Are You Ready For Some Football?

Jason Norris of Ferguson Wellman by Jason Norris, CFA Executive Vice President of Research

Super Bowl Shuffle

With Super Bowl XLVIII due to kick off this Sunday, the results have historically had an impact on investors’ portfolio for that calendar year. This match up, for me, is a classic. Growing up in Boise, Idaho, most likely you were either a Seahawks fan or a Denver Broncos fan. From the late 1970s through the 1990s, both teams played in the AFC West and were archrivals. My allegiance always went to the Seahawks with great players like Steve Largent, Kurt Warner, Dave Krieg and David Hughes. And with Super Bowl XLVIII, my allegiance has not altered, and this would be beneficial for equity markets. Even though correlation does not lead to causation, historically, if a team from the NFC wins the big game, the S&P 500 is positive 80 percent of the time. Now that the Seahawks have made the move to the NFC, a win “may” portend a positive gain for equities.

While we are not big fans of seasonal and/or cyclical indicators, we do pay attention to them. With the S&P 500 down more than 3 percent for the month of January, history does not look good for the remainder of 2014. The returns in January usually predict what the returns will be for the entire year. Since 1950, this “January Barometer” has a completion percentage of 80 percent. While not perfect, it is an interesting factoid. Therefore, we should be cheering for the Seahawks to offset this calendar trend…

One final note on the subject: the Seattle Seahawks have been a great investment for owner and former Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. He bought the team in 1997 out of “civic duty,” and since then it has increased in value six-fold, while his Microsoft stake has merely doubled.

Down in a Hole

Global markets continue to be disheartened with events in emerging markets. Currency devaluations and higher interest rates are resulting in a “risk-off” trade for global investors. This sell-off has not been limited to just emerging markets. As we have seen here in the U.S., global developed markets felt the effects as well. The global markets (as measured by the MSCI All-World Index) are down five percent for the month of January. These risk-off trades have resulted in developed market interest rates declining meaningfully. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield started 2014 at 3.00 percent; it is now trading at 2.65 percent. Yields in Germany and the UK have dropped by similar levels.

Due to this uncertainty, we are looking to reduce our emerging market exposure and allocate those funds into the UK, focusing on the consumer.

It’s Alright

While the January sell off is disappointing, we are still constructive on equities, especially developed market equities. This week we saw strong economic data in the U.S. regarding GDP and consumer spending even though consumer sentiment continues languish. Earnings for U.S. companies have been relatively healthy with 72 percent of companies having reported beating expectations. While we have seen some uncertainty in some parts of the earnings reports, specifically enterprise technology, we are still like the overall market. Specifically we increased our exposure to U.S. healthcare this week as we see the sector as offering great defensive/growth opportunities.

Takeaways for the Week

  • Even though we believe interest rates are going to trend higher, holding bonds in portfolio is still warranted
  • Developed market economies continue to improve, and while we are experiencing some volatility, we are still positive on U.S. equities