Monday, April 6, 2015

ETF Portfolio Review

The S&P 500 was pretty flat for the first quarter of 2015. Personally, I do not like comparisons against the S&P 500 and our ETF Portfolios, because they do not account for risk adjusted returns, dividends and equity allocation percentages. The S&P 500 is an index of the nation's top 500 U.S. companies. It is 100% allocated to equities or stocks. For the first quarter of this year, it ended up at 2,067.89. It started the year at 2,058.20. This represents a growth in points of 9.69 and a very meager return of 0.47%.

If you happened to be considering investing in an S&P 500 index fund right now and you found out that the first quarter of 2015 only returned 0.47%, then would you still invest in it? Not with all of your money, but a portion? This is the mistake that most investors make in regard to investing. They will look at the performance of a particular fund which represents a recent time period, then decide based on that limited information whether to invest in it or not. Then, they repeat this process for several positions. In the end, they may have a dozen different positions that they have chosen based on "good" past performance. The problem with this is that they have not analyzed the overall 12 positions to see how they will react together.

Anytime that you put a portfolio of positions together and make a "good" portfolio out of them, then there are several other things that need to go into your analysis. First of all, what level of risk are you taking? What is the standard deviation? What was it in 2008 the year of the big crash? What is it today? What is the Beta today? What was it in 2008? What is the Alpha today? What was it in 2008? Did you know that these figures can changed drastically from year to year?

Just like performance changes from year to year, so does the statistics of Standard Deviation, Beta, Alpha, R-squared, Sharpe Ratio and others. Don't forget other important items like Credit Quality of the Fixed Income portion of the portfolio, assuming you have a Fixed Income portion. How many are AAA rated? AA rated? A rated? Junk rated? What about the duration of your Fixed Income portion? What is the Maturity of the Fixed Income portion?

Of course, don't forget about valuation multiples of the stocks like Price/Earnings, Price/Book, Price/Sales and Price/Cash Flow. Then, there is profitability of the stocks in the portfolio. What is the Net Profit Margin? Return on Equity? Return on Assets? How much is their Debt to Capital Ratio? What about Potential Capital Gains Tax exposure? What about the overall expense ratio?

I can tell you all of the above in regard to our portfolios, but I doubt any self-directed investor could do the same. Most people who invest on their own do very poorly. Hiring a professional advisor who not only knows how to invest, but also is a financial planner, real estate agent and insurance agent just might make more sense than trying to invest on your own.

When you look at becoming a client with our firm, we educate you on all the items described above. You will know how your current portfolio looks and what you can expect from it if you did nothing. Then, we will show you how to improve it with our professional expertise. It is simple really. You can continue to kid yourself into thinking that you are just as competent as a professional like me, or you can realize that hiring a professional like me is a very smart decision. The choice is all yours.

Please visit one or both of my web sites. Marian Financial Services, Inc. or for First Coast Planning, LLC.