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2024.Q1 PERFORMANCE

1st Quarter Recap

The 1st quarter of 2024 is closing out with a strong performance for stocks with the SP500 up 9%. The economy has been stronger than expected and that helped corporate earnings in the 4th quarter of 2023 grow by 7%, about twice what was expected by analysts. Offsetting the economic strength, inflation has remained stubbornly high which led to interest rates gradually increasing higher through the quarter.

The theme of Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the dominant factor with Nvidia rising by 82%, Arista Networks gaining 21%, and Microsoft chipping in at 15% advancement in the first quarter. AI will require significant electricity to power the data centers housing the computational systems and investors have flocked to Constellation Energy gaining 58%. Outside the technology sector, Chipotle Mexican Grill and General Electric both produced above market returns for clients in the first quarter.

Offsetting these gains, a few holdings had company specific challenges. Apple is experiencing growing competition in China and declined 11%, Adobe expected growth is being nipped by new AI competitors dropped by 15%, and EQT has been hurt by a record warm winter that pushed natural gas prices lower leading to the stock declining by 8% in the first quarter.

The Bloomberg terminal provides us with quantitative analysis of factors driving equity returns. During the first quarter companies with earnings momentum (white line) and high returns on capital tended to be leading while companies whose stocks traded at low multiples of earnings (value stocks) and high dividend yields generally lagged (yellow line) as the chart below shows.

 

 

Overall, most clients’ portfolios outperformed their benchmarks as equities led gains while fixed income holdings eked out a small gain, although better than the Bloomberg Bond Index that lost about 1%. Now on to the outlook and strategies for the 2nd Quarter and beyond.

Financial Market Outlook for the 2nd Quarter & Beyond

The consumer-led economy will probably continue to grow until something significantly changes. Bloomberg data indicates the average economist Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimate for 2024 is 2.0% in line with the long-term trend. Although inflation is still too high and lower-income persons’ wages have not kept up with inflation, overall, the economy is growing at its long-term trend of 2%.

Reducing inflation is like a diet. The last few pounds are the hardest to lose.

 

 

Consumer spending accounts for over 2/3rds of GDP. With unemployment low, job opportunities plentiful and motivation to spend, the consumer should be able to carry the economy.

Gross Domestic Product Long-Term Trend Growth of 2.0%, Inline with Projections for 2024
Chart Courtesy of JP Morgan Asset Management

 

 

Overall, the economy is performing very well, but has a few areas in need of improvement. However, if all economic factors were perfect, it would be time to sell.

While the economy is generally supportive of the financial markets, sentiment, and the flows of funds into and out of the financial markets independent of the economy heavily influence the performance of stocks, bonds, and commodities. Specifically, our favorite short term sentiment indicator of the stock market, the Put/Call Ratio, is showing signs of too much optimism. Also, the historical strength of the stock market from November to May is approaching its end. 80% of the annual gains in stocks have occurred during this period, while the summer and early fall have historically experienced some rough patches. While these are secondary factors, the trend of major indices remains up, which is our primary factor influencing our equity strategy.

 

 

Supporting the stock market, the bond market has been relatively quiet with yields inching higher. The 10 Year Treasury Bond yield remains contained under 4.5%, our “line in the sand.” Should yields break above 4.5%, the next stop could be 5% or higher. Higher bond yields would led to investors selling stocks.

 

 

Although inflation is still stubbornly too high, combined with economic growth, credit risks are declining, which is good for lenders and lowers the risk of an economic downturn. Bloomberg provides data on the yield spread between Treasury bond yields and lower grade corporate bond yields in the chart below. The decline in the spread shows that investors are willing to accept a lower risk premium for buying riskier debt.

Bloomberg Credit Spreads of High Yield Bonds to Treasuries. The decline suggests that investors are willing to accept risk in the credit markets.

 

 

Equity Holdings

Our economic assumption for 2022 is 2% growth and moderating inflation from 3% trending lower hopefully to 2% by year end.

