Market Commentary

October 1, 2020

Q3 2020 Review - Looking Ahead

September recorded four straight weeks of negative returns, but the third quarter still managed to cover the loss and post positive numbers. In spite of the volatility and checkered news, stocks continue to have it all over bonds.

S&P 500:                Sept -3.92%                    Q3 +8.47%                        YTD +4.09%

DOW:                     Sept -2.28%                    Q3 +7.63%                        YTD -2.65%

NASDAQ:              Sept -5.16%                    Q3 +11.02%                     YTD +24.46%

Russell 2000:       Sept -3.47%                    Q3 +4.60%                        YTD -9.64%

The last quarter of the year is loaded with uncertainty. The major item is additional stimulus from Washington. The political wrangling seems to be closer to a much-needed decision and a positive result will be well received by the stock market. A negative result will provide a disappointing reaction.

The election implications for now revolve around Biden’s tax proposals. Should Biden win, and the proposals get put in place, close to 10% of 2021 S&P500 earnings will be shaved. The longer-range inherent growth from massive spending would restore growth longer term.

The next issue is China and U.S. relations post-election. The tone is less clear, and we should anticipate China seizing opportunities to strengthen their global position if available.

Lastly, the banks have been out of favor (XLF, the SPDR financial ETF is -20.14% YTD.) Loan loss reserves are in question. Earnings guidance from the banking sector would strengthen the economic picture going forward.

In light of the variables, we anticipate market results in Q4 will likely be choppy but limited on the downside. The Federal Reserve programs are still in place supporting growth.

September 3, 2020

August 2020 Review, Looking Ahead

The S&P500 ended the month of August up 7%, continuing the positive momentum since the March lows. Market concentration remained, favoring a short list of thriving technology names.
Apple, for example, delivered 28% of the S&P500’s performance for the month. As another measure, the average stock in the S&P500 is down 4% YTD.

The market narrative is now looking forward and asking, “Will there be a September correction?”

S&P 500:             Aug  +7.01%                YTD  +8.34%             -0.22%   from 8/28/20 high
DOW:                   Aug  +7.57%                YTD  -0.38%              -3.79%   from 2/12/20 high
NASDAQ:            Aug  +9.59%                YTD  +31.24%             0.00%   from 8/31/20 high
Russell 2000:      Aug  +5.50%                YTD  -6.39%              -8.41%   from 1/16/20 high

Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve is providing liquidity with a massive increase in money supply. This backdrop forces investors, fighting for yield, to choose the stock market over the bond market as the only game in town for potential results.

This strategy provides a put under the market. The latest Fed message combines low interest rates with allowing inflation to run hotter. The target is 2% inflation for a longer period. Those policies are bullish for equities and supportive for markets.

The current narrative is that anti-viral success happens before year-end. Once the pandemic is put to rest the economy can get on with reopening and working back to normalcy. A loose end is the payment protection. The political dialogue has to come together to minimize further economic instability

The Election

The Presidential election race appears to be tightening. The real question is could there be a possible democratic sweep of the Presidency, Senate, and House. Biden, with that distribution, would likely have difficulty holding back the new liberal crew of the party.

Biden’s message is clear; rolling back tax cuts and Jobs Act, raising income and social security taxes, long-term capital gains and qualified dividends subjected to ordinary income taxes, and the stepped-up basis at death eliminated. All moves that would impact wealthy seniors.

A split House and Senate outcome, regardless of who wins the Presidency, would work best for market direction. Time will tell.

Coming Up

The global economy is showing signs of coming around. The third quarter in the U.S. is responding accordingly but with elevated risks. Sentiment is positive and moving stock prices higher.

The election direction will soon add increased volatility. So far, the stock market has set aside election prospects. Our sense is that optimism is prevailing thanks to the Fed conduct. The election will provide sporadic swings in prices.

A market shift is inevitable, however the timing is unknown. We are positioned accordingly by taking measured gains. Our client assets are diversified and not over exposed, coupled with a cash component.

