Daily Gains Letter

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This Foreign Market a Hidden Treasure for Growth Investors

By for Daily Gains Letter | Sep 19, 2014

Foreign Market Hidden Treasure for Growth InvestorsWhile the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average race to new record-highs, there’s still a sense of caution and vulnerability on the side of investors towards the stock markets here in the U.S.

In fact, a study I read in Bloomberg estimated that around 47% of stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock market are currently in a technical bear stock market, down 20% or more from the highs. On the small-cap Russell 2000, the story is even worse with more than 40% in a bear stock market. And the study shows that the S&P 500 had a mere eight percent of stocks in a technical bear stock market.

There’s even talk of the S&P 500 reaching 2,300 by the year’s end, according to some of the optimistic bulls on Wall Street. I feel it’s pure fantasy that the index will rise by another 15% by year-end.

The reality is that the stock market is stalling. Without any fresh and inviting reasons to buy, I sense the stock market risk is quite high.

An alternative would be to invest in a foreign market, and while I like China, Israel is fast becoming the favorite for growth investors. Israel has produced some top companies in the past, especially in the technology and medical devices sectors.

Israeli stocks are the third most listed stocks on the U.S. stock markets. (China is second.) As a country, Israel may be small, but an excellent investment opportunity can usually be found there. Moreover, the risk for fraud is much lower than with U.S.-listed Chinese stocks. I can’t say that I have ever heard of fraudulent … Read More


Trouble in the Global Economy? (McDonald’s, Wal-Mart Say So)

By for Daily Gains Letter | Aug 13, 2014

Trouble in the Global EconomyThink all is well—or at least OK—with the global economy? Don’t relax too much, as that doesn’t seem to be the case. As we all know, spending drives economic growth, whether it’s from consumers, businesses, investments, or governments. Without one part or another, there would be added pressure on other areas.

The United States recently saw a strong advance second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth reading that pointed to relatively strong economic growth. But there are other signs that suggest otherwise.

Where I like to look is to the major multinationals and the spending on their goods in the global economy.

A pretty decent barometer on the global economy is consumer spending in restaurants, especially with fast foods.

Fast-food heavyweight McDonalds Corporation (NYSE/MCD), for instance, is struggling to find growth in the global economy, and that’s because spending from the other 99% is stalling.

The maker of the Big Mac announced that its comparable sales for its stores in the global economy fell 2.5% in July. The decline was highlighted by a 3.2% drop in the U.S., along with a massive 7.3% plummet in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (APMEA) regions. Only Europe edged slightly higher.

In its second quarter (ended June 30, 2014), McDonald’s reported a 1.5% contraction in its comparable sales in the U.S.

The reality is that the numbers clearly suggest a continued struggle to lure customers into stores. This is significant, as McDonald’s is a big buyer of products, such as beef, milk, chicken, and vegetables, so a decline in sales in the global economy means less demand for these products. This would translate into … Read More


Cashing In on America’s Obesity Epidemic

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jun 2, 2014

How to Play America's Obesity EpidemicI would be the first to admit that on occasion, I have a craving for donuts, fries, and junk food. Luckily, it’s not that often, and I manage to stick to a fitness program.

Yet overindulgence and rising obesity levels have become a crisis not only in America, but in many countries around the world. It seems as though as people get wealthier, they also become fatter.

I recently read that about a third of the world is now considered overweight, based on a study by Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. (Source: Cheng, M., “30 percent of world is now fat, no country immune,” Yahoo! Finance, May 29, 2014.) The research suggests that Americans are the fattest people in the world, accounting for a whopping 13% of the total. This shouldn’t be a surprise, given the amount of fast food people tend to eat.

Now, while the rising obesity levels are clearly an issue for the healthcare sector down the road, there are companies that are in the business of helping people shed the pounds—this is a sector you can play as an investment opportunity at this time.

A small-cap stock that is worth a look as an investment opportunity in this area is Medifast, Inc. (NYSE/MED), which has a share price of $31.14 and a market cap of $409 million. Medifast is a producer and seller of weight and disease management products, along with consumable health and diet products. The company’s product line is sold under the Medifast brand and includes meal replacements and vitamins for those trying to … Read More


Investors Causing Massive Shifts in Growth Stocks

By for Daily Gains Letter | May 14, 2014

Key Stock Indices Soon DisappointYou can’t deny it: there are outright signs of stress on the key stock indices. We see investors are worried, and they just don’t like risk. We see huge selling in the growth stocks, with names like Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ/AMZN) and Twitter, Inc. (NYSE/TWTR); they are witnessing a huge sell-off and are now in bear market territory. The biotechnology sector is getting slammed—investors are hitting the bid and running for the exit.

With all this happening, one question comes to mind: what happens next? Growth stocks can act as a leading indicator of what’s next for the markets. Are key stock indices setting up for a huge market sell-off ahead?

Sadly, as this happens, we are hearing a significant increase in the noise. The bulls say this pullback should be used to get into the sold-off companies again. The bears argue that key stock indices are going to shed more gains. Beware; your portfolio might get hurt.

When it comes to investing for the long run, it is critical that investors try to minimize the noise and look at the long term.

With this said, over the past few years, the key stock indices have increased significantly. 2013 was another stellar year. Key stock indices like the S&P 500 increased more than 30%. Companies that are getting sold off—for example, Amazon.com—increased roughly 50%. The NASDAQ biotechnology sector that’s plunging lower now had increased by more than 85% in 2013.

Going forward, it doesn’t look like the year 2014 will be anything like 2013. I expect the key stock indices to move sideways—trading in a range. These ranges may break to … Read More


Three “Mother’s Day” Stocks to Boost Your Portfolio

By for Daily Gains Letter | May 7, 2014

investment strategiesMother’s Day is on Sunday, and it’s not too late to begin thinking about how to celebrate and reward good old mom for all those years of managing the household.

Of course, what always comes to mind are flowers, a special dinner, or perhaps a show or gift to display your appreciation.

So whether it’s from you to your mom or for your wife from your kids, it’s not a day to forget—trust me, you’ll be in the dog house if you do. (I know that’s what would happen in my case!)

Given that, it doesn’t hurt to browse around for something for your portfolio while your mind is in Mother’s Day shopping mode. Here are three examples of the stocks you could consider as an investment opportunity that could benefit from this day, based on my stock analysis.

First of all, what woman doesn’t want flowers? A decent investment opportunity, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. (NASDAQ/FLWS) is worth a look. The online operator sells market-fresh flowers along with plants, gift baskets, gourmet foods, confections, candles, balloons, and stuffed animals. I like 1-800-FLOWERS.COM as an investment opportunity.

1-800 Flowers.com Chart Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

In the fiscal third quarter (ended March 30, 2014), 1-800-FLOWERS.COM reported quarterly revenues of $179.6 million, which was down from $191.6 million in the year-earlier fiscal third quarter. The company attributed the decline to the winter conditions and the shift of Easter to the fiscal fourth quarter. The quarter saw the addition of 675,000 new customers; 1.6 million customers ordered something during the quarter, according to the company.

For that special dinner to show your appreciation, you might consider taking your mom … Read More


Three Ways to Profit from an Exhausted Stock Market

By for Daily Gains Letter | May 1, 2014

How Play Uneasy Market ProfitWhen I’m looking at the screens each day, I notice there’s some selling capitulation occurring that makes me think back to 2000, when the technology stocks imploded.

Now, while I doubt we are seeing a repeat of 14 years ago, you have to wonder about the mad dash to the exits for many of the high-momentum technology stocks along with small-cap stocks. The small-caps are under threat, with the Russell 2000 down nearly eight percent in 2014 so far and close to five percent in April alone. Watch as the index is just above its 200-day moving average (MA).

 Russells 2000 Small Cap Index ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

As I said last week, the fact that the NASDAQ and Russell 2000 have failed to recover their respective 50-day MAs is a red flag, based on my technical analysis. Moreover, the presence of a possible bearish head-and-shoulders formation on the NASDAQ chart is concerning for technology stocks.

The lack of any leadership from technology stocks now, which was so prevalent in 2013, has also hurt the broader stock market.

On the charts, only the S&P 500 is positive in 2014, with a slight advance. All of the key stock indices were negative in April—a month that has historically been positive.

To make matters worse, we are heading into traditionally the worst six-month period for the stock market, from May to October, so it’s not going to get easier anytime soon.

The fact that numerous technology stocks have produced some strong earnings results is encouraging, but the lack of strong follow-through buying is a concern and suggests some exhaustion towards technology stocks.