Shifting to our strategies for portfolios, currently most client portfolios are fully invested and over weighted in equities relative to most client target allocations.

Many commodity markets are bottoming after experiencing extensive down trends over the past year. The prospect of central banks in most nations shifting towards neutral policies may be putting a floor under many markets. Another is basic economics of supply and demand. With prices of many commodities including soybeans, corn, and natural gas at the lowest prices in years, supply is beginning to contract as it’s no longer profitable to sell at low prices. EQT, a core natural gain holding, has announced a reduction of drilling after the price of natural gas slipped under $2/per million cubic ft.

The next commodity issue may be weather. After what may be the warmest winter ever for some regions, summer temperatures may lead to demand and supply challenges. The shift from an El Nino weather phenomenon to a La Nina is possible this year. A La Nina could lead to more frequent hurricanes, possibly disrupting the energy markets in the Gulf of Mexico. Further, summer heat and drought could reduce crop harvest, thus higher prices. Similarly, oil markets have supply risks as the Houthi terrorist closed the Red Sea to most ships. The war between Russia and Ukraine is also resulting in supply disruptions. All of these factors increase the chances of higher commodity prices, higher inflation and ultimately, higher interest rates. Recently, we have added to EQT, the natural gas producer and we continue to hold Oneok, the largest pipeline in the U.S. as the commodity related holdings may outperform the SP500 this summer.

When selecting positions for our equity holdings, the most important factor is the company’s competitive advantage. A competitive advantage is the unique attributes that allow it to outperform its competitors. A strong competitive advantage is one that is very difficult to copy for competitors. Often companies with strong competitive advantages produce the highest returns on investment.

Presently, our two largest holdings in most client accounts are Microsoft and Nvidia, both focused on AI products and services. Nvidia dominates the semiconductor market for AI applications while Microsoft uses Nvidia chips for use in their data centers to allow AI applications such as Copilot. AHIA (Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, Inc.) recently began using Microsoft’s Copilot, its new AI tool allows us to increase our productivity by automating routine tasks. Recent portfolio addition Dell computers also will benefit from AI as computers may need upgrades to run the AI applications that require significantly more computations. The next leg of our AI investment focus is on the electricity needed to run the cloud data centers. Most portfolios are overweighed in utilities including Constellation Energy and NextEra Energy, both positioned to benefit from the increase in power needs.

Outside of AI opportunities, our focus on competitive advantages continues to select leading companies. Garmin, a leader in GPS (global positioning system) technologies, reported a strong 4th quarter 2023 results that were significantly better than expectations. The investment industry fails to understand Garmin with only 1 analyst holding a “buy” recommendation of the 8 who research the company.

As the summer approaches record temperatures are likely, especially with greenhouse gases are at record highs (Global Monitoring Laboratory – Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases (noaa.gov)). Carrier Corp, a leader in HVAC has recently acquired Viessman Climate Solutions, a European provider of heat pumps, possibly a better way to heat and cool buildings.

Historically, the equity markets have produced returns averaging 10% per year but the range of returns is wide in any one year. Statistically, with a 65% probability, the S&P 500 can be expected to return between -10% and +20% in any given year, making stocks long-term investments.

Fixed Income – Keeping it boring.

Our hope is that the bond market remains boring with little change in yields this summer. Given that inflation is remaining above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target, it is possible that the expected cut in short-term Fed Funds from 5.25% does not occur. If short-term yields hold near current levels, it is possible that the 10-year Treasury Bond also holds near its current yield near 4.3%.

 

 

With our expectation for a static bond market, we will continue to focus on maintaining bond ladders of investment grade bonds in client portfolios. These bond ladders are customized to meet each client’s potential portfolio withdrawals over the next 5 to 7 years usually. To complement the bond ladder strategy, we continue to hold preferred stocks of Key Bank and JP Morgan in some portfolios. Both of these issues yield around 6%, significantly above the yields of most investment grade bonds, although preferred stocks do have added risks.

