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Lipper: time to adjust your tools for the next investment phase –



For many years to the extent possible, I managed the Defined Contribution Plans for the NFL and the NFL Players Association. At the time of each Super Bowl, when asked which team I was rooting for, I replied “for those in the black and white uniforms”.

I hoped the officials would see all the relevant plays and correctly interpret the changing rules of the game. As it turns out, that was good training for watching the constantly unfolding investment games between buyers and sellers, various regulators, shifting weather conditions, injuries, mistakes, and pure luck.

None of the results were pre-ordained and would be argued about for many years into the future. I approach each market and market phase with the same weariness in preparing for the next market phase.

Part of the preparation is examining the terms used to describe the game, and when appropriate improve definitions. This exercise may be particularly important this year, as it appears we are close to a crossroad.

Enthusiasm vs crumbling underlying structure

Many global stock markets are rising in February, despite the historical odds that after a decline in January there is only a 22% chance that the remaining eleven months will produce a profit.

The general media, revealing their political views, interpret the various executive orders and other political pronouncements as accomplishing their goals, and see an economic expansion beyond the release from the lockdowns. It could happen, but the odds of complete success are unlikely. 

The current small-cap +5.03% and emerging market +3.07% leadership in January is like other late stages of the past. Fixed income funds often lead equity funds in terms of direction.

For the year through Thursday night, the average S&P 500 Index fund was up +3.16% vs -2.95% for the average General US Treasury mutual fund. Another worrisome note is the size of margin debt, which perhaps due to short squeeze actions has reached record levels.

A good investor should look beyond stock prices to see a different economic view, which I attempt to do. Large futures speculators are increasing their shorts in copper, Eurodollars, S&P 500 minis, emerging markets, and US Treasury bonds.

In recent blogs I mentioned the Industrial Price Index rising compared to a year ago and this week it accelerated to a gain of +33.18%. The bond market recognizes these tensions and the yield curve has continued to steepen.

Even the Congressional Budget Office sees that inflation will likely be over 2% by 2023. (My guess is that it will be a lot sooner, raising the cost of financing the politically generated deficit.)

Understanding the tools of security/fund selection

Headline writers and many marketeers prefer short words to describe complex tools, e.g., “growth” and “value”. These create good pictures or charts, with ever rising growth and ever declining value. Would it be so. As with the changing weather at a football game, conditions change, as do the useful definitions of terms. 

Speculators essentially bet on what others will pay for their shares, bonds, or loans in the future and a successful speculator primarily knows his/her markets. An investor is a partial owner of a company that at some point could be purchased by a knowledgeable buyer.

It has been the motivation of buyers and sellers in marketplaces around the world since recorded time. Perhaps in response to the “great depression”, securities analysis became a separate academic subject, distinct from older economics courses. 

Benjamin Graham was a successful analyst/portfolio manager/investor. He was also a good writer as an adjunct professor at Columbia University and worked with Professor David Dodd in writing the first textbook on Security Analysis.

Graham and Dodd were primarily interested in avoiding unnecessary investment losses in their writings and emphasized the use of financial statements, particularly balance sheets. In early editions of their six-edition book, they emphasized anticipated liquidating value, an issue appropriate during a depression.

While Ben Graham is often erroneously called the “Father of Security Analysis” and the first value investor, this is not where he and his partners in a closed-end fund made most of their money. The fund became a dominant shareholder in an insurance company which had no real equity left on its balance sheet.

What it did have in this period of substantial unemployment was a customer base of relatively low wage employed government workers. They saved and ended up controlling Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO), which Warren Buffett analyzed and eventually bought outright.

Years later I personally had the honor of taking the Security Analysis course under Dave Dodd, but I disagreed with him and believed that growth was an important factor in choosing investments. He quickly shut me up by indicating how much money they had made on their investments.

Years later, as a small entrepreneur, this led me to include growth and more importantly the evaluation of key people in making successful investments. (In evaluating three cases, one had to be closed, another was key to a bigger product, and the third was very successful).

As a side matter, I was particularly pleased to receive the Benjamin Graham Award from the analyst’s society in New York for a private matter requiring some investigative skills a few years ago.

Today, when I review financial statements, particularly the footnotes, I have little confidence they will reveal the “true value” of the company. We live in a litigious world and accounting practices are designed to protect the accountant, the underwriter, or the company itself against lawsuits, rather than to ascertain value.

However, there are some very good analysts that are pretty good at finding the range of values for a company. These analysts don’t publish their work, as they are employed by investment bankers, private equity funds, or serial acquirers.

While they don’t publish, the price of their bids and deals are known, and this sets the market price for similar deals. If I can’t get enough data, I use the multiple paid for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization on successful bids. 