We also have the uncertainty … Read More


This Top Stock a Poster Child for Consistency

By for Daily Gains Letter | Apr 17, 2014

My Top Stock for Long-Term Investors to Rest EasyThe chase for high-beta stocks appears to be fading at this juncture, as we are seeing a shift in the risk profile to lower-beta and more conservative large-cap stocks in the stock market.

After the staggering gains made by technology and small-cap stocks in 2013, it’s time to take a prudent approach to the stock market and refrain from chasing risk at this time.

We are seeing a move to consumer staples stocks that tend to fare reasonably well in both up and down stock markets.

While I favor small-cap stocks in an up stock market, the current tension in the stock market makes it dangerous to pursue risk. This is a time you need to be in defensive stocks.

The big banks, consumer staples, and industrial sectors look decent for those wanting to continue to invest at this time. Momentum and growth should be avoided for now.

If you are looking for a singular stock market play that offers diversity and a defensive approach, take a look at time-tested General Electric Company (NYSE/GE), which has offered investors steady returns in the majority of periods since its beginnings in 1892.

General Electric (GE) is precisely what you want in this type of market. It’s extremely well diversified across many industries and geographical areas around the world.

The company prides itself on producing steady results to shareholders. Its management strategy is to hire CEOs for 20-year time spans that allow for stability.

GE is the poster child for consistency in corporate America.

The company isn’t going to make you rich in a short period of time in the stock market, but … Read More


Time to Ditch Swinging Cyclicals?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Apr 4, 2014

investment strategyThe stock market appears to be getting somewhat top-heavy. Scanning through my screens, I am quite amazed to find that the majority of S&P 500 stocks are well above their respective 200-day moving averages, which makes opportunities much more difficult to come by for the average investor who might look at their portfolio once a week or month.

But the buying in the stock market has still largely been with the technology, growth, and small-cap stocks, due to the higher potential to make quick money versus investing in blue chips or industrial companies.

In 2013, we saw staggering upside moves in some of the momentum stocks, such as Google Inc. (NASDAQ/GOOG), priceline.com Incorporated (NASDAQ/PCLN), Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ/NFLX), and Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE/CMG). These are the top players in their respective areas.

But that was then. Now, we are seeing a renewed interest in some of the safer names in the stock market, which is why the Dow Jones and S&P 500 outperformed in March.

My view is that while there will still be money to be made in some of the more speculative and momentum plays in the stock market, we could also see a pause for investors to digest the gains made.

Cyclical stocks, or those companies that swing with the economy, are still worth a look, but should the economic renewal stall and jobs creation dry up, it might be time to look elsewhere. Here I’m talking about those sectors such as auto, furniture, retail, travel, and restaurants.

Everyone is spending when all is good and people are making money on the stock market, but spending will … Read More


Three Silver Plays That Can Weather a Short-Term Downturn

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 27, 2014

Three Silver PlaysTechnically, the Federal Reserve’s job is to oversee the monetary policy (short-term interest rates) of the world’s biggest economy. Obviously, it does, but it’s also important to remember that its opinion and carefully chosen words also have a major impact on the global markets and world economies.

If the Federal Reserve says the U.S. economy is doing well, investors flood the markets. If, on the other hand, the Federal Reserve says the U.S. economy is having difficulty gaining traction, investors turn their attention to precious metals to hedge against a weak U.S. and global economy and inflation.

It’s worked like clockwork since the Federal Reserve stepped in to help kick-start the U.S. economy with its generous monetary policy after the markets crashed. During the first round of quantitative easing (November 25, 2008 to March 31, 2010), silver climbed 65%.

Sensing the economy was still unstable, the Federal Reserve initiated its second round of quantitative easing (November 3, 2010 to June 30, 2011), during which time silver climbed an additional 39%. In September 2012, the Federal Reserve commenced its third, open-ended round of quantitative easing. If history is any indicator, the third round of quantitative easing should have been a boon for silver—but it wasn’t.

Silver prices edged steadily lower over the ensuing months. In April 2013, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. famously trimmed its outlook for gold to $1,450 an ounce by the end of 2013 and $1,270 at the end of 2014. The company noted that the banking crisis in Cyprus didn’t have the expected positive effect on the price of gold.

Silver and gold prices fell lower in … Read More


Why I’d Still Stay Away from Bitcoin

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 17, 2014

Stay Away from Bitcoin“I think the stock market is getting into the overbought territory. Gold is due for a pullback. To be honest, I don’t see many opportunities out there other than bitcoins.” These were the words of wisdom from my good old friend Mr. Speculator. While most have forgotten about the virtual currency, Mr. Speculator thinks there’s an opportunity.

His reasoning behind this shows he is very naïve. He said, “The bitcoin prices have come down significantly from their highs. Buy low.”

It seems as if Mr. Speculator has forgotten one of the most basic lessons of investing.

Sure, bitcoin prices have declined—in fact, the word “collapsed” should be used. Just a few months ago, one bitcoin could be purchased for more than $1,100. Now, the price hovers below $700.00.

If you are considering bitcoins to be a good investment opportunity, you have to know what is really happening; there are too many concerns surrounding the currency, and investors should be aware of them.

One of the biggest concerns, among many, is that one of the main exchanges where bitcoins could be bought and sold, called Mt. Gox, filed for bankruptcy. Before the exchange filed for bankruptcy, there were complaints about users not being able to withdraw money. With this, there is also evidence of fraudulent activity. (Source: Finley, K., “Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox Files for U.S. Bankruptcy as Death Spiral Continues,” Wired, March 10, 2014.) This is sending out a wave of fear.

Another concern is that usage of the virtual currency is being questioned. Will bitcoin ever get the currency status?

Consider this: a company called Balanced Energy LLC, based … Read More


The Three Basic Principles of Profitable Long-Term Investing

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 14, 2014

Three Steps to Long-Term Financial FreedomWith a long-term portfolio, the goal is to earn a constant rate of return over a long period. Sadly, even with this in mind, investors end up making decisions that jeopardize their long-term objectives.

They make mistakes, but luckily, the effects of these mistakes can be easily controlled, saving their portfolio from disaster—it all comes down to these three principles of smart long-term investing that every investor needs to know when building their long-term portfolio.

When There’s Rising Optimism, Go into Protective Mode

Too often investors try to predict when the exact bottom or the top will occur. It is dangerous for their portfolio, and long-term investors should certainly avoid doing this. Investors have to know that they can be very wrong and face massive losses if their predictions don’t come true.

With this said, there are certain things an investor can look out for when predicting if a top or bottom is near, allowing them to then act accordingly. For example, there’s a saying: “Buy when there’s blood on the streets.” Investors should follow this saying as a guideline of when the bottom is nearing. This essentially means to buy when no one wants to buy. Those who remember will recall that in March of 2009, we had a very similar situation to this.

If there’s increasing optimism, such as we see these days, investors should be worried and go into protective mode; rising optimism is an indicator of a top. Raise cash in your portfolio, and wait to see where the markets go. Aggressively buying new stock to add to your portfolio as the optimism is increasing can … Read More


What’s Happening in the Copper Market Should Alarm You…

By Sasha Cekerevac for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 14, 2014

Plunge in Copper Is a Big Warning SignThere is something going on right now in the copper market that should alarm you. Over the past week, the price of copper has plunged, recently hitting a four-year low.

Why should this matter?

Most investors and analysts are placing bets that economic growth is about to re-accelerate globally. Never before has the world been so interlinked, so we must pay attention to what is occurring internationally.

Copper is an important part of the potential for economic growth, not just because it is used in building and construction, but because it is also a major factor in the Chinese lending market, which is now showing severe strain leading to a potential debt crisis.

Remember, the last financial emergency was led by a debt crisis brought on by a housing bubble that eventually popped. High levels of debt creating a bubble are always dangerous, as the hangover is quite severe.

How does this impact economic growth for us here in America?

To begin with, we all know that the U.S. is doing relatively better than other parts of the world, but we are not exactly running at full speed. Any slowdown in economic growth—especially with a country as large as China—that is brought on by a debt crisis in that nation could severely impact our economy.

In China, the lending market is quite different than in North America, and firms have to rely on what’s called shadow banking.

Many firms in China have trouble borrowing, so they buy copper and use it as collateral. We are not talking about a small amount of money, as a shadow banking system in China … Read More


Four Companies Rewarding Patient Investors

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 13, 2014

Patient InvestorsThere’s more to renewable energy than just wind and sun. And thank goodness for that, because our interest and investment in traditional renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind farms seems to be on the decline.

The amount spent on deals to finance clean energy and efficiency projects tanked 12% in 2013 to $254 billion—a quicker pace than the 9.1% drop in 2012 from a record level of $318 billion in 2011. (Source: Goossens, E., “Clean Energy Support Falls Again to $254 Billion in 2013,” Bloomberg, January 15, 2014.)

