Is Bitcoin The Place To Be In A Volatile Market

Many investors have called Bitcoin the digital version of gold. Obviously, we know it is in a lot of ways the digital version of cash, but the comparison to gold would potentially mean that if the stock market continues to be volatile or potentially crash, then Bitcoin would be an excellent place to be invested.

However, while someday Bitcoin may genuinely be the digital version of gold, it is not yet trading as such, I’ll explain in a moment, and therefore is not likely the best place to be parking your cash while the stock markets decide which direction it wants to go.

A simple chart of with the price of Gold and the price of Bitcoin overlaid on top of each other, clearly shows the two investments have not moved side-by-side over the past year, let alone the past month when the stock has been flipping from trading lower by 1% to trading higher by the same amount every few days. Since August 8th, 2018 Bitcoin and Gold have moved in the same direction at the same time just 51% of the time. Not really movements or assets that I would call correlated. Although, since May 8th, 2019, around the time we started seeing an uptick in volatility in the stock market, the two assets have been moving in sync 58%. Still not a sign of strong correlation, but better than before and a sign that someday, Bitcoin and Gold may move much closer together.

At this time, though there are just too many unknowns with the future of Bitcoin from both a legal standpoint and an adoption standpoint for it to trade hand-in-hand with Gold.

First and foremost, Bitcoin is illegal in a handful of countries around the world. China is the largest anti-crypto country, but the list also includes Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Continue reading "Is Bitcoin The Place To Be In A Volatile Market"

5 Marijuana ETFs You Can Invest In Today

Until April Exchange Traded Fund investors only had one legitimate option, the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ), if they wanted to invest in the marijuana industry. But in April the AdvisoreShares Pure Cannabis ETF (YOLO) began trading. Then in July, the industry saw a marijuana boom when three new ETFs focused on the controversial industry began trading. On July 9th The Cannabis ETF (THCX) began trading, then the 23rd saw the Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF (CNBS) begin trading and finally on the 25th the Cambria Cannabis ETF (TOKE) opened for business.

Before we get into the differences of each ETF, I wanted to let everyone know that for the most part, all five of these ETFs are rather easy to buy. In the past when I have written about the marijuana ETFs, I often mentioned the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (HMMJ) which is actually traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Thus for U.S. investors, it can be difficult to purchase this fund unless you have an account which allows trading on foreign exchanges and in my experience, most retail investors don’t have those types of accounts.

I know these five are all easy to buy because I actually bought all five of them. I have two different brokerage accounts, one with Merrill Lynch and one with TD Ameritrade. The TD account allowed me to purchase all five ETFs with absolutely no issues and the Merrill Lynch account allowed me to buy MJ no problem. However, the Merrill Lynch account required that I call in and have a Merrill Lynch representative assist with the purchase of YOLO, THCX, CNBS, and TOKE, but not because they were marijuana ETFs but because they were thinly traded or had small asset bases.

So, let’s take a look at the five US listed marijuana ETFs and see what makes them different. Continue reading "5 Marijuana ETFs You Can Invest In Today"

Stock Buybacks May Be Slowing, But Still At Record Levels

Stock buybacks are off their 2018 pace when corporate America spent over $800 billion in share repurchases, but they are still high based on historical figures. One estimate, based on where share buybacks have been during the first two-quarters of 2019 point to companies spending roughly $740 billion in 2019 on share repurchase. For comparison, in 2017 companies spent $519 billion, in 2016 there was $536 billion spent, and in 2015 $572 billion was spent rebuying shares.

There are several reasons share buybacks are hitting even lofty levels than in the past. One is the tax cuts that went into effect last year, another being the fact that we are now in the tenth year of a bull market. At this point in a market cycle, there is a combination of company management teams not wanting to make large capital expenditures and not having any large projects they feel are worth spending money on.

