The ESG Conundrum

It appears that interest in investing based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors is growing. The question is, how to go about it? To start with, how can investors themselves determine which companies live up to ESG standards?  Currently, they have little alternative to relying on outside raters.  However, ESG ratings vary substantially depending … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of November 28, 2022 Russia quagmire in Ukraine? Check. Chinese citizens protest? Check. Divided US government? Check. US interest rates easing? Check. Gasoline prices moderating? Check. Patience? Check. Time to evaluate investments and rebalance where appropriate. No changes to our Signals this week. Bob Bilkie, CFA

Affordable?

What does affordable mean?  We now have the political class talking about “affordable” housing, “affordable” health care, “affordable” education, and consumer cost protections for essentials, such as energy and food, to mention a few of the “affordables” being bandied about.  The short answer to, what does affordable mean, is subsidy.  The key questions for investors … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of November 21, 2022 Now that it has been confirmed that Republicans will control the US House, we contemplate the downside of divided government, which is an inability to compromise. In that regard, the US debt limit must be raised by the end of the year, and in the recent past this resulted in … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of November 14, 2022 As suggested last week, the uncertainty of the outcome of the midterm elections largely influenced equity market volatility over the past several weeks and with the election over, capital markets staged a sharp upturn. It appears that there will be some form of divided government and all else equal, capital … Continued

Replenishing the SPR?

The U.S. is nearing the end of its previously announced release of 180 million barrels (bbls) of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR). At the time of the release, the announced strategy revolved around the idea that this would increase supply, reduce oil prices, thereby moderating gasoline prices, and reduce pressure on U.S. consumers. … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of November 7, 2022 Windstorms swept the Midwestern US over the weekend, creating some mayhem, but no lasting damage. Autumn leaves swirled and weak branches were strewn about. This was an apt metaphor for the actions in the capital markets this past week too, as the electorate awaits the outcome of this week’s poll … Continued

“You’re Only as Good as Your Dumbest Competitor”

This quotation is attributed to Gordon Bethune, who, at the time, was CEO of Continental Airlines.  Investors should take note.  No matter how well run you believe the companies in your portfolio may be, it is important to recognize that the actions of competitors are material. It is probable that Mr. Bethune was thinking about … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of October 31, 2022 The time has drawn to a close for an October political surprise. Current polls suggest a lean to the right in the House of Representatives and either a status quo or Republican takeover of the Senate. Should that occur, no policy changes could be expected as the president has the … Continued

“I Have 10 Grandchildren”

No, not me, but Peter Lynch, who, in a conversation with Bloomberg News, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, when pressed on the record of active vs. passive management, said, “I don’t keep score, I’ve got 10 grandchildren…That’s what I keep score on.” For those too young to remember, Peter Lynch, now 78, was … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of October 24, 2022 There was a great deal of market “noise” this week with equity prices bouncing off recent lows, but no definitive change in any Signals. The plenum in China yielded no surprises as Xi Jinping muscled in another term. Putin is struggling with Ukraine, the Ayatollah is on the ropes in … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of October 17, 2022 When will volatility in capital markets end? Likely, not soon. Often, volatility begets more volatility as the faint of heart ultimately succumb to the anxiety provocations. Eventually, greed replaces fear as the dominant emotion and a bull market is given birth. For long term investors, this is standard operating procedure. … Continued