For taxable accounts, a combination of short-term Treasury bills and notes floating rate (yields move up and down based on short-term yields) and tax-free municipal bonds for longer – term (7 years or longer) maturities is a nice mix of predicable returns while having issues that can be sold easily if cash is needed. In tax exempt portfolios, such as IRA’s and pension accounts, we usually invest in taxable corporate and municipal bonds.

The Impact of Passive Investing

In the last 50 years, most working people have adopted “Passive Investing” as their main way to save for retirement, using 401(k)’s, IRA’s, and Target Date Funds. Passive investing, which involves the “Buy and hold” strategy, is very common. However, its simple nature means that investments are made without paying attention to broader economic trends or individual stock valuations. As a result, a large portion of the market—estimated between 30-50%—is now in passive funds, which could affect how the market behaves.

 

The issue that is emerging is the large discrepancy in the market between buyers and sellers, since passive funds control 1/3 of the market. Passive fund investors will keep buying and not selling, regardless of whether the market is at the lowest or highest point. This causes stock prices to rise above what the actual business is worth. This means that stocks are not being bought or sold based on the value of the business, as shown by less trading based on fundamental financial analysis.

 

 

Passive investing is also becoming more popular than active investing. While passive investing offers lower expense fees, it comes at the expense of active oversight. Actively managed funds benefit from continuous monitoring of markets and economic conditions, passive strategies lack this dynamic supervision. Consequently, investors may miss out on strategic opportunities to adjust portfolios in response to market shifts and capitalize on potential downturns, for example “buying the dip” during bear markets. Again, the inflow of capital into passive funds contributes to a scenario where each dollar invested is immediately turned into a buy order, potentially inflating stock prices regardless of underlying fundamentals.

At AHIA, we excel in providing active management strategies that have outperformed passive investing through a comprehensive fundamental approach. Our team analyzes stocks to identify the best investment opportunities, ensuring that our portfolios are positioned for long-term growth. Additionally, our trend-following approach allows us to dynamically allocate capital to stocks experiencing upward momentum, maximizing returns in favorable market conditions. Furthermore, we adopt a proactive stance by reducing exposure to stocks and adding to short-term money market funds in the early stages of market downturns allowing us to minimize losses, a clear advantage over a passive strategy. The funds we favor are the Fidelity Conservative Bond fund and the Fidelity Floating Rate fund. Both funds have a low expense ratio and have yielded over 5% return over the past year. This disciplined approach enables us to reinvest strategically when we anticipate favorable market conditions, ultimately delivering superior risk-adjusted returns for our clients.

Roth IRA & IRA Contribution Deadlines 2023

From Fidelity.com

If you have a traditional IRA or Roth IRA, you have until the tax deadline, or April 15, 2024, to make contributions for the 2023 tax year. You can contribute up to $6,500 to your IRA if you’re under 50 or $7,500 if you’re 50 or older for tax year 2023, subject to limitations based on your income.

SEP IRA contribution deadline 2023

If you’re a small business owner with a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA, you have until the due date for your business tax return—including extensions—to make your 2023 SEP IRA contributions of between 0% to 25% of total compensation, adjusted for self-employment taxes and the selected contribution percentage (with a maximum of $66,000). Tax filing deadlines (and therefore SEP IRA contribution deadlines) vary by business structure.

SIMPLE IRA contribution deadline 2023

Because SIMPLE IRAs are essentially IRAs that are eligible for both employer and employee contributions, they have 2 different contribution deadlines. This is an important distinction to be aware of if you’re self-employed and contributing as both an employee and employer, as you may have more time to contribute as an employee or the employer.

The Employee 2023 deferral contribution must be made as soon as possible but no later than within 30 days of the end of the month that the employee’s pay was deferred. For pay deferred in December 2023, the deadline is as soon as possible but no later than January 30, 2024. Employers have until the due date of their business tax return for tax year 2023—including extensions—to make matching or nonelective contributions.

The maximum SIMPLE IRA employee contribution for 2023 is $15,500, plus an additional $3,500 for those 50 and older.

