Yearend 2015 Scorecard for Smart Money

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There are only a few days left in 2015 before we ring in a new year. It is a good time to look back and evaluate this financial blog. I am not sure that increasing the number of followers, views, likes or comments is an accurate measurement of success?

The financial media is constantly pitching you investment ideas and so have I, with a disclaimer to do your own research or consult with a certified financial advisor. I feel that it’s an important exercise to look back at both the good and bad ideas.

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Here are some good hits:

Back in January, I suggested going long the U.S. dollar and to get out of Canada. I made money in both my retirement and personal investment accounts by simply transferring Canadian dollars into U.S. cash. I was confident that the downward trend would continue but I had no idea that the Canadian dollar would fall 19% during 2015.

Now, the TSX has underperformed the U.S. markets over the last few years so moving out of Canada was a good bet especially with the weakness in commodities. The TSX was down over 11% in mid-December but the Santa Claus rally has come to Canada a little early and reduced the losses to only 8% with three trading days left!

One of my very best suggestions was to avoid investing in the oil & gas sector. All the Wall Street analysts, media experts, hedge fund managers and even the Bank of Canada were wrong on predicting a bounce back in the price of oil. Both oil & gas ETFs in Canada (XEG) and the U.S (XLE) were down 25% this year. There were a number of sucker rallies that just fizzled out.

I also suggested some U.S. sectors that I liked for 2015. They were consumer discretionary (XLY), health care (XLV) and technology (XLK). It looks like all three sectors will end up being positive for the year. I also stated that I was avoiding the gold sector (GLD) which is down 10% because I didn’t understand the factors that cause the price to move.

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Here are some bad pitches:

The worse suggest was investing in the transportation sector (XTN). Planes, trains and transport trucks should have benefited from the drop in oil prices. The overall sector is down 20% and I lost some money on my shares of  CN Rail and Fed Ex this year. I did manage to make some profitable trades in the airline stocks.

After a number of derailments, plus delays in new pipeline construction,  I suggested that rail car manufacturers could be a good investment. The three stocks mention in the blog post are all down year to date. (GBX,TRN,ARII) I apologize for not writing a follow-up post stating that I didn’t put any money into these stocks.

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I have highlighted some of the best and some of the worse suggestions over the last year to illustrate the importance of keeping score. Your investment account statements will be on line soon or in the mail if you are old school. Take some time to evaluate the performance of your financial batting average. If you have a financial advisor, book an appointment to evaluate their recommendations to ensure that you are still on track to meet your short and long term goals.

Getting a hit 35% of the time in baseball would get you a big signing bonus and a huge salary. Over time, that same average in picking investments for your portfolio could put you into the poor house.

In case you didn’t know, we do play baseball in Canada.

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