McMurtry Investment Report & Model Portfolios

McMurtry Investment Report Portfolios – May 2020

Also available in PDF: MIR Portfolios May 2020

Investment Commentary May 2020

Fund Flows into Capital Markets

The movement of cash back into equities was quite remarkable after the recent market meltdown. Apart from the last several days when markets turned down once again, US buying of equity mutual funds and ETF’s was high. This can be attributed to two things – a very accommodative Federal Reserve Bank and investors with high cash positions waiting to get back into the market.

US Yield Curve

The 10 year minus 2 year US Treasury yield curve has risen from zero recently to 50 basis points. This level is low historically but still above zero.

US Corporate Debt Spreads

The current US investment grade spread over US Treasuries is around 2.2%. This compares to the 4.5% spread during the last recession of 2007-2008.

US / China Trade Issues

Trump and Peter Navarro are ramping up negative trade talk against China once again, blaming them for the Covid -19 rapid spread globally.

Covid – 19 Health and Economic Implications

Both China and South Korea saw a plateauing of the domestic virus cases first before any other countries. Their extreme lockdown measures have really paid off and the numbers reflect this. Both countries are just beginning to re-open for business but will remain vigilant in terms of social distancing and the wearing of masks and gloves.

The rest of the world may not be ready to fully reopen until either a vaccine becomes available or some current anti-viral medications prove very effective in fighting off the virus. At this point this is not the case. Furthermore, there still are not enough test kits to protect the entire population. While Trump wants all US states to completely end their current lockdowns, many US governors clearly do not agree with him. Both Dr. Fauci, the current head of the Centre for Disease Control and Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Federal Drug Administration, have spoken out advocating a much slower end to the lockdowns than what is being proposed by Trump. Both these two men along with Bill and Melinda Gates believe strongly that reopening too soon will lead to a probable surge in new cases in the fall unless either a vaccine or effective anti-viral can control future outbreaks.

Regardless of what Trump proposes in terms of reopening their economy, what really matters is the public’s level of fear regarding their health. No one can force anyone else to travel, go out to a restaurant or bar, stay in a hotel or go to a sports event unless they feel safe. Government legislation can force the public back to work but that is all they can do.

As consumer spending represents about 70% of most countries’ economies, this public fear factor will remain a real headwind for economic growth.

Equity Market Valuations

Market valuations dipped recently with the equity market collapse, but have rebounded sharply since then and are now at 18-19 times earnings, not cheap historically.

US Corporate Profit Growth

The majority of US companies have withdrawn their future earnings guidance numbers as a result of the economic repercussions of the Covid-19 virus.

Global Economic Recession

Globally all countries remain in a recession.

Central Bank Monetary Policy

While all central banks remain very accommodative in terms of keeping rates low, the US Federal Reserve just made a recent decision to start purchasing US high yield distressed debt held in Exchange Traded Funds. This is unprecedented for a Central Bank to do this and clearly indicates their level of commitment to ensure that economic growth does not collapse.

Global Fiscal Policy Measures

All countries remain fully committed to stimulating their domestic economies through both fiscal and monetary measures.

Asset Mix

I sent out a portfolio blog on April 20th of last month to recommend an increase of 5% in cash for both portfolios to 35%, with a corresponding reduction in equities of the same amount. After this change, my Income and Growth portfolios have 45% and 55% in equities respectively.

Equity markets have rebounded much too quickly without any improvement evident in the economy. While the stock market is a leading indicator, its recent rebound in the midst of this health pandemic is not justified. It remains to be seen if equity markets will retest their recent lows. However, any positive news on a possible vaccine or ant-viral medication will be met positively by the market. The recent end to the lockdowns may prove to be premature as the probability of more people becoming infected in the fall is highly likely. Under these circumstances it is not prudent to be fully invested with very little cash. There continues to be a lot of uncertainty and having a cash surplus available to use to buy more equities after they correct once again makes the most sense at this time.

Equity Sector Weights

As a result of the recent OPEC agreement to cut production aggressively in addition to the probable peaking of US fracking production, the long term supply demand situation is just starting to improve. As the world gradually reopens for business, demand for crude oil will pick up once again.