August 3, 2020

July 2020 Recap

Exceptional results from AppleAmazon and Facebook last Thursday after the close confirmed the market dominance of Technology. Amazing performance after the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) plunged -32.9% in Q2 and reversed from a bull to bear market in four short weeks. The result has been four straight positive months. Behind Technology, the market action has been mixed with apprehension for Covid19 virus numbers and fear of Washington D.C. faltering on the next financial support phase for the economy.

S&P 500:                                            July +5.51%                         YTD +1.25%                        -3.40% (From 2/19/20 High)

S&P500 Sector Breakdown/Results YTD

Info Technology 27.5%                  +14.81% YTD                     Health Care 14.6%                  -0.89% YTD
Cons Discretionary 11.2%              +2.55% YTD                      Comm Services 10.9%          +1.22% YTD
Financials 9.9%                                 -23.67% YTD                    Industrials 7.9%                     -14.74% YTD
Cons Staples 7%                                 -2.93% YTD                      Utilities 3.1%                           -11.21% YTD
Real Estate 2.8%                               -8.66% YTD                       Materials 2.6%                          -7.23% YTD
Energy 2.5%                                        -34.99% YTD

The median performance for stocks in the S&P500 is down roughly -20% YTD.

DOW:                        July +2.38%                   YTD -7.39%                         -10.57% (From 2/12/20 High)
NASDAQ:                 July +6.82%                  YTD +19.76%                      -0.20% (From 7/20/20 High)
Russell 2000:          July +2.71%                   YTD -11.27%                       -13.18% (From 1/16/20 High)


The Federal Reserve is on board to increase the balance sheet and address the mountains of debt later on with the background of modest inflation and incredibly low interest rates. Current conditions make the debt scene manageable, but it will have to be addressed in the future.

Biden’s proposal to raise $2 Trillion in corporate taxes, increasing taxes on average by 9%. The window is wide open for tax increases versus tax cuts. This will likely accelerate. Credit fundamentals are not good, and the U.S. is running close to a 20% annual deficit in 2020. Market success has benefited from a 34% increase in the money supply since March 1st.

The election picture on both sides of the aisle favor continued deficit spending. The current environment makes it easy, responding to demanding voters for financial support. The issue is when is the piper to be paid. The proposed buildup in debt with advancing corporate taxes will cut into corporate profits which is the linchpin of future market prospects.

Looking Ahead

The stock market is stretched, and likely range bound through summers’ end. Fiscal stimulus is uncertain, China – U.S. relations are in question and the election is coming up fast. All are major variables.

The market action has been optimistic, advancing price earnings multiples. Delivering therapies and early vaccine delivery potential have added to the positive tone.

Our sense is that optimism will continue to prevail and the S&P500 will work modestly higher through year-end. The key being the timing of therapies and a vaccine becoming promptly available.

July 2, 2020

June 2020 Recap

June was an action-packed month finishing with the DOW average having its largest rally since Q1 1987. Not to be outdone, both the S&P500 and NASDAQ had their best quarters since Q4 1998 and Q2 1999 respectfully. The market has snapped back from the March 23rd lows in spectacular fashion. Volatility forced a third of investors over 65 years of age to liquidate their equity portfolios, missing out on the phenomenal quarterly rebound.

S&P 500:                 June +1.84%,       Q2 +19.95%,       YTD -4.04% (-8.44% from 2/19/20 high)
DOW:                        June +1.69%,       Q2 +17.77%,       YTD -9.55% (-12.65% from 2/12/20 high)
NASDAQ:                June +5.99%,       Q2 +30.63%,       YTD +12.11% (-0.72% from 06/23/20 high)
Russell 2000:      June +3.39%,       Q2 +25.00%,       YTD -13.61% (-15.47% from 1/16/20 high)

The U.S. national debt stands at $26.3 trillion and heading towards a mountainous $30 trillion. Valuations and stock multiples, in time, will be impacted by attempts to control the deficit. Short-term, the virus trend is important, and the election is getting closer at hand.


Higher taxes are inevitable. Biden, faring better in the polls, has announced steps to attempt to close the gap and the proposals are widespread. The thrust is towards seniors and higher end taxpayers.

