They say all news gets priced into the stock market. Proponents of the Efficient Market Theory believe that there is “perfect information” in the stock market. Any information or insight that is available is there for all to see therefore negating any possible edge in beating the market. All that being said, no matter how clear your crystal ball is, nobody expected the shocking news we received on Friday.

Bill Gross, the co-founder of Pacific Investment Management (PIMCO) in Newport Beach, quit and packed his bags to join Janus Capital this past Friday. Gross has long been known as the “King of Bonds” and considered to be the nation’s most prominent bond investor. Until last year he was responsible for managing the largest mutual fund in the world – the PIMCO Total Return Bond Fund (PTTRX). That title now goes to the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index but PTTRX is still the world’s largest bond mutual fund. So…what happened here and was the writing on the wall?

As alluded to above PTTRX, and PIMCO in general, has been suffering for quite some time. PIMCO isn’t the only bond fund manager who has struggled with outflows but the sheer volume has opened some eyes. From May to August of 2014 PIMCO has had over $70 billion in assets liquidated and withdrawn. Over the past 72 hours (only 1 trading day including the weekend) the firm has already seen $10 billion bolt for the door!

Investors were already pulling money from bond funds due to fears of increased interest rates. As the Federal Reserve scales back its stimulus of $85 billion in monthly bond purchases, there simply has to be an eventual end to the bond party.

Read the following sentence carefully:

PIMCO and most of its mutual funds will get absolutely blasted in the near future.

The hemorrhaging has already begun but you can expect further massive outflows, which will have a major impact on performance. Several hundreds of billions of dollars are likely to leave the firm. If you own PIMCO funds now you would be wise to quickly reassess. You won’t be alone as many pension funds and their respective consultants will be putting these funds on close watch and likely place them on their sell list. In this instance you, as an individual investor, can likely move much quicker than the larger institutional money managers. Get out now if you haven’t already.

Without patting ourselves on the back we sold PIMCO funds long ago and in our opinion the ‘writing was on the wall’ for quite some time. Even before Friday’s news there were problems at PIMCO. Gross and former CEO Mohamed El-Erian did not see eye to eye and El-Erian left the firm in January. Aside from news like this our main issue was the relative lack of performance in their flagship fund. (PTTRX)

When is the right time to sell a mutual fund?

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As always it’s important for both our new readers and in some cases…our existing ones to revisit what we are doing here with this series of articles:

 

Click here to revisit the first edition of the MPG Core Tactical 60/40 Portfolio.

Here’s the current summary of the MPG Core Tactical 60/40 Portfolio mix, which is updated as of this writing (September 2, 2014).

Click here to compare our portfolio against the benchmark.

The expression of “the writing is on the wall” could not be more appropriate as we inch closer to wrapping up 2014. We work and interact with countless people in the financial services industry ranging from those who manage billions in the most sophisticated manners available, all the way to a retired blue collar worker who wants straight forward investor education and service on how to invest smarter.

What each of these two parties have in common is that they don’t trust tomorrow and all of the warnings about a frothy and dangerous investing environment are as documented as they’ve perhaps ever been.

What adjustments did we make?

The moves we made were as follows:

8/18/14:       Sold entire position of LSOFX (LS Opportunity Fund) @ $118.20 (~$50k total)

8/19/14:       Sold 100 shares of TSLA (Tesla Motors) @ $254.87/share (~$25k total)

8/25/14:       Bought 8,260 shares of MABFX (Merk Absolute Return Currency Fund) @ $9.08/share (~$75k total)

8/26/14:       Bought 1,569 shares of FTGC (First Trust Global Tactical Commodity Fund) @ $31.85 (~$50k total)

With the exception of the Tesla sale our moves this month were all in line with reallocating our exposure to alternative investments. We’ll touch on this more later but let’s first address the sale of a market darling that we haven’t owned for all that long.

The simple rationale behind this move was to take profit on a stock that has returned north of 40% for us since the time we bought it. The reality and likelihood of it running even higher is actually strong but in a case like this it’s critical to maintain some “sell side discipline”. Holding on a trendy stock for a few more months while the broader markets are also closer to the side of overheating is just asking for trouble. We may buy it back but even if takes off for the races again…this old adage will be applicable, “ You never go broke taking a profit.”

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economist-post-roller-coaster-e1311171974947

It’s clear that nobody has a crystal ball but there are a few simple tools and “rules of the road” which can help understand stock market behavior. For those of us who are visual learners this simple graphic is quite helpful in knowing where you may want to allocate your stock positions relative to where we are in the economic cycle. Click here to see Economic Sectors and the Stock Market

There are two curves laid over each other on this graph. Simply explained, the red curve shows you where the stock market is and the green curve shows you what stage we’re at in the current economic/business cycle. Aside from some possible ability to optimally allocate stocks within the most opportune sectors in the economy, the real impact this visual shows you is that the stock market is essentially a leading indicator. In general, the stock market is a forward-looking gauge of what investor expectations are of the economy and interest rates.

There are certain economic sectors that typically outperform others depending on where we are in the stock market business cycle. Every stock market environment is unique and believe it or not every business cycle also presents us with a few differences from the last. As a basic rule of thumb here’s how the 10 sectors typically outperform the broader markets:

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Making money in the stock market is great but so many forget that eventually they have to reconcile with Uncle Sam come tax time. Look for example at some investments that we have recently discussed: Under Armour (UA) and InvenSense (INVN).   If you had purchased these stocks on the first trading day of this year (1/2/2014) you would be up 58% with Under Armour and up 20% with InvenSense. These numbers are impressive and would certainly make any investor happy but what happens when they are sold? How will they impact your tax return and how much of the gain will you have to pay?

Nothing is certain except death and taxes.

                            Benjamin Franklin 

 

 

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