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“Retirement Investors Flock Back to Stocks”

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WSJ Front Page Headlines

[By Rick Kahler MS CFP® http://www.KahlerFinancial.com]

Rick Kahler CFP“Retirement Investors Flock Back to Stocks” was the front page headline of The Wall Street Journal on May 2, 2014.

I retweeted it to my Twitter feed, adding, “Just In Time to Ride Them to the Bottom Again.”

Introduction

Five years ago some of those same investors were abandoning stocks in sheer panic. In early March 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a low of 6700. Many financial advisors spent hours listening to frightened clients wanting to sell out their entire portfolios and go to cash. It was an exhausting and traumatic period for doctors, financial advisors and clients.

Calm and Steady

Those who followed advisors’ recommendations to stay the course certainly came out on top. Their portfolios recovered nicely, with double-digit annualized returns for the past five years. Even over the past 10 years, most diversified portfolios earned very respectable returns far in excess of bank CD’s or bond yields.

Panic and Fear

Unfortunately, those who panicked and sold out paid an incredibly high price for the momentary relief of getting off the market roller coaster. Many of them kept their money on the sidelines until recently, waiting until “things were better” to reinvest.

Today-Bubbles?

Apparently that time has come. Here are some numbers from the WSJ article:

Retirement investors have recently increased their stock holdings by almost 40% from the market lows. Today, bond and money market funds make up only 25% of retirement plans, and 67% of new 401(k) contributions go toward purchasing stocks.

In 2007, bond and money market funds accounted for 21% of retirement plans. At the market top in October 2007, the average new 401(k) contribution going into stocks was 69%. Within 18 months stocks had declined almost 60% from their highs.

Correlations?

Do you see any potential correlations here? I have little doubt these individual investors, mistiming the market once more, are setting themselves up to get slaughtered all over again.

But, what about those who did get out of the markets five years ago and now realize they made a big mistake? Suppose you’ve learned the wisdom of staying in the market with a well-diversified portfolio. How do you get back in without waiting for the next crash?

Three Strategies:

Here are three strategies to rebuild your portfolio.

First, don’t go all in, but move into the market gradually with “dollar cost averaging.” Over the next two years, methodically (monthly or quarterly) buy into a diversified mixture of asset classes. If the market turns downward, which carries a high probability, you will buy into a falling market. You will also reduce the possibility of a huge market drop that might cause you to panic and sell out again.

Second, allocate your purchases to a mixture of US and international stocks, as well as options such as real estate investment trust (REIT) funds, commodity funds, managed futures funds, Treasury Inflation Protected (TIPs) bond funds, high yield bond funds, and high quality bond funds.

Finally, once your two-year dollar cost averaging is done and you are fully invested into your asset classes, rebalance at least once a year to maintain your original allocations as the values of the assets change.

For example, if you have allocated 30% of your portfolio to stocks, purchase more if stocks add up to less than 30% or sell some if they are over 30%.

Bull markets

Assessment

The research suggests there is a high probability that things will end badly for individual investors who try to time the markets. A few will succeed, but will confuse their “skill” with the fact they just got lucky. A methodical approach, however, provides a strategy to help you hold on, even in the face of market ups and downs.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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What Did You Do When the Stock Market was Down?

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Investing Hero or Zero … On Market Timing or NOT!

By Staff Reporters

Here at the ME-P, we believe we have some of the most intelligent and savvy readers in the blog-o-sphere. And – why not?

Most are physicians, nurses and medical specialist of all stripes. Others are CPAs, financial advisors and wealth managers. And, some are medical management and HIT consultants with PhDs and MBAs, etc. More than a few more even have dual and triple degrees and professional designations, like www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

The Question

Accordingly, our friends over at The Finance Buff recently asked:

Q: Do you remember those days last summer when the Dow went down 400 points one day and then it went up 400 points the next day, before it went down another 400 points the following day?

Going Granular

Well – if you do – what did you, or your clients do about it? Did you invest more, stay put, bail out or something else? Go granular on us and your fellow ME-P readers, subscribers and lurkers.

Assessment

Please tell us who you are, what you did during the “flash-crash” a few years ago, or last summer’s mini-meltdown, and how it turned out in hindsight?

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Please review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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A Doctor-Financial Advisor Makes the Case for Stock-Market Timing

Do a Growing Number of Stock-Market Timers Outperform?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™

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[Publisher-in-Chief]

Money management styles tend to fall in and out of favor in cycles. When the market goes through a sustained bull market, buy-and-hold becomes the proclaimed path to investing success as I have opined previously. But, when the market enters a bear phase, like the flash crash of 2008-09, there is renewed belief in market timing as I now try to explain.

