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What is our Investment Thinking Today?

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Are Stocks Expensive?

If you are talking the Nasdaq U.S. market, the answer is yes.  If you are talking the S&P500 U.S. market, the answer is probably yes.  If you are talking other markets, then the answer may be no.

One measure of valuation is the Forward Price/Earnings multiple, or P/E multiple.  The higher the number, the more expensive the market.

The S&P500 is at 21.3.

The Nasdaq is at 24.6.

In comparison, the Canadian TSX Composite is only at 14.9.

The British FTSE100 index is at 12.4.

The broader Euro Stoxx index is at 15.5.

The Emerging Market index is at 12.5.

Of interest, the TSX has a lower Forward P/E at the moment than it has had for most of the past 3 years.

Another view of the U.S. large cap S&P500 is what is known as the Shiller PE ratio.  This is a different way of measuring valuation.  The Shiller PE is currently at 38.6, which is considered 49% higher than the 20 year average, and very close to the 20 year high.

What Sectors are Less Expensive that we like?

While the process is definitely not as simple as more expensive and less expensive, it should be noted that the five least expensive sectors are Financial Services, Energy, Consumer Defensive, Utilities and Industrials.  The most expensive are Consumer Cyclicals, Real Estate and Technology.

In an environment of rising interest rates and inflation, we continue to like Financial Services, Energy, and Industrials.  These are sectors that should also see some benefits from increased infrastructure spending.

While we are not making significant Geographic shifts, we are very focused on avoiding too much exposure to sectors that we deem expensive and more heavily impacted by interest rate hikes.

Where do dividends fit in?

According to the Hartford Funds, dividend income’s contribution to the total return of the S&P 500 Index averaged 41% from 1930–2020.  Clearly dividends matter.

At a time when bond yields are lower than inflation, there is a greater demand for stocks that can pay a higher dividend.  Of course, that doesn’t even include the benefit of owning Canadian Dividends in a taxable account – which has a much lower tax rate than interest income.

In summary, we like dividend growers with good balanced sheets, we will lean a little more heavily here in 2022.

TriDelta Equity Funds

In 2021, our TriDelta Growth Fund had a return of 28.5%.  This outperformed our equity benchmark of 23.2%.

The Growth Fund is an active fund that looks to adjust its approach throughout the year to be properly positioned for where we see the market today.  We use quantitative analysis as the foundation along with a historical review of how market sectors reacted previously to similar market environments.

Our TriDelta Pension Fund had a return of 16.4%.  While not as strong as the Growth Fund, this fund has a different mandate.  Also using quantitative analysis as a foundation, we focus very much on balance sheet strength, and on long term dividend growers.  This approach aims at less variability, downside risk and higher dividend yields.

The Bond Market is difficult in this environment

Financial heavyweight Citi says that bonds Globally will return negative 1% to 0% in 2022.  This asset class is broad enough to find some winners, but the core vanilla bond space will find it hard to deliver returns with a combination of low yields and rising interest rates.

Where we own bonds, we are leaning shorter term, as they will provide some protection as the market is pricing in too many rate hikes.  What we mean by this is that the market is now pricing in nearly 6 hikes over the next year. We do not see anything near that happening.  It still means rates are going up, but not nearly as much as some think it might.

We do believe that there will be some tactical opportunities here in “next-best” companies like the Rogers/Shaw deal.  Sometimes M&A activity can lead to opportunities.  We would expect more leverage as companies try to borrow as much cheap money as they can, while they can.

Bonds are not cheap but most things are not either, so selective and tactical is our approach.

The Preferred Share Market has fewer opportunities than 2021

Fixed Rate or straight preferred shares are bumping up against a ceiling for enhanced returns.  Many are yielding decent dividends in the 4.5% to 5.25% range today, but have prices at or above $25, with the risk of being called at $25.  This doesn’t mean it is a bad place to invest, but the very strong returns from 2021 be very unlikely to be repeated in 2022.  In 2021, Rate Reset preferred shares saw returns of 29.5%, while straight preferreds had a 9.2% return.  While the 9.2% number pales in comparison, it was still a very solid return for this asset class.  We still see some good opportunities in rate resets but expect both of those return numbers to be meaningfully lower.

One of the challenges in the preferred share market is that the market is shrinking as banks and some oil and gas names redeem issues in favour of cheaper financing via  specialized bonds.  What this means is that investors have to put a premium on the surviving issues, pushing their valuations into and often above their redemption prices.  This is a sector of the market where understanding the details of the company, their capital requirements and the specific terms of a preferred share is extremely important.  It can add meaningful value to buy specific securities vs. the index and some ETFs (although ETFs can be of value for smaller transactions).

Relatively speaking, resets and floaters (this is a pretty small market in Canada) enter the year as a better value than straights due to the rising rate outlook.  We would be looking to avoid reset and floater issues with large reset spreads and approaching reset dates. They are likely to be called and are probably trading at a premium to redemption price. For now, non-bank and non-oil and gas prefs are less likely to be redeemed as issuers have fewer refinancing options and should be safer places to invest.

We will continue to buy straights on dips, especially when rates are moving in a volatile fashion to the upside.  Barring an inflationary mistake, the rate hiking cycle will be a short and small one.

Inflation will be high for the short term, but should come down later in the year and early 2023

Inflation will remain in the mid single digits for much of the year, 4-5%, give or take, but may weaken late in the year.  Whether it is COVID restrictions, sustainability compliance efforts, speculation in commodities, low unemployment or consolidation-induced pricing power, there will be pricing pressures through 2022, but below peak levels seen in 2021.

Alternative Income Strategies – Most are performing well

While Bridging Finance was the big story in this space in 2021, the rest of the industry continued to deliver solid gains.

Alternative Real Estate funds had a good year, with our top fund returning over 26%.

Mortgage funds continued to perform, with returns in the 6% to 9% range.

Our top Private Debt funds should end the full year in the 11% range, with others solidly in the 7% to 8.5% range.

As greater transparency and valuation standards are in place, we continue to see this sector of investing as a key part of most investors portfolios.

 

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

TriDelta Financial Webinar: Real Estate Update – April 20, 2020

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In this Webinar, leaders in Canadian Real Estate and TriDelta Portfolio Managers will cover:

  • The short term and long term impacts of COVID-19 on Real Estate
  • How did real estate react in 2008 and will it be different this time?
  • Opportunities for your investment portfolio, your home and/or investment property
  • Broader stock, bond and preferred share – Investment market update, what are we doing today

Hear from:

Corrado Russo, CFA, MBA, Senior Managing Director, Investments & Global Head of Securities, Timbercreek – The firm manages $2 billion in Global Real Estate Securities
Nick Kyprianou, Director,President and CEO, RiverRock Mortgage Investment Corporation – 30 years’ experience as a Canadian Leader in the Mortgage Industry
Cam Winser, CFA, SVP, Equities, TriDelta Financial
Paul Simon, CFA, VP, Fixed Income, TriDelta Financial

Hosted by Ted Rechtshaffen, CFP, CIM, MBA, President and CEO, TriDelta Financial

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Real Estate Update

TriDelta Financial Webinar: State of the Investment Markets Today – March 23, 2020

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We will discuss:

  • How investments have been performing
  • Update on our view forward
  • Examples of investments for the long term
  • Q and A opportunity

Hear from:

Alternative Income Update: Lorne Zeiler, CFA, MBA, SVP, Portfolio Manager
Stock Market Update: Cam Winser, CFA, SVP, Equities
Bond and Credit Update: Paul Simon, CFA, VP, Fixed Income
Update on RRIF and Tax changes from Government: Ted Rechtshaffen, CFP, CIM, MBA, President and CEO

Three times when it’s ok to change your asset mix

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ted_banner

In some ways your investment asset mix is kind of like the luggage you pack for your vacation.

For some people they are more ‘lounge at the beach’ kind of people and their luggage will have a bikini and sun dress, sandals and maybe something for rain. Other people will be hikers and want great climbing shoes, shorts, and water bottles. Some vacations will be great for kids and others purely for adults. Some places have wide ranges of weather so you want winter coats along with a sweater. Some people travel light and take a bit of a chance, while others pack everything just in case. The key is that each person has different goals and is headed to a different type of vacation, and must pack their bags based on that.

Your investment portfolio is no different. It will look different for some people than others – depending on the type of people they are, and the stage of life they find themselves in.

Your mix of stocks and bonds is the foundation of your future investment returns and level of portfolio volatility that you will face.

asset2Of course, there are many other pieces of the puzzle – such as income levels, tax treatments, leverage and a wide range of risks within the word ‘stocks’ or ‘bonds’. However, let’s stick with the foundational asset mix for now, because this is the piece that gets questioned the most when times are not so good.

