The Price of Fear

The Equity Risk Premium has once again drifted up to all-time high levels in recent weeks. The S&P500 has an earnings yield of around 7.9% (assuming S&P earnings of $105 versus current price of 1,330). Ten year treasuries are 1.6%, so the resulting 6.3% spread is back at levels not seen since the early 70s. Yields remain excessively low; JPMorgan pointed out this weekend in their Global Data Watch publication that the yield curve implies negative real rates on government debt going out for ten years, an outcome outside even the experience of Japan. Whatever you think of stocks, bonds have to be a worse bet.

The Math is as follows: a 1.9% dividend yield on the S&P500 will, assuming 4% annual dividend growth (the 50 year average is 5%) deliver almost five times the return as ten year treasuries – assuming (perhaps crucially) no change in dividend yields in ten years. Or put another way, the holder of ten year treasuries could sell them, place 22% of the proceeds in stocks with the rest in riskless/returnless treasury bills and get to the same place, with 4/5ths of his capital available for other opportunities.

Once you figure in taxes (35% on treasury interest versus 15% on dividends) you only need put 17% of the proceeds from selling the treasuries into stocks. This is how distorted bond yields are – and they’re likely to remain so. Recent weakness in economic data, most notably the June payroll data, may result in further Fed buying of long term bonds. They wouldn’t recommend you do this yourself, as I wrote some weeks ago. The Fed is relentlessly driving the return out of bonds.

Investors have good reason to be cautious. This weekend’s Spanish bank bailout seemed inevitable and also inconclusive at the same time. Few believe the Euro’s fundamental problems have been solved. At the same time, in the U.S. current law requires a series of tax increases and spending cuts starting on January 1. The so-called “fiscal cliff” is estimated to be as much as a 3% hit to GDP and an instant recession. Few believe this will actually happen, reasoning that Congress will roll everything back another year and rely on the 2012 election results to settle the fiscal policy argument once and for all. However, while it seems sensible to assume Congress will act in this fashion, there seems little urgency to do so until the lame-duck session following the November elections. Meanwhile, hiring and capital expenditure decision that rely on some reasonable assumptions about positive GDP growth next year are increasingly at risk. One thing on which supporters of both parties can surely agree is that leaving resolution of near term fiscal policy to so late in the year is irresponsible. The Price of Fear is set in part by our elected representatives in Washington, DC.

Our most recent investment has been to increase our position in Coeur d’Alene. Based on our analysis we think it’s valued at around a 30% discount to the net asset value of its reserves, in common with most miners. Having some exposure to gold and silver at a discount is one way to protect against higher inflation, since that will increasingly appear an attractive solution for most people’s problems (there are more debtors than creditors in the world). In addition, CDE recently announced a stock buyback of $100M< around 6% of their equity market capitalization.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Important Disclosures

The information provided is for informational purposes only and investors should determine for themselves whether a particular service, security or product is suitable for their investment needs. The information contained herein is not complete, may not be current, is subject to change, and is subject to, and qualified in its entirety by, the more complete disclosures, risk factors and other terms that are contained in the disclosure, prospectus, and offering. Certain information herein has been obtained from third party sources and, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified and its accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. No representation is made with respect to the accuracy,  completeness or timeliness of this information. Nothing provided on this site constitutes tax advice. Individuals should seek the advice of their own tax advisor for specific information regarding tax consequences of investments.  Investments in securities entail risk and are not suitable for all investors. This site is not a recommendation nor an offer to sell (or solicitation of an offer to buy) securities in the United States or in any other jurisdiction.

References to indexes and benchmarks are hypothetical illustrations of aggregate returns and do not reflect the performance of any actual investment. Investors cannot invest in an index and do not reflect the deduction of the advisor’s fees or other trading expenses. There can be no assurance that current investments will be profitable. Actual realized returns will depend on, among other factors, the value of assets and market conditions at the time of disposition, any related transaction costs, and the timing of the purchase. Indexes and benchmarks may not directly correlate or only partially relate to portfolios managed by SL Advisors as they have different underlying investments and may use different strategies or have different objectives than portfolios managed by SL Advisors (e.g. The Alerian index is a group MLP securities in the oil and gas industries. Portfolios may not include the same investments that are included in the Alerian Index. The S & P Index does not directly relate to investment strategies managed by SL Advisers.)

This site may contain forward-looking statements relating to the objectives, opportunities, and the future performance of the U.S. market generally. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of such words as; “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “should,” “planned,” “estimated,” “potential” and other similar terms. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, estimates with respect to financial condition, results of operations, and success or lack of success of any particular investment strategy. All are subject to various factors, including, but not limited to general and local economic conditions, changing levels of competition within certain industries and markets, changes in interest rates, changes in legislation or regulation, and other economic, competitive, governmental, regulatory and technological factors affecting a portfolio’s operations that could cause actual results to differ materially from projected results. Such statements are forward-looking in nature and involves a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, and accordingly, actual results may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in such forward-looking statements. Prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements or examples. None of SL Advisors LLC or any of its affiliates or principals nor any other individual or entity assumes any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, subsequent events or any other circumstances. All statements made herein speak only as of the date that they were made. r

Certain hyperlinks or referenced websites on the Site, if any, are for your convenience and forward you to third parties’ websites, which generally are recognized by their top level domain name. Any descriptions of, references to, or links to other products, publications or services does not constitute an endorsement, authorization, sponsorship by or affiliation with SL Advisors LLC with respect to any linked site or its sponsor, unless expressly stated by SL Advisors LLC. Any such information, products or sites have not necessarily been reviewed by SL Advisors LLC and are provided or maintained by third parties over whom SL Advisors LLC exercise no control. SL Advisors LLC expressly disclaim any responsibility for the content, the accuracy of the information, and/or quality of products or services provided by or advertised on these third-party sites.

All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will be suitable or profitable for a client’s investment portfolio.

Past performance of the American Energy Independence Index is not indicative of future returns.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.