By Wes Crill, Head of Investment Strategies, DFA US Ballentine Capital Advisors
This week’s post is from Wes Crill, the head of investment strategies for Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA). Our purpose in sharing this is to reinforce the idea that investing is not based on forecasting, predicting, speculating, or guessing. A prudent investment strategy is based on the scientific research of capital markets and how investment returns can be captured via the means of diversification.
A couple weeks ago we wrote an article called the “Timeless Principles of Investing.” This article is the perfect complement to this one as it is nearly impossible to escape the constant noise of market analysts and experts who tout the next hot sector or stocks. As early as 2021, it was not uncommon to hear the experts banter about FAANG Stocks.
What are FAANG stocks? FAANG stocks are a group of American-based tech companies that were born in the 2000s. The five companies that make up this group are Facebook (META), Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google (or Alphabet). These companies were all leaders in their respective fields when they began and have only grown larger since then. They’re known for being innovative and forward-thinking, which has helped them become synonymous with the tech industry itself.
The idea was that since these FAANG companies were so innovative and cutting edge, they will outperform all other companies and sectors in the future. Don’t believe us? If you were to research news articles from 2020-2021 you will see how these companies were the darlings of Wall Street and the experts. Like the famous idiom, “hope springs eternal” investors are often led to believe that investing success is based on finding the right companies or sectors. It is a strategy full of hope, but not one based on prudence.
As we stated a few weeks ago and will say again—yes, it is that important—there are timeless principles in investing that will help you ignore all sorts of noise that the experts banter about. These principles are:
- The market is not the economy. The stock market rarely reacts rationally to economic events, even major ones.
- Fundamentals drive long-term performance. Don’t invest based on fear or greed—invest based on fundamentals and long-term results.
- Based on history, markets always go up eventually. There are no permanent bear markets.
- There is no such thing as market timing. You can never be certain about where the market is headed in the short term, even over a few years. Rest assured, no advisor, or media “guru” can either.
What Have You Done For Me Lately? FAANGs Gone Value Wes Crill, DFA
One of the more vocal arguments against value investing stems from a belief that we’re in a “new normal” environment where innovative or high-tech companies have a leg up on “old guard” industries, such as energy or financials. FAANG stocks have typically been the poster children for this position; these behemoth technology companies have contributed meaningfully to the market’s overall return and, by virtue of being growth stocks, the negative value premiums in recent years. Well, guess who showed up as value this summer! That’s right, Russell reclassified Meta (formerly Facebook, the “F” in FAANG) and Netflix (the “N”) from growth to value during the index provider’s annual reconstitution event. Although signs have been pointing to the waning dominance of FAANG stocks since the start of 2022, it is somewhat ironic that 40% of the pillars supporting an aversion to value investing have now become value stocks themselves.
This also serves to highlight a possible misconception about the spirit of value investing. A value premium is a discount-rate effect: If expected future cash flows are not identically discounted for all stocks, then the ones with low prices relative to their expected future cash flows have higher expected returns.
Investors advocating for the superiority of growth firms, such as the FAANGs, are inadvertently making the case for their expected future cash flows to be discounted at a lower level—all else equal, greater certainty around future success should be associated with a lower expected return. In fact, as the chart shows below, this is generally what we see for stocks of companies once they grow to become among the largest in the market. In other words, investors should be careful about equating expected company success with expected stock returns.
Here at Ballentine Capital Advisors we believe in prudent investing and not stock picking or timing. We rely on history and use it to help us make better investment decisions. In other words, we are not making investment selections based on “feelings” or “greed.” We use the history of the market to our advantage, while also implementing a financial plan to help clients achieve their goals.
If you have any questions on why stock picking has not worked historically, or why value companies have tended to outperform growth over long time periods, give us a call.
Have a great weekend!
Source: Wes Crill, Head of Investment Strategies, DFA US and Ballentine Capital Advisors
Golf Tip of the Week
Get longer off the tee with this 10-minute leg workout
This golf-fitness routine from Andrea Doddato will help you train a more powerful swing—no equipment needed.
To generate more power in your swing, you need to build a strong and stable lower body. This 10-minute workout from Andrea Doddato, one of Golf Digest’s Top 50 Fitness Trainers, will help you develop a more efficient and explosive swing.
Doddato’s circuit is a super set, which means you will complete the exercises back-to-back for 60 seconds each. Once you have made it through all four moves—a total of four minutes—take a 30-to-45-second break. Then, do it all over again. Ready? Let’s go.
Doddato’s crossover lunges are great for hip mobility because they primarily work the adductors, the muscles on the inside of your thigh which are key for internal hip rotation. Mobile hips will help you load up the backswing, sequence your downswing, and keep your speed through the finish.