The most common question asked when markets pull back would be “is now the time in the market to change my asset mix?” I believe the answer is almost always no.

There are certainly times to rebalance because markets have caused some imbalance in your target portfolio. If you think about it, if stocks have had a great run and they now represent 68% of your portfolio instead of 60%, rebalancing is essentially a selling of something that has done well and buying of something that hasn’t done as well. But rebalancing is different than meaningfully changing your asset mix.

What I am talking about is someone who was 100% in stocks deciding that markets have dropped so now they will sell half their stocks and put it in cash or bonds. I am talking about the person who was 60% in bonds, but saw stocks doing well so decided to become 80% in stocks. These are the kinds of moves that usually come back to haunt someone because they are driven from market movements and not from a change in a person’s own situation. They are usually a problem because timing the move to get out and get back in is extremely difficult, and usually late. The other problem is that it leaves someone with a portfolio at various times that is not the right one for them as individuals. It is only right for what the market had been doing recently.

I believe that there are only three times when one should change their asset mix:

  • If they have been living an investment lie – by that I mean that their current asset mix doesn’t fit who they are today. Examples might be the investor who wants investment income, but whose portfolio has lots of growth stocks that don’t pay a dividend. Another might be the person who says they are uncomfortable with too much risk, and wouldn’t be able to sleep if their portfolio was down 10%, yet are sitting on mutual funds that are 80% invested in stocks. These are people who have the wrong asset mix for their needs (emotional and/or financial), and should make changes to get it right. These people packed the wrong luggage.
  • If they need to draw more money than they did before – This impacts the short term cash needs of a portfolio, and might necessitate a higher percentage in cash or short term bonds in order to prevent a sudden sale of stocks or long term bonds at a bad time in the market. This usually occurs when there is a change in employment (retirement, unemployment) or a sudden increase in expenses (often health or education changes). This would usually necessitate taking a step or two back in risk. If you had a portfolio with 80% in stocks, now maybe it might move to 50% or 60%. You may also want to increase the amount sitting in a high interest savings account or money market fund to help cover off your cash needs for a year without any market risks. Here, the 4 star vacation that you hoped for, has to be downgraded to a 2 star.
  • If their investment world just improved meaningfully – this situation can come about when someone sells their house and rents or downsizes meaningfully. It can happen with a sizable inheritance or taking a pension in a lump sum of cash as opposed to the traditional monthly payments in retirement. The reason this changes your asset mix is because you now may have more assets that may never get spent in your lifetime or which will be invested for a long term before they are needed. Quite often this growth in a portfolio allows you to increase the risk of your overall investments to try to achieve a larger estate. One way to think of this might be to look at your portolio and determine how much you need to invest safely to cover your needs for the rest of your life. If the number is $1 million, and you have $800,000 in assets, then you can’t afford to be too aggressive with your investments. If the number is $1 million, and you have $3 million in investments, then this can guide you to a 67% stock portfolio, which you can afford to ride the stocks up and down, with the educated goal that they will be worth more in say 25 years than if it was invested more conservatively.

 
Time for an upgrade in your wardrobe for the upcoming vacation.

In all three of these examples, you will notice that none mentioned a sudden 10% drop in the TSX. Asset mix changes made because of great or bad investment markets usually do not pay off in the long run. What tends to pay off is having done your homework on what your financial needs are, to truly understand your ability to handle downside risks in the portfolio, and then to build a portfolio that will allow you to weather the investment sunshine and storms that will inevitably come in the future.

Reproduced from the National Post newspaper article 25th October 2014.

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

TriDelta Launches High Income Balanced Fund – for Accredited Investors

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hibfInitial Investments close November 30th

At TriDelta, we have watched closely as Canadians search for income in a low interest rate world.  One issue we have found is that many Canadian income funds are overly concentrated – with a heavy weighting in Canadian REITs (Real Estate), Canadian Financials, and Canadian Utilities.  This over concentration in a few sectors adds unnecessary risk to investors.

This month, we are proud to launch our High Income Balanced fund.  Initial investments will need to be in by the end of November.  This unique fund will feature a 6% annual target distribution, and will generate income and returns through a few diverse investment strategies.

