by Louis Basenese
I’ll be the first to concede the going’s tough. That almost every “time-tested” strategy that worked well in bull markets is sputtering and collapsing.
But is it so bad we’ve given up on turning a profit? And just resigned ourselves to preserving our principal, right?
This week the Treasury sold $32 billion in 4-week bills at a yield of ZERO percent.
That’s not a typo. Investors actually clamored for the opportunity to lend the government their money in return for absolutely no return. In fact, investors bid $126 billion at the auction, more than four times the amount available.
As Michael Franzese, the head of government bond trading at Standard Chartered, explains, “I have never seen this before… It’s all about capital preservation for the turn of the year, not capital appreciation.”
Forget unbelievable. It’s idiotic. What investors are essentially saying is that absolutely no better opportunity exists in the market right now - that survival is their paramount goal of investing, not profiting. But ignore what the lemmings are doing. Their folly is creating endless (and historic) opportunities for us to increase our wealth. Of course, simply telling you that will not suffice…
6 Market Investment Opportunities Right Now
Let me share with you a short list of market investment opportunities I’m researching and taking advantage of on a daily basis. If nothing else, it should make you think twice before you follow the $32 billion worth of stupid money.
- International Stocks: Forget decoupling. It was a farce. The United States caught a cold… and international markets caught pneumonia. The offshoot? International markets are the cheapest on the planet - despite much stronger growth prospects than in the United States. For instance, the average Russian stock trades for just three times earnings! South Africa and Brazil are the next cheapest at six and seven times, respectively. An easy way to capture upside here is to rebalance your portfolio by adding money to your diversified international funds or investments. One of my favorite options here is the Templeton Emerging Markets Fund (EMF), run by the best international manager around, Mark Mobius.
- “Free” Stocks: Hundreds of stocks trade below their cash balances, making them essentially free. Some will of course, burn through that cash faster than my wife on a shopping spree. So we can’t buy blindly. But that’s not the case for all of these stocks. One compelling opportunity I recently presented to my subscribers is Immersion Corp. (IMMR) - a leader in haptic technology. Forget cash on hand, its patent portfolio is worth more than the current stock price.
- Income: Dividend yields rest at 15-year highs. Of course, not all dividend-paying stocks are created equal. Many will slash or suspend payments just to survive the downturn. But others won’t. The master limited partnership (MLP) space is rife with opportunity. Investors seem to forget these companies aren’t impacted by the price of oil and gas. They just get paid to transport it. The price of oil might be off 70%, but demand is not. My favorite play here is Kinder Morgan Energy (KMP). It just increased its dividend and currently offers investors an attractive 8.7% yield.
- Munis: We all know there are NO guarantees in investing. But I can guarantee taxes are going up. How else will the government fund the billions upon billions in new spending? This especially at a time when tax receipts will plummet, and thanks to a drop in corporate profits and the loss of 1.2 million taxpayers to unemployment. No surprise, the herd is piling out of munis ($7.4 billion so far this quarter) at exactly the wrong time. Their folly is creating attractive tax-free income yields and upside for us. For instance, the Vanguard Intermediate Tax Exempt Fund (VWITX) currently sports a 4.25% yield. That’s tax free and equivalent to earning 6.5% (based on a 35% tax bracket).
- Real Estate: Pricing remains completely irrational for real estate investment trusts (REITs). Some closed-end funds are off as much as 90%. Dirt is cheap - but it isn’t that cheap. This is a once-in-a-lifetime rebound opportunity. If nothing else, capitalize on the unstoppable trend of homeowners converting into renters by considering an apartment, like Equity Residential Properties (EQR).
- Short selling: An economic recovery won’t save every company. Plenty will remain in the tank, or worse, end up on the courthouse steps. Yet, most investors overlook the simple strategy to profit from these collapses - selling short. But they shouldn’t. In these markets it’s one of the few strategies consistently booking winners. That’s why I’ve been using it for my subscribers. Just last week, we booked a 50% winner in The New York Times Company (NYT), for example.
Remember this is just my short-list. The key takeaway is simple - investment opportunities abound.
Granted, we might have to work harder than normal to unearth them. But we certainly don’t have to resign ourselves to handing over our hard earned capital to the government for nothing in return. After all, that privilege is reserved for our tax dollars.