Canadian Rate Reset Preferreds – Positive developments

You all know by now that I am not a favourite of rate reset preferreds. Extremely poor liquidity and rate reset risk when interest rates are low are major impediments from investing in them.

However, there have been some recent developments in regards to Canadian banks that have altered the preferred share market somewhat. Historically banks have been major issuers of rate reset preferreds as the capital raised could be included as Tier 1. The dividend on these preferreds was not considered interest and thus not deductible by the banks on their tax returns.

Recently, OSFI, the Canadian regulator, has granted approval for a new type of instrument called Limited Recourse Capital Notes (LRCN’S). These notes can be counted as additional Tier 1 capital. In addition while OSFI considers these notes permanent capital, the securities are considered bonds with the interest on them fully tax deductible by the banks. This deductibility of the interest makes them a cheaper way for banks to raise more capital.

Historically banks have been major issuers of rate reset preferreds. This new OSFI ruling is expected to create a potential shortage of new Canadian rate reset preferred issues, thereby lifting market valuations.

Secondly, there now exists a real possibility of many bank rate reset issues of being called and replaced by these new LRCN’S. This will also lift valuations. Fiera Capital expects up to $11 billion of redemptions over the next few years representing almost 17% of the overall preferred share market.

The LRCN’S will only be available to institutional investors as a new issue, but may still be available to retail investors in the secondary market. I assume that the distribution will not be eligible for the dividend tax credit as it is considered interest, but those details are quite hazy at this time. OSFI has not yet granted permission to Canadian non-financial companies to issue them. However these companies can currently issue a hybrid security instead of the preferred.

Recommendation

This recent news does not encourage me to go out and buy rate reset preferreds at this time. Interest rates remain low and are not expected to rise any time soon. However if you are a current holder of the bank issues, you may want to hold onto them for the possibility of being called at higher prices.

How to Invest Your monies in a Pandemic World

Equity markets initially collapsed, then subsequently rebounded sharply.The S& P 500 and TSX Composite are still off 16% and 19% respectively from their recent highs.

A global economic recession is clearly evident.

Many investors either have no cash or are virtually all in cash at this time. These are both bad long term strategies.

China has been vigilant in controlling this pandemic in their own country. Daily new cases and deaths in China are on the decline and have been for quite some time.

In the US and many other countries, the amount of daily cases has only seen a plateauing with no meaningful declines yet. Reopening the US economy, without a vaccine or effective anti-viral readily available, may well lead to a surge in new cases and deaths this fall according to Dr. Fauci, the head of the US Centre for Disease Control.

Consumer spending represents 70% of many domestic economies including the US and Canada. Unless the public feels completely safe, they are going to be very careful about travelling, staying in a hotel, shopping in bricks and mortar retail stores, attending a sporting event.

Specific industries are thriving in this Covid-19 era while others are really struggling and are unlikely to survive in the same form as was the case in the pre- Covid world.

For my Free Bloggers go to my home page to subscribe to my monthly newsletter and portfolios and read about how to invest your monies today. My May newsletter provides a summary of how to set up and manage an investment portfolio.

 

 

Canadian Equity Sector Performance – Insights for Future Performance

I have analyzed total returns for 1 year, year to date and 1 month.

Golds continue to be the best performing group outperforming all others for 1 year, year to date and 1 month.

Energy is the worst performing group for both the last year and year to date. However over the last month it has sharply outperformed the benchmark TSX Composite.

The Utility sector continues to outperform the TSX Composite on a 1 year, year to date and 1 month basis.

While the Industrials outperformed the TSX on a 1 year basis, they have under performed on a year to date and 1 month basis.

The Telcos – namely BCE, Telus and Rogers, have outperformed on a 1 year and year to date basis, but under performed on a 1 month basis.

The Grocers – Loblaw, Metro and Empire outperformed the TSX on a 1 year and year to date basis, but have not kept up to the TSX on a 1 month basis.

Lastly both the Reits and Financials outperformed the TSX on a 1 year basis, but have sharply under performed the TSX on both a year to date and 1 month basis.

Conclusion

Energy stocks are in the process of bottoming after the massive selloff.

Utility stocks continue to perform well and with their strong dividends they tend to outperform in a recession.

Golds are expected to continue their strong run as long as interest rates remain low.

Both Financials and Reits are suffering in this recession and this is likely to continue until signs of the recession ending are more evident.

There is some modest profit taking in some of the grocers over the last month after their strong performance. However they remain core holdings especially in a recession.

The telcos are similar to the grocers in that they are defensive in nature and will continue to perform well in a recessionary environment.

Industrials are quite cyclical in nature and are expected to perform better when this current recession ends.

 

Active stock picking and asset mix strategies are the best options in the current environment.

Stop buying passive index funds and etf’s in a falling equity market.

