Covington Investment Advisors, Inc. Blog

News, Tips, Commentary, etc.

Market Rotation

A historical blend of events in 2020 including the COVID-19 pandemic, shift to a work-from-home economy, and record low interest rates, created the perfect storm for large-cap US tech to structurally outperform the broader market. This outperformance has reversed in recent days with the S&P 500 falling 2.27% and the tech-heavy NASDAQ falling 3.25% last week. This sell-off might have been unavoidable given how stretched some of the valuations for the headline growth names have become relative to their historical ranges and profits began to be taken. It is difficult to see how operationally these tech companies will not continue to benefit as they have for so long, but in the near term a “catch up” rotation could be taking place in the market as the reopening of the economy accelerates, and those industries that have been decimated revert to the mean. In our previous blog post "Air Traffic Data...
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Small Business Optimism Shows Quick Recovery

Although our investment holdings at Covington consist mainly of large multinational corporations, small businesses make up the backbone of the US economy. The most effective policies for defeating the virus are also the worst for small businesses (absent a vaccine). The mandatory shutdowns created a record number of “temporarily unemployed”  workers who were laid off but expected to return to work quickly. To help small businesses deal with this the government developed the PPP program to maintain their employment levels. This program was certainly not without its flaws, but all things considered, helped cushion the blow at least partially. The $600 additional unemployment benefits was also established. This did help buoy consumer spending but not in a proportional way to benefit small businesses as in lockdown most spending had to go through online shops. The $600/week supplement also created the problem of trying to rehire workers quickly as some low...
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Covington Welcomes MaKenzie Maust as Operations Associate

Covington Investment Advisors, Inc. is pleased to announce that MaKenzie Maust has joined its full-time staff effective July 1, 2020.  MaKenzie will be the Operations Associate responsible for Office Management including accounts payable and accounts receivable and will also train and assist with Compliance and Client Services.  She is a 2020 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. We feel MaKenzie will be a great asset to our company.  
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How Much Case Growth is Due to Increased Testing?

Cases continue to rise with the US registering its new daily record of over 70,000 cases on Friday. Deaths have also increased, but not with the same magnitude as case growth. The disconnect in deaths and cases is partially attributed to the continued ramp in daily testing. The US is now testing over 700,000 citizens a day. One of the attached charts shows the positivity rate (daily new positive tests divided by daily total tests) overlapping daily cases to show the relationship. The positivity rate gives a clearer picture of what the true infection growth is.   Lawmakers look at this positivity rate in their respective states/counties as one of the key metrics to decide whether to relax, or tighten social distancing measures. If the infection rate is not tamed, it could mean that those industries most affected by shutdowns (Leisure and hospitality) will not be able to open.   ...
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Economic Fallout in Europe

The European Commission recently released their ‘Summer Forecast’ for the EU/Euro Area economy where they downgraded their own projection from earlier in the year. The original -7.4% GDP contraction expected for the EU economy has been reassessed to -8.3%. Even despite the swift and comprehensive policy response from the European Central Bank and EU governments, the lack of resilient technology giants like the US possesses, along with less diversified economies has hurt the European bloc proportionally worse. Also, social distancing measures were stricter in most EU countries meaning better virus control but worse economic damage to this point. Italy has shouldered the brunt of damage with GDP projected to fall 11.2% in 2020, while Sweden and Denmark are so far the least scathed projecting a < 5.50% decline.     7/10/2020   Commentary Disclosures: Covington Investment Advisors, Inc. prepared this material for informational purposes only and is not an offer...
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Not a Typical Recession

“This time it’s different” is a dangerous phase in the economics world. Recessions don’t typically result in personal income increasing, but this one has thanks to coordinated global fiscal/monetary support. However, soon the US faces a “benefits cliff” with the additional $600 per week of unemployment benefits set to end on July 31st and normal UI benefits for those who were part of the initial layoffs in March ending in September. Congress is expected to put together some kind of extension for these stimulus efforts but the two parties remain far apart on what exactly the next phase would look like. This stimulus is important because it has essentially buoyed consumer spending during the shutdowns. All income classes have seen their spending bounce significantly from the late March lows. But as we keep mentioning, stimulus efforts can only be temporary. Economies need to continue reopening and true economic activity needs...
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Air Traffic Data Update