The drop in investment and interest in traditional renewable energy sources is a setback when you consider annual investments in renewable energy sources need to double to $500 billion by the end of the decade—and then double again to $1.0 trillion by 2030. That represents a huge clean energy investment gap.

Decreased interest in some renewable energy sources also comes on the heels of the discovery of abundant sources of non-renewable energy, like shale oil. And since we don’t really like change all that much and prefer the path of least resistance, our dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil is not going to diminish anytime soon. That said, the scales will eventually tip in favor of renewable energy sources.

With that in mind, when it comes to your investments, some analysts recommend allocating five percent of your retirement portfolio to clean energy.

After years of silence and disappointing investors, optimism on the heels of a number of large contracts are helping companies that make fuel cells reward really, really patient investors.

Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ/PLUG) got the fuel cell … Read More


How Global Debt of More Than $100 Trillion Is Threatening Your Portfolio

By Sasha Cekerevac for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 12, 2014

Global DebtThere is a recent statistic that is quite shocking: the total amount of debt globally is now over $100 trillion, a jump of 40% over the last six years.

According to the Bank for International Settlements, which is run by 60 central banks, since the financial crisis, the majority of the $100 trillion in debt has been issued by governments and nonfinancial corporations. (Source: “March 2014 quarterly review,” Bank for International Settlements web site, March 9, 2014.)

You would think that with such a huge amount being issued, it would drive interest rates higher amid a debt crisis. But as we all know, the exact opposite has occurred with interest rates still near historic lows.

What’s really shocking is that governments and corporations have borrowed and pumped out a massive amount of money, yet the global economy is barely moving. We know why corporations have issued the debt; with interest rates low, it does make sense to take advantage of the environment, borrow money, and fund share buybacks and dividends.

Of course, it makes one ask the question—if high levels of debt fueled the previous debt crisis, can we fundamentally solve this problem with even more debt? Not likely.

The real question for investors who are allocating capital to these markets is: are they suitable for long-term investors, or should we consider if a debt crisis is possible?

With the situation in Ukraine deteriorating along with other parts of the world, such as Venezuela, this is creating a flight to the perceived quality of the bond market in the developed world. However, long-term, I’m not so sure.

With the U.S. … Read More


How to Boost Your Profits in This Exhausted Market

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 10, 2014

stock marketSince 2009, the U.S. stock market has become one of the hottest plays. Investors have poured in money and have reaped the rewards. In the last five years, many stocks have doubled or more. Looking at all this, one must really question if the stock market can go at this pace for a long period of time.

If you look back, you will notice that whenever there has been too much bullish sentiment, the stock market usually comes down. As it stands, we see stock advisors calling for 2014 to be a year similar to 2013 when the stock market increased significantly.

I don’t agree with the mainstream opinion. I have said this before in these pages: the stock market will most likely not show as robust a performance this year as it did last year—and it may even fall as we head further into the year.

Here’s why…

For the stock market to continue to increase, you want to see momentum on the side of the buyers. When I look at the charts, I see nothing but indecision and exhaustion. It appears investors are struggling to take the prices higher. Look at the chart below. I will use the sell-off we saw in January and early February as an example.

S&P 500 Large cap Index ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

One of the indicators of a healthy stock market that I look at is how many days it takes to get back to or break above the market’s previous highs after a sell-off. If the market moves slowly, then you can judge it as not as strong. If it goes back up quickly, then the … Read More


Are ETFs Really the Best Investment for You?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 7, 2014

Pros and Cons of Indexed InvestingOne of the investment strategies discussed in the mainstream these days is to add exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to your portfolio. It is said that when you do just that, your portfolio has lower risks and you are well diversified.

For investors who are not as advanced, when it comes to investing; this investment strategy makes sense. For those who are advanced, they shouldn’t fall for this investment strategy; they may be better off going the other way—buying individual stocks instead.

Let me explain…

Between March of 2009—when the bull market run started—until February of this year, if you bought the most famous ETF for your portfolio—that is SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca/SPY), which tracks the S&P 500—your returns would be more than 185%. Plus, there would be dividends. Including dividends, your returns would be just over 200%.

But, saying the very least, you could have done better.

If instead of buying the SPY at the time when markets were presenting investors with an opportunity of a lifetime you bought a company from the S&P 500 like General Electric Company (NYSE/GE), your profits would be upwards of 300%. This is including the dividends you would have received.

With all this said, let me make one thing very clear; I am not opposed to adding ETFs to a portfolio. Rather, I believe investors can get better portfolio returns if they are confident enough in making their investment decisions and buying individual companies instead of sticking to indexed investing.

In 2009, stock markets were very uncertain. With companies like GE, there were fears that it may go bankrupt. Buying at that time wouldn’t have … Read More


Three Ways to Protect Your Wealth from Global Uncertainty

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 5, 2014

Crude oilNothing helps create volatility on the stock market like the threat of war. And just a few short days after the close of the bloated $52.0-billion behemoth in Sochi, Russia has embraced its ne’er-do-well Olympic spirit and invaded the Ukraine. Or, according to Putin, “pro-Russian soldiers” have simply moved into the Ukraine to defend Russian interests.

With a growing threat of war/retaliation on the horizon, investors have been pulling their money from riskier assets, like stocks—sending global financial markets reeling. Crude oil and gold prices, on the other hand, have been on the rebound.

While it seems utterly crass to deconstruct the potential for war down to economics, the fact remains—a stand-off or sanctions could both disrupt gas supplies to the European Union and send U.S. crude oil prices higher.

For starters, any issues in the Ukraine could disrupt the flow of natural gas supplies from Russia to the European Union. That’s because the European Union gets about a third of its crude oil and natural gas supply (and a quarter of its coal) from Russia, mostly piped through the Ukraine. Russia, the world’s biggest crude oil producer, generated 10.9 million barrels a day in 2013 and currently exports close to 5.5 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Since the end of the Cold War, no one really worried about relying on Russia for crude oil and coal. All of that has changed. While the notion of war is remote, it’s still on the table. Nations far removed from Russia and Ukraine might push for economic sanctions, just as the U.S. has done, threatening visa bans, asset freezes, and … Read More


Making This “Difficult” Trade Now Could Set You Well Ahead of the Crowd

By Sasha Cekerevac for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 5, 2014

investor sentimentOne of the most difficult things for an investor to do is look beyond the current environment. One of the biggest reasons that many investors underperform is because of their own human biases.

This is perfectly natural, as we tend to expect more of the same in terms of what has been recent history. In this way, investor sentiment becomes far too complacent.

Is there a way that you can take advantage when investor sentiment is causing the markets to be mispriced?

Absolutely, but you first need to have an understanding that this is indeed occurring. A perfect example over the past couple of years has been with gold bullion. During the run-up in gold bullion prices, investor sentiment became overly bullish as some people assumed that the price would continue rising forever.

Obviously, that’s completely unrealistic, but this led to a position where investor sentiment was leaning too far toward the bullish camp. Conversely, gold bullion in the second half of 2013 was the recipient of massive levels of negative investor sentiment.

In that case, people looked at the recent price trends for gold bullion and assumed that the sell-off would continue—again an unrealistic expectation, but a natural human reaction. There’s an old saying in the market that the right trade is the tough trade. When the market in gold bullion was selling off and very few people were talking about it, this negative investor sentiment was an excellent opportunity to begin accumulating, but it’s not easy to be contrary to the crowd.

The future is unknown, and a perfect example is the current situation occurring in Ukraine. With … Read More


Five Ways to Preserve Your Wealth as Key Stock Indices Decline

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 28, 2014

Key Stock IndicesThe key stock indices continue to make new highs. Each day, there’s someone on the TV saying how we are going higher. Some are estimating key stock indices will do much better this year than last. No matter where you look, the opinion seems to be the same: buy stocks and your portfolio will do great. With all this happening, investors must remember one very important lesson that the stock market has taught us over and over again: a rising tide lifts all boats, but tides come and go.

Let me explain…

As key stock indices are going higher, investors’ portfolios may look great. Their return may be exuberant, but they shouldn’t forget that markets tend to move in waves. The conditions may look rosy now, but eventually, it all turns. Key stock indices are known to have corrections—minor or steep.

When the times are good on the key stock indices, such as now, long-term investors have to keep market corrections and sell-offs in mind.

