Carnegie Investment Counsel Blog


Raz Pounardjian

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Investment Risk and How We Perceive It

Posted by Raz Pounardjian on May 10, 2019 9:08:00 AM


One of the terms most often heard in the world of finance is “risk” as in "investment risk." Often, people think of risk as something dangerous and to be avoided. There are many circumstances that determine how people view investment risk.

Below are some interesting ways to think about investment risk. 

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Topics: Investing

Optimism, Cell Phones and College Basketball

Posted by Raz Pounardjian on Apr 1, 2019 8:27:00 AM

Baseball season is upon us and Spring has sprung so here are some interesting thoughts/observations:

Positive Mental Attitude

A recent study from Frost Bank revealed a direct correlation between optimism and improved financial health. Frost worked with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to develop a methodology to measure optimism. They found that 62% of optimists had better financial health which was about 7X higher than pessimists who came in at 9%. Optimists were more likely to discuss financial matters with family and friends and were interested in learning more about money management versus pessimists. Below are some financial habits of optimists:

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Breaking Buybacks

Posted by Raz Pounardjian on Mar 5, 2019 8:35:00 AM

Recently, you’ve probably heard much noise about new congressional proposals regarding stock buybacks. Before I get into the nitty-gritty, it is probably good for a quick refresher on the what and why of stock buybacks.

What are stock buybacks?

Stock buybacks are when a publicly traded corporation purchases their own shares in the public markets. They announce either the dollar or share amounts they will repurchase and it is to the discretion of the Board of Directors and management to determine this amount and when to make such purchases. The cheaper companies can buy their stock back, the more they can repurchase.  Corporations are known for poorly timing their share repurchases as indicated in the chart below where repurchases hit a low in 2008-2009 as stock prices were near generational lows in the Great Recession:

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What Do We Do in a Bear Market?

Posted by Raz Pounardjian on Jan 23, 2019 11:30:46 AM

The last few months have not been an easy ride for equity investors.  The S&P 500, Nasdaq and Russell 2000 all went into bear markets, which is typically defined as a decline of 20% from their all-time high.  Combing through some data, I thought  I’d share some interesting anecdotes I learned and what it could mean moving forward.

Investors ran for the exits

Below is a chart from Ned Davis Research that shows that December 2018 had the highest monthly outflow for equity funds (includes ETFs) in the last 20 years. In the simplest sense, investors were probably selling any kind of exposure that had to stocks.

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Topics: Investor Sentiment, Bull and Bear Market

Interesting Observations

Posted by Raz Pounardjian on Dec 19, 2018 10:02:00 AM

Typically, when I’ve written blogs, they’ve focused on a specific topic, theme or issue. I thought it would be good to switch things up a little bit and share some interesting statistics and thoughts about the financial markets.  

The case for active management

I recently came across the chart below which shows the total returns of the “buy and forget” stocks that in 2000, Fortune Magazine predicted would last a decade:

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Topics: Volatility, Market Drawdown

Trust the Process: Volatility is Normal

Posted by Raz Pounardjian on Oct 30, 2018 8:28:00 AM


The last few weeks have been a little unnerving for those invested in the stock market. The media constantly bombards you with reasons (trade wars, higher interest rates, China) as to why the market is falling. Of course, it’s important to know why but understand that we have little control over the variables that make markets move.

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Topics: Volatility, Bull and Bear Market

Scar Tissue

Posted by Raz Pounardjian on Sep 14, 2018 8:30:00 AM

This week in the financial media, there have been many articles and stories written about the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis of 2008. The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, sale of Bear Sterns to JP Morgan and the near collapse of the U.S. financial system were all very scary and taught us a lot of lessons. I was just getting started “in the business” during this time and I remember watching on TV the House of Representatives voting down the initial $700 billion bailout bill (which would later be passed). I won’t forget seeing the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge hundreds of points in just a matter of minutes after the first failed vote. This was a very difficult time as many people lost their jobs, saw their retirement account values decline dramatically and most importantly, shook the confidence of many.

The after effects of the financial crisis are still felt today as people remain worried about when “the next shoe will drop” so to speak. I’ve had more conversations with clients and individuals about

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Topics: Millennials, Bull and Bear Market, 2008 Financial Crisis

Mistakes Were Made

Posted by Raz Pounardjian on Aug 14, 2018 8:32:00 AM

While I was traveling last week on vacation, I read Michael Batnick’s latest book Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments. So often, when we think of great investors, athletes and leaders, we tend to define them by how successful they are. Many remember Michael Jordan’s game-winning shot to win the 1998 NBA Finals, but you don’t often hear that he lost to the Detroit Pistons 3 years in a row before winning his first NBA championship. Batnick’s book does a great job of highlighting the fact that not even the most intelligent and wealthiest investors come away with a perfect record. Often, when clients call to ask about the securities in their portfolios, they ask about the ones that are down (this is loss aversion at its finest). I try to focus on the fact that not every stock we buy is going to go up and

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Topics: Bill Ackman, Big Mistakes: The Best Investors, Michael Batnick

More Than Just Another Crowd

Posted by Raz Pounardjian on Jul 27, 2018 8:32:00 AM

As many of you know, I am fascinated as to why people make the choices and decisions they make. Many people who work in our industry are focused on valuation ratios, dividends, profitability ratios, balance sheets and charts. With data becoming so easily and readily available these days, I think the extra “edge” these data points produce is becoming smaller and smaller. I believe one area of investing that remains important and useful is sentiment. Digging a little deeper, one can find some interesting cross-currents between expected returns and investor sentiment.

What exactly is investor sentiment? In the most basic sense, investor sentiment is how investors feel about the overall direction of the markets or a particular stock.

One way in which investor sentiment is measured is through the AAII Sentiment Survey. This is a widely cited survey and AAII stands for the American Association of Individual Investors. This association is made up of roughly 150,000 investors, with the average member being in their mid-60s with a median portfolio over $1M. Every week, the AAII surveys about 300 members asking them if they feel bullish, neutral or bearish about the direction of the stock market for the next 6 months.

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Topics: Investing, S&P 500, Cryptocurrencies

Investing for All Seasons

Posted by Raz Pounardjian on Jun 7, 2018 8:29:00 AM
So often in our industry, we hear and read about different trends taking place in the market. In the 1960’s, it was the “Nifty Fifty” blue chip stocks. In the 1990’s it was the tech boom. And in the last few years, we’ve seen the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) stocks lead the way. These trends can be defined by different styles or “factors” such as growth/momentum (stocks that exhibit above-average sales and earnings growth), value (stocks that trade at a relative discount compared to the market and or their peers), quality (stocks that have above average margins and consistent earnings growth) and volatility (stocks that are less risky). 
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Topics: Investing, diversification, factor-investing

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