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Tips for lowering taxes on investments (from the Globe and Mail)

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How can investors reduce taxes on investments? TriDelta Financial’s Lorne Zeiler, Portfolio Manager and Wealth Advisor was one of two wealth management professionals interviewed by Globe and Mail reporter Terry Cain to answer this very question (article printed on March 1, 2017).

It’s an old saying but it still holds true – nothing is certain but death and taxes. However when it comes to investing and saving for retirement, there is plenty Canadians can do to minimize the amount they end up paying to the tax man.

First off, it’s important to realize just how important tax considerations are when planning your portfolio, experts say.

“Taxation in a non-registered portfolio is one of the major deterrents to building wealth,” says Carol Bezaire, senior vice-president of tax, estate and strategic philanthropy at Mackenzie Financial Corp. She notes that different types of investment income attract different tax treatment, so the portfolio being built should factor this in.

Interest income attracts the highest tax – on average in Canada, for every $1 earned in interest or foreign income about 50 cents goes to the government in tax. The dividends tax rate means on average 35 cents goes to the government for every $1 paid. Capital gains at the current 50-per-cent inclusion rate means on average 25 cents in tax is levied for every $1 in capital gains. “Paying attention to tax in a portfolio allows the investor to build wealth more effectively by paying less tax,” says Ms. Bezaire.

Lorne Zeiler agrees. Mr. Zeiler is a vice-president, portfolio manager and wealth adviser at Tridelta Financial. “Taxes are very important in determining how we structure our clients’ portfolios,” he says. He notes that many of his company’s clients are high-income earners and therefore in higher tax brackets, so taxes can have a big impact on their overall portfolio growth.

Mr. Zeiler says if clients have cash accounts, corporate accounts and registered accounts, his company allocates as many income-producing securities (such as bonds, GICs, and REITs) as possible to their registered accounts first, as taxes on investment income are substantially higher than on dividends or capital gains.

As far as specific tax-sheltered vehicles go, the place to start is the best-known options: registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs). Mr. Zeiler says TFSAs are an excellent source to minimize tax, as any gains or income on investments within the TFSA are tax-free. For example, a couple taxed at the highest marginal rate with $125,000 in TFSAs invested in REITs paying a 6-per-cent return would save more than $4,000 annually in taxes.

RRSPs are ideal for tax minimization, as they offer the benefit of tax deferral and tax-free compounding, since taxes are paid only when the funds are withdrawn. Mr. Zeiler notes their biggest tax advantage is typically from tax arbitrage. Investors are often getting a tax credit for contributions made when they are in higher tax brackets, but then are charged taxes on withdrawals when tax brackets are lower.

Ms. Bezaire has a number of tips for tax minimization.

First, hold high-tax investments, such as interest-bearing vehicles (particularly foreign income) in a TFSA or RRSP so the interest can compound without taxation.

Next, look for investments where most of the return is through capital gains, since these receive the lowest tax rates. These investments can include stocks, mutual funds and ETFs.

Ms. Bezaire also highlights the tax-advantageous forms of mutual funds. She notes there are mutual funds that are structured as trusts and the portfolio earnings flow out net of expenses to investors. There are also corporate class funds that flow out only dividends or capital gains, never interest or foreign dividends, so these can be helpful to many investors by providing tax-efficiency. Finally there are T-series mutual funds. Most of the distributions from these funds are classified as tax-free return of capital payments, while the bulk of an investor’s savings can continue to grow in the fund.

Mr. Zeiler notes one of the areas where investors often do not do enough tax planning is their estate, as often the estate can be subject to significant taxes that could have been minimized.

Another overlooked area is planning for contingencies in the event that one spouse passes away earlier than the other. Mr. Zeiler says his company often uses insurance as part of the strategy to reduce taxes, particularly for the estate, especially if the investor’s holdings are structured as a corporation.

Mr. Zeiler also notes that income splitting is very important for retirees. By splitting income, marginal tax rates for the higher-income spouse can be reduced significantly and it can enable both spouses to earn their full Old Age Security (OAS) payments.

