We're making some changes to the SMI monthly calendar. These changes are being made on an experimental basis, but if all goes smoothly, you'll be gaining access to some of our monthly fund information significantly earlier each month, while the actual newsletter release date will be slightly later. Here are the details.
When SMI launched its web service in March of 2000, all of the Upgrading strategy decisions were made using month-end performance data. That was the only data we had access to. Naturally, then, getting each new issue out as soon as possible after that was important because every day of delay meant that data (and the decisions based on it) were getting older.
In those early days, one of the primary selling features of an SMI web membership was that it would provide access to each new issue up to two weeks earlier than waiting to receive the print issue in the mail. It was in these early days that the old calendar of having each new issue online by the 24th of the month was established.
Until now, we've continued with this paradigm, primarily due to the fact that we still had a significant number of print-only readers in our audience. But now that all members have access both online and to the print newsletter, a bit of the urgency regarding getting the print issue out the door as early as possible has been diminished.
But the biggest change to SMI's operational process came when we gained access to daily momentum data for making Upgrading decisions. This has been a point of confusion — our licensing agreement with Morningstar allows us to publish only the older, month-end data. But internally, we have daily momentum data for making decisions. With that capability, whether we make the Upgrading decisions on the 20th and post them on the 23rd or make them on the 25th and post them on the 28th is basically irrelevant — they're just as timely either way.
That said, getting access to the Personal Portfolio Tracker information remains time sensitive. That's because Tracker users don't have the benefit of getting later, more-timely data later in the month. Yet with our current setup, that data release often is being delayed by a week or so, until the rest of the new issue is ready to post.
Tracker data available sooner
What we're planning to do, starting today, is experiment with a new calendar. Beginning this month, we're going to post the Tracker data as soon as we can turn it around from Morningstar. Typically, we expect that data to be released mid-month. [July 2018 UPDATE: We now post Tracker data between the 8th-11th of the month.] Those using upgrading within a 401(k) account or otherwise will be able to make their changes significantly earlier than in the past.
One note/caution: invariably, providing access to this data early will cause some to notice when currently recommended Upgrading funds have fallen below the quartile. There will be a strong temptation to want to "do something" with these funds! However, we strongly urge you to sit tight and wait for the official recommendations that will come out with the new issue. Even if those lagging funds wind up being replaced, the replacement choices likely will shift between mid-month and when the new issue is released 10-14 days later! Please don't expect us to answer questions about these potential changes during the period between the Tracker going live and the new issue being released.
New issue release date moved back
The second significant calendar change is we're going to roll our normal new issue release date closer to the end of the month — the third trading day prior to month-end will be our goal. There are a couple of reasons for this.
One, over the past few years, we've developed the pattern of normally releasing the Dynamic Asset Allocation and Sector Rotation updates on the last trading day of the month. So a healthy proportion of SMI readers are already hanging around late in the month to make those trades. This will condense the trading range for most SMI readers: it will all happen within the few days at the end of the month, rather than part of it one week and the rest a week or 10 days later.
Don't get us wrong, we love giving you reasons to keep coming back to the site! But we think it'll probably make it easier to have a more condensed "to do" period of just the last few days of the month. And that way if someone doesn't get to the Upgrading trades right away, they'll be reminded a couple days later when the SR and DAA announcements are made and can do it all at once. Hopefully, this will make things more convenient for most readers.
The second reason for the switch is simply that all of our testing for both stock and bond Upgrading has been done based on month-end trading assumptions, and our performance for all strategies is still calculated that way. Given that our recommendations will be just as current from a momentum standpoint whenever we issue them (given our access to daily momentum data), we think it's better to shift the actual trading period of our readers a little closer to the performance we're reporting as official.
The new schedule
So, to sum up, the Tracker files will now be updated on or around the
15th 8th each month. And the new issue should be expected around the 28th most months (earlier during February) — typically on the third to last trading day of the month.
If you have any concerns about any of this, or just want to tell us what a fantastic idea it is(!), feel free to comment below. As always, we appreciate the opportunity to serve you.