With the market at all-time highs, here are three ideas from Steven Orlowski of Personal Finance designed to hedge your bets.
With the Dow and the S&P 500 having officially breached the psychologically important thresholds of 15,000 and 1,600 respectively, it may be time to start filling your quiver with arrows that can defend your portfolio, just in case the market realizes it may have gotten ahead of itself.
But even if the major averages continue to rise, superb moneymaking opportunities definitely lie ahead. As a matter of fact, while many investors are already lightening their equity loads and taking short positions against the major averages, there are other developing conditions that could lead to above-average gains.
Let's consider a few.
We're 4 1/2 years deep into a zero interest rate environment. We know they can't go lower...and they will eventually go higher. Rates will rise, bond prices will fall, and if you sit on your hands you'll lose a lot in the "safe" asset class—fixed income.
Here's an arrow you might want to use: the ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury ETF (TBT). The long bond has been bid way up, forcing the yields on Treasuries way down. As bond prices rise and yields fall, TBT loses value. When the opposite occurs, shareholders of TBT can make a lot of money.
On a split-adjusted basis, this exchange traded fund (is down 80% from when it debuted in May 2008. The opportunity for investors today is huge: Let's not fool ourselves. Interest rates will rise. And when rates do rise, there will be tons of bonds liquidated, which will drive up the price of TBT.
Moving on...will the euro survive? Frankly, I think that the Eurozone would have already dissolved if there were a way to do so without making a bad situation worse. If you think the euro is at risk of becoming less valuable, there are ETFs that provide an easy way to benefit from a falling euro.
During the past 12 months, the CurrencyShares Euro Trust (FXE), which is the long-euro ETF, and the ProShares Short Euro ETF (EUFX) have been nearly 100%% negatively correlated: euro down, EUFX up. So put the EUFX arrow in your quiver alongside TBT.
This is a bit more speculative move, but if the Eurozone continues to malfunction, I imagine the euro will decline, and EUFX could provide a nice profit.
Now consider this: Since gold peaked in 2011, the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD) is down about 23%. But two gold-mining ETFs, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) and the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ), are down approximately 55% and 72%, respectively.
That is a big difference that presents a bigger opportunity. You see, GLD has already recaptured about half of what it lost in that big two-day sell-off in the middle of April. But both GDX and GDXJ have only recovered about 10% of what each lost over the same period.
Even if gold doesn't get any higher, but its price stabilizes, GDX and GDXJ should trend higher. If GLD got back to its 2011 peak, and GDX and GDXJ follow suit, GDX would more than double and GDXJ would nearly quadruple.
And by the way, they both pay dividends: current yield is 1.56% for GDX and 6.15% for GDXJ.
I think there is a good chance that gold and GLD will both eventually exceed their 2011 highs. If so, GDX and GDXJ will follow in their wake and will provide greater overall returns.