Certain industries/pockets of the economy are seeing a quicker recovery than others. The TSA keeps track of the amount of passengers originating trips from US airports. On a normal day in March that number is over 2 million, at the height of government shutdowns this year it was less than 90,000. Recently air traffic has recovered with daily passengers in the last week eclipsing 700,000, but this is still a long ways off from a “V-Shaped” recovery in air travel. Keep in mind airlines have high fixed costs, large amounts of overhead, and razor thin margins. Most airlines are simply not solvent if air travel is less than half normal traffic for a prolonged period of time. We think this polarization in recoveries from one industry to another will continue and even worsen the longer the virus lingers in the economy. Some industries are seeing enormous demand tailwinds (Cloud, Ecommerce,...
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COVID-19 Case Update

Cases fell slightly from their peak over the weekend but still remain high, particularly in the new “hot spot” states (Arizona, Florida, Texas). Many of these states have now imposed stricter social distancing guidelines after remaining relatively open during the pandemic. Even after 10+ days deaths have still not followed the increase in case load. The lag time window is not an exact number of days but this is still encouraging. Commentary Disclosures: Covington Investment Advisors, Inc. prepared this material for informational purposes only and is not an offer or solicitation to buy or sell. The information provided is for general guidance and is not a personal recommendation for any particular investor or client and does not take into account the financial, investment or other objectives or needs of a particular investor or client. Clients and investors should consider other factors in making their investment decision while taking into account the current market environment....
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When Will Solvency Become an Issue?

US households have weathered the COVID crisis relatively well up to this point but there are two deadlines coming up for US consumers that could prove to stall out the economic recovery. On July 31st the extra $600 unemployment benefit per week as part of the CARES act will run out. Unemployment benefits normally last 26 weeks meaning workers who lost their job in March as part of the initial government shutdowns will exhaust all of their unemployment insurance benefits in September. Initial Jobless claims have fallen sharply from their peak but returning citizens to work may take longer than most are currently expecting. If more fiscal support is not extended to households by keeping the expanded unemployment benefits or implementing a fresh round of stimulus the risks will begin to rise that the US will experience a widespread solvency crisis in the household sector.   Commentary Disclosures: Covington Investment...
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COVID-19 Case Update (6/19/2020)

Although the nationwide COVID-19 infection rate has tapered off from its peak in April, different regions are at different points in their cycle. Coastal population centers in the Northeast look to be for the most part past their peak, while states in the West and Southern regions have seen their cases tick up recently. A second wave of cases is to be expected as societal activity continues to resume and widespread testing is being implemented. As we mentioned in previous notes, reopening will be a process. The graphic below, sourced from visualcapitalist.com, shows US states sorted by their COVID-19 peak dates. Also included is our US COVID-19 slides from our June Chart Book showing US & global trends.  We will continue to monitor these developments.   Commentary Disclosures: Covington Investment Advisors, Inc. prepared this material for informational purposes only and is not an offer or solicitation to buy or sell....
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Case Growth & Vaccine Development Update

In previous notes we mentioned the possibility of a “Second Wave” of cases popping up as activity resumes and social distancing measures are relaxed. In the last week cases have begun to rise across the nation, particularly in states that until recently have not seen a huge case load from the virus. The increase itself was to be expected but the severity of new case growth is still alarming. On June 26th the United States reported a new record in daily COVID-19 cases, most of which came from southern and western states. The encouraging sign from recent data is that so far daily deaths have not kept up with the pace of new cases. This implies that treatments are improving dramatically and testing remains robust. Keep in mind new deaths tend to lag cases so we remain hopeful that the fatality rate continues to fall. Also encouraging is that households...
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Westmoreland County is Designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA)

As you may recall, in early 2017 we started the initiative to combat the Opioid Epidemic in our area and were seeking a Federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Designation for Westmoreland County. When we started this initiative, the overdose rate of deaths in our county was growing at 46% per year. The complete costs associated with these deaths is immeasurable in terms of the families affected and the lost contributions these individuals may have had in our communities. Although our original efforts were thwarted due to political reasons, I am pleased to say that Westmoreland County has finally been designated a HIDTA by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Westmoreland joins three other Southwestern PA counties (Allegheny, Beaver, and Washington) in receiving dedicated federal resources to coordinate federal, state, and local government to fight drug trafficking and abuse. The HIDTA designation will allow Westmoreland County...
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What a Biden Presidency Could Mean for Corporate Tax Laws

