Further to my note at the start of the week, decided to do a few trades today in the end, although maybe not the best day to do it. There was however some news flow from a stock that I have been tracking for a while which has de-rated quite a bit, so that prompted me into action.
The sales were of stocks which may be more vulnerable to a slow down / recession in economies - so decided to exit those as the Scores had been suggesting that for little while so getting back with the programme as it were.
Against that the buys seem to be in a position to cope with the economic climate, based on the news flow mentioned above and the nature of their operations. Subscribers will be able to see details of these in their sheets with brief comments alongside.
Cheers, mind how you go and be careful out there.
Introduction / background comments
Another tricky month for investors as economies Worldwide struggle with the fall out from the Russian invasion of Ukraine in terms of its impact on supply chains and inflation. In addition these macro economic concerns are reinforced by the Geo-political concerns as NATO countries ramp up their military & humanitarian support for Ukraine. This is being done despite the potential of Ukraine & other Eastern European Nations joining NATO having led to the invasion, according to the Russians. As a result they now accuse the West of fighting a Proxy war, although I guess they were damned if they did and damned if they didn't. Hopefully it might come to some peaceful resolution soon, although a long drawn out messy affair or a War of attrition seems more likely at the moment. Markets continue to struggle against this background and as Central Banks grapple with the now non transitory inflation along with trying again to reduce the stimulus that they have been dishing out to varying degrees since the GFC and more recently during the Pandemic.
As a result Bond yields seem to have finally broken out to the upside to bring to an end (for now) the long bull run they have enjoyed since the early 1980's. I say for now as if these moves lead to an economic slowdown / recession and a market rout then it is always possible that inflation could come down quicker than expected & the tightening might not be as large as currently discounted. Some also worry about deflationary pressures resuming after the current inflation surge is over, although I'm not personally convinced by those arguments at present.
Alternatively, as in the past, Central Banks may again halt their tightening programmes and once again open the liquidity taps again if markets cut up rough and economies seem to be heading for a serious downturn. This might lead to another rally in bonds if inflation is by then showing signs of coming down again and equities might then join in the fun down the line if any or all of that comes to pass.
Of course that could be wishful thinking or it "could be different this time" to coin an expensive phrase - with more persistent inflation and Central Banks therefore having to push on with rate rises and draining liquidity to bring inflation under control despite the damage to economies and stock markets. Or there is an outside chance that they could pull off a dampening of inflation along with achieving a rare soft landing. I won't believe in either of those until I see them, but as ever time will tell I guess.
For now the sell off in bonds and equities seems likely to continue as investors anticipate further rate rises from Central Banks and are starting to worry about / discount tougher times or a recession ahead. Having said that though some of the economic stats like PMI's and unemployment are still showing positive trends, so a recession is not guaranteed just yet, but it remains to be seen how long that lasts.
April proved to be another negative month for the Compound Income Scores portfolio (CISP) which was disappointing as the FTSE All Share did manage to eek out a positive return as shown in the table at the start of this piece. Thus for the YTD the CISP is - 9.3% versus the +0.8% for the All Share.
As mentioned last month this is partly down to the make up of the CISP versus the FTSE All Share in terms of exposure to large caps. By way of illustration it just over 60% in FTSE 350 stocks and within that it is skewed towards Mid 250 stocks which have been hit harder than the big FTSE stocks. AIM and small cap holdings have also suffered bigger hits in a reversal of their previous outperformance in recent years.
There were quite a few names that therefore suffered double digit falls and not enough risers to offset this overall. One of the bigger fallers was Ashtead, which at least was reduced in last months screening, but with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight I obviously wish I'd sold it all. Which brings me on to an update about this months screening
There were quite a few names this month which had seen their scores deteriorate sufficiently to be up for consideration for being sold. 6 of these were repeat offenders from last month, including Ashtead again, plus one recent purchase.
In the end I decided to give all of these the benefit of the doubt this month as in some cases the reasons for holding remained the same and in others like Ashtead they seemed very oversold. So I was reluctant to sell them on that basis in the expectation that we might see some mean reversion in the next month, as is often the case after a big move. In addition some of the possible replacement candidates did not look that cheap and on the flip side had pretty strong one month performance. Thus having put through quite a bit of turnover the previous month and as it seems hard to add much value from trading currently unless something is obviously at risk. So it seemed prudent to save on turnover in what might have been poorly timed / marginal trades.
Just a quick note for subscribers, in case you are not aware, brief notes on the Monthly Screening and candidates that are considered on both sides of the ledger are shown in the Journal tab, but these appear below the news flow comments. Since this may not have been obvious, I have therefore moved those this month to the foot of the Transactions sheet where more logically they can then be read in conjunction with the trades actually carried out in the rows above.
Summary & Conclusion
Another difficult month for investors as bonds and equities continue their sell offs. While for the more general public it is becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet as inflation continues to soar and as Central Banks tighten monetary policy and look to drain liquidity.
