Is the stock market overvalued?

Is the stock market overvalued?

That’s the million dollar question for us investors, isn’t it, but the answer is not quite as easy as some make it seem. There’s a lot of articles touting one answer or another so I wanted to take a deeper dive into a few of the metrics that are often used to judge value and see what they tell me.

It’s easy to look at the graph below taken from here and draw conclusions.

shiller pe graph

The 32.33 CAPE(Cyclically Adjusted PE Ratio A.K.A. Shiller PE) has only been higher one time in the past decade and maxed out at 44.19 in December of 1999.

That means we still have 30%+ upside so that’s it then – case closed! Just kidding!

One of things that worries a lot of people is that S&P 500 earnings have barely grown in the recent years and the run up has been primarily driven by P/E expansion.

The S&P 500 ended 2011 with a $95.04 per share in earnings and ended 2016 with $96.60 per share in earnings. More recent results are a bit more favorable with the current 12 month GAAP EPS near $105 which finally shows a return to growth. Despite that, the CAPE has expanded as prices outpace earnings growth.

Today’s CAPE is double the mean and median of 16.80 and 16.15 respectively. That doesn’t seem like a good sign and if history is a good metric, can be taken as a sign of poor returns going forward. Unless we see massive earnings expansion then one can expect poor returns if the CAPE has a tendency to revert to the mean in the long run.

The question lies in whether that’s a safe assumption to make and the answer to that is less clear despite how the graph looks. Continue reading “Is the stock market overvalued?”

The Time in the Market portfolio – December update

It’s spreadsheet weekend and time to revisit my portfolio again!

Winter has finally arrived and I just spent a good ten minutes digging out our cars from the snow storm that just passed through the state. One of the things I like about living in an apartment is the lack of shoveling as I just have to brush off our cars and move them to a parking spot that’s already been plowed!

It gives me more time to do some of the things I love to do instead like updating my spreadsheets!

I always get more productive during snow storms. It must be the fact that I’m stuck inside surrounded by a blanket of white that makes me want to do some work and I spent most of last night updating my portfolio spreadsheets to be a lot more usable.

The portfolio has had a solid run as of late with 14 consecutive months of growth(8 of those being above a 10k increase) and that looks to continue this month as the stock market showed no signs of stopping its upward ascent.

It’s hard to say whether this will continue as valuations are high. The good thing is that we’re actually starting to see earnings growth and there aren’t that many alternative investments of value so it’s possible the stock market keeps doing its thing. I do expect a correction sometime in the next few years but who knows when it’ll actually happen.

If you read my blog, you know how I feel about timing the market so I’ll keep going through the ups and downs because I’m a long way away from needing the invested money.

The good thing about this great performance is that it has brought me within sniffing distance of my next milestone, 500k.

The last update had my total at $471,818.58 so let’s take a look at where it sits today.

December 2017 portfolio update Continue reading “The Time in the Market portfolio – December update”

My dividend employee Steve

Hey guys, meet Steve, my dividend employee.

dividend employee steve

Steve’s a cool guy and a real go getter.

I first met Steve when I bought my first stock in college. I forget what it was and I didn’t know it at the time but when I made that first purchase, I apparently hired Steve. I didn’t plan on it but it just happened.

Three months later, he showed up at my house to say hello.

“Hey friend,” he said, “here’s 73 cents.”

“Oh,” I said, “that’s cool, but why are you giving this to me and what am I going to do with 73 cents?”

“It’s your 73 cents,” he said, “remember that stock you bought a while back? It comes with an added benefit, a great employee like me.”  Continue reading “My dividend employee Steve”

Time in the market dividend update – November 2017

It’s time for the second to last dividend update for 2017.

It is insane how quick this year has gone but time has a tendency to move quickly when things are going well.

As the year comes to a close, I’m eager to see all of the December dividends start rolling in as December is by far my biggest month.

