The Tufton Viewpoint, Spring 2017: The Skies are Clearing

In a market that can be difficult to anticipate, there’s a simple pleasure to seeing spring arrive right on time. And if the April showers outside our office are any indication, it would seem that May is planning to make a colorful entrance, indeed.

Of course, encouraging though the view outside our windows may be, rest assured that your team of investment professionals remains focused on an entirely different landscape. In the first three months of 2017, as the Fed raised rates and forecasters fretted over policy, the S&P 500 rose by roughly 6%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by nearly 5%. Together, these indices contributed to the best quarter for American equities in over a year, and the best quarter for global equities in over three years.

To some, these gains signal clear skies—and good times—ahead. In a recent poll survey of C-suite sentiment, JP Morgan Chase found that over three quarters of executives expect the new administration to be a boon for business. On Wall Street, where marquee brands like Canada Goose and Snapchat are stepping out confidently into the public markets, the feeling appears to be mutual. As Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein pithily put it in a February presentation to clients, “It feels like…it’s going to get growthier.”

But as the bull market officially enters its ninth year, some participants are less inclined to believe that hope and growth spring eternal. Nor are their fears without warrant. Casting aside the financial media’s more frivolous concerns (the President’s “tweets,” it is now clear, are not world ending), the case for treading thoughtfully in the days ahead remains strong. Given the historically low levels of volatility that attended to this quarter’s growth, we believe that large swaths of investment capital remain stuck on the sidelines, still waiting for the dust to settle around American policy. And as both physicists and economists will attest, the more pent-up energy a system contains, the more cause to handle it with care.

Which is, I’m pleased to report, precisely how your Tufton Capital advisors are handling the trust you have placed in us: with the utmost of care. Since 1995, our firm has favored principled investing over economic forecasting, with the intent of protecting and growing client capital regardless of broader market conditions.

Historically, we believe this “all-weather” approach has kept our clients in good stead. As the May flowers begin to bloom, in this period of prolonged uncertainty, our approach will remain the same.

In the pages ahead, you’ll find a brief overview of our current market thoughts, including select investments we continue to believe offer meaningful long-term opportunity. Should you wish to discuss these or any other matters related to your portfolio, we sincerely hope you will pick up the phone and give us a call. We remain at your service and look forward to providing you, our valued client, with the level of attention, insight, and performance you have come to expect—no matter what comes next around the bend.

Chad Meyer, CFA