Ms. Bezaire also cites the value of income splitting, including selling some income-generating investments to a lower-income spouse by way of a spousal loan, using a spousal RRSP to save for retirement, pension income-splitting for seniors, or even the higher-income spouse gifting cash to a spouse who can then invest the money in a TFSA for the future.

There are two final issues to consider.

While tax considerations can be very important, Mr. Zeiler notes taxes should never drive an investment decision, such as deciding not to sell a security due to large capital gains owing.

He also highlights a related issue for many retirees: having a large position in a few securities that have substantial gains, such as owning Canadian bank shares for 20 years or more. For those clients, his company often looks at selling the shares over a period of time so that some capital gains are realized each year at a lower marginal tax rate instead of all at once.

 

Lorne Zeiler
Contributed By:
Lorne Zeiler, MBA, CFA
VP, Wealth Advisor
lorne@tridelta.ca
416-733-3292 x225

Buying Low: Investing Strategy in Frothy Times (from the Globe and Mail)

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When stock markets have risen significantly, often some of the best investing opportunities is in the sectors that have been unloved and overlooked. Lorne Zeiler, Portfolio Manager and Wealth Advisor at TriDelta Investment Counsel was one of three portfolio managers asked where to look for value investments today by Globe and Mail reporter Joel Schlesinger (February 28, 2017).

As stock markets reach new heights, especially in the United States, investors might be recalling the adage “what goes up must come down.”

But by the same token, what has been down – the unloved, undervalued and overlooked – usually bounces back, eventually. With that in mind, consider these investments.

Health-care stocks

Even though the U.S. equity market has experienced a record-breaking runup, health-care stocks still have attractive valuations, says Lorne Zeiler, portfolio manager and wealth adviser with TriDelta Financial in Toronto.

“The sector was held back in 2016 due to concerns of increased regulation affecting drug pricing, first by a potential Clinton presidency and then from comments by President-elect Trump,” Mr. Zeiler says.

But these fears are likely exaggerated, he says. Earnings are forecast to grow by 8 per cent in 2017, and stocks are trading at about 15 times forward earnings around their five-year average, while nearly every other sector trades significantly higher.

Here are two stocks to consider:

  • AbbVie Inc.: The maker of Humira, a popular drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis, AbbVie has a “strong pipeline of new medications expected to be approved” soon. Moreover it has a decent dividend yield of about 4 per cent and trades at less than 12 times estimated forward earnings. One concern is that the company is heavily reliant on the performance of Humira, which makes up half of its sales.
  • Abbott Laboratories Ltd.: This diversified company earns revenue from generic pharmaceuticals, medical products and nutritional supplements such as Ensure. Abbott is forecasting good earnings growth due to its expanding sales of diagnostic technologies and recent acquisitions. “Risks to the stock price include pricing pressure from competitors and foreign exchange, particularly for its emerging-market sales,” Mr. Zeiler says.

Emerging markets

These generally fast-growing economies have faced a laundry list of problems, says Navid Boostani, a portfolio manager and co-founder of ModernAdvisor, a robo-advisory in Vancouver.

“Slowing growth in China, political turmoil in Turkey and Brazil, and economic sanctions against Russia have all been headwinds,” Mr. Boostani says. “But we think the bad news is already priced in, and long-term investors have a unique opportunity today” to buy low.

Here are two exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for investors who want to tap into emerging-market growth:

  • Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets All Cap Index ETF: Rather than playing one particular market, this fund provides exposure across the board. It charges an industry-low management expense ratio (MER) of 0.24 per cent (for the TSX) with a distribution yield of 1.24 per cent. Most importantly, this sector has room to grow. “Both [emerging market] currencies and equities are trading at close to historical lows,” Mr. Boostani says. A bumpy ride could lie ahead, though, as the U.S. becomes increasingly protectionist and its dollar increases in value, pushing up borrowing costs in developing nations.
  • PowerShares DB Base Metals Fund ETF: Another play on emerging-market growth is to invest in commodities, and this ETF provides that exposure without the complications and barriers that retail investors face in buying futures contracts directly. Investors in this fund get access to a basket of futures contracts for base metals such as aluminum, zinc and copper, all key to industrial and manufacturing growth. “Commodities came off of a five-year bear market in 2016, with industrial metals leading the charge,” Mr. Boostani says. “The bulk of demand growth is expected to come from robust economic activity in China.” Commodities tend to be very volatile, however, so they should make up only a small portion of a well diversified portfolio, he adds.

