As much as we like to tell ourselves it's not, the stock market is a lot like poker. If you count your cards or do your analysis right, you'll know when the odds favor you to win a particular hand or a stock is more likely to go up than down.
Yesterday, I believed that Hillary Clinton was going to be our next president. I was in good company in that belief, but I was wrong.
I also know that Donald Trump has said that he will do a number of things to turn back the clean energy revolution in the United States, and that the Republican-controlled Congress is likely to help him in his efforts.
Fortunately for me, investors in my Green Global Energy Income Portfolio, and for my readers, most of the stocks I write about are likely to have cash flows which will be largely unaffected by backing out of the Paris climate agreement, gutting the EPA's environmental regulations, and ending the Clean Power Plan. That's because most of my stocks focus on the ownership of existing clean energy assets which do not depend on future incentives being awarded, and most have contracted cash flows. So the future dividends which underlie the value of most of these stocks are likely to be safe.
That said, Trump is likely to do a lot more as president than just roll back environmental regulations and promote coal. He has also promised to take a hard line with both our allies and our rivals in the world. He has promised to "renegotiate" trade treaties, make our allies pay for U.S. military protection, and take a "strong" and aggressive stance toward anyone who threatens our global interests.
I have no idea if President Trump will fulfill any or all of these promises when in office. He is known for keeping his own counsel. If he does, the global effects could be benign, but they also have the potential to plunge us into another global recession or depression (recall that trade wars were a large part of the Great Depression). If not a recession, that firm line he wants to take with our political rivals could plunge us into war.
I don't want to cause a panic. These are simply things that might happen.
The upside is greatly reduced as well. Other than for fossil fuel companies (which I refuse to invest in), I don't see a Trump presidency being good for much of the economy, or the stock market. I hope he proves me wrong, but hope is not a viable long-term investment strategy.
As Kenny Rogers put it, you have to "know when to walk away, and know when to run." In my opinion, now is the time to walk away. I'd rather not wait until it's time to run.
Even if my stocks' future cash flows are not impacted by whatever happens in the next few years, the general decline would still hurt their prices. When you have cash, a bear market is a buying opportunity. When you have only stocks, even the best stocks, a bear market just pain.
That is why I got up at 5:30 a.m. today and started entering orders to sell (even at a loss) more than half of my holdings in the Green Global Equity Income Portfolio, and in my other managed accounts. I'm moving decisively into cash. I have had the good fortune of very large gains so far this year, making it much easier to sell than if the losses I am taking for selling so quickly were putting me in the red. But I think I would have brought myself to do it even if I already had losses for the year.
I hope that Trump's supporters are right and he'll be great for the economy and jobs. But I'm not going to bet my money on it.
DISCLAIMER: Past performance is not a guarantee or a reliable indicator of future results.This article contains the current opinions of the author and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This article has been distributed for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed.
Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA is a Clean Energy and income focused portfolio manager and freelance writer. He manages and has a stake in the Green Global Equity Income Portfolio (GGEIP), a private fund which invests in YieldCos and other high-income green stocks.