Now that domestic COVID infection rates are falling, the country is beginning to reopen, and market volatility has subsided, it’s time to look ahead at what will most likely fill the media headlines in the second half of 2020: The Presidential election. The stock market is surprisingly President-agnostic over the long term. Whether it is a Democrat or Republican, the President does not have too much direct effect on the stock market and companies learn to adapt quickly to the current regime. But this does not mean that the President does not have any influence over market factors. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is much more centric than former liberal contenders Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, but he still shares some of the same policy directives such as the push for a return to the more progressive tax policies of the Obama administration. Biden has proposed partially reversing the Tax...
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Job Losses Update

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June Market Positioning Update

Recent market action has many investors scratching their head. The seemingly increasing disconnect between the “real economy” and stock market has many wondering how strong of a foundation we are currently on.   Click the link below to view a copy of our most recent analysis illustrating the current positioning of the market, some of the key metrics moving markets right now, and what uncertainties we believe lie ahead. We have also linked the most recent Schwab Insight explaining how some of the “real economy” developments are being factored in by investors. June-2020-Market-Positioning.pdf SchwabMarketperspective.pdf     Commentary Disclosures: Covington Investment Advisors, Inc. prepared this material for informational purposes only and is not an offer or solicitation to buy or sell. The information provided is for general guidance and is not a personal recommendation for any particular investor or client and does not take into account the financial, investment or other objectives or...
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Covington Hires an Intern

Covington Investment Advisors is pleased to announce we have hired Ms. MaKenzie Maust to work as an intern effective June 1, 2020.  MaKenzie will be training with our Office Manager to learn the business processes of the Company and with our Compliance Officer on compliance projects.  In addition, she will assist our Client Services Manager as needed on client-related projects. MaKenzie is a 2020 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in accounting.  She was a Student Accounting Association member at IUP and has experience working part time in the banking industry throughout the last two years. We feel MaKenzie will be a great asset to our company.  
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Acceleration of Ecommerce

When a pivotal economic event takes place like we are experiencing with the coronavirus pandemic there are certain trends that begin to either arise or quickly accelerate. We think the latter is currently happening with Ecommerce. It is no secret that for many years online shopping has been taking market share from brick and mortar retail. But never before have we seen a scenario where many brick and mortar retails were forced to close shop and deemed “non-essential”, while the large online market places became the essential way for consumers to get the goods they needed. Some could argue that Amazon & Walmart, the two largest Ecommerce retailers, became a staple of national security for their distribution capabilities as citizens are quarantined in their homes. Much of this gained business is due to many small retailers simply being forced to close for several months, but we think that Ecommerce retailers...
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Federal Reserve Action and Market Volatility

Federal Reserve Action and Market Volatility  In late March the Federal Reserve established the SMCCF (Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility) to support credit to employers and provide liquidity for financial markets. These new credit facilities gave the Federal Reserve the ability to purchase a larger array of financial products than traditional quantitative easing techniques previously allowed. This included the ability to purchase large amounts of investment grade corporate bonds through SPVs (Special Purpose Vehicles). As shown in the chart above, this action by the central bank had a profound impact on the financial markets. In particular, the creation of these credit facilities caused a peak in volatility in both equity and credit markets. The long-term impacts of the unprecedented monetary actions will remain to be foreseen. But for now, the Federal Reserve has been able to keep financial markets operating relatively calmly while the world navigates the Coronavirus pandemic.  ...
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Quality Factors of Our Investment Philosophy

One central part of our investment philosophy that we constantly preach is owning companies that have strong balance sheets. What this means is that they have limited liabilities including debt on their balance sheets as well as low working capital requirements. We also look for those companies that have large amounts of cash on their balance sheets. When these strong balance sheets are paired with good capital allocating management teams future returns tend to be strong in both up and down markets. Goldman Sachs recently created “strong balance sheet” and “week balance sheet” baskets of stocks with the former outperforming the latter.
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What's Driving Equity Markets

