L.I.F.E. Newsletter December 2020

L.I.F.E. Newsletter December 2020


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In typical 2020 fashion, the market continues to amaze investors. The tears of fear from March and April have turned into tears of joy. In our last newsletter, we made two ascertains and here is what happened.

We said: “Many are concerned this might be the start of a larger correction, but we do not believe so. 10% corrections in the S&P 500 happen on average every 11 months, and on average recover in 101 days. We think it will be much quicker this time, as rapid declines and recoveries seem to be par for the course this year.”

What happened: After close to a 10% correction in 21 days in September, the S&P 500 made a new high on November 13, 51 days later. The result was a 72 day roundtrip to a new high.

We said: “We see a 10-15% return for stocks over the next 12 months, which would be average for the second 6 months of a new bull market historically.”

What happened: From October 1 to December 8 (the day of writing), the S&P 500 returned 10.1%.

Turning to client portfolios, we trimmed our position in the S&P 500 in retirement accounts and added a small position in gold the week of Thanksgiving. While there are many reasons that could be made to include gold in portfolios, here are the top 3 for us: diversification to stocks, record monetary stimulus globally, and store of value vs. U.S. dollar. For 2021, we plan to add to areas we see having continued benefit as the economy reopens: US Industrials sector, small US companies, and emerging markets.

Statistically, no one knows what the market has in store for 2021, but Wallstreet is extremely optimistic. Year-end targets for the S&P 500 range from 3,800 to 4,500, projecting a gain of 2.7% – 21.5%! While we do not know exactly where it will fall, odds are you would rather be in the game than sitting on the sidelines.


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We have the opportunity to piggyback onto LPL Research’s Outlook 2021 for this section of our newsletter. Here are their major themes for 2021:

COVID-19: Over the course of the year, we have seen an increased understanding of how to contain the COVID- 19 virus, important progress on how to treat those hospitalized, and promising developments on treatments and potential vaccines. Nevertheless, conditions have worsened heading into late 2020, with a record number of confirmed cases and increased hospitalizations. We believe we will see continued advances in 2021 that will further limit the impact of the virus by the end of the year, but it will be a process. In the meantime, the goal remains keeping the economy as open as possible while making sure that our healthcare system doesn’t get overwhelmed and the most vulnerable are protected.

POLICY: We expect global central banks to remain supportive and for individual economies to continue to refine their responses to COVID-19. In the United States, what will likely be a divided government may help limit the size of any tax hikes and regulation while still supporting additional fiscal stimulus that may include high-priority items for both Democrats and Republicans. We could also see movement toward a similar deal on infrastructure. Greater clarity on trade may make it easier for some companies to do business, but a more challenging regulatory environment may be an offset.

DOMESTIC ECONOMY: Continued progress in the response to COVID-19, including further stimulus, will be the key to sustaining the recovery. COVID-19 impacted service industries may be the last to bounce back. We expect some of the accelerated innovation that came with the COVID-19 response to have a positive long-term impact. We forecast 4–4.5% US gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2021.

INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY: Emerging market economies may lead in a global rebound. We believe growth in international developed economies may lag behind the United States, although a strong fiscal response may help Japan. We forecast global GDP growth of 4.5–5%.

STOCKS: A strong earnings rebound in 2021 may allow stocks to grow into somewhat elevated valuations. Cost efficiencies achieved during the pandemic may persist. We see an S&P 500 Index fair value target range of 3,850–3,900 in 2021 with potential for upside with better-than-expected vaccine progress.

BONDS: Inflationary pressure is likely to be limited, and the Federal Reserve (Fed) is expected to keep rates low, but economic improvement and even normalizing inflation could put upward pressure on rates. We see the 10-year yield finishing 2021 in a range of 1.25–1.75% with a bias toward the lower end.

For a full forecast on 2021, click here.

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IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Please read the full LPL Research Outlook 2021: Powering Forward publication for additional description and disclosure.
The opinions, statements and forecasts presented herein are general information only and are not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, please consult your financial professional prior to investing.
Any forward-looking statements including the economic forecasts may not develop as predicted and are subject to change based on future market and other conditions. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.
All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.
Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments. Diversification does not protect against market risk. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt or securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks.
Gross domestic product (GDP) is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period, though GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis. It includes all of private and public consumption, government outlays, investments and exports less imports that occur within a defined territory.
The PE ratio (price-to-earnings ratio) is a measure of the price paid for a share relative to the annual net income or profit earned by the firm per share. It is a financial ratio used for valuation: a higher PE ratio means that investors are paying more for each unit of net income, so the stock is more expensive compared to one with lower PE ratio. Earnings per share (EPS) is the portion of a company’s profit allocated to each outstanding share of common stock. EPS serves as an indicator of a company’s profitability.
Earnings per share is generally considered to be the single most important variable in determining a share’s price. It is also a major component used to calculate the price-to-earnings valuation ratio.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.
Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market. Because of their narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies.
Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price. Bond yields are subject to change. Certain call or special redemption features may exist which could impact yield. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the US government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate, and credit risk, as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. Mortgage backed securities are subject to credit, default, prepayment, extension, market and interest rate risk.
Fixed Income Definitions
Credit quality is one of the principal criteria for judging the investment quality of a bond or bond mutual fund. As the term implies, credit quality informs investors of a bond or bond portfolio’s credit worthiness, or risk of default. Credit ratings are published rankings based on detailed financial analyses by a credit bureau specifically as it relates the bond issue’s ability to meet debt obligations. The highest rating is AAA, and the lowest is D. Securities with credit ratings of BBB and above are considered investment grade.

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