There will most likely be several companies in this sector that will not make it financially. Thus it is important to investors to concentrate on energy companies with strong balance sheets, low debt levels and positive operating cash flows. I am increasing my sector weight to market weight from underweight previously as a result of these recent industry changes.

On April 15th I sent out a portfolio blog to reduce my Reit sector weight to half the 3% benchmark weight. My new weight is 1.5%, compared to 2.99% for the 55% Us 45% Canadian benchmark weight. While Reits are a defensive group normally in a strong economy with low rates, they tend to perform poorly in a recession when net asset values start to plummet.

Most of you are aware that financial stocks are cyclical in nature and tend not to perform well in a recession. Low rates make it hard for banks to make money on their interest rate spreads. Secondly provisions for bad loans start to escalate in a recession with many companies and individuals defaulting on their loans. Thus, I am increasing my underweight for the Financials.

Given the weakening consumer sector, I am reducing the Consumer Discretionary sector from overweight to market weight.

I am increasing my overweight in the Technology sector with its strong growth opportunities.

Individual Positions

For all equity sectors, continue to focus on quality companies with strong balance sheets and healthy operating cash flows.

I am adding Shaw Communications B to both portfolios in the Communications sector. The stock has an attractive 5.22% dividend and offers more growth opportunities than its peers with its recent entry into the wireless space.

I am deleting Strauman from the Growth portfolio in the Heathcare sector. The Swiss dental implant company is a strong company but its overall business is facing stiff headwinds in the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic. Dental implants are not considered essential and are being deferred.

Finally, in the Reit sector, I am deleting both the US ETF, XLRE, and WPT Industrial from both portfolios. I do not want to own a sector Reit in this current environment as it has exposure to office, retail and retirement home areas where there are considerable current problems. WPT Industrial is a smaller Canadian Reit whose business is all in the US. While it is an industrial Reit, its small size prohibits it from competing effectively against their stronger US peers.

Peter McMurtry, B.Com, CFA
Financial Writer
Objective Investment Advice for Everyone
Monthly Investment Newsletter and Sample Portfolios
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Please see our disclaimer at Copyright ©2019 McMurtry Investment Report™. All rights reserved.