This exercise is similar to a regular lunge, but instead of stepping directly back, step diagonally behind the other leg—similar to a curtsy. As you step back with your left foot, it should land about a foot or two outside of your right leg. When you squat down, your upper and lower leg should form two 90-degree angles. Get as low as you can, then come back up and return to your start position. Complete 30 seconds on your left leg, switch leg positions, and do the same on the opposite side.
Single-leg workouts are great for stability, and Doddato says this move is even better at strengthening the muscles on the backside of your body while helping you maintain your spine angle when you swing. If you’re someone who stands up in your swing, the ability to maintain your spine angle will really help you hit shots more solidly.
With your feet shoulder-width apart, place a water bottle a few inches in front of you in the middle of them, at about the middle of your stance. Shift your weight into your left leg and hinge at the waist. Try to touch the water bottle. Let your right leg extend behind you to counterbalance the reach. To maintain your posture, keep your chin level with the ground. Once you touch the bottle or get as low as you can, return to the starting position. Rinse and repeat. After 30 seconds, switch arm and leg positions.
By widening a standard squat, Doddato says you can get a deeper adductor stretch while helping activate your glute muscles. No muscles are more responsible for generating power in the golf swing than the glutes. This move also prevents a common swing fault called early extension, in which the golfer’s pelvis moves toward the ball during the downswing, causing poor contact.
Start with your feet a little wider than shoulder width distance then perform a squat. Remember to keep your chest up as you reach the bottom of the movement. Try to plant your feet into the ground, then drive back up.
This exercise is two-fold. Doddato says it increases the explosiveness of your swing by utilizing the ground for better leverage. It also makes your legs more stable, which helps eliminate swaying or sliding.
To complete a lateral bound, get into an athletic position. Push off of your left leg, then land on your right leg. The objective is to travel as far as possible while remaining in control. Let your arms swing as you bound to help keep your balance.
Players of all fitness levels should be able to complete this circuit for 10 minutes. As you build up your stamina and strength, you’ll be able to increase your time and distance.
Tip adapted from golfdigest.comi
Recipe of the Week
Loaded Sweet Potato Skins
- 6 medium (about 1.6 kg) combined orange sweet potatoes
- 80g butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 200g bacon, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 65g (3/4 cup) cheddar cheese, grated
- 200ml sour cream
- Chopped chives, to serve, optional
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Pierce the sweet potatoes several times with a fork. Place potatoes on prepared tray and bake for 40-50 minutes or until just tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, melt 40g of the butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes or until the bacon is golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Wipe pan clean.
- Cut the sweet potato into halves lengthways. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh leaving about 4-5mm thick edge of flesh. Reserve flesh for another use. Cut the potato skins in half crossways. Return to the tray.
- Heat the oil with the remaining butter until butter is foamy. Brush oil mixture over the potato skins. Bake, flesh-side up, for 35-40 minutes or until the skins are golden and crisp. Fill with three- quarters of the bacon and scatter over the cheese. Bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Spoon a dollop of sour cream on each. Season and scatter with the remaining bacon and the chives.
Recipe adapted from taste.com.auii
Health Tip of the Week
Why Cholesterol Matters for Women
Ah, cholesterol and triglycerides. We hear about them all the time. Even foods that might seem good for you on the surface, like fruit-filled yogurt or bran muffins, can contribute to abnormal levels if they contain too much saturated fat or refined sugar, says Erin Michos, M.D., associate director of preventive cardiology at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.
Many women are at risk for high cholesterol and don’t realize it. “Approximately 45 percent of women over the age of 20 have a total cholesterol of 200 mg/dl and above, which is considered elevated — but a survey by the American Heart Association found that 76 percent of women say they don’t even know what their cholesterol values are,” Michos says.
Scarier still: Triglycerides, a type of blood fat typically measured alongside cholesterol, are even more risky in women compared with men. This is a problem because women’s cholesterol levels can fluctuate quite a bit after menopause and tend to increase with age, putting us at greater risk of heart disease and stroke. Knowing your cholesterol numbers and how to control them is a big step toward staying healthy.
Understanding the Highs and Lows of Cholesterol
You know that too much is dangerous. But what is cholesterol, anyway? Where does it come from? And is it all bad?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell in the body. It’s either made by the body or absorbed from food. Your body needs cholesterol to make important steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and vitamin D. It’s also used to make bile acids in the liver; these absorb fat during digestion.
So, some cholesterol is necessary — but bad cholesterol is something you can do without. Excess bad cholesterol in the bloodstream can deposit into the body’s arteries. These deposits are called plaques and result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This is the major cause of heart attacks, strokes, and other vascular problems.
Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which includes several components:
- LDL cholesterol: LDL stands for “low-density lipoprotein.” This is known as the “bad” cholesterol, which directly contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. Very low density lipoprotein, or VLDL cholesterol, is another type, which is a precursor to LDL.
- Total cholesterol: VLDL cholesterol plus LDL cholesterol plus HDL cholesterol.
