March 23 marked the first anniversary of the low point in the market brought by the pandemic.  On that date in 2020, the S&P 500 fell below 2,200 before closing at 2,237.40.  Thirteen months later, it is over 4,150.  Many investors wanted to sell last year when the market and the value of their portfolio fell so rapidly, and a great number of them did.  With just a few statistically inevitable exceptions, our clients did not, even though they probably wanted to....    READ MORE



Occasionally, there comes a year in the economy and the markets that may serve as a tutorial in the principles of successful long-term, goal-focused investing. We believe 2020 was definitely one of those years. This past New Year's Eve, the S&P 500 Index closed more than 16% higher than where it was a year earlier on December 31, 2019. From that single measurement, which certainly is not conclusive to the success or failure of the market, you might infer that the equity market...    READ MORE


The conronavirus is still very much with us, as is much of the economic dislocation generated by the resulting lockdowns and protective measures. Granted, there is news that we are closing in on a vaccine--and possibly several vaccines. However, it may take considerable time before it is widely distributed. Moreover, in the coming weeks, we will go through a hyper-partisan presidential election, with a variety of voting issues we have never had to deal with before.    READ MORE

Client Letter: September 1, 2020

Just like that, another month is in the books! As difficult a year as it has been, we are nearing the date where 2020 will be in the rearview mirror. Despite the continued uncertainty that arrived with COVID-19, nationwide civil unrest and a polarizing election campaign, the market and the economy continue to recover from the sharp declines and reactionary volatility they experienced this spring.     READ MORE


The first six months of 2020 saw the advent of the worst global public health crisis in a century-since the 1918 influenza pandemic. In response, the world locked down, putting its economy into, in essence, a medically induced coma. In this country, the immediate effects were (1) a savage and nearly instantaneous economic recession accompanied by record unemployment, and (2) the fastest, deepest collapse in stock prices in living memory, if not ever.    READ MORE


The first quarter of 2020 was memorable, to say the least.  I believe we can all agree that 2020 will be unforgettable for many reasons.  Though the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to influence life around the globe, it is evident that the world continues to adapt to doing things in a different way.  Throughout this pandemic, our first thoughts and prayers are directed toward the healthy and safety of our loved ones and our community, near and far.    READ MORE



Last year was, in many ways, the mirror image of the previous year.  Two thousand eighteen was an outstanding year for the American economy--and for corporate earnings and dividends--despite which the equity market could not get out of its own way, and ended on a terrific downbeat that  saw a 19.8% peak-to-trough decline through Christmas Eve (2018).  This past year (2019) was the exact opposite: an exceptionally good year for the market, with the S&P 500 up more than 30%, even though the economy slowed modestly, manufacturing went into decline, and the earnings of the S&P 500 were down slightly year-over-year.    READ MORE

 third QUARTER 2019

The third quarter of 2019 continued to see heightened volatility, particularly in August and September. Following a relatively flat July, the S&P 500 declined in August, before rallying in September to finish the quarter with a positive return of 1.7%. We agree with JB Taylor, the CEO and Head of U.S. Small Cap Investing at Wasatch Global Investors, a fund company with whom we invest: “For the most part, we believe the equity markets’ ups and downs during the third quarter were driven by day-to-day events—rather than by meaningful changes in company fundamentals.”      READ MORE


The second quarter of 2019 continued at least a third consecutive quarter of heightened volatility in the equity markets.  In fact, in the month from May 3 to June 3, the S&P 500 declined 7.2%. Remember, the market had just recently shaken off a decline of almost 20% that reached its trough on Christmas Eve, only to rally to a new high on April 23.  Then, in a month, it was down over 7%--only to rally again into positive territory and finish the quarter with a return of over 4%.    READ MORE


Following the rapid pullback in the broad market during the fourth quarter of 2018, which bottomed on Christmas Eve, the first quarter of 2019 saw an almost equally rapid ascension. In fact, by the end of March, the S&P 500 index was almost completely back to the level of its previous high at the end of September 2018, and as of the date of this writing, it has fully surpassed the peak reached last September.    READ MORE



The year that just concluded was perhaps the strangest year we have experienced in our careers. Importantly, it was one of the truly great years in the history of the American economy, and by far the best year since the global financial crisis. Paradoxically, it was also a year in which the equity market could not get out of it own way.    READ MORE

 third QUARTER 2018

Market performance for 2018 continued to be strong through the end of the third quarter. Including dividends, the S&P 500 was up 7.7% during the third quarter, was up 10.5% year-to-date through September 30, 2018, and had a return of 17.9% for the past twelve months.  Those “market” returns can be very misleading, however.    READ MORE


Generally, equities recorded gain in the second quarter and have positive returns for the year through June 30.  As is essentially always the case, the quarter experienced both positive news (continued strond economic growth and corporate fundamentals) and negative headwinds (a political backdrop focused primarily on various trade worries).  However, it seems the majority of teh information provided by the financial media outlets was primarily focused on the negative.    READ MORE

 First QUARTER 2018

Every market commentary we have read addressing the first quarter of 2018 discusses the increased volatility seen during the quarter. In fact, the S&P 500 surged during the first month of 2018, peaking with a 7.5% return through January 26, but only needing nine trading days to drop more than 10% from that high. Then, after “stabilizing” and recovering through the rest of February and much of March, another decline at the end of the month resulted in the first negative return during a calendar quarter for the S&P 500 since 2015.    READ MORE


 fourth QUARTER 2017

With a total return of more than 20% for the S&P 500, and the deepest price decline during the year a mere 3% (versus the average annual decline of 14% since 1980), our philosophy of staying the course was well rewarded in 2017, with a limited amount of volatility. We are, as you know, long-term investors, and we remain positive on the equity market for the coming year. That being said, we cannot imagine returns in 2018 will match 2017, or that volatility will remain as subdued. Equity investing is not often as easy as it was this past year.    READ MORE


Investment performance for 2017 has been strong. At the start of the year, we may not have predicted double digits returns for U.S. and international equities, but this is why we follow the mantra of being invested in all areas of the global economy all the time. The discipline of maintaining a properly diversified portfolio allows the long-term investor to benefit from the “good years” when they happen because they cannot be predicted with any kind of consistent accuracy.    READ MORE


The first half of 2017 was tumultuous, but rewarding, to investors. The dominant topics of discussion and concern continue to be about uncertainty regarding government and monetary policy in Washington D.C. While no one can deny a current level of partisan rancor that exceeds anything witnessed in the past several decades, it does not necessarily mean a death knell for stock - at least not historically. In fact, data shows that stocks have risen much faster during periods when partisan conflict has been elevated.    READ MORE


The so-called “Trump Rally” that began in November following the election continued through much of the first quarter of 2017, as investors anticipated a number of pro-growth changes, including tax cuts, repatriation of overseas corporate profits, the announcement of massive infrastructure spending projects, and the elimination of expensive environmental and financial service regulations. Toward the end of the first quarter, however, investors appeared to waver somewhat in their expectations about the timing and scope of those changes.     READ MORE