McMurtry Investment Report – Portfolios (May 2020)
  Income Growth
Cash Alterna Bank – High Interest Savings (2.00% current ) Alterna Bank – High Interest Savings (2.00% current)
  EQ Bank – High Interest Savings ( 2.00% current) EQ Bank – High Interest Savings ( 2.00% current)
Bonds -Regular iShares XSB Short Term iShares XSB Short Term
  iShares CBO 1-5 Ladder Corp iShares CBO 1-5 Ladder Corp
  iShares CLF 1-5 Ladder Gov’t iShares CLF 1-5 Ladder Gov’t
Common Stocks Security Dividend Yield % Security Dividend Yield %
Financials Royal Bank RY 5.09 Royal Bank RY 5.09
  Intact Financial IFC 2.42 Intact Financial IFC 2.42
  TD TD 5.57 TD TD 5.57
  Sun Life SLF 4.64 Sun Life SLF 4.64
  JP Morgan JPM US 4.14 JP Morgan JPM US 4.14
  Manulife Fin’l MFC 6.61 Manulife Fin’l MFC 6.61
  Bank of America BAC US 3.29 Bank of America BAC US 3.29
  Morgan Stanley MS US 3.64 Morgan Stanley MS US 3.64
  T. Rowe Price TROW US 3.19 T. Rowe Price TROW US 3.19
  Allstate ALL US 2.21 Allstate ALL US 2.21
Energy Suncor SU 3.54 Suncor SU 3.54
  Canadian Natural Resources CNQ 7.18 Canadian Natural Resources CNQ 7.18
  Freehold FRU 4.65 Freehold FRU 4.65
  Enbridge ENB 7.14 Enbridge ENB 7.14
  TC Energy TRP 5.03 TC Energy TRP 5.03
  Whitecap Resources WCP 9.94 Whitecap Resources WXP 9.94
      Parex Resources PXT 0.00
Materials Agnico Eagle AEM 1.17 Agnico Eagle AEM 1.17
  Franco Nevada FNV 0.72 Franco Nevada FNV 0.72
  VanEck Vectors Gold ETF GDX US 0.55 VanEck Vectors Gold ETF GDX US 0.55
      SPDR Gold Bullion GLD US 0.00
  BMO Global Base Metals ETF ZMT 3.91 BMO Global Base Metals ETF ZMT 3.91
      Osisko Metals OM.V 0.00
      iShares Global Gold ETF XGD 0.28
Industrials Toromont TIH 1.91 Toromont TIH 1.91
  Air Products APD US 2.33 Air Products APD US 2.33
  WSP Global WSP 1.71 WSP Global WSP 1.71
  CNR 2.01 CNR 2.01
  Raytheon Technologies RTX US 3.35 Raytheon Technologies RTX US 3.35
  Stantec STN 1.49 Stantec STN 1.49
  Aecon Group ARE 4.46 Aecon Group ARE 4.46
  Honeywell HON US 2.82 Honeywell HON US 2.82
  TFI Int’l TFII 2.76 TFI Int’l TFII 2.76
Consumer Discretionary Home Depot HD US 2.58 Home Depot HD US 2.58
  Target TGT US 2.21 Target TGT US 2.21
  Restaurant Brands Int’l QSR 3.96 Restaurant Brands Int’l QSR 3.96
      Amazon AMZN US 0.00
  Lowes LOW US 1.98 Lowes LOW US 1.98
Communication Services Rogers B RCI.B 3.52 Rogers B RCI.B 3.52
  Comcast CMCSA US 2.60 Comcast CMCSA US 2.60
  Telus T 5.10 Telus T 5.10
  Shaw Commications SJR.B 5.22 Shaw Communications SJR.B 5.22
      Facebook FB US 0.00
      VanEck Video Gaming ESPO US 0.19
      Alphabet GOOGL US 0.00
Consumer Staples Alimentation Couche- Tard ATD.B 0.69 Alimentation Couche Tard ATD.b 0.69
  Loblaws L 1.80 Loblaws L 1.80
  Sysco SYY US 3.65 Sysco SYY US 3.65
  Unilever PLC UL US 3.43 Unilever PLC UL US 3.43
Technology Apple AAPL US 1.05 Apple AAPL US 1.05
  Microsoft MSFT US 1.12 Microsoft MSFT US 1.12
  Open Text OTEX 1.77 Open Text OTEX 1.77
  Paychex PAYX US 3.87 Paychex PAYX US 3.87
  Logitech Int’l LOGI US ADR 1.43 Logitech Int’l LOGI US ADR 0.43
  Qualcomm QCOM US 3.32 Qualcomm QCOM US 3.32
      CGI Inc. GIB.A 0.00
      ETFMG Prime Cyber Sec. HACK US 1.57
      Visa V US 0.67
Utilities Algonquin Power AQN 4.65 Algonquin Power AQN 4.65
  Northland Power NPI 3.90 Northland Power NPI 3.90
  NextEra Energy NEE US 2.46 NextEra Energy NEE US 2.46
  Fortis FTS 3.60 Fortis FTS 3.60
Healthcare Becton Dickinson BDX US 1.21 Becton Dickinson BDX US 1.21
  Merck MRK US 3.16 Merck MRK US 3.16
  United Healthcare UNH US 1.50 United Healthcare UNH US 1.50
  CVS Healthcare CVS US 3.16 CVS Healthcare CVS US 3.16
  Bristol Myers BMY US 2.84 Bristol Myers BMY US 2.84
      Danaher DHR US 0.45
      Thermo Fisher Scientific TMO US 0.27
Real Estate Cdn Apt. REIT CAR.un 2.93 Cdn. Apt. REIT CAR.un 2.93
  CT Reit CRT.un 6.39 CT Reit CRT.un 6.39
  InterRent REIT IIP.un 2.21 InterRent REIT IIP.un 2.21
  Dream Industrial DIR.un 7.58 Dream Industrial DIR.un 7.58
  Summit REIT SMU.un 5.53 Summit REIT SMU.un 5.53
European Equity iShares MSCI Europe XEU 4.21 iShares MSCI Europe XEU 4.21


