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Income Advisor
Conservative investing. Double-digit income.
Issues
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.



Sure, the rally in the overall market may not last, but this unusual environment is still creating great opportunities in certain pockets if you know where to look. One such opportunity exists in the new and rapidly growing marijuana industry.
The growth in marijuana is undeniable.


While most companies have struggled to make a profit in the young industry, one company has been making money like crazy. It’s a marijuana farm REIT with a superior business plan that has managed to grow profits 600% over the last four years. The stock has been a phenomenal performer. But it sold off recently and appears to have just begun moving higher.


This month I also highlight a call on Global Ship Leasing (GSL), a stock that has bucked the trend and returned 28% YTD.


There are three portfolio stocks that have been upgraded to a BUY this week: U.S. Bancorp (USB), Visa Inc. (V) and One Liberty Properties (OLP). All the stocks have some momentum and strong reasons why the rally may continue.


The overall market may have a challenging year as it grapples with inflation and uncertainty about the Fed tightening.
While most companies struggle, energy and financial stocks actually thrive with inflation and rising interest rates. But there are also lesser-known areas that are also benefitting from this current bend in the road.


In this issue, I highlight a company from the shipping sector. The industry had struggled for the last decade. But the current environment is much more hospitable. Shipping rates have soared in the pandemic recovery. And these rates are likely to stay high in one particular area, container shipping.


The S&P 500 is on the cusp of a correction, down 10%. The technology- laden NASDAQ is already well beyond a correction. Energy is the only S&P 500 sector in positive territory YTD.



The problem is inflation and the Fed raising rates to combat it. There is a realization that inflation can’t be handled seamlessly. That means we could face continued high inflation, or much slower economic growth induced by a hyperactive Fed making up for lost time. Neither scenario is good for stocks.



While the year might be difficult for the overall market, the energy and financial sectors should shine. These sectors actually like inflation and rising interest rates. While portfolio positions in those sectors have been dragged lower by the recent indiscriminate selling, I expect them to regain momentum when this selloff ends.



Two fantastic portfolio positions in energy and finance are highlighted to buy in this issue. They had momentum going into the selloff and should pick up where they left off when the selling abates.

Cyclical stocks have been getting clobbered over the past month amidst virus concerns. But I think the recent action is creating an opportunity.

The inflation and Fed contraction issues, which are good for energy and financial stocks, will outlast this latest virus strain. The virus will fade away before too long, but the other problems are much stickier. Certain stocks are being knocked back temporarily ahead of a very promising new year.



In this issue I highlight one of the very best financial stocks on the market. It’s has pulled back recently and is about 15% below the 52-week high, yet the company is poised for a fantastic 2022.

Updates
The rally sputtered. But it hasn’t reversed. That’s because there are reasons for both optimism and caution.

There is a growing perception that the problems responsible for this bear market have peaked. Inflation has been receding and the Fed might be less aggressive going forward. The market tends to anticipate six to nine months into the future, and it sees lower inflation and the Fed done hiking rates.
It’s a furious rally. The market is on fire. Last week’s inflation report ignited a surge that might last longer. Let the good times roll (for now).


October inflation numbers were reported last week and both top-line CPI and core inflation numbers were lower than expected. It reignited hope among investors that inflation has peaked and is on the decline and the Fed will stop raising rates sooner than previously expected.
It’s been a tough market for covered calls. Although the market has rallied off the low, call premiums are subdued because investors are less willing to bet on higher prices in the future with still high inflation, a hawkish Fed, and a looming recession.

Many of the more successful positions were called away at options expiration as they exceeded the strike price. But in hindsight it was beneficial to take those profits as well as generate a high income. Many of the remaining portfolio positions left are more cyclical stocks that have fallen below the purchase price. Several more defensive positions have since been added to the portfolio.
It was a strong October in the market with the S&P 500 up more than 6% for the month. But the index was up over 8% in the second half of the month after recovering from the low.

What’s going on, and can it last?

Part of this rally is a bounce off the low, which is normal for bear markets and has already occurred several times this year. But there are glimmers of hope that the market may have already bottomed. That hope is largely predicated on the notion that we may be at the peak of the Fed’s aggressiveness. All eyes will be on the Fed this week for confirmation.
The market has been rallying furiously over the past several days on earnings. Is this the Promised Land or more false hope?

It’s just the kickoff of the third-quarter earnings season and the nation’s major banks have reported. These banks are considered bellwethers for the U.S. economy and numbers are better than expected. The results are reviving hope among investors.
Things haven’t been pretty in this market, to say the least. The summer rally topped in the middle of August, and it’s been downhill ever since. In September, the selloff became more inclusive and took just about everything down, including previously buoyant defensive stocks.
The main catalyst for the selling was the August inflation numbers that came out in September. Core inflation was far worse than expected, at a time when investors were hopeful that inflation had already peaked and there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. The market, which doesn’t take disappointment well, has since priced away most of that hope.

It’s been a furious rally so far this week. It’s only lunchtime on Tuesday. But I’ll take it.
September was an abysmal month, in a rotten third quarter, in an awful 2022. Investors can’t contend with persistent high inflation, a hawkish Fed, and a recession. The most recent selloff took just about every stock down with it.
The market has turned decidedly negative after last week’s worse-than-expected inflation report. This week, all eyes are on the Fed.

The Fed is widely expected to raise the benchmark Fed Funds by 0.75% for the third straight time. But some Wall Street types are worried that it could be a 1.00% hike. In the grand scheme of things that’s not a big difference. But Wall Street suffers from short-sightedness. And not the kind that can be corrected with glasses.

The market turned ugly again fast yesterday. It was the worst single-day selloff in years after reality crushed the pipedream that inflation is plunging and the Fed will stop being hawkish by early next year.

The headline inflation number came in at 8.3% for August versus an expected 8.1%. Although it was lower for the second straight month, after 8.5% in July and 9.1% in June, it was worse under the hood. CPI inflation was lower because of falling gas prices. Virtually everything else rose. Core inflation, which subtracts volatile food and energy prices, rose significantly from July to August.
Three straight weeks of market declines have moved the S&P 500 down 8.9% from the mid-August high. The selling is continuing this first day after Labor Day, so far.

It’s our old friends inflation and recession causing trouble. The market increasingly fears recession as the hawkish Fed raises rates to tame inflation and investors anticipate a hard landing. The weakness may continue in the weeks ahead, as September is historically the worst month of the year for the market.
The market has turned south again. And things could be worse in September.

Blame the Fed. Blame inflation. Blame recession. Investors can’t look past them anymore. The market had rallied on hopes that inflation peaked, and the Fed will be all done hiking rates by the beginning of next year. But the Fed poured cold water on those hopes.



The end of this Fed hiking cycle is no longer in view after the recent hawkish statements by the Central Bank. The Fed indicated again last week that it is willing to induce a deeper recession to conquer this inflation. Rates may continue to rise well into next year and investors can’t see the light at the end of this tunnel anymore.

It’s starting to feel like a bull market. But let’s not bank on it just yet.

Inflation is moderating, and many see an end to the Fed tightening cycle by early next year. The Fed part is probably true. The Central Bank will likely raise the Fed Funds rate to around 3.5% and then stop. Higher than that would probably plunge the country and the world into a deeper recession. I doubt this Fed will have the belly to do that.

Alerts
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.