Playing volatility

Mark Yamada, portfolio manager and chief executive officer of PUR Investing in Toronto, cites two ways to capitalize on volatility. For those who can handle large swings in price, China has been unloved of late. Yet it offers a lot of upside, he says. At the opposite end of the spectrum, consider low-volatility equities, such as banks, utilities and consumer staples, which have fallen out of favour recently as investors set their sights on recovering energy and other commodity related stocks.

Two to consider:

  • iShares China Index ETF: China is the largest of the emerging markets, so it has great influence on the world economy. “China has been in the doldrums, albeit with 5- to 6-per-cent GDP growth,” he says. With Mr. Trump pushing an America-first agenda, likely increasing barriers to global trade rather than removing them, “the Chinese will benefit,” Mr. Yamada says, filling the void in global leadership for free trade. Moreover its growing middle class is increasingly driving the Chinese economy, meaning China will rely less and less on U.S. consumption. Still, the Chinese marketplace can be a pricing rollercoaster, he notes.
  • BMO Low Volatility Canadian Equity ETF: If the ups and downs of emerging markets make you queasy, consider a low volatility approach that focuses on steady parts of the equity market. Many experts have been down on low volatility stocks of late, arguing that they are overvalued and will be outperformed by growth stocks with greater volatility. But Mr. Yamada contends that high volatility stocks do not add value to portfolios over the long term as much as their low volatility counterparts. This BMO ETF offers investors a diversified basket of Canadian banks, utilities and other defensive stocks. And while it may have “lagged the S&P TSX Composite for the past year because it was underweight energy and minerals … it is a great long-term core holding.”

 

Lorne Zeiler
Contributed By:
Lorne Zeiler, MBA, CFA
VP, Wealth Advisor
lorne@tridelta.ca
416-733-3292 x225

The golden opportunity of a pension windfall might be slipping away as interest rates rise

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You have been told time and again that you are one of the lucky ones. You have a defined benefit pension — meaning that when you retire you will get a fixed monthly payment for as long as you live.

I agree you are one of the lucky ones, but not exactly for the reason that you might think. You are one of the lucky ones because you might be able to get an extra-large lump sum payout when interest rates are close to their historic all-time lows. But this opportunity could be slipping away.

As you may be aware, a low interest rate at the time you take what is called the commuted value payout of your pension, can add hundreds of thousands or even millions to the value of that payout depending on the size of your overall pension. As interest rates rise, that payout gets smaller.

The key interest rate for most Canadian pensions is the Bank of Canada five-year bond yield. This is often the number used to help calculate your commuted pension value. On Feb. 10 2016, the five-year yield hit an all time low of 0.41 per cent. That was the best day for a commuted value pension (or best month as they are usually valued monthly). As I write this, the five-year yield is now 1.14 per cent — or almost triple where it was in mid-February.

Before you think the pension opportunity is now gone, keep in mind where it has been: In March 1990, the five-year yield was 11.6 per cent. We are still at unbelievably low bond yields, and you are still in a golden period for getting huge lump sums in place of your pension. Time will tell if this golden period is coming to an end, but some analysts believe that we will never see a rate as low as 0.41 per cent again in our lifetimes.

To better understand the power of interest rates on your pension value let’s start with the humble annuity. A pension is essentially like buying an annuity. In this case you would pay a lump sum today and in return you would receive a monthly payout for the rest of your life. An annuity is also kind of like buying a lifetime GIC and locking in the rate. Today, you wouldn’t get very excited locking in a lifetime GIC that pays out 2 per cent. You also wouldn’t get that excited locking in an annuity with that type of return. For example, today you would need to put in $1 million as a 65-year-old couple in order to guarantee a payout of $51,000 a year until you both pass away. As unexciting as those rates and payouts would be, a pension commuted value is the opposite. Today it is tremendously exciting.

