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PG&E Blackouts: An Investing Red Herring

By Brett Eversole

Editor’s note: Brett Eversole joined Stansberry Research in 2010. He worked alongside Steve Sjuggerud to develop True Wealth Systems. And he now works with Steve Sjuggerud on True Wealth, True Wealth Systems, True Wealth Opportunities: China, and True Wealth Opportunities: Commodities.


“How are you enjoying the show?” I asked one of our subscribers last week at our Stansberry Conference in Las Vegas.

“The show’s great,” he said. “But I’ve been better. They just shut the power off at my house.”

Fortunately, he elaborated before I had a chance to put my foot in my mouth.

“I live in Napa Valley. They’ve shut the power down to avoid wildfires. They’ve put off improving infrastructure for decades and now this is the solution.”

Crazy is an understatement. We now have widespread blackouts in California. And not just that – in some of the wealthiest spots in California.

I’m talking about places like Napa County and the Bay Area. That’s the region from San Francisco to San Jose. It’s the home of tech giants like Facebook and Google (though the big tech companies made it through without any shutdowns… go figure).

The blackouts hit what California-based utility PG&E describes as 700,000 “customers.” That is, they affected 700,000 households and businesses… or about 2 million people, in human terms.

We’ll let the pundits waste their time trying to make sense of the fundamentals. We’re focused on investing.

And I’m betting, as an investor, you don’t think much about utilities. If you have thought about them at all in the last year or so, it’s because of PG&E and its ongoing lawsuits from California’s devastating wildfires.

Hopefully, the latest PG&E madness didn’t distract you. Hopefully, you noticed the incredible setup in the utilities sector… and didn’t fall victim to this newsy investment “red herring”…


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These kinds of investment red herrings crop up all the time. They’re newsworthy… But that’s it.

Worse, they waste your time. And that prevents you from seeing real investment opportunities.

That’s exactly where we are now. The PG&E blackout story is taking up all the air in the room. And it’s preventing investors, who normally don’t think about utilities at all, from seeing the real opportunity in the sector.

Normally, I’m not interested in utility stocks… especially now, in the late innings of the Melt Up.

It’s a boring sector, filled with businesses that keep the lights on in your home. They’re highly regulated. And in California, you better believe regulators are looking closely now.

Under regular circumstances, these companies are slow movers. But that’s not always the case. When the right circumstances line up, utility stocks can perform incredibly well. And those pieces are falling into place right now.

Thanks to a massive fall in interest rates, we have a rare chance to make huge triple-digit gains in a normally boring sector.

Bond yields have crashed. They’re now near all-time lows. And that creates a huge opportunity in dividend-paying stocks… like utilities.

The reason is simple. While interest rates have fallen, utility yields haven’t fallen nearly as much. Today, the sector yields roughly 3%. That’s almost one-and-a-half percentage points higher than the 10-year Treasury yield of 1.7%.

This hasn’t been the case historically. More than four decades of data shows that, on average, utilities yield half a percentage point less the 10-year Treasury yield.

Consider this… For utility yields to fall below Treasury yields again, like normal, the sector would have to soar nearly 100%.

Let’s say a stock trades for $5 and pays a $0.15 annual dividend. That’s a 3% dividend yield. If the stock doubles to $10, that $0.15 dividend is now a 1.5% dividend yield.

Now, I’m not predicting a triple-digit move in the underlying sector right now. That would be an amazing feat for boring utility stocks. But thanks to incredibly low interest rates, a major move higher is possible.

It’s an exciting setup… in a sector that’s usually slow and uninteresting.

The only news in the sector has been about PG&E. But don’t let the red herring distract you… There’s big opportunity in the utilities sector right now.

Warren Buffett Would Have Lost This $1 Million Bet on China

By Brian Tycangco, analyst, True Wealth Opportunities: China

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Warren Buffett – one of the world’s most successful investors – is anything but a gambler.

But in 2007, Buffett stunned the investing world when he made a controversial investment. He bet that one kind of investment would outperform a basket of stocks handpicked by a well-known New York money manager.

That wager ended up netting Buffett $2.2 million… It wasn’t even a contest.

Over 10 years, Buffett’s pick returned a compounded 7.1% per year, while its counterpart managed a mere 2.2%.

The amazing thing is that Buffett’s pick wasn’t some amazing, high-flying, tech-laden investment strategy. It was, in many ways, the simplest investment anyone could have made.

