No surprise: The Hedged Economist is an economist. I’ve been at it for more years than I like to admit. If one leaves graduate school with a degree in economics, there are really only three options short of abandoning the degree and starting over. The options are: “doing” economics, telling people about economics, and applying it to your own affairs. I’ve done all three. Currently, my focus is on applying economics to my own affairs especially financial management. That isn’t new, but my blog (hedgedeconomist.com) represents a departure. Traditionally I have avoided giving other than the broadest advice regarding personal finance, especially investing. It doesn’t take behavioral economics research or financial neurology to know people believe that they are responsible for their own financial success but fail because of bad advice. I also kept my opinions on policy to myself. People prefer confirming information, another startling discovery of behavioral economics; imagine that; people prefer “yes” men. So, given little upside and all the downside, a perversely asymmetric set of returns (that’s economist speak for a bad bet), I’ve stuck to my own affairs. But, increasingly, I get asked for my opinion, thus the blog.
An undergraduate student from University of Toronto with passion in value investing. My focus is primary on micro to small cap value oriented stocks. I spend a lot of time on SA writing, reading other people's articles and learning about companies. When I am not online, I like to read about investing, play poker and golf with my friends.
My email is email@example.com. Feel free message me with anything that you want to talk about. And if there is any company that you need help research with I will do my best to help.
After 8/28/16, I will be writing no more than 4 substantive Instablogs per year. Those blogs will be published in March, June, September and December.
Those blogs will concentrate on matters relating to portfolio positioning.
I will be posting substantive comments to my last published Instablog.
I have not used, nor will I even contemplate using SA's Instablog service as free advertising to sell a subscription service.
I have never received any compensation for the posts published at my blog website or here at SeekingAlpha. I am simply passing on what I have learned as an investor over 4+ decades free of charge. In all of my 2000+ posts since early October 2008, the primary purpose was to provide a framework for rational and fact based investment decision making that will hopefully reduce the number of errors made. That goal has been accomplished for the very few investors who have some interest in receiving it.
My most basic investment strategy is to focus on income generating securities and then to invest the cash flow into more of the same, creating a compounding impact over a long period of time. I will invest in securities throughout the capital structure on a worldwide basis. I am now and have always been a cautious total return investor (income + capital appreciation). A focus on income generation simply means that income generation through interest or dividend payments is an important part of my total return objective. I am no longer in an asset accumulation mode. Capital preservation is more important than capital appreciation. Income generation is only one aspect of an objective evaluation of potential rewards balanced against potential risks. After several decades of "turtle" investing, which sometimes requires me to pull my head back into the shell and to cease foraging in stock land (e.g. 1999), I am now admittedly absurdly diversified due largely to one of my risk management techniques that limits my monetary exposure to the securities of a single company. My monetary exposure is largely dictated by a balancing of potential risks and rewards taking into consideration income generation and potential for capital appreciation. As a risk control trading technique and in furtherance of my capital preservation emphasis, I will frequently use the natural volatility of a security to gradually build up a position, selling the highest cost shares on price spikes and buying back those shares when the purchase is lower than my average cost per share usually by more than 5%. The general idea is to lower my average cost per share over time with tax efficient share dispositions, thereby increasing my dividend yield for the remaining shares. I have also been a practitioner of dynamic or tactical asset allocation that will be driven by my big picture views, including my Vix Asset Allocation Model, as well as my opinions about the relative risks and opportunities of various asset classes. I was born in 1951, and started to invest in stocks when I was 16. I am not a financial advisor, but simply an individual investor who has been managing my own money for my adult life starting when I was a teenager. All of my brokerage accounts are cash accounts. I have never bought stock on margin. I have not added money to any of these accounts since 1984 and have used those accounts to fund my annual IRA contributions. I started my web site, Stocks & Politics, in October 2008 to do whatever I can to help individuals become better investors, which requires a lot of hard work and effort. After over 2000+ blogs, mostly long ones, I came to a realization that my time consuming and laborious efforts have been mostly futile and have been rewarded at best with faint praise. I will no longer be posting there. I would still emphasize that it is important for individuals to become as knowledgeable as possible before making any decision, with every individual taking full responsibility for their investment decisions and to prepare accordingly, which is what I try to do. The Twitter Generation will need IMO far greater investment skills than previous generations given what I now perceived about future U.S. economic conditions.
Time management is essential to monitoring a 47 position portfolio. My 1st comment concludes with "Rich-unck:xx hrs"; I uncheck from the article to avoid repetitive comments, nonsense, and (most) arguments. I extend another XX hrs when I respond to a question or comment...I also respond to all PMs.
BACKGROUND My journey as a self-directed investor (SDI) began in 1973, and resulted in financial independence at age 52, which also allowed me to retire from corporate life the following year (Feb 1995).