Thinking about that same $1 million it would cost you to receive $51,000 a year, if you take the commuted value or cash today instead of your pension, you are essentially getting paid $1 million today instead of the $51,000 a year. Another way to look at it would be how much needs to be invested at 2 per cent to pay out $50,000 a year. At 2 per cent, you would need to invest $2.5 million in order to get $50,000 a year in income. At 5 per cent, you would need to invest $1 million in order to get $50,000 a year in income. Today, your same pension commuted value payout might be $2.5 million, but if interest rates jumped to 5 per cent, it would be $1 million.

I am definitely oversimplifying a complicated formula here, and the math wouldn’t work out quite as above, but it is meant to show you the directional impact of interest rates on your pension commuted value calculation, and why this golden opportunity might slip away if interest rates meaningfully rise.

I find that many people never even consider taking a commuted value lump sum. After all, their monthly payout in retirement is what they have been working for their entire working careers. However, would you think of it differently if you knew that your employer was really hoping you would not consider taking the commuted value now?

In some cases the opportunity to take the commuted value or “take the cash” is not an option. Sometimes this is an option only at retirement or if taken prior to age 55 or prior to age 50. It is certainly worth finding out what options you have in your own plan.

When thinking about what route you would want to take in addition to thinking about your health, the companies’ health, tax planning etc., one of the key questions is whether you could earn more from the commuted value than from the pension payouts. One set of analysis that we normally do is a break-even comparison. We set things up to be as much an apples to apples comparison as possible.

In most of our pension reviews at the moment, the break even rate of return required is in the range of 3 per cent to 3.75 per cent to age 86. What this means is that if you invested your commuted value, and did monthly withdrawals at the exact same rate as you would have for your pension, you would only need to have earned say 3.5 per cent a year return to fund everything to age 86. If instead of 3.5 per cent, you actually received a 5.5 per cent long-term return, which we believe is extremely doable, you will have not only been able to match your pension payouts dollar for dollar, but would likely have several hundred thousand dollars left at the end for your estate instead of the $0 left with a standard pension.

Now this analysis will come to different conclusions in a higher interest rate world. If the break even needs to be 5 per cent+, in many cases I would consider taking the certainty of the pension. However, as long as the break evens we are seeing are in the 3 per cent range, it means you are giving up returns every year. We believe that taking the commuted value of a pension, if you are lucky enough to be able to do so in today’s interest rate environment, is something to consider strongly.

I am not suggesting that it is always wrong to keep your pension. In most cases, a government or quasi-government pension provides you with certainty on income for the rest of your life. If you and/or your spouse have good genes and are in good health, it is quite possible that you will receive the pension for extra years compared to your peers. There are also sometimes health benefits attached to a pension that provide some real value and peace of mind.

The decision of whether to receive a pension in monthly amounts for life as opposed to taking a lump sum is a complicated matter. What I do know is that your employer believes that paying out the commuted value today will cost them too much, and would likely prefer you don’t even consider it. That is reason enough for you to explore it further.

Reproduced from the National Post newspaper article 6th February 2017.

Ted Rechtshaffen
Written By:
Ted Rechtshaffen, MBA, CFP
President and CEO
tedr@tridelta.ca
(416) 733-3292 x 221

Our housing market – is this the top?

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The explosive growth of the Canadian housing market in the last decade may finally be coming to an end.

Interestingly there is good logic on both sides of the debate and it is anyone’s guess where markets go in the short term:

The reasons for it to continue growing:

