Making Cents: Managing a Portfolio is a Balancing Act
By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST
Diversifying your investment holdings has come under much criticism over the past several years. The reason is simple, large U.S. Companies have dominated the global growth scene and delivered the most in terms of gains seen in many investment portfolios. If you study markets, it seems that certain sectors may have some hot streaks whereby any given sector may lead the markets for a year or two – but rarely does any one sector dominate as the U.S. Standard and Poors 500 index has in the past decade.
Another interesting comment for those who study markets is that sectors do go from first to last, and vice versa from year to year. It can also be seen that the sectors that are on the top of the pile or the bottom of the pile for a prolonged period sometimes revert to the other end of the performance spectrum. The challenge is figuring when it is time to go from last to first and making the moves in your portfolio to accommodate your intuition or best guess.
For that reason, it may be wise to consider building a portfolio that is both diverse and built around those drivers of returns that you think are most important. For example, just because an investment was a top performer last year generally is not a reason to think it will be a top performer in the next year. Perhaps a more significant driver of returns are profits.
After all, the intrinsic value of a company is measured as a multiple of its profits and the valuation of the assets on its balance sheet. Of course, companies trade at, above and below their calculated intrinsic value because of speculation, supply and demand or other reasons to believe that a company will be valuable someday. Remember this, tens of millions of shares in companies’ trade hands each and every day. For the most part, sellers of those securities feel that it was a good time for them to sell and buyers feel like they invested in something that has a chance to generate income or appreciate. Someone will be right.
The theory behind diversification may mitigate some risk, but it is not guaranteed to minimize your losses. The benefits of the theory of diversification stem from the reality that no one really knows when any particular area of the market is going to rise or fall. As a result, the theory suggests that a broad range of holdings in multiple sectors allows you the opportunity to benefit from a rising sector. Under this theory, however, you are also likely to own sectors that decline.
This is where re-balancing your portfolio can help. When you re-balance, you are trying to bring your allocation back in line with the amount of risk that you would like to assume. That frequently leads to a trimming of your winners and adding more to your losers. By definition, this little move helps with many investors desire, to buy low and sell high.
John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA is CEO of U. S. Wealth Management in Braintree, MA. Visit JohnPNapolitano on LinkedIn or uswealthnapolitano.com. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. John Napolitano is a registered principal with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through US Financial Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. US Financial Advisors and US Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial. He can be reached at 781-849-9200.