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March 20, 2020 Client Letter

 March 18, 2020 

Dear Valued Investor: 

Our everyday lives have changed dramatically over the last few weeks as we work together to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know these efforts are necessary, but they also have come at a cost. 

Global economic growth has been slowing, the US economy likely will contract temporarily, and US stocks have entered a bear market. Big stock market moves, both up and down, have become the norm. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note has fallen to an all-time low, making borrowing cheaper—but challenging savers. In short, this has been a challenging period for many long-term investors, and you’re asking what’s next and what to do. 

Despite elevated uncertainty, we’ve been encouraged by the actions of global central banks and governments to support their economies and stock markets through this challenging period. In the United States, the Federal Reserve (Fed) lowered its policy rate by a full percentage point, the first move that large since the savings and loan crisis, bringing the rate to a target range of 0–0.25%. The full impact of lower rates may have to wait until loan demand picks up, but other Fed actions may provide more immediate support to help financial markets continue to run smoothly, bolster short-term funding, and increase market liquidity. 

At the same time, the US government already has passed several measures to support the economy, and it’s currently working on a major fiscal stimulus bill of at least $750 billion. Discussions are still taking place, but provisions possibly could include paid sick leave, expanded medical testing, unemployment insurance, direct financial support for consumers, and relief for some of the most heavily impacted industries. 

We know it’s difficult to keep looking forward with so much uncertainty and so many unanswered questions right now. But as long-term investors, it’s important that we maintain a clear vision of our financial goals and our plan for getting there. 

Market volatility like we’re experiencing now may provide pockets of opportunity in suitable portfolios. As a recession increasingly is priced into markets, stock market valuations relative to their earnings power and to bond yields have become more attractive. Current uncertainty means taking a careful, measured approach, but for appropriate investors there may even be small ways to consider taking advantage of these potential opportunities. 

It’s likely we may see an economic rebound later this year and into 2021 as the outbreak is contained, businesses reopen, and fiscal and monetary policy support expands. The US economy and corporate America have steered their way through world wars and cold wars, financial crises, and geopolitical events. Through even the most challenging times, markets have found their way back to normalcy, and investors have been able to look to the future. We believe this time will be no different. 

Trust your plan, stay the course, and be well. And as always, we encourage you to contact your financial professional with any questions. 

Sincerely,

Wayne Rigney

Rigney Financial Services, L.L.C.
Thomas Wayne Rigney-Principal

 

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Important Information

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change. 

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of March 18, 2020.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Tracking # 1-967946 (Exp. 03/21)

COVID-19: Client Update

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March 13, 2020

Dear Valued Investor:

Fears over the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) have gripped the country and sent stocks in the US and around the world into bear markets. Thursday’s nearly 10% decline in the S&P 500 Index was one of its worst days in history and the largest one-day percent decline since the 1987 crash. What makes pandemics so much more personal than other crises is how they are felt by everyone, as nearly all major events have been cancelled, major league sports seasons have been postponed, travel restrictions have been put in place, many employees are being sent home to work remotely, planes are empty, and many shoppers are staying away from stores and restaurants.

These significant efforts to contain the outbreak are also the same actions that will have an impact on the US economy.  Just a few short weeks ago, the economic environment was healthy and improving in the US and around the world. Now, as we head into the second quarter, the presence of an economic slowdown is a reality and the odds of a recession are increasing.  That said, in our view markets have largely, if not overly, priced in these recessionary outcomes.

We think some context here is important.  Fear, as a core human emotion, is magnified when situations arise unexpectedly and quickly. In other words, it has been the speed and unexpectedness of recent events that has driven the outsized reaction from the markets. In fact, the S&P 500 Index needed only 16 days to go from a new all-time high to a bear market (measured as 20% off the recent highs), an all-time record, topping the previous record of 28 days in 1929. Many investors have never seen jarring moves like this before.

One potential positive from stocks falling into a bear market this quickly is historically they have also tended to stage more powerful rallies off the lows. For the bear markets since World War II that saw 20% or more declines within 270 days, the S&P 500 tended to bottom more quickly and recorded shallower declines. On average, these quicker bears averaged a 26% loss, compared with the average bear market decline of 33%. Given this was the quickest bear market ever, it is reasonable to think a strong reversal might be possible.

The great news is that the US economy was very healthy before this three-week stretch of steep market declines, with employment strong and the unemployment rate near 50-year lows, solid job and wage gains, corporate profits poised to accelerate, and company balance sheets in excellent shape. This bodes well for a faster recovery on the other side. Like someone who gets sick, the healthier you are coming into it, the faster tend to recover.

The investor playbook is always to follow your investment plan. The only thing worse than not having a plan is abandoning the one you have. The stock market has already suffered declines similar to those associated with mild recessions. That doesn’t mean stocks can’t go lower. It just means that the opportunity for long-term investors is getting more attractive. While markets continue to face a crisis of uncertainty, we still have unwavering confidence in the long-term fundamentals and prospects for the US economy and corporate America.

Please stay healthy and contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Wayne Rigney

 

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Important Information

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of March 13, 2020.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Tracking # 1-965300 (Exp. 02/21)

March 2020 Client Letter

March 5, 2020 

Dear Valued Investor: 

It’s been a tough week. The number of coronavirus cases have continued to increase globally, and new cases have been confirmed in the United States. Countries are making progress with containment, but those efforts also have resulted in a reduction in economic activity, adding to market uncertainty. 

