SSI: ULTRA Home Page


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At this point last year, the S&P 500 was down 20%, and bonds had experienced a 10% decline, ultimately producing full-year returns of -18% and -13%, respectively.

Thankfully, the first half of this year has been more rewarding. For this, we can probably credit an improving outlook for the Fed’s inflation fighting efforts, as well as the surprising resilience of the economy. While overall market gains have been significant, it’s crucial to recognize the fairly narrow market leadership and the importance of having exposure to the three leading sectors in achieving returns comparable to the broader indices.

Despite lingering uncertainties surrounding the outlook for economic and monetary policy, market volatility has remained relatively subdued throughout for the first three six months of 2023. The exception to this was the intense reaction to the regional bank liquidity crisis, which resulted in an 8% pullback in the S&P 500. Fortunately, the damage now seems to have been contained, although it came at the expense of several bank failures.

With the brief exception of the regional bank crisis, the VIX has been in steady decline since the start of the year. Last week, it reached its lowest level since before the pandemic. Although a pretty useless exercise, I find myself worrying about the source of the next “crisis” that will drive the inevitable future spike in volatility.

Turning to the individual holdings in the Ultra portfolio, we are happy to note that, with one exception, each of the names has outperformed their respective index so far this year. The one exception is Jackson Financial, but it was only added to the portfolio this past month, and we are up 8% so far, based on our net purchase price.

Entering the second half of 2023, it is good to acknowledge the positive returns we’ve achieved so far while remaining attuned to the potential risks and uncertainties that lie ahead. While current market conditions appear favorable, we have seen the narrative and market sentiment change on a dime before. The next time is not likely to be any different.


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Small cap stocks are widely considered to be more sensitive to domestic economic conditions compared to large caps. While they have significantly underperformed large caps since the start of the year, the recent stabilization in relative performance is close to being a trough, and potentially sets the stage for a significant rally if (and it’s a big if), the Fed can nail the soft landing scenario.


Sorry guys… it’s been a really, really slow news week, apparently!

InterActiveCorp (IAC)

No new company news this week.

Jackson Financial (JXN)

No new company news this week.

2seventy bio (TSVT)

No new company news this week.

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) Diagonal Spread

No new company news this week.


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As always, hope that everyone has a great week!