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| 9 min read

Minimizing Market Risk Through Low-Cost ETFs

With stock market volatility, investors can feel some trepidation when deciding where and how to invest their money. Incorporating low-cost exchange traded funds (ETFs) into long-term investment strategies can provide a viable solution for those looking to safeguard their portfolios from unanticipated risks —without sacrificing returns.

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| 9 min read

Rollover IRA: How to Rollover Your 401(k)

What Can I Do with My 401(k)?

When you have an employer-sponsored retirement account, like a 401(k) or 403(b), it is important to know your options if you leave your job. After all, you want to keep and manage your investments without having to pay a penalty for making the wrong choice. Your options include:

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| 3 minutes read

MTC 2023 Market Outlook: Earnings Update

The MTC Investment Team presents the 2023 Market outlook:

  1. The Great Reset – Jason Ritzenthaler, CFA, CTFA
  2. Fixed Income Update – Kate Braddock, CFA
  3. Equity Market Outlook – Jonnathan De Jesus CFA, CIPM
  4. Economic Outlook – Chris Morgan, CFA, CFP®, CAP
  5. Earnings Update – Katie Cihal, CFA, CPA
  6. Geo-Political Update – Sharon Giuffre, CFA, CAP

Earnings Update – Katie Cihal, CFA, CPA

The oxymoron “educated guess” is often used in scientific fiction movies or in quiz shows. People take an educated guess when they are not sure of an answer or how to solve a puzzle but guess it by adding all the information that they have to make a conclusion. In the investment profession, analysts use historical information, company guidance and outlook, central bank decisions, global economic outlooks and other factors when coming up with educated guesses, or “estimates,” to help guide the investment process. These estimates can aid our decision making in terms of what types of securities to buy, sell or hold in investment portfolios. While estimates are just that, we think they are a valuable tool to consider to best serve our clients’ investment needs. One such estimate that we look at is corporate earnings per share (“earnings”) growth.

With one reporting quarter remaining, current 2022 S&P 500 earnings growth is expected to be 5.5%1. Consensus analyst estimates for 2023 project S&P 500 earnings to rise 4.1%1 which would represent modestly slower growth year-over-year. The reason earnings growth is expected to slow is due to high inflation and elevated interest rates taking an even bigger toll on companies who are bracing for the likelihood of more moderate global economic growth. This forecast would represent the slowest full-year profit growth since 2020 and the start of the coronavirus pandemic2.

Although we have started to see inflation decline on the margin in recent months, it remains quite high with the Consumer Price Index at 7.1% in November 2022. This does not only affect the consumer, as the cost of goods is much higher today than it was a few years ago, but it also affects companies’ earnings as it costs more and more to offer products and services to the consumer, thereby eating into the bottom-line.

This environment has helped some companies’ earnings while hurting others, based on their specific sector or industry. Companies that have weathered this environment are ones that are more agile and those that can pass on higher costs to their customers. Companies in sectors like Energy are more poised to be able to do this than companies in other sectors like Consumer Discretionary and Technology. In addition, the dollar’s surge against other currencies in 2022 negatively impacted earnings of many U.S. companies, making it more expensive for US multinationals to convert their foreign earnings back into the dollar.

Current analyst expectations are for S&P 500 earnings to reach $231 in 20232, while our median estimate is $229. Therefore, we do expect 2023 earnings to come in near consensus estimates. It is important to note that consensus estimates have come down from over $2502, so analysts have become more cautious towards the end of 2022. From this data, we can extrapolate if the estimate of $231 holds to be true, despite potential downturn in early 2023, earnings should turn positive in the later part of 2023, leading to a positive returns for the full year.

We do expect an overall positive return on the S&P 500 in 2023, which will echo historical data as we continue to see lowering inflation and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in our rearview mirror.

As always, we appreciate your confidence in us to help you manage your long-term financial goals and are always here to help!

External Sources: Refinitiv1, Factset2

Trust services provided by Members Trust Company, a federal thrift regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Trust and Investment products are not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured. May lose value. No financial institution guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice regarding your situation. For legal or tax advice, please consult your attorney and/or accountant. Any opinions expressed are those of the presenter and do not necessarily reflect the position of Members Trust Company.

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| 5 minutes read

MTC 2023 Market Outlook: Geo-Political Update

The MTC Investment Team presents the 2023 Market outlook:

  1. The Great Reset – Jason Ritzenthaler, CFA, CTFA
  2. Fixed Income Update – Kate Braddock, CFA
  3. Equity Market Outlook – Jonnathan De Jesus CFA, CIPM
  4. Economic Outlook – Chris Morgan, CFA, CFP®, CAP
  5. Earnings Update – Katie Cihal, CFA, CPA
  6. Geo-Political Update – Sharon Giuffre, CFA, CAP

Geo-Political Update – Sharon Giuffre, CFA, CAP

2022 will be remembered as a year where there were few places for investors to hide. The worldwide events led to turbulent and volatile markets. The confluence of multiple factors set the stage for a year of upheaval, uncertainty, and instability in the worldwide financial arena. Although the end of the bull market that investors had enjoyed had long been pondered as to when and how it would happen, the way the events of 2022 unfolded were not for the faint of heart.

