Sunday, May 13

Week 358 - Hedge the Crash With Low-Beta Dividend Achievers

Situation: It’s really tough to own stocks when the market crumps. Yes, you can follow Warren Buffett’s advice and tough it out with dollar-cost averaging. His other main idea, which is to buy great businesses at a fair price, may be useful someday down the road. He hasn’t been able to find any in this overpriced market, and neither will you. But after the market crashes, you’ll both be glad you kept a hefty dollop of cash in reserve to serve that very purpose. 

But what about hedging against the crash? That’s what hedge funds are supposed to do. Why can’t you and I do it? It’s not that simple. Hedging means that your portfolio pulls ahead in a Bear Market but lags on a Bull Market. Given that the market is historically up 3 years out of 4, you see the problem with hedging. But looking deeper, volatility is what you want to hedge against. You can do that year in and year out by adopting the “School Solution”: overweight low-beta stocks in your portfolio at all times. 

By hedging against volatility, your portfolio won’t necessarily fall behind in a Bull Market. Having less volatility only means that your gains will be less than those for the S&P 500 Index in a Bull Market, AND your losses will be less in a Bear Market. It doesn’t mean you’ll underperform that Index long-term. Why? Because trending stocks become overbought in a Bull Market. But you’re underweighting those high-beta Financial Services and Information Technology stocks! Half of the market capitalization in the S&P 500 Index is currently in those two industries, vs. the long-term average of 30%. Owning high-beta stocks will make you richer faster, but you’ll have to do daily research so that you know when to BUY and when to SELL. My approach to those two industries is to dollar-average into Microsoft (MSFT), International Business Machines (IBM) and JP Morgan Chase (JPM). And keep dollar-averaging no matter what.

Mission: Run our Standard Spreadsheet to identify low-beta stocks of high quality: 
   1. S&P Bond Ratings of A- or better (Column T in the Table);
   2. S&P Stock Ratings of B+/M or better (Column U in the Table);
   3. 5-Yr Beta of less than 0.7 (Column I in the Table);
   4. Lower statistical risk of loss than the S&P 500 Index (Column M in the Table);
   5. Higher Finance Value than the S&P 500 Index (Column E in the Table)
   6. Dividend Achiever status (Column AC in the Table).

Execution: see Table.

Bottom Line: Try not to be a momentum investor. The exciting stories that underlie every Bull Market create a crowded trade for stocks issued by Financial Services and Information Technology companies. To usefully deploy the cash that’s rolling into their coffers, those companies will try to innovate and deploy new services and equipment sooner than planned. Things will get messy, bordering on chaos. Parts of the “story” will collapse, or end in court. Current examples abound. So, we’re back to the Tortoise and Hare story because it will be trotted out at the end of every market cycle. Will you channel the Hare, or will you channel the Tortoise?

Risk Rating: 4 (where 10-Yr US Treasury Notes = 1, S&P 500 Index = 5, gold bullion = 10)

Full Disclosure: I dollar-average into NEE, PEP and NKE, and also own shares of KO and JNJ.

"The 2 and 8 Club" (CR) 2017 Invest Tune All rights reserved.

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