We tightened our hedges in our Long / Short hedged portfolio today. Some of our longs were getting away from their hedge so we brought them closer together. As I’ve noted on Twitter @DownsideHedge, our core market health indicators are strengthening this week, but our market risk indicator refuses to come in line. That leaves us aggressively hedged even though we’re seeing underlying health in the market. A further rally (and resolution of the budget negotiations in Washington) will most likely improve both our core health indicators and our market risk indicator. As a result, good news that is accompanied by a rally will most likely move us from aggressively hedged to a large long exposure all at the same time. Nevertheless, we’ll continue to follow our discipline and wait for a signal before making any portfolio adjustments.
Our Market Risk Indicator closed the week in negative territory. This signal caused us to aggressively hedge our portfolio. We’re effectively 50% Long and 50% short, but our shorts consist of instruments that will benefit from increased volatility in the market. Some examples are puts against our long positions or mid term volatility like VIXM or VXZ. A lesser alternative would be an actively managed bear fund similar to HDGE. The long portion of our portfolio continues to be stocks that we believe will outperform the general market over the long run. This move in the portfolio is not a prediction of lower prices in the market. Rather, it reflects enough increased risk that we want to insure our portfolio. As we’ve noted before, our Market Risk Indicator has many false signals that are usually short in duration. If this signal is false we expect to take a small loss which we consider paying for insurance. If the signal proves to be correct we expect to make money as volatility
Our Long/Short Hedge strategy is now 100% net long. The break out above 1422 in the S&P 500 Index brought with it strength in enough of our indicators to get us fully invested on the long side of the market. Our long portfolio consists of stocks that we want to own over the long run. The current situation in our indicators has occurred several times over the past 12 years. Almost all of these instances were followed by multi-week (or month) rallies. We did have one occurrence in May of 2006 that was reversed one week later to an aggressively hedged position and resulted in a whip saw. Here are some examples of where we were 100% exposed to the market after coming out of a correction. July 2003, December 2005, May 2009, November 2010, and January 2012. We can’t see the future so we don’t know if this will be a good signal, but we follow where the market leads. On the chart above the green lines indicate adding
Our Long / Short hedging strategy is now 80% long and 20% short. As the market consolidated above 1400 we saw improvement in most of our core indicators tracking market trend, risk, and strength. We’re still not seeing the strength we’d like in enough of our measures of the economy and market quality. Conditions such as we’re experiencing today are most likely associated with a continuation of an up trend after a correction. However, during a bear market these conditions occur near bear market rally highs. Our current Hedge Ratio is .25. The long portion of our portfolio continues to be stocks we want to own for the long run that we believe will out perform in an up trend. Our 20% offsetting short is simply a short of the S&P 500 Index. The green lines are adding exposure (removing shorts and increasing longs). Yellow lines represent increasing our hedging (reducing longs and increasing shorts). The red line signals aggressive hedging with instruments like puts, volatility, or actively managed bear
Our core market indicators continued to improve this week allowing us to increase our long exposure and reduce our hedge. We are currently 70% long and 30% short. The increase was fairly rapid as it appears more market participants are joining this rally. The long portion of the portfolio consists of stocks we want to own due to many factors including; individual company growth prospects, value, and beta. Our current short is simply a short of the S&P 500 Index. The current hedge ratio is .43. The green lines on the chart above represent us adding longs to our portfolio and reducing shorts. The yellow lines represent increasing short positions and decreasing our portfolio of long stocks. The red line represents aggressive hedging with instruments like puts, volatility, or actively managed short funds.
Our core indicators improved enough today to remove a portion of our hedges. We added exposure by removing some of our hedge and using the money to add to our long portfolio. We are now 60% long and 40% short (using a short of the S&P 500 Index). The current hedge ratio is .67. Several of our core indicators are lagging so it’ll probably be more than a couple of weeks before we add additional exposure. But as always, we’ll keep you updated with any changes. The green lines on the chart below represent us adding exposure to the long portion of our portfolio. The yellow lines represent adding hedges. The red line represents aggressive hedging.
Our market risk indicator flashed this week, however, we always use a weekly close to generate a signal. The strength on Thursday and Friday reversed the signal early this week so we end the week without a risk warning. This means we didn’t add any aggressive hedges today. Instead, we’re following our core hedging strategy indicators leaving us 100% cash in our Long/Cash strategy and 100% hedged with a short of the S&P 500 in our Long/Short strategy. Some of our core indicators are getting close to going positive that could give us some exposure to the market at the end of next week if the trend continues.
On 7/13/2012 our Long / Short hedging strategy moved from aggressively hedged (using put options, or an actively managed short fund like HDGE, or midterm volatility like VIXM or VXZ) to a full hedge using a short of the S&P 500 index. We’re still long 50% of the portfolio with stocks that we believe will out perform in an up trending market and short 50% using the S&P 500 index. When we’re in this position our expectation is that we’ll make money if the market moves higher (our long stocks should out perform). We expect to lose a little money if the market moves sideways or down…but that’s the price of insurance. The current hedge ratio is 1. On the chart below the green lines get wider as we add exposure. The yellow lines get wider as we remove exposure by adding hedges. The red line indicates an aggressive hedge.