors, contributing factors to all the losses are the “boring” and “unintelligible” nature of securities investments. Professional athletes like to flaunt investments like night clubs and car dealerships – there is a “thrill of tangibility,” according to SI writer Pablo Torre.

Professional athletes are not the only ones suffering losses. Ordinary investors have lost also and are learning it’s not what you make – rather it’s what you preserve and grow. The majority of the athletes do not realize their peak earnings years cover a very brief period, and therefore need to be more prudent with their money management since the windfall moneys must be spread over many years.

Trust is an important but difficult trait to find for many of these athletes since many opportunistic friends, acquaintances, and family members in many cases put their self interests ahead of the professional athlete’s needs. There is no simple formula for intelligent money management, however there are ways for athletes to protect their financial blind spots:

1)      Educate Themselves. Learn the basics of what you are investing in. You may not learn the ins and outs but you can get a basic understanding of the expected return and volatility of your investments. Athletes often forget about diversification as well, “Chronic over-allocation into real estate and bad private equity is the number one problem [for athletes] in terms of a financial meltdown,” Ed Butowsky of Chapwood Investments says.

2)      Trust But Verify. Ronald Reagan famously made those statements decades ago and the principle applies to money too. Many athletes pay tens of thousands of dollars for investment advice, so asking questions is advisable. Specifically, ask how performance is trending versus comparable benchmarks and get a view over multiple time periods.

3)      Avoid Friends and Family. If possible, separating business from friends and family is a wise idea. When emotions mix with money, harmful decisions can damage the athlete’s financial future.

4)      Determine Fees & Commissions. When investing hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, fees and commissions can be substantial; therefore it is imperative for the athletes to know what they are paying their advisors.

5)      Experience Matters. Check out the background of your advisor and determine the licenses and credentials they hold. If you were flying a plane in a heavy storm, you would want an experienced pilot flying the plane, not a flight attendant.

6)      Budget. Establish an investment plan with a sustainable lifestyle that accounts for inflation. As veteran agent Bill Duffy says, whose clients include Suns guard Steve Nash and Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, “A pro athlete’s money is supposed to outlive his career. Most players never get that.”

Athletes spend their whole lives trying to make the professional ranks in order to earn the big bucks. Due to their high profile status, financial advisors and trusted individuals prey on the sports figures’ wealth. Unfortunately a majority of the athletes lack the money management skills and discipline to preserve and grow their earned wealth. Perhaps repeatedly shining a light on the dirty under-belly of this tragic problem will prevent future financial train wrecks from occurring. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to sift though the bankrupt remains of inflatable sofa raft companies and liquidation proceeds from failed night clubs.

Read the Complete Sports Illustrated Article Here

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

September 23, 2009 at 3:45 am 4 comments

Stock Market Nirvana: Butter in Bangladesh

Butter

Hallelulah to Jason Zweig at The Wall Street Journal for tackling the subject of data mining through his interview with David Leinweber, author of Nerds on Wall Street. All this talk about Goldman Sachs, High Frequency Trading (HFT) and quantitative models is making my head spin and distorting the true value of data modeling. Quantitative modeling should serve as a handy device in your tool-box, not a robotic “black box” solely relied on for buy and sell recommendations. As the article points out, all types of sites and trading platforms are hawking their proprietary tools and models du jour.

The problem with many of these models, even for the ones that work, is that financial market behavior and factors are constantly changing. Therefore any strategy exploiting outsized profits will eventually be discovered by other financial vultures and exploited away. As Mr. Leinweber points out, these models become meaningless if the data is sliced and diced to form manipulated relationships and predictive advice that make no sense.

Butter in Bangladesh: To drive home the shortcomings of data mining, Leinweber uses a powerful example in his book, Nerds on Wall Street, of butter production in Bangladesh. In searching for the most absurd data possible to explain the returns of the S&P 500 index, Leinweiber discovered that butter production in Bangladesh was an excellent predictor of stock market returns, explaining 75% of the variation of historical returns. The Wall Street Journal goes onto add:

By tossing in U.S. cheese production and the total population of sheep in both Bangladesh and the U.S., Mr. Leinweber was able to “predict” past U.S. stock returns with 99% accuracy.

 

For some money managers, the satirical stab Leinweber was making with the ridiculous analysis was lost in translation –  after the results were introduced Leinweber had multiple people request his dairy-sheep model. “A distressing number of people don’t get that it was a joke,” Leinweber sighed.

Super Bowl Crystal Ball: Leinweber is not the first person to discover the illogical use of meaningless factors in quantitative models. Industry observers have noticed stocks tend to perform well in years the old National Football league team wins the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, this year we had two “old” NFL teams play each other (Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals). Oops, I guess we need to readjust those models again.

NFL Data mining

Other bizarre studies have been done linking stock market performance to the number of nine-year-olds living in the U.S. and another linking positive stock market returns to smog reduction.

Data Mining Avoidance Rules:

1)    Sniff Test: The data results have to make sense.  Correlation between variables does not necessarily equate to causation.

2)    Cut Data into Slices: By dividing the data into pieces, you can see how robust the relationships are across the whole data set.

3)    Account for Costs: The results may look wonderful, but the model creator must verify the inclusion of all trading costs, fees, and taxes to increase confidence results will work in the real world.

4)    Let Data Brew: What looks good on paper might not work in real life. “If a strategy’s worthwhile,” Mr. Leinweber says, “then it’ll still be worthwhile in six months or a year.”

Not everyone has a PhD in statistics, however you don’t need one to skeptically ask tough questions. Doing so will help avoid the buried land mines in many quantitative models. Happy butter churning…

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

Read Full WSJ Article Here

See WSJ Video Interview Here

August 11, 2009 at 4:00 am 5 comments


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