Quarterly Market Brief & Stock Pick
The American stock market is still working through a consolidation phase following the magnificent run up since March of last year. The Dow transports have presented us with a new Dow buy signal but so far the Industrials have unconfirmed. The Dow 30 needs to break the 10,700 range convincingly before I will advise student clients to re-enter the market through their virtual portfolios.
The reason for this is clear. There are a number of major issues playing on the market and accordingly risk is high. In particular persistent unemployment, rising inflation, anticipated year end interest rate hikes and the planned end of quantitative easing are all still being priced into the competitive mix. I want evidence that this risk has been adequately discounted. Once we start moving to higher highs on both Dow 20 and Dow 30 we know that this process is over. Until that occurs the markets will probably be range bound as they have been since October – December 2009. If the confirmation signal is mixed it may prove problematic for valuations.
In general the QQQQ’s, the ETF for the NASDAQ, have been doing particularly well with AAPL breaking to new all time highs. This movement augurs well for technology moving forward, provided of course that the overall market returns to its former bull trend.
The dollar continues to grow in strength but this has more to do with a weakening Euro than any powerful fundamental growth in the American economy. In other words the issue is not who is the strongest but who is the least weak. As long as this is the case it will play havoc with Gold and Silver valuations and I continue to advise clients to avoid these metals in their virtual trading.
April is earnings season and I am looking forward with great relish to see how valuations in the market hold up. A lot will soon be told and how Wall Street reacts will give great insight on how to successfully play the rest of 2010. So keep your seat belts fastened and your minds focused.
McDonald’s Corporation: MCD
Dividend Yield: 3.5%
Financial Strength: A++
Return on Capital: 21%
Return on Shr. Equity: 30.5%
Earnings Growth: 10%
McDonald’s Corporation finished 2009 in superb fashion and is one of my favourite choices for students learning the pension strategy.
Robust comparable store sales, margin expansion, and favourable currency movements were behind much of the earnings per share advance.
The momentum will probably continue into much of 2010. Although the economic recovery is taking shape, consumers are still looking to save money, especially in the face of high unemployment. Consequently, McDonald’s value and convenience have enabled it increase market share.
The company’s short and long term prospects look solid, Its dividend is secure and financial strength impeccable.
Note: Since last March our pension portfolio mix is up a whopping 55%, including dividends, year on year. When one considers that this is our most conservative portfolio in terms of risk you soon realise the power of the recent stock market bull run. While we do not expect a similar performance this year from the pension portfolio over the last decade this strategy has proven itself to be ideal for those seeking an average 10-15% annual return with minimal risk and minor time allocation.