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2020 Earnings Update

2020 Earnings Update  Strict government-imposed restrictions including shelter-at-home policies did not come into place until mid-March across most of the country. This means that the impact to corporate earnings will not be reflected fully in first quarter numbers but more completely in second and third quarter results. First quarter earnings have so far been fairly solid with most companies reporting results in line with initial expectations. As expected, most companies have been cautious with giving too much insight into what upcoming quarters numbers will look like. Roughly half of S&P 500 companies provided 2020 EPS guidance through the end of February. If early reporters are any indication than many of these companies will continue to not give 2020 guidance or withdraw previous projections.    While poor upcoming numbers are largely already being priced in by investors, the second and third quarter will presumably be a bumpier earnings season as the...
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Reopening of the Economy

Reopening of the Economy  The next step as we move through this virus pandemic is the reopening of the economy and a return to normalcy. Although the “reopening” of the economy is talked about as a singular moment where economic activity is resumed, we see it as more of a process that will take place over the next 2-3 quarters. The economy being “open” is one thing, but the return to normalcy is the more difficult time window to predict. It may take years for several aspects of the economy to return to pre-virus conditions. Financial markets, particularly the fixed income market, have likely been changed for a significant period of time on behalf of the unprecedented central bank stimulus taking place across the globe.   The virus has not affected all regions equally and this will not change once economies reopen. Those parts of the country that have a...
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Where We Are in The Life Cycle of COVID-19

Where We Are in The Life Cycle of COVID-19   Last month we provided a framework for how we believed the COVID-19 life cycle would play out considering current available data and past virus outbreaks keeping in mind different countries progress at different paces. At that time, we felt the United States was in stage 3, preparing to move to stage 4 of the virus’s life as local transmission began to take hold and sustained government action was taking place. Since then we have seen unprecedented government lockdowns across the country, social distancing/mask requirements, increased urgency on the part of the government to develop nationwide testing, and pharmaceutical companies rushing to find a potential vaccine. Today we believe we are in the mid-to-latter part of stage 4 where our healthcare system has absorbed the shock from the wave of new virus patients and cases continue to grow. New daily cases...
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COVID-19 Case Growth Update

Case Growth     COVID-19 cases in the US continue to grow but the encouraging sign is that the case growth rate appears to be slowing down. After reaching a peak on April 4th, shortly after government shutdowns were enacted, new daily cases have been relatively flat. Hopefully as the US continues to follow Italy’s path total cases will also continue to taper off. This slowdown of the virus is key not only for ensuring medical institutions are not overwhelmed but also for being able to reopen the economy. We continue to monitor these developments and as more information becomes available, we will be sure to keep you informed. Pat   Commentary Disclosures: Covington Investment Advisors, Inc. prepared this material for informational purposes only and is not an offer or solicitation to buy or sell. The information provided is for general guidance and is not a personal recommendation for any...
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An Update on Energy Markets

Volatility in Oil Markets  One pocket of the capital markets that has seen elevated levels of volatility is the commodities sector, particularly crude oil products. On the supply side, recent negotiation fallouts have led to a price war being waged between Saudi Arabia and Russia. At a time where output cuts were trying to be reached by OPEC+, two of the largest oil producers on the planet have maxed out their production capacity flooding the market. The demand side of the shock comes from the halt in economic activity brought on by the virus outbreak and government shutdown. Without people flying, driving, or transporting goods, demand for crude oil and refined products have dropped off the map.  Investors were greeted by headlines this morning of US light crude oil prices hitting 21-year lows at an astonishing $13.99 per barrel. But those watching this front month expiry benchmark should be aware...
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Economic Impact of COVID-19

I have attached our most recent update to the Coronavirus response and economic outlook. Find the update here>>04082020-Q2-2020-COVID-19-Impact-Update.pdf       Disclaimer: The information contained in this commentary has been compiled by Covington Investment Advisors, Inc. from sources believed to be reliable, but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made by Covington Investment Advisors, Inc., its affiliates or any other person as to its accuracy, completeness or correctness.   Under no circumstance is the information contained within this correspondence to be used or considered as an offer to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any particular security.  Nothing in this correspondence constitutes legal, accounting, or tax advice or individually tailored investment advice, or research. This material is prepared for general circulation to clients, and does not have regard to the particular circumstances or needs of any specific person who may read it. ...
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Update on Government Actions Taking Place (3/31/2020)