  • Foreign buyers remain very active despite a slowdown in Vancouver due to the new 15% BC foreign buyers tax. This has however likely boosted Toronto sales.
  • Three decades of low interest rates.
  • Job growth in the major centres outpaces the national average, particularly Toronto and Vancouver, which collectively accounted for all of Canada’s increases in 2016
  • Demographics reflect that there are more people aged 25 to 40 in these two cities and they have grown faster relative to other age groups. This segment is also in their prime home buying and child producing years, further stimulating home sales.
  • The number of single detached homes built in Toronto in 2015 was the lowest since 1979 according to a BMO report. This imbalance in supply and demand is a big reason prices for single-family houses are experiencing double-digit price jumps. In May 2016 the average detached home price jumped 18.9%, while condos only saw a 5.9% increase.
  • Housing market speculators flipping properties are very much part of this process although hard data on this activity is sparse.
  • A continued weak Canadian dollar is stimulative to the housing market. Since 2011, the Loonie has lost 27% of its value against the greenback, while Canadian homes appreciated by 26%.
  • If houses were priced in U.S. dollars, a very different perspective emerges. Canadian home prices aren’t appreciating, but show a decline of about 9% against the average benchmark price. The same trend is evident when pricing Canadian homes in Chinese yuan. This is worrisome because Canadians are actually being devalued on a global scale.

Among reasons for the long boom to end:

  • Steven Poloz, head of the Bank of Canada says the Canadian housing boom is unsustainable for a number of reasons including overall household financial stresses and climbing debt.
  • The anticipated interest rate trend, changing from the past three decade decline to a rising rate environment, appears to have already started in the U.S.
  • Continued weakness in the price of oil as is anticipated by many given slow global growth and excess oil supply.
  • Asset prices inevitably revert to their historical mean, which is overdue in Canadian housing prices.
  • Buyers believing the real estate market is different this time.  Canada’s housing market dropped about 15% in 1957 over six years and a whopping 25% in the early ‘90’s so maybe this market needs to digest some of the recent gains, which are more than double our long-term averages.

The correction may already have begun. Consider that the Teranet-National Bank index of house prices in Canada’s 11 largest metropolitan regions rose 6.1% in November, yet only four cities—Toronto, Hamilton, Vancouver and Victoria actually posted gains. Values in the other seven cities contracted, suggesting that a correction is well underway.

Here are two recent articles that provide more food for thought on our real estate market:

The first article from Maclean’s suggests that population growth isn’t driving Toronto house prices as many have claimed.

The second article from MoneySense magazine, takes a broader approach and provides the Canadian Real Estate Associations (CREA) perspective.

Anton Tucker
Compiled by:
Anton Tucker, CFP, FMA, CIM, FCSI
Executive VP and Portfolio Manager
anton@tridelta.ca
(905) 330-7448

Where to Invest Your RRSP Contributions

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Lorne on BNNLorne Zeiler, VP and Portfolio Manager at TriDelta Financial and Investment Counsel was the guest on BNN’s The Street on February 13th to discuss RRSP Investing, TFSAs and where to invest your RRSP contribution.

 

Lorne Zeiler
Written By:
Lorne Zeiler, MBA, CFA
VP, Wealth Advisor
lorne@tridelta.ca
416-733-3292 x225

TriDelta Investment Counsel Q4 Report – In 2017 while the noise gets louder, facts matter more than ever.

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10 Facts for 2017 and what it means to you

2017

  • For a 65 year old couple, there is a 90% chance at least one will live to age 80.
  • For a 65 year old couple, there is a 48% chance at least one will live to age 90.
  • Since 1926, average returns for the S&P500 have been 9.8%. 4% came from dividends and 5.8% from capital appreciation.  41% of total return came from dividends.
  • In 2006, the top Corporate tax rate in Canada was 34%. In 2016 it was 27%.
  • In 2006, the top Corporate tax rate in the U.S. was 39%. In 2016 it is still 39%.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate is now 4.7%. The last two times the unemployment rate was that low, the 10 year bond yield was at 4.14% and 5.24% respectively.   Today it is at 2.37%.
  • In the past 14 years, when comparing returns to volatility, High Yield bonds have been among the best asset classes averaging a return of 9.2% while maintaining a relatively low level of volatility compared to all major asset classes. Commodities have had a 1.2% annual return with a much higher level of volatility.
  • In 1990 the 5 year GIC rate was 11%. Today at the Big banks, 5 year GIC rates are only 1.5%.  In order to generate $50,000 in annual income using 5 year GICs, you would have needed $454,000 of savings in 1990.  Today you would need $3.33 million.
  • There is $12.3 trillion sitting in cash and money markets in the U.S. today vs. being efficiently invested.
  • The asset mix of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan at December 31, 2015
    1. 2% Canadian Stocks
    2. 44% Non-Canadian Stocks
    3. 41% Bonds
    4. 6% Natural Resources
    5. 14% Real Estate
    6. 10% Infrastructure
    7. 11% Absolute Return Strategies
    8. -28% Money Market (or borrowing to invest)

