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Monday, December 13, 2010

Bob Brinker's Vanguard GNMA Fund (VFIIX) Advice

Vanguard GNMA + Cash Reserves Advice
Vanguard's web site says their GNMA fund (VFIIX quote & Charts) will go "ex dividend" on Dec. 29 with a 23¢ payout. If you are using "Bob Brinker's GNMA Advice to use a Stop Loss" to protect yourself from high net asset value loss, then you should reduce your stop price to account for this distribution.

As many regular readers if this blog know, I sold my GNMA fund awhile ago and bought TIPS and iBonds. I also sold all my bond funds not indexed to inflation. I put the remainder of my "fixed income money" in short term savings accounts that earn 1% or more. I have no reason to take bond fund risk until the Federal Reserve "normalizes" interest rates.

Some people need the income but I tell my subscribers there is a better alternative. I recommend selling SOME of your appreciated stocks or funds when you do your annual rebalance then use some of the profit taking cash for spending over the next year. Put the money into a savings account to use during the year to replace the income from bond interest and dividends. My explore portfolio is up 17.9% YTD so I've already taken significant profits.

I currently have the bulk of my fixed income cash at HSBC Bank and StarOne Credit Union. They both just dropped rates so I am leaning towards moving some of the money to American Express for 1.30%. For details, click "Learn More" here. If you hear of a large bank paying a better rate for short term savings, send me an email with the details.

Fixed Income Advice

This is what I sent my newsletter subscribers earlier today:
Hello Subscribers

I moved my explore portfolio cash reserves from Schwab, where I was earning 0.25%, to American Express Bank where they are paying 1.30% APY.

If you have significant funds in a retirement account at Vanguard's prime money fund and don't want to move to another institution, then  I suggest making a ladder of CDs with Vanguard's CD Ladder tool.  Divide the funds into 5 buckets. Keep 1 bucket (20%) in Prime money fund ready for any buying opportunities or potential rebalancing, then put the remaining 80% into CDs for 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.  As the 3,6 and 9 month CDs mature, buy a new 1-YR CD.  After 9 months, you will have four one year CDs with one maturing every quarter.  When interest rates normalize, you can put the CD funds into the total bond fund again.

You can get an idea what different banks are paying for CDs and savings accounts for various amounts by using the rate tool here.  I use American Express because it is available to everyone and it is "too big to fail."  You can often find better deals with more restrictions such as the 1.3% at Capital One plus 10% bonus and up to $60 credit detailed here, but you have to be a member of Costco.

For reporting simplicity, I have enough to calculate already, I will keep my core portfolios fixed income in Vanguard's prime money fund knowing it is a slight drag on my reported performance compared to the above CD ladder strategy.
The difference between 1.30% at American Express and 0.06% at Vanguard is $1,240 per $100,000.  Thus it is worth the trouble if you have significant money in fixed income you don't want exposed to rising rates in the bond market.

2010 YTD my "Explore Portfolio" is up 18.7% YTD
(My explore portfolio has 70% in equities and 30% in fixed income so the stocks are doing very, very well)
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Since 12/31/98 "Kirk's Newsletter Explore Portfolio" is UP 208%  vs. the S&P500 UP only 23% vs. NASDAQ  UP a only 20%   (All through 12/13/10)  

In 2009, "Kirk's Newsletter Explore Portfolio" gained 33.5% vs. the DJIA up 18.8%


  1. Just a note. From my article, "Brinker's advice to the caller was to use a mental stop-loss of $10.90. That means if the fund falls from Friday's close of $11.08 to $10.90, then you sell your position."

    I heard Brinker on another occasion tell a caller when your mental stop loss is reached, you should call Vanguard the next morning and tell them to sell your shares. If you do this, you will get the closing price, which could be much lower if all his listeners dump this day.

    Yesterday VFIIX closed at $10.87.

    NAV = $10.87
    Change Down $0.07
    % Change Down 0.64%
    Previous NAV = $10.94
    Previous NAV Date = 12/13/2010

    This is below the STOP LOSS TRIGGER of $10.90 so we will see in a few hours what closing price people who follow his advice get.

    Current Quote for VFIIX

    Did anyone act on this advice today?

  2. So anyone who sold today following Brinker's advice to sell the morning after the NAV hits $10.90 gets $10.83

    Price and performance
    Price as of 12/15/2010
    Closing NAV = $10.83
    Change –$0.04 –0.37%
    SEC yield as of 12/14/2010 = 3.19%

    Now you have to decide what to do with the money. I recommend staring here with an FDIC insured Savings Account paying 1.0% or more.


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