To understand value investing, one needs to understand where the current market is and what is best indicated by the price of deals. These in turn are influenced by the level of interest rates used to discount future growth and the cost of acquisition.

How to measure growth

Many believe that any number larger than the previous number is growth. For valuation purposes however, what is useable are growth comparisons. They should deduct inflation, exclude acquisitions, currency changes, and the impact of changes in regulation or competition. To me, each period may be different, so a long period growth rate can be misleading. 

I like to see the consistency of growth rates. There are times when highly variable growth rates leading to above average long-term trends are valuable and times where a more consistent return is more valuable, particularly for accounts that have finite payments requirements. (For mutual funds, we measure both total return and consistent returns.)

What about both growth and value?

In truth many companies go through periods of growth and value. IBM, before it changed its name and was under Tom Watson’s management, had so much debt that it was viewed as an underwater stock.

Years later, it became the prime example of a growth stock and later still its growth slowed to the point where at times it was viewed as a value stock. Because of various recent changes I don’t know how to characterize it. What I do know, is that past financial history is not of much use to an outside investor. 

Since many companies go through numerous growth and value changes, I favor looking at many periods. However, it is more important to look at changes within the company, including the people hired at the senior and entry level, changes in product/service/prices, and the reaction to competition/regulation.


  1. Look at how things are, don’t overpay for history.
  2. Expect surprises!
  3. Take partial positions initially.
  4. Admit mistakes quickly and serially.

A former president of the New York Society for Security Analysts, he was president of Lipper Analytical Services Inc. the home of the global array of Lipper indexes, averages and performance analyses for mutual funds. His blog can be found here.

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Teaming Up To Accelerate Justicetech Startups And Investment – Forbes



Justicetech is at a pretty nascent stage. While there are some startups and investors in the area, much of the activity has happened in bits and pieces, without a comprehensive community or network, or even an agreed-upon understanding of what justicetech is. (One definition: technology startups focused on addressing problems faced by people who have been arrested, are incarcerated or are formerly incarcerated).

For that reason, impact accelerator Village Capital and impact investor American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact recently started teaming up to research and assess justicetech startups and investors and find ways to address their most pressing needs.

What they’ve found is that the most urgent need these startups face is raising capital.

“Our ultimate goal is to determine how we can mobilize capital toward justicetech solutions and startups,” says Marcia Chong Rosado, director, economic opportunity at Village Capital.

Assessing the Landscape

Their work started over the summer, when the two organizations got to talking about justicetech and what it means. Village Capital was looking closely at the sector, while, at the same time,  AmFam Institute had started to make VC investments in the area, but was having trouble identifying  the companies that best fit. “We were both struggling in our own worlds with the same issues,” says Nyra Jordan, AmFarm Institute’s social impact investment director. So they decided to work together.

The first phase included conducting a research and market assessment of the justicetech landscape. A report with those findings is slated to be released in March. Researchers identified six verticals within the sector, as well as different stages of the justice system, like incarceration and re-entry,  that startups focus on. The verticals include:

  • Financial health. Helping justice-involved people and their families achieve financial security and the ability to thrive.
  • Future of work. Expanding access to education and employment.
  • Government. Focusing on government systems—for example, making court systems more accessible and efficient.
  • Healthcare. Supporting the physical and mental health of justice-involved people.
  • Legal. Expanding access to civil and legal resources, as well as legal representation.
  • Communications. Helping people in the system stay connected with family and friends and also link up with other service providers.

Money, Not Mentors

Conversations with advisory board members revealed that by far the biggest challenge startups face is finding funding. That is, entrepreneurs don’t need mentors. They need money. And, because many are BIPOC, groups that typically have trouble finding investors, the problem is particularly acute.

That finding seemed to cry out for the need to convene existing investors, as well as new ones looking to learn more about the area, and build a justicetech investor network, thereby addressing the highly fragmented nature of the current ecosystem. To that end, in April, the team will seek out 10-12 mostly pre-seed and seed-stage investors to join the network.

Part of the work after that will involve creating a justicelens investing framework, starting by investigating such issues as appropriate business models and exit strategies, as well as how it all fits into the broader set of tools in impact measurement and management systems.

Vote of Confidence

The findings they’ve so far uncovered have, in fact, already changed how Jordan is approaching working with early-stage companies. Shortly after AmFam Institute was formed in 2018, the folks there began sponsoring local accelerator programs and boot camps aimed at what they called justicetech or criminal justice reform, though without a more-formulated definition. But the recent research caused them to rethink how to provide financial support. “People are saying we don’t need any more mentorship. We need capital,” says Jordan.