I thought you might find this update helpful to understand the government’s actions to stabilize the economy. Lawmakers finally came together on a bipartisan stimulus package that was signed into law on Friday, March 27th. The $2 trillion dollar stimulus package known as the CARES Act will act as a lifeline for businesses and employees while the government shutdown persists. The graphic below breaks down the different buckets of the package and how funds are being distributed.  On top of support for large and small businesses, the bill also provides support for hospitals and drug makers that are working to fight and contain the virus. Details are still being provided on the logistics and timing of payments and programs, but officials have been adamant about rolling these out as soon as possible. The CARES Act is just one aspect of the measures currently being taken to minimize the damage from the...
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Life Cycle of a Virus Pandemic (3/27/2020)

Now is the time to look forward and stick to a plan of action. Virus pandemics have a lifecycle that they go through and just like every life cycle they are not exact but can be useful as a timing tool. This framework is important for us as we navigate this volatility and make tactical investment decisions. Our timing will never be exact but what is important is that we are not basing our investment decisions on panic rather than sticking to realities and our core investment philosophy. The current coronavirus cycle is broken down into 5 stages. Right now, we are crossing over from stage 2 to 3. After the initial spotty cases across the country now we are seeing person to person transmission and the number of total cases to expand dramatically. Our transmission rates have been on par with other countries, but our mortality rate is significantly...
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An Update on Market Events (March 25, 2020)

Peak in Global Infection Rate Worldwide infection numbers continue to grow as most of the world remains in shutdown.  The service sector has been especially badly affected, with consumer facing industries bearing the brunt of the social distancing measurements. Although domestic health centers are strained, they have not been overrun such as those in Italy or Wuhan, China. It’s not all doom and gloom, positive signs are popping up in pockets across the world. In an encouraging sign, Italy has reported three straight days of new cases below the peak of 6,557 which occurred on March 21st. Saturday was 16 days since Italy took more drastic measures of social distancing such as shutting schools, universities, and non-essential businesses. China reached peak reported numbers 12 days after taking such measures. This would mean that we can use this 12-16 day window as a rough guide for a peak in the United...
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Wash Your Hands and Beware the Coronavirus Phishing Scam!

Day to day the media is reminding you to wash your hands and avoid large crowds as new coronavirus cases pop up across the world. What they should also be discussing is what else you should be concerned about; your cybersecurity.  Global disasters such as the coronavirus creates a golden opportunity for fraudsters because the whole world is informed and constantly trying to learn more about said disaster. This causes a greater potential for impulse clicking on suspicious emails or attachments. The fraudsters know this.  Starting in February 2020, a new coronavirus phishing scam has popped up in the United States. So, not only do you have to worry about the coronavirus outbreak hitting your area but now you must be on the lookout for the latest e-mail scam! These scam artists are trying to prey on the fear of the outbreak, hoping that you’ll impulse click on their seemingly...
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An Update on Market Events

Peak in Global Infection Rate Cases from around the globe continue to grow as widespread testing is being rolled out. To track the trajectory of the virus we are watching how fast the infection grows in a country after the number of cases exceed 100. China began to stabilize after roughly 36 days. When excluding Hubei, the epicenter of the Virus outbreak, this stabilization came even earlier at around 26 days. Although we try using other countries that are further along in their timeline as precedents it is important to keep in mind that not all countries are following the same trajectory. Italy, for example is experiencing rapid spread of the virus stemming from cultural norms such as tight living conditions and an aging population. South Korea has already flattened their curve by extensive testing and quarantine measures.  Coordinated Stimulus Over the weekend the senate failed to come together on...
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Virus Pandemic Update

A Peak in Global Infection Rates This is the most important factor for sensing a market bottom but also the most difficult to predict because of the uncertain nature of viruses. Using available data and models we can estimate the timeframe that it takes for a country to reach its peak infection rate and then flatten out. Many governments around the world believe the virus will peak in June or July but using China as an example we believe that peak could occur even earlier as long as countries take the necessary precautions to curb the spread of the virus. Every country has different circumstances. Italy for example has not been effective at stopping the virus and an aging population has made the mortality rate especially high. On the other hand, South Korea has shown the ability to stem the spread of the virus in an outstandingly quick timeframe through...
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How Do We Navigate This Unprecedented Market Environment?