  • Tax capital gains and dividends as regular income on taxpayers lucky enough to report $1 million of gains
  • Raise the maximum tax rate from 37% to 39.6%
  • Increase the capital gains tax to 43.4%
  • Untaxed gains at death subject to 40% estate tax
  • Corporate tax rate moves to 28% from the Trump 21% rate

The net effect would decrease corporate earnings, earnings multiples, and dividends. Admittedly, the stimulus flow from the government has not yet fully worked into the economy. It will interact in the short-term but longer-range higher taxes will cast a shadow on corporate earnings and consumer spending.

Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve has reigned in the banks with share buy backs suspended. Future dividends are now in question and capital plans will be resubmitted in Q4. The Fed has boxed in restraints on questionable loan loss impact from the economy going forward. The Fed has wisely taken the potential of an unlikely dilemma off the table.

Second Half Prospects

We judge the stock market will continue to be selective and volatile. The Biotechnology sector is coming out of a long sideways build and gaining traction along with Pharmaceuticals. Select Technology names continue to do well and support NASDAQ prominence in the averages.
FAANG stocks are still attracting new capital with their exceptional balance sheets and high growth prospects. As cash on the sidelines wades in, investors purchase ETFs, automatically providing a purchase flow into these heavily weighted FAANG names.
The stock market shifts with daily news. Apprehension is high. What is clear is that a modest correction will attract a positive response.

June 2, 2020

May 2020 Review

April registered a positive month and May ended with two straight weeks of gains. The shortened holiday week finished with a shift from growth stocks, passing performance to CyclicalsFinancialsTransportation, and IndustrialsHealthcareCommunications and Consumer Discretionary rose but were less impactful.

The last day of trading anchored on President Trump’s China grievances. Surprisingly, Trump tempered his message. No pronounced efforts to increase tariffs or unwind the Phase 1 agreement. The market viewed his comments positively and ended the day with upbeat trading.

5 Months of Volatile Action

2/19/2020 (HIGH) +4.80%3/23/2020 (LOW) -30.74%5/29/2020 -5.77%

2/12/2020 (HIGH) +3.54%, 3/23/2020 (LOW) -34.85%, 5/29/2020 -11.05%

2/19/2020 (HIGH) +9.41%, 3/23/2020 (LOW) -23.53%, 5/29/2020 +5.76%

Russell 2000
1/16/2020 (HIGH) +2.20%, 3/18/2020 (LOW) -40.59%, 5/29/2020 -16.44%

After swift and heightened activity, the stock market is coming close to making up virtually all the lost ground. Stocks are down about -7% with the median issue down -14.5%. The S&P500 has moved slightly above the important 3,000 level.

Q2 Picture

The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in Q1 was down -35% and will likely record -40% in Q2. Stimulus support has been worldwide with rate cuts. In seven weeks, the Fed has produced $3 Trillion in financial support to the economy, supplemented by fiscal aid.

Warren Buffett, Ray Dalio, David Tepper and Stanley Druckenmiller, all with great investment histories, voiced skepticism on the market recovery and delayed prospects for an economic rebound. The market, so far, has ignored the expressed anxiety and continued to move higher throughout the month of May.

Our firm carries roughly 22% in cash, plus equity preferred issues and fixed income for client portfolios…a relatively cautious mix. Our conservative approach has sheltered risk while keeping assets in line with the market recovery and results year to date.

Moving Ahead

Our view has been that the intensity to develop a vaccine and therapy will likely result in success by 2020 year-end. That is what the market has been relying on. Volatility will continue but the positive sentiment should be maintained.

The market has performed exceptionally well in the last two months. June is generally a positive month, but much still must work right. We plan to continue our cautious investment strategy and anticipate positive results by year-end.

May 4, 2020

April 2020 Review

The sharp March decline in the market was followed by an optimistic reversal in April and reflected two different market views. As April closed, it was clear the V-shaped recovery was far too enthusiastic. Sentiment ran ahead of valuations. Fixed income recovered back to almost the March 23rd levels, thanks to the Fed’s intervention.