  1. U.S. Stock strategy – We are using an options enhanced index strategy that has generated higher long-term returns by reducing (or minimizing) losses in a down market.
  2. Canadian Stock strategy – Manager has flexibility to invest in quantitative strategies and sectors offering best total return opportunities, enhanced by a variety of options based strategies to add tax efficient income. Because of the use of options we are able to generate income from all sectors of the market – not just traditional real estate, utilities and financial services.
  3. Enhanced Fixed Income – We are able to generate yields today of over 8% on conservative bonds.  Within our fund, we are able to borrow at just 1.65%.  This variable rate is based on a rate that is 0.65% plus the Bank of Canada Overnight Lending Rate, which is currently at 1.00%.  Outside of the fund, for individual accounts borrowing costs are currently at 4%.For example: We invest in a conservative BCE bond trading at par ($100) with a coupon of 3.95% & maturing in:

     

    Bond Interest 3.95%
    Spread on Borrowing 2.30% (3.95% – 1.65%)
    Spread on Borrowing $2 4.60% (2 times 2.30%)
    Total Income if we borrow $2 8.55% (3.95% + 4.60%)

    While the borrowing cost is variable, according to the latest from the Bank of Canada announcement, they now have a ‘neutral’ stance on growth, and we don’t believe there will be a meaningful rise in short term interest rates for some time.  There is also an additional opportunity to boost gains by investing in Global bonds with higher yields.

  4. Institutional Style Income Investments – We plan to add institutional investments that generate steady income.  These are pension-style investments in real estate or infrastructure that are not available to individual retail investors – usually because they require several million dollars from each investor.

 

Who Can Buy The Fund

This fund is available to anyone but with some hurdles.

If you are an accredited investor (this usually means your household has over $1 million of investable assets or your personal annual income is over $200,000 or household annual income is over $300,000), you can invest in the fund with a minimum initial investment of $25,000.

If you are not an accredited investor – the minimum initial investment is $150,000.

We are capping the initial investment at $500,000 per household.

Why Have We Launched a Fund?

As noted, there are a few investment strategies that we feel are very beneficial to our clients, but are more efficient or lower cost in a pooled fund structure.  These would include certain options strategies, the significantly lower borrowing costs which allow us to take advantage of advanced income strategies, and lower trading costs on larger bond transactions.

Investment Fees

The TriDelta High Income Balanced Fund is structured to benefit TriDelta clients.

For TriDelta clients, the fund itself will have a 0% management fee.  Clients will be charged a fee as per our current fee schedule.  This means that depending on the size of your household assets at TriDelta, the fee could range from 0.75% (for assets above $5 million) to 1.95% (for the first $250,000 of investment assets).  In certain cases, this will also make the fund fees tax deductible.

For those investing only in the fund (or with less than $250,000 of investments with TriDelta Investment Counsel), the management fee will be 2.00%.

There will be an administration fee within the fund for all investors that is capped at 0.50% per year.  This administration fee includes all trading costs as well as other costs to the fund such as legal and accounting.

It is worth noting that most funds managed with these advanced strategies have a fee of 2% PLUS what is known as a performance bonus, which can meaningfully add to the fees.  Our fund will have NO performance fees and for TriDelta Investment Counsel clients, will have a fee of under 2%.

Summary

The TriDelta High Income Balanced Fund will aim to add to income returns, with a 6% distribution target, and a goal of 6% to 10% long term returns (over a 5 year plus time horizon).  This fund is appropriate for those with a medium-high risk tolerance, and it is intended to be a good complement to your existing portfolio and goals.

If you are interested in learning more about the fund, please contact TriDelta Financial through your Wealth Advisor or through our offices in Toronto at 416-733-3292 x221 or in Oakville at 905-901-3429, so we can include you in our November 30th investment.

For more information on the fund, view our Fund Overview here.

Risk Management Series – Bonds, Part 2

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Why Do Bonds Trade at a Premium?

Bond pricing is a function of a number of moving parts: namely, coupon rate, market interest rates, credit quality, and term to maturity.  As a result, bonds often trade at a premium or discount to their maturity value (usually $100); this can cause confusion and frustration for investors.

We outline some of the key elements of bond pricing and its relationship to current market interest rates so that you can better understand how bonds are priced.  As mentioned in Part 1 “Risk Management Series – Bonds”  in between the date when a bond is issued until its maturity date, its market price (the price at which the bond trades in the market) will fluctuate.

