Switch it up this year: Buy in May, till November stay

Sun May 28, 2017 5:37am EDT
 
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By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Sell in May and go away" is perhaps the oldest saw on Wall Street, but it appears there's no shortage of U.S. mutual funds doing exactly that this year.

After all, the S&P 500 .SPX has delivered a total return, including reinvested dividends, of 10.8 percent over the last six months, essentially capturing all of the average rolling 12-month total return on the index since 1990, so why not cash in?

Indeed, political drama and high valuations are clearly driving some investors to take profits. American fund investors have yanked more than $17 billion from U.S. stocks so far this month, data from fund tracker Lipper shows, with some $10.1 billion in withdrawals in the latest week alone, the second biggest outflow for the year.

Some hearty investors, however, stand ready to bet against that flow - and history - and are advocating a buy-in-May approach this year.

"If anything you might want to buy in May and sell in November," said Chris Zaccarelli, Chief Investment Officer at Cornerstone Financial Partners, in Huntersville, North Carolina, who bases his bullishness on the healthy outlook for the global economy rather than expectations for a policy boost from the Trump administration.

While stocks appear to have priced in hope for a Trump stimulus this year, Zaccarelli says his expectations for progress on Trump's agenda in 2017 has recently tumbled to 40/60 from 80/20 because he doesn't see Trump gaining enough support from a severely divided Republican party, which suggests to him that selling will be more opportune a few months down the road.

"If we go the entire year and Washington does nothing, no tax reform, no repatriation, I think there will be a little disappointment," he said. "Ironically enough, the disappointment will be in November or December because people will realize they went the whole year and got nothing done."

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FILE PHOTO: A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., December 28, 2016.   REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo