This past summer the Cleveland Indians captured the attention of baseball fans winning 22 consecutive games. This wasn’t the longest streak in Major League Baseball history, but a grand feat in the modern era. Other great sports streaks include The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s 111 consecutive wins. Going back a few years, the University of Oklahoma football team won 47 in a row. For us Vandy fans, there is the streak of 1,013 games in which someone on the men’s basketball team has made a three-point basket. We recognize this streak doesn’t involve victories, but we have learned to take what we can get.
In 2017, the S&P 500 was positive on a total return basis every single month, going 12 for 12. It was the first time ever for this calendar year feat! Up 22% in 2017, the Index’s winning streak stands at 14 months, nine consecutive quarters, and now nine years. The markets’ march higher has been rather astounding, especially considering all that has transpired globally over this period.
Overcoming a brief retreat in the first half of August, the stock market continued its march higher posting solid gains in the third quarter. Now up 14% and 22% for the year, the S&P 500 and NASDAQ seem to set new highs daily. The MSCI All-World international index is up 22% year-to-date. The strong international gains have been a welcome development for Woodmont given our steps in recent years to increase investment exposure to cheaper overseas stocks with appreciated U.S. dollars. Even the small-cap Russell 2000, which just six weeks ago was essentially flat for the year, is now up 11% year-to-date after a huge bounce on renewed enthusiasm for a successful tax reform bill.
In an attempt to convince Parliament to find compromise with the American Colonists, the British Statesman, William Pitt, declared “you cannot conquer America.” Pitt was one of a small faction to appreciate the resilience of Americans at the time. Of course, while he recognized the uniqueness of America, even Sir William probably would have stopped short of forecasting the 241 years of independence we celebrated this week. Similarly, few stock market observers have appreciated the resilience of the now nine-year old U.S. bull market, which just registered its seventh consecutive quarterly gain and is up three-fold from the 2009 bottom.
Since the first of the year, Woodmont has worked with a number of clients who are nearing retirement and want a ‘status check’ on their investments and preparation for retirement. In light of these conversations, we wanted to share a few key considerations if you decide to under-take a similar exercise.