Generally, when the key stock indices turn, investors turn towards government bonds. This is mainly because they move in the opposite direction of the stock market. Investors can protect their assets when key stock indices decline by going heavyweight on exchange-traded funds (ETFs), like PIMCO Total Return ETF (NYSEArca/BOND)—this ETF, like many others, invests in bonds with different maturities. Investors may even consider ETFs like iShares TIPS Bond (NYSEArca/TIP), which invests in the inflation-protected bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury.

Another way investors can protect their portfolio in the case that key stock indices sell off is through gold bullion. The yellow shiny metal has … Read More


Where to Invest When Key Stock Indices Struggle to Climb Higher

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 25, 2014

Key Stock IndicesKey stock indices were going through a rough patch from the beginning of the year until early February. Now, they seem to have some momentum to the upside. With this, investors are asking what kind of upside potential is possible. Will the key stock indices continue to increase and break above their previous highs, or are we due for another sell-off like the one we saw earlier, and only then will we see some good buying points?

Let me begin by saying what I have said many times in these pages before: 2013 was a stellar year for key stock indices, but now they need to breathe a little. The key stock indices may go above their all-time highs made at the end of last year, but the move isn’t going to be as robust. You might see a slow, dreadful move to the upside.

If this scenario does play out—key stock indices moving slowly and breaking above their all-time highs—the fundamentals are suggesting it won’t be a significant move.

Companies on the key stock indices are warning about their corporate earnings. For example, 66 companies on the S&P 500 have issued negative guidance about their corporate earnings in the first quarter of this year. (Source: “Slightly larger cuts to earnings estimates than average at mid-point of Q1 2014,” FactSet, February 14, 2014.) Corporate earnings estimates by analysts are also being slashed. Mind you, we are just in the second month of the quarter.

Major names on the key stock indices are reporting horrible sales. Consider Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE/CAT), a major industrial goods manufacturer, for example. The company reported its … Read More


Why Canadian Oil Plays Are More Attractive Than Their U.S. Counterparts Right Now

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 25, 2014

Canadian Oil StocksWhile the U.S. economy is hardly on solid footing, the fact remains that as the world’s biggest and most influential economy, the U.S. doesn’t have to be running optimally to keep the global economy chugging along. Though, it would be nice if the U.S. economy would gain sustainable traction. Until then, we will have to be content with its glacial pace of recovery.

And it is slow. In 2012, gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 2.8% and in 2013, it slowed to just 1.9%. Things are expected to get better over the next two years. U.S. GDP growth is forecast to hit 2.8% in 2014 and an even three percent in 2015.

The rest of the world will be playing catch-up. Well, save for the Chinese economy, which has a 2014 growth forecast of 7.5%. GDP growth in the eurozone picked up 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2013—the third quarter of growth since the end of an 18-month recession. (Source: “Eurozone GDP growth gathers speed,” BBC News web site, February 14, 2014.)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that India’s GDP growth will hit 4.6% this year and climb to 5.4% in 2015. Brazil recently revised its 2014 GDP growth rate from 3.8% to 2.5%—which is still higher than analysts’ GDP growth forecasts of 1.79%. (Sources: Mishra, A.R., “IMF says India needs more rate hikes to bring inflation down,” Livemint.com, The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2014; “Brazil cuts 2014 budget, GDP estimate,” Buenos Aires Herald web site, February 21, 2014.)

For investors who have been waiting for a broadly based global recovery, these are encouraging signs. It also … Read More


More Economic Indicators Show Next to Nothing Has Changed for U.S. Investors

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 24, 2014

More Economic Indicators Show Next to Nothing Has ChangedTwo things have been consistent this winter: bad weather and bad economic news. And both just keep on rolling. With spring just around the corner, the weather will clear up; the U.S. economic news, on the other hand, might not be so lucky.

Over the course of the last week or so, a raft of weak economic news and earnings has welcomed the markets.

For starters, a higher number of Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits for the week ended February 8. Jobless claims climbed by 8,000 to 339,000; the four-week moving average for new claims increased to 336,750 from 333,250.

For the week ended February 15, applications improved—though barely—by 3,000 to 336,000, which was less than what was forecast. The four-week moving average (which is considered a less volatile figure), increased by 1,750 to 338,500.

And then there’s more bad economic news on the home front. Last week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said that its monthly housing sentiment index tanked from 56 in January to 46 in February, the largest monthly drop in history. The negative sentiment goes hand in hand with the two-percent drop in applications for U.S. home mortgages for the first week of February. Mortgage application activity continued its nascent drop in the second week of February, falling 4.1% to 380.9.

Further weakness is being felt in U.S. manufacturing. Economic news from both the New York and Philadelphia indices disappointed. The New York manufacturing gauge slowed in February after hitting a 20-month high in January. Manufacturing conditions slipped to 4.48 in February from 12.51 a month before. Analysts had forecast a much more … Read More


Think BlackBerry Is a Takeover Target? Read This Before Buying

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 24, 2014

Think BlackBerry Is a Takeover Target“I am going to buy BlackBerry Limited [NASDAQ/BBRY] and leverage heavily. Maybe buy options rather than the stock. I believe the company’s stock prices are going to go much higher than where they stand now. They look like a takeover target soon. I’m going all in.” These were the first few words my friend Mr. Speculator blurted out when I received a call from him the other day.

“Why would you do something like this?” I asked. His response is something that long-term investors can learn from—and should avoid.

He wants to buy Blackberry stock because Facebook, Inc.’s (NYSE/FB) purchase of “WhatsApp”—an instant messaging app for smartphones—will make “Blackberry Messenger” (BBM)—Blackberry’s instant messaging software—a good potential target for buyers.

This is what I will give to Mr. Speculator: he may have a point. The value for BBM may be higher now, but going into a trade without anything having materialized—be it in the news, if the company has offered to sell a part of the business, etc.—is just unhealthy for your portfolio.

An investor who is looking to build a portfolio for the long run should avoid what Mr. Speculator is doing—betting heavily on a trade that has no sign of materializing.

Here’s my take on the issue: if an investor has suspicions that a company will be taken over by another firm, instead of allocating a major portion of their portfolio to that stock, like Mr. Speculator is doing with Blackberry, they should only risk a certain amount, like two percent of their portfolio per trade, for example.

First of all, when an investor only risks a certain portion … Read More


Top Two ETFs for When Interest Rates Increase, Investor Sentiment Plummets

By Sasha Cekerevac for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 21, 2014

Top Two ETFsThis past weekend, a friend of mine made a statement that there must be a large amount of economic growth coming shortly because of the booming stock market, driven by investor sentiment.

As I told him, the two are not necessarily tied together.

Over the past few months, we have heard about how economic growth is about to accelerate here in America, and this has helped drive investor sentiment in the stock market higher. However, I think there are many questions that need to be answered before we can assume economic growth will reach escape velocity, and investor sentiment is heavily contaminated with a large addiction to monetary policy.

Some of the data has improved; however, many other reports only lead to murkier water.

For example, we all know that economic growth requires the consumer to be active, since consumption is approximately 3/4 of the U.S. economy. But for the holiday season, many retail companies issued disappointing results, even though there were signs that consumer spending was beginning to pick up. This is an interesting data point: during the fourth quarter of 2013, consumer debt increased by $241 billion from the third quarter, the biggest jump in debt since 2007. (Source: “Quarterly report on household debt and credit,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York web site, last accessed February 19, 2014.)

Should investor sentiment view this increase in consumer debt as a positive or negative for economic growth?

A large amount of the debt increase came from the automobile industry, but what really worries me that could impact future economic growth is the combination of higher debt with weaker retail … Read More


Weak Retail Environment an Investment Opportunity in Cash-Based Businesses?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 18, 2014

Investment Opportunity in Cash-Based BusinessesFor an economy that relies on consumer spending to fuel the vast majority of its economic growth, ongoing weak retail sector sales and increased jobless claims cannot be part of the equation. But they are. And have been.

In January, U.S. retail sector sales fell by 0.4%—the most since June 2012. Economists had predicted that January’s retail sector sales would be unchanged in January after falling by a revised 0.1% in December. (Source: “Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services January 2014,” U.S. Census Bureau, web site, February 13, 2014.)

January retail sector sales, excluding automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, showed the worst year-over-year growth since 2009. And with the harsh winter weather, January’s sales reflect the sometimes unpredictable, cyclical nature of our spending, from discretionary (e.g., cars) to non-discretionary (e.g., heating).

At the same time, more Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits for the week ended February 8. Jobless claims climbed by 8,000 to 339,000; the four-week moving average for new claims increased to 336,750 from 333,250. Many economists continue to blame the cold weather for both weak retail sector sales and increased jobless claims. (Source: “Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report,” United States Department of Labor web site, February 13, 2014.)

