Update on Commodities

Written by Maksim. Posted in Economic, Uncategorized

A few weeks ago we started discussing the fall in commodity prices, including oil and precious metals and the drivers for those moves. Since then we are continuing the downtrend in prices in an orderly sell off. There have been a number of key drivers for the move down, including a stronger dollar, a slow down in emerging markets primarily Chinese industrial demand, expectations of a forthcoming interest rate hike, global deflationary pressures and a rising US bond market.

UBS has recently put out two commodity reports that may be of interest and I have included a link to them below.

The first report focuses on the fundamentals of Platinum and the link to Gold. The second is a more holistic review of all commodities.

You can download the reports through the following link.

Subscribe to our Email updates to download the reports.

Sustainability Investing – The next step in the evolution of (SRI) Socially Responsible Investing

Written by Maksim. Posted in Uncategorized

A number of years ago there was an initial movement towards Socially Responsible Investing.  During the run up prior to 2008, and in the years after, some of the best performers were investments that some people would not ordinarily may not want to support, such as alcohol, tobacco, firearms or gambling companies.  In light of this, you had sponsors putting together offerings that focused on companies that fit the SRI mold.  Furthermore, yo had a number of funds that aimed to comply with various religious tenants in a number of faith based funds. Unfortunately, many of these funds underperformed versus their unconstrained peers.

Over the last few years, in in the last 2 in particular, we had a new take on this theme with the introduction of “Sustainability Investing.”  While there is no one single definition, most of the sponsors who offer products in this space define it around 3 pillars, environmental, social and corporate governance and responsibility.

Touchstone Investments describes it as follows:

…evaluation of a company’s sustainability practices which considers and analyzes the potential environmental, social and governance impacts and risks of a company, how well the company manages these impacts and risks, and ascertains the company’s willingness and ability to take a leadership position in implementing best practices.

Based on the above criteria, sustainability themed investments will tend to be your larger, well capitalized firms.

From the few funds that we do have, on the whole, you can expect to get market performance with about the same volatility.  Generally the funds we have looked at are better performers than purely SRI driven investments, and should be an option to look into if SRI is a part of your investment policy.

What Makes a Good Investment?

Written by Maksim. Posted in Uncategorized

Often times I have discussions with people and the conversation turns to the topic o f what makes a good investment?  Now we are not talking about trading stocks, where you really do not look at the company but rather the way the company’s stock trades.  What we are talking about is the old fashioned way of picking investments.  We are talking about the Warren Buffet way of investing.   Investing in the company that you love and understand.  A company which you would be happy to invest in and hold for the long term.

One of the companies that I have long followed is Blackberry (BBRY).  As part of my own due diligence, I follow the company news and events, and communicate with other investors.   One such community of professionals is SeekingAlpha. After being inspired by a few members, I decided to submit an article and it was chosen by the editors to be published!  Even though I have spoken at various conferences, this is the first time I have been published outside of this very blog or the bi-weekly email newsletters.

Instead of detailing broad outlines of how you may go about selecting your investments,  you can read about my thought process, on why BBRY is a stock that I personally own.

BBRY Article on Seeking Alpha


Why use Alternative Investments? Alt 101

Written by Maksim. Posted in Uncategorized

Why use Alternative Investments?

Alternative investments make up a good percentage of our clients’ portfolios.  We use alternative investments for a number of reasons, most of all, to reduce the overall volatility in the portfolio, and to get exposure to asset classes and strategies that are typically not employed by individuals and brokers.   Having alternative investments in 2007-2008 would of greatly soften the blow most individuals felt.  Even though people thought of asset classes such as international stocks, bonds,  commodities as “alternatives,” during the panic everything was sold off that was liquid.  Many individuals just wanted to “sell” and they did so without wanting to look at what the actual investments were.  Due to this panic selling, correlations on most asset classes went up, that in the end it almost did not matter what the money was invested in, it all got sold and went down in price.  We use alternatives that either can take advantage of such sell offs, or are not subjected to the effects of such sell offs.

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