What MED-LAW INSIGHTS Offers

  • Review MEDICARE coverage.
  • Review MEDICARE and MEDICAID coverage.
  • Review MEDIGAP &/or PRESCRIPTION DRUG plans and costs to determine if it still meets the client’s current needs.
  • Determine if the current MEDICARE ADVANTAGE plan is optimized for client’s current medical needs.
  • Work with client and/or family members to MINIMIZE out of pocket expenditures for the remainder of the plan year.
  • ENROLL client in a NEW PLAN if appropriate.
  • REASSURE clients if they are already in BEST plan for their current situation, and they that should not be stressed by “cold callers” pushing them to make inappropriate changes.
  • Return after October 2024 to review 2025 Plan Changes and determine whether it will be best to keep current plan or enroll in new plan.
  • Be available throughout the year to advocate for clients and family members for disputed Plan coverage decisions or charges.
  • Become the Agent of Record for clients who currently do not need to make any changes, but do not have an Agent to advocate for them.

Standalone Dental, Vision and Hearing Plans are also available.

DID YOU KNOW THAT MEDICARE DOES NOT COVER ALL OF YOUR SERVICES REGARDING HEALTH CARE?

Many people are surprised by this, especially when they receive unexpected big bills.

Let’s cover 5 common services that Medicare does not cover so that you can avoid those surprises and better plan for the health care services you need.

  1. Medicare does not cover long-term care expenses.

Medicare does not cover long-term care (like a nursing home). If you’re going into a nursing home, you will likely pay for that out of your own pocket if you do not qualify for Medicaid.

  1. Medicare does not cover dental.

The government does not consider dental to be medically necessary, therefore Medicare does not cover it.

There are some Medicare Advantage plans that include dental coverage, however, if you don’t have an Advantage plan that includes it and you want dental insurance, there are plenty of other ways to get those plans.

  1. Medicare only covers “medically necessary” vision concerns.

“Medically necessary” vision issues are cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and things of that nature. They are covered if you get that treatment from a doctor who accepts Medicare.

Things like eyeglasses, annual eye exams, and contacts, are not covered by Medicare.

  1. Medicare will not cover hearing aids.

Original Medicare does not cover hearing aids. It’s hard to find coverage for hearing aids in general as they are expensive. Medicare will, however, cover if you have an issue with your ears like balance or if your doctor orders a diagnostic hearing test.

  1. Overseas travel.

Medicare generally doesn’t cover health care outside of the United States. However, Medicare will cover medical emergencies within a specific timeframe of you being overseas. So please do not assume that Medicare will cover you the same on your overseas trip.

OUR TEAM

Andrew Hill

Andrew “Andy”
D. W. Hill, CFA

President and
Co-Founder

Jennifer Figurelli

Jennifer R.
Figurelli, CTFA

Managing Director
and Co-Founder

Elicha D.
Moore

Client Concierge
Representative

Sean
O'Brien

Associate
Financial Analyst

Andrew Hill

Andrew “Andy” D. W. Hill, CFA

President & Co-Founder

Andrew (“Andy”) D.W. Hill has more than 30 years of portfolio management experience. He currently serves as the President of Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, a Naples-based boutique investment advisory firm that he co-founded in 2010 with long-time business partner Jennifer Figurelli. Since its inception, the firm has steadily grown to more than $180 million in client assets under management.

Prior to forming his own firm, Andy was a Senior Portfolio Manager and regional Chief Investment Officer with two regional Trust banks. While working at both institutions, Andy served in various nationwide investment strategy capacities, including forming asset allocation recommendations and political research.

Andy holds an MBA from Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Canisius University and has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. He is a Past President of the Chartered Financial Analysts Society of Naples. Andy has been honored with induction into the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society and induction into the Canisius University DiGamma Honor Society.

Frequently interviewed by the media on the financial markets, Andy’s comments are often quoted in Investor’s Business Daily, Naples Daily News and Fort Myers News-Press. He also has appeared on CNBC and FOX.