Fortunately, there is a silver lining to all of this. They suggest we’ll start to see an acceleration in hiring and retail sector sales in the spring and summer seasons—meaning they have written off the entire first quarter of the year, a quarter most economists initially predicted would be bullish. Myself and the financial editors here at Daily Gains Letter, on the other hand, have been warning … Read More


Investment Expenses: Three Ways to Cut Them

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 14, 2014

Investment ExpensesLong-term investing and growing a portfolio over time isn’t an easy task. It requires a lot of planning and a significant amount of research. While doing this, many investors tend to forget one very important aspect: the costs associated with investing in their portfolio—the commissions and fees. If investors control the commissions and fees paid to their brokers and elsewhere, they can save a significant amount of money and have a bigger portfolio in the end.

For those investors who have resolved to invest money in their portfolio in 2014, the following are three ways to add more wealth to your portfolio over the long term.

Use Discount Brokers vs. Conventional Brokers

If an investor opens an account with a discount broker—often referred to as online brokers—they can save a significant amount of money in trading fees compared to a conventional broker, who they have to call to place a trade. Discount broker commissions are much lower than those charged by conventional brokers: a discount broker’s fees can go as low at $5.00 per trade, while a conventional broker’s fees can be 10-times that amount or more.

Consider, for example, that you have an account with a conventional broker who charges a commission of $50.00 per trade, and you make about 30 trades on an annual basis. At that rate, your commission charges will amount to $1,500 per year. With discount brokers, these commissions can be as low as $150.00 a year. With the extra $1,350 you saved by switching to a discount broker, you can invest more capital in your portfolio.

Buy Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) vs. Mutual Funds

Holding … Read More


Top-Yielding Stocks to Combat Low Interest Rates

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 13, 2014

Low Interest RatesFederal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has confirmed what most already knew. The recovery in the U.S. jobs market is far from complete. Yellen noted that the unemployment rate has improved since the Federal Reserve initiated its last round of quantitative easing in late 2012, falling from 8.1% to 6.6%. Curiously, in 2013, the U.S. economy grew just two percent.

That said, against the backdrop of a so-called improving U.S. economy, the numbers of the long-term unemployed and part-time workers are far too high. In fact, 3.6 million Americans, or 35.8% of the country’s unemployed, fall under the “long-term unemployed” umbrella—that is, those who have been out of work for more than 27 weeks. The underemployment rate (which includes those who have part-time jobs but want full-time jobs and those who have given up looking for work) remains stubbornly high at 12.7%.

The improving unemployment numbers come on the heels of two straight months of weak jobs numbers. In January, economists were expecting the U.S. to add 180,000 new jobs to the U.S. economy; instead, just 113,000 new jobs were added. In December, economists were projecting 200,000 new jobs would be added—instead, the number was an anemic 74,000.

For the head of the Federal Reserve, this translates into more money being dumped into the bond market ($65.0 billion per month) and a continuation of artificially low interest rates.

Once again, bad news for Main Street is good news for Wall Street. After Yellen’s speech, the S&P 500, NYSE, and NASDAQ responded by surging higher. Again, the Federal Reserve’s ongoing bond buying program and open-ended artificially low interest rate environment is great … Read More


Small-Caps with the Biggest Dividends

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 13, 2014

Small-Caps Offer the Biggest DividendsAt the beginning of January, I was optimistic that 2014 would deliver some good results to the stock market. I suggested that small-cap stocks would also continue to return profits to investors after a wonderful 2013 as the economy continued to show progress.

But after a disastrous January, in which the small-cap Russell 2000 attracted the most selling and was down more than nine percent from its 2013 record-high, concerns surfaced.

At this stage last year, small-cap stocks were blossoming with the Russell 2000 up more than eight percent by February.

Now there are concerns that small-cap stocks will face a rough ride this year. My view is that I would be inclined to buy this group on market weakness, as I still sense some of the top gains are yet to emerge from small-cap stocks; albeit, you need to be more selective when investing than you may have been in 2013.

In my view, continued economic renewal will drive small-cap stocks higher, as these companies tend to be able to react quicker to a changing economy.

We are already seeing some downside buying in small-cap stocks, as the Russell 2000 has narrowed its loss to one percent in February and is hoping for a return to positive territory.

The thing to remember is that while small-cap stocks tend to decline at a faster rate than the broader market, they also tend to rise faster when the market rallies.

The chart of the Russell 2000 below shows the downside break below the upward trendline that has been in place for some time. We saw some support and a subsequent rally. … Read More


How to Invest in a Stock Market Correction

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 12, 2014

Stock Market CorrectionHas the stock market rebounded? Some seem to think so. After recording the worst month in more than a year and the first monthly loss since August, some analysts think the worst is behind us and February will be a winner.

What further evidence do the bulls need than to point to the numbers! After falling more than three percent in January, the S&P 500 is up 0.75%; the NYSE is up a little more than 0.50%; the NASDAQ is up roughly 0.75%; and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up around 0.50%. Not a spectacular display of strength—but enough to buoy up some investors.

But the euphoria may be short-lived. While stocks are holding up right now, there are more than enough warning signs (technical, economic, and statistical) that are pointing to a correction.

For starters, February is the second-worst-performing month for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average so far, and it’s the fourth-weakest month for the NASDAQ. Plus, according to historical data, February tends to perform even worse when January is negative. Since 1971, when January ended on a negative, the S&P 500 extended its losses into February 72% of the time—falling an average 2.4%. For the Dow Jones Industrial Average it ends down 65% of the time and 57% of the time the NASDAQ ends down, too.

But the stock markets are only as strong as the stocks that make them—so statistics on their own are a little short-sighted. Every quarter since the beginning of 2013, more and more S&P 500-listed companies are revising their quarterly earnings lower. During the first quarter of 2013, 78% … Read More


Where Investors Can Find Stability in These Economically Unstable Times

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 11, 2014

Stable Investment for Economically Unstable TimesWhile most astute investors would point to a weak U.S. economy as the reason for the recent lackluster U.S. employment data, economists, in their infinite wisdom, point to Mother Nature. She seems to shoulder a lot of the economic blame in this country.

In January, the U.S. economy added just 113,000 new jobs, far fewer than the expected 180,000 jobs. Freezing winter weather is being blamed for the weak U.S. unemployment data. This is the second straight month of disappointing jobs data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Last month, the U.S. economy added just 74,000 jobs—far, far below the forecasted 200,000 jobs. The back-to-back weak employment numbers continue to fuel fears that the so-called U.S. economic recovery might be stalling…if one could ever really say the U.S. economy took off.

The new unemployment data shows that 10.2 million Americans in the U.S. economy have work. While the number of people who have been out of work for more than 27 weeks declined by more than 200,000, the number was probably impacted by the 1.7 million Americans who lost their extended federal unemployment benefits at the end of December.

Last Thursday, attempts to revive a program aimed at extending unemployment benefits by three months for the long-term unemployed failed, being supported by just 59 of the 60 senators needed to pass the motion. At the end of the day, in this U.S. economy, 3.6 million Americans, or 35.8% of the unemployed, are stuck in long-term unemployment limbo.

And they might be stuck there for a long time. A recent experiment conducted by a visiting scholar at the Boston Fed found … Read More


The Stocks That Are Most Attractive After January’s Sell-Off

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 11, 2014

U.S. EconomyThe theme since 2010 has been very simple: the U.S. economy is witnessing economic growth. As a result of this, the stock market increased and broke above its previous highs made in 2007. Investor optimism soared, and those who were bearish saw their stock portfolio disappear.

As the new year, 2014, began, the theme became a little more complex: the U.S. economy is going through a period of economic growth, but it’s becoming questionable. The question asked by investors these days: is the U.S. economy headed for economic slowdown, and is the stock market—which has provided investors with great returns—about to see another downturn?

The economic data that suggested the U.S. economy is growing has started to suggest this may not be the case anymore. For example, after the financial crisis, the unemployment rate in the U.S. economy declined. It meant more people were getting jobs and they had money to spend—the kind of jobs created and if they made any impact is still up for debate. In December, we heard that only 75,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy, and in January, this number was only 113,000. (Source: “The Employment Situation,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 7, 2014.) The number of jobs added to the U.S. economy has missed the market estimate by a huge margin for two months in a row, and the growth compared to the early part of 2013 isn’t very impressive.

The gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of the U.S. economy doesn’t look so impressive, either. We have created a table to show how it has been declining. Look below:… Read More

Year
Real GDP


Gold and U.S. Bonds the New Great Trade?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 10, 2014

Gold and U.S. BondsThere’s uncertainty on the stock market. Troubles are coming from the emerging markets, and they are causing investors to panic and sell their stocks. We see they are scared. But as this is happening, there’s a trade in the making, and those investors who have raised some cash (as I’ve been suggesting my readers do) and are looking to park their money somewhere safer than stocks can profit from this opportunity.

