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October 1, 2016

Dear Client:   Returns for the major stock indices through the third quarter of 2016 and the current bond market yields are as follows:   Index YTD 2016 Dow Jones Industrial Average +5.07% S&P 500 +6.08% NASDAQ Composite +6.08%   Fixed Income Yields 1 year 5 year 10 year 30 year Municipals 0.74% 1.05% 1.52% 2.28% US Treasuries 0.59% 1.15% 1.60% 2.32%   As we head into the fourth quarter, we recognize that 2016 is on pace to be a positive year in the equity and bond markets.  The economy continues to improve modestly as we are reaching full employment, seeing annual household incomes rise for the first time in nine years, and benefiting from increased consumer spending, low gas prices, and low inflation.  We also know that GDP growth has been slow and global tensions abound, but we believe the economy needs to see improvement in GDP growth, as corporate earnings are highly correlated to growth.  The United States has not had GDP growth over 2.7% since 2005 and only twice above 3% since the roaring markets and internet boom of the late 1990s. As addressed in our second quarter letter, we at LYNCH & Associates continue to monitor economic numbers and global events, but we subscribe more to the micro view of individual securities.  In the words of legendary investor Warren Buffett, “We have never bought a business nor not bought a business because of any macro feeling of any kind.”  When asked his thoughts of the interest rate cycle, he responded “If Alan Greenspan (ex-Fed Chairman) was on one side of me and Bob Rubin (ex-Treasury...

July 1, 2016

Dear Client: Returns for the major stock indices for the first half of 2016 and current bond market yields are as follows:   Index YTD 2016 Dow Jones Industrial Average +2.90% S&P 500 +2.69% NASDAQ Composite -3.29%   Fixed Income Yields 1 year 5 year 10 year 30 year Municipals .50% 0.91% 1.35% 2.16% US Treasuries .44% 1.00% 1.47% 2.29%   Year-to-date, the driving market forces for stocks and bonds have included some recurring as well as new themes.  The most notable new theme is the coined term “Brexit,” which is shorthand for Britain’s recent vote to exit the European Union; turn on your TV and the talking heads will have you believe the “sky is falling” once again.  We believe, despite some short-term volatility, investors should ignore the scare stories.  Britain, the world’s fifth largest economy, will likely begin negotiating free trade deals, just as non-EU countries Norway and Switzerland.  Ultimately, Brexit encourages more freedom, accountability and efficiencies and is a long-term win for world markets and investors.  We hesitate to give Brexit much attention as we believe it is a non-event for long-term investors, but feel compelled to address it based on the current news cycle and recent market volatility. We offer to point to our past letters addressing the “sky is falling” geopolitical news events related to what could be described as economic hypochondria; more specifically, recent events we have experienced in the current recovery: fiscal cliff, flash crash, debt ceiling, China slowdown, Greece defaults, quantitative easing, and sequestration, to name a few.  We believe the overreaction to so many of these events originates from the...

April 1, 2016

Dear Client: The major market measures posted the following mixed returns for the first quarter of 2016: Index YTD 2016 Dow Jones Industrial Average +1.49% S&P 500 +0.77% NASDAQ Composite -2.75%   The first quarter ended on a constructive note following some anxious volatility earlier in the quarter that saw the S&P 500 down over 10% year-to-date.  The concern seemed to center on the continuing health of the economy and whether it was beginning to slow toward a recession. As we stated in our last quarterly letter, we have confidence in the strength of our economy and do not think a recession is likely until at least 2018.  Our optimism is based in part on the following fundamentals: Private sector jobs have increased for 71 consecutive months. More jobs means more money circulating within the economy.  New claims for unemployment benefits have remained under 300,000 for 56 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch in more than forty years. Incomes are increasing while consumers continue to keep their debt ratios at low levels. This leaves room for future big-ticket spending and builds consumer confidence. Auto sales remain at or near record levels. Housing remains a bright spot for the economy with low interest rates helping to drive demand. There is also a continuing price recovery occurring in many regions of the country and with more people working and personal incomes rising, this looks to continue. Except for the energy sector, corporate profit margins are high, earnings continue to grow and balance sheets are loaded with cash which gives them flexibility to invest in greater efficiencies and make acquisitions. At the time...

