March 2021 Client Letter

March 4, 2021

Dear Valued Investor:

It’s now been over a year since COVID-19 first hit American shores. While the pandemic has affected everyone to varying degrees, we can all agree that everyone’s life is different today than it was a year ago. It’s difficult to remember what normal looks like at this point.

Now that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has been approved, we have three vaccines available in the United States—and some semblance of normal is fast approaching. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have dropped significantly over the past two months. More businesses have reopened. Kids are going back to school. More diners are headed to restaurants. Air travel has picked up.

The US economy—though not back to normal yet—is poised to potentially recover all of its lost output from last year’s recession during the first half of this year. Shoppers are doing their part as retail sales jumped 5.3% in January—the strongest month-over-month increase in seven months. Consumers’ coffers were replenished by the federal government’s roughly $900 billion stimulus package passed in December 2020. US household savings are now $1.4 trillion above last year’s levels, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which should provide fuel for more pent-up spending after restrictions are lifted.

The bridge policymakers began to build a year ago to the end of the pandemic is getting even stronger. Congress is expected to pass another fiscal stimulus package in mid-March, potentially worth over $1.5 trillion and including more direct aid to consumers and supplemental unemployment insurance. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve continues to provide unwavering support for the economy. Our economy’s resilience, coupled with this significant fiscal and monetary support, has enabled stocks to do even better than normal—and early in bull markets, normal is pretty good.

Some fear the economy has too much support. A healing labor market with about 10 million fewer jobs than a year ago suggests that more help is needed. But, as the economy fully opens, we will have to watch inflation closely for signs of overheating. The Federal Reserve may have to pump the brakes sooner than anticipated.

Normal is approaching—or at least the post-pandemic version of normal—and it’s looking pretty good. Stocks and bonds are both telling us we have a lot to look forward to as the economy moves closer to a full reopening. COVID-19 still presents risks of course, and stocks may be due for a pause after such a strong run. But ultimately, we believe the backdrop of improving economic growth, supportive fiscal and monetary policy, rebounding corporate profits, and improving COVID-19 trends will be a favorable one for stocks over the balance of the year.

Please contact me if you have any 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 4, 2021.

Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.

All index data from FactSet.

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 # 1-05117671

February 2021 Client Letter

February 4, 2021

Dear Valued Investor,

“In the short-term, the market is a popularity contest. In the long-term, the market is a weighing machine.” Warren Buffett

2021 is under way, as our nation and the rest of the world look to begin to put the global pandemic behind us. The path forward for the US economy, as well as that of the global economy, will continue to depend heavily on the success of combatting the virus.

While many of the risks presented by the outbreak of COVID-19 persist, it appears we may be in the later innings of the pandemic. Following increased restrictions to quell the holiday surge, new daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have peaked, and are down significantly the past few weeks (source: COVID Tracking Project). Reopening is taking place as well, highlighted by New York City’s plans to bring back indoor dining by Valentine’s Day. Meanwhile, the distribution of currently approved vaccines is well underway—and accelerating. The United States has added over 1 million shots per day over the past week (source: CDC) and 1.5 million per day is quite possible soon. Adding to this optimistic trend, new vaccine candidates from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax have also shown efficacy in combatting the effects of the virus and new mutations. If these two candidates are authorized for use as most experts expect, the boost in supply will be a welcome development in the US and abroad.

Despite the positive trends in COVID-19 data, volatility began to return to the stock market in the final days of January, as retail traders set their eyes on GameStop (GME) stock and other heavily shorted securities, captivating the nation’s imagination. As Warren Buffett explained above, while many of these securities may be popular now, the real winners will likely be investors with longer-term horizons. While these developments could be another sign of excessive optimism in certain segments of the equity markets, we do not believe they represent a sign of a broader market bubble or indicate a major correction is forthcoming.

After the powerful snapback of economic growth seen in the third quarter, the economy continued to grow at a solid 4% in the fourth quarter despite the holiday surge in COVID-19 cases. This improving economic backdrop has provided tailwinds to corporate profits, which should help stocks grow into their elevated valuations. S&P 500 Index earnings for the fourth quarter are impressively tracking 9 percentage points ahead of consensus expectations, while more than 80% of companies have beaten earnings estimates (source: FactSet). Meanwhile, housing remains extremely strong nationally and manufacturing data continues to show an economy that is firmly on the mend.

The improving economic backdrop, along with US government and Federal Reserve policies designed to boost the economy, suggest the environment for risk assets may remain favorable in 2021. Don’t get complacent though; after the S&P 500 Index rallied more than 70% since the March 2020 lows, some volatility would be perfectly warranted. Remember, they say that the stock market is the only place where things go on sale, yet people run out of the store screaming. Have a plan in place to be ready to take advantage when the sales come, and don’t run out screaming.

Stay healthy and please contact me with any 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.

Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.

All index data from FactSet.

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 # 1-05107322