The trade I’m talking about is the trade that’s happening in U.S. bonds and gold bullion—some call this phenomenon a “flight to safety.” I call it a potential opportunity.

We know bonds and gold bullion are one of those asset classes where investors rush to when the risks on the stock market increase. This is something we are seeing now, and it could continue for some time.

In the following chart, I have plotted the prices of U.S. bonds (red line), gold bullion (black line), and the S&P 500 (green line). Take a look at the circled area, which shows the movement out of stocks.

30 Years US Treasury Bond Price Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Since the beginning of the year, U.S. bonds and gold bullion prices have increased in value, while the stocks have fallen. We have seen this relationship before as well. A prime example of this is the stock market sell-off in 2009; we saw investors rush to gold bullion and bonds then in hopes of finding safety.

It’s not too late for investors to consider taking advantage of this shift by looking at exchange-traded funds (ETFs), like iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (NYSEArca/TLT). Through this ETF, investors can invest in long-term … Read More


Two Ways to Profit from the Economic Turmoil in Emerging Markets

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 7, 2014

Emerging MarketsThe long-expected hit to the emerging markets is finally upon us. The fact that the emerging markets are taking a beating isn’t a total surprise; on the other hand, everyone running for the exits is.

But as physics proves, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction—nothing can escape physics; not even Wall Street or the emerging markets.

First, income-starved investors poured money into the emerging markets to take advantage of higher interest rates. Then, after the Federal Reserve said it would begin tapering its bond purchasing program, the money began to pour out of the emerging markets in earnest.

In a nearsighted effort to combat the slide in emerging markets’ currencies, central banks have been raising their interest rates. The Turkish central bank has taken drastic measures to entice investors to return—on January 29 the Turkish government lifted its overnight lending rate from 7.75% to an eye-watering 12% and its overnight borrowing rate from 3.5% to eight percent. The South African central bank raised its interest rate for the first time in almost six years. And the Russian ruble could be next.

This suggests that the underlying danger in the emerging markets isn’t their currencies per se, but the way the central banks are reacting to the slouching currencies. Instead of lowering rates to boost their economies, the central banks have been raising interest rates to prop up currencies.

This could be especially dangerous when you consider that emerging markets make up half of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). If emerging markets try to follow the U.S. and raise interest rates, it could cripple their own economies … Read More


How to Prepare for the Stock Market Sell-Off I’ve Been Warning About

By Sasha Cekerevac for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 7, 2014

Stock MarketWell, that didn’t take long! Just a few weeks ago, I wrote an article stating that investors should begin to worry about the lofty level of the stock market. Since that time, the S&P 500 has dropped by more than five percent in less than two weeks.

This market correction won’t be a surprise to my readers, as I have been suggesting investment strategies that can help prepare your portfolio for a large downswing in the market for some time now.

When I wrote the article in late January, the S&P 500 was surging, even though the preliminary Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment dropped month-over-month. Since then, we have seen additional data coming from China showing that its economy is beginning to slow.

The Markit/HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for January was 49.6, much weaker than expected. (A PMI data point below 50 denotes a contraction in activity.) While many analysts have been expecting China to begin accelerating, this recent data is a dose of reality, as manufacturing jobs in China dropped for the third consecutive month. (Source: “HSBC China Manufacturing PMI,” Markit Economics, January 30, 2014.)

I know what you’re thinking; “Why should investors in the S&P 500 care about what happens in China?” A market correction doesn’t occur based on a single event. When you’re trying to develop investment strategies, especially if you are considering the potential for a market correction in a large index, such as the S&P 500, you have to take many factors into account, as if you’re working on a jigsaw puzzle.

First ask yourself, what are the positive … Read More


Three Steps to Overcoming Losses in a Declining Market

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 6, 2014

Overcoming Losses in a Declining Market“What should you do when the house isn’t in order?”

A good friend of mine asked this question back in 2011. At that time, key stock indices were plunging lower due to issues regarding the U.S. debt ceiling. There was uncertainty, and many wondered what would happen next. I remember this question now because the key stock indices nowadays are falling due to troubles in the emerging markets and there seems to be panic—similar to what we were experiencing when I first heard this question.

When key stock indices are declining, instead of panicking and selling every holding in their portfolio, investors have to be strategic and instead think with an open mind and a long-term perspective.

The first step investors should take is to see where the troubles are coming from and if they are exposed to it at all. For example, these days, we see problems in the emerging markets are causing panic. If investors have a massive percentage of their portfolio invested in the emerging markets, then they should simply reduce their exposure. If they continue to hold their positions, and the markets continue to decline further, their losses will get bigger and it will be much harder to recover. If investors witnessed a drawdown of 25% in their portfolio, it will have to go up by more than 33% for them to just break even. Plus, reducing exposure not only protects investors from potential loss, but it also increases their cash position.

The second step investors should take is to exercise extra caution when key stock indices are falling. Investors should carefully screen the news and … Read More


The One Chart Stock Market Bulls Can’t Ignore

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 3, 2014

Stock Market BullsThere are many indicators that can give us an idea about where key stock indices may be headed. It may seem obvious, but always remember that nothing is certain until it happens. As I say quite often in these pages, trying to predict the exact top and bottom on key stock indices can significantly damage your portfolio in the case that the markets move in the opposite direction.

When I am trying to figure out what the next move will be by the key stock indices, I look at investor sentiment; I look at where investors are placing their money and what kind of assets they are buying. For example, when investors think the risks on key stock indices are increasing, they go towards safer stocks—big-cap companies may be one example. On the other hand, if investors think the key stock indices are moving to the up side, they move into stocks that provide better-than-market returns.

One indicator of investor sentiment that I look at is the relationship between the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca/XLU) exchange-traded fund (ETF) and the Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index. The XLU tracks utilities companies that are considered safer by investors because their products or services are needed regardless of economic conditions, like electricity providers, for example. On the flipside, the Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index tracks cyclical stocks, which are the stocks that move with the markets and are considered riskier assets, like furniture retailers, for example—they are dependent on how the economy is doing overall.

With this in mind, please take a look at the chart below. It shows the movement in the XLU and … Read More


First Step to a Winning Investment Strategy

By Sasha Cekerevac for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 31, 2014

How to Create a Winning Investment StrategyOne of the more common themes that I keep reading about these days is the strength of U.S. economic growth. It’s important to get at least some understanding of the potential for economic growth, as this will impact your investment strategy.

Recent data is definitely making me ask the question: just how strong is the level of economic growth in America?

We all know that this holiday season was much weaker than expected for retail companies. Considering that consumer spending fuels the majority of economic growth in America, this is certainly not a positive environment for that sector—but that shouldn’t be a real surprise to my readers, as I have recommended an investment strategy that has avoided retail stocks for months.

If economic growth is weak in retailing, are there any bright spots for larger goods?

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the latest advance report on durable goods was quite disappointing. New orders for durable goods during the month of December dropped 4.3%, core durable goods orders during December dropped 1.6%, and excluding defense, new orders were down 3.7%. (Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, January 28, 2014.)

Another worrisome data point in the report showed that the inventory level of manufactured goods in December was up 0.8%, the highest total amount since this data series was published and also the eighth monthly increase over the last nine months.

How should you formulate an investment strategy with this information in mind?

Economic growth depends on a continued increase in consumption and production. We saw consumers pull back over the holiday season, which is clearly not a positive sign for … Read More


What I Told The Speculator About the Stock Market Now

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 30, 2014

Stock Market NowJust a few days ago, I received another call from my good old friend Mr. Speculator. He was worried. He has been long on the stock market since the beginning of the year, but sadly, stocks have come down a bit. He asked, “Do you think there’s more downside on the stock market? Or is this the correction everyone was talking about?” Mr. Speculator bought exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that provide him leverage; he added, “My losses are adding up. Should I sell or wait?”

Mr. Speculator isn’t the only one who is asking this question since the key stock indices started to come down. I hear this question being asked all around. January is supposedly a good month for stocks, but so far, this is simply not the case. The S&P 500 is down roughly three percent. Investors are asking whether or not the returns on stocks are going to be horrible this year.

Looking at the charts and assessing the sentiment, it appears reality is slowly coming back to the stock market. Take a look at the following chart of the S&P 500.

S&P 500 Large Cap Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Looking from a technical analysis point of view and taking the S&P 500 as an indicator of the entire stock market, there are a few developments that investors need to know.