S&P500:                 April +12.68%         YTD -9.85%              From Feb 19th High -13.99%
DOW:                     April +11.08%         YTD -14.69%            From Feb 12th High -17.62%
NASDAQ:              April +15.45%         YTD -0.93%              From Feb 19th High -9.45%
Russell 2000:       April +13.66%         YTD -21.45%           From Jan 16th High -23.14%

The five highest cash balance companies reported earnings in the last week of April. Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Alphabet and Amazon, account for 20% of the S&P500 average. This is further represented in the NASDAQ’s almost flat year-to-date performance as these companies ARE the top five in this index. Additionally, the composite is almost 50% Technology, a sector that has outperformed due to, again, a small handful of high-performance names. Their earnings were met with mixed investor reactions.

Impact of COVID19

The search for a COVID19 vaccine took an important step forward with Gilead’s drug Remdesivir showing measurable signs of shortening hospital stays and opening the door to an eventual solution for a vaccine.

States are developing detailed plans to open the economy. The pace will be slow and measured with ongoing adjustments as things unfold. The economic key is producing a vaccine to really lift the curtain.

Corporate buybacks and dividends will be impacted. Major banks, noted currently for solid balance sheets, took charges in Q1 and will do so again in Q2 to insure against new loan positions. We judge major banks will be clear of additional charges in Q3 & Q4, putting them back in a more respected market role.

Taxes will be increased soon for both state and Federal. The spending spigot will start to get attention and will need tax coverage. The left political shift in the country will move legislation in that direction.

Balance of Year

The market has clearly gotten ahead of itself. Currently, the S&P500 is guessing at 2020 earnings projections. The March low was definingGDP 2020 projections are -35% in Q2+20% in Q3 and followed by +15% in Q4. Short-term will continue to be choppy. Liquidity will aid positive momentum as the year unfolds. The Fed is incredibly supportive and coupled with the U.S. Treasury will help control market direction.

Our view is a trading range. 2,650-3,000 for the S&P500 and will be in place for a time. As the economy reopens, markets will meander. The S&P500 currently at 2,912 (4/30/2020) will be protected on the downside at the 2,650 level, representing almost a 10% decline from recent highs.

Opportunities will be reshuffled. We are maintaining high cash holdings. Safeguarding assets is the top priority near-term.

April 2, 2020

First Quarter Review

The coronavirus foisted an unprecedented situation on the U.S. and global economies. The first quarter of 2020 is the worst quarter in market history. The Cruise linesHotelRestaurantAirlines and Energy industries as well as small-cap stocks were the most impacted. Financials are a close second.

S&P 500:                    QTD  -20.00%   From High -23.67% (2/19/20)
DOW:                          QTD  -23.20%   From High -25.83% (2/12/20)
NASDAQ:                   QTD  -14.18%   From High -21.57% (2/19/20)
Russell 2000:            QTD  -30.89%   From High -32.38% (1/16/20)

Recession is now inevitable. A decline of up to 30% in GDP for Q2 is most likely. We subscribe to a sharp quick drop with a reversal in Q3 with the rebound following into Q4.

Energy prices have fallen below $20 per barrel, promoted by the Saudi Arabia and Russia price conflict adding to the virus unrest. Supply broadly outstrips demand. Stability in oil prices will lighten economic pressure.

U.S. Response

The country fraught with political wrangling has stepped up to the plate in a quick and unified fashion. Fed Chairman Powell, under critical pressure recently, moved remarkably fast to lower rates near zero percent, and added programs to shore up capital markets creating liquidity in high-yield and municipal fixed income trading. A turn in the bond market has started to take shape.

Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin showing his business acumen, advanced through tireless negotiation the government’s massive relief program. Governor Cuomo of New York came to the front in bipartisan fashion to become a leading Democratic figure in attacking the crisis. The government response has been extraordinary.

The Road Ahead

The best opportunity for the economy stabilizing centers on getting the coronavirus under control through medication. This week, the first real positive prospect for a viral solution came forward. Abbott Labs announced a 5-minute test response which will identify exempt patients. Johnson & Johnson registered progress on a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, which would be available in early 2021. Science and technology are rapidly moving forward.

The bond market is starting to demonstrate liquidity. The stock market responded with a brief rally of 16%, shaving the 33% loss. This raised the optimistic question of “Is the bottom in?” Our sense is we’re in a volatile trading range. Grim statistics from COVID-19 numbers in the next 2-3 weeks will determine the answer.

