Trudging through the market mud runArticle added by Kevin Startt on August 12, 2014
kstartt

Kevin Startt

Kennesaw, GA

Joined: August 08, 2013

Recently, I ventured out on a rainy day to deal with the delights of a nice, flat, nine-mile trail run. It was the kind of burner that is a great warm up for the infamous Peachtree Road Race here in Atlanta. Unfortunately, it turned into a mud run along an overflowing creek with nooks, crannies and nasty switchbacks. Towards the end of the ordeal, on what is normally a dry trail of solitude and beauty, I paused to let a 73-year-old bearded man jump into the swollen creek ahead of me.

I had no idea how deep the water was so I figured — since he was going to leave this middle-aged runner in the dust — why not give him a chance to get eaten by an alligator or head for the E.R. with a snake bite? Not to anyone’s surprise he prodded through the swollen obstacle and left me in the mud to straddle the creek alone.

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With the battle between bulls and bears continuing in this flat market year, I am wondering how many other chronologically gifted savers and investors are hanging on for dear life not knowing whether this long standing 60-month bull market will continue to climb a wall of worries as usual, or succumb to the wall-builder's whims and worries (meaning the Fed). The number of bear markets since 1960 (17) and their average frequency (one every three years) is even according to Franklin-Templeton, though the bull markets have lasted more than double the duration of a bear market.

See also: Bear markets should be welcomed, not feared

There are still plenty of places left out here to invest for the long haul, ones that provide a lifetime of income with some assisted care help provided — i.e. hybrid annuities. Dividend-paying stocks still represent compelling value, selling at a discount to the broad market and yielding close to 3 percent. According to Invesco, 49 percent of the gains in the market for the last seven years over a full market cycle have come from dividends and the remainder from price appreciation. There is even an indexed tax-deferred annuity, co-developed by Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Shiller, which includes dividends and market participation, albeit with less access to your money than a mutual fund or ETF. This option includes a competitive lifetime income rider, as well with a strong 6.5 percent five-year roll-up rate on the income or benefit base for five years.

Worried about bonds going down in value? There are bank loan funds still paying with investment-grade quality, close to 5 percent. Real estate investment trusts (REITS) and funds offer similar yields with some price appreciation potential. So don’t dread the Fed or fight the tape, but realize we are just like the 73-year-old runner; we're at the end of the race with some big puddles, switchbacks and perils to prod through. It is prudent to take some risk dollars off the table soon and rotate, allocate and avoid the temptation to hesitate and follow the leader off the cliff. Keep your eyes on the prize, but don’t get surprised.
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