January 1, 2016

Dear Client: Let us first wish you a Happy New Year!  We hope 2016 will be a healthy, fulfilling and prosperous year for you and your family. Since most of our clients have at least a portion of their investments in equities, now is a good time to review how the past year compares to the S&P 500 over the last decade:   2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 +15.79% +5.49% -37.00% +26.46% +15.06% +2.11% +16.00% +32.39% +13.68% +1.40%   From a return perspective, 2015 was a disappointing period for stocks.  The long term positives for stocks were offset by worries over the effects a Federal Reserve tightening might have on the United States economy, a drop in oil prices and a slowdown in China. While we are aware of these market concerns, they have not altered our long-term positive outlook on the markets and here is why: Federal Reserve tightening:  On December 16, 2015 the Federal Reserve raised its targeted Fed Funds rate by 0.25%. As we have stated previously, the Fed is very vested in the current economic recovery. They have gone to extraordinary lengths to build this recovery and are not going to jeopardize its durability with rate increases that are not supported by economic strength. Additionally, the Federal Reserve is not looking to slow an overheated economy, but to simply back out the highly accommodative emergency measures put in place in 2008. As such, they have stated that this is going to be a more gradual, slower tightening process than in previous cycles. Rates are currently so low that for at...

October 1, 2015

Dear Client: Year-to-date returns for the major stock indices through the third quarter of 2015 are as follows: Index YTD 2015 Dow Jones Industrial Average -8.63% S&P 500 -6.75% NASDAQ Composite -2.45% As we have stated in earlier letters, market pullbacks are a normal and healthy part of market growth.  Broad markets historically average three 5% pullbacks each year.  One out of every three 5% pullbacks develops into a 10% correction with one in ten becoming a full blown correction of 20% or more. Market pullbacks are never easy to accept, but the good news is we do not see the current situation developing into a major bear-market selloff.  Those are typically the result of a recession.  Realistically, there is little expectation of a recession at this time because the supporting fundamentals are solid and stable.  These economic fundamentals include: Private sector jobs have increased for 66 consecutive months. We continue to have a recovery in the housing and construction industries. Consumers have been steadily paying down debt and adding to their savings. Their debt ratios are back at reduced levels not seen since the 1980s which leaves room for an upswing in future big-ticket spending. Auto sales are near record levels and rising. Corporate profits, other than the energy sector, continue to grow and corporate balance sheets are loaded with cash which gives them flexibility. Here are the major issues that are currently weighing on the equity markets: Uncertainty over when the Federal Reserve will begin to raise interest rates. While the media has made a huge issue out of this, the timing of this event is only...

July 1, 2015

Dear Client: Returns for the major stock indices for the first half of 2015 are as follows:   Index YTD 2015 Dow Jones Industrial Average -1.14% S&P 500 +0.20% NASDAQ Composite +5.30%     Year-to-date, the driving market forces for stocks and bonds have included both temporary and ongoing issues.  The temporary issues hit largely in the first quarter of 2015, including an unusually cold and snowy winter for major portions of the country and a West Coast port strike delaying the normal flow of many goods.  Like 2014, when harsh weather temporarily held the economy back, we expect forthcoming economic reports will show growth lost in the first quarter will be recovered in the second and third quarters of this year.  The West Coast port strike ended in mid-March and we expect its limiting effects are also being recovered. Ongoing market driving forces include: Anticipation of Federal Reserve rate increases: Like many economists, we are expecting the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later in 2015. This will be the first Fed rate increase in nine years. The timing of this increase is uncertain, but it is likely to happen this fall. While the media and many market followers continue to sensationalize the timing and importance of this Fed change, we believe the move is more symbolic. With the Fed currently targeting near-zero short term interest rates and saying the timing of rate increases will be determined by economic strength, our view is any rate increase in 2015 is cause for optimism.  We feel a rate increase will be signaling the Fed believes the economy is finally strong...