04/18/2017

Are You Free of Your Tax Bill for the Year?

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Tax return form with pen and calculator

Today is Tax Day and as you send in your 2016 tax forms, you might be surprised to learn that the nation will still be working to pay this year’s taxes.

Every year the Tax Foundation calculates Tax Freedom Day®, which determines the day the country has earned enough money collectively to pay its total tax bill. The calculation considers all federal, state, and local taxes and divides them by the nation’s income. For 2017, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 23rd. So, the average taxpayer will spend 113 days working to pay their taxes.

In another calculation, the Tax Foundation incorporates the federal deficit. When that is included, we will have to work another 14 days; until May 7th, to reach Tax Freedom Day.

The Foundation figures that America will spend more on taxes in 2017 than on food, clothing and housing combined. 

Read more “Are You Free of Your Tax Bill for the Year?”

04/03/2017

Trustee, John C. Lucking, Retires

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John C. Lucking has announced his retirement from the board of Aquila Municipal Trust, of which he was Chair, effective March 31, 2017.  His fellow Trustees, the Aquila Group of Funds and the staff of Aquila Investment Management LLC have benefited greatly from his personal integrity, considerable experience and valuable business insight, and we recognize and appreciate Mr. Lucking’s judgment, perseverance and skill throughout his long service as an independent Trustee.

On behalf of the Funds, we express our sincere appreciation and gratitude for Mr. Lucking’s contributions and for his dedication to the interests of the Funds’ shareholders.

Aquila Municipal Trust consists of Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Arizona, Aquila Tax-Free Fund of Colorado, Aquila Churchill Tax-Free Fund of Kentucky, Aquila Narragansett Tax-Free Income Fund, and Aquila Tax-Free Fund for Utah.

03/17/2017

Defending Tax-Exempt Status of Municipal Bonds

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On March 29, 2017 a coalition of 53 organizations representing city, county and state governments, utilities, critical infrastructure, public service providers, and municipal finance professionals sent a letter entitled Don’t Mess With Our Bonds to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives and the House Ways and Means Committee to express their strong support for tax-exempt municipal bonds.  As stated in the letter, “Proposals to reduce or repeal the tax exemption would have a severely detrimental impact on national infrastructure development and the municipal bond market. Such proposals would clearly increase the borrowing costs of state and local governments and create uncertainty for investors.”

On March 9, 2017 a bi-partisan letter was sent by U.S. Congressmen to the House Ways and Means Committee asking that leadership reject any proposal to cap or eliminate the deduction on tax-exempt municipal bonds used to finance the vast majority of infrastructure projects in America’s communities.  The letter was signed by 156 Congressmen; 94 Democrats and 61 Republicans.

As Congress considers tax reform and infrastructure financing, those signing the letter expressed their strong support for tax-exempt municipal bonds as an important tool which, for more than a century, has provided states and local governments with a reliable and efficient means of financing.

Factors cited in support of maintaining the municipal bond tax-exemption include:

  • Municipal bonds are pro-growth investments which spur job creation, help our economies grow, and strengthen our communities
  • Millions of Americans depend on municipal bonds for their economic security, and invest in them because of their low-risk nature
  • Nearly 75% of municipal bond investors earn less than $200,000 per year, and more than 75% are 55 or older
  • A combination of local control and local responsibility make municipal bonds an incredibly effective and efficient tool
  • Federal tax exemption reduces the cost if issuing municipal bonds, but local voters pay the interest and principal on municipal bonds

The letter concludes by stating that the current tax-exempt status of municipal bonds contributes to efficient economic growth that benefits all Americans.

Separately on March 9th, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) commented on the American Society of Civil Engineers 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, saying “the 2017 ASCE Report Card clearly shows the desperate need for a strong commitment to infrastructure investment, which will help spur job creation and economic growth. SIFMA strongly advocates that the tax exemption for municipal bond interest remain intact, so that it may continue to help America’s cities and states boost their local economies through the construction of new projects such as roads, hospitals and schools.”

