Our Insight

& strategic views

2011 3rd Quarter Commentary

October 13, 2011  |   Insight,News & Press   |     |   Comments Off on 2011 3rd Quarter Commentary


Instability, uncertainty, and overall headline risk drove stock prices for the last three months. While many of the concerns we have written about earlier this year persist, the drama in Europe supersedes everything right now. On the whispers of agreements or dissensions between the deal makers/politicians in France and Germany, equity markets have moved hundreds of points upward or downward. Sentiment is quite negative these days and sentiment is driving the fluctuations we’ve witnessed this quarter. At the end of the day we still believe the fundamentals of the U.S. and world economy should drive stock and bond valuations. In the following pages, we will discuss the themes that are ...

2011 2nd Quarter Commentary

July 12, 2011  |   Insight,News & Press   |     |   Comments Off on 2011 2nd Quarter Commentary


The second quarter of 2011 had an all too familiar feel. After a strong start to the year, investors “sold in May and went away.” However, this time rather than an oil spill and the ensuing disaster, it was global supply chain issues caused by the Japanese tsunami, massive flooding in the US, a slowing growth rate in China and continued European debt concerns that caused investors to pull back. Added to that backdrop was heated debate and grandstanding by both political parties over the need to raise the debt ceiling. It should come as no wonder that consumer confidence was rattled. As Dan Pickering, one of our favorite analysts ...

2011 1st Quarter Commentary

April 14, 2011  |   Insight,News & Press   |     |   Comments Off on 2011 1st Quarter Commentary

“He that can have patience can have what he will.”
Benjamin Franklin


The first quarter of 2011 closed with an upward trend in stock prices. A rally that began in December continued through March with the final day of trading in the quarter testing the highs set on February 5th. This type of behavior shows the extreme resilience of investors; that despite the prevalence of intense “noise,” the fundamentals that drive investing currently rule the Street.

The following paragraphs detail our observations on the overall economy and financial markets.


Three months ago, it would have seemed crazy to predict almost $4 gasoline, government coup d’états in the Middle East, and one of the ...

2010 4th Quarter Commentary

January 26, 2011  |   All Else,Insight   |     |   0 Comment

“Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

Last quarter we discussed our take on the future of the economy, noting that economics is a dismal science and thus we are required to take a less apocalyptic and more measured approach to our forecasts than the soothsayers in the media. We noted that economic forecasts over the last 12 months have been anything but consistent or accurate and that caution is therefore warranted.

While 2011 looks to be different and somewhat more constructive than 2010, there is no question that uncertainty remains. We begin by noting that while no one is clairvoyant, there are certainly ...

2010 3rd Quarter Commentary

October 25, 2010  |   Insight   |     |   0 Comment

“The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” John Milton

A recent story we read captures the idea of how many people think in linear ways that can lead us to underestimate the future – be careful how you think:
“In 1898, the first international urban-planning conference convened in New York. It was abandoned after three days because none of the delegates could see any solution to the growing crisis caused by urban horses and their output. In the Times of London, one reporter estimated that in 50 years, every street in London would be buried under nine ...

2010 2nd Quarter Commentary

July 08, 2010  |   Insight   |     |   Comments Off on 2010 2nd Quarter Commentary

The second quarter marked a pause in the 18 month rally in the equity markets. International markets performed substantially worse than domestic ones, particularly when translated into U.S. Dollar terms. Much of this correction stemmed from the uncertainties in Europe and lackluster domestic indicators of economic activity.

The last three months have brought market participants to a point where many feel we are evenly balanced between economic decline and growth. That viewpoint is reflected in asset prices in both the stock and bond markets. We hold to our belief that growth will occur, albeit slowly, due to a very stubborn labor market in which unemployment remains high. Economic data aside, ...

Time to Panic? (or Why you Need an Advisor)

May 11, 2010  |   Insight   |     |   Comments Off on Time to Panic? (or Why you Need an Advisor)

by H. Brian May

Last week we experienced a selloff reminiscent of the days of Lehman Brothers’ failure in 2008. While some claim a trading error may have been responsible for a portion of the massive decline on Thursday, we know that fears of a European collapse and Greek contagion gave speculators and traders a reason to sell.

It’s clear the markets have risen substantially from the March 2009 lows, but we continue to live by the belief that it is valuations that drive markets in the long term and emotions and current news that drives markets in the short term. As much as we believe ...

2010 1st Quarter Commentary

April 14, 2010  |   Insight   |     |   Comments Off on 2010 1st Quarter Commentary

During the last month, we passed the one year anniversary of the stock market’s most recent crisis low. We remember quite clearly that ugly Monday in March (3/9/09), 3 days after the S&P 500 hit an intraday low of 666, then closed at 676.53, reflecting a point where in the wake of the credit crisis, panic selling appeared to capitulate. At that point the S&P 500 traded at the same level it first crossed in 1996, 13 years earlier. During that period we felt many of the same emotions that you felt. We cannot reiterate this message enough: it is in situations such as those where adhering to a ...

Experience the SS&A Difference

February 28, 2010  |   Featured,Insight   |     |   Comments Off on Experience the SS&A Difference

Today's financial landscape can be confusing. We believe both the regulatory structure and Wall Street have made it this way. In our opinion, looking at recent history, Wall Street is not in the advice business, as most investors think. Instead, Wall Street is in the business of manufacturing and selling products. In our minds there are two types of financial professionals, those who have a fiduciary obligation and those who do not. Let us explain further.

To separate the various types of advisors, the easiest approach is to investigate two items: ...

Know Your ABC's: The Impact of Fees on Investment Performance

August 18, 2008  |   Insight   |     |   0 Comment

By G. Gregory Smith, Jr.

As a follow up to our study on how taxes can impair investment returns, we thought it only logical to address how fees are another “hidden pitfall” for investors. The following discussion is intended to be a primer on how investment managers are compensated. The multitude of investment vehicles on the market today prohibit a comprehensive explanation, but we hope this paper can help educate you on the various terms, structures, and layered fee arrangements that you may encounter in today’s market. Please keep in mind that you must always read the prospectus for each fund you ...

Page 3 of 41234

Insight Disclaimer: Smith Salley LLC's web site is limited to the dissemination of general information regarding its investment advisory services to United States residents residing in states where providing such information is not prohibited by applicable law. Accordingly, the publication of Smith Salley LLC's web site on the Internet should not be construed by any consumer and/or prospective client as Smith Salley's solicitation to effect, or attempt to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, over the Internet. Furthermore, the information resulting from the use of tools or other information on this Internet site should not be construed, in any manner whatsoever, as the receipt of, or a substitute for, personalized individual advice from Smith Salley & Associates, LLC. By closing this box, you hereby agree that you have read and agree with this disclaimer.