That’s meant, for example, re-assessing when to give grants vs. equity investments. Thus, while awarding, say, a $10,000 grant might be helpful in certain situations, in others an equity investment might be more useful. “If you invest with equity, you’re supporting that startup for the long-term and banking on that business,” she says. Such a message also might be likely to attract more money from other investors who would be influenced by that vote of confidence.

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Which Is a Better Investment Account: TFSA versus RRSP? – Yahoo Finance UK




Are you considering investing and searching for the top stocks to buy? Before doing so, you should know that whatever money you earn from investing entails a tax. You get a T5 slip which gives you a summary of your investment income. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) encourages Canadians to save money by offering many registered savings accounts with tax benefits. Two popular accounts are Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs).

TFSA versus RRSP

The purpose of TFSA and RRSP is different, and the CRA designed them accordingly. If you use them optimally, you can make the most of them.

The TFSA, as the name suggests, encourages a savings culture. Hence, it levies a tax on your contribution but allows your investment to grow tax-free. Moreover, you can withdraw partial or complete amounts anytime without adding them to your taxable income.

As there is a tax benefit involved, there is a cap on how much you can invest. For 2021, the contribution limit is $6,000, which you can carry forward next year. If you were over 18 years of age in 2009, when the TFSA started, you can invest a lump sum of $75,500, the accumulated contribution of all these years.

The RRSP is the exact opposite of the TFSA. The RRSP promotes retirement savings, which require you to stay invested till you retire. For that, the CRA deducts the RRSP contribution from your taxable income but adds the withdrawals to your taxable income. And if you withdraw before age 71, it deducts an additional withholding tax of 10%-30%.

Similar to the TFSA, the RRSP also has a contribution limit, which is 18% of your income or a maximum amount the CRA decides. For 2020, the maximum amount is $27,230, which you can carry forward next year.

In both the accounts, over contribution brings a 1% tax. The TFSA and RRSP combined allow you to invest $33,000/year in a tax-efficient manner. You can also check out other registered accounts for more tax-efficient investing.

Maximize returns and tax savings using the TFSA and RRSP

Now that you understand the mechanics of the TFSA and the RRSP, you can maximize your returns and minimize your tax bill. You should look at three aspects when choosing the savings account:

  • Will the security you are investing in yield high returns?

  • What is your tax bill for the year?

  • How much can you save for the long term?

The TFSA investing strategy

Use the TFSA to invest in high-growth and high-dividend stocks, which can grow your money multiple folds in few years. This is because your investment income will be higher than your contribution, and the TFSA will exclude the investment earnings from your taxable income. TFSA is popular among households with after‑tax income under $80,000, according to the 2016 Census.

The iShares S&P/TSX Capped Information Technology Index ETF (TSX:XIT) is a good choice for the TFSA. The ETF has surged 267% in the last five years, converting $10,000 into $36,700. It gives you exposure to the top tech stocks trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. This 267% growth is when the sector was at a nascent stage. It has now entered the growth stage, and the cloud, 5G, and artificial intelligence revolution will drive the wave. The ETF has holdings in some top stocks like Shopify and BlackBerry, which even tops the Motley Fool Canada recommendations.

The RRSP investing strategy

While high growth stocks are good, they come with high risk, so balance your portfolio with some resilient stocks with stable returns using RRSP. Choose this account when the tax-saving trade-off is worth it.

If your taxable income is $105,000, around $8,000 of your income falls under the 26% tax bracket. But if you put this $8,000 in RRSP, you will save over $2,062 in the federal tax bill. Now that is a good trade-off. You can invest this amount in Canadian Utilities and earn $440 in annual dividend, bringing your total savings for the year to $2,500.

Optimize the benefits of the TFSA and the RRSP and plan your investments in a tax-efficient manner.

The post Which Is a Better Investment Account: TFSA versus RRSP? appeared first on The Motley Fool Canada.

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Fool contributor Puja Tayal has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Tom Gardner owns shares of Shopify. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Shopify and Shopify. The Motley Fool recommends BlackBerry and BlackBerry.

The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Click here now for your free subscription to Take Stock, The Motley Fool Canada’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Motley Fool Canada 2021

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Onex fourth-quarter profit rises helped by private equity and credit investment gains – The Globe and Mail



Onex Corp. ONEX-T reported its fourth-quarter profit rose compared with a year ago, helped by gains in its private equity and credit investments.

The Toronto-based private equity manager, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says it earned a net profit of US$597 million or $6.61 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31.

The result compared with net earnings of US$187 million or $1.86 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2019.

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Onex reported segment net earnings — which exclude certain items — of US$708 million or US$7.72 per diluted share for its fourth quarter, up from US$211 million or $2.04 per diluted share a year earlier.

Onex manages and invests money on behalf of its shareholders, institutional investors and high net worth clients.

It also owns wealth management firm Gluskin Sheff.

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