The Studies

And yet, studies of actual results of professional money managers using market-timing techniques reveal that the average timer’s results, like the average mutual fund, slightly lag behind the market indexes. But a growing number of timers consistently outperform the market over a full market cycle. When risk-adjusted return is used as the standard to measure performance, even the average market timer outperforms the market by a notable margin. A study of 25 market timers by Wagner, Shellans, and Paul (1992) during the period 1985–1990 (both bull and bear) shows that the level of risk assumed by the average timer was 40–60% below the S&P 500, even after subtracting fees, and the returns were comparable to the S&P 500.

Marketplace Phases

History has shown that starting from the market’s last high water mark, the market typically goes through three phases: (1) a correction, (2) a recovery to breakeven, and (3) a move to new highs. A study of the 108-year period from 1885 to 1993 reveals that the average correction phase consumed 32% of the time period and the return to breakeven exhausted an additional 44%. The market spent only 24% of the time moving to new highs. This is the only time that typical buy-and-hold investors saw their investments appreciate. This makes the stock market an extremely inefficient money-making vehicle.

Since the market timer who sold at the top will have more money at the bear market bottom than the buy-and-hold investor, the study indicates that the timer may have between 26% and 54% more to invest on the upswing. The study also shows that a timer does not have to be perfect in discerning entry and exit points. In fact, he or she can miss 20% of the advance, participate in 20% of the decline, and lose money as much as 47% of the time and still have an average gain equal to the net average gain for the buy-and-hold investor.

Assessment

Of course, it is quite a feat to obtain all the returns attributable from the buy-and-hold strategy while being in the market about half the time. 

Note: “Why Market Timing Works,” Jerry C. Wagner; The Journal of Investing; Summer of 1997, pp. 78–81, Institutional Investor, Inc.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Did I make my case? Are you a market timer or buy-hold strategist; and why? Did this strategy work until the market meltdown of 2008-09; how about since then? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com and http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko

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On Stock Market [Mis]Timing Strategies

Do They Come Up Short?

Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™

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[Publisher-in-Chief]

Stock market investment rules are notorious for showing profit when tested on the same sample period from which they were developed, and then failing when applied to a new period. According to Professor Roger C. Vergin, it’s dangerous to use the same data to both discover and test the rules.

Of Marty Zweig

Using the “Zweig Strategies” developed by Martin Zweig and published back in 1986 in Winning on Wall Street (WOWS), Professor Vergin shoots some rather sizable holes in Zweig’s indicators by testing them against the 10-year period since WOWS was published. Zweig’s models are applied to various periods from 19 to 33 years, ending in 1985, and they claim to outperform a buy-and-hold strategy with annual rates of return as much as eight times as large, according to some measures. When the author ran these strategies for the 10-year period ending Dec. 5, 1995, not only did they not outperform a buy-and-hold strategy, but they trailed the market averages by a significant amount—9% vs. 14.4% for buy-and-hold.

The “Z” Indicators

Zweig’s indicators include a prime rate indicator, a Federal Reserve indicator, an installment debt indicator, a 4% indicator (market momentum), a monetary model, and a “super” model, which Zweig referred to as “the only investment model you will ever need.” 

Vergin corrects for inconsistencies in the evaluation criteria from one strategy to the next in WOWS and runs the numbers for the original test period first. Zweig’s strategies still outperform buy-and-hold. But, when run against an independent time period, as the author has done, the wheels fall off. Vergin runs the Zweig Strategies against the S&P 500, the Value Line Index, and an index developed by Zweig called ZUPI (all NYSE stocks).

Assessment

Over the 10-year period, none of the six Zweig Strategies outperformed a simple buy-and-hold strategy when compared against any of the three indexes mentioned above. They produced an average return of 9% compared to 14.4% for buy-and-hold.

In fact, Dr. Burton Malkiel’s [personal communication] conclusion in his book A Random Walk Down Wall Street, was that: “market timing is likely, not only to not add value, but to be counterproductive” seems to have borne out again.”

Note: “Market-Timing Strategies: Can You Get Rich?” by Roger C. Vergin. The Journal of Investing, Winter 1996, pp. 79–85, Institutional Investor, Inc. [212] 224-3185)

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. By trying enough patterns against past events, one can always find simple rules that “would have” worked well in the past. But, do they hold up against differing periods of time; like say 2008-09? … At least not yet! What do you think?

Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com and http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko

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