We can empathize with anyone who is nervous. It’s impossible to predict how many people will be affected or how containment efforts may impact the economy. Prospects for a pronounced economic slump and a wider outbreak have led many investors to sell first and ask questions later. Last week the S&P 500 Index suffered its worst weekly decline since the financial crisis in 2008, and the fastest 10% correction ever recorded from a record high. That’s a fast move from a high to a low. 

Keep in mind that a little more than two weeks ago, stocks were at all-time highs, and the biggest worry for many of us was whether stock prices had come too far too fast. Volatility was almost non-existent from October 2019 through mid-February 2020, and investor sentiment measured bullish. Since then volatility has spiked to some of its highest levels in years, with markets reflecting a heavy dose of fear. 

The Federal Reserve’s (Fed) perspective on the evolving crisis has also changed quickly. Until last week, the Fed had been communicating that it expected to hold interest rates unchanged in 2020. Then on March 3, the Fed cut rates by one-half a percentage point (0.5%). Anticipation of this Fed action helped drive the market rally on March 2, and the rate action may help support the economy and stock prices through this near-term soft patch as efforts to contain the outbreak continue. 

As you contemplate your next move, we would suggest that you keep the following in mind: 

• The U.S. economy and corporate America are resilient and adaptable. Stocks have weathered wars, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, financial crises, and many other economic and geopolitical shocks. Through it all, stocks have produced a 9% annualized return since 1929, as measured by the S&P 500 Index. (source: Bloomberg). 

• Like crises in the past, this one will pass. It’s difficult to see the other side of this right now, and economic disruption may be significant, but the economic impact may be temporary. Markets appear poised to eventually look forward to better days, based on economic fundamentals. 

• Now may be a good time for suitable investors to consider adding equity positions to their portfolios, where appropriate. We find that the best sell decisions often come when investors struggle to find reasons to sell. The best buying decisions often can be the most uncomfortable. 

If you’re concerned the outbreak may get much worse before it gets better, you may want to think about revisiting your long-term investing strategy. Although it’s not our current expectation, a potential U.S. recession or a bear market cannot be ruled out. For most long-term investors, however, we think the best move may be no move. 

We wish you good health and recommend that you contact your financial professional with questions. 

Sincerely, 

Wayne Rigney

 

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of March 3, 2020.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Tracking # 1-959520 (Exp. 02/21)

Coronavirus Update

February 28, 2020

Dear Valued Investor:

“The stock market takes an escalator up, and an elevator down,” is a classic Wall Street saying. The last week has sure felt like taking an express elevator down, as the end of February brought a historic stock market sell-off, with the S&P 500 Index moving from an all-time high to a 10% correction in only six days—the quickest such move ever. Along the way, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow) experienced multiple 1,000-point drops, including Thursday’s biggest one-day point drop ever, adding to fears. As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, what was once a promising start to 2020 now has the S&P 500, Dow, and Nasdaq Composite all negative year to date.

To put the recent market weakness in perspective, in an average year the S&P 500 may pull back from its highest point to its lowest point 14% on average. Even in years in which the S&P 500 finished higher, it had a pullback of 11% on average. In 2019, when stocks gained more than 30%, we saw two pullbacks of more than 5% during the year. After a historically calm stretch to end last year and start this year, larger than normal volatility shouldn’t come as a surprise. We didn’t expect stocks to pull back this quickly, but we’re still within the normal range of market volatility.

We never want to minimize the loss of human lives, but keep in mind that less than 3,000 people have died from coronavirus globally so far, compared to the nearly 80,000 people who have died from the seasonal flu this year. Also, the number of active cases of coronavirus peaked at nearly 58,000 February 17 and has dropped to less than 44,000 now, a drop of more than 24% in less than two weeks. Also, the World Health Organization won’t call this outbreak a pandemic because of the extremely low mortality rate among young and healthy people. The mortality rate for people over the age of 80 is nearly 15%, but that drops to less than 0.3% for people under the age of 50, with rates even lower in developed countries. Here in the United States, 90 people have contracted the virus, but none have passed away.

What could be the potential economic impact? Any economic disruption in the United States most likely would be modest and short-lived. Domestic efforts to contain the virus should be more successful and have less economic disruption than in China. The epidemic could cut as much as 0.5% from gross domestic product (GDP) over the next several months, but as the virus becomes contained, it is likely we could return to trend growth during the second quarter. Globally, we can’t shut down a large portion of the world’s second largest economy (China) without experiencing spillover effects. China’s GDP could weaken significantly in the first quarter, but a potential return to trend growth by the third quarter may be possible if this outbreak follows a course similar to previous outbreaks (SARS, bird flu, swine flu, etc.).

As difficult as this week has been, it’s important to follow your investment strategies and focus on the long term. Based on history and solid economic fundamentals, a return to pre-outbreak levels of global economic growth and corporate profits appears likely. Investing fundamentals suggest that a second-half economic rebound, potentially aided by government and fiscal stimulus, could help extend this record-long economic cycle into 2021.

Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Wayne Rigney

 

 

_______________________________

 

Important Information

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of February 28, 2020.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Tracking # 1-957691 (Exp. 02/21)