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‘Don’t diversify’ says this legendary investor

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From Kim Iskyan, Editor, Stansberry Churchouse Research:

Diversification is generally considered one of the basic tenets of investing and financial planning. Owning a mix of assets, ideally with a low correlation – including stocks, bonds, real estate and gold, for example – is Investing 101.

That is… unless you’re one of the world’s most famous investors. Jim Rogers, who I’ve written about recently (see here, here and here), is not a fan of diversification…

Jim doesn’t buy into the cult of asset allocation

“Well, I know that people are taught to diversify. But diversification is just that’s something that brokers came up with, so they don’t get sued,” Jim told me recently when I sat down to chat with him here in Singapore. Then he added, “If you want to get rich… You have to concentrate and focus.”

This obviously goes against conventional thinking. But this kind of thinking is what made Jim one of the world’s most successful investors. He co-founded the Quantum Fund – one of the world’s most successful hedge funds – which saw returns of 4,200% in ten years.

He quit full-time investing in 1980 and went on to travel the world a few times. He also wrote several books about what he saw and learned. Even if you’re not a travel or money junkie and know little about finance, these are some of the most educational and entertaining books you’ll ever read about investing.

Why (maybe) you should diversify

I’ve also written about the importance of diversification to reduce risk in your portfolio. As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. But you also need to make sure they’re not all on the same egg truck, either.

Diversification can limit the risks that are specific to a company or industry. For example, bad (or fraudulent) company management is a firm-specific risk. An airline employee strike, which has an industry-wide impact, is an industry risk. These are called “diversifiable risks” because they aren’t directly related to the broad financial market system.

Market risk (also called “systematic risk” because it relates to the financial system as a whole) is unavoidable for anyone investing in financial markets. Market risk is affected by things like interest rates, exchange rates and recessions. Diversification can’t touch market risk.

The graph below shows these two types of risk. Every investor is subject to systematic risk. Diversifiable risk is higher if a portfolio includes a small number of holdings. And diversifiable risk declines as the number of holdings in a portfolio increases – to a certain point. Having a portfolio with five securities definitely beats a portfolio of just one security. But diversifying beyond 30 securities doesn’t bring any additional benefits in reducing overall portfolio risk.

But Jim Rogers disagrees. “The expression on Wall Street is, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Ha! You should put all of your eggs in one basket,” he told me. “But be sure you’ve got the right basket and make sure you watch the basket very, very carefully.”

Now, of course this strategy of putting all your eggs in one basket… but making sure it’s the right basket, is not for everyone. It’s a high risk, high reward strategy.

And Jim acknowledges that. “If you don’t get it right, you’re going to lose everything. But if you get it right, you’re going to get very rich. And by the way, don’t think it’s easy getting it right. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of insight and work and everything else. But, if you get it right, you’ll be very rich.”

Good investing,

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Kim

Crux note: To hear more of Kim’s insights, make sure to sign up for the free daily e-letter the Asia Wealth Investment Daily here.


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Is the world’s biggest real estate market about to collapse?

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From Brian Tycangco, Editor, Stansberry Churchouse Reseach:

The world’s biggest real estate market is slowing down. And it’s not because of failing subprime mortgages or an economic crisis.

China’s property market – worth seven times that of the U.S., based on total value of new homes sold – is weakening… again.

China’s new home sales hit US$1.69 trillion last year, as an estimated 22 million Chinese moved from rural areas into cities (that’s like the entire populations of the U.S. states of Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina and Kansas moving to the city).

A total of 1.44 billion square meters of apartments and condominiums were sold – the equivalent of 5.76 million new homes, assuming the size of an average American suburban house (last year, 614,000 new homes were sold in the U.S.).

But a couple of years of breakneck growth has caused the average price of developed property (i.e., condominiums and residential apartments) in China to jump 18% since July 2015. In the biggest cities of Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai, prices increased more than 50%.

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Adding fuel to soaring real estate prices are Chinese investors speculating for short-term gain, considering property prices in most cities are rising at least twice as fast as the 5.5% average mortgage rate.