I have no special knowledge not attainable by others who also dedicate themselves to the study of the economy, market, and stocks...I could cease all portfolio management today, and place it with a professional manager; however, I enjoy the psychic and financial rewards. Alternatively, I could become a passive investor via mutual funds and/or index ETFs (those works too! ). With few exceptions, As a rule, Rich only discusses his IRA here--it is only a portion of his and Joyce’s investment assets.
INVESTMENT PHILOSOPHY If you ‘lived for today’ over the past 5 or 6 decades, you better invest in lottery tickets. The most probable path to a financially secure retirement is the product of an investment program (either active or passive) started when relatively young; living on less than all your after-tax income (saving means delayed gratification); and either self-directed or via professional management, adopting a sensible strategy suitable to age and comfort zone. There is wisdom in flexibility, diversification, and not being life-long wed to any strategy. It is appropriate to take greater risk for greater rewards (sensible growth stocks) when younger, as those are our lowest earnings years combined with our highest expense years--in the years between early investment and retirement, investments in solid growth companies can double 8 times or more.
There is time to adjust allocations to a more conservative strategy when closer to retirement. Never assume you have an information edge over the professionals. Time-in-the-market is your principle advantage. When/if you become interested in dividend stocks, never forget both price return and dividends compound, and price more so.
Financial independence is achieved when one has sufficient confidence his/her lifestyle will not change significantly, regardless of the potential depth or breadth of decline suffered by their portfolio--including a prolonged series of bear markets such as 1929-37. True, the recent 18-month bear market ending mid-2009, was deep--but also too brief to consider its lack of widespread dividend cuts to be as proof a portfolio of dividend-payers won't suffer income losses in a more prolonged decline (i.e., no portfolio is "dividend bulletproof").
The balance of this profile is lengthy, and likely not helpful to passive investors who simply go along for the ride, their portfolios bobbing up and down like flotsam in the ocean; their course always subject to the whims of winds, waves, and trends...THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING!
PORTFOLIO GOALS Now in my 70s, it’s no longer appropriate to engage in the growth strategies applied in wealth accumulation. As a more conservative investor, 100% of his portfolio consists of dividend-payers. 95% of positions have investment grade credit ratings (the lone exception is a REIT).This combination, along with having companies in 10 of the 11 S&P GICS sectors (none in Materials at this time) provide a measure of diversification. This IRA portfolio holds no bonds, though bonds and other investments are held elsewhere.
Maximizing total return and wealth preservation are mutually exclusive. A key observation: Having the capacity for risk is not the same as having the tolerance for it!
Rich’s objective is now a ‘smoother-ride’ that levels out the market’s peaks and valleys (limit losses, trim notable excess valuation). That smoother ride in an all-equity portfolio cannot be achieved without active management and continuous monitoring of positions--therefore TIME is an essential input to his portfolio management. Active management does not’ means frequent changes, as it is not unusual for a quarter or more to pass between a trimming or sale (nonetheless, when a company fundamentals change, or a mistake is made, corrective action is taken.)
STRATEGY SINCE 2008 Rich targets both legs of TOTAL RETURN (distributions + price change). His Growth & Income strategy often focuses on VALUE investing tactics applied to dividend-payers. Value investors seek out unpopular, companies most investors are avoiding (i.e., fundamentals have declined but credit rating is strong, BoD has implemented a rational recovery plan, and the dividend not in danger). Value investors seek to be paid to wait for other investors to recognize the stock’s value and assign it a greater share price. In any event, value stock or growth stock, Rich always seeks a ‘margin of safety’--no shares are bought at prices >FV, and his margin of safety is derived from dividends paid, price appreciation, and rising FV over time.
In all cases, value or growth, Rich selects well-established dividend-paying companies having a high-probability of growing earnings (growth of earnings is ESSENTIAL to growth of price and dividends). He tends to be flexible, forward looking, reactive to changing fundamentals, and willing to admit a mistake so action follows.
SDI is not easy, success is not assured, and in recent decades, advice from academics, and investment coaches, almost universally recommend index funds. Those NOT having the prerequisite time and interest are unlikely to develop the requisite skills for stock investing--thus the probability strongly suggests most newbies would be better served by indexing (Ben Graham wrote favorably of indexing). However, when done successfully, self-directed stock investing can offer rich psychic and financial rewards.
CORE PORTFOLIO Presently, +/-30 equities. Core holdings dominate at about 65% of total portfolio positions. Favored are traditional, large- and mid-cap, low-beta, best/near-best in class, institutional-owned, moaty, dividend-paying, value and growth stocks, having investment-grade debt ratings, and representing the consumer staples, healthcare, utilities, and telecom sectors.
OPPORTUNISTIC PORTFOLIO The remaining 15+ positions consist of equally well-known dividend-payers found among widely-owned cyclicals, such as financial, industrials, consumer discretionary, technology, real estate, and energy sectors are sensitive to the economy. In an expanding economy, cyclicals typically grow their earnings (and dividends) faster than do the typically slower-growing core companies. But because the reverse is also true, in a contracting economy, these positions are intended to be heavily trimmed to preserve gains as the economy peaks and shows evidence of decline. Some are susceptible to quite significant price declines when Mr. Market assumes their will suffer reduced earnings, and sometimes dividend-freezes/cuts, in anticipation of those events.