McMurtry Investment Report – Sector Weights (May 2020)
Equity Sector Weights (%)
Sector My Weight TSX Comp S&P 500 55 % US /45% CDN
Financials 16.75 29.20 10.60 18.97
Energy 7.73 13.50 3.00 7.73
Materials 7.72 14.10 2.50 7.72
Industrials 9.75 11.70 7.90 9.61
Consumer Disc. 7.44 3.70 10.50 7.44
Comm. Services 8.55 5.80 10.80 8.55
Consumer Staples 6.01 4.30 7.40 6.01
Technology 20.00 8.10 25.70 17.78
Utilities 5.06 5.30 3.30 4.20
Real Estate 1.50 3.10 2.90 2.99
Healthcare 9.50 1.00 15.40 8.92
Totals 100.00 99.80 100.00 99.91


McMurtry Investment Report Asset Mix May 2020)
Asset Mix – Income and Growth Portfolios
% Income Growth
Cash 35.00 35.00
Bonds – Regular 20.00 10.00
Bonds – High Yield 0.00 0.00
Bonds – Tips 0.00 0.00
Preferreds 0.00 0.00
Equities 45.00 55.00
CDN 18.90 23.40
US 23.10 28.60
Europe 3.00 3.00
Emerging Markets 0.00 0.00

Also available in PDF: MIR Portfolios April 2019

Investment Commentary (April 2019)

Asset Mix Changes

Last week both the Canadian and US yield curve inverted where short rates exceeded longer maturities. For most of the past economic recessions, an inverted yield curve occurred 6-18 months before the onslaught of an economic slowdown. Consequently, this signal should not be taken lightly and brushed off as is frequently the case with economists stating that things are different this time.

This week the inversion of the curve went away in both Canada and the US with longer rates now slightly exceeding shorter maturities. However, the negative yield curve is still present in Europe where their economy continues to suffer.

US corporate bond spreads for both investment and High Yield securities had been creeping up in late December. However, year to date corporate spreads over US Treasuries have been coming down once again. Historically when corporate spreads widen this is a danger signal for an economic slowdown. The recent reduction is spreads is a positive sign that the economy may not be as weak as many pundits are saying.

Overall economic activity is definitely slowing globally. This is also true in the US but their economy is still growing on a relative basis much faster than Europe and Canada. Economic growth in the Chinese economy had been coming down sharply, but this week an announcement came out stating that their domestic industrial production started to revive after nearly nine months of decline. Several months ago the Chinese authorities began stimulating their domestic economy by lowering corporate taxes and increasing government spending. Once again this is a positive development.

The Federal Reserve has stopped increasing rates by emphatically stating that there will be no more rate increases for the remainder of the year.

US corporate profit growth has slowed dramatically from last year, while equity prices have rebounded sharply year to date. Equity valuations are no longer cheap as they were in late December.

This week the US / China trade talks have taken a more positive tone which is good for markets.

Taking all these factors into consideration, I have decided to leave the asset mix for both portfolios the same as last month. The jury is still out if an economic recession is imminent or only years away.

McMurtry Investment Report Asset Mix (April 2019)
Asset Mix – Income and Growth Portfolios
%Income Growth
Bonds – Regular20.0010.00
Bonds – High Yield5.005.00
Emerging Markets0.000.00

Equity Sectors

The main change to my equity sector recommendations is to reduce the Financial equity exposure from overweight to market weight the 55% US 45% Canada benchmark. This works out to a new weight of 21.25% of my North American equity exposure.

The reason for my reduction in weight for the Financial sector is all to do with interest rates and the slope of the yield curve. Lower rates combined with either a flat or inverted yield curve is not positive for the bank’s net interest margins. A slowing economy normally results in an increase in loan losses, another possible headwind.

For the other groups I remain market weight Energy, Utilities and Healthcare.

I remain overweight Technology, Industrials, Real Estate, Communication Services and Consumer Staples

I remain underweight Materials and Consumer Discretionary.