When a bond is issued, its coupon rate (interest rate paid on the bond) is reflective of the current market interest rate environment for bonds of similar quality and that have a similar term to maturity.  E.g. if Royal Bank of Canada issues a 5 year bond maturing on September 30, 2018 and the market interest rate for similar bonds is 3.0%, then the coupon rate on the Royal Bank of Canada will be approximately 3.0%.

iStock_000000674097XSmallIf interest rates decline after a bond was issued, then any bond paying a higher coupon rate than the market interest rate should have a premium value.  For example if market interest rates for 5 year bonds decline from 4.0% to 3.0%, then a bond that pays a coupon rate of 4.0% is now worth more, because the investor is receiving 1.0% more in payments per year than the market rate.  Consequently, the bond with the 4.0% coupon should trade at a premium (trade at a higher price than it was issued at) to balance out the higher fixed interest payments.

In order to determine how much of a premium (or discount) each bond should trade at, fixed income (bond) portfolio managers compare bonds of similar quality with similar maturity dates using a calculation called Yield to Maturity (YTM).  This calculation determines the total return an investor can earn on a bond purchase based on: 1) the bond’s current market price, 2) its coupon rate, 3) maturity date and 4) maturity value (usually $100.00).

For example, let’s say Royal Bank issued a 10 year bond in September 2008 paying a 5% coupon rate with a maturity date of September 30, 2018 (Bond A).  Royal Bank also issues a 5 year bond on September 2013 that matures on September 30, 2018 with a coupon of 3.0% (Bond B).  So even though the bonds were issued on different dates, they currently have the same maturity date and as such are quite comparable.

Bond A should trade at a premium because from now until maturity, Bond A investors will receive 2% more each year in interest income than Bond B investors ($10 in total benefit over 5 years).  Based on the yield to maturity calculation, Bond A would have to trade at the premium price of $109.22 to offer a total return of 3% per year for the investor (the higher price offsets the higher interest payments).  Consequently, bond investors today may notice that many of the bonds in their portfolios were bought for prices well above their $100 face values, but that these bonds likely have higher coupon rates.  Bond A’s premium will decline each year (also known as price decay) as it approaches maturity, because it is one less year that you are collecting the higher coupon rate.      To get a fuller picture, investors need to look at both purchase price AND the coupon rate offered by each bond.

The objective of the portfolio manager is to provide the greatest total return to the investor, which includes both the loss (or gain) on the value of the bond PLUS the interest payments received.  If the portfolio manager feels they can earn a higher total return by buying a bond with a higher coupon rate, but it trades at a premium, they will do so.  In the example above, if he can buy Bond A for $108, they could earn 3.25% per year for their clients vs. just 3.0% by buying Bond B.  A large part of a fixed income portfolio manager’s job is to perform these types of comparisons to try to attain higher total returns for clients.

Accumulated Interest

Another reason that a bond may trade at a premium is to reflect accrued interest.  Most bonds only pay interest two times a year (semi-annual payments).  For example if the bond was issued in December, it will make coupon payments in June and December; if the bond was issued in March, it will make coupon payments in March and September.  But, if you buy the bond on the market in between those coupon payment dates, you essentially are getting additional payments.

For example, if a bond makes payments in June and December and you buy the bond in May, you will have held the bond for one month, but you will have received 6 months’ worth of interest.  Bond prices reflect this benefit, typically by adding the accumulated amount of interest owing to the purchase price of the bond.  For example, if a $100 bond is paying a 6% interest rate (paying $3 twice a year) and the investor buys that bond at the end of April, there is $2 of interest already built up, so the bond should trade for $102.

Bond pricing, performance and payments are often quite complex and difficult to understand, because unlike equities where investors generally look primarily at its current market price vs. purchase price to see if they made money on their investment, bonds require analyzing both the purchase price AND coupon payments received.  As described above, there are many times when a bond investment may appear to have a negative return from a price perspective, but has often provided a positive return once you have included the coupon payments.

Illustration of Pricing of Bonds A and B from the article

Bond A Pays a 5.0% coupon.  Bond B pays a 3.0% coupon.  Both bonds mature in 5 years, September 30, 2018.

Annual Coupon Payments Bond A Bond B
September 30, 2014 $5.00 $3.00
September 30, 2015 $5.00 $3.00
September 30, 2016 $5.00 $3.00
September 30, 2017 $5.00 $3.00
September 30, 2018 $5.00 $3.00
Total Payments: $25.00 $15.00
Difference: +$10 Bond A trades at premium due to higher coupon payments
Lorne Zeiler
Written By:
Lorne Zeiler, MBA, CFA
VP, Wealth Advisor
Lorne can be reached by email at lorne@tridelta.ca or by phone at
416-733-3292 x225
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