Peachtree Quarterly

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Peachtree Investment Partners provides a focused, fundamental approach to managing income-oriented equity portfolios for individuals and families.

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Best Investing Approach: Have a Plan, and Stick To It

There are many things that can affect the performance of the financial markets – and you as an individual investor can control virtually none of those things. For example, recently the markets have been reacting to slower-than-hoped progress controlling COVID-19 infections and the effect of that on the economy, including lackluster U.S. employment numbers and disruptions to the supply chain. There also has been uncertainty about increasing the debt ceiling and passage of an economic plan, as well as rising gas prices and the effect on family budgets and the movement of supplies. There are some things you as an individual might be able to do about these issues: Take COVID-19 precautions, reach out to your government officials, ramp up hiring if you have a business.

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Navigating the Bumps

As more Americans became fully vaccinated and COVID cases began to fall, many people felt like they were awakening from a long nightmare. That optimism also was felt by investors. The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed June 30 at a record high and was up 14% for the year at the end of the second quarter. Meanwhile, the Dow and the Nasdaq each rose 12% for the second quarter.

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Spring Is In The Air

Spring is always a hopeful time, a season of rebirth. But this spring seems a little more welcome than most. After more than a year of being on the dark side of a worldwide pandemic, it seems the light may be returning. Of course, everyone still needs to exercise caution – we are not out of the woods yet, as recent COVID-19 numbers are showing. But the availability of vaccines is making a return to normal seem possible in the relatively near future.

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A New Year's Wish for Normal

2020 was a year like no other. There were some bright spots, of course – most notably the very strong performance of the stock market. But for the most part, we seemed to spend much of the year lurching from crisis to crisis, with rising death counts, closing schools, growing unemployment. As we move into 2021, many of us are hoping mostly for a more normal experience.

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These Times Call for Planning, Patience

These are uncertain and exhausting times. We are trying to understand and respond to the health and economic effects of COVID-19, which has killed more than 1 million people worldwide and more than 215,000 Americans while leaving many businesses and employees scrambling to stay afloat. We are concerned about the heated election rhetoric fed by extreme partisanship and divisive politics. Many of us feel worn down and nervous, especially as we face a possible winter resurgence of the virus. Conventional wisdom tells us that the markets do not like uncertainty, and they have been bouncing all over in recent weeks and even months.

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Don't Worry About What You Can't Change

There are lots of things to worry about these days. We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, with no cure and no vaccine. Most scientists agree that what the U.S. is experiencing is not the second wave – it is just a surge in the first. This health uncertainty has caused deep concern among investors and has, from time to time, rattled the markets.

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Like a Fish Out of Water

In the water, a fish is graceful, beautiful and in control. But when you land a fish into a boat, it flops around on the bottom of the boat, not knowing what to do next. When it comes to investing during this COVID-19 pandemic, we are all fish out of water.

As investors, we have never seen anything like this. The factors that have caused the Dow to have its worst first quarter in history are not financial in nature. Rather, this market volatility is caused by a worldwide health crisis and the effects of that crisis, from social distancing to unemployment to an overall sense of fear and stress. Yes, it is costing many people growth in their portfolios. But by the time it ends, experts believe, it could cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, and likely millions of people worldwide. We have never seen anything like this in the markets. But that doesn't mean we are helpless before it.

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What Does The Market Tumble Mean?

The U.S. stock market came down with a case of coronavirus this week, as the Dow fell more than 1,000 points Monday on fears that the virus would cause serious problems in the world economy. The slide, which wiped out the market's 2020 gains, was followed by a drop of 879 points Tuesday, as politicians and investors alike scrambled to come up with strategies to help deal with the situation.

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Some Investing Resolutions for the New Year

One of the things for which we are grateful in the year past is the performance of the stock market. Virtually all the indices posted records, and the Standard & Poor's 500 saw its best year since 2013. That is good news for investors large and small.

Still, there were periods during the year when investors were nervous and that positive outlook seemed unlikely. In August, for example, the market dropped 800 points in one day, leaving investors spooked and prompting talk of a coming recession.

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What Should You Do When Markets are Running in Place?