Improve the quality of your stock holdings by selecting companies with strong balance sheets and solid growth prospects. Sell your holdings in companies, funds and etf’s that do not meet this criteria. Be extremely selective in what you hold.

Active asset mix strategies work well in a volatile market where you have some cash available to take advantage of market opportunities on market dips.

 

 

Investment Asset Mix – Too Much or Too Little Cash – What to do now.

Having either too much cash or having too little cash by being fully invested both have different risks.

Many investors refused to see a possible market correction and remain fully invested in equities.The risk they face now is the possibility the equity market will retest its recent low and fall further from current levels. If you are fully invested in equities there is no place to hide.

There are two options you can pursue if are fully invested as follows:

Make some equity switches from poorer quality companies to better quality, less leveraged ones.

Take some profits in some stocks and equity sectors that have recently seen a nice market rebound.

 

For those of you with too much cash the risk is that you may have already missed the market bottom and this involves an opportunity cost.

There are several options you can follow if you have too much cash as follows:

You can gradually phase back into equities by purchasing high quality stocks that have come down in value recently.

You can systematically  invest a percentage of your assets back into equities – say 10-20% at a time.

Investing in a Bear Market

Cash is king – have plenty of it

Avoid Rate Reset Preferreds

Avoid High Yield Fixed Income

Both US Treasury  and Govt of Canada bonds perform well in a recession. However with current yields so low there is not much upside.

Avoid Equity Index funds and ETF’s

Favour defensive equity sectors like Reits, Utilities and Telcos

Gold bullion performs well when the following occurs:

Falling Interest rates like we have today

During most previous economic recessions, gold outperforms benchmark equity indices

When real interest rates are negative like today, gold performs well

 

Passive Index Funds vs. Active Management – Which is the best strategy in a bear market?

Passive indexing not a good strategy in a declining market

No place to hide in index funds

Active management sharply outperforms an index fund in a bear market due to the following:

Have more cash and invest in more defensive industries like Reits, Utilities and Telcos.

Individual stock selection weeds out poor performers and over leveraged ones

 

Algorithm based program selling triggers liquidation of both strong and weak sectors equally. However when markets rebound once again, defensive sectors and stocks tend to come back first.

Conclusion

Avoid passive index funds in a bear market

Active asset mix, stock and equity sector selection is the preferred strategy especially in a falling equity market

 

Downsizing your family home to a condo – Be very careful

As our children leave the family home, it is only natural to want to downsize by switching to a smaller condo. On the surface this may appear financially viable with average condo prices lower than two story homes.

However, there are a lot of other factors that you must take into account before doing anything as follows:

What is the monthly cost of the condo and what does this monthly fee cover?

How much has the monthly cost risen over the last several years?

Have there been any major capital improvements and maintenance costs over the last several years that have led to a one time cost assessment for every individual condo owner?

Does the condo fund have a capital surplus to cover annual maintenance costs plus some capital improvements? Alternatively if the fund has a deficit, this is a red flag.

Have you reviewed the financial statements of the condo association? This is absolutely essential and far more important than your assessment of the individual unit. If you are not comfortable reading the financial statements, hire a independent accountant who is not associated with the condo to read and assess them for you.

Lastly condo insurance rates are rising dramatically in Canada and will ultimately lead to a combination of higher monthly condo fees plus an additional assessment for each separate unit owner. In some instances insurance premiums have risen this year by up to 200-500% over last year. It is very important to review the building’s insurance rates for both the last several years and for this year in order to determine if the individual condo owners will be required to pay more monthly fees and one off cost assessment fees.

 

Recommendation

Buying a condo may not be the best decision you make financially.

Consider other options such as renting an apartment or purchasing a freehold property that does not involve any of the negative issues that condos have.

 

 

 

Trading Costs and how they differ between Discretionary and Non Discretionary Investment Accounts

Commission per share will be normally much lower for a discretionary account where your adviser combines purchases and sales into block trades.

The bid and ask spread price also affects trading costs and this is largely affected by the liquidity of the security being transacted.

Hidden trading costs or execution costs are far larger than the combination of commissions and bid and ask spreads for most transactions.

For example an adviser that wants to complete a block purchase for all their discretionary accounts has to be cognizant of the amount of stock being offered, not simply the price. Assume a buy order is placed for 100,000 shares of a security with only 25,000 shares being offered. Even for a relatively liquid security, this order imbalance of 75,000 shares will drive the share price higher than the combination of the commission per share and the bid ask spread.

On the other hand, an adviser dealing with a non discretionary account may recommend the purchase of a small quantity of 200 shares for the same security. This purchase order is obviously much smaller than the previous block order and would not affect the share price materially over the bid and ask spread.

Lastly a client that has a discretionary account with their adviser must be very careful of the tax consequences for a non registered account.

