We’re about to enter the summer trading season. It’s typically marred with a slow-moving market, as Wall Street traders hit up the Hamptons and other trendy venues for vacation.
But we’re not just dealing with a sluggish trading season. We’re dealing with a nearly-stalled global economy as well. Eurozone business growth has hit a 16 month low. Export-dependent Japan has reported another decline this week—marking 7 consecutive months now.
It’s easy to see why the old market proverb “Sell in May and go away” makes sense. Looking ahead for the next few months, stocks will likely trade sideways at best. At their worst, they could do what they’ve done for the past year: pull back 10 percent or so at least once, and fail to mark new highs.
And to top it all off, last week the Fed reminded investors that, yes, they could raise interest rates a quarter point in June. Such a small hike shouldn’t affect markets too much. But coming off the zero-percent rates of the financial crisis, there’s some understandable apprehension in the markets. It also doesn’t help that other central banks are pushing rates negative, making small rate hikes in the US comparatively higher.
What’s an investor to do? Stick with defensive names. They tend to hold up better than other stocks in good times and bad. For mixed times, they should fare well. And, of course, you can always boost your returns on your holdings by selling covered call options. Doing so in a sideways market allows for better income generation, but also keeps the chances of getting called away lower.
And despite the market’s gyration in recent months, there are plenty of inexpensive names in big-cap companies out there. Tech giant Cisco (CSCO) reported great earnings last week, with earnings up 3.5 percent compared to a year ago, free cash flow up 18 percent, and guidance 3.5 percent above the market consensus. At 14 times earnings and a yield of 3.7 percent, you’re unlikely to lose money in shares here for the long term. So far, Mr. Market isn’t impressed.
That’s still better than how it treated Apple (AAPL), after its recent earnings miss. That consumer goods company has just lost out to Alphabet (GOOG) for the largest company by market capitalization. I’d look to Apple instead. At these prices, Apple trades like a value stock. Google doesn’t.
Both Cisco and Apple are solid candidates right now for a buy-write strategy. You buy shares, and sell a covered call, ideally with a September or October expiration date. You can select a strike price that will guarantee that you’ll either get out with a slight gain, or collect some income that’s at least as good as the dividend along the way. Plus you’ll get the dividend too.
That’s one way to get over the likely summer hump. But we may also get another wave of market fear akin to last summer’s slump. That’s why it pays to find opportunities where you’ll make money no matter what the market does.
is a Senior Financial Editor with Newsmax Media. He currently writes the Insider Hotline investment advisory, serves as investment director for the Financial Braintrust, and is managing editor of Financial Intelligence Report. To read more of his work, GO HERE NOW.
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