In addition to his responsibilities with Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, Andy is a frequent speaker on the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into equity research. In 2023, he was re-appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to serve on the Big Cypress Basin Board. Andy also currently volunteers as a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.

Andy is married to Dr. Susan M. Liberski and they have a German Shepherd dog, “Ranger”. In his spare time, Andy enjoys spending time with family, fishing on his boat and relaxing at his second home in Chokoloskee, Fla.

Jennifer Figurelli

Jennifer R. Figurelli, CTFA

Co-Founder & Managing Director

Jennifer R. Figurelli, CTFA, has more than 25 years of experience in Trust and Estate Administration. She currently serves the Managing Director of Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, Inc., a Naples-based boutique investment advisory firm that she co-founded in 2010 with long-time business partner Andrew Hill. Since its inception the firm has steady grown to more than $180 million in client assets under management.

Prior to forming the firm, Jennifer was a Vice President and Senior Trust Officer with a national Trust bank. A native Floridian, Jennifer has lived in Naples since 1976. She has significant experience working with individuals who are undergoing a transition, such as retirement, death of a spouse or loved one, divorce, college expense planning, and special needs situations.

Jennifer received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Florida Southern College and holds a Legal Assistants Certificate from Florida Atlantic University. She is a graduate of the Florida Bankers Association Graduate Trust School and has earned the Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor (CTFA) designation. Figurelli also is a licensed Investment Advisor Representative in the State of Florida (Series 65).

Outside of her responsibilities with Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, Jennifer is actively involved in her community. She has volunteered with various organizations, including The David Lawrence Foundation, Youth Haven, Habitat for Humanity, Ave Maria University and St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors for Trinity Life Foundation of Naples, Inc. and is a Committee Member for Southwest Florida Council of Boy Scouts of America in Troop 165. Jennifer also is a graduate of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Collier Class of 2015.

Jennifer has been married to Michael Figurelli for 20 years and they have two children, Dante and Ginger, as well as a Shih-Poo dog “Popeye” and a domestic cat “Lovey “Dovey”. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys spending as much time as possible exploring the great outdoors.

Elicha D. Moore

Client Concierge Representative

Elicha Moore joined Andrew Hill Investment Advisors in July 2017, bringing several years of professional experience to the financial firm. Most recently, she served as an office manager at Cinnabar Design. Previously, she worked as an administrative associate at Leo Jr. Landscaping, as an executive assistant at La Mer and as an administrative assistant at Taylored Food Concepts in Champaign, Illinois.

As a student at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, Sean O’Brien has received his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance with a minor in Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Sean has internship experience as a Logistics Coordinator and Financial Analyst, and equity analysis through the Golden Griffin Fund program – Canisius’ student-run investment portfolio. Alongside his position at Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, Sean currently serves as the Graduate Assistant for the Economics & Finance department at Canisius while pursuing his MBA.

WEBSITE DISCLAIMERS & DISCLOSURE

Business Continuity and Succession Plan Disclosure Statement

Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, Inc. (“AHIA”) maintains a Business Continuity and Succession Plan (“BCP”) that has been developed with the goal of protecting the health and safety of our employees and maintaining continuity of service for our clients. Our Plan is designed to ensure that we are prepared to operate through significant business disruptions, so that our clients can access their accounts without significant interruption under most circumstances.
Key elements of our BCP include the following:

  • Critical data from our computer systems is backed up daily to geographically remote, secure facilities.
  • All AHIA employees can access its computer data remotely via secure connection. If AHIA’s primary network is not accessible, AHIA maintains replicas of all files and database servers in a geographically remote disaster recovery network available to all employees over a secure connection.
  • We maintain an office evacuation plan and emergency procedures in the event of a disaster affecting our primary office facilities or surrounding area.
  • We maintain an emergency contact list and procedures updated and distributed on a regular basis.