What the facts above mean to us is that while short term interest rates are heading higher in the United States, we live in a time of increased longevity and very low risk free returns on investments like GICs.  In order to achieve positive investment returns after inflation and taxes, that will carry through a long life, you need to look at stocks that pay dividends and you should have meaningful exposure outside of Canada and Commodities.  You also want to have exposure to high income investments that reduce volatility and do not act so much like stocks, such as high yield debt and alternative income strategies.  While stock markets today are trading at historically higher valuations in the U.S. and Canada, clients should still be invested because earnings are expected to rise, there is the positive potential impact of meaningful corporate tax cuts in the U.S., and the massive amounts of money that remain invested in cash and money markets that need a higher return.  If you think that the people that manage the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan are pretty smart (they are), then why are they borrowing $47 billion to invest?  The answer is that they believe so strongly that cash is a bad investment today and that with cash being so cheap to borrow, why not borrow to invest?

These facts don’t change under President Trump.  What does change is that in a world of unfiltered tweets that reach around the world in a second, we will have some days or weeks or months in 2017 that may shake investors’ faith in these 10 facts.  Despite the noise, facts still count in life, in financial plans and in investing.

How Did TriDelta Do in Q4?

While we certainly saw gains across our stock portfolios, we did not get the full benefit of the surprising Trump election win, and the surprising Trump rally.  We always find it surprising how many people state that they expected both to happen….. after the fact.  It is worth noting that for the small percentage that thought Trump would win, there were even fewer that thought the stock market would rally on the news.

On the stock side, most clients were up between 1.25% and 2.25% on the quarter.

On the bond side, TriDelta’s active management really shone brightly.  While broad bond indexes had a terrible quarter, down over 3%, the TriDelta Fixed Income Fund was down just 0.6%.  Our Fund was up nearly 6% over the course of the year.  Among the reasons for this outperformance was a focus on Corporate Bonds, Preferred Shares as well as some higher exposure to High Yield Corporates.

Preferred Shares continued their strong rebound, especially on the rate reset side of things.  TriDelta’s preferred holdings were up over 6% on the quarter and over 14% on the year – handily beating Preferred share indexes over both time frames.

The TriDelta High Income Balanced Fund ended off a great year, with a decent fourth quarter gain of 1.25%.  For the year, the fund was up 15.6%.  It has had 11 consecutive positive months.

Our Investment View for 2017

The million dollar question is whether Trump will accomplish most of what he says.  If that is the case, there will be lower corporate tax rates, higher inflation, higher interest rates, greater infrastructure spending, more protectionist trade policies and less regulation on the Energy, Financial Services and Health Care industries.  The market has already assumed that much of this will take place, and has acted accordingly.  If some of these don’t take place or take place much more slowly or in a watered down way, the market will adjust back a little bit in the affected sectors.

We believe the following:

  • While there will likely be higher inflation and interest rates in the United States, this will not likely be the case for Canada. Canada is in a different place economically than the U.S. and along with the possibility of a tougher export environment to the U.S., Canadian increases on inflation and interest rates will likely be muted to non-existent.
  • While there will likely be higher inflation and interest rates in the United States, it will not be as high on either front as some are predicting, at least not in 2017. Among the constraints on increased Government spending will be the debt ceiling (remember that issue from yester year?) to pay for greater infrastructure.  This will not be easy to push through a Republican House, and will likely slow the growth and inflation some currently predict.
  • Large cap dividend payers will remain a popular investment. In the weeks since the Trump election, there was a pullback in some of the traditional large cap dividend paying utilities, health care, consumer staples, and telecoms.  We believe that there remains a great deal of interest in these stocks for two reasons.  The first is that all of those bailing out of bonds need to go somewhere.  If you were 60% invested in bonds and now you are 40% in bonds, what type of stocks might you buy?  It is most likely for a bond alternative, you would buy the highest quality stocks that pay a decent dividend yield.  The second reason is that as per point number two, we believe that some of the U.S. growth story is overdone, especially in terms of expected infrastructure spending.  If that is the case, the shift to higher risk stocks that we saw this past quarter may shift back.    
  • Oil will struggle to top $60 for a long time. This is tied somewhat to lowering regulatory hurdles on various ‘dirty’ energy sources, and also tied to the opportunities for increased supply at $60 Oil.  There are more and more U.S Shale energy sources that are ramping up again as the Oil price increases.  In addition, supply will likely increase in Canada and other oil exporting nations outside of OPEC.  Lastly, OPEC members have not proven themselves the most disciplined bunch in the past decade.  It is unlikely that they will be able to hold back on supply if they can get decent prices.  As new supply hits, it will significantly constrain meaningful growth in prices.  This will also limit the opportunities for the Canadian market to do nearly as well as in 2016.
For 2017 we believe:

US Dollar will be stronger than the Canadian Dollar – U.S. interest rate hikes while Canada remains steady.  Some possible trade issues for Canada.  Lower commodity price growth than 2016.  All of these point to Canadian dollar weakness.

Canada will not be a top performing equity market in 2017 – In 2016, the TSX was up 18% after declining 11% in 2015.  In Canadian dollars, the S&P500 was up 6%.  Most of Europe and Asia were negative.  We believe that for Canadians, there will be better Canadian dollar returns found in Europe and Asia and the U.S. than in the TSX.

Preferred Shares will continue to provide good returns.  Preferred shares should continue their ascent, following a strong year as the fear of lower rate resets recede.  There remains the allure of tax preferential preferred yields and the prospect for potential capital gains in an asset class that has been deeply disadvantaged in 2014 and 2015. 2017 looks to be shaping up for another friendly year for this asset class as investors continue to search for 5%+ yield in an environment where interest rates may have found a bottom.

Canadian interest rates and inflation will remain quite low – The catalysts for growth don’t seem to be there at this time.  Despite lots of U.S. news media talk on rising rates and inflation, we need to remain focused on the Canadian experience.

China’s tightening rules on the foreign flow of money will lower housing prices in Vancouver and likely Toronto – I know this one is a tough prediction for Toronto considering it hasn’t had an annual decline in 20 years.  The point is that foreign funds from China are a significant driver on the real estate market in Vancouver and Toronto.  Toronto has had a bigger push of late because we do not have a Foreign Buyers Tax (yet).  The view is that this will have a bigger impact overall than some people predict.  There is also the continuing impact of tighter mortgage rules and slightly higher mortgage rates.  If we do see lower prices (they won’t likely be large declines), it will be another small weakness on the Canadian economy overall.

Alternative Income Investments remain a strong investment option for a part of your portfolio.

Given the low yields offered on most bonds, we have focused considerable time and energy reviewing and incorporating alternative assets, particularly in private investments, into client portfolios.  These investments offer favourable economics, along with high levels of income that are typically in the 6-10% range.  These investments have very low volatility and provide additional diversification benefits as they have low correlation with stocks and bonds.  These benefits will continue to be valuable in 2017 and for the foreseeable future.

Summary

The year ahead has more uncertainty than most.  As a result, we will continue to try to reduce overall volatility of portfolios and to reduce the downside risks that can come up in any market cycle.  Steady income – whether from solid dividend growers, preferred shares or alternative income investments – will be a good friend in 2017.  It is an even better friend if the yields achieved are meaningfully higher than inflation rates – and are not very connected to the ups and downs of the market.

As a final comment, we wanted to thank our clients for their trust and confidence in us.  We appreciate it greatly, and will work hard to earn that trust and confidence in the year ahead.

All the best to all our readers for a healthy and prosperous year ahead.

TriDelta Investment Management Committee

 

Cameron Winser

VP, Equities

Edward Jong

VP, Fixed Income

Ted Rechtshaffen

President and CEO

Anton Tucker

Exec VP and Portfolio Manager

Lorne Zeiler

VP, Portfolio Manager and
Wealth Advisor

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