You see, Buffett bought shares in an index-tracking fund called the Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares. It was created to do one thing – track the S&P 500 Index performance as closely as possible.

“The trick is not to pick the right company,” Buffett said. “The trick is to essentially buy all the big companies through the S&P 500 and do it consistently.”

He was confident his investment would always include 500 of the biggest and most profitable U.S. companies in the market. That gave him a high probability of outperforming most stock pickers, who spend enormous amounts of time and resources trying to beat the market.

But if Buffett had made a similar wager in China, he probably would have lost that bet. Let me explain…


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China’s main stock index is the Shanghai Composite Index. It tracks the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the largest stock exchange in China and the world’s fourth-largest by market cap.

Now, the Shanghai Composite Index includes all of the nearly 1,520 listed companies on the exchange. And any newly listed stock is only included 11 days after its initial public offering (“IPO”).

What this means is that the key China stock index used by the world to gauge the health and performance of the stock market – much like the S&P 500 is used for the U.S. – is deeply flawed.

Unlike its U.S. counterpart, it doesn’t represent the biggest and most profitable companies in China. It’s a “catch all” index that holds thousands of stocks. And it doesn’t include the initial pop that can happen in a company’s first days of trading.

So it’s no surprise that the Shanghai Composite Index has lost more than 1% a year from 2008 to 2018. That’s why Buffett would have lost his bet in China.

However, had Buffett invested his money in an exchange-traded fund (“ETF”) that tracked the total share prices of all listed U.S. companies instead of the S&P 500, his investment would have returned only 3.2% a year… and less than 50% over the past decade. Take a look…

Thankfully, Buffett had the option to invest in a professionally-managed ETF capable of tracking the S&P 500 – which holds the biggest and best U.S. companies – at a low cost.

There are many others just like the Vanguard 500 Index Admiral Shares. And if you have a retirement account, it’s likely you own at least one of these types of index-tracking ETFs.

Indeed, according to research by Morningstar, assets in passive domestic stock funds like Buffett’s pick now account for the largest share of U.S. investor exposure to equities. A whopping $4.27 trillion, equivalent to about 3.8% of total U.S. household wealth, is now invested in these funds.

But China is just getting started…

As of 2018, only $105 billion (or 0.2%) of China’s $51.8 trillion in household wealth was in stock ETFs. And things are about to kick into high gear.

Beijing is already opening up its financial sector to allow full foreign ownership in Chinese financial-services companies by 2020. That’s just a few months away.

This is huge. It means everyday Chinese investors – most of whom aren’t able to invest outside of China – will soon have access to the same quality, professionally managed ETFs that U.S. investors are now using.

Right now, Chinese investors still have few options when it comes to well-managed ETFs with strong track records. But this change allows big names like JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley to get a firmer foothold in China. These big banks are already increasing their investments in Chinese joint ventures.

As this continues, more Chinese investors will want to put their wealth into ETFs. If investment in China ETFs only reaches half the penetration level of the U.S., money flowing into China’s domestic stock market would soar nearly 10 times.

That’s nearly a trillion dollars of new money entering Chinese stocks.

This is the clearest road map to huge profits I’ve seen possible from China’s stock market since global index provider MSCI said it was giving Chinese stocks a bigger role in its globally-tracked indexes.

Investors should pay close attention as China opens up its markets. If you don’t, you’ll risk missing out on outsized, Buffett-like profits…

Global Shockwave Summit – Kicking Off Little-Known Economic Shockwaves

From time to time the economic markets align in certain ways that allow certain individuals to make large profits in a very short time.

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But you don’t have to wait for that to happen, or watch enviously while other people make their fortunes.

Because there’s a better way.

The Global Shockwave Summit is a first-of-its-kind event designed to give you an inside look at a series of macroeconomic ripples that are set to shake the financial world to its core.

That seems to be the most miniscule event could be the catalyst for the next financial shockwave.

And these are happening all the time.

For example, you could learn how a certain species of worm in China affect the global demand for pork.

Or what oil production in Texas has to do with environmental regulations on Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

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The pebble sinks to the bottom, but the ripples it leaves behind expand out far beyond where it was dropped…

This Shockwave Summit could show you exactly what sort of impact these shockwaves could have on the economy…

Exactly when each of them is expected to hit ahead of time…

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This is the kind of intel that the media and even government insiders could wait months to access. This is news that not even Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, or the New York Times have caught wind of yet.

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On October 10, the Global Shockwave Summit goes live. Just click here to reserve your spot, and receive all the exclusive details you need.