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Income Advisor
Conservative investing. Double-digit income.
The banking situation has changed the Fed. The damage done by previous rate hikes is making the Central Bank far less hawkish. The risk is shifting from the Inflation/Fed cycle to recession. The end of this cycle may have been expedited. And stocks could rally out of this bear market sooner than thought.

Of course, the banking issues might not be over yet. And the timing and severity of a possible recession is still unknown. Things may get worse in the market before they get better. For now, defensive stocks that can maintain earnings growth in a worsening economy or recession are better places to be.
Stocks have rallied so far this year on optimism that we can get through this inflation and Fed rate hiking cycle without much economic pain. That’s what seems to be happening so far. But this latest “soft landing” rally is facing a formidable foe – history.

Rate hikes almost always slow the economy. But there is typically a long lag time. Since 1961, the Fed has embarked on nine inflation-busting, rate-hiking cycles. Eight of those cycles have led to recession. The yield curve has inverted, a phenomenon that has almost always preceded a recession.
This year was always going to be better than last year. And it’s off to a great start. But it is unlikely that stocks muster a sustained rally out of this bear market until there is more clarity on the extent and timing of an economic bottom.

That said, the current market still offers opportunities. Cyclical stocks have rallied and, for the first time in a long time, there is an opportunity to sell a covered call on one of the portfolio’s cyclical stocks. In this issue, I highlight a covered call opportunity in Visa (V) after the stock has rallied.

I also highlight a fantastic income stock that has likely already made its own low even if the market turns south again. It sells at a dirt-cheap valuation with a high and safe dividend and has recently added momentum to the mix.
Stocks trend higher over time. And history clearly illustrates that bear markets are ideal times to invest ahead of the next bull market. The average bear market is about 15 months long. And this one is already almost a year old. There is a high-percentage chance that a rally ignites in 2023 that will lead us out of this bear market and into the next bull market.
The recent rally has lifted call premiums to the highest levels in many months as more investors are willing to bet on higher prices going forward. But unless this current rally leads us to the next bull market, it’s probably nearly over. It’s a great time to lock in a high income while premiums are fat, and stocks may be close to a near-term high.

The current market is creating a golden opportunity to get a high income in an otherwise crummy market. Let’s grab it. In this issue, I highlight two call-writing opportunities in stocks that have rallied strongly since being added to the portfolio. While I like the prospects of these stocks over the next year, it’s time to err on the side of income.
The market has likely not bottomed yet. The current rally will unlikely be sufficient to drive us out of this bear market ahead of continued high inflation and likely recession in the months ahead.

However, while the market indexes may have further downside, one area of the market may well have already bottomed, namely interest rate-sensitive stocks.

Previously buoyant defensive stocks got clobbered as interest rates spiked to the highest levels in 15 years. But the evidence is overwhelming that the economy is likely headed toward recession in the months ahead. Recessions put downward pressure on interest rates. As the economy worsens and inflation declines, rates are likely to move lower, negating most of the damage done to conservative dividend payers.

There are powerful reasons to believe that interest rate-sensitive stocks may have already bottomed. In this issue, I highlight one of the very best utilities on the market. It’s near the 52-week low after an overdone selloff and should be highly resilient in a recession.
Markets go up and down. Economies boom and bust. Investors get scared and they get greedy. But one of the few constants in an ever-changing investment landscape is the need for income. And investor demand for income is growing as the fastest growing segment of the population is 65 and older and retired.

The demand for the very best income stocks should remain strong. Also, during sideways and down markets, dividends account for most of the total market return. In problematic decades, dividends have almost completely offset market price declines.

It’s true that dividend stocks can still fall in a down market. But the long-term trend for the market is higher. History clearly shows that bear markets are the best time to get in cheap ahead of the next bull market. Meanwhile, dividends provide an income and less volatility while you wait.
Although uncertainty in the market is growing, there are still strong income stocks out there. But we must be careful to find the right ones. A good stock needs to be resilient in a continuing recession, yet able to thrive amidst high inflation, or both, or neither. In this issue, I highlight such a rare bird.

The portfolio is also eliminating a cyclical position and adding a more defensive one. At the same time, we are seizing upon recent strong performance in another stock and selling a call to lock in a high income in this uncertain market.

This week’s GDP number should confirm that we are in a recession. That might be good news for the market.
The worst situation for stocks tends to be a “looming recession”. Stocks tend to fall most as a recession approaches and in the early phases of an actual recession. Stocks also tend to recover before the economy because the market anticipates six to nine months into future. In a typical recession, stocks fall before it hits and recover before it’s over.

If this week’s number confirms that we are in a recession that began at the beginning of the year, the market should be in a more desirable position than if a recession is anticipated later this year or early next year.<.p>

The recent rally in technology is encouraging. I mentioned in last month’s issue that technology stocks had fallen before the overall market and were likely to recover before most other sectors. Since then, portfolio position Qualcomm (QCOM) is up nearly 30%.

This month’s issue highlights another technology stock, Intel (INTC) . The stock is still very cheap with bright prospects in the future. If the market turns south again, the stock should hold up better than the technology sector and be a solid longer-term hold. But if this rally in technology proves to be lasting and QCOM gets called away, we will still have another tech stock that should move higher as well and provide a great call writing opportunity.

There is overwhelming historical evidence that buying good stocks in bear markets is a highly successful long-term strategy. After all, it’s better to buy stocks cheap. And the market always trends higher over time. The truth is that buying stocks in a bear market is the most successful investment strategy ever devised.
Of course, the market may fall further before it recovers. You don’t have to pick one day and invest all your cash. You can trickle in over time. You can invest just a little right now. If the low is already in, you got a great price. If the market falls more, you put more money in later. Over time it will work out.