The stock market anticipates future results in the economy. We are optimistic, after weathering tough numbers short-term, about turning positive going forward.

March  20, 2020

A note from Garrett Nagle & Co.

We want to assure clients that we have been attentive to shifting news flow and adjusting portfolios in your best interests. Our effort has been to increase cash across client accounts.

The picture has been demanding. Volatility began with the global virus, stressed capital markets and lastly the Saudi Arabia and Russia war on energy prices designed to thwart U.S. dominance in the area.

The Federal Reserve has stepped up, adjusting bond market distress and credit quality. The U.S. government, in bipartisan fashion, has quickly moved forward with financial bridges to help the labor market and keep the economy functioning. However, the high energy supply and low oil demand remains problematic.

Throughout the rapidly changing picture we have added to cash reserves and lowered market exposure even further. The tumultuous daily news has led us, in a short time frame, to reducing equity exposure in portfolios. Our plan is to keep the highest level of assets intact and wait for the turn.

We are positioned for the all clear signal. The key will be a prompt medical solution. Prospects are improving daily.

Please stay safe and well!

February 2019 Review - Surprise Action

The S&P500 faltered in the last three days of February but recorded the best two month start for the year in close to thirty years.

Surprise Action

December 2018 registered a major downdraft for the S&P500 -9.18% and the DOW -8.66%, posting dramatic lows on Christmas Eve. The subsequent reversal rally of January and February caught investors off guard. Conventional market wisdom suggested that those who missed the early signs of the upswing would have a second chance at the retest of the December lows. A retest would confirm an established bottom.

Instead, the market moved up in a straight line from late December through the end of February. The Federal Reserve’s easier stance toward 2019 rates solidified market response. The “wait and see” development coupled with the prospect of a favorable outcome in trade negotiations with China eliminated a retest and turned consumer confidence on the optimistic side. The retest never developed.

A Look Ahead

The global picture still poses potential problems. Europe, Japan and China are economically weak. U.S. corporate earnings are showing significant earnings decline. Q1 is apt to add up to less than 2% GDP growth…coupled with continued strong job creation, it will likely lead to 0% productivity growth. Low interest rates and the U.S. 10-Year Treasury at 2.73% (Feb-28) support the alternative to lower rates.

U.S. corporate earnings declined in Q1 while the S&P500 has marched forward. The S&P500 and DOW both stalled in the last three days of February and produced a positive reversal on Friday, March 1st.

Market action is relying on a resumption of growth later in 2019. Constructive news from the China negotiation could add another 5% to the averages. A pullback in the averages would likely follow.

We are closer to a modest pullback than a major upward swing. There is a lot of cash (best performing asset class in 2018) on the sidelines yet to participate. Memories of the December debacle returning keeps cash on the sidelines.

The S&P500 level of 2,800 has been addressed multiple times since early 2018 with no sustained success. Our sense is we are vulnerable to a modest pullback followed by improving results later in the year.

We expect a positive year in 2019.

First Quarter 2019 Overview

The S&P500 faltered in the last three days of February but recorded the best two month start for the year in close to thirty years.

The month of March ended the first quarter on a high note, close to 4% below the S&P500’s all time high recorded Sept ‘18. Not all investors participated. The December downdraft drove many to the sidelines and they missed the bulk of the rebound.

Factors dominating momentum were; another potential shift in the interest rate picture, the tariff outlook with China, fear of a global economic slowdown and market sentiment impact from the Lyft IPO and the pending Uber IPO.

The Federal Reserve chairman asserted twice that the board was pausing on increasing rate attention through 2019. This was an appealing statement welcomed with a positive market response. No sooner said than done, the yield curve inverted raising the specter of a shift from a dovish Fed to an impending rate increase.

Larry Kudlow came forth with the suggestion of a half point Fed increase, which left the market dismayed. The divergence between rising stock prices and falling bond yields was puzzling.

The agreement with China has been elongated with “things are going well” rhetoric providing comforting support. No resolution would be a real market setback. The final conclusion keeps shifting out in time. The composite of the decision is not clear. We would be inclined to take advantage of a 6%-8% market upswing which would likely follow a positive outcome.