In recent months, the markets have been running in place, showing a whole lot of movement without actually going anywhere. There has been a lot of volatility, including several steep drops and rises fueled mainly by the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China. But at the close of the quarter, the markets ended up almost where they had started.

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How Much Should You Worry About a Possible Recession?

Last week, on August 14, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 800 points, its biggest drop of the year. Investors were spooked by the specter of recession, and those concerns had been nudging markets downward for a while, though not as dramatically as on August 14. Markets recovered somewhat the rest of the week, but they are still skittish and well off the historic highs set earlier this year.

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Market Rests on Three Solid Legs, But One is a Little Wobbly

Like a table, market performance rests primarily on four individual legs: profits, inflation, interest rates and psychology. If you are feeling a little jittery about the markets, it might help to take a look at each of these legs.

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Economic News Reinforces Long-Term Investment Strategy

The economic outlook is a mixed bag after the first quarter, with positive signs and a few things that are more concerning. Let's start with the positive signs.

The stock market continues strong. The Standard & Poor's 500 is up double digits for 2019, and stock prices are still reasonable. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and GDP growth is positive. Corporate earnings are positive, although they are not as strong as they were in the first part of 2018.

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Facing Market Fears With Economic Facts

There is no doubt that the last year, especially the last half, was tough for the stock market. Many investors are feeling jittery. But it is important to differentiate between short-term drops and increases – even when those individual drops and increases are large – and long-term market outlooks. If you are worried about what will happen with your portfolio this year, it can be helpful to look at some facts.

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Making Sense of Current Markets

If you have been an investor for more than a decade, you might be getting an unsettling sense of deja vu. This current bull market – one of the longest in history – has had relatively little volatility in its nine-year run. But recent weeks have been characterized by big gains followed by bigger, stomach-lurching drops. On last Friday morning the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 10 percent from its 52-week high, putting it at least temporarily into an official correction.

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Who Wins the Race – Earnings or Tariffs?

There are times when the market movement seems not to reflect what is really going on. This is one of those times.

In the first quarter of this year, companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 reported earnings growth of almost 25 percent. In this quarter, earnings are expected to be almost as good. Yet at the start of the year, the S&P 500 was at 2683.7. At the close on July 30, the S&P was 2802.6, which is up only about 4.4 percent. If earnings are so strong, why isn't the market reflecting that?

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Volatility Clouds Tug of War Between Earnings and Interest Rates

From a purely economic standpoint, future market movement should come down to the result of a tug of war between earnings and interest rates. For some time now, we have been seeing companies report exceptionally good earnings that – especially in light of historically low interest rates for years – have continued to fuel a rise in the markets. According to FactSet Earnings Insight for April 6, the estimated Standard & Poor’s 500 earnings growth rate for the first quarter is 17.1 percent.

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What to Make of the Market Surge

Just after the new year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 25,000. Then, on January 17, it closed above 26,000. Other market indices have recorded similar rises. So what’s going on?

Well, remember the story about the three blind men and the elephant? Each of the men was touching a different part of the elephant and so had a different opinion about the kind of animal it was. That's similar to how observers see the recent market surge.

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Market Quietly Brings Good News as Bad News Grabs Our Attention

If you pay attention only to your favorite newspaper or news channel or news feed, you might be of the opinion that things are going to hell in a handbasket -- whatever political landscape you favor. In addition to national tragedies such as the mass shooting in Las Vegas and hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, there are congressional battles, international saber rattling, Cabinet upheaval and arguments about NFL players either kneeling or not kneeling. It can seem there is a circus going on in Washington.

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Markets Digest Good News, Bad News

There is a lot of news these days, but the markets don't seem to be paying much attention. The big jumps that followed the election have mostly leveled off, at least for the moment. Instead, the markets seem focused on the kind of data that drives economic rather than political fortunes. And that data is largely mixed.

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In Investing, Fundamentals Trump Politics

More than two months into the Trump presidency, its effect on the markets remains unclear. After a brief dip right after the election, the Dow Jones Industrial Average started a climb that topped out at a record-breaking close of 21,115 on March 1. Most market watchers gave at least some of the credit for the rise to optimism on the part of companies and investors about the new president's commitment to reducing regulations, cutting taxes and otherwise enacting a business-friendly agenda.