The year began with the appearance of a potential global recovery rising from the post-covid ashes, with major market indices having reached new highs in the last months of 2021. Even though inflation was rising, there was still the thought, and hope, that it would prove to be transient. Those hopes were dashed as inflation continued to rise, supply chain issues hit home, and tensions between Russia and Ukraine intensified. When Russia commenced war in late February, supply chain issues escalated, and a rally in crude oil and gold prices ensued, with WTI oil hitting $129 per barrel in March, a level not seen since 20081.

As we moved into the second quarter, financial woes being felt in the US reverberated across Europe and elsewhere in the world, creating wavering consumer confidence. The US CPI inflation rate continued to climb to 9.1%, unseen since the 1980s, with similar increases mirrored in Europe and other spots around the globe2. While the US Federal Reserve (“Fed”) began rate hikes to curb inflation, corresponding measures were being enacted in other parts of the world to address the rapidly spiking inflationary pressures. Markets, domestically and globally, suffered widely fluctuating price movements, as other signs of deteriorating economic conditions unfolded in rising mortgage rates, plunging home sales, skyrocketing consumer prices for food and goods, and fears of recession taking hold. However, even though many countries including the US, were in bear market territory, earnings held up surprisingly well, resulting in a bear market rally. However, more negative news surfaced, ending the much welcomed, although fleeting market strength. Value stocks outperformed growth, with investors seeking more defensive havens.

China, which had been exercising a zero-Covid  policy with severe measures in place, saw a worsening economy, exacerbating global market weakness over fears of the breadth of China’s economic woes. Furthermore, in the last part of the year, China changed its policy about Covid restrictions, which resulted in a rapid surge in cases and newfound concerns.

Conditions also worsened for the UK and Europe mid-year as Russia reduced gas supplies to Europe. In addition, the Euro fell to parity with the US dollar, not seen in 20 years, paving the way for a likely recession in much of Europe3. Their woes and turmoil continued, with the extreme unpopularity of Boris Johnson’s successor, Liz Truss, as Prime Minister, leading to a rapid change to the UK’s third Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, in the short span of two months, all of which contributed to tremendous downward pressure on its financial markets. This happened on the heels on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, their monarch of over 70 years, and the countless transitions that accompanied such a monumental change.

Even though widespread global economic weakness began to translate into corporate earnings estimates, the markets enjoyed remarkable strength in October and November, with a hopeful but measured confidence in improving economic conditions.

Unfortunately, lingering fears of recession re-emerged in December, as the Fed continued their rate hikes with inflation remaining high, causing further weakness in market levels.

Despite the many factors that created the widespread volatility in the equity and fixed income markets throughout the year, both domestically and globally, we look forward with optimism. While some anticipated that the bull market would ultimately draw to a close, no one could have predicted the far-reaching impact that the pandemic would have on every aspect of our lives, nor how its aftermath would ripple through our economies and markets. As we hopefully have the worst behind us, we strive to assess how we can best serve our clients moving forward. With recession appearing inevitable for many countries across the globe, we must use this time to determine the best course of action and identify those areas of the markets which will weather the market gyrations in the coming months. We believe that even if we do enter a recession, it will not be lengthy in duration, and that we will see positive, but modest returns for the major indices in the coming year. Even though the Energy sector will likely be the only area of the market having emerged from 2022 with positive numbers, we look for strengthening in other areas of the market, over the coming year, which we will believe will be echoed in many of the global economies as they begin the recovery process. We also feel that the widespread weakness in many markets globally presents unique and exciting investment themes for 2023, particularly in emerging markets, which rallied in the last three months of 2022, injecting positive energy into our domestic markets.

We appreciate the opportunity to serve you, our clients, in navigating through these challenging, but potentially rewarding investment options that this past year has created.

External sources: CNBC.com1, BLS2, Google Finance3

Trust services provided by Members Trust Company, a federal thrift regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Trust and Investment products are not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured. May lose value. No financial institution guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice regarding your situation. For legal or tax advice, please consult your attorney and/or accountant. Any opinions expressed are those of the presenter and do not necessarily reflect the position of Members Trust Company.