Both Germany and France are teetering on recession with interest rates on government funds virtually negative. China, which has slowed, is moving to cultivate Germany which has implications for U.S. tariff negotiations. Europe is close to a bottom barring a major mishap with Brexit.

The Lyft IPO has received abundant press as a market stimulant. Clearly, the attention has brought participants back to the market that had been fearful after the December demise.

Lyft’s pricing was set at the top of the range ($72ps), a $20+ billion valuation. Our sense is that the valuation was extended with no profits in sight through 2022. Further, Lyft is priced at one fifth the level attached to the upcoming Uber offering, which has international involvement.

A settling of Lyft’s value would dampen the public market price of the Uber IPO. The crowded scene will require much more investment. The competitive picture is still taking shape and years away from profitability. Our reading is that the IPO market enthusiasm will become more discerning, losing momentum.

The first quarter of 2019 will test the market’s resolve with lower corporate earnings. Stock prices are 16.5x S&P500 earnings and are likely to withstand soft earnings reports should they provide evidence of rebounding from Q4. Does the global economy begin to turn up as central banks continue to support with low rates?

We judge the rally in stocks being close to pausing and we expect confirmation of growth returning to extend higher stock prices.

March 3, 2020

February 2020

February 19th the market recorded the top. Then the Coronavirus news abruptly changed the markets’ narrative on the global economic picture. In the past week, the DOW average lost close to 4,000 points.

The downdraft was shocking and the fastest correction in market history. Last Friday, around noon, in 90 seconds the DOW average moved from a positive level to negative -1.50%.

The culprit has been the Coronavirus that started in China and has now spread to other parts of the world, including the U.S. The virus implications are economic and quickly shelved the picture of the U.S. economy turning up in early 2020 to a delayed recovery and recession avoidance.

Now if containment is ineffective, the U.S. will simply have to adjust. The implication for global growth is unsettled and subject to changes in virus headcounts.

S&P500:          Feb -8.41%,  YTD -8.56%             DOW:                     Feb -10.07%YTD -10.96%
NASDAQ:        Feb -6.38%,  YTD -4.52%             Russell 2000:       Feb -8.53%,  YTD -11.51%

Client Exposure

In early February, we were busy rebalancing client positions. Portfolio gains required adjustment from original allocations. Consequently, we shaved some securities and assigned proceeds to fixed income where appropriate.

We now have, firm-wide, 13% in Money Markets (Cash), 18% Bonds, 5% Preferreds, 64% in Equities. The percentages vary according to individual client and account ground rules. This distribution protected clients in the February pullback.

Looking Forward

The Fed is in the forefront of developing global stimulus and today has cut the Fed Funds rate by 50 basis points. The U.S. dollar, which has weakened, will soften more benefiting U.S. corporations’ overseas activities.

Several Wall Street firms have taken down estimates for the S&P500 earnings for 2020. New projections reflect a pullback from $175.00p.s. to $160.00p.s. with some predictions holding the 3,300-3,400 level for year-end results. The unclear supply chain support from China for U.S. prescriptions/products will impact forward results. The U.S. election is an additional variable for the 2020 investment scene outcome.

Pulling it altogether, we conclude that the virus will hopefully start to diminish by mid-year and, come fall, economic recovery will begin to emerge. This is a best-case scenario. In the interim, the market is not yet in the clear.


Our view is to be patient, maintain caution and wait for clarity. We are well positioned to do so. The market near-term will continue to be volatile with price swings. The market is not out of the woods.

February 3, 2020

January 2020 Review

The start of January 2020 fostered a shift in sentiment toward an improving economic scene in Europe, the U.S. and China, which markets reflected. The picture reversed as the month matured. The Coronavirus challenged economic stability, escalating with its spread through month-end.

Global economic numbers quickly came into question, pumping up Wall Street anxiety. Furthermore, Bernie Sanders’ move in the Iowa polls advanced the possibility of the socialist platform succeeding. This combination shaved away all the early January advance producing a fragile market.

