Our Blog: 05/01/2019

With investment portfolios, we always discuss diversification (a key component to reducing risk). Diversification comes from buying US, foreign, and emerging marketplaces. Within those areas we invest in large, small, value, and market (development) stocks. By diversifying among these certain areas, we can build (what we should believe are) excellent portfolios. There is another aspect of diversification that we have begun to go over: taxes diversification.

When investing, we have the option to use three basic types of “tax” accounts. First, is a taxable account (Personal, Community Property, or Trust account). Here, in the year that you realize an increase or receive a dividend you pay taxes. Currently, long-term capital gains and qualified dividends are taxed at a maximum 15% rate. Ordinary dividends and short-term capital increases are taxed at the normal rate (maximum of 35%). You pay taxes each year, even though you don’t withdraw money from the account. This is the “Pay As You Go” method.

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The second type of account is tax-deferred accounts such as a Traditional deductible IRA or 401(k). These accounts give a tax deduction for the total amount that is deposited now. 10,000. The amount of money develops on a tax-deferred basis then. You can pay ordinary income tax on the total amount withdrawn. This is actually the “Save Taxes Now, But Pay Later” approach.

My favorite option is a tax-free Roth IRA. The amount of money contributed to a Roth is taxed already. You don’t pay any tax on earnings as it grows within the Roth IRA and qualified withdrawals are tax-free. The downside of the accounts is not many people are permitted to contribute and there is a maximum amount that can be contributed every year. This is the “Already Paid And Pay Nothing Later” method.

Choosing among these “tax” options is not always easy. There are many questions to ask yourself. Would I rather be taxed or in the future now? What will my tax bracket be while I retire? Will Congress change the taxes bracket levels in the foreseeable future? What are the consequences if the 15% rate (for long-term capital gains and experienced dividends) goes away? Sometimes the best answer is to diversify among all three. Nobody knows what fees shall look like in the future. Any prediction would be speculative purely. Tax diversification is a genuine way to mitigate the chance of an unidentified taxes future.

That isn’t only understandable but healthy, but please do not throw the baby out with the bathwater and get away from first concepts. Thus, refusing to use betas to estimate special discounts is alright but leaping to the conclusion that the risk should not be considered in trading is absurd. Select the risk measure that is right for you: We are fortunate to be able to estimate or gain access to different risk actions, earnings, or price based, for companies that we may be thinking about investing in.

Rather than lecturing you on what I believe is the best measure of risk, I would inwards advise that you look, because you have to discover a risk measure that works for you, not for me personally. Thus, if you are a value buyer who buys companies for the future, because you like their businesses, and you also trust accountants, an earnings-based risk measure may charm to you. On the other hand, if you are more of a trader, buying stocks and shares on the expectation that you can sell to another person at a higher price, a price-based risk measure will fit you better.

With both price and profits steps, the question of whether you want to use specific company risk or risk put into a portfolio depends upon whether you have a concentrated or diversified stock portfolio. Finally, the different risk actions that I’ve listed in this section often move jointly, as is seen in this correlation matrix. Thus, while you might use market capitalization as your risk measure and I would use beta, our risk rankings may not be very different.

In closing, whatever risk measure you select to assess investments, I am hoping that you earn profits that justify the risk taking! Data Update 1: A Reminder that equities are risky, in the event you forgot! Data Update 5: Of Hurdle Rates and Funding Costs! Data Update 6: Profitability and Value Creation! Data Update 7: Debt, neither poison nor nectar! Data Update 8: Dividends and Buybacks – Fact and Fiction! Data Update 9: Playing the Pricing Game!

While the mathematics that show the link between value and interest rates is simple, it is misleading because it does not inform the whole story. As I argued within the last section, interest movements, or down up, almost never happen in a vacuum. The expected return on equities has stayed surprisingly stable (around 8%) for much of the last 5 years, nullifying the impact of lower rates of interest and casting doubt on the “Fed Bubble” story.