06/20/2014

Finding a Home for Cash in the Municipal Bond Market

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Typically, during the months of June and July, a high volume of municipal bonds will mature or be called, leaving investors to roll those proceeds into other municipal bonds. This year, due to a recent decline in new municipal bond issuance, investors attempting to roll over maturing or called debt may be presented with some challenges.

In an effort to maintain balanced budgets, and during a period when voters have become more selective about approving new borrowing, states and municipalities have been issuing fewer new bonds. Based on data from Thomson Reuters through May 31st, year-to-date issuance has declined by 24.8% relative to the same period in 2013. Read more “Finding a Home for Cash in the Municipal Bond Market”

06/16/2014

Kentucky Hospital Bonds: Searching for Opportunity amid Turmoil

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During the third quarter of 2013, in an unsettled national municipal bond market environment, hospital bonds saw an increase in selling pressure precipitated by uncertainty surrounding the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. During that same time period, the United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Kentucky for purportedly submitting false claims to Medicare – bringing further scrutiny to the sector in the state of Kentucky. The hospital charged-off over $40 million in the third quarter due to the impending settlement, and national ratings services consequently downgraded approximately $240 million of King’s Daughters debt. S&P lowered their rating from A+ to A, Moody’s downgraded from A1 to A2, and Fitch later downgraded the debt from A+ to A in the first quarter of 2014. Read more “Kentucky Hospital Bonds: Searching for Opportunity amid Turmoil”

04/30/2014

Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund: Fundamental Analysis Matters

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You know you want to participate in the equity market, but how?

A growing number of investors recognize that it may be time to increase their allocation to equity.  What may be less clear is determining how to go about positioning assets in the equity market.

Consider this:  for several years, the Federal Reserve has been providing liquidity to the U.S. economy – liquidity that, to some degree, has contributed to the performance of the equity market.  If boats rose on the Fed’s tide of liquidity, what happens when that tide recedes? Read more “Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund: Fundamental Analysis Matters”

04/30/2014

We Interview Anne Mills, Retiring Trustee

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Looking Out for Shareholders

Aquila’s locally-based trustees play a crucial role in advocating on behalf of fund shareholders. As PMC AQU 1303 website photo millsAnne J. Mills looks back on her tenure as a trustee on seven Aquila fund boards, we talked to her about what trustees do and what she’s seen in almost 30 years as a trustee.

How did you become involved with the Aquila Group of Funds?

Lacy Herrmann [Aquila’s founder] and I met in the mid-1980s, when we were both running for president of our college’s alumni board.  He beat me, although I did win a few years later. Read more “We Interview Anne Mills, Retiring Trustee”

04/15/2014

Are You Free of Your Tax Bill for the Year?

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As you put the 2013 tax season behind you, think about how much of what you earn is allocated to pay taxes each year. This year, Americans will pay a total of $4.5 trillion, or 30.2% of their income in taxes. Consider how many days of work will be dedicated to paying that bill. Every year the Tax Foundation1 establishes Tax Freedom Day®, which marks the day when the nation has earned enough money collectively to pay its total tax bill. For 2014, Tax Freedom Day® falls on April 21st; three days later than 2013 due to the country’s delayed economic recovery. This means the average taxpayer will spend 110 days working to pay their taxes. If federal borrowing is included in the equation, it moves Tax Freedom Day® out another 15 days to May 6th. Read more “Are You Free of Your Tax Bill for the Year?”

04/08/2014

Municipal Bonds: Better Than You Think

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For many years, the municipal bond market has provided investors with the benefit of earning income that is generally exempt from both federal and state income taxes. While several headline topics have raised concerns among municipal bond investors in recent years, our evaluation of current economic and market factors indicates to us that the condition of the municipal bond market may be better than you think.

Our new white paper, Municipal Bonds Better Than You Think, takes a look at the economic and market factors that have influenced the municipal bond market over the past several years, and reviews why we follow our specific investment approach in managing municipal bond funds. Read more “Municipal Bonds: Better Than You Think”

04/04/2014

One Hundred Years of the Federal Income Tax

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It was 100 years ago this year that the first Form 1040 was Sixteenth Amendmentsent out to taxpayers as ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment to the US Constitution made it possible for the federal government to tax personal incomes.

The new tax started at 1% on personal incomes of more than $3,000 (over $71,000 in today’s dollars) for single filers or $4,000 for couples and included a surtax of 6% on incomes over $500,000. Read more “One Hundred Years of the Federal Income Tax”

04/03/2014

We Express our Appreciation to a Retiring Trustee

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We would like to express our appreciation to a trustee who has recently retired from various fund boards after having served shareholders for many years.
PMC AQU 1303 website photo mills
Anne Mills became a trustee on the board of Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Arizona at the inception of the fund in 1986, and joined the boards of Aquila Tax-Free Fund of Colorado and Aquila Churchill Tax-Free Fund of Kentucky when both funds were launched in 1987.  In later years, she also joined the boards of Aquila Narragansett Tax-Free Income Fund and Aquila Tax-Free Fund For Utah.  She was elected Independent Chair of both Aquila Tax-Free Fund of Colorado and Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Arizona in 2005, and served as Independent Chair of Aquila Municipal Trust from October 2013 until her retirement.  In addition, Anne served as a trustee of funds sponsored by Aquila’s predecessor companies. Read more “We Express our Appreciation to a Retiring Trustee”

03/28/2014

Celebrating Our 30th Anniversary

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Our History, People and Distinctive Strategy

Diana P. Herrmann, President & CEO, Aquila Investment Management LLC

Diana P. Herrmann, President & CEO, Aquila Investment Management LLC

Lacy Herrmann, Aquila’s founder, was one of the earlier pioneers in money market funds beginning in the mid-1970s. By the early 1980s, a handful of state-specific municipal bond mutual funds were being offered in states with large populations and higher tax rates, such as California, New York and Massachusetts.  Mr. Herrmann was intrigued with the concept of launching similar funds in other states.

Since the inception of Aquila Management Corporation 30 years ago, Aquila Group of Funds has grown into a nine-fund family with seven state specific municipal bond funds, a high-yield corporate bond fund, and an equity fund.  Through the years, however, Aquila has maintained its shareholder- and advisor-centric approach, as CEO, Diana Herrmann explains. Read more “Celebrating Our 30th Anniversary”

03/27/2014

Individual Stock Selection

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Individual stock selection and active management are strategies that returned to prominence recently, according to a March 9, 2014 Wall Street Journal article.  “After years of moving in lock step on the back of global economic shocks, individual stocks increasingly have been dancing to their own tune” as evidenced by the steep decline seen in correlations1 between individual stocks in the S&P 500 since the financial crisis.

S&P Dow Jones Indices looks at active management from a different perspective in their S&P Indices Versus Active Funds or SPIVA Scorecard, which evaluates the performance of active versus passive management across multiple categories.  Read more “Individual Stock Selection”