Buyers now need to show a pile of cash up front

To curb speculation, the government started raising the requirements to purchase property in March 2017. It increased the minimum down payment on second home purchases in second- and third-tier cities from 20% to 30%.

That compares to a typical second-home buyer in the U.S., who is required to put up between 10% and 20% as down payment.

What’s more, the Chinese government also ordered state-owned banks to raise the minimum down payment for privately-developed residential projects in first-tier cities from 70% to 80%. That essentially locked out all smaller buyers in many cities, including Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing.

The next stage of tightening happened in September 2017, when local governments in a number of cities, including Shenzhen, banned investors from selling newly purchased homes for up to five years. Other local governments barred investors from buying a second home for up to three years.

So after growing by 16.1% in the first half of 2017, home sales growth in China slowed to just 3.3% in the first half of 2018.

The Chinese government’s year-long crusade to deflate the property market finally filtered through to developers’ sales. As a result, the shares of listed Chinese real estate developers have fallen.

The MSCI China Real Estate Index, which captures the performance of large and mid-cap segments of the China real estate market declined by 14% between May 1 and July 31. That compares with a 5.8% decline in the MSCI China Index and a 2.7% gain in the MSCI All Country World Index.

But is this a precursor to a Chinese real estate market collapse? History shows us that it’s likely not. We’ve seen this same knee-jerk reaction in Chinese real estate company stock prices in the face of Beijing’s previous efforts to deflate the hot property market.

China’s history can be a road map to profits

In September 2010, for instance, Beijing enacted measures to curb speculation in real estate after prices jumped 32% in just two years (2008 to 2010) to 4,725 yuan per square meter.

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That eventually led to a 30% decline in the MSCI China Real Estate Index by the following year, as curbs filtered through to developers’ bottom lines.

(That also opened up a terrific buying opportunity in shares of Country Garden Holdings (Exchange: New York; ticker: CTRYF; Exchange: Hong Kong; ticker: 2007), one of China’s biggest and most established real estate developers, which I recommended to my readers in February 2011. It went on to nearly double their money (95%), as government curbs were eventually lifted and eager buyers returned to the market.)

Then, in March 2013, after average property prices rose 17% to 5,850 yuan per square meter in a just a couple of years, Beijing stepped in again, slapping a 20% tax on selling a home (vs. existing 1% to 3% capital gains taxes). Beijing also increased the required minimum down payment from 60% to 70% for second homes.

That resulted in a 20% correction in the MSCI China Real Estate Index over the next 12 months, and caused total property sales to fall nearly 3% between 2013 and 2015.

(The lull in the market presented an opportunity in our Strategic Wealth Confidential newsletter to recommend shares in one of the country’s best-run real estate investment trusts (REITs). REITs are companies that hold a portfolio of income-generating property and distribute nearly all their profits to shareholders as dividends. This one in particular was paying out an 8.5% yield.)

With average real estate prices in China again up 18% in just the last couple of years, Beijing’s recent determined moves to rein in the property market shouldn’t come as a surprise. We actually welcome it.

Will the Chinese real estate selloff continue?

For the short-term, the outlook is going to be weak. The government has not given any indication that it’s willing to ease restrictions on new home purchases, and will likely add more restrictions in the coming weeks and months.

But I’ve been covering the Chinese real estate market since 2003, and the volatility we’re seeing today is nothing new.

With 600 million Chinese (40% of the country’s population) still living in rural areas, and 22 million of them moving into cities each year, the property market in China is still far from reaching a point of peak demand.

Down the road, I expect there will be a slew of profitable, well-managed and under-leveraged Chinese property developers that will once again offer up enticing value.

Good investing,

Brian

P.S. Even as China’s property market is letting off some steam, other sectors of its economy are expanding at a breakneck pace. One of these sectors is water treatment, which is growing non-stop thanks to the government’s efforts to clean up the country’s heavily-polluted rivers and lakes. It’s opening up a rare opportunity for 793% gains on a leading water treatment specialist. To find out more about this company – and two others with similar potential – go here.


