January 14, 2020

Looking Back. Living Forward.

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“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.” – Soren Kierkegaard.

 

My first thought writing this quarterly letter was: what if I looked back at all my client letters from the past decade? What would be the purpose of looking backwards? Then I found the Kierkegaard quote. I hope you find these themes from the past decade useful living forward in 2020 & the decade ahead.

 

  • 4Q07 “Looking backwards, W&A stock portfolios had a good year in 2007. Looking forward, one might not be so cheerful. The headlines are full of talk of recession….”
  • 3Q08 “I think most of us can agree on one thing – we’re in the pessimism stage…The Dow is down 40% from last
    October’s record, its biggest decline since 1974…”
  • 1Q09 “An old farmer made a simple but wise observation: It always rains. And it always stops. I bet that
    farmer probably was also a very successful investor.”
  • 4Q09 “The question on every investor’s mind – is the party over? The SP500 was +26.5% in the 1st year following
    the worst 10-year rolling period since 1926. Don’t turn out the lights yet! “
  • 3Q10 “It was a long hot summer…the weather cooled off but thankfully the investment markets did not.”
  • 1Q11 “Just because the Fed is leaving the party, it doesn’t mean it’s over.”
  • 2Q11 “Well, QE2 stopped in 2Q, and the world did not come to an end.”
  • 3Q12 “With all the bad news that we have on our radar screens these days, it is understandable that the good
    news about our economy and our investments does not get through.”
  • 4Q13 “…reaching “escape velocity” becomes more important as forward-looking PE ratios are elevated.”
  • 3Q14 “Now, more than ever, it is important to hang in there.”
  • 3Q15 “Relax, it’s just a normal correction.”
  • 4Q16 “Beware of predictions in an unpredictable world. Reversals come quickly & have not lasted long..”
  • 1Q17 “Record-breaking highs & Trump trade reversal – that just about sums up a bi-polar first quarter.”
  • 4Q17 “What happens when the stock market breaks almost all the records?”
  • 1Q18 “Good news, bad news, who can say? 1Q18 was a bumpy ride of good news-bad news…”
  • 4Q18 “A normal market correction? Or is it something else? Resume recovery? Or retreat to recession?”
  • 3Q19 “Getting older? Getting wiser! The older we get the more truth there is to the famous lyrics “I haven’t got time for the waiting game”. How much runway do we have left? Will the landing be soft or hard?”
  • 4Q19 Average U.S. bull market since 1926 lasts 6.6 years with cume +339%. Current bull market as of 12/31/19 has lasted 10.8 years with cume +451.3%. Last two bear markets were (50.9%) & (44.7%). See attached. We are glad to be a little hedged at high valuation levels & encourage clients to review asset allocation & rebalance.

 

 

 

Sources: Quotes are from my previous quarterly client letters. History of U.S. Bear & Bull Markets since 1926 from First Trust as of 12/31/19.
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Phyllis R. Scruggs

Author: Phyllis R. Scruggs

Phyllis had been associated with W&A for a number of years before joining the firm, acting as a consultant to the company in its formative stage and subsequently as a client. Prior to joining W&A, Phyllis served as Vice President, Corporate Finance at Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. She was involved in all aspects of its investment banking activities, including mergers and acquisitions, valuation studies, and initial public offerings. She earned registrations in NASD Series 7 (Registered Representative) and Series 63 (Blue Sky). Phyllis holds an MBA in Finance as well as M.Ed and BBA degrees from the University of Memphis. She is a Chartered Financial AnalystTM(CFA®) and a Certified Financial PlannerTM(CFP®) Licensee. She is past-Chairman and past-President of the Mid-South Society of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and served on their Board of Directors from 1995 to 2000. During her term as President in 1998, the Mid- South Society of FPA was chosen the Outstanding Society of the Year by the national FPA organization. Her community volunteer activities include MIFA and the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, where she served as Treasurer, Chair of the Finance Committee and currently chairs the Investment Committee. She also serves on the Board of Governors of The Seaside Institute in Seaside, FL.

Author

Phyllis R. Scruggs

Phyllis R.

Scruggs

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