How AI is driving investors toward tech stocks

Artificial intelligence has not only been influencing some of the daily news cycle lately, it also has played a key role in driving investors toward tech stocks. Some analysts estimate AI technology could boost the global economy by $15.7 trillion by 2030, and investors want to take advantage of that trend. AI stocks like Microsoft, which owns part of OpenAI, developer of the chat bot, ChatGPT, is up more than 36% YTD and has helped boost both the tech sector and an otherwise flat overall market in these past several weeks. While our investment team is not chasing these AI-related returns, they do note that their decision to remain invested in tech stocks despite some earlier headwinds, is paying off. In particular, the team has been pleased by the performance of the American Growth Fund of America (GFAFX), which is weighted toward stocks that are participating in the AI investment wave, and Invesco QQQ Trust, which is also heavily weighted toward AI-related stocks. As with any trending investment, it’s important to analyze an individual company’s ability to sustain its growth. This is especially true of investors who want to take advantage of AI technology but may not understand the full breadth of its function and impact on both the markets and the world at large. The key now and always is to build diversified portfolios with an eye on consistent performance and reasonable valuations based on fundamental metrics. It has been fascinating to watch the impact of AI technology on the global economy and we’re only in its infant stages. As we all make our way into this new frontier, we will continue to work hard to sort through both the opportunities and threats it generates and to proceed with analytical resolve.

The difference between a Mutual Fund and an ETF

I can count the number of times I have golfed on my fingers.  Before taking a swing, I look over the various clubs at my disposal.   I think to myself, each club has an extremely important purpose and I must choose very carefully.  No matter which club I choose a triple bogey lies in my future. You can in a sense think of ETFs and Mutual funds as different golf clubs.  They are almost the same tool but can have times when one makes more sense than the other.  Both ETFs and mutual funds are pooled investments that can hold a variety of investments inside of them.  Most ETFs are passively managed, with fewer moves occurring inside relative to Mutual Funds. One difference is that ETFs trade like a stock, so you can buy and sell during the trading day.  Mutual Funds calculate their NAV or Net Asset Value after the close of the market each day.  In golf terms, if a round of nine holes was a trading day and I was a mutual fund, I would only know my score after the round was done.  My friend ETF would keep track as we played. Another differentiator is the cost.  ETFs are cheaper on average than mutual funds.  As you may suspect there is more than just cost to consider here.  Mutual fund’s higher expenses come with the benefit of teams of industry professionals and researchers looking to enhance their fund’s return and protect it from any holdings that become undesirable. In essence, the ETFs take more of a set it and forget it approach.  ETF managers pick a target like a large stock index and try to replicate it as closely as possible.  Mutual Funds can be a little more flexible in their strategy as they are not strictly trying to keep the same weighting as an index. So which fund should I put with which type of… | Read More »

The Witch of Wall Street and her enduring legacy

They called her “the Witch of Wall Street” and Hetty Green didn’t seem to mind. Her singular focus on wringing every ounce of value out of her money made her wealthy and, more importantly, allowed her to maintain control over her own life. “It is the duty of every woman, I believe, to learn to take care of her own business affairs,” she said. While her ideas might have been radical at the time, her investing strategy was not. Hetty believed in research, patience, discernment and value. She claimed she never made a business deal without sleeping on it overnight. “I believe in getting in at the bottom and out on top,” she said. “I like to buy railroad stocks or mortgage bonds. When I see a good thing going cheap because nobody wants it, I buy a lot of it and tuck it away.” Her estimated worth at the time of her death at the age of 82 in 1916 was between $100 million to $200 million (equivalent to $2.35 billion to $4.7 billion today), the vast majority of which was earned via her own efforts. In fact, Hetty had to bail out her husband Edward more than once and left him after she had to put up $500,000 of her own money to cover his losses when his bank failed in 1884. She also bailed out the city of New York with a $1.1 million check in 1907 and negotiated her repayment in short-term bonds. A firm believer in pre-nuptials, Hetty not only made Edward sign one prior to their marriage, she also insisted her daughter’s husband sign one and encouraged all women to protect their assets in marriage. So frugal she wore the same single black dress and, reportedly, undergarments until they fell apart, Hetty remains listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest miser. However, she also quietly supported many charities and said… | Read More »

A life of grit, gut-instinct and glory

In honor of Black History Month, we are honoring key members of the African American community who have made a lasting impact on the financial industry. Robert Reed Church led an extraordinary life of grit, gut-instinct and ultimately glory. Son of a slave and a river boat captain, Church rose to such social and financial prominence that he has continued to wield influence long after his death 109 years ago. While working as a porter, he survived both a shipwreck and capture by Union soldiers during the Civil War. Dropped off by them in Memphis, he began building his fortune by purchasing and successfully managing a saloon. During the Memphis Race Riot, he was shot and left for dead outside his own establishment while his assailants ransacked the place – smashing bottles, breaking furniture and stealing cash and merchandise. He not only survived the assault, he vowed to rebuild in the same spot and, from there he launched a career that made him a millionaire and transformed the city he loved. He stayed in Memphis when nearly everyone else fled the city during a Yellow Fever epidemic, then he purchased the property they left behind. Among his holdings was a tract of land along Beale Street on which he built a large auditorium that later hosted world-famous entertainers and several U.S. presidents. His development also included property he had landscaped into a park with a playground. Following that epidemic, Memphis lost the majority of its tax base, so Church stepped up and became the first citizen to buy a bond for one thousand dollars to restore the City Charter. He helped found the first black-owned and operated bank in Memphis and avoided a run on it during the 1907 Panic by placing bags of money in its windows with signs assuring depositors that he had adequate reserves. He built a mansion that remained in his family until 1953 when it… | Read More »

The legacy of Alonzo Herndon

In honor of Black History Month, we are honoring key members of the African American community who have made a lasting impact on the financial industry. History loves rule-changers, game-changers and world-changers, and Alonzo Franklin Herndon elegantly achieved all three. Born into slavery in 1858, Herndon rose to become Georgia’s first black millionaire and he built an industry along the way. Recognizing a need for low-to-moderate income earners to have access to life insurance, Herndon founded Atlanta Life Insurance Company with a $140 investment. Today, that company spans 17 states and remains the only African-American owned and privately held stock company in the country with a financial services platform that includes asset management and insurance. Emancipated as a small boy following the Civil War, Herndon and his family began their free life in abject poverty. They all worked as sharecroppers and young Alonzo also helped out by peddling goods and working odd jobs. Due to these financial constraints, he managed just one year of formal education in his entire life. He reportedly left his hometown with just $11, which he used to begin learning how to become a barber. A quick learner with a natural business mind, he eventually owned three highly successful barber shops in and around Atlanta. The flagship shop, called the Crystal Palace, featured gold fixtures, marble floors and crystal chandeliers, and catered to the city’s elite white businessmen. In a painful irony, Herndon could not enter the front door of his own business due to Jim Crowe Laws. Still, he saw his customer base as opportunities to learn, he enjoyed picking their brains while he cut their hair and he used this knowledge to build an astonishing legacy. He began purchasing real estate and eventually owned 100 properties, including a stately mansion he helped design that became his family’s home. Today, you can tour that home and appreciate its fine details. In 1908 Herndon bought a… | Read More »