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The Markets and the New Administration

As we near the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, there seems to be a kind of underlying nervousness among many investors. This is not unusual; investors are often concerned about how the markets will adapt to a new administration. But it could be more profound than usual this time around.

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Here's Something You Can Do Something About

The markets continue to be stuck in the sort of holding pattern in which they have been stuck for months. They go up and down, but for the most part they are within a fairly small range, and they have been unable to sustain a good run.

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Worrying About the Wrong Things?

Most investors worry about the impact that certain events might have on the movement of the markets. However, the things many investors choose to worry about are often not likely to have any serious long-term effect.

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Hopping Around; Going Nowhere

Despite a fair amount of movement up and down so far in 2016, the market does not seem to be experiencing any long-term movement. In fact, Jim Paulsen, the chief market strategist at Wells Capital Management, recently referred to this as "a bunny market" because it "hops around a bit but really doesn’t go anywhere."

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Bad Time for Creative Investing

The U.S. stock markets were characterized by volatility throughout much of 2015, and the trend has continued through the start of 2016. At least until the markets settle down, we at Peachtree Investments believe this is not the time to get creative with your investing. Instead, we believe the best approach is to stick to the tried-and-true.

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Still Prettiest Girl at the Dance

The U.S. stock market has been volatile and essentially flat this year, and some investors are considering changing partners. But we believe that the U.S. market is still the prettiest girl at the dance, even though her makeup might be a little smudged and her gown a little worn.

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The Circle Game

It was 1970 when folksinger Joni Mitchell wrote about going "round and round and round in the circle game." That image seems to fit today's stock market. Every day seems to bring some kind of big news that threatens to send the markets into a tailspin or offers the hope of a huge rally. And yet, after all the ups and downs, it ends up more or less where it started.

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Show Me the Dividends

Dividends always have been a primary part of the investment philosophy of Peachtree Investment Partners. But in markets such as we are currently experiencing -- where stocks go wildly up and down but end up essentially flat -- dividends take on particular importance.

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It's a Big, Wide World, Economically Speaking

The English poet John Donne famously said, "No man is an island." The same is true of countries and their economies. And that accounts for much of the volatility in U.S. markets over the last several months.

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Staying In Your Lane

Have you ever been driving along the highway and seen another driver constantly changing lanes and cutting cars off -- putting himself and other drivers at risk -- only to wind up no farther ahead than he would have been if he had stayed where he was? The markets right now are a little like that, as some investors are nervously switching their investment approach.

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The Importance of Earnings

Especially since the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been flirting with and then finally topped the 17,000 mark, the doom-sayers have been out in force. Like Chicken Little in the well-known children's story, they are certain that the sky is falling on the market recovery.

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Tug of War

The performance of the financial markets seems to be tied to the outcome of an ongoing game of tug of war between a couple of powerful forces.

On one side are increasing interest rates. After years of keeping interest rates low to stimulate spending -– and therefore economic growth -- the Federal Reserve has made clear that it intends to start increasing rates slowly until they are back at more normal levels.

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What Happens Next?

The 113th Congress so far is the least productive in history. Paralyzed by gridlock, Congress sent a record low number of bills to the president for his signature and instead spent endless amounts of time on pointless debates; for example, the House more than 40 times voted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, although such a move was doomed in the Senate.

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Without Washington. . .

Regardless of which side you are on, you have to agree that our elected representatives in Washington could mess up a two-car funeral. As of this writing, they are engaged in an increasingly serious game of chicken that already has shut down large parts of the government and is threatening -- for the first time ever -- to fail to raise the debt ceiling to allow the U.S. to make the payments on loans and other government spending that these same elected representatives earlier authorized.

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Through the Looking-Glass

Observers of the financial markets in the last month or so must have felt a little like Alice in "Through the Looking-Glass" -- everything seems like the reverse of what it should be. More people find jobs? The markets fall. More people out of work? The markets rise.


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