How do we navigate this unprecedented market environment? While the circumstances of the Coronavirus/Oil War are extraordinary we are in the midst of a major crisis. Simply put, in a crisis there are certain actions we must adhere to as long-term investors until this crisis passes. We use historical precedents as a guideline, but every crisis is different. What isn’t different is how we approach them.  This is not a time to be frequently trading long term positions locking in losses under irrational circumstances. Once the virus hysteria passes, events and gatherings return to normal, and fiscal stimulus is launched by the government the market will stabilize. The stock market rewards investors who are long term oriented. While others are selling their shares out of panic, it creates an opportunity for those who want to buy a stake in those companies with the mindset of a long-term part-owner. Stocks of...
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Schwab Insights: Coronavirus and Market Volatility

I’d like to share with you yesterday’s insights from Schwab Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders in response to the economic implications of the COVID-19 and the recent crash in oil prices.       Covington Investment Advisor Disclosures: The information contained in this commentary has been compiled by Covington Investment Advisors, Inc. from sources believed to be reliable, but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made by Covington Investment Advisors, Inc., its affiliates or any other person as to its accuracy, completeness or correctness.   Under no circumstance is the information contained within this correspondence to be used or considered as an offer to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any particular security.  Nothing in this correspondence constitutes legal, accounting, or tax advice or individually tailored investment advice, or research. This material is prepared for general circulation to clients, and...
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Covington Market Update

The current scene of volatility in the markets is one that we do not take lightly or underestimate the degree to which financial markets can work themselves into a panic. We understand that the current selloff this past week is difficult to endure. Based on our financial planning and investment management approach our client portfolios have been designed for every possible environment, good or bad. Fortunately, our portfolios are designed to prepare for such circumstances as we are currently experiencing. You have a financial plan that has incorporated an emergency fund of cash representing 6-12 months of cash needs so that you would not be forced to sell assets at the wrong time. Our yield bias of dividend paying stocks provides ongoing cash flow support and our focus on large capitalized proven enterprises has proved to be protective in these environments as well. Our total avoidance of international and emerging...
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Coronavirus Impact on Markets

The recent outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus is a topic that is at the forefront of all investors’ minds, particularly since information out of China is spotty and the numbers that are supplied by the Chinese government need to be met with high scrutiny. Many would wonder how the world’s second largest economy seemingly grinding to a halt would not cause a market sell off. The market reaction thus far has been relatively muted for several reasons: The first reason is the derivative effects of the virus that the market is currently pricing in. The market is confident that China will be able to relatively contain the virus before it becomes a full-on Global Pandemic. From what we know now, the mortality rate from Coronavirus is relatively low. Figure 1, located below, plots the Coronavirus mortality statistics against similar outbreaks. As this is being written, only two deaths have been...
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The Economic Headline for 2019 Ought to be "Fed Moves Avoid Recession"

Attached is our latest observations on the markets and the economy. I trust you will find the information insightful.  2019-Economic-and-Investment-Update.pdf    
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The Charles Schwab Corporation to Acquire TD Ameritrade

The Charles Schwab Corporation and TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation announced yesterday that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Schwab to acquire TD Ameritrade in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $26 billion. The combination brings together two leading firms with proud and similar histories of making investing more accessible to all. Please see below some important highlights of the press release. Click here to see the full press release. This transaction creates strategic benefits for the combined organization and will further improve the investing and trading experience to both Schwab and TD Ameritrade clients. It allows Schwab to continue to add further scale on top of its organic growth, helping to drive sustainable, profitable growth and long-term value creation. Clients of both firms should benefit from the broader and deeper array of services. The resulting combined firm is expected to serve 24 million client accounts with more than...
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Current Market Observations

