Weekly Market Recap

US equities were mixed last week. Large cap cyclicals rose, including energy, financials, materials, and industrials, pushing the Dow to a record high during Wednesday’s session. However, sectors like technology, communications, and healthcare finished lower, resulting in small losses for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite. Small and midcap US stocks were also down slightly, while international stock indices managed to eke out small gains.

Last week’s most prominent market action was in rates, as Treasury yields moved higher on the back of PPI inflation and retail sales figures that blew past consensus estimates. The 10-year finished the week at 1.34% (+13bp w/w), while the 30-year closed at 2.13% (+12bp w/w). Credit spreads compressed slightly, particularly in high yield, but not enough to prevent price declines across most spread-oriented sectors of the bond market.

Oil finally took a pause, finishing slightly lower on Friday after trading above $60/barrel (WTI) for most of the week. Market participants are anticipating a rise in OPEC+ production, and a short-term drop in demand as refineries take time to recover from freezing weather across much of the southern US.

In other economic news, weekly jobless claims remained range-bound, while residential building permits rose to a fresh 15-year high of 1.88 million (SAAR), a positive sign for housing and the broader economy in 2021. See the Chart of the Week for a time series.


Weekly Market Recap

Equity markets around the world rallied once again last week, driven by continued strength in earnings, notable progress on vaccine distribution, dovish commentary by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, and some progress towards another round of economic stimulus in the US.

On the vaccine front, Sinovac Biotech announced that its vaccine was approved for use in China, Pfizer’s vaccine was approved for use in Japan, and the Biden administration announced that the US had reached deals with both Pfizer and Moderna for another 100 million vaccine doses from each company. Dr. Anthony Fauci now expects that any American who wants a vaccine will be able to get one in the spring (possibly as early as April).

Treasury markets responded to all of this good news by sending yields higher, with the 30-year breaching 2% for the first time since Feb 19th of last year (the same day equity markets reached their pre-pandemic peak). Meanwhile the 2s10s curve reached 110 basis points, the highest level since the pandemic began. Investment grade corporate credit spreads tightened by 2bp, not enough to offset the move in rates. Muni and high yield bond spreads tightened more vigorously, pushing prices higher in those markets.

Oil extended its 2021 rally, with WTI finishing the week up another 4.6%. As a result, the energy sector extended its lead as the best-performing sector so far in 2021, while utilities were the worst performer last week.


Weekly Market Recap

Every Monday morning, download our Weekly Market Recap for Commentary and Data, with Economy and Earnings, Equity Valuation, Interest Rates, and Inflation, including infographic charts.


Debt or Equity: Which is the Best Way to Raise Capital for Your Business?

My first job out of college was with a Fortune 100 company that measured success by market share and revenue. When my team saw opportunities to strengthen our market position, we simply put together a budget and submitted it for funding. Senior management either approved the project or turned it down. Money was a figure on a spreadsheet and we had a seemingly endless supply.

I look back at this experience nostalgically as one might reflect on their childhood. Fun days, but boy was I naive. If you don’t have the balance sheet of a Fortune 100 company, how do you raise money to support growth, develop new products or pursue opportunities? Company owners generally have just three sources for capital: retained earnings, debt or equity.

Retained Earnings (your company’s profits)

The cheapest source of capital is always your company’s retained earnings. Run your company profitably and each month the balance of your business bank account grows. Sometimes, however, the best long-term decision is to invest more money than your company can earn and save. For this, you will need debt or equity.

Debt (a loan from friends, family or the bank)

Debt is generally less expensive than equity but can be difficult to obtain and often comes with constraints on the business.

Owners who think they may want to pursue debt in the future are well advised to work with a knowledgeable accountant to make sure all their financial books are in order. Build relationships with banks well before you need money and periodically keep them apprised of your company’s progress. Nothing builds confidence with a banker like seeing a business meet its goals quarter after quarter and year after year—particularly when that business is not yet asking for a loan.

Perhaps the most daunting part of incurring business debt from a bank is the personal guarantee. If the business fails, the company owner could lose some or all of their personal assets. Banks always say that the personal guarantee is non-negotiable; however, the rigidity of this requirement changes over time. In other words, sometimes it is more non-negotiable than others. If a personal guarantee is a deal breaker for you, consider hiring a professional debt broker. Unfortunately, finding a good debt broker can be more difficult than finding a bank to lend you money.

Equity (selling a partial ownership stake in your company)

Equity is typically more expensive than debt, but it comes with greater flexibility. One of the most compelling features of equity is the access to advice and support that comes from a good investor. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true—a bad investor can make your life miserable. Like a marriage, you are entering into a relationship and it is worth spending time to find the right partner. Networking with other entrepreneurs and business owners is one of the best ways to find good investors.

Other resources are investor groups such as the Park City Angels or the Salt Lake City Angels. Venture investors with a focus on Utah companies include Kickstart Seed Fund (early stage) and Mercato Partners (growth capital for expansion stage companies) as well as several others.

If at all possible, you want to be introduced to the investors you would like to approach. While often overlooked, one effective way to get an introduction is simply to see what other companies the firm has invested in and meet with the founders of those companies (investment firms typically list their past and existing investments on their website). Entrepreneurs love meeting with other entrepreneurs and will often agree to help with an introduction. With LinkedIn and other tools, finding someone you know in common with the desired investor is easier than ever.

Take the time to arrange a quality introduction, as it is your first impression and is sometimes a test. The test relates to this question: If you can’t get a quality introduction, how will you get in front of customers, suppliers, etc.? That said, if you aren’t properly introduced, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and introduce yourself.

Run your business well and maybe one day you will build the next Fortune 100 company. If you do, one last piece of advice: Don’t hire recent college graduates who naively think the essence of raising money is submitting pretty spreadsheets (like I did 25 years ago …).

Doug Wells, CFA, CFP, MBA
Albion Financial Group
(801) 487-3700; (877) 487-6200