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Fiscal Cliffs and Economic Woes

Post-election questions mean the economic puzzle is still incomplete. Now that the stress of the election is over, you might find yourself sleeping a little better at night. But even though its conclusion brings a feeling of relief, it does not mean that any of the real challenges this country faces have been solved. Today, neither party want to be blamed for letting us fall over the fiscal cliff, and…

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Should Investors Buy the Housing Recovery?

The recovery is real, but so are the risks that remain. After Wednesday’s report of a better-than-expected number of new housing starts, I took a look at homebuilders to see if I could find a few reasonably priced names. Many were trading near their 12-month highs, but I was a little surprised at the percentage gains that most have turned in this year. Many are up over 100 percent. Clearly,…

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Miss This Rally? Look On the Bright Side

Much is at risk in the economy, but markets could still show strength. The U.S. markets have been climbing a wall of worry for some time now. A positive 15 percent move in the S&P 500 index in the past three months is more than what most investors expected. Yet here we are: looking at the S&P 500 up nearly 15 percent this year and showing some resilience despite plenty…

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How to Invest for the Presidential Election

A few sectors win depending on who takes the White House. With the presidential election just weeks away, voters and political pundits across the country are seeking any sign as to who will triumph in early November. Investors, by contrast are more focused on what industries and sectors will benefit or lose under a Democratic or Republican White House. Analysts and strategists have different models and methods, and there are…

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The LIBOR Scandal and You

What the rate-setting debacle means for you. Surprise! It’s not all bad. We’ve all read a lot (probably too much), about the LIBOR scandal in the past couple of weeks. Despite a constant stream of stories, blog posts and articles, so far I’ve only seen a couple of pieces that have really helped me to understand true effects this circus will have on investors. Part of the cause for this…

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In a Volatile Market, What Investment Strategy is Best for You?

Growth, value or GARP? A volatile market may be just what the doctor ordered—at least for those investors who feel holding an investment for 30 days is as likely as holding an investment for eternity. Although most of the day trading operations that popped up in cities and towns across the country in the 90s no longer exist, I can assure you that the idea of trading for a quick…

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5 Investing Themes to Focus On

Munis, real estate, and more So, Philly doesn’t quite have it all, but it does have some pretty cool things, for sure. In addition to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, you can get your hands on a pretty awesome cheesesteak sandwich. Oh, and of course it has the Wharton School, arguably the best business school in the world, and often cited as the best for finance. I was fortunate…

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Real Estate as an Alternative Asset Class

Is it right for you? The use of “alternative investments” has increased significantly over the last few years. This trend began when investors and advisers started looking for ways to get a reasonable return on their investment dollars without using the traditional equity market. They are looking to try to get away from volatility that has become all too common. Interest rates are near 30-year lows, and the U.S. economy…

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Investing in Alternatives

Considerations to keep in mind. Alternative investments are becoming more common among retail investors. The adviser community has a better understanding of the potential advantages of adding alternative investments to client portfolios as a way of diversifying and, hopefully, further managing risk in client accounts. Many advisers seem to be managing their clients’ assets in a manner similar to the way large institutions and endowments manage their assets. The overall…

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You Are Not an Index. Don’t Try to Act Like One!

Benchmarks matter, but planning does too.  If you find yourself scratching your head and wondering why your portfolio is not keeping up with the indexes this year, you’re not alone. Many portfolio managers’ returns are behind their benchmarks. The main reason, I propose, is that every professional manager I know has some doubt in the back of their mind as to how the U.S. (as well as the rest of…

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More Foreclosures Yet to Come?

Some predictions about the housing market. Late last summer, I wrote a Smarter Investor post under a similar title to this one. The thesis and conclusion of that post was simple: Credit delinquencies were dropping, and availability of credit was rising—both good signs for a continuing recovery in the housing market and in the broader U.S. economy. Now, more than six months later, those data points have proven (at least…

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Why You Need to Pay Attention to Earnings

What the estimates say about the market’s future. With earnings season officially underway, everyone will be watching to see if analysts’ expectations are being met or if future earnings will need to be adjusted for the rest of the year. There are a lot of concerns this earnings season about the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate in China and about just how slow things will get in Europe. We…

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Making the Most of Earnings Season

There’s good reason to be cautious. Earnings season is when analysts generally start to increase earnings expectations, as a majority of companies tend to beat consensus estimates. As dangerous as it is to say “this time it’s different,” I am going to say it: “This time it’s different.” While corporate profits have been a driving force behind the latest bull market that began in 2009, the three-year run of seemingly…

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Understanding Earnings and Earnings Estimates

Why earnings and stock prices don’t always move together. Earnings season is an exciting time. Stock prices seem to make significant moves around the time companies announce their quarterly earnings. Why? Because there are plenty of people who think they have an idea what those earnings are going to be. They understand that if the company surprises to the upside, meaning the earnings are higher than what the company or…

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How Investors Can Exploit Greed and Fear

Using industry groups as a bellwether. There are many adages and sayings in the money management business, but one of my favorites comes from Warren Buffett: “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” Mr. Buffett has made a fortune many times over using that logic. However, for most investors that sage advice is difficult to follow. Here, I’d like to offer some insight into how…

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