Rich is sometimes fully-invested, but unlike some, observes no such rule. Building a large cash cushion at the front-end of a correction/bear market (-20%) provides the dry powder required to both cushion the market's decline, and also creates the cash required to purchase excellent companies at below FV prices (without having to sell a position he wants to keep!).
TRIMMING POSITIONS When positions in either portfolio become significantly overvalued, they are trimmed by 5-10%, and the proceeds applied to fairly valued companies before the (almost always) temporary gift of over-valuation reverts to the price mean. If the position continues to advance, and absent other information, the position will be trimmed again. Added benefits to selective trimming include (1) serves as a more sensible method of rebalancing (as opposed to automatic--professionals do not use such a meat cleaver); (2) reduces the position's remaining Capital at Risk (which may suggest room for additional shares within an otherwise full position), and (3) provides the necessary dry powder to buy other shares at FV or below.
OTHER INTERESTS As we age, the importance of family grows. Rich has long volunteered in his community; over the years has served with distinction as member/chair of a number of advisory committees. Assisting others on SA is also a source of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Finally, having been blessed by years of excellent investment performance, Joyce and Rich have long been avid world travelers, and have visited over 60 countries over a span of 30 years (his SA avatar reflects the Taj Mahal in his sun glasses). They reside in Michigan--for 9 months of beauty, bliss, and family, and thoroughly enjoy wintering in equally beautiful Naples FL--for 3 months of sunny warmth and relaxation.
Life is good--it's been an unbelievably awesome ride!
I'm a computer programmer and teacher of computer programming. I am self-employed, and manage my own SEP/IRA and investments for retirement.
My personal investing goal is to own a portfolio of dividend growth companies such that:
1) The overall portfolio dividend income is sufficient to pay for all of my routine retirement expenses. I do not ever want to be forced to sell something to produce cash, especially when my asset prices are down. [I have no objection to occasionally choosing to sell something to pay for a one-time expense such as a vacation or a gift.]
2) The overall portfolio dividend income rises each year by more than the rate of inflation, so that my purchasing power does not erode over time.
I invest primarily in David Fish's lists of Dividend Champions, Dividend Contenders, and Dividend Challengers. See http://www.dripinvesting.org/tools for those lists.
I do not invest in MLP's or BDC's or CEF's or preferreds.
I maintain a free web site that contains dividend histories for all of David Fish's Dividend Champions, Contenders and Challengers: http://www.tessellation.com/dividends
PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: ... Income Replacement!
Escape velocity is the speed that an object needs to be traveling to break free of the planet's gravitational pull and leave it without further propulsion.
This portfolio is looking for the point where the income being generated can allow the holder of this portfolio to escape the gravitational pull of the market and economic forces of worrying about share prices.
The objective is to generate enough income from assets that the only selling of shares will become an option, not a necessity to survive. Therefore, with enough income being generated, it minimizes the fear of meaningful market corrections as dividends are based on the number of shares owned, not the share price.
I am an individual investor and the author of seven eBooks on dividend growth investing. I try to help self-directed individual investors profit from stock investing. I contribute articles and studies to both Seeking Alpha and Daily Trade Alert. I hold an undergraduate degree in physics from Holy Cross College and a JD from Georgetown University. My wife Sue and I live in beautiful Canandaigua, NY.
No surprise: The Hedged Economist is an economist. I’ve been at it for more years than I like to admit. If one leaves graduate school with a degree in economics, there are really only three options short of abandoning the degree and starting over. The options are: “doing” economics, telling people about economics, and applying it to your own affairs. I’ve done all three.
Currently, my focus is on applying economics to my own affairs especially financial management. That isn’t new, but my blog (hedgedeconomist.com) represents a departure. Traditionally I have avoided giving other than the broadest advice regarding personal finance, especially investing. It doesn’t take behavioral economics research or financial neurology to know people believe that they are responsible for their own financial success but fail because of bad advice. I also kept my opinions on policy to myself. People prefer confirming information, another startling discovery of behavioral economics; imagine that; people prefer “yes” men. So, given little upside and all the downside, a perversely asymmetric set of returns (that’s economist speak for a bad bet), I’ve stuck to my own affairs. But, increasingly, I get asked for my opinion, thus the blog.
Dave Fish is Executive Editor for The Moneypaper and co-manager (since 1999) of the MP 63 Fund (Symbol: DRIPX), a fund that invests exclusively in companies that offer Direct Investment (or Dividend Reinvestment) Plans. He is also the author of the U.S. Dividend Champions spreadsheet (and PDF), which is updated at the end of each month...and lists companies that have increased their dividend payout for at least 25 consecutive years. (Separate tabs list "Contenders" that have increased their payouts for 10-24 years and "Challengers" that have increased their payouts for 5-9 years.) http://dripinvesting.org/Tools/Tools.asp