September 18, 2017, 4:30 pm EST Invest Alongside Billionaires For $297/Qtr
As I said on Friday, people continue to look for what could bust the economy from here, and are missing out on what looks like the early stages of a boom.
We constantly hear about how the fundamentals don’t support the move in stocks. Yet, we’ve looked at plenty of fundamental reasons to believe that view (the gloom view) just doesn’t match the facts.
Remember, the two primary sources that carry the megahorn to feed the public’s appetite for market information both live in economic depression, relative to the pre-crisis days. That’s 1) traditional media, and 2) Wall Street.
As we know, the traditional media business, has been made more and more obsolete. And both the media, and Wall Street, continue to suffer from what I call “bubble bias.” Not the bubble of excess, but the bubble surrounding them that prevents them from understanding the real world and the real economy.
As I’ve said before, the Wall Street bubble for a very long time was a fat and happy one. But the for the past ten years, they came to the realization that Wall Street cash cow wasn’t going to return to the glory days. And their buddies weren’t getting their jobs back. And they’ve had market and economic crash goggles on ever since. Every data point they look at, every news item they see, every chart they study, seems to be viewed through the lens of “crash goggles.” Their bubble has been and continues to be dark.
Also, when we hear all of the messaging, we have to remember that many of the “veterans” on the trading and the news desks have no career or real-world experience prior to the great recession. Those in the low to mid 30s only know the horrors of the financial crisis and the global central bank sponsored economic world that we continue to live in today. What is viewed as a black swan event for the average person, is viewed as a high probability event for them. And why shouldn’t it? They’ve seen the near collapse of the global economy and all of the calamity that has followed. Everything else looks quite possible!
Still, as I’ve said, if you awoke today from a decade-long slumber, and I told you that unemployment was under 5%, inflation was ultra-low, gas was $2.60, mortgage rates were under 4%, you could finance a new car for 2% and the stock market was at record highs, you would probably say, 1) that makes sense (for stocks), and 2) things must be going really well! Add to that, what we discussed on Friday: household net worth is at record highs, credit growth is at record highs and credit worthiness is at record highs.
We had nearly all of the same conditions a year ago. And I wrote precisely the same thing in one of my August Pro Perspective pieces. Stocks are up 17% since.
And now we can add to this mix: We have fiscal stimulus, which I think (for the reasons we’ve discussed over past weeks) is coming closer to fruition.
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February 15, 2017, 4:30pm EST Invest Alongside Billionaires For $297/Qtr
Stocks continue to make new highs – five consecutive days of higher highs in the Dow. The Trump administration continues to make new news. And the Fed continues to become less important. Those have been the themes of the week.
Today was the deadline for all big money managers to give a public snapshot of their portfolios to the SEC (as they stood at the end of Q4). So let’s review why (if at all) the news you read about today, regarding the moves of big investors, matters.
Remember, all investors that are managing over $100 million are required to publicly disclose their holdings every quarter. They have 45 days from the end of the quarter to file that disclosure with the SEC. It’s called a form 13F.
First, it’s important to understand that some of the moves deduced from 13F filings can be as old as 135 days. Filings must be made 45 days after the previous quarter ends.
Now, there are literally thousands of investment managers that are required to report on a 13F. That means there are thousands of filings. And the difference in manager talent, strategies, portfolio sizes, motivations and investment mandates runs the gamut.
Although the media loves to run splashy headlines about who bought what, and who sold what, to make you feel overconfident about what you own, scared about what they sold, anxious, envious or all a combination of it all. The truth is, most of the meaningful portfolio activity is already well known. Many times, if they are big stakes, they’ve already been reported in another filing with the SEC, called the 13D.
With this all in mind, there are nuggets to be found in 13Fs. Let’s revisit how to find them, and the take aways from the recent filings.
I only look at a tiny percentage of filings—just the investors that have long and proven track records, distinct approaches, and who have concentrated portfolios. That narrows the universe dramatically.
Here’s what to look for:
- Clustering in stocks and sectors by good hedge funds is bullish. Situations where good funds are doubling down on stocks is bullish. This all can provide good insight into the mindset of the biggest and best investors in the world, and can be a predictor of trends that have yet to materialize in the market’s eye.
- For specialist investors (such as a technology focused hedge fund) we take note when they buy a new technology stock or double down on a technology stock. This is much more predictive than when a generalist investor, as an example, buys a technology stock or takes a macro bet.
- The bigger the position relative to the size of their portfolio, the better. Concentrated positions show conviction. Conviction tends to result in a higher probability of success. Again, in most cases, we will see these first in the 13D filings.
- New positions that are of large, but under 5%, are worthy of putting on the watch list. These positions can be an indicator that the investor is building a position that will soon be a “controlling stake.”
- Trimming of positions is generally not predictive unless a hedge fund or billionaire cuts by a substantial amount, or cuts below 5% (which we will see first in 13D filings). Funds also tend to trim losers into the fourth quarter for tax loss benefits, and then they buy them back early the following year.
As for the takeaways from Q4 filings, the best names had built stakes in financials. That’s not surprising given that the Trump win had all but promised a “de-Dodd Franking” of the banking system, especially with the line-up of former Goldman alum that had been announced by late December.
The other big notable in the filings: Warren Buffett’s stake in Apple.
Remember, as we headed into the Brexit vote last year, the broad market mood was shaky. Markets were recovering after the oil price crash, and the unknowns from Brexit had some running for cover. Meanwhile, some of the best investors were building as others were trimming. They were buying energy near the bottom. They were buying health care. And while many were selling the most dominant company in the world, Warren Buffett was buying from them. The guy who has made his fortunes buying when others are selling, did it again with Apple. He was buying near the bottom last summer, and in the fourth quarter he ramped up big time, more than tripling his stake to a $6.6 billion position.
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