As Congress begins consideration of tax reform and infrastructure spending, we encourage you to contact your Congressional members to express your views on the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds.

Updated 4/3/2017

03/16/2017

We Mourn the Passing of Trustee, Nancy Wilgenbusch

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Nancy Wilgenbusch, an independent trustee of Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Oregon, passed away in February, 2017.  Ms. Nancy Wilgenbusch served with great integrity and distinction as a member of the Board of Trustees of Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Oregon since 2001.

Trustees and Officers of Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Oregon, and the staff of Aquila Investment Management LLC benefited greatly from her personal integrity, valuable business insight, and dedication to the interests of the shareholders of the Trust. All who worked with Ms. Wilgenbusch held her in high esteem and respected her unique and consistent ability to cut to the heart of any issue and make her points with strength and conviction.

On behalf of the Trust, we express our sincere appreciation and gratitude for Ms. Wilgenbusch’s contributions during her tenure as a Trustee of the Trust, and for her dedication to the interests of the Trust’s shareholders and the citizens of Oregon.

03/13/2017

Barron’s cites Zach Miller on Ball Corp

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Zach Miller, Co-Manager of Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund, was cited in a March 11, 2017 Barron’s article on Ball Corp, (BLL) the world’s largest maker of beverage cans

The investment strategy of Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund (a stock fund) begins in the high yield corporate bond market, where the Fund’s portfolio managers become familiar with high-yield issuers, their management teams, and corporate growth objectives.  A key component of the research process covers a firm’s ability to generate free cash flow, which is then available for a number of purposes, including paying down debt, which can improve the balance sheet and enhance the performance of the stock.

The Barron’s article makes mention of a Ball Corp “target of $300 million in cost savings and a doubling of free cash flow from premerger levels, to more than $1 billion by the end of 2019”.  Ball Corp recently merged with Rexam.

The article goes on to say “Zach Miller, co-manager of the Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth fund, thinks the stock can rise to $91 from a recent $73.35, as the benefits of the Rexam deal become more clear later in the year. Miller expects Ball’s adjusted Ebitda to grow 11% in 2018 to almost $2 billion, rising to nearly $2.2 billion in 2019, while analysts currently expect Ebitda of $1.92 billion next year and $2.05 billion in 2019.”

You will find more information regarding Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund on this site, including the Fund prospectus, fact sheet, and the latest quarter-end portfolio holdings.

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

02/10/2017

2016 Shareholder Tax Forms Have Been Mailed Early

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Every year, mutual fund companies must mail IRS Form 1099-B to their customers by February 15th.  Forms going out to Aquila Group of Funds direct shareholders were in the mail the week of February 6, 2017.

In the fall of 2008, the IRS enacted a new law which changed the 1099-B mailing deadline from January 31 to February 15.

The prompt delivery of year-end tax forms is just one example of the ways in which we strive to be exceptionally shareholder oriented in everything we do.

02/07/2017

A Good Time for Munis

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Asset TV Interview:  Is it a good time to consider municipal bonds?

Aquila Group of Funds portfolio manager, JT Thompson, was interviewed in January, 2017 by Asset TV for a program regarding opportunities in the municipal bond market.  Mr. Thompson highlights objectives of the new administration, such as infrastructure spending, tax reform and regulatory reform, and the need for portfolio managers to be nimble in order to take advantage of any opportunities resulting from these initiatives.  JT also discussed other key topics of interest to municipal bond investors.

We think you’ll find the interview insightful and informative.


Each Aquila Group of Funds state-specific municipal bond fund in invests in investment grade bonds and maintains an average intermediate portfolio maturity, in order to manage credit and interest rate risk.

Shares of the Funds may only be sold by offering the Funds’ Prospectus. Before investing in a Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus. The prospectus is available on this site, from your financial adviser, and when you call 800-437-1020.

If you experience difficulty viewing this video on your equipment, you may also view it by registering (at no cost) on the Asset TV site.

01/03