S&P500           January  -0.16%                           DOW               January   -0.99%
NASDAQ         January  +1.99%                          Russell 2000    January  -3.26%

Narrow Market

The last week of January clustered reporting from four major companies followed by one more on Monday, February 3rd. The top five companies constitute 18% of the S&P500 average. AppleFacebookMicrosoftAmazon and Alphabet. Coming into the last week 33.3% of the S&P500 and NASDAQ were in correction, down 10% or greater, while also navigating the latest update on the Coronavirus.

Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon (AMZN) have all reported quarterly earnings.

Apple traded +2.09%Facebook -6.13%Microsoft +2.82% and Amazon +8.72% after posting. Apple has now given up the gains and is below it’s pre-earnings pricing. Facebook continues to trade lower and Microsoft is slowly giving up the post-earnings gain…pretty good results.

Bond Picture

Fear of the Coronavirus spreading prompted in January a significant increase in negative interest rates. Rates continue to remain low which is positive for the $23 Trillion of U.S. government debt. Yields in Japan and Europe retreated below zero while the 10-Year U.S. Treasury slipped to a 1.5% yield range.

Global economies are now addicted to low interest rates and will likely continue or face dampening economic growth. The impact of low rates is material on senior savings for retirement, pension funds and insurers with unattainable interest projections.

Central banks have become comfortable with low interest, but the massive growth of debt looms off in the future. Ironically, low debt can’t foster economic growth above 2% and caps inflation.

Looking Ahead

Economic prospects in the U.S. are still promising. Assuming the Coronavirus is controlled, 4th quarter 2019 earnings are encouraging entering 2020. Liquidity provided by the Federal Reserve is major support. The next important impact will be a close election. The first week of February will focus on China’s update on virus numbers combined with Sanders results in Iowa.

January Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), released early Feb 3rd, advanced 3.1% to 50.9%. This exceeded expectations. Our sense is the U.S. market is best described as in a mini correction with no sign of a real recession.

Our strategy is to pause and wait for markets to settle. We are well positioned and watching our holdings closely.

The start of January 2020 fostered a shift in sentiment toward an improving economic scene in Europe, the U.S. and China, which markets reflected. The picture reversed as the month matured. The Coronavirus challenged economic stability, escalating with its spread through month-end.

Global economic numbers quickly came into question, pumping up Wall Street anxiety. Furthermore, Bernie Sanders’ move in the Iowa polls advanced the possibility of the socialist platform succeeding. This combination shaved away all the early January advance producing a fragile market.

January 8, 2020

The Start of 2020

2019 finished upbeat. Limited tax selling deferred gains forward into a 2021 payment, which helped markets grind higher through December. The key to performance came from earnings multiples advancing, up from 14x to more than 18x, with limited earnings increases. The price advance has either borrowed ahead or at a minimum put more pressure on advancing earnings for 2019. Improved sentiment followed, setting the stage for strong equity performance.​

S&P500:              December +2.86%,                 2019 +28.88%
DOW:                  December +1.74%,                2019 +22.34%
NASDAQ:           December +3.54%,                 2019 +35.23%
Russell 2000:    December +2.71%,                 2019 +23.72%

Start of 2020

The picture for the new year is, generally, positive. A strong consumer….Supportive Fed policy….China trade policy headed for initial level of agreement….Little indication of recession….Signs of global economic improvement and finally, Brexit moving toward a resolution. The only new offsetting risk is the tussle with Iran, which is settling down.

Wall Street projects earnings in the +3%-5% area for 2020. The 10-Year U.S. Treasury will probably move in the 1.5%-2.5% yield range. We believe that should these numbers come to fruition, a market return of 5%-10% (including interest and dividends) is achievable in 2020.

The Fed’s pro-growth policy has reinforced market optimism. There is little inflation in view and interest rates remain low. Wage increases have been absorbed so far. The current fiscal policy of easy money from the Fed (producing liquidity), coupled with support from Technology, are unique factors to developing the 2020 economic upturn. The wild card is the election. News related to it will produce volatility and significant swings in equity prices.


Projections for the full year are subject to change as the year develops. 2019 forecasts were widely off the mark with lower earnings offset by increased market multiples. Market moves develop in stages.

Q1 will start with the payroll report. This will indicate the pace of the current economic picture. This is followed quickly by corporate earnings. Super Tuesday is up next, developing the political landscape and the possible emergence of the Democratic candidate.