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| 5 minutes read

MTC 2023 Market Outlook: Equity Market Outlook

The MTC Investment Team presents the 2023 Market outlook:

  1. The Great Reset – Jason Ritzenthaler, CFA, CTFA
  2. Fixed Income Update – Kate Braddock, CFA
  3. Equity Market Outlook – Jonnathan De Jesus CFA, CIPM
  4. Economic Outlook – Chris Morgan, CFA, CFP®, CAP
  5. Earnings Update – Katie Cihal, CFA, CPA
  6. Geo-Political Update – Sharon Giuffre, CFA, CAP

Equity Market Outlook – Jonnathan De Jesus CFA, CIPM

It’s that time of year again, time to dust off our crystal ball and peek into 2023’s stock market! We joked last year about 2022 sounding like 2020 too–in some ways it might have been nice to have the same returns in the U.S. Equity market. Instead, 2022 was a year with persistent declines in prices across most major Equity investments and above-average volatility, as measured by the CBOE Volatility Index. Despite the unpredictability of the future, we believe there are a few notable themes from 2022 that will continue into 2023 and that will impact Equity returns.

Valuations – Stock market valuations refer to the price of stocks in relation to financial measures of fundamental value. The Price-to-Earnings (P/E) is one of the most common measures of valuation in the stock market. We use the P/E ratio as a proxy for investor expectations of future growth. Increases in the P/E ratio suggest that investors expect elevated levels of future growth and are willing to pay a high price for the future growth of the company. Decreases in the P/E ratio suggest that investors expect slower future growth and are not willing to pay a high price for the future growth of the stock. The P/E ratio in the US, as measured by the P/E ratio of the S&P 500 Index on Bloomberg, fell in 2022. The P/E ratio is now closer to the long-term historical average. In 2023, we expect the P/E ratio of the S&P 500 Index to remain within historical norms as investors continue to adjust their required returns on investments (ROI). Throughout 2023, as it was in 2022, valuations will be impacted by the decisions of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). The FOMC raised the Fed Funds Rate (FFR) from 0.23% at the start of 2022 to 4.50% at the end of 2022. This decision also impacted the rates on long-term U.S. Treasury bonds, as those rates rose as well. As long-term U.S. Treasury Bond rates rose, the required ROI of investors increased. We believe the combination of a higher ROI and increased volatility explains why valuations fell in 2022. In 2023, we expect investor ROI and volatility to remain within historical norms, in line with our expectations for the P/E ratio of the S&P 500 Index.

Sector – Sectors refer to groups of companies that are classified based on the type of business they are in or the products and services they offer. One of the most common sector classification methodologies is that which is utilized in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Composite Stock® Index (“S&P 500®”). Comparing the relative performance of sectors helps investors see trends developing within the Equity market.

In 2022, we saw some extremes in the relative performance of a few sectors. The total return of the Energy sector in 2022 was 64.17% while the total return of the Consumer Discretionary and Communication Services sectors were -36.27% and -37.63% respectively1. The average total return in 2022 for the remaining sectors was -10.50%. When we look at some of the members of the Energy sector, we see that Exxon Mobile and Chevron make up approximately 42% of the sector, as measured by the ETF XLE on 09/30/20222. Both firms benefited from the higher energy costs throughout the world. The significant members of the Consumer Discretionary sector, Amazon and Tesla, make up approximately 44% of the sector, as measured by the ETF XLY on 09/30/20222. The significant members of the Communication Services sector, Meta and Google, make up approximately 29% of the sector, as measured by the ETF XLC on 9/30/20222. We believe that one of the main reasons for the extremes in relative sector performance in 2022 is attributable to the performance of Value stocks relative to Growth stocks.

Value vs Growth – Value stocks are investments that investors believe are underpriced relative to their future growth and pay higher dividends. Growth stocks are investments that investors believe deserve a high price for their current earnings as investors expect the investments to have above-average growth in the future and pay low to no dividends. In 2022, S&P 500 Value stocks significantly outperformed S&P 500 Growth stocks. Value stocks, as measured by our holding VTV, had a total return of -2.07% in 20221. Growth stocks, as measured by our holding VUG, had a total return of -33.15% in 20221. Growth stocks, like META (-64.22%), Amazon (-49.62%), and Tesla (-65.03%), struggled in 2022 as the general rise in interest rates reduced the fair value of their expected growth in future cash flows1. Value stocks, like Exxon Mobile (80.26%) and Chevron (58.48%), performed better than Growth stocks as their fair value was not as dependent on their expected growth in future cash flows1. While we do not expect interest rates to rise in 2023 at the same rate that they rose in 2022, we do expect Value stocks to outperform Growth stocks in 2023. The Equity investments in our models are built to benefit from the expected outperformance of Value stocks since our models have more Value exposure relative to Growth exposure.

While forecasting the future is not an exact science, we do believe that considering a range of factors helps give us a sense of how we can best be prepared. In 2023 we will continue to diversify portfolios and focus on fewer, smarter decisions.

External Sources: Bloomberg1, State Street2, ETF Factsheet3

Trust services provided by Members Trust Company, a federal thrift regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Trust and Investment products are not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured. May lose value. No financial institution guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice regarding your situation. For legal or tax advice, please consult your attorney and/or accountant. Any opinions expressed are those of the presenter and do not necessarily reflect the position of Members Trust Company.

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