September 25, 2012
The Markets: Dividends and Dow Theory
Corporations are putting more cash in investors' pockets.
In the past week, more than half a dozen Blue Chip companies announced increases in their dividend payouts. In fact, Standard and Poor's Corporation said S&P 500 companies paid a record $34 billion in cash payments to investors in August. That's a pretty nice stimulus!
And, the largesse may continue. Howard Silverblatt, an analyst from Standard and Poor's, was quoted in MarketWatch as saying, "2012 should set a record high for cash dividend payments, 16 percent above that of 2011."
While dividend payouts look good, another part of the stock market is "diverging" and sending mixed signals.
There's a century old investment management system called "The Dow Theory" which was developed by Charles Dow through a series of editorials in The Wall Street Journal between 1900 and 1902. According to this theory, in a healthy stock market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Dow Jones Transportation Average should rise in sync.
The theory is based on the idea that companies in the industrial average "make the stuff" while companies in the transportation average "ship the stuff." If there's a divergence in the movement of the industrial average and the transportation average, then you have to wonder which one is potentially giving a misleading signal about future economic activity.
So, what's The Dow Theory signaling now? It's flashing red because, as of last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 11 percent for the year while the Dow Jones Transportation Average was down more than 2 percent. And, just last week, the industrial average was flat while the transport index dropped a significant 5.9 percent - a substantial divergence in just one week.
Like all investment systems, though, The Dow Theory is not foolproof and this divergence could just be noise. In any case, it's worth keeping an eye on it as a possible early warning sign.
|Data as of 9/21/12||1-Week||Y-T-D||1-Year||3-Year||5-Year||10-Year|
|Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)||-0.4%||16.1%||25.2%||11.1%||-0.9%||5.8%|
|DJ Global ex US (Foreign Stocks)||-0.8||10.1||8.6||1.6||-5.6||7.9|
|10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)||1.8||N/A||1.9||3.5||4.6||3.7|
|Gold (per ounce)||0.5||13.3||-0.5||21.4||19.4||18.7|
|DJ-UBS Commodity Index||-2.9||5.0||-4.1||5.7||-3.6||3.3|
|DJ Equity All REIT TR Index||-3.1||17.5||31.1||19.9||2.8||11.4|
Notes: S&P 500, DJ Global ex US, Gold, DJ-UBS Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT TR Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron's, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
CAN YOU IMPROVE YOUR INVESTMENT PERFORMANCE BY TAKING A TRIP to the local drugstore and forking over two dollars to buy a spiral bound notebook? Yes, says Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, one of the country's preeminent psychologists.
In a recent conversation with Tom Gardner of The Motley Fool, Legg Mason Capital Management chief investment strategist Michael J. Mauboussin recounted a conversation he had many years ago with Professor Daniel Kahneman. Mauboussin asked Kahneman this question - What single thing can an investor do to improve their investment performance? Kahneman said buy a notebook and when you make an investment, write down why you made the investment, what you expect to happen with the investment, and when you expect it to happen.
Hmm. How does that translate into improved investment performance?
As humans, we often succumb to what's called "hindsight bias." Hindsight bias means we tend to think our forecasts were better than they really are. For example, few people predicted the severity of the Great Recession, but, after the fact, many people said they saw the signs of a bubble about to burst. These people "misremembered" what they were thinking prior to the Great Recession.
Kahneman says writing down what you're thinking and what your expectations are - at the time you make an investment - allow you to go back after the fact and see how accurate you were. This black and white analysis helps keep you honest about your ability to make predictions and make good investment decisions. It helps you avoid becoming overconfident. Overconfidence is bad because it makes you think you're smarter than you really are which could lead to making riskier investments and losing lots of money.
Sometimes the best ideas are also the simplest.
Weekly Focus - Think About It...
"Well, I think we tried very hard not to be overconfident, because when you get overconfident, that's when something snaps up and bites you."
—Neil Armstrong, astronaut, first person to walk on the moon
Sean M. Dowling, CFP, EA
President, The Dowling Group Wealth Management
Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.
- The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.
- The DJ Global ex US is an unmanaged group of non-U.S. securities designed to reflect the performance of the global equity securities that have readily available prices.
- The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
- Gold represents the London afternoon gold price fix as reported by the London Bullion Market Association.
- This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
- The DJ Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
- The DJ Equity All REIT TR Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
- Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
- Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
ADV & Investment Objectives:
Please contact The Dowling Group if there are any changes in your financial situation or investment objectives, or if you wish to impose, add or modify any reasonable restrictions to the management of your account. Our current disclosure statement is set forth on Part II of Form ADV and is available for your review upon request.
IRS Circular 230 Disclosure:
Pursuant to requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of avoiding penalties imposed under the United States Internal Revenue Code or promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any tax-related matter. Please contact us if you wish to have formal written advice on this matter.
It's a busy world. Our newsletter helps keep you tuned in to major market events, money-saving opportunities, filing deadlines, and other important information. One email per week and no spam — promise.Subscribe