Thursday, June 19, 2014

Emerging Market Opportunities

In our continuous search to improve upon our emerging markets success in the beginning of 2014, we would like you to consider another demonstration of country-wide performance, the 2014 World Cup.  The World Cup occurs every four years, and showcases the most talented soccer players from around the world.  For the preliminary round, countries are split into eight groups, each consisting of four teams.  We have taken these same groups, and used them to display financial, rather than physical, performance metrics.  Each group has been sorted by year-to-date return.

Group A-D
To demonstrate present and projected valuation, the current and forward price-to-earnings ratios are also listed.  As a reminder, price-to-earnings ratio is defined as current price divided by trailing 12-month earnings per share.  Greece, for example, would be the only country in this list with negative earnings, given their negative P/E ratio (-3.3). Italy’s P/E ratio is so alarmingly high (287.1) because the country has just recently generated positive, albeit still very low, earnings.
Group E-H
Forward P/E is the ratio of a country’s current price over its projected earnings for the next four quarters.  The best way to use this information is to compare the forward P/E ratio with the current P/E ratio, keeping in mind that lower is better.  Since the bulk* of these countries have forward P/E ratios that are lower than their current P/E ratio, a vast majority would be expected to see increased country-wide earnings over the next year.

As we have recently mentioned, we currently see a much greater opportunity in emerging markets as opposed to developed markets.  Developed markets, for the most part, performed very well in 2013 while emerging markets lagged far behind.  Based on historical evidence, we feel that this performance gap will continue to shrink throughout the rest of the year.  Each emerging market carries with it a different set of economic circumstances, however, which is why we are continuously focusing on selecting emerging market countries for our Alternative (ALT) strategy that we feel are most poised for future off-field success.

*Excluding Belgium, Argentina, Russia, and the special circumstance of Greece.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summertime is a good time to refresh gift planning ideas

Charitable Trusts

As interest rates change, certain types of trust gift planning change.
Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts: These trusts pay an annuity to the donor or another person for a set term, with the remainder going to a charity.  The donor gets an up-front deduction for the value of the charities remainder interest, which is larger when a higher interest rate is used.
Charitable Lead Annuity Trusts:  These trusts pay an annuity to a charity for a set term, with the remainder passing to the donor or someone such as a family member.  The donor gets to claim an up-front deduction for the present value of the charities annuity interest, which decreases as interest rates rise. Grantor-retained annuity trusts, where the person who sets up the trust gets an annuity for a set term are also hurt by higher rates.  Any balance left after the term expires goes to whoever the grantor originally named. Higher rates boost the potential gift tax bill.

Other Gifting Strategies

Do not waste the annual gift tax exclusion of $14,000: 
You can give up to $14,000 each to a child, grandchild or other person free of gift tax and it does not count against your “life-time” exemption.  If you’re married, your spouse also can give $14,000, doubling the tax free amount.
The 2014 “life-time” estate and gift tax exemption is $5,340,000.  You will not owe any gift tax on gifts over $14,000 as long as you do not use up your $5.34M exemption.
Pay a Donee’s tuition or medical costs directly:
The payments made directly to the educational institution or medical facility do not count against the $14,000 annual gift tax exclusion.
Give Appreciated Assets When Donating to Charity:
The appreciation escapes capital gains tax and you get to deduct the full value if you’ve owned the asset for over a year.
Keep Receipts and Records for Personal Property Donations:
Donations of gently used household items, clothing, furniture, etc. can add up to a substantial sum.  Keep a list of the items donated and note the condition of the item (e.g. excellent, good, fair).   An acceptable value for most items donated is 15% to 25% (or more) of the original cost.