I’ve had a good run so far with big increases the past few months and I hope that continues into November. I’ve been above $100 since August and while these off months aren’t as big as the quarter ending months due to my ETF and mutual fund holdings, it’s still nice to see them above $100 consistently. I feel like the monopoly man with all this money coming in these days!

dividends monopoly man.jpg

Last year’s November’s total was $79.04 as I only have one individual holdings that pays in this month and the rest comes from my bond funds.

Let’s take a look at this month’s income and see if I can break $100 again! Continue reading “Time in the market dividend update – November 2017”

Time in the market savings rate and expenses – October 2017

I’m a big fan of four day weekends and wish they were more common. It’s nice to spend some time with people you don’t see that often and also to have some time to unwind and relax. It’s also as good a time as any to do some analysis on my savings rate for the prior month and see how I did.

That longer break gives me a little taste of what being retired might be like and I quite like that. It’s always good to take a little break and see how bored you get when away from work for an extended period of time.

Yesterday was Black Friday, a day known for shopping and great deals and I spent the entire day locked up at home napping and watching a marathon of The Punisher on Netflix.

blackfriday.jpg

I’m not too keen on getting out there and braving the crowds although more and more of that is moving online.

We did do some shopping there as my girlfriend bought a few things that her cousins had on their Christmas list at a big discount. That’s one good thing about Black Friday, it allows you to buy things that you were going to buy anyway at a big discount and that’s always nice. I think a lot of people see the discount and end up buying things they don’t need just because they’re on sale but as long as one is smart about Black Friday, it can be a big boon to long term savings plan. If I was going to buy something anyway, I might as well wait and buy it 40% off.

One of the key things for me in the last few months is trying to hit a savings rate that will help hit my savings rate goals for the year. As I discussed in my Q3 review post, I’m a bit behind on my bronze medal goal for both savings rate metrics and will need a solid October, November and December to remedy that.

The one important thing is that December is a 3 paycheck month which will be a big boost to those goals but I also want to make sure that October and November don’t lag far behind. That post was written at the end of October so it was too late to impact October results but these winter months are generally better than the summer months. That’s largely due to the fact that I spend more time indoors and that leads to less spending since it’s easier to spend money on something like lunch when you’re two hours away from home on a day trip.

Holiday season often means that there’s additional spending and such on gifts but we’re not a huge Christmas family and I only have to get gifts for the children in the family which also helps keep the costs down. The fact that December is a three paycheck month also means good things for December savings rate results. I think that as long as October and November come in near my savings rate goals(~30% for gross income SR and ~40% for savings rate), then I’ll be in a good spot to hit my 2017 annual goals.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how I did in October.  Continue reading “Time in the market savings rate and expenses – October 2017”

Investing in video games

Gaming has become a huge part of everyday life. I’ve always been a gamer. I spent way too many hours during my high school days locked up at home playing RPGs on my Sony Playstation. It was only in the recent decade, however, that gaming has stepped out of the shadows of basements into the mainstream.

The appeal of video games for me was the great value proposition they offer. I could spend $20 on a used video game as a kid and get hundreds of hours of entertainment. I simply couldn’t beat that outside of a long fantasy novel and that appeal of the $$ spent/hr of entertainment stuck with me as I got older.

The video game industry has always been good at adapting to the changing nature of tastes and product cycles and the various revenue opportunities that exist and could be harnessed.

The model started with a game you could buy for a $50 to something like an MMO that added a recurring monthly fee and an ever expanding world. All these games started to tap into the addictive nature of progression based gaming as publisher began to realize that they could get more than just the initial sales price and the user base was willing to pay for it to fund additional content.

The turning point was when the old model of selling physical copies morphed into digital copies with additional DLC(downloadable content) that could be purchased.

The proliferation of mobile devices thrust the world of video games into the mainstream and publishers began to realize the benefits of mobile games.

Just like digital, there was an ease of distribution as well as additional ways to monetize the massive user base that mobile games attracted.

Companies realized that a that small portion of users were willing to spend extra money to customize a character or get an advantage in the game. They took advantage of the ability to attract that type of gamer to improve profits.  Micro transactions, first used outside of mobile in limited scope, became a much bigger deal on mobile. These allowed developers and publishers to sell a variety of things like extra lives, power boosts or loot boxes containing items that users could use to customize their characters. The freemium gaming model(free game with in-game purchases) became massive on mobile as publishers wanted to capture as many people as possible in hopes of catching whales(gamers who would spend a ton of money to max out everything possible).