If your account requires servicing during a significant business disruption and we are unable to assist you, please call Fidelity Investments at 1-800-523-1203 and a dedicated team member will be able to assist you. It is impossible for us to anticipate every potential problem that may occur, but we believe our BCP will enable us to conduct business in the event of a variety of possible business disruptions. We review and test our BCP at least annually and it is subject to modification based on changing circumstances and assessment of need.

As a fiduciary, AHIA has certain legal obligations, including the obligation to act in client’s best interest. AHIA seeks to avoid a disruption of service to clients in the event of an unforeseen loss of key personnel, due to disability or death. To that end, AHIA has entered into a succession agreement with The Colony Group, LLC, effective May 24, 2019. AHIA can provide additional information to any current or prospective client upon request to Andrew D.W. Hill, President at 239-777-3188 or [email protected].

Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, Inc.
Privacy Notice

Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, Inc. (“AHIA”) believes it is essential that we maintain the privacy of the nonpublic personal information provided to us and that we obtain in connection with providing our products and services to clients.  AHIA views protecting its customers’ private information as a top priority subject to the requirements of the Federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.  AHIA has instituted policies and procedures to ensure that client information is kept private and secure. 

AHIA limits the use, collection, and retention of such information to what we believe is necessary or useful to conduct our business and to provide and offer clients quality products and services, as well as other opportunities that may be of interest. Information collected may include, but is not limited to name, address, telephone number, tax identification number, date of birth, employment status, annual income, and net worth. 

In providing products and services, we collect nonpublic personal information about our clients from the following sources: 

  • Information we receive from clients on applications or other forms (e.g. investment/insurance applications, new account forms, and other forms and agreements);
  • Information about client transactions with us or others (e.g. broker/dealers, clearing firms, or other chosen investment sponsors); and
  • Information we receive from consumer reporting agencies (e.g. credit bureaus), as well as other various materials we may use to put forth an appropriate recommendation, or to fill a service request.


AHIA does not disclose any nonpublic personal information about its clients or former clients to any non-affiliated third parties, except as permitted by law.  While servicing a clients’ account, AHIA may share some information with its service providers, such as transfer agents, custodians, broker-dealers, accountants and lawyers.  Additionally, we will share such information where required by legal or judicial process, such as a court order, or otherwise to the extent permitted under the federal privacy laws.  

AHIA restricts internal access to nonpublic personal information about clients to those associated persons of AHIA who need to access that information to provide services.  As emphasized above, it has always been and will always be AHIA’s policy never to sell information about current or former clients or their accounts to anyone.  It is also AHIA’s policy not to share information unless required to process a transaction, at the request of a customer, or required by law.

AHIA places strict limits on who receives specific information about client account(s) and other personally identifiable data. As a rule, we do not disclose nonpublic personal information we collect to others. However, because we rely on certain third parties for services that enable us to provide our advisory services to clients, such as our attorneys, auditors, other consultants, brokers, and custodians who, in the ordinary course of providing their services to us, may require access to information, we may share nonpublic personal information with such third parties. 

AHIA may also disclose such information to others upon a client’s written instructions.  Such written instructions may be amended, and/or rescinded at any time in writing.  If a client prefers that we not disclose confidential personal information about them to non-affiliated third parties who provide a product or service that we feel would benefit them, the client may direct us not to make disclosures to such non-affiliated third parties via an opt-out provision.  We restrict access to nonpublic personal information about clients to those persons associated with AHIA, who need access to such information in order to provide our products or services to clients.  We maintain physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards that comply with federal standards to guard clients’ nonpublic personal information. If a client decides to close his/her account(s) or become an inactive customer, we will adhere to the privacy policies and practices as described in this notice. 

AHIA reserves the right to change these Privacy Principles, and any of the policies or procedures described above, at any time without prior notice. However, clients will be promptly provided with a current copy of our privacy notice upon material changes or upon request.  Active clients will receive a current copy of our privacy notice at least annually. These Privacy Principles are for general guidance and do not constitute a contract or create legal rights, and do not modify or amend any agreements.   If you have questions about this privacy policy, or if you wish to amend or rescind your written instructions with us at any time, please call us at (239) 777-3188.