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Mark Biller

Mark Biller

Executive Editor

Mark joined SMI in 2000. He leads SMI newsletter’s overall content strategy, managing the editorial direction and writing many articles. He led the company’s efforts to create its first web site, helped develop several of SMI’s investment strategies, and has been a contributing author to the Sound Mind Investing Handbook. 

In addition, Mark helped design and launch the three Sound Mind Investing mutual funds. He has served as the Senior Portfolio Manager since the original SMI Fund was launched in 2005. Mark also serves as Senior Portfolio Manager to SMI Advisory Service’s Private Client managed account program.

Mark earned his undergraduate degree in Finance from Oral Roberts University.   

Mark and his wife, Cindy, have three children.

Most Recent Articles

Corrections vs. Bear Markets

SMI has always believed that helping investors form realistic expectations is important to their long-term success. That's because investing success is primarily driven by controlling one's emotions, and knowing what's reasonable to expect helps immensely in that regard.

For example, if you know that the stock market experiences a 10% correction roughly every 18 months, you're much less likely to freak out and sell stocks when they've suddenly dropped 12% for the first time in two years. If you don't know that historical pattern, you're more likely to make an emotional mistake in that scenario. Make enough of those emotional mistakes and they start to seriously compromise your long-term returns.

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Annual Seasonality Sell Signal Triggered – Spring 2018

Well, this certainly isn't an "ideal" sell signal for the annual seasonality system.

Ideally, the market is performing well coming into the last of the "six best months" of the year: November-April. Then as the market starts to decelerate, we get a nice sell signal before the historically bumpier "worst six months" of May-October. Some variation of this actually does occur reasonably often. But not this year.

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DAA – April 2018 Update

There are no changes to the DAA lineup for April. Read on for the full details.

DAA is a core portfolio strategy that is designed to help SMI readers share in some of a bull market’s gains while minimizing (or even preventing) losses during bear markets. The strategy involves using exchange-traded funds to rotate among six asset classes, holding three at any one time. DAA is a defensive strategy that nonetheless has generated impressive back-tested results, demonstrating the power of "winning by not losing."

The recommended categories/ETFs for April are (in order of current momentum):

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Sector Rotation – April 2018 Update

There is no change being made to the official SR recommendation for April. Read on for the details.

Sector Rotation is a high-risk/high-volatility strategy. While its peaks and valleys have been more extreme than SMI's other strategies, it has generated especially impressive long-term returns, as discussed in Sector Rotation is Risky, But Highly Rewarding.

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Stock Upgrading – New Fund Recommendations for April 2018

Our most aggressive core strategy, Stock Upgrading is a “momentum” strategy premised on the idea that recent past performance tends to persist. The strategy has you diversify your portfolio across five stock fund “risk categories” (along with up to three bond fund categories). You then buy the funds SMI objectively determines to have the highest momentum, occasionally replacing lagging funds with those showing stronger momentum. With only monthly maintenance, Fund Upgrading has generated better long-term returns than the overall market. This article explains the changes to put in place for the coming month.
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Higher Returns With Less Risk, Re-Examined

Over the past 25 years, SMI has developed multiple investing strategies, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, and attractive track record. An investor can use any of these strategies independently, of course, but combining them in specific ways may provide additional benefits.
Here, we explain how to design portfolios built for maximum return while greatly minimizing risk. We also explore how the 50-40-10 combination is affected by our recent revisions to Fund Upgrading (Upgrading 2.0).
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An Unfavorable Election Cycle Is Close at Hand

One of the more interesting historical stock-market patterns is commonly referred to as “annual seasonality.” The main idea is that each year contains a six-month period which has been “favorable” for stocks (November through April) followed by a six-month period that’s generally “unfavorable” (May through October). Based on this, annual seasonality suggests selling stocks at the end of April and buying them again at the end of October.

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An Upgrading Overview: Easy as 1-2-3

Why Upgrade?

SMI offers two primary investing strategies for “basic” members. They are different in philosophy, the amount of attention they require, and the rate of return expected from each. Our preferred investing strategy is called Fund Upgrading, and is based on the idea that if you are willing to regularly monitor your mutual-fund holdings and replace laggards periodically, you can improve your returns. While Upgrading is relatively low-maintenance, it does require you to check your fund holdings each month and replace funds occasionally. If you don’t wish to do this yourself, a professionally-managed version of Upgrading is available.

SMI also offers an investing strategy based on index funds called Just-the-Basics (JtB). JtB requires attention only once per year. The returns expected from JtB are lower over time than what we expect (and have received) from Upgrading. JtB makes the most sense for those in 401(k) plans that lack a sufficient number of quality fund options to make successful Upgrading within the plan possible. Here are the funds and percentage allocations we recommend for our Just-the-Basics indexing strategy.

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Growth/Value Disparity Highlights Importance of Upgrading

Barron's reported in its March 19 issue on the widening disparity between growth and value mutual funds (unfortunately, the article is available for subscribers only).

On one side are value managers who can't justify the sky-high valuations of today's popular tech stocks, based on traditional metrics like cash flow, earnings, and so forth. On the other are growth managers who increasingly see a tech-driven "winner-take-all economy" where companies like Amazon and Google (Alphabet) swallow huge swaths of the marketplace whole.

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Tech Growth Forces Sector Re-Shuffle

Technology stocks have been on quite a tear in recent years. Plenty of ink has been spilled detailing the incredible gains of the FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google), and rightly so. Those five stocks have averaged gains of nearly 60% over the past year, and more incredibly, have average annualized gains of ~38.5% over the past five years.

SMI investors who are invested in Sector Rotation have seen similar eye-popping returns (+69.7%) over the past year in a different part of the tech realm, and five-year annualized returns of ~33% from a variety of sectors.

As I said, that part of the story is pretty well known. What isn't as widely appreciated is that big tech has been growing faster than everything else for quite a long time. Josh Brown reports that the Information Technology sector has grown from ~10% of the S&P 500 at the end of 2000, to 15% in 2006, to a whopping 24% by the end of 2017.

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