McMurtry Investment Report – Sector Weights (April 2019)
Equity Sector Weights (%)
SectorMy WeightTSX CompS&P 50055 % US /45% CDN
Consumer Disc.6.404.1010.107.40
Comm. Services8.505.8010.108.17
Consumer Staples6.253.907.305.77
Real Estate3.753.503.103.28

Common Equity Changes

In the Financial Services sector, I am replacing National Bank with Intact Financial for both portfolios. Intact is the largest property / casualty company in Canada and will benefit from the recent departure of AIG, a large US competitor from the Canadian market. Intact is raising insurance rates in Ontario and this will help to increase operating margins. Differing from life insurance companies, property and casualty insurance companies have much shorter term liabilities and are consequently not as negatively affected from flat to falling interest rates as the life companies are.

In the Technology sector, I am deleting Nokia from both portfolios. Huawei, the Chinese company and major competitor to Nokia has been continuously lobbying the global wireless providers to encourage them to continue buying their products. It is only in the US that the Chinese company has been banned with its alleged cybersecurity activities. Thus, Nokia has not been as much of a beneficiary from the 5G wireless ramp up as originally expected. In addition, a law firm has recently alleged that Nokia’s Alcatel – Lucent division has some very serious potential claims for security law violations. This creates a lot of uncertainty. My recommendation is to sell your Nokia shares and use the proceeds to purchase more Cisco, which will be a major beneficiary from the upcoming 5G implementation.

In the healthcare sector I am adding the Swiss dental implant company, Straumann Holdings ADR to my Growth portfolio. This American Depositary Receipt is not very liquid in the US market, so please always use limit orders when buying and selling this security. Despite this shortfall, this is a good quality company and one of the global leaders in the dental implant industry. The company is experiencing strong annual revenue and gross profit growth in addition to record EBITDA margins. The company has strong organic growth and operates in 100 countries globally. The global dental implant market is expected to grow at 4-5% globally this year and Straumann’s organic growth is sharply outperforming its competitors.

Lastly in the Materials sector, I am adding Osisko Metals to my Growth portfolio. The company is a small cap zinc exploration company that operates in both the Far North and in New Brunswick. The company has no long term debt and the level of insider buying is unusually high. Normally I do not even discuss insider buying, but the level of insider buying for this company is extraordinary. The supply / demand situation for zinc is the most favourable for all the base metals with inventory stockpiles at very low levels. Should the Chinese economy rebound the demand for zinc will increase accordingly.

Peter McMurtry, B.Com, CFA
Financial Writer
Objective Investment Advice for Everyone
Monthly Investment Newsletter and Sample Portfolios
Personalized Portfolio Reviews

Please see our disclaimer at Copyright ©2019 McMurtry Investment Report™. All rights reserved.

McMurtry Investment Report – Portfolios (April 2019)
CashAlterna Bank – High Interest Savings (2.35% current rate)Alterna Bank – High Interest Savings (2.35% current rate)
 EQ Bank – High Interest Savings ( 2.30% current rate)EQ Bank – High Interest Savings ( 2.30% current rate)
Bonds -RegulariShares XSB Short TermiShares XSB Short Term
 iShares CBO 1-5 Ladder CorpiShares CBO 1-5 Ladder Corp
 iShares CLF 1-5 Ladder Gov’tiShares CLF 1-5 Ladder Gov’t
Bonds – High Yield CORPiShares XHY US High Yield CDN$  iShares XHY US High Yield CDN $ 
Common StocksSecurityDividend Yield %SecurityDividend Yield %
FinancialsRoyal Bank RY4.05Royal Bank RY4.05
 Bank of Montreal BMO4.00Bank of Montreal BMO4.00
 Bank of Nova Scotia BNS4.89Bank of Nova Scotia BNS4.89
 Intact Financial IFC2.69Intact Financial IFC2.69
 TD TD4.08TD TD4.08
 Sun Life SLF3.90Sun Life SLF3.90
 JP Morgan JPM US3.16JP Morgan JPM US3.16
 Bank of America BAC US2.17Bank of America BAC US2.17
 Citibank C US2.89Citibank C US2.89
 Morgan Stanley MS US2.84Morgan Stanley MS US2.84
 T. Rowe Price TROW US3.04T. Rowe Price TROW US3.04
 Keycorp KEY US4.32Keycorp KEY US4.32
 PNC Fin’l PNC US3.10PNC Fin’l PNC US3.10
EnergySuncor SU3.85Suncor SU3.85
 Freehold FRU7.43Freehold FRU7.43
 Torc TOG5.62Torc TOG5.62
 Pembina Pipe Lines PPL4.55Pembina Pipe Lines PPL4.55
 Enbridge ENB6.04Enbridge ENB6.04
 Trans Canada TRP4.91Trans Canada TRP4.91
   Parex Resources PXT0.00
MaterialsAgnico Eagle AEM1.15Agnico Eagle AEM1.15
 Franco Nevada FNV1.29Franco Nevada FNV1.29
   Osisko Metals OM.V0.00
   iShares Global Gold ETF XGD0.20
IndustrialsToromont TIH1.55Toromont TIH1.55
 Air Products APD US2.44Air Products APD US2.44
 WSP Global WSP2.06WSP Global WSP2.06
 Canadian Pacific CP0.94Canadian Pacific CP0.94
 CNR 1.79CNR1.79
 Raytheon RTN US2.03Raytheon RTN US2.03
 Aecon Group ARE3.33Aecon Group ARE3.33
 Guggenheim Eq WT IND RGI US1.35Guggenheim Eq Wt IND RGI US1.35
 Honeywell HON US2.07Honeywell HON US2.07
 TFI Int’l TFII2.45TFI Int’l TFII2.45
Consumer DiscretionaryHome Depot HD US2.80Home Depot HD US2.80
 Sleep Canada ZZZ3.77Sleep Canada ZZZ3.77
 Canadian Tire CTC.A2.88Canadian Tire CTC.A2.88
 Amazon AMZN US0.00Amazon AMZN US0.00
 Lowes LOW US1.75Lowes LOW US1.75
Communication ServicesRogers B RCI.B2.78Rogers B RCI.B2.78
   Facebook FB US0.00
   Alphabet GOOGL US0.00
Consumer StaplesAlimentation Couche- Tard ATD.B0.64Alimentation Couche Tard ATD.b0.64
 Loblaws L1.79Loblaws L1.79
 Constellation Brands STZ US1.69Constellation Brands STZ US1.69
 Unilever PLC UL US3.06Unilever PLC UL US3.06
TechnologyApple AAPL US1.54Apple AAPL US1.54
 Microsoft MSFT US1.56Microsoft MSFT US1.56
 Open Text OTEX1.58Open Text OTEX1.58
 Paychex PAYX US2.79Paychex PAYX US2.79
 Cisco CSCO US2.59Cisco CSCO US2.59
   Kinaxis KXS0.00
   ETFMG Prime Cyber Sec. HACK US0.15
   Visa V US0.64
UtilitiesAlgonquin Power AQN4.58Algonquin Power AQN4.58
 Northland Power NPI5.12Northland Power NPI5.12
 Fortis FTS3.64Fortis FTS3.64
HealthcareAbbott Labs ABT US1.60Abbott Labs ABT US1.60
 Becton Dickinson BDX US1.23Becton Dickinson BDX US1.23
 Merck MRK US2.65Merck MRK US2.65
 US Healthcare iShares ETF IYH US1.84US Healthcare iShares ETF IYH US1.84
 United Healthcare UNH US1.46United Healthcare UNH US1.46
   Danaher DHR US0.52
   Thermo Fisher Scientific TMO US0.28
   Straumann ADR SAUHY US *0.63
   IBB Biotech ETF IBB US 0.28
Real EstateCdn Apt. REIT CAR.un2.76Cdn. Apt. REIT CAR.un2.76
 InterRent REIT IIP.un2.03InterRent REIT IIP.un2.03
 Dream Industrial DIR.un5.83Dream Industrial DIR.un5.83
 Summit REIT SMU.un4.35Summit REIT SMU.un4.35
European EquityiShares MSCI Europe XEU2.96iShares MSCI Europe XEU2.96

* Be careful purchasing and selling Straumann ADR’s as it is very illiquid. Always use a limit order.

Peter McMurtry, B.Com, CFA

Please see our disclaimer at disclaimer ©2019 McMurtry Investment Report™. All rights reserved.