First of all, since the beginning of the year, the volume on the S&P 500 has been increasing. This is interesting to note, because it suggests investors are selling into weakness. In addition to this, we see that the S&P 500 has broken below the 1,800 level and has moved below … Read More


These Value Stocks Could Outperform the Market in 2014

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 23, 2014

Market in 2014Yesterday, I wrote about how a raft of weak first-quarter results could trip up the S&P 500 and put a dent in its unblemished bull run. My theory: the S&P 500’s stellar performance in 2013 was a result of financial engineering (share buybacks and cost-cutting) and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, not strong revenue and earnings growth.

As a result, the S&P 500 and other key stock indices are overbought and overpriced, meaning stocks will have a tough time justifying their lofty valuations if first-quarter results fail to wow investors. And odds are good that they will disappoint. A record 94% of S&P 500 reporting companies revised their fourth-quarter guidance lower.

That is, unless investors fail to realize earnings projections were lowered and reward stocks for beating barely there expectations—it’s not impossible. For evidence, I point to the action in the S&P 500 in 2013.

With stocks on the S&P 500 being overpriced, it’s getting more and more difficult to find equities that will actually perform well based on legitimate metrics, like revenues, earnings, and cash. For the most part, it seems investors punish those stocks that don’t perform as well as expected by simply not lifting their share prices higher. As a result, it’s become increasingly difficult to build a balanced portfolio with both growth and value stocks—especially when you consider the fact that analysts expect the S&P 500 to grow just six percent in 2014. Analysts might be more optimistic about the S&P 500 long-term, but that’s of little solace for investors hoping to actually make money this year.

Investors on the lookout for value stocks may need … Read More


Top Four Stocks for Income During Period of Low Interest Rates, Bond Yields

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 23, 2014

Top Four Stocks for IncomeAn interesting conversation on investments surfaced recently at a dinner party with some friends. The topic was whether it was better to buy large-cap dividend-paying stocks, such as General Electric Company (NYSE/GE) and The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE/PG), or look at smaller dividend-paying companies.

Of course, I spontaneously said it depended on a host of factors, including the risk appetite of the investor and the economy.

When the economy is growing, and especially as it emerges from a recession like we saw it 2008, it would be advantageous to stock up with smaller dividend-paying companies. The reason is because small companies tend to fare better when adjusting out of a slow period than larger companies, which take much more time to strategize and put a plan into effect.

Another way of looking at it is that it’s easier to steer a smaller boat versus a larger ship in calm waters, but when it gets rough out there, I would rather stay on a bigger ship. The same analogy applies to the question of small-cap versus big-cap stocks.

Now, as far as dividends are concerned, the most important thing is the underlying strength of the company and its previous and forward ability to pay dividends. You want to buy dividend-paying companies that have a valid and sustainable business—no fad stocks here.

Another major monetary benefit of small dividend-paying stocks is the much superior upside price appreciation potential that’s often associated with small-cap stocks. So while companies like General Electric and Procter & Gamble will consistently do well over decades, in the short run, adding some small dividend-paying stocks can help … Read More


Weak Q1 Earnings to Finally Trip Up the Illogical S&P 500

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 22, 2014

Illogical S&P 500Stock markets are only as healthy as their stocks—well, at least they technically should be. But despite its stellar year in 2013, the S&P 500’s component stocks weren’t supporting the growth with strong revenue and earnings growth.

I might sound like a broken record, but the fact of the matter is that the S&P 500 was fuelled by the Federal Reserve and its $85.0-billion-a-month quantitative easing efforts and artificially low interest rates, and the fact that businesses were streamlining operations and implementing aggressive share repurchase programs.

When it comes to financially engineering quarterly results, companies on the key stock indices logged a record-high for share buyback activity. In fact, in 2013, share buybacks amounted to $460 billion—the highest amount since 2007.

Companies on the S&P 500 embraced cutbacks and share repurchase programs because their earnings were nothing to talk about. Despite a year full of all-time highs, each quarter, a larger percentage of companies on the S&P 500 revised their earnings guidance lower—a seemingly obvious disconnect.

During the first quarter, 78% of S&P 500 companies revised their earnings lower; 81% did so in the second quarter; and a record 83% of firms offered lower earnings guidance in the third quarter. Not to be outdone, the fourth quarter saw 94% revise their guidance lower. (Source: “Record high number and percentage of S&P 500 companies issuing negative EPS guidance for Q4,” FactSet, January 2, 2014.)

In spite of the earnings disappointment, the S&P 500 continues to march illogically higher. The index might have gained 30% in 2013—but did it come at a cost? To keep growing, stocks actually have to start posting … Read More


How to Profit from the Second Deep Freeze Headed Our Way

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 15, 2014

Profit from the Second Deep FreezeLast week, North America was plunged into a deep freeze when a “polar vortex” (an extreme weather event marked by record-breaking cold temperatures and winter weather systems caused by an Arctic cold front) swept across the continent, sending the coldest air in 20 years into major population centers in both the United States and Canada.

Areas in the Midwest and most of Canada were hit with weather normally reserved for the North Pole. On January 5, 2014, the temperature in Green Bay, Wisconsin was a brisk -18 degrees Fahrenheit (°F). During the polar vortex, the temperatures in Atlanta fell to just 6°F, while those vacationing in Tampa were treated to temperatures as low as 24°F.

In the lead-up to the polar vortex, spot U.S. energy prices soared. Natural gas for next-day delivery for one contract in New York jumped to a record $90.00 per million British thermal units (BTU) on January 6; that represents a 660% increase from the close of the previous week and 20-times more than the natural gas benchmark futures prices. Normal winter natural gas prices can be found in the high teens or low $20.00s. (Source: Meyer, G., “Freeze drives up US gas and power prices,” The Financial Times, January 6, 2014.)

The harsh, cold weather forced many Americans to burn more gas to keep warm. And since roughly half of all U.S. households use natural gas for heating (accounting for 21% of U.S. natural gas consumption), there was concern that natural gas suppliers might not be able to service every customer. (Source: “Frequently Asked Questions,” U.S. Energy Information Administration web site, last accessed January 14, … Read More


Bears Becoming Bulls En Masse as Optimism Rises

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 15, 2014

Bears Becoming BullsIncreasing optimism is dangerous for key stock indices. Sadly, this is exactly what we’re seeing in the markets right now. It is very evident wherever you look. Stock advisors are saying, “Just buy stocks, and you will do alright.” Investors feel good about stocks. Those who were bearish on the key stock indices since the crash in 2008 and 2009 are also turning bullish—the bears are declining in numbers each week; it’s becoming especially difficult for them to keep their pessimistic stance these days.

One of the key economic indicators that I follow when looking at the optimism in key stock indices is called the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) total options put/call ratio.

This indicator, at the very core, shows the ratio of volume of puts and call options. When there are more call options, this ratio stands below one. When there are more put options than call options, the ratio stays above one. Currently, this ratio stands at 0.6—a level last seen in 2011. Since at least 2007, this ratio of call options to put options has reached this level only a handful of times, as you can see in the chart below.

CBOE Options Put-Call Ratio Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

When call options increase, it means investors are bullish towards the key stock indices. When the put options increase, it means investors believe the key stock indices will experience pressures ahead. The current put/call ratio suggests investors are not worried.

Another indicator I look at to assess the optimism on key stock indices is margin debt—the amount of stock purchased on borrowed money. When margin debt is high, this shows that … Read More


How to Profit Big from Gold Mining Stocks Left for Dead

By Sasha Cekerevac for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 15, 2014

Gold Mining StocksLeft for dead: that’s what appears to be what most investors have done to gold mining stocks.

With the price of gold bullion down significantly in 2013, it appears many are simply ignoring all gold mining stocks, lumping them into one category and avoiding the group as a whole.

Personally, I love buying when things are on sale. I hate paying full price on anything, no matter if it is for a stock or clothes. When it comes to gold mining stocks, the market sentiment hasn’t been this bearish in years.

Market sentiment tends to oscillate, and for the long-term investor, one should be looking to buy when others are selling and looking to sell when others are buying.

Market Vectors Gold Miners Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

The above chart shows the price of gold bullion (black line) on top of the price of gold mining stocks (red line) as exhibited through the exchange-traded fund (ETF) Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca/GDX).

As you can tell from the chart, gold mining stocks are close to reaching lows not seen since the fall of 2008. While there are some gold mining stocks in financial difficulty due to their high cost of production, there are certainly some companies that are extremely attractive, considering how much bad news is priced into the market.

This is what you have to consider as an investor: is market sentiment too bullish, too bearish, or somewhere in between?