In this issue, I highlight a portfolio position in the technology sector. The sector plunged into a bear market before the S&P and will likely be one of the first sectors to lead the way back up. The sector was already down less than the overall market in last week’s tumult.

It’s too soon to buy new stocks aggressively. But there is a safer place in the meantime to generate a high yield without much downside in the near term.
In this issue, I highlight a stock from the energy sector, the only market sector having a good year. Yet, the stock is not overvalued or overpriced. It provides a high yield without much downside if the market decline continues. And the price is likely to trend higher over the rest of the year.

Stocks are turning distinctly more bearish in the near term as slower growth in China hits a market that was already teetering in anticipation of a more aggressive Fed.
But the selloff in the indexes doesn’t reflect all stocks. Some stocks have more downside left. Others will likely hold their own even if the market keeps falling. And still other stocks have already been oversold. These stocks should have less downside from here than the overall market, and recover much more quickly when the selling abates.

In this issue, I identify two oversold stocks in the portfolio. These are stocks that have already been crushed and sell at vastly reduced prices despite continuing strong earnings growth. While these stocks may fall further in the weeks ahead if the market gets uglier, I believe they both sell at deep discounts compared to where their prices are likely to be later in the year.

This is a big week in the market. Investors are grappling with the fallout from the banking crisis and the Fed meeting later this week.

The failure of two banks last week also turns a spotlight on the vulnerabilities of smaller regional banks. The situation so far has not caused major reverberations in the market, as the government backstopped the fallout so far. But the situation might not be over. There could be more bank failures and ugly days for the market ahead.
We were rolling along in a choppy market to nowhere as the sticky inflation/hawkish Fed conundrum promised to play out for longer than hoped at the beginning of the year. But over the past several days a Black Swan event popped up, the failure of Silicon Valley Bank.
The market had a great start to the year and then slumped in February. March started off with the best week in a month for the S&P 500. What’s next?

There will be a lot of information coming out this month that could determine whether the market rallies or slumps from here. This week, the Fed speaks and the February jobs report comes out. These events could give investors a better idea of how aggressive the Fed will remain.
Last week marked the fourth straight week of declines for the S&P 500 and was the worst week so far this year, down nearly 3%.

The problem is inflation, go figure. The Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, the Personal Expenditures Price Index (PCE), was much higher than expected in January and showed inflation moving higher, not lower, to start the year.
Stocks are bracing for the January inflation report, which comes out today. The number could determine the next thrust of the market.

It’s been a good year so far for stocks, despite the slight pullback last week, as investors embrace the notion of falling inflation and a Fed that will finish raising interest rates around midyear. But a bad inflation report could put the kibosh on that optimism and send stocks reeling.
The market is making some noise so far this year. And in a good way. The S&P 500 is 7.7% higher and the Nasdaq is up 14.7% YTD. Is this real, or just another head fake?

The rally is being prompted by increasing optimism of a soft landing, where inflation falls without the economy falling into recession. Previously pessimistic pundits are now embracing the possibility. And there is some evidence to back up the soft-landing scenario.
The year has certainly started out in fine fashion. The S&P 500 has delivered positive returns for all four weeks so far this year. The S&P is up 6% YTD and the Nasdaq is up 11% YTD, as of Friday’s close.

But earnings have been lousy so far this quarter, with the average S&P 500 company that has reported so far posting -5% earnings growth from last year’s quarter. But the market was expecting that. Investors know there will be a declining economy this year, and the sooner it declines, the sooner the Fed will be done hiking rates.
It been a good start to the year, with the S&P 500 up over 4%. There is optimism that the Fed will lose its hawkish nerve as inflation falls and the economy turns south. Inflation was lower again in December, with CPI of 6.6% versus 7.1% in November and 9.1% in June. At the same time the economy is weakening, and most economists are predicting recession this year. Since markets tend to anticipate six to nine months into the future, it might not be that long until investors start sniffing out the end of the inflation/Fed conundrum and past the recession into a recovery.
So far, I like 2023 a whole lot better than last year. At midday on Monday, the S&P 500 is up 3.7% and the Nasdaq is 4.5% higher so far this year. And it hasn’t even been five full trading days yet. Later this week, the December CPI number will come out, on Thursday. CPI is expected to be 6.6%, versus 7.1% in November. Assuming the number comes in at or better than expected, it could be very positive for the market. Falling inflation means the Fed won’t have to be as aggressive and investors could start sniffing out an end to this inflation/Fed conundrum later in the year.
This year begins in 2022 form, lower. Although the calendar changed, the issues that have pressured stocks lower over the past month remain. There is still great uncertainty regarding inflation, the Fed, and a recession.
It’s really the holiday season now. This time of year, investors stop paying attention to the market, like during the last days of the summer. That means, in the absence of game-changing headlines, stocks probably won’t do much of anything until the rubber hits the road after New Year’s.

When sobered up investors take a fresh look at stocks in January what will they see? They’ll see what they saw before they stopped paying attention, a lot of uncertainty.
After good news on inflation, the market awaits the Fed’s rate decision and comments later today. It could lead to a rally or a fizzle.

Inflation for November was less than expected with CPI at 7.1% versus an expected 7.3% and core inflation at 6.0% versus an expected 6.1%. It’s welcome news that inflation is moving lower and has probably peaked, down from 9.1% in June. But it’s still a long way from the 2% Fed target.
Sell USB November 19th $60 calls at $2.30 or better
Sell CVX April 1 $95.50 call at $4.30 or better
Sell BGS February 19 $27.50 call at $2.40 or better
The idea is to sell a covered call, meaning you already own or you just purchased V on the buy recommendation.
The first issue of Cabot Income Advisor just came out yesterday. The idea is to sell a covered call, meaning you already own or you just purchased IIPR on the buy recommendation.