Bull, Bear or… Dead Parrot?

In a famous Monty Python sketch, a customer who bought a “Norwegian Blue” parrot brings the clearly dead bird back to the pet shop for a refund. The shopkeeper argues that the parrot isn’t dead… it’s merely “resting.”

As the post-election rally fades, is the aging bull market on its death bed, or is it merely resting?

Since 1961, recoveries on average have lasted about eight years — roughly the length of the Obama recovery. The stock market also is overbought, according to almost every valuation yardstick. Many analysts are now calling for a correction, followed by a bear market.

I’ll let our investment strategists weigh in.

Let’s start with Jim Pearce, chief investment strategist of our flagship publication Personal Finance. Jim’s also the director of portfolio strategy for Investing Daily and director of Investing Daily’s Wealth Society. As Jim puts it:

“Despite all the feel-good holiday joy that propelled the major stock market indexes to record highs in December, this month has been considerably less forgiving judging by the drubbing several retailers took…

To give you an idea of just how unbalanced the stock market has become, according to my IDEAL stock-rating system, only one stock in the entire Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index scores a perfect 10, while 33 stocks now have the lowest possible score of 0. That is the most lopsided the ratio has been since I first introduced IDEAL more than two years ago.”

The IDEAL path to profits…

Jim’s IDEAL system is a methodology that allows individual investors to determine the best and worst companies to buy within the S&P 500.

Briefly, here’s how it works:

We score each stock based on a formula that weighs its dividend, cash flow and growth potential. Then we convert that score to an IDEAL price by comparing it with those of its peers. This tells us where a stock should be trading.

This is how simple it is: If a stock is at least 20% cheaper than its IDEAL value, we’ll consider buying it. Then we wait until the price moves 25% above that value (or back to the IDEAL value) and sell it. If it’s 50% cheaper than its IDEAL value, then so much the better, because the upside is 100%.

According to Jim, IDEAL is now suggesting that a stock market day of reckoning could soon be at hand.

To be sure, bright spots still exist. Resilient economic growth, falling unemployment, rising wages and home prices, and a recovering energy patch all add up to earnings and revenue growth for certain stocks, notably the big banks in the financial services sector.

Money center banks take center stage…

This coming Friday is stand-and-deliver day for the banking sector, with quarterly earnings due from JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), BlackRock (NYSE: BLK), First Horizon (NYSE: FHN), PNC Financial Services (NYSE: PNC), and First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC).

Most of these banks are expected by analysts to post year-over-year gains in earnings. Among Jim Pearce’s favorite banks is Wells Fargo, a denizen of the PF Growth Portfolio.


Wells Fargo has $1.8 trillion in assets, which it has been able to fund at a lower expense than its peers because of its growing base of low-cost deposits.

The bank is a leader in mortgage lending, which is thriving as housing prices rise. Since Jim added the stock to the portfolio on May 22, 2013, WFC has generated a total return of 49.4%.

But even as the financial services sector thrives, storm clouds are gathering over the broader market. Ari Charney, chief investment strategist of Utility Forecaster, points to dangers lurking behind the ostensibly positive economic data:

“Beneath the headline data are more worrisome trends, such as the steep decline in domestic business investment over the past year and the fact that the labor force participation rate is still at levels last seen in the late 1970s.”

Ari thinks that continuing political division in the U.S. is exerting a ripple effect on the markets, making diversification all the more important:

“Perhaps the real economy’s most salient indicator was an election cycle featuring insurgent candidacies in both parties that revealed deep schisms among the electorate.

Meanwhile, events in recent weeks have provided a timely reminder that the best-laid plans of policymakers frequently get upended by the exigencies of the moment. Amid such uncertainty, sometimes a basket approach is best.”

Indeed, an undercurrent of growing investor nervousness is reflected by the increase last week in activity in options markets used largely for hedging stocks. Want advice on how to hedge your portfolio? Send me an email: — John Persinos

Hyper growth with mitigated risk…

As explained above, the market poses mounting risks but you needn’t run for the hills. Compelling growth opportunities still exist, if you know where to look. In fact, there’s a way for you to invest in “hyper growth” companies for as little as $500. Here’s the kicker: they’re private companies.

We’ve hired one of the savviest private opportunity analysts in the country and we gave him one job: to pinpoint under-the-radar deals for you.

You won’t hear about these private deals on CNBC; only a limited number of insiders know about them. Now’s you’re chance to join the inner circle.

Get the full story on three private deals by clicking here.


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Retirement Woes Are About to Vanish

Will I have enough money in my retirement years?

That’s the question on the minds of so many Baby Boomers nowadays. But you can set those worries aside.

Because master trader Jim Fink is releasing step-by-step instructions on how to collect a $1,692.50 payment on Thursday… and every Thursday after that.

Jim explains everything in a new presentation—but you only have a few more days to watch it.

Watch it here while there’s still time.

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