ACTIONABLE ADVICE FOR FINANCIAL ADVISORS: Newsletters and Commentaries Focused on Investment Strategy

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Recent Articles

Are Managed-Payout Funds Better than Annuities?

by Joe Tomlinson

Managed-payout funds promise to meet retirees’ need for sustainable lifetime income without relying on annuities. To see whether this promise can be fulfilled, I’ll answer three questions: What’s the best design for such funds? How do they compare to annuities? Can retirees do even better by combining managed-payout funds and annuities?

Should You Dress Down for Client Meetings?

by Dan Richards

In a previous article, Dan Solin pointed to research on how performance improves if people dress in a more professional fashion. But my recent conversations with advisors and clients suggest that while dressing up can have a positive impact, you can overdo it. In fact, in some cases it makes more sense to dress down.

Late-Cycle Warnings from the M&A Market

by David Schawel

Are we nearing the end of the equity bull market? An ominous signal is coming from recent activity in the M&A market.

Career Center

by Various

Find career opportunities for firms that seek to add financial advisors and planners to their staff. Read more to find out how to post opportunities at your firm.

Do The Gabelli Funds Add Value for Investors?

by Larry Swedroe

Mario Gabelli is one of the highest paid executives in America, having earned $88.5 million in 2014 – more than the leaders of all other publicly traded asset-management firms. But have the investors in his mutual funds been as richly compensated when compared to what they would have earned in comparable, passively managed funds?

New Research to Make Meetings More Productive

by Dan Richards

All advisors want their meetings to be productive – resulting in deeper relationships and buy-in to your recommendations from clients, open conversations with prospects about their needs and honest discussions about how you can help. An email from an advisor last week pointed to research from commercial pilots and surgeons that can make your meetings a better use of your time.

The Opportunity in Municipal Closed-End Funds The Value in the 9th Inning of the Great Bond Rally

by Michael Lebowitz

For the last five years, bond market experts have unfailingly and wrongly predicted a rise in interest rates. If the current rate-hike fears prove unfounded again, municipal-backed closed-end funds (M-CEFs) is an asset subclass likely to perform well. Here are eight such funds to consider.

How to Use a Prospect’s Biases to Your Advantage

by Daniel Solin

Jiu-jitsu is a gentle art. Instead of meeting force with greater force, skilled practitioners use their opponent’s force against them. Advisors can learn a lot from this principle.

What is the Best Portfolio Size for Value Investing?

by John Alberg and Michael Seckler

Many traditional value investors have concentrated portfolios of less than 50 names. Many index funds that tilt toward value factors have portfolios that consist of hundreds of names. This begs the question: What is the best portfolio size for value investing?

Intergenerational Wealth Transfer – How to Preserve Your Family’s Hard Work

by Cary Williams

Money, religion and politics – the trifecta of inappropriate discussion topics that destroy dinner party conversations. But what about family issues? When client families discuss what they want to achieve with their wealth, equally unsettling themes may arise.

Recent Commentaries

Screens vs. Windows: Why Choosing a Fund Manager Requires Both

by Tracy Fielder of Invesco Blog

Choosing the right fund manager is an important decision for investors, and many rely on data screens to help them sift through mountains of performance numbers. But screens alone don’t tell you the whole story. To get a clear view of how a fund might fit into your portfolio, you also need a window into the mind of the manager.

On My Radar: Grantham, HY and the Cyclical Bear in Gold

by Steve Blumenthal of CMG Capital Management Group

If you’re young, take the whack [and] if you’re old, pray for the Fed to keep going.”– Jeremy Grantham

The Nuclear Deal is Mostly about Oil

by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

The recent nuclear non-proliferation agreement between Iran and the U.S. has created a firestorm debate in the Middle East and both sides of the Atlantic. While the deal is supposedly all about nuclear power and nuclear bombs, its practical implications are all about oil. But the conclusions we should make about its impact on the energy sector are far from clear. A ratification of the deal would allow Iran to make lucrative long term production and distribution contracts with foreign energy firms.

Memorize This, Earn a Dollar

by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

As a kid growing up in the 1960’s, I earned my allowance the usual way; cutting grass and raking leaves. When there was no grass to cut or other work to do, my parents – who deeply valued education – would give us things to commit to memory. I figure I squeezed more than 30 bucks out of memorizing the multiplication tables up to 12. My brothers were better at memorizing poetry, but I was pretty good at song lyrics, which put me in good position to learn the words to countless 70's songs (e.g. "This really blew my mind.

