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Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
Will Rogers

Introduction

As we begin this new decade, we breathe a guarded sigh of relief regarding first quarter stock market results. We’ve started out reasonably well, so perhaps we’re on the right track. In the following commentary, I offer insights into the performance in the first quarter across styles, economic sectors and foreign countries. Then I provide three foresights that you can use for a long time; so you can consider moving down the right track(s).

Insights into the first quarter of 2010

The first quarter of 2010 did not start well, with US stocks experiencing losses in excess of 3% in January, but then we recovered most of those losses in February, setting the stage for 6%+ returns in March. All of the first quarter return was earned in March.

Style Returns

As the chart on the right shows, every US style posted a positive return for the first quarter of 2010, continuing the recovery that began in March of last year. This quarter’s 5.7% market return brings the 13-month return from March-to-March to a whopping 66%. It would seem that we’re on the right track. Smaller companies fared best, while all three styles – value, core, growth – fared about the same in aggregate. I use Surz Style Pure® style and country definitions throughout this commentary, as described here.     

As the chart on the right shows, every US style posted a positive return for the first quarter of 2010, continuing the recovery that began in March of last year. This quarter’s 5.7% market return brings the 13-month return from March-to-March to a whopping 66%. It would seem that we’re on the right track. Smaller companies fared best, while all three styles – value, core, growth – fared about the same in aggregate. I use Surz Style Pure® style and country definitions throughout this commentary, as described here.     

Sector Returns