Conclusion

While there are lower commission costs for discretionary accounts, the hidden execution costs are normally much greater than the commissions. In addition the increased probability of capital gains being realized will trigger more negative tax consequences.

Regardless of your adviser’s recommendations, my advice is to stick to a non discretionary type of account where you, the client, have the final say for all buy and sell transactions.

 

Please see our disclaimer at mcmurtryinvestmentreport.ca. Copyright 2019 McMurtry Investment Report. All rights reserved. 

Canadian Banks – Quality of Management

TD, RBC and Bank of Montreal derive a material contribution to their revenues and earnings from the US market.

Scotiabank derives very little contribution from the US.

 

What does that imply about the quality of management of Scotiabank given the strength of the US economy?

 

Are large unrealized capital gains affecting your investment decisions?

Always manage your investments based on future outlook for earnings and dividend growth

 

Do not let the tax man paralyze you in making proper investment decisions

 

Take some profits for those with large unrealized capital gains in a few securities

 

Too many investors have massive holdings in Canadian financials, yet hesitate to take profits for fear of a large tax bill.

 

Critical to reduce overweight security holdings to reduce portfolio volatility

 

Keep a close watch on your recent investment performance to ensure that your overweight securities are not penalizing your returns

Adding Logitech International LOGI US American Depository Receipt

I am adding Logitech International’s US $ ADR to both the Income and Growth Portfolios. Logitech is a Swiss holding company that makes a range of products including computer mice, keyboards, wireless speakers, headphones, gamepads and steering wheels.

The company is benefiting from the new secular trends in video gaming, rise in E-sports and competitive PC gaming and in video collaboration devices used in business.

The company has a strong balance sheet with no long term debt. The company is a large generator of free cash flow that can be used to buy back stock, increase the dividend and to make acquisitions.

The revenues are expected to remain strong in fiscal 2020 with growth in the range of mid to high single digits. The fiscal year end for 2019 was March 31st. Non GAAP Earnings Per Share are expected to rise 5.7% in fiscal 2020 and rise by almost 12% in fiscal 2021. The stock is trading at a little over 18 times fiscal 2020 earnings and 16.5 times 2021 earnings. Gross margins are expected to remain high at 38%.

The dividend yield is 1.78% and the cash dividend payout is a very manageable 42.33%.

 

Save up to 1.5% in ongoing annual investment fees. Rotate out of mutual funds.

Switch into exchange traded funds (ETF’s) and individual stocks. Put the difference in fees in your pocket, not your advisor’s.

You must follow a strategy to minimize any remaining deferred sales charges or loads before you sell your mutual funds.

Stop immediately all ongoing contributions into mutual funds with deferred sales charges. Every time you make a new contribution it takes about seven years before the investment will be free of any sales charges upon redemption.

Every year you are entitled to redeem your fee free units without incurring any sales charges. Normally this works out to 10% of your initial investment, but varies by company. You can request this information simply by calling the head office of the mutual fund company to request the number of fee free units. Make sure you ask them for the final date of expiry of the sales charges and the total cost of the sales charges remaining. Every year you will need to call the head office of these fund companies to obtain the above information and to find out the number of fee free units.

Once you have determined  the cost of liquidation, you can decide the best course of action. You need to keep in mind that the annual cost savings by switching into ETF’s and stocks will be substantial. You can compare the annual cost savings with the sales charges remaining to determine how long it will take you to break even.

 

Recommendation

Stop all your monthly contributions into load funds immediately.

Never request the liquidation of your mutual funds without obtaining all the remaining sales charge information in advance. Mutual fund companies can charge up to 5.5% of the market value and you never want to be faced with this charge. Only when you are equipped with the relevant details can you make a proper decision to liquidate your funds or not. 

Liquidate all your fee free units every year.

Once you have done the above points, you will need to once again ask the head office of the fund company the dollar value amount of sales charges remaining and the expiry date of the funds you hold.

Make a comparison of your estimated ongoing annual management fees by investing in individual stocks and exchange traded funds to your annual costs of the mutual funds you own.

Determine the number of years for you to break even as follows:

If the annual difference in fees works out to 1.5% and you have $300,000 invested, this works out to an annual savings of $4,500. If the remaining deferred sales charges works out to be $4,000, it will take you 0.89 of a year to break even.

Determine a break even compromise that makes sense to you. After making all these calculations, you may decide to only liquidate the 10% fee free units annually, but it is essential having all your facts before doing anything.

 

 

 

 

 

Having Difficulty Achieving Satisfactory Investment Returns

Maybe you are over diversified in mutual funds with high management fees negatively affecting your performance. Maybe you are taking on too much risk by placing all your bets on a few securities that are not working out.

Tone down your bet in any one security.

The key is to make a lot of small bets rather than one or two large ones. The probability of achieving better, more consistent investment returns with less volatility is much higher.