11/06/2014

The Value of Independent Municipal Bond Credit Research

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Timothy Iltz Municipal Bond Analyst

Timothy Iltz,
Municipal Bond Analyst

The value of municipal bond credit research is difficult to measure, particularly by any quantitative measure. Quite often, the value of credit research is not solely the extent to which it may add to performance, but the extent to which it may limit potential drags on performance.

Historically, individual investors and portfolio managers alike have relied heavily upon the credit reports published by the independent ratings agencies. While these reports can be enlightening and often revealing of the credits they review, they can also be confusing to investors. Of particular concern is the recent trend of upgrades versus downgrades, which is an indication of credit trends. Read more “The Value of Independent Municipal Bond Credit Research”

11/01/2014

Please Log In, Call, or Write in Order to Protect Your Account

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Your State Requires some Demonstration that You’ve been in Contact with Us

“Escheatment “, as described on the SEC web site, is the process by which a state becomes the owner of an account held by a financial institution that is considered to be abandoned or unclaimed under circumstances that may include a period of inactivity.  Generally, activity may be demonstrated by contact with the financial institution holding the account, and in some states, is not demonstrated solely by the existence of an automated investment program.

On a regular basis, to establish contact and maintain the active status of your account, please:

10/31/2014

PERS Reforms to be Considered by the Oregon Supreme Court

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We believe that one of the benefits of having a portfolio manager and analyst located in the market in which Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Oregon invests, is the opportunity this provides to closely follow public policy developments and legislation, in addition to the financial condition of municipal bond issuers.

Developments related to the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) provide an example.  In 2013, the Oregon Legislature enacted PERS reforms that reduced the cost-of-living adjustment for all retirees, and eliminated tax remedy payments for beneficiaries who do not live in Oregon and are therefore not subject to Oregon state income tax. These provisions will be considered by the Oregon Supreme Court early in 2015.  While it is possible that the Court could reverse the PERS reforms, we currently view that as the less likely outcome. Read more “PERS Reforms to be Considered by the Oregon Supreme Court”

10/29/2014

Moving Retirement Plan Assets in 2015? Exercise Caution

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The IRS has announced that “beginning as early as January 1, 2015, you can make only one rollover from an IRA to another (or the same) IRA in any 12-month period, regardless of the number of IRAs you own”.

There are some terms to be familiar with here:

  • Rollover – in the context used here, this means that you have “constructive receipt” of assets from a retirement plan – i.e. they come into your possession.  You then have 60 days to complete a rollover into your IRA account.
  • Trustee-to-trustee transfer – assets from your retirement plan account are sent directly from the current trustee for your plan to the trustee for your IRA account, without coming into your possession. Read more “Moving Retirement Plan Assets in 2015? Exercise Caution”
10/27/2014

Utah Shareholder Meetings in October

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Aquila Tax-Free Fund For Utah invites you to your Fund’s meeting of shareholders.

The 2014 Annual Shareholder Meeting will be held in Salt Lake City, UT on Tuesday, October 28 at 8:30 a.m. at the Little America Hotel, Ballroom C, located at 500 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT.  A buffet breakfast will be served prior to the meeting.

There will also be a Shareholder Outreach Meeting in St. George, UT on Wednesday, October 29 at 2:00 p.m. at the Dixie Center, Entrada Room, located at 1835 Convention Center Drive, St. George, UT.  Light refreshments will be served prior to the meeting.

During the meeting, you will be able to visit with Fund executives, trustees, the portfolio manager, and hear Utah State Senator Lyle Hillyard speak about the Utah economy.

The prospectus is available at the meeting, from your financial advisor, and when you call 800-437-1020, and it is available on this web site.  Before investing in the Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus.

10/24/2014

Rhode Island Receives Credit Ratings Affirmations

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Good news for Rhode Island – earlier this month, Moody’s affirmed the state’s $2.2 billion in general obligation debt at Aa2 and improved the outlook to Stable, ahead of a $208 million capital development bond issuance, of which, $162 million refunded existing debt. Moody’s also assigned an Aa3 credit rating with an outlook of stable to Rhode Island’s $47.7 million in lease participation certificates expected to be issued later in the month. The rating was notched below the state’s GO rating because the bonds will be secured by lease rental payments that are open to legislative appropriation. Read more “Rhode Island Receives Credit Ratings Affirmations”

10/14/2014

The Intern Who Stayed

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Employees define the firm—and throughout our history, Aquila has been privileged to have employees of great commitment and integrity. As part of our ongoing celebration of Aquila’s 30th anniversary, we talk with our longest-serving team member, Sandy Antonucci, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Aquila Investment Management LLC (sponsor of the Aquila Group of Funds).

You started at Aquila in 1982 as an intern. How were you hired?

Funny story. [Founder] Lacy Herrmann’s right-hand person Rose Marotta posted a help wanted ad at Baruch College, where I was in school. I wasn’t interested—it was in midtown Manhattan and I thought I would have to get really dressed up, which I couldn’t afford. So a friend of mine who felt I should pursue it called on my behalf and got me the interview. Read more “The Intern Who Stayed”

09/03/2014

For Equity Growth, Rufenacht Seeks the Fiscally Responsible

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If the equity markets have had a nice run since 2009, it’s been even better for Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund. For the five-year period ending on June 30, the S&P 500 Index returned a cumulative 120% while Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund had a cumulative total return of 148% based on the public offering price. The annualized total return over the period placed the Fund in the top 21% of its Lipper Mid-Cap Core category. We recently spoke with the fund’s co-portfolio manager Sandy Rufenacht about fiscally responsible companies, how long the equity bull market might last, and his unique approach to stock investing that incorporates his expertise in the high yield bond market.

Would you give us an overview of the fund?

It’s an equity fund that seeks growth by investing in what we believe to be the most fiscally responsible publicly-traded companies that are making positive balance sheet actions.

We’re looking for the same kinds of companies we seek in our companion strategy, the Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund:  companies demonstrating their fiscal responsibility by paying down debt and generating the free cash flow to do so—cash flow that ideally is earmarked for debt paydown through covenants. Read more “For Equity Growth, Rufenacht Seeks the Fiscally Responsible”

09/02/2014

Rhode Island ends Fiscal Year with a Surplus

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Governor Lincoln Chafee announced Friday, August 29 that Rhode Island ended fiscal year 2014 in June with a $68 million general fund surplus which was $8.7 million more than the General Assembly expected. According to a report from Rhode Island’s Department of Administration’s Office of Accounts and Control, general fund revenue expenditures were $16.1 million less than budgeted. The state also saw expenditures fall below budget by $18 million in 2011, $29 million in 2012 and $17.8 million in 2013.

The fiscal year 2014 preliminary closing statement showed that the state’s budget reserve and cash stabilization account is fully funded with a balance of $177 million. The Rhode Island capital plan fund available balance is $124.4 million.

Moody’s Investors Service rates Rhode Island general obligation bonds Aa2. Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s rate them AA.