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7 Things You Need to Know About Mutual Funds

Whether you’re an experienced investor or just a beginner, you probably know something about mutual funds.

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Whether you’re an experienced investor or just a beginner, you probably know something about mutual funds.

They’ve been around since 1924, and the Investment Company Institute estimates that nearly half of all U.S. households now invest in them.

Mutual funds have grown so popular because they offer easy access to different securities without the need to research and buy hundreds of stocks. Years ago, before mutual funds, small investors couldn’t put up enough money to invest in a company like Apple or Microsoft. Now, they can get into a fund that holds those sought-after stocks (or commodities, bonds, currencies and precious metals).

Hidden costs of mutual funds

But there are many things about mutual funds the average investor might not be aware of — and those gaps in your knowledge could end up costing you money.

Often your fund’s expenses can be higher than you think. There are the stated expenses (disclosure is required by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934), which include administrative, management and marketing fees, as well as front- or back-end commissions. But there are plenty of unstated expenses as well, but you have to know where to look in order to find them.

Each time a mutual fund buys and sells, it incurs a small trading cost. The greater the activity, the higher the cost. There are transaction commissions and market impact costs, too. And mutual funds can be tax inefficient. Often, a fund will issue 1099s for gains the fund made. The investor doesn’t actually see the money — it’s reinvested — but they pay taxes on it.

Tips for investors

What can you do to help make better investment decisions for your hard-earned money?

  • 1. Check out the portfolio’s turnover. It’s the measure of how often a fund buys and sells assets, and it can give you an idea of the strategy the fund manager is following.
  • 2. Look at the tenure of the fund manager. If there’s a new manager every three to five years, that may a red flag. You want someone with a track record leading your fund.
  • 3. Watch for misleading advertising. Don’t fall for a fund just because it has a sexy name that sounds like a money-maker.
  • 4. Be clear about the risks tied to a bond mutual fund. A fund might have some insured or guaranteed bonds, but it also may have some high-risk bonds. Make sure you’re comfortable with the level of risk.
  • 5. Be aware of dead money costs. A fund manager has to hold onto a certain amount of cash for redemptions and purchase opportunities. You own a percentage of that cash. You may think your money is 100% invested, but it rarely is.
  • 6. Read the prospectus. A mutual fund has to disclose its activities in the prospectus, but not everyone looks at it, or they give it a cursory glance. That’s where you’ll find the information you need to make a sound judgment before you buy. For help in understanding the language, check out the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s “How to Read a Mutual Fund Prospectus.”
  • 7. Don’t get too caught up in the Morningstar ratings. Morningstar ratings serve a purpose: They can give you a sense of a fund’s risk-adjusted return and how well it has performed relative to others in its category. But the system has limitations and should not be your sole decision-making metric.

You don’t need to become an expert on mutual funds, but you do need to know the basics. Talk to a trusted financial professional who can help you understand the good, the bad and the fine print.

Image by InvestmentZen | www.investmentzen.com

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Here’s an Investment You Should Not Forget About

It’s pretty near impossible to build a growth portfolio without a very large weighting of technology stocks.

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Original Link : Investing Daily

It’s pretty near impossible to build a growth portfolio without a very large weighting of technology stocks. Look at any actively traded ETF containing the major tech companies like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN)Alphabet (Nasdaq: GOOG)Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), and Facebook (Nasdaq: FB), and you are looking a collection of stocks that has vastly outperformed the major market averages over the past one-, five-, and 10-year periods.

All of these stocks have strong fundamentals and near monopolies or at least leading market shares within their realms. They will maintain this grip unless the government decides to step in (some whispering about this lately but nothing more) or the companies run into major competition from Chinese counterparts.

Moreover their valuations while not cheap are not frothy, either. In contrast to 2000, when Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) was trading above 100 times earnings, not even Amazon trades at a forward P/E of about 60, with growth in the mid-20s likely over at least the next several years. Amazon’s free cash yield is positive, about 3.5 percent based on expected 2018 values, and growing faster than earnings.

But we’re not here today to praise these great tech companies but to offer an alternative, an investment that in the long run may have more potential and where you don’t have to worry about government interference or Chinese competition. No, we haven’t discovered some miracle stock – rather, we’re talking about a miracle metal. It’s one that is vital in almost all technologies and that is running up against supply constraints just as the demand for technology, from blockchains to artificial intelligence to the Internet of Things, may be on the verge of a major extended growth phase.

Moreover, this miracle metal offers not just a way to play on tech but is also prized because it is inherently beautiful, resistant to oxidation, and a wonderful hedge against inflation. We are, you may have guessed, talking about silver. Silver, which has been used as currency for at least as long as gold – many thousands of years – is still valued as a monetary investment, with about 40 percent of yearly demand coming from investors. But the other 60 or so percent comes from its many industrial uses, which are on the threshold of accelerated growth.

In the 1980s no less an investor than Warren Buffett became the world’s largest holder of silver. Once it became news that he had amassed such a large position, he stopped reporting his silver holdings and presumably sold them. Still, Buffett’s rationale for buying the metal holds true today, to an even greater extent.

Buffett said he was buying silver because demand for the metal consistently exceeded supply. Silver has a number of remarkable properties that make it a critical part of many industrial applications. The metal is the world’s best electrical conductor – even better than copper – and also the world’s best conductor of heat. And as mentioned above, it is relatively nonreactive with oxygen, which is a major reason the metal maintains its properties over time.

This combination of characteristics has made silver an essential industrial and technology metal. The keyboard I am using to write these words has silver. My smartphone may have 0.35 grams of silver, and if I lived in a house that used solar power, silver would be critical to the photovoltaic modules providing my electricity. The auto I drive may have as much as 2 to 3 ounces of silver, depending on how many connections it has and the type of windshield heater.

The point is that silver’s properties, because they are simultaneously singular and critical, translate into many uses. And in world in which technology is becoming more pervasive; in which solar has become the fastest-growing renewable energy; and in which the number of nano-connections among objects is multiplying, the industrial demand for silver is certain to surge.

Right now, as has been true since at least the 1980s, demand for silver exceeds supply, and prospects for additional supply are limited. As I pointed out in a recent interview, above-ground stocks of silver – bars and coins purchased for investment purposes – have mostly accumulated in custodian vaults. The bulk of these supplies, around 1 billion ounces, or a year’s worth of production, is held in China.

Rather than use these supplies to make up for the current supply/demand deficit, it’s likely that China will continue to accumulate the metal. That’s because the country, with its megacities that go hand in hand with a burgeoning Internet of Things, its massive AI projects, and other technologies that have begun to drive the economy, will want to have on hand as much as possible of the silver that these technologies depend on.

The bottom line is that over the next several years, silver is likely to be in extremely short supply. I would not be surprised to see the metal climb to three digits by the early part of the next decade, and I sincerely doubt that you will find many tech stocks that will outperform.

 

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Dividends

This Popular Retirement Advice Will Leave You 76.2% Broke

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How much money do you need to retire on dividends alone?

This is a better question to ask than the typical “magic number” formula that most “first-level” thinking firms tout. Let’s review why their approach is fatally flawed, so that we can derive a more reliable method of our own based in actual reality (and funded by actual dividend payments.)

Fidelity Says What?

You should aim to have 10 times your final salary in savings.

But why? I suppose they are claiming that, if you earned $100,000 in your final year working, that you’ll want to earn this much in income every year for the rest of your life.

So, Fidelity says save a million bucks and you’re in good shape.

But how exactly is $1,000,000 supposed to throw off $100,000 in excess income annually?

Fidelity’s Strategic Dividend & Income Fund (FSDIX) pays 2.38% today. Which means, if you follow their advice to a tee, and buy their flagship income fund, you are earning $23,800 per year in income from your million-dollar stake.

That’s a start. But where exactly is the other 76.2% of you income supposed to come from?

Apparently this is up to us to figure out, because we’ve run out of sage advice from this respected investment firm. So let’s see if we can piece together a full retirement ourselves.

Shall We Also Withdraw 4% Annually?

We saved a million like they said, and we’re earning less than our neighborhood coffee barista. I presume we’re now supposed to sell shares to make up the difference. Most mainstream-following financial advisors say that we can sell 4% of our portfolio annually for income, so let’s try this.

FSDIX has returned 7.54% annually since inception, so a 4% yearly drawdown appears sustainable. However, we see three glaring pitfalls.

First, another 4% means another $40,000 per million for a total of $63,800. Still not what we are looking for.

Second, this particular fund has underperformed the S&P 500 over the last year, three years, five years and ten years. It’s also underperformed the broader market since inception (2003).

So what exactly was the point of buying a dividend fund when we were going to have to sell shares anyway? And see them appreciate less than a dumber, cheaper index fund?

FSDIX (Purple Bar) Underperforms – Always

More concerning than mere mediocrity, however, is the threat of “reverse dollar cost averaging.” Peak to trough in 2008, FSDIX lost 59% of its value. If you’re selling stock for income, you’re selling more and more at lower and lower levels:

You Don’t Want to Be Selling Here

By July 2012, FSDIX investors who bought at the 2007 peak – and held 100% of their shares – had grinded their way back to even.

Buy who actually buys and holds? In reality, there are two types of investors:

  • Those who bought during 2008, 2009, and 2010. They made money much sooner, because they were able to buy low.
  • Those who sold during the downturn. Whether they had to sell for income, or simply got scared – many of these portfolios have still not recovered.

Back to Even (But Most Did Much Better, or Much Worse)

Dollar cost averaging is a powerful force. Make sure it’s working for you, rather than against you. Here’s how.

Fade the 4% Fallacy for a Smarter “Magic Dividend Number”

Our retirement approach is grounded in reality versus fantasy and false math. So, let’s begin with the value of your actual portfolio.

Back to the $1 million example. Let’s say we saved that money like Fidelity said to, and we still want $100,000 per year.

We’ll ditch the flawed notion of selling capital for income, and live on dividends alone. This means our portfolio’s “magic yield” is 10% annually.

But today, there’s only one safe 10% yield left on the board. And I wouldn’t recommend putting your entire portfolio in only one issue, no matter how sound its payout seems.

So, we’re faced with a decision. We can:

  1. Settle for less income, or
  2. Save (or make) more money.

While I wouldn’t recommend an entire portfolio of double-digit payers, I do like seven stocks (and funds) yielding an average of 8.3% today.

Their dividends are safe, and believe it or not, their prices are a bit undervalued to boot. This means we should enjoy price upside as well, and achieve 10%+ annual returns on these dividend machines.

Let’s talk more about these income plays, because you should be tuning out the “first-level” pundits – those who do little or no original thinking – and replacing your underperforming payers with these meaningful (and safe) 8.3% yields.

3 Ways to Safely Bank 8.3% Dividends

Most of the stocks you read about in the mainstream media that pay 5% or better are train wrecks. They have big stated yields for the wrong reason – namely, because their prices have been axed in half or worse over the past year!

For example, retailer Macy’s (M) pays 7.2% on paper. But its business model is toast. Next quarter’s payment may happen, but that’s a risky game I’m not willing to play.

Instead, I’d rather look in corners of the income world that aren’t combed over as regularly. There are three in particular that I like today. You won’t hear about them on CNBC, or read about them in the Wall Street Journal, because they don’t buy advertising like Fidelity and other firms.

Their relative obscurity is great news for us 8.3% dividend seekers.

Play #1: Closed-End Funds

If you feel trapped “grinding out” dividend income with classic 3% payers (like dividend aristocrats), you can double or even triple your payouts immediately by moving to closed-end funds, or CEFs. In fact, you can often make the switch without actually switching investments.

I’ll discuss my favorite CEFs in a minute.

Play #2: Preferred Shares

Not familiar with preferred shares? You’re not alone – most investors only consider “common” shares of stock when they look for income.

But preferreds are a great way to earn 7% and even 8% yields from the same blue chips that only pay 2% or 3% on their “common shares.”

I’ll explain preferreds – and my favorite tickers to buy – after we finish our high yield hat trick.

Play #3: Recession-Proof REITs

The IRS lets real estate investment trusts, or REITs, avoid paying income taxes if they pay out most of their earnings to shareholders. As a result these firms tend to collect rent checks, pay their bills and send most of the rest to us as a dividend. It’s a sweet deal.

Not all REITs are buys today, however – landlords with exposure to retail space should be avoided.

That’s easy enough to do. I prefer to focus on REITs that operate in recession-proof industries only. I want to receive my rent check powered dividends no matter what happens in the broader economy.

Now let’s discuss how you can get a hold of my complete “8.3% No Withdrawal Portfolio” research today, along with stock names, tickers and buy prices. Click here and I’ll share the specifics – and all of my research – with you right now.

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This Trump Trade Will End in Disaster

Regardless of all of the noise, the so-called smart money is saying this trade is back on…

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At least that’s what the so-called smart money is saying…

While the White House can’t boast about any major political wins related to tax cuts or infrastructure spending yet, investors are once again bidding up the stocks and sectors that follow Trump’s growth-focused agenda.

The materials and finance sectors are both resting near year-to-date highs after enjoying strong September rallies. But another one of these rising Trump trades is headed for disaster in the years ahead. Regulation rollbacks, subsidies or other hair-baked political schemes can’t save it from a painful demise.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t book short-term gains as a dead cat bounce lifts the coal industry from its lows.

“The EPA and no federal agency should ever use its authority to say to you we are going to declare war on any sector of our economy,” EPA head Scott Pruitt told a crowd in Kentucky yesterday.

The war on coal is over, Pruitt said. But if this administration thinks it can permanently revive the dying coal industry by cutting some regulations, they’re in for a surprise.

Even in developing nations, coal is losing its appeal as a cheap power source. In fact, world coal production just endured its biggest drop of all time earlier this year. Coal demand in the U.S. dropped by more than 33 million tons last year, Bloomberg reports, while global coal consumption dropped 1.7%, falling in every continent except Africa.

Across the globe, the coal industry is dying. The industry is teetering on the brink as most of the developed world moves on to cleaner energy sources. And in an age of cheap and plentiful natural gas, coal would have trouble staying in play even if we tossed every regulation out the window.

But Trump is still trying to flip the script.

In late March, Trump signed an executive order aimed at rolling back Obama-era rules curbing carbon emissions. Specifically, Trump’s order requires the EPA to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a hefty set of rules imposed on coal power plants.

The White House framed the executive order as a move to bolster the country’s energy independence and restore coal mining jobs. The news even provided a temporary boost to coal mining shares.

Trump has helped juice the VanEck Vectors Coal ETF (NYSE:KOL) not once but twice on so-called bullish news. The first peak materialized when Trump was elected. And the most recent climax materialized after the Clean Power Plant repeal back in April. The coal ETF’s spring slide gave even produced a quick 15% correction.

But coal started sneaking higher once again over the summer. By August, KOL had pushed to prices not seen since late 2014. After consolidating these gains over the past several weeks, coal looks ready to make and fourth-quarter run.

The stock market’s biggest moves rarely play out as perfectly as the stories we read in the finance pages.

Remember, the day of Trump’s victory was the exact top of coal’s 2016 rally.

That’s right — coal made its big move before Trump took the White House. The big energy winner of 2016 wasn’t oil, gas, or solar. It was coal. The sooty stuff finished the year with a gain of 98%. That’s almost a clean double from one of the world’s dirtiest energy sources. And the rally started months before anyone was seriously talking about Trump winning the White House.

Once again, counterintuitive market moves stump traders who think they can trade political headlines. Investors knew Trump campaigned in favor of coal jobs and deregulation. But that didn’t change the fact that the coal rally needed a break.

Coal has badly burned the headline traders over the past 12 months. But if you follow price, you stand a fighting chance at walking away with substantial gains.

We’ve enjoyed some success playing coal’s crazy moves recently. We took profits on a short-term coal play back in December 2016 for a 40% gain. Then we attempted to play the March breakout to new highs (the market immediately stopped us out when it reversed).

Now coal is setting up for a big move again. We want to take another run at this play and grab the gains while we still can.

In the grand scheme of the markets, coal’s comeback move is probably nothing more than a dead cat bounce. But we’re more than happy to take the ride if it can hand us double-digit gains. That’s a distinct possibility if KOL can push above its September highs.

Trump can’t save coal. No one can. But that doesn’t mean we can’t profit from a quick trade…

Sincerely,

Greg Guenthner
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: Whether the market is going up, down or sideways – there are always potentially profitable trends to understand. And that’s what the Rude Awakening deciphers. Turn profit from ANY market — sign up for the Rude Awakening e-letter, for FREE, right here.

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