I believe that both gold bullion and gold mining stocks look attractive at this point because most of the bad news has already been priced into the market.

Because the price of gold … Read More


Hidden Value in the Emerging Markets?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 14, 2014

Emerging MarketsAre emerging markets worth looking at in 2014? Not too long ago, emerging market equities witnessed a pullback—when the taper talk came on the horizon. As a result, investors are asking if this has now created some value in these markets.

Before going into any details, investors have to keep one very important aspect of investing in mind: cheap doesn’t mean good value. Investors shouldn’t be interpreting falling prices as “value coming back to the market.” In some cases, this may be true, but in other cases, if the prices are falling, there’s a reason.

You see, emerging markets are going through some troubles, and as a consequence, their equity prices are a little vulnerable.

For example, India, the third-largest economy in Asia, reported a decline of 9.6% in 2013 auto sales. This was the first decline in auto sales since 2002. This well-known emerging market is struggling with high inflation and low economic growth—or a period commonly referred to as “stagflation.” In the fiscal year 2013, India’s economic growth was the lowest in almost 10 years, and inflation is running at 10%. (Source: Choudhury, S., “Indian Car Sales Slump for First Time in a Decade,” Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2014.)

China, another major emerging market, has been seeing its fair share of trouble as well. This year the country is expected to post growth that’s nothing like its historical average. In December, the HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)—a gauge of manufacturing activity in the country—declined to a three-month low. (Source: “HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index Press Release,” Markit Economics web site, January 2, 2014.)

Brazil, a common … Read More


Want to Give Up on Picking Stocks and Just Play the Market? Here’s How

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 13, 2014

Just Play the MarketThe year 2013 was a stellar year for stocks. The key stock indices have seen record increases: the S&P 500, which showed its best performance since 1997, increased by almost 30%; the Dow Jones Industrial Average saw a similar increase; and the NASDAQ Composite Index performed even better, ending the year with a return of more than 35%.

Looking at these numbers, one must really ask how their portfolio has done. If your portfolio had similar returns—well done! If it lagged, here’s something to note: hedge funds returned only 7.4% for the year. They lagged by almost 23% compared to the broader market return—the most since 2005. (Source: Bit, K., “Hedge Funds Trail Stocks for Fifth Year With 7.4% Return,” Bloomberg, January 8, 2014.)

Two key stocks that beat the returns of key stock indices and the returns given by the hedge funds many times over this past year were Gray Television, Inc. (NYSE/GTN) and Tesla Motors, Inc. (NASDAQ/TSLA).

Gray Television, Inc.

In 2013, this stock opened at $2.28. On the last trading day of the year, it closed at $14.88. If you held Gray Television stock in your portfolio for the entire year, your profits per share would have been $12.60, or just over 552%. (Source: StockCharts.com, last accessed January 9, 2014.) This return is similar to beating the hedge funds return by almost 75 times and beating the returns posted by the S&P 500 by 18 times. Below is the chart that shows this stock’s precise move.

Gray Television Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Tesla Motors, Inc.

Tesla Motors opened at $35.00 in 2013. On the last trading day of the … Read More


Boost Your Returns with These Small-Caps

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 9, 2014

Dividend-Paying StocksFor most investors, the past year was about the search for higher-risk assets with the potential for achieving higher returns. This desire helped to propel the NASDAQ and Russell 2000 to returns in excess of 30%, while dividend paying stocks lagged in performance.

Now as we move along in 2014, we could see buying shift to more conservative stocks that pay a dividend to investors. The shift to these stocks could accelerate as comparative bond yields rise, making income investors choose between bonds and dividend stocks.

As an investment strategy, you can consider buying the large-cap dividend plays, such as General Electric Company (NYSE/GE) or The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE/PG).

But while buying large-cap blue chips always makes sense to your overall portfolio strategy, you can increase your portfolio’s overall potential returns by adding small-cap dividend stocks. By doing so, you can usually add in higher capital appreciation potential.

And while there are numerous small-cap dividend plays in the financial and industrial sectors from which to select, I’d like to highlight a couple above-average stocks that you may want to examine further. As I said, these smaller companies offer dividends and higher capital appreciation potential.

In the area of investment management, a mid-cap company that looks like it may make a good addition to your portfolio is Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC (NYSE/OZM), which has a strong dividend yield of 6.7%. The stock has also advanced 61% to shareholders over the past 52 weeks; the S&P 500 returned just 25%. In the third quarter, Och-Ziff managed to beat the Thomson Financial consensus estimate by $0.07, reporting $0.27 per diluted … Read More


This Cheap Sector Set to Outperform in 2014

By Sasha Cekerevac for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 7, 2014

Outperform in 2014With the new year just beginning, many investors will begin looking at their portfolio and trying to figure out how to shift their investment strategy to include sectors that should outperform in 2014.

One investment strategy I like to use during the beginning of the year is to look for a situation where fundamentals are improving, but market sentiment remains weak.

At year-end, many times you will see tax loss selling occurring. Essentially, investors are selling those holdings that have gone down the most to crystallize the losses for tax purposes. This also presents an opportunity—if the long-term investment strategy is sound.

One sector that has been hit hard is the precious metals sector. This should be no surprise to many readers, as the sell-off in precious metals has gotten a lot of negative media attention. However, I would like to bring to your attention an investment strategy of looking to add industrial precious metals, such as platinum and palladium, to your portfolio.

The vast majority of demand for both platinum and palladium is for industrial purposes, especially for catalytic converters in the automobile industry. These precious metals are crucial for the production of vehicles, and demand in this sector continues to rise.

While total vehicle sales for the full year of 2013 aren’t in yet, it is expected that U.S. auto sales will be the highest in six years, with an approximately 50% jump from the lows experienced in 2009. In 2014, U.S. auto sales will continue to be strong, with an estimated total number of over 16 million units sold.

The investment strategy in these industrial metals is … Read More


Update: My 2014 Gold Outlook

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 7, 2014

Gold OutlookIn 2013, gold prices saw the worst tumble in a few decades. This decline in prices caused many to panic, and the negativity towards the yellow metal increased significantly. As we begin 2014, this sentiment seems to be holding on. It’s not uncommon to hear analysts or investors say how gold bullion isn’t worth holding and that there are better opportunities.

However, I’ve been bullish on gold for some time, and I stand by my bullishness. The main reason for my take on the precious metal comes down to the most basic factors that determine price—supply and demand. I continue to see a declining supply and increasing demand. Keeping all else the same, this is the perfect recipe for higher prices ahead.

On the demand side, we are seeing buying from countries across the globe. This was something that was said to have slowed when the gold bullion prices were going down back in April of 2013 and then again in June of 2013.

Australia’s Perth Mint reported sales of gold bullion coins and bars increased by 41% in 2013 compared to a year ago. The Mint sold 754,635 ounces of gold bullion in 2013 compared to 533,333 ounces in 2012. (Source: Sedgman, P., “Perth Mint Gold Sales Surge 41% in 2013 on Worst Rout Since 1981,” Bloomberg, January 2, 2013.)

At the U.S. Mint, the increase in sales of gold bullion coins has been similar to that of Australia’s. The U.S. Mint, for the entire year of 2013, sold 856,500 ounces of gold bullion in American Eagle coins. This was 13% higher compared to the same period a year … Read More


Time to Go Against the Key Stock Indices?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 6, 2014

Key Stock IndicesTrading for 2014 has begun. In 2013, we saw massive moves on the key stock indices—something we have only seen a few times. For example, the S&P 500 moved up by almost 30%, and the NASDAQ Composite increased by more than 35%. Those who were long saw their portfolio grow, and those who went against the key stock indices probably had to question their strategy and re-allocate the capital.

You can see for yourself in the chart below: key stock indices such as the S&P 500 maintained an upward trajectory throughout the year—and without any major hiccups.

S&P 500 Large Cap Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

The average return on the S&P 500 between 1970 and 2012 was 8.2%; on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, it was 7.9%; and on the NASDAQ Composite, it was just slightly more than 13%. (Source: “Historical Price Data,” StockCharts.com, last accessed January 2, 2013.)

Sadly, these numbers only indicate past performance. With the beginning of the new year, investors have one main question in mind: where are the key stock indices going to go in 2014? Will we see a decline or are we in for another stellar year?

The year 2014, I believe, is going to be an interesting year for stock investors. The rally in the key stock indices that started in 2009 continues to march forward. As this is happening, the fundamentals that act as fuel for the stock market rally are becoming anemic. This should be noted, because without fundamentals becoming stronger, key stock indices can only go so far.

For instance, on the surface, the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) looks better than before, … Read More