Remember, Trump’s candidacy started off as a long shot and the eventual nomination and win were also. What a shift. This election has similar characteristics with the Democratic roster. It will require the same attention to portfolios and the requisite adjustments.

GN&Co is non-political. Our role, as stewards of our clients’ assets, is to optimally position their portfolios to protect principal and profit according to client ground rules.

Final Thoughts

Non-farm payroll numbers this week will shed light on how the economy is developing. The release of corporate earnings results begins shortly. Our sense is the market, short-term, is ahead of itself and that a 3%-5% pullback wouldn’t surprise. This would settle optimism and establish a baseline to further advance going forward. That’s our view at this early stage.

Our sense is that 2020 is wide open, starting out slowly and progressing. We are optimistic but do not expect a repeat of last year.

We are always on guard to protect assets.

October 2019 Recap

The stock market finished higher for the last four weeks of October, developing a modest breakout at 3,038 for the S&P500. The previous high of 3,025 on July 26th was finally pushed through.

For October, the Healthcare sector led performance at +5% for the month. Technology and Telecommunications were +3.81% and +2.73% respectively. Energy lagged at -2.26%.

S&P500:       October +2.04%YTD +21.17%               DOW:                October +0.48%YTD +15.94%
NASDAQ:     October +3.66%YTD +24.97%               Russell 2000:    October +2.57%YTD +15.86%

Improved Market Turn

Stock prices finally muddled through long standing highs in the averages. The third Fed rate cut created potential support for the economy. Corporate earnings in Q3 were not great but acceptable. On average, down roughly -3% for the quarter.

A recent Barron’s poll for market expectations concluded with only 27% bullish prospects, the lowest level in 20 years. The somewhat erratic trade with China calmed, developing optimism for a positive conclusion. The U.S. consumer benefits from higher asset prices; i.e. stock prices. Home prices increased +1% in September and are +6% YTD.

The mood of markets has shifted with this support. The assumption is that central bank backing will start to take hold in three to six months out, resulting in improved corporate earnings. Our expectation is earnings in the +4% range for 2020.

Fixed Income

The 10-Year U.S. Treasury yield has declined 36% since January 1st, leading to lower interest rates across the board. As we all know, when yields decline pricing gains in bonds take place.

Our clients’ fixed income portfolio gains have been materially enhanced with higher bond prices layered on top of portfolio equity gains.

Towards Year End

The Fed has signaled a pause in further rate cuts but remain importantly accommodative. The market tone has turned. It is now supporting the view that global central bank stimulation will help promote more promising economic results starting in the 4th quarter.

The market question develops; Are we now pulling stock price increases forward, setting up for a pullback? Time will tell.

We have been participating in the improved market by purchasing equities which had already corrected and are well down from their respective highs. A positive but cautious strategy.

Commentary Disclosures

The information contained in this investment research has been compiled by Garrett Nagle & Co., Inc. from sources believed to be reliable. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is made by Garrett Nagle & Co., Inc. as to its fairness, accuracy or completeness. Garrett Nagle & Co., Inc. has not independently verified the facts, assumptions, and estimates contained herein. This communication is for informational purposes only and nothing herein should be construed as a solicitation, recommendation or an offer to buy or sell any securities or product. Garrett Nagle & Co., Inc., their officers, directors, employees or clients may have a position in any securities mentioned above. All estimates, opinions and other information contained in this investment research constitute Garrett Nagle & Co., Inc.’s judgment as of the date of this investment research, are subject to change without notice and are provided in good faith but without legal responsibility or liability. Investments in financial instruments carry significant risks, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested. Past performance is not a guarantee or indication of future results.

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Founded in 1976, Garrett Nagle & Company is a boutique investment management firm specializing in managing portfolios for high net worth individuals and institutions. Based in Woburn, Massachusetts, our portfolios are separately managed and customized according to each client’s individual risk tolerance and return objectives. The firm is a Registered Investment Advisor with the SEC.

Founded in 1976, Garrett Nagle & Company is a boutique investment management firm specializing in managing portfolios for high net worth individuals and institutions.


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