Portfolio Rebalancing -- a Real-Time View, Part II

 | Jan 29, 2013 | 9:00 AM EST
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In part one of this piece, I laid out my starting portfolio (my earnings momentum strategy/valuation sensitive "growth at a reasonable price" (GARP) strategy) before a major rebalancing I implemented last week. As a reminder, this is what the portfolio looked like before:

Growth Portfolio -- Before Trades, Jan. 28
Source: Gary Dvorchak

Now that we've gone over what needed needed readjustment, let's run through the trades I've put in and the rationale behind them. 

● I need to correct the underweight in producer manufacturing, so I will do this by adding a new name, Rockwell Automation (ROK)

● I need to replace Garmin (GRMN) and top off the electronic-technology weighting. I looked at SanDisk (SNDK), which has strong earnings momentum, but I need something with higher market capitalization, so will go with Cisco (CSCO). Before I buy it, though, I will take up the weighting in Qualcomm (QCOM), which is my favorite name in group right now.

● I mentioned the overweight in energy minerals due to huge wins in both Marathon Petroleum (MPC) and HollyFrontier (HFC). Marathon's weighting crept up to 7%! So I need to take Marathon down in order to get to an equal weight in the sector.

● I like CF Industries (CF), because fertilizer sales should be strong in a heavy planting season due to the drought last year. I add a bit to top off the sector weight.

● In health technology, I love Regeneron (REGN) despite the high multiple, and I am OK with Mylan Labs (MYL), although it has done nothing for me so far. Amgen (AMGN) is losing momentum, so it is out in order to freshen things up. I buy St. Jude Medical (STJ) up to 2% to start it and get to an equal sector weight.

● Consumer non-durables has the same issue: an overweight I need to reduce. The highest weight of the three names I own in this is the one with the least earnings momentum -- PVH (PVH) -- so I will take it down in order to even out the sector weight.

● In industrial services, I need to replace Quanta (PWR), which is slowing -- so I swap into Helmerich & Payne (HP). All of the other good names in the space are limited partnerships, which I avoid due to the tax complexity.

● I need a commercial-services name, but there aren't a lot of stocks to choose from. So I swallow hard and use Moody's (MCO), even though I have a moral opposition to this firm due to its role in the mortgage meltdown.

● I need a little more exposure in distribution services, but there is also little to choose from here, so I use McKesson (MCK) strictly based on market cap (I need more) and lower valuation.

● In technology services, I will use an Accenture (ACN) sale in order to get to equal weight. I am tempted by Facebook (FB), but the 45x valuation is still too high for my discipline. Oracle (ORCL) gets me earnings momentum at a reasonable valuation, as well as more market cap.

● (Note: The portfolio market cap is significantly below that average for the S&P 500. As a result, I am focused on getting it up so that I am not making a "closet bet" on small-caps.)

● In health services, I should cut Cigna (CI) but don't feel like it.

● I need to top up consumer services, so I start a Royal Caribbean (RCL) position. It is small in market cap, but it has the best earnings momentum.

● Retail is overweight now due to strong Home Depot (HD) performance, but it has earnings momentum so I just let it run. It's not excessively overweight.

● I need something in transports, but there is nothing with both earnings momentum and good valuation.

● Utilities is just a filler in this strategy. Utes never have real earnings momentum. I just buy Edison (EIX) as a filler.

● I am very underweight financial stocks and need to add. BlackRock (BLK) fits the earnings and valuation screen. In a strong up market, its earnings are likely to surprise to the upside.

So, after all those trades, here is how the portfolio looks now. Sectors are generally in line, market cap is higher, cash is down and the names are very fresh in terms of earnings momentum.

Growth Portfolio -- After Trades, Jan. 28
Source: Gary Dvorchak

As you go over my trades, you'll probably notice that the considerations are not always related to individual names. Portfolio issues can often dominate, and you may buy or sell names in which your conviction is not very high. Institutional portfolio managers regularly need to take actions that shape an overall portfolio, and they will use names as needed.

When I look at my portfolio, I compare key characteristics with my benchmark. I look at the valuation, as well -- I always want it below the S&P 500, the yield and the market cap. I could use more yield, and I always seem to need more market cap, usually because the megacap names that dominate the S&P rarely have good earnings momentum. 

Portfolio Characteristics

An important statistic is "active share," which measures the extent to which the portfolio has active bets. A low active share means you are a closet indexer, hugging the benchmark and taking little risk. I shoot for an active share above 90%, which means I am actively managing the portfolio and not simply mimicking the benchmark. 

I hope this window into my trading is useful for your own portfolio-management activity. Of course, you are looking at names, but you need to keep track of the sum-total result of all the positions you hold. Good names in a bad portfolio can still produce mediocre results.

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