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Cramer’s charts suggest it’s still worth investing in bonds

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U.S. Treasury bond yields have been on a tear this year, and with the Federal Reserve on track to continue raising short-term interest rates, it looks like the trend will continue. But when bond yields rise, prices fall, which has investors worried. “The conventional wisdom on both Wall Street and Main Street is that U.S. Treasuries are one of the worst possible asset classes to own right now,” said CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

However, Cramer thinks that investors shouldn’t be too quick to follow the crowd. The “Mad Money” host enlisted the help of technician Carley Garner, co-founder of DeCarley Trading and author of “Higher Probability Commodity Trading,” to reassess the state of the bond market. Garner believes that “the bears in the Treasury complex have gotten overconfident,” said Cramer.

Taking a look at the weekly chart of the 10-year U.S. Treasury futures, Garner’s analysis shows that large speculators, who are professional money managers, are betting against Treasury prices at never-before-seen levels.

“Not only are they holding net short positions in these 10-year Treasury futures, but they’re more bearish than they’ve ever been at any other time in living memory,” Cramer said. Together, large and small speculators are holding a net short position of 800,000 10-year Treasury futures contracts.

Garner “thinks this trade has gotten overcrowded,” Cramer said. She believes that prices are poised to rise once all of these short sellers buy back Treasury bonds to close their positions.

Looking at the seasonal price patterns of the 10-year Treasury bond, the charts show that prices tend to rise in the second half of the year. This trend is particularly reliable according to Garner’s analysis, with the biggest rally occurring from July through early October.

“Garner thinks the rally could be particularly pronounced this year given that Treasury prices are pretty depressed,” the “Mad Money” host said.

Cramer’s bottom line? The markets aren’t always what they seem. “Don’t just assume that our long-term interest rates are destined to head lower immediately,” he said. “The charts suggest that U.S. Treasury prices could actually have some upside here.”



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The pool of publicly traded stocks is shrinking. Here’s what investors can do

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From Frank Holmes at Frank Talk:

Elon Musk is no stranger to making controversial and outlandish comments, and his tweet last week is no exception. As you probably know by now, the perennial entrepreneur announced to his more than 22 million Twitter followers that he is “considering taking Tesla private at $420.”

Despite the Herculean challenge—such a move would be the largest leveraged buyout in history—and despite Musk’s history of being a provocateur, Wall Street seemed to take his comment seriously. Tesla stock rose close to 11% last Tuesday to end at $379, a few bucks shy of its all-time high of $385, set in September 2017.

There are many reasons why investors should take note. For one, Musk and Tesla are now likely to face heightened scrutiny from securities regulators.

My reason for bringing it up is that, should Musk follow through and take the electric carmaker private, the already shrinking universe of investable U.S. stocks will lose yet another name.

This is a trend that cannot continue indefinitely.

As I wrote in May 2017, the number of publicly listed companies in the U.S. has fallen steadily since 1997. More companies have delisted, in fact, than gone public in every year of the past 20 years except one, 2013.

Put another way, the pool is getting smaller even while the population and economy are expanding.

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The U.S. Has 5,000 Fewer Listed Companies Than It Should

In 1976, there were about 23 listed companies per 1 million U.S. citizens. Today, it’s closer to 11 per million.

That’s according to a new National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) report by respected financial economist René Stulz, who adds that the U.S. has roughly 5,000 fewer companies listed on exchanges than you would normally expect, given the country’s size, population, economic and financial development and respect for shareholder rights.

Are we seeing the same phenomenon in other countries, developed or otherwise?

“There are other countries that have lost listings since 1997, but few have experienced a greater percentage decrease in listings,” Stulz writes. “Further, the U.S. is in bad company in terms of the percentage decrease in listings—just ahead of Venezuela.”

Given that Venezuela’s economy is in freefall, with inflation forecast to hit 1 million percent this year, I would call it bad company indeed.

So why is this happening?

Continue reading at Frank Talk…


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