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February 18th, 2010

Change Your Investment Plan Now!

(Michael Farr) - Timing is important. When the old Medicine Man was asked if rain dances really work, he answered that they most certainly do but a lot depends on timing. "How are your investments doing?" may be one of the most complicated of all investment questions. There are a number of considerations: relative to what benchmark; over what specific time period; for what risk level? Measuring the twelve months ended March, 2009 would have resulted in horribly negative returns (S&P 500 was down -39.7%, excluding dividends) using most any long strategy. Measuring the twelve months ended September, 2009 was only modestly negative (-9.4%), while returns for the year ended December, 2009 were strongly positive (+23.5%). Moreover, a portfolio that fared relatively well during the downturn (ie, declined less than the overall market) may not have fared as well for the rally. In fact, a defensive portfolio would be expected to produce results inferior to the overall market in strong years such as 2009. Conversely, an aggressive portfolio would be expected to suffer much more than the overall market in declining markets while rebounding more quickly than the overall market as the markets rebound.

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