- HDL cholesterol: HDL stands for “high-density lipoprotein.” Experts think at optimal levels (around 50 mg/dl) it might help the body get rid of LDL cholesterol.
So, bits of this stuff circulate through your system, and here’s what happens: The bad parts – the LDL particles – like to stick to the lining of your arteries, like soap scum in pipes. As it sticks there, it generates an inflammatory response, and your body starts converting it into plaque. Plaque in your blood vessels makes them stiffer and narrower, restricting blood flow to vital organs such as your brain and heart muscle, leading to high blood pressure. Additionally, chunks can break off and cause a heart attack or a stroke.
And guess what? This buildup can start as early as your 20s.
What to Know About Triglycerides
In addition to cholesterol, you might hear about your triglycerides, another kind of fat found in the bloodstream. Women should pay particular attention to this. “A high level of triglycerides seems to predict an even greater risk for heart disease in women compared with men,” says Michos.
When you take in more calories than you need, your body converts the extra calories into triglycerides, which are then stored in fat cells. Triglycerides are used by the body for energy, but people with excess triglycerides have higher risk of medical problems, including cardiovascular disease. Drinking a lot of alcohol and eating foods containing simple carbohydrates (sugary and starchy foods), saturated fats and trans fats contributes to high triglycerides. High levels may also be caused by health conditions such as diabetes, an underactive thyroid, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome or kidney disease.
Triglycerides also circulate in the bloodstream on particles that may contribute to plaque formation. Many people with high triglycerides have other risk factors for atherosclerosis, including high LDL levels or low HDL levels, or abnormal blood sugar (glucose) levels. Genetic studies have also shown some association between triglycerides and cardiovascular disease.
What’s your cholesterol level, anyway?
A standard lipid blood test usually measures the concentration of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides levels. The LDL-cholesterol level is typically estimated from these numbers using a well-established formula that has been more recently revised and improved by researchers at Johns Hopkins.
So, what are your target numbers? According to Michos, an ideal LDL cholesterol level should be less than 70 mg/dl, and a woman’s HDL cholesterol level ideally should be close to 50 mg/dl. Triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dl. As Michos notes, total cholesterol levels well below 200 mg/dl are best.
Why Cholesterol Affects Women Differently
In general, women have higher levels of HDL cholesterol than men because the female sex hormone estrogen seems to boost this good cholesterol. But, like so much else, everything changes at menopause. At this point, many women experience a change in their cholesterol levels — total and LDL cholesterol rise and HDL cholesterol falls. This is why women who had favorable cholesterol values during their childbearing years might end up with elevated cholesterol later in life. Of course, genetics and lifestyle factors can play big roles, too.
How to Lower Your Cholesterol
If you’ve been told that you have high cholesterol — or you just want to prevent it — what can you do?
There are several ways to manage it, including:
Medication: Depending on your overall cardiovascular disease risk, you might be treated with a cholesterol-lowering medication, such as a statin. The decision to use a statin is based on a woman’s overall risk for heart attack and stroke including all these factors and the LDL cholesterol value.
If you already have vascular disease or evidence of atherosclerosis, or if you are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, a statin for prevention is strongly recommended because this treats the plaque in the arteries, and lowers LDL cholesterol, Michos says.
Diet and lifestyle: “Diet and lifestyle are very important to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Even for women who are recommended to take cholesterol-lowering medications, a healthy lifestyle helps these drugs work better,” says Michos.
Here’s how to maintain a lifestyle that promotes healthy cholesterol levels:
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Don’t smoke.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes five or more days per week.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and high amounts of soluble fiber such as beans and oats, which can reduce LDL.
- Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and fruit juices — opt for water and unsweetened tea instead — and minimize your intake of other simple carbohydrates like baked goods and candy.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, especially if you have elevated triglycerides.
- Consider the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, grainy breads and fish. Use olive oil (instead of butter) and spices (instead of salt).
- Eat monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — such as those found in olive oil, nuts and fatty fish like salmon. They can actually have a positive effect on cholesterol, Michos says, by reducing the amount of LDL in the blood and reducing inflammation in the arteries, especially when they replace saturated fats in the diet.
Add these to your shopping list:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and albacore tuna.
- Nuts, including walnuts, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts.
- Olive oil to drizzle lightly over your salads and vegetables.
While nobody wants to have high cholesterol, there are plenty of ways to keep it in check. “With regular checkups and attention to what you eat, it’s possible to manage your cholesterol and blood fats to keep your heart healthy,” says Michos.
Tip adapted from hopkinsmedicine.orgiii
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i https://www.golfdigest.com/story/get-longer-off-the-tee-with-this-10-minute-leg-circuit ii https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/loaded-sweet-potato-skins/aKqeoyXw iii https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/why-cholesterol-matters-for-women