As a result bonds seem to have ended their long bull run for now and equities have generally entered what would be deemed a correction or even a bear market depending on which index you are looking at. This is on expectations of further action to come from the Central Banks and some rising concerns that this will likely lead to negative economic growth and a potential recession later this year or in 2023.
Apart from a brief inversion of a yield curve last month as an early indicator other economic indicators such as PMI indices and unemployment data are not signalling trouble ahead just yet and the UK headline indices continue in a bullish trend for now as FTSE 100 stocks have performed well overall this year as Commodity producers have prospered. Outside of that the Mid, Smaller and AIM indices have all slipped into bearish downtrends to the detriment of the CISP as shown in the table at the top.
Nevertheless I shall be sticking with the process as I believe it remains sound as demonstrated by the longer term track record of nearly 15% per annum compound returns since inception. Overall as I always say you have to take the rough with the smooth in this game and not get too carried away when things are going well nor too depressed when things are tougher. Indeed Ray Dalio of Bridgewater (one of the largest Hedge Funds in the World) said as much when he was reviewing the current state of play recently on Linkedin.
So mind how you go and I hope markets are not being to cruel to your portfolio & it's not going down like a Led Zeppelin! However you are managing it remember not to get too down if things are tough as that is all part of the investing game and you have to learn to live with Good Times, Bad Times.
Introduction / background comments
Not a great quarter for markets or the World in fact as the terrible Russian invasion of Ukraine is on going. While Covid seems to be doing its best to continue to disrupt things despite many Countries moving on from restrictions and trying to live with it as a mild endemic kind of thing. Coming out of that on the economic front we are facing inflationary pressures brought about by a hangover from the pandemic, the effects of the Ukraine invasion and in the case of the UK the on going issues arising from BREXIT, if I dare mention that?
As if that were not enough we also have behind the curve Central Banks trying to play catch up and put the inflation genie back in the lamp even though that is what they wished for. As indicated by Fed Chairman Powell when he updated their policy back in August 2020 when he said they would allow inflation to run hot for some time above their 2% target. Be careful what you wish for as the old saying goes!
With Central Banks and the US Fed in particular now ramping up their intention to raise rate we have seen an early inversion of the 2 year to 10 year yield curve there which has historically been a reliable indicator of a forthcoming recession within the next couple of years. There has been quite a bit of debate about the significance of this at present given the Central Banks policy of financial repression by keeping short rates artificially low.
So there is probably no need to panic about equities on the back of this just yet, but it does suggest that at some point as short rates rise then some problems may arise in the financial system. That in conjunction with the on going squeeze in living standards could then lead to a recession perhaps later this year of in 2023. However for now the economic indicators I follow and the market timing indicators for the main UK equity indices (FTSE 100, 350 & All Share) are still suggesting it is right to stay invested, although Mid Caps and Small Caps remain in a bear trend for now. Of Course you'd have to decide for yourself based on your own risk tolerance etc.
March was at least a positive month for the Compound Income Scores portfolio (CISP) with a +0.4% total return, although this again lagged behind the FTSE All Share which returned +1.3%. Thus in the year to date after declines in January & February the CISP has a -7.5% total return for the YTD versus the +0.5% for the FTSE All Share. See the table & graph at the top of this post which show this & performance together with longer time periods and since inception.
This recent underperformance and indeed some of the outperformance in the longer term is partly explained by the portfolio tilt towards Mid & Small cap names and away from FTSE. More of the FTSE has held up or have even gone up in the recent market conditions marking a rare moment in the sun compared to recent years when investor generally shunned them and chased tech shares in the US and elsewhere. This had left them looking pretty cheap and with a heavy exposure to Commodity names this outperformance may well continue for now.
I suspect the Mid & Smaller cap parts of the market may, in the main, be more sensitive to an economic pressures brought about by commodity prices and problems brought on by the cost of living squeeze. So I suspect the CISP may continue to struggle against that background, but I will try and address it as far as I can with the forthcoming monthly screenings.
Which brings me onto this months screening which did throw up quite a few names where the Scores had deteriorated enough to make me consider their position in the portfolio. There were 6 of these which I decided to keep as I am happy with their recent updates and fundamentals etc. in the current environment. One of these though, Ashtead (AHT), I did top slice given the lower score, as it had grown to be the second largest holding, but I will run the rest for now as it seems like a quality compounder.
Aside from that I did process three natural sales based on their Scores and the fundamental outlook. These were Kingfisher (KGF), which I must admit does look fundamentally cheap, although there are question marks about the outlook on the consumer / housing front etc. While the portfolio also has another name which is exposed to some of the same categories in a more limited way, but I'm trying to reduce duplication in the portfolio and increase the diversification by business type too when carrying out transactions, unless there is a strong trend or theme I'm looking to play to a greater extent.