Mid-Year Update: A Look at the High Yield Market

by Tim Gramatovich of AdvisorShares

I have seen every cycle since 1985 and while this cycle which began in 2009 has not been without a few warts, it has also been very different and far more conservative than many of these prior cycles. The majority of issuance was and continues to be for refinancing activity. This lowers interest expense and improves credit metrics for companies. Case in point, as noted below, high yield interest coverage (cash flow, or earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization divided by interest expense) has steadily improved and at the highest levels we have seen over the past 15 years.

European Drama Hasn’t Derailed US Growth

by Ed Perks of Franklin Templeton Investments

We believe headwinds to growth have been easing and what the current leg of the US expansion has perhaps lacked in intensity may very well be made up for by a transition to a more durable or lengthy expansion.

Chugging Along

by John Osterweis, Matt Berler of Osterweis Capital Management

Sitting down to write this quarter’s Outlook we feel a bit sheepish. Despite all the headlines and drama around the world (e.g., Greece, Mid-East turmoil, China stock market bubble), not much has changed in our outlook for the U.S. economy or the U.S. financial markets. The U.S. economy appears to have rebounded in the second quarter from the first quarter swoon.

US Equity and Economic Review: Transports Still Concerning, Edition

by Hale Stewart of Hale Stewart

The Conference Board released the leading and coincident indicators, both of which provide an excellent summation of current and future activity.

Let’s Put Some Context To This Stock Buyback Craze

by Eric Bush of GaveKal Capital

According to this CNBC article, “twenty percent of the S&P 500 have reduced their share count by 4% year-over-year in each of the last five five quarters” with the trend continuing in the second quarter. There are plenty of large buyback programs being undertaken by large-cap companies such as Intel and McDonalds and in that CNBC article they also mention Apple as a company joining the “buy back monsters” such as IBM and Exxon Mobile. However, for the market as a whole, is this time really all that different?

Recent dshort Posts

Weekly Gasoline Price Update: Largest Weekly Drop Since January

It's time again for our weekly gasoline update based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The price of Regular and Premium dropped six and five cents respectively from last week. According to, California has the highest average price for Regular at $3.83 with Los Angeles averaging $4.15. South Carolina has the cheapest at $2.31.

S&P 500 Snapshot: Day Five of the Selloff

The big pre-open news today was the historic -8.48% Monday rout in the Shanghai Composite, an event that no doubt rattled the optimists hoping that the China benchmark index had bottomed out last week. Euro zone indexes also saw some suffering, with DAX and CAC 40 both deep in the red and destined to close with -2.5% losses. The S&P 500 dropped at the open, ignoring a modest improvement in June Durable Goods. A rebound attempt topped out in late morning, and the index spent the day drifting lower to its -0.58% close, its fifth consecutive finish in the red.

Forecasting Q2 GDP: Gazing Into the Crystal Ball

The big economic number this week will be the Q2 Advance Estimate for GDP on Thursday at 8:30 AM ET. With the Q1 GDP of -0.2% behind us, what do economists see in their collective crystal ball for Q2 of 2015? Let's take a look at the latest GDP forecasts from the latest Wall Street Journal survey of economists conducted earlier this month.

The "Real" Goods on the June Durable Goods Data

Earlier today the Census Bureau posted the Advance Report on June Durable Goods New Orders. This series dates from 1992 and is not adjusted for either population growth or inflation. Let's now review Durable Goods data with two adjustments. In the charts below the gray line shows the goods orders divided by the Census Bureau's monthly population data, giving us durable goods orders per capita. The blue line goes a step further and adjusts for inflation based on the Producer Price Index for All Commodities, chained in today's dollar value.

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook Rose for a Second Month but Still in Negative Territory

This morning we got the most recent Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook. The latest index came in at -4.6, still negative but rose for the second month in a row. The forecast was for a reading of -3.5.

June Durable Goods: A Bit of a Bounce

The latest new orders headline number at 3.4% percent was above the estimate of 3.0% percent. This series is down -2.8 percent year-over-year (YoY). If we exclude transportation, "core" durable goods came in at 0.8 percent month-over-month (MoM), a bit above the estimate of 0.5 percent. However, the core measure is down -4.5 percent YoY. If we exclude both transportation and defense for an even more fundamental "core", the latest number was up 1.1 percent MoM, but down -3.0 percent YoY.

World Markets Weekend Update: The Previous Week's Rally Suffers a Setback (Except for China)

Seven of the eight indexes on our world watch list gave back part of their gains from the previous week. The one positive outlier was the manic-depressive Shanghai Composite, which advanced 2.87% over the past five sessions. The Western indexes fared the worst of our gang of eight. The UK's FTSE 100 was the worst loser and a negative outlier in that its -2.88% decline more than eradicated its gain from the previous week.