This model soon transitioned back onto PC and console games with an added focus on micro transactions and capturing more and more revenue from the whales that would spend extra money beyond the cost of the initial game to get everything the game had to offer.

Personally, this model doesn’t appeal to me and I never pay extra for a game and will avoid any game where you can buy an advantage but the financials don’t lie.

Video game companies have done very well in recent years and a lot of it is due to the new ways of monetizing their releases.

The truth is that there is always a need for escapism and video games provide one of the most effective ways to achieve that for the end user. The product captures the attention of users due to having a low(often free) cost of entry in relation to amount of entertainment produced leading to a high user base. That means there’s often(not always) a revenue boost for the company when a game first sells. On top of that, game designers have added a very addictive progression based flow to many games with the idea of monetizing a certain percentage of the user base in a big way leading to very high margins and repeating revenue on successful games.

That new foundation of monetizing games after released has meant that the global video game market has exploded in recent years. Almost $110B in revenue has been generated by video games in 2017 and that number is expected to grow at ~6% per year until 2020.

Newzoo_Global_Games_Market_Revenue_Growth_2016-2020_April_2017

One of the most visible trends that has driven this is the growth in Mobile based gaming. The mobile chunk of the pie started at 39% of $101B in 2016 and is projected to be 50% of nearly $130B in 2020. Continue reading “Investing in video games”

Revisiting my asset allocation

Asset allocation matters when it comes to long term returns. It serves as a guidepost to stick to when times are bad and also gives me the opportunity to balance the risk and rewards of investing according to my own goals and risk tolerance.

There is no simple formula for figuring out what asset allocation is right for an individual. There are simple ones like the three-fund portfolio which includes three total market funds that cover domestic and international stocks as well as bonds weighted in a way that matches the risk tolerance of the investor.

There are also more complicated ones that slice and dice the various asset classes with various goals like increasing return, increasing income or decreasing risk.

In some of my initial posts which you can read here, I went into detail about my investment strategies and my own asset allocation.

The asset allocation I use right now was something I developed in 2008 right after graduating college and I think it has worked well for my needs. I didn’t spend a lot of time on it back then so when I started this blog, I wanted to make sure it was still something I was comfortable with and also something that showed favorable results against a simple three-fund portfolio or even the S&P 500.

The back testing I did in 2015 showed favorable results for that portfolio in terms of risk/reward when compared to a standard three-fund portfolio as well as the S&P 500.

We’ve got another two years of data now and I wanted to take some time to revisit my asset allocation and to see if those results are holding up through the bull market of the past few years. The goal is to see if the asset allocation I have now is still something I’m comfortable with going forward.

The portfolio analysis below is a simple one using only index funds so it doesn’t mirror my portfolio exactly as I do have some individual holdings that will skew my results against a simple portfolio that only uses index funds. Still, I feel like it’s a very good approximation of whether or not my strategy is still successful on a historical basis or whether some changes are necessary.

I do know that historical returns do not guarantee future success but it’s still a fun exercise to see how my strategy has compared to simpler ones and whether all this “work” in balancing my asset classes is worth it. Do note the quotation marks around work because portfolio tracking is something I enjoy quite a bit but others may not find it as enjoyable and opt for a more simple approach.

Just like I did back in 2015, I ran the below data through portfolio visualizer using a $10000 starting point, $5000 in annual contributions and an annual rebalancing. This time, the tool runs from January 1995(the first year emerging market data is available) through September 2017.

There are a ton of different asset allocation strategies you can find out there but I wanted to keep the comparison simple.

I compared a three-fund portfolio(Portfolio 1) someone my age might use(50% US/30% International/20% Bonds), my own portfolio(Portfolio 2) and I added a Vanguard 500 Index fund as a benchmark.

The Asset Allocation Data

Portfolio Analysis

Continue reading “Revisiting my asset allocation”