In a similar way the portfolio also said farewell to a more successful position than Kingfisher with the sale of Jarvis Securities (JIM). This had been a beneficiary of the boom in trading during the pandemic, but that seems to have come to an end now. While they may be a beneficiary of rising interest rates, they have seen some big downgrades and the forecast outlook is pretty flat. This one has in the past gone to sleep in price terms & I suspect it could be entering another one of those periods, although it does seem a pretty good business in terms of its financial metrics for the longer term, so I wouldn't put you off holding if you want to. In the context of the CISP this is a another situation where it also holds a similarly exposed business but in this case it is the bigger, better diversified and cheaper IG Group (IGG). So with the waning of the dealing boom by private punters and a more difficult market back ground it seems reasonable to reduce exposure to that theme, but retain IG group which at least seems to benefit from tougher markets.
The final sale was of another seemingly cheap share Barclays (BARC) which has seen its score slip on the back of downgrades post what seemed like ok results. While it may also be a beneficiary of rising rates, it could also be more vulnerable to worsening economic and market conditions. Their case was also not helped by them over issuing a ETN offering which they will now have to pay a large sum of money in compensation. So out it went as it is a bank after all.
Against those sales on the purchase side I did add a couple of financials to replace the two sold which bring in the main a different kind of exposure to markets. One was a strong recent momentum play, while the other was a much smaller more contrarian value type of play. Aside from those I added a well managed, if somewhat boring packaging distributor Macfarlane (MACF) which has traded well and continues to look cheap on the back of some decent upgrades. Aside from those I also reinvested the proceeds of the Ashtead (AHT) top slice into another quality / growth situation which has de-rated quite a bit along with other higher rated names recently. So now seemed like a reasonable time to bring it up to an average weighting in the portfolio after their recent in line trading update seems to have reassured investors.
Subscribers will be able to see full details of the transactions in their Scores sheets. May I also take this opportunity to welcome all the new subscribers this quarter. If you'd like to join them then you can do so here.
Hopefully the rest of the year might be more productive for the CISP and your investments. So may I wish you well with your investing, mind how you go and don't forget to be careful what you wish for.
Another poor month for stock markets generally on the back of on going inflationary worries & the Russian invasion of Ukraine which unsettled investors and added to those inflation concerns. As a result it seems that my concerns that this years returns might be poor after bumper returns last year are so far being realised.
The UK stock market actually held up relatively well against that background given it was not as expensive as some others having lagged behind in performance terms in recent years. This was due to heavy weightings in old non tech type sectors like oil & mining which all did relatively well as a result of rising commodity prices. Consequently the FTSE 100 continued to outperform this month & thus it and the broader FTSE All Share, which it is a large part of, maintained their existing bullish trend - for now. In contrast the Mid 250 and Small Cap Indices fell further behind and both are now in bear trends.
For the Scores Portfolio these trends hit the performance again this month as having benefitted from being overweight Mid Cap, Smaller and AIM names previously this is now weighing on performance. Subscribers can see some monthly attribution figures towards the right hand side in the Portfolio sheet. Also worth noting that a summary of all the Scores has been added here for easy checking along side the triple trend momentum buy, hold, avoid & sell suggestions.
The impact of this at the portfolio level is shown in the table above with the fall back in the last 6 months and year to date reducing some of the outperformance achieved last year. Nevertheless the longer term performance remains good. Please seen the link to the table of returns under the Portfolio menu for the full performance history or click here if that is of interest.
A couple of sales and purchase this month as I held onto a few stocks where the Score had slipped on the basis that they have updates or results due soon. Subscribers will be able to see the details of these in the Portfolio sheet of their Scores file.
Summary & Conclusion
Another poor month in what is so far shaping up to be a poor year for stock market investors after good times for the last decade or more albeit with other sell offs along the way. Obviously the current situation in Ukraine is another fairly extreme concern coming so soon after the Covid shutdowns etc. and the debt / asset bubbles that have been blown up on the back of that. On top of that we have the inflation problems and the complication of Central Banks trying to deal with that in the face of the Ukraine war.
Thus it is probably not a time for taking too much risk but equally maybe best not to panic either as in the past crises have tended to blow over and markets have often been higher 12 months later. No doubt as events develop there will threats and opportunities & I'm sure the Scores may help to identify some of those along the way, but however you do it mind how you go and good luck with your investments this year.
Further to the last post about the major upgrade to the Scores. Just wanted to mention the way in which the sign up process works now affords the opportunity for a storming free trial. The founder member fixed annual pricing is available by signing up for an annual direct debit. If you wanted to sign up now this will be set up to be taken on or around 21st March 2022 and annually thereafter.
Thus you could try the Scores & get access to the Portfolio for two or three weeks before you buy and cancel your direct debit mandate a week or so before the 21st March if you decided they were not for you. If you did decide to pay you'd be able to lock in the super low pricing that works out at just £1 a week. Not sure where else you can find such priceless information for that price, but then I'm biased.
Any way mind how you go on this stormy day in the UK and safe investing however you decide to do it.