Typically, we see large expenditures taking place during the first few years of a bull market, or shortly after a recession has come to an end because this is when new opportunities present themselves to companies for many different reasons. It could be because that is when capital is cheap due to low-interest rates, weaker businesses are struggling from the recession, so the price to purchase them is low, and or there are ‘fire’ sales as the remains companies that failed during the recession are sold off piece by piece.

Regardless of the reasons why corporate America has decided this is the time to buy-back stock, the fact remains record amounts of money are being spent. The benefits of stock buybacks are highly debated, but one thing is for sure, and that’s when companies spend money on stock buybacks, their earnings per share figures usually look better, even if the business itself isn’t growing. This is because when you have fewer pieces of the pie to split, each piece of the pie gets a little bigger. So, even if we are headed towards a recession, buying companies that are purchasing large amounts of their stock will keep their earnings per share figures somewhat healthy in the short run. So, let’s take a look at a few different ETFs that focus on companies who are buying back their stock. Continue reading "Stock Buybacks May Be Slowing, But Still At Record Levels"

ETFs That Focus On Military-Friendly Companies

Most people would agree that military life isn’t an easy one, both while serving and once someone becomes a veteran. But there are a few companies that are trying to make our service members lives easier both while they are serving in the armed forces and after they hang up their uniforms.

Obviously, while someone is a member of any of the branches of our military, they are using tools, weapons, vehicles, and technology built by an aerospace and defense company which makes their lives easier and ideally their jobs safer. Let’s take a look at a few Exchange Traded Funds that operate in the development and manufacturing of these products.

One of the larger aerospace and defense ETFs, based on assets under management is the iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF (ITA). The fund carries a 0.43% expense ratio, it holds 35 stocks, with the top ten representing 75.44% of the assets, (largely due to Boeing Company (BA) and United Technology (UTX) representing 22.97% and 15.52% of the fund respectively). ITA also has a nice 1.09% dividend yield, a weighted average market cap of $80.96 billion, and average trading volume of $30.15 million. The fund has also been in existence since 2006, and its ten-year average annual performance is a positive 19.44%, making this one of the better performing ETFs over the last decade. Year-to-date the fund is up 24.25%. Continue reading "ETFs That Focus On Military-Friendly Companies"

Could Lithium Become The Best Performing Commodity

Most investors know of the little car company called Tesla (TSLA) and how it is leading the industry in electric vehicles (EV’s). But what some may not know is that every single major car manufacturer around the world is attempting to compete with Tesla and produce EV’s themselves.

This increase in electric vehicle availability and production in the future is great for reducing carbon emissions caused by standard gas combustion engines. Furthermore, if the EV revolution takes hold like most believe it will, the impact on the oil markets will certainly be felt, but lower demand for one commodity will likely mean higher demand for another.

Lithium is a key component in the namesake battery, ‘lithium-ion-battery,’ which by the way, is currently the main battery used for high powered electronics and EV’s. While it's evident that small hand-held electronics (smartphones, tablets, laptops) continue to grow in popularity worldwide, those devices don’t require the same amount of lithium as what some predict the electric vehicle market will consume in just a few years.

In 2018 EV sales rose 81% over sales figures in 2017, this was primarily due to Tesla’s Model 3 hitting 139,000 units sold. The Model 3 had such a significant impact on the market due to its low cost, but still, highly fashionable appearance and other high-tech features and amenities that other lower-priced EV’s like the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf don’t offer.
The Model 3’s success shows that if you offer higher-end features and options in EV’s that consumers want, they will buy them. We recently saw Ford using a model of its Electric F 150 truck pull a 1.25-million-pound train. Tesla has shown models of its electric pickup truck, not to mention its Semi-truck electric vehicle.

With rapidly increasing numbers of EV’s being sold and now more options in terms of types of EV’s soon to hit the market, it's hard to see how the demand for lithium doesn’t increase in the coming years. Which is why now may be the best time to buy up some lithium-based Exchange Traded Funds and sit on them while other investors push the prices higher once they realize they missed the boat.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few lithium-based ETFs you can buy today. Continue reading "Could Lithium Become The Best Performing Commodity"