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Everyone needs a plan

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By Michael O’Connor  

Instead of obsessing over your hypothetical investment misses, put a plan in place to capture future opportunities.

I spoke last week about the abundance of opportunities in the current market. Yet, many investors remain transfixed on the opportunities they have already missed instead of putting the necessary steps in place to ensure they will be in a position to take advantage of the next opportunity.

People look at the run the stock market has been on since the drawdown in March 2020, rue the fact that they didn’t put everything they own into the high-flying tech stocks when they had the chance and then return to their everyday lives as if another opportunity will never arrive. In reality, the next opportunity is always just around the corner.

In the investing world, fortune favours the prepared. Those who know what they want to do and how they plan to do it will be able to strike while the iron is hot.

Here are a few tips to get you started with your investment plan

Know your numbers:

Understand your own investing goals, time horizon and target account size. This information will dictate how your investment plan needs to be structured to reach your goals.

Understand the basics:

Learning basic valuation metrics such as the PEG ratio, Price-to-sales, debt-to-equity, and Free Cash Flow will allow you to compare companies and sectors. You don’t necessarily need to calculate these numbers, as much of the information is readily available. You simply need to understand what they represent and when these figures are above or below expectation. This screening will prevent you from getting caught up in any overhyped growth stories or falling into any value traps.

Narrow your focus:

The investing universe is far too vast to truly be an expert in all areas. Trying to jump on every opportunity without the relevant knowledge is simply gambling. Focus on what you know and seek out opportunities in these areas.

Set up a watchlist:

Familiarise yourself with a chosen list of companies that are of particular interest to you. By closely tracking these preferred names, you will be able to notice and take immediate action when a buying opportunity presents itself.

Implement a rules-driven process:

When investing, your worst enemy tends to be yourself. Your emotions will introduce inherent uncertainty that is notoriously difficult to overcome. The ups and downs of the stock market can stir up costly emotions. Fear and greed.

Disciplined investors actively use a set of proven rules that protect them from themselves.

By implementing a rules-based approach, you can impose discipline on your decision-making by taking it out of your hands entirely. Tools like the humble checklist, Dollar-cost averaging, stock screening and stop-loss orders can help structure and simplify a world that is often overwhelming. The less factors you need to account for before making a decision, the more likely you are to invest when the opportunity presents itself.

By following these simple steps, you’ll be the one who is ready to invest when an opportunity arises while the competition is busy making up more anecdotes about another missed opportunity.

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2023 Market Predictions

By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com For me, investing is just a potent mix of optimism and paranoia – being optimistic about what the future holds but constantly paranoid about the landmines […]

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By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com

For me, investing is just a potent mix of optimism and paranoia – being optimistic about what the future holds but constantly paranoid about the landmines that you will undoubtedly trigger along the way.

Finding a balance between the two is key, but I have to admit, going into 2023, paranoia appears to have the upper hand.

Expectation vs Reality

Whether you are waiting on test results, or tentatively hovering over the phone for that all important call back from your potential new employer, it’s the difference between expectation and reality that dictates the severity of your reaction.

Regardless of how bad the reality turns out to be, if your initial expectations were set apocalyptically low, your reaction will probably be positive and vice versa.

Financial markets work the same way. As I have said before, investing is never about things being objectively good or bad. The narrative is always based around better or worse. If the outlook for markets is exceptionally high and the performance falls even slightly below these expectations, prices will fall as a result. The fact that performance and growth is still strong in absolute terms is irrelevant if expectation were not met. With this in mind, in order to understand how markets will react in 2023, we must first analyse the market’s expectations.

The Year Ahead

On the equity side, 12-month forward earnings projections for the S&P 500 are set at 5%. In other words, analysts predict American companies will grow their profits by 5% next year.

While this represents a significant slowdown in growth relative to what we have experienced since the pandemic pullback in early 2020, I view this as optimistic, given the considerable change in monetary and fiscal policy in 2022.

Q3 2022 earnings season looks likely to finish at 2% year-over-year growth, the weakest since the height of the pandemic. Ex-energy, performance becomes weaker still.

Looking ahead to Q4 2022, analysts are now predicting the first negative quarter since 2020, with profit growth falling to -2%. These Q4 earnings predications from the same analysts were as high as +9% as recently as June.

While expectations for ‘23 are still at plus 5% earnings growth, I wouldn’t be surprised to see 2023 earnings forecasts suffer the same faith as the Q4 2022 forecast.

In short, markets are a bit like the Irish weather, never believe the forecast.

As leading indicators continue to point towards a slowdown in economic activity, a base case of positive 2023 earnings growth becomes difficult to justify. In my view, this will result in some negative earnings surprises in the second half of 2023.

In Fixed Income markets, the Fed has reiterated its plan to hold rates higher for longer, and this expectation is reflected in markets. According to the market-implied Fed Funds Rate, investors are now expecting US short term interest rates to peak at 4.9% in six months and remain well above 4% into 2024.

In my view, the probability of the Fed maintaining a long pause as we enter more economically uncertain times is not as high as the market is predicting. I believe a pivot is likely before 2024 as earnings and labour markets weaken.

Summary

While the lows for multiples may already be in, a mild earnings recession in the second half of 2023 may result in a slow grind lower for the stock market.

This pullback in earnings and labour will prompt a pivot from the Fed, forcing them to cut rates in an attempt to avoid the re-emergence of the disinflationary forces that provoked a decade of QE through the 2010s.

While it is impossible to know the exogenous shocks that lie ahead, buying up short-term Treasuries and maintaining a tilt toward value-based equity will protect if the current economic slowdown persists.

For more tips on how to beat the market in 2023, simply go to www.theislandinvestor.com.

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How to prevent oil escaping

By John Healy of Healy Insurances These tips will help you to prevent the loss of oil around your household. Plastic oil tanks should be regularly checked and replaced immediately […]

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By John Healy of Healy Insurances

These tips will help you to prevent the loss of oil around your household.

Plastic oil tanks should be regularly checked and replaced immediately when any defects are identified.

This is especially important after periods of extreme hot or cold weather as tanks that are outside and exposed to the elements may have been damaged.

Regardless of the oil tank’s age, you should check your tank at least twice a year for signs of cracking and/or failure. This damage is often a result of weathering or poor installation.

If an oil tank is installed without full horizontal support, it can cause the tank to become warped over time and eventually lead to cracks and leakage. If in doubt refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

In the event that defects are discovered, the tank should be immediately replaced to prevent any further oil from escaping. If an escape of oil occurs it may cause damage to the environment, which can result in your property being uninhabitable, and you may require temporary accommodation.

An oil tank should be refilled before it runs completely empty. This is because they accumulate grit over time. Refilling the tank early causes the grit to become diluted, meaning that it won’t create low grade fuel which will cause damage to your home’s supply piping.

Oil levels can be monitored easily by simply using a long stick.

More advanced methods of calculating how much oil is left in a fuel tank such as a Watchman System will not only tell you how much oil remains in the tank itself, but will signal you with an alarm when it is time for you to refill it.

When purchasing oil, always be sure to do so from a reputable and trustworthy source as this will ensure that you are getting quality fuel. Fuel purchased from unlicensed sources may be of very poor quality, and not necessarily be what it is labelled as, so could potentially do more harm than good to your piping and fuel supply system.

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