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Proxy 2Q 2023 Market Commentary on Strategies

Proxy Global Equity:

The Second quarter of 2023 closed out with more positive momentum carrying the market, which was almost exclusively driven by growth and tech. The S&P was up 16%, with the largest tech names in the index pushing the vast majority of that performance.   The Proxy Global Equity Portfolio, which is designed to be invested across all markets, which maintains a focus on risk adjusted returns, was also positive at the close of Q2.  Up 12%, The Global Equity portfolio saw a lot of its returns come from US equities, and more tech focused investments such as QQQ (Nasdaq 100 ETF) and SMH (Global Semi conductor ETF), both of which provided an extra boost.  SMH was a tactical add to the portfolio at the end of 2022, successfully predicting the high demand for the tech they offer would drive results as the supply gradually caught up. The majority of the portfolio however has had a more conservative lean, with greater exposure to value, some gold (3% IAU) , bonds (3% in TIPS index) and 7.5% in cash.  All of those, while positive on the year, have significantly lagged their respective indexes.  Emerging markets,  developed international, and Small and Mid Cap companies have also been detractors to the overall performance.  As previously mentioned, Large Cap Growth has been the driving factor (up 29%), while asset classes like Large Value or Emerging Markets where each only up 5%.  In spite of the broad diversification hurting the portfolio in this very unusual market, Proxy’s portfolio management teams tactical bets have paid off enough to help provide us with double digit returns just 6 months into the year.   One of the most notable changes in the portfolio for the Quarter was the tactical decision to move half of our position in IVV ( market cap weighted S&P 500 ETF) to RSP (S&P 500 equal weigh ETF).  The reason behind this was the theory that if the broad market sells off the largest stocks (weighed by market cap), they would sell off in a more proportionate way than the other 494 stocks in the index.  If the broad market continues to trade upward, the idea is the remaining, smaller companies, in the index will be able to catch up with the largest stocks that remain fairly stagnant.  For the month of June the later theory had played out. 

Proxy Growth:

2023 has been a good year for growth and technology overall.  However, it is the largest tech names which have really moved the markets. While Proxy growth is up 26% and has outperformed the S&P 500 by ~10%, it’s weightings in Mid and Small Cap have been a bit of a detractor.  Additionally,  the healthy cash position of 15% has been a drag.  A portion of that cash is a defensive play, in the face of several potential head winds, and the rest is the result of trimming positions and capturing gains.  In spite of more conservative decision to hedge with cash, the portfolio continues to perform. AI driven stocks such as Nvidia, C3.AI and Upstart Holdings have been up 200%+ which have provided strong attribution despite each being 1% or less of the portfolio.  The top 2 holdings (the 4% max allocation), The Trade Desk and Microsoft have both added significant returns as well.  Throughout the quarter we used the market pop to exit a few positions such as Sabre which we felt no long possessed the growth potential that we once believe to be there.  Additionally, we trimmed a few positions we believed were trading enough above fair value, that we simply took the opportunity to lock in gains. To this effect we were able to trim C3.AI, and Nvidia more than once this year. We also added a few new names with which we saw opportunities to add strong value for reliable long term growth. An example of a newly initiated position is Shift4 Payments Inc.  As for the future of the portfolio, we are well positioned to hold up if a market reversal occurs, as we have lowered the overall risk profile and have significant surplus of buying power (cash) to put to work.  If the market is able to remain resilient in the face of the headwinds we have been preparing for, we will continue to participate. If Mid and Small Cap Growth stocks continue to play catch up with Large Cap, we will see an even greater acceleration.

Proxy Dividend Income:

The Large Cap Growth driven market rally has left value falling flat on the year.  For the first half of 2023, Large Cap Value is up just 5% and Small Cap Value is 2.5%.  The Proxy Dividend portfolio has lagged both, up only 0.13%.  While last year the value high quality dividend company approach paid off nicely relative to the indexes,  the opposite has been true this year.  However, we don’t believe the assets class being out of favor means the strategy is broken, so we have made few changes to it this past quarter.  We have stayed the course and believe the quality approach combined with a 4.8% average yield will continue to provide a lower risk approach towards equity investing while also generating steady dividend income.  Looking ahead we anticipate utilizing the 8% tactical cash position to add a few more quality names to the portfolio which should continue to perform in the face of an economic recession.

Fixed Income:

Our Proxy ETF strategies have acted in line with the index (~2%) . We have maintained a lower overall duration (shorter term bonds).  Regardless if the Fed continues to raise rates or not, we do not anticipate a rate cut for the remainder of this year and current inverted yield curve provide lower risk, higher yields, and more liquidity. We do not see a need to go further out on the curve for the time being.

For clients with greater fixed Income needs, we have enjoyed the lowest risk asset in this market: Treasuries. With the Fed raising rates and still another 1-2 increases predicted on the horizon, we will continue to be tactical in our allocations to (a) not lose principal and (b) get the highest interest rate (coupon) for our conservative clients.  Individual Treasuries at this time are an excellent option for clients with larger allocation towards fixed income, who have been enjoying a laddered strategy, ranging from 3 month to 2 year, providing an average coupon of approximately 5% Yield to Maturity.

Disclaimer: Investing in financial markets carries risk, including loss of principal. You can lose some or all of the money that is invested. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The material contained herein is for informational purposes only. This document does not constitute a recommendation of securities, securities portfolio, transactions or investment strategies. The projections were created based on hypothetical information, there is no guarantee that any of them will come true. Proxy Financial is a registered investment adviser. Proxy and its Financial Advisors are not licensed in all states to offer securities and insurance products. This site is not a solicitation of interest in any of these products or service in any state which the registered representative is not properly licenses.

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    Marc DeCuffa, APMA

    Marc DeCuffa, APMA

    Director of Wealth Management

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