Article in Brief:

Expectations for solid corporate profits and steady economic growth support our forecast of 8–10% returns for the S&P 500 Index in 2019*. We expect a U.S. economic growth tailwind and attractive relative valuations compared with growth to help buoy value stocks. We expect a transition to market leadership from large cap stocks in 2019 as the economic cycle ages and trade issues ease. We favor EM equities over developed international for their solid economic growth trajectory, favorable demographics, attractive valuations, and prospects for a U.S.-China trade agreement.

Portfolio Compass

Portfolio Compass | December 2018
COMPASS CHANGES

  • Downgraded small growth from neutral to negative/neutral.
  • Downgraded small value from neutral/positive to neutral.
  • Upgraded large growth from negative/neutral to neutral.
  • Downgraded hedged foreign bonds from neutral to negative/neutral.
INVESTMENT TAKEAWAYS

  • Expectations for solid corporate profits and steady economic growth support our forecast of 8–10% returns for the S&P 500 Index in 2019*.
  • We expect a U.S. economic growth tailwind and attractive relative valuations compared with growth to help buoy value stocks.
  • We expect a transition to market leadership from large cap stocks in 2019 as the economic cycle ages and trade issues ease.
  • We favor EM equities over developed international for their solid economic growth trajectory, favorable demographics, attractive valuations, and prospects for a U.S.-China trade agreement.
  • We emphasize a blend of high-quality intermediate bonds, with a preference for investment-grade corporates and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) over Treasuries and a small allocation to less interest-rate-sensitive sectors, such as bank loans or high-yield bonds, for suitable investors. That said, higher issuance, fewer investor protections temper bank loan optimism.
  • Yield per unit of duration remains attractive for MBS.
  • A Federal Reserve (Fed) rate hike in December is likely, potentially followed by two more in 2019. A moderate pickup in economic growth and inflation may be headwinds for fixed income.
  • Technicals have weakened over the past month as the S&P 500 made new year-to-date lows and fell below its 200-day moving average. While year-end seasonality is a tailwind, we continue to look for signs of capitulation among investors.

Please click here to review the full Portfolio Compass publication.
*As noted in our 2019 Outlook, we expect an 8-10% S&P 500 Index total return in 2019, driven by 2.5–2.75% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, 6–7% S&P 500 earnings growth, and a target price-to-earnings ratio (PE) of 17.5.
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

There is no assurance that the techniques and strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. The purchase of certain securities may be required to affect some of the strategies.

All indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.

Stock and Pooled Investment Risks

The payment of dividends is not guaranteed. Companies may reduce or eliminate the payment of dividends at any given time.

Value investments can perform differently from the market as a whole. They can remain undervalued by the market for long periods of time.

Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal, and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market.

Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks.

The prices of small and mid cap stocks are generally more volatile than large cap stocks.

Bond and Debt Equity Risks

Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.

Alternative Risks

Event driven strategies, such as merger arbitrage, consist of buying shares of the target company in a proposed merger and fully or partially hedging the exposure to the acquirer by shorting the stock of the acquiring company or other means. This strategy involves significant risk as events may not occur as planned and disruptions to a planned merger may result in significant loss to a hedged position.

Managed futures strategies use systematic quantitative programs to find and invest in positive and negative trends in the futures markets for financials and commodities. Futures and forward trading is speculative, includes a high degree of risk that the anticipated market outcome may not occur, and may not be suitable for all investors.

INDEX DEFINITIONS

The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Municipal Bond Index covers the USD-denominated long-term tax-exempt bond market. The index has four main sectors: state and local general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, insured bonds, and prerefunded bonds.

The Russell 1000 Growth Index measures the performance of those Russell 1000 companies with higher price-to-book ratios and higher forecasted growth values. Russell 1000 Value Index measures the performance of those Russell 1000 companies with lower price-to-book ratios and lower forecasted growth values.

DEFINITIONS

A cyclical stock is an equity security whose price is affected by ups and downs in the overall economy. Cyclical stocks typically relate to companies that sell discretionary items that consumers can afford to buy more of in a booming economy and will cut back on during a recession.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period, though GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis. It includes all of private and public consumption, government outlays, investments and exports less imports that occur within a defined territory.

The simple moving average is an arithmetic moving average that is calculated by adding the closing price of the security for a number of time periods and then dividing this total by the number of time periods. Short-term averages respond quickly to changes in the price of the underlying, while long-term averages are slow to react.

The Beige Book is a commonly used name for the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) report called the Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District. It is published just before the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on interest rates and is used to inform the members on changes in the economy since the last meeting.

Technical analysis is a methodology for evaluating securities based on statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices, volume and momentum, and is not intended to be used as the sole mechanism for trading decisions. Technical analysts do not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value, but instead use charts and other tools to identify patterns and trends. Technical analysis carries inherent risk, chief amongst which is that past performance is not indicative of future results. Technical analysis should be used in conjunction with Fundamental analysis within the decision making process and shall include but not be limited to the following considerations: investment thesis, suitability, expected time horizon, and operational factors, such as trading costs are examples.

The PE ratio (price-to-earnings ratio) is a measure of the price paid for a share relative to the annual net income or profit earned by the firm per share. It is a financial ratio used for valuation: a higher PE ratio means that investors are paying more for each unit of net income, so the stock is more expensive compared to one with lower PE ratio.

Alpha measures the difference between a portfolio’s actual returns and its expected performance, given its level of risk as measured by Beta. A positive (negative) Alpha indicates the portfolio has performed better (worse) than its Beta would predict.

Beta measures a portfolio’s volatility relative to its benchmark. A Beta greater than 1 suggests the portfolio has historically been more volatile than its benchmark. A Beta less than 1 suggests the portfolio has historically been less volatile than its benchmark.

Idiosyncratic risk can be thought of as the factors that affect an asset such as a stock and its underlying company at the microeconomic level. Idiosyncratic risk has little or no correlation with market risk, and can therefore be substantially mitigated or eliminated from a portfolio by using adequate diversification.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

To the extent you are receiving investment advice from a separately registered independent investment advisor, please note that LPL Financial LLC is not an affiliate of and makes no representation with respect to such entity.

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IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.

To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.

These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

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