Recently Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, said he sees the economy as being “in a good place”. So, what’s good about the economy? The Bull Market Powers On! October Jobs report came in at 128,000 new jobs created vs 85,000 expected according to a Bloomberg survey. GDP rose 1.9% in the 3rd Quarter compared to 2% in the 2nd quarter, stronger than expected with economists forecasting 1.6%. Consumer sentiment has remained strong with the unemployment rate at a half a century low of 3.6% and wages now growing at a 3% inflation rate. Consumer spending while moderating to a 2.9% annual rate in the 3rd quarter off from a 4.6% rate in the 2nd quarter still compares favorably to last year’s 3rd quarter rate of 2.5%. The US housing sector has improved with lower interest rates and according to the US Census Bureau and US Department of Housing and Urban...
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Hannah Patton Awarded CTFA Professional Certification

I am pleased to announce that Hannah Patton, Client Services Administrator at Covington Investment Advisors, was recently awarded the Certified Trust & Financial Advisor (CTFA) certification from the American Bankers Association (ABA). The CTFA certification is awarded to individuals who demonstrate excellence in the field of wealth management and trust. To qualify for the CTFA certification, individuals must have certain levels of experience and education in the trust profession, pass an exam, and agree to abide by a code of ethics. The CTFA exam covers many areas, including fiduciary and trust activities, financial planning, tax law and planning, investment management and ethics. In addition to the CTFA designation, Hannah has also received Certificate in Trusts for her completion of the ABA Trust Schools in the Foundational, Intermediate, and Advanced levels over the past three years. This expansion of Hannah’s knowledge base will be a great asset to Covington and our...
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IPO Mania, Private Equity, and Venture Capital

One part of the financial industry that has eaten up a disproportionate amount of headlines in the last few years are IPOs and private equity. Seemingly every week a new, fast growing company makes its debut on the public markets with some having eye-popping share price movements in the market. It’s important to be aware of these companies and the private equity industry as a whole because they do have a ripple effect across the business landscape.                                   A term that may be heard in tandem with IPOs or venture capital is “Unicorn”. A Unicorn is a private company that is valued at over $1 Billion. A common theme amongst most of these high flying “Unicorns” is that they are fueled by debt and low interest rates. Interest rates are near their historical lows with the ten year government bond yielding sub 2%. Historically, interest rates tend to mean...
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Charles Schwab Cuts Commissions to Zero!

Who doesn’t love FREE? Let’s face it, we all love a good bargain or free item. “Discount Chuck” is looking out for individual investors again, slashing online equity and ETF trading commissions from $4.95 to ZERO, making it even more affordable to invest. Schwab will continue to charge a commission for trading of foreign stocks, fixed-income investments, transaction-fee mutual funds, options, and large block trades that require special handling. Since 2006, Charles Schwab has been disrupting the brokerage industry by periodically reducing their trading commissions. Revenue will be derived from Schwab’s other business lines like its US Bank (Schwab Bank) and from net interest income. Charles Schwab continues to be a leading provider of financial services with more than $3.72 trillion in client assets as of August 31, 2019. Covington has utilized Charles Schwab as our Custodian of client assets since our inception. We continue to choose Schwab because they...
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Trick or Treat? Don’t be tricked by these new emerging threats

    In the spirit of Cyber Security Awareness Month, I wanted to highlight two growing trends and share some tips to help you stay safe when using your cell phone and home phone. Beware of a new variation of phishing called SMiShing and the other tactics which spoof local phone numbers to entice you to answer the call.      SMiShing uses SMS (for “short message service”) to commit fraud by texting your phone. Text messages are very popular and usually opened and responded to immediately making it a successful practice used by fraudsters. SMiShing attempts are also popping up on messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The text message may include a link to click on or a message urging you to respond quickly similar to the way phishing e-mails are handled. The fraudster’s goal is to steal your money by getting your personal information.  ...
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A Compliance Note on Conflicts of Interest

Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) identified a trend in their examinations that investment advisory firms were not adequately disclosing that a conflict of interest existed. In general, the investment advisors may have had compensation related incentives to place clients in the higher-cost mutual fund share classes when lower-cost share classes of the same fund were available. Investment advisors have a fiduciary duty to place your interests ahead of theirs and disclose conflicts of interest. In an effort to correct the situation, the SEC launched the “Mutual Fund Share Class Initiative” which allowed investment advisory firms to voluntarily report a violation of the Investment Advisors Act of 1940 resulting in 79 firms returning $125 million to harmed investors. The SEC is dedicated to protecting main street investors, but investors must also take steps to protect themselves. I think it’s safe to assume that we are very resourceful when...
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Covington's Market & Strategy Update

The Dow posted its largest decline of 2019 Wednesday as the bond market signaled a warning of a potential pending recession. With weak economic data coming out of China and Germany, the second and fourth largest economies, respectively, there are worries that we are in the midst of a broad global economic slowdown. As stated in the Wall Street Journal, the good news is that unlike the 1990’s with the Tech boom or the mid 2000’s with a housing boom, the US is not confronted with severe excesses to unwind. As such, any downturn might be mild. When market volatility picks up, it is reasonable for investors to get antsy about their investments and lose confidence in the market. We believe volatility provides a perfect opportunity to calibrate our investment philosophy and not get sucked into media headlines or brash reactions. Although we identify where we are in economic and...
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Covington Office Expansion-Completed!

It’s official, Nick is out of the living room! Construction is over at Covington! If you have visited our office in the past year you may have noticed a few out of the ordinary things; our Research Analyst, Nick Allen, working in the living room, loud noises, ladders, construction workers, etc. Well, this was all a part of our expansion, adding more office space upstairs to keep up with the growing needs of our company. I am happy to announce the addition at Covington has now been completed. I would like to take you on a virtual tour of our new office space, starting with the outside of the building. New view from the front of the building New view of the back of the building Next, we will go inside and upstairs to the new office space.  First, you will see Alma's newly renovated office. Alma Johnson is Covington's...
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Trade War Impact

Tariffs have been at the forefront of economic headlines over the past year. If the market headlines do not include “United States Threatens to Impose New Tariffs” then it most likely includes “Markets rise on the hope of a Trade Deal”. This has been the never ending cycle for the last year. On May 10th, 2019 the Trump Administration announced that a 25% tariff would be placed on an additional $250 Billion worth of Chinese goods being imported to the US. This tariff levying once again shocked markets and sent them trading lower the following week. Although we follow these developments daily it is important to understand the impact that this political risk has on your investments. Measuring The Effects Of The Trade War Trade tensions, specifically tariffs, affect the economy and market in a number of different ways. Certain aspects of a ‘Trade War’ are relatively easy to quantify...
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Covington Presents the 2019 Independent Music Teacher Award

  We all know how music impacts us individually.  It comforts us, inspires us and connects us to one another. But music is so much more; there is something about its impact on us physically, emotionally and mentally.  In fact, it helps to develop the left side of the brain which fosters creativity that drives our innovativeness that allows us to solve problems.  In essence it is a facilitator for the betterment of the human experience. Recognizing the diminishing arts programs in our schools and the many societal challenges that we face we have felt compelled to do something about that and so we have been underwriting music and art programs in our community through our business and family foundations.  Additionally, each year we sponsor the Independent Music Teacher Award facilitated through the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra.  This year at the Carmina Burana concert we announced the 2019 honoree as Jacqueline...
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Covington Supports the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra for their 50th Anniversary!

The Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its 50th Anniversary Season. On Saturday April 27, 2019, Covington Investment Advisors will be the presenting sponsor for the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra (WSO) Concert, titled Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana”. Orff’s epic Carmina Burana is one of the most recognizable and popular works in the classical repertoire. I hope to see you there this Saturday night. The performance starts at 7:30 PM. More information can be found on the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra's website: https://www.westmorelandsymphony.org/.
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Covington Office Expansion

Covington Investment Advisors is continuing to expand in order to best serve the needs of our clients. Our office expansion efforts are underway and are nearing completion in the next few months. The expansion will provide us with more office space upstairs. You can see some pictures of the progress below. With our expanding space and client base, you may see some new faces at Covington soon. We would like to now introduce our newest hire, Nick Allen, an upcoming graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Nick will be joining us as a Research Analyst and has been interning at Covington since May.
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Covington Investment Advisors, Inc.
301 E. Main Street
Ligonier, PA 15658
Phone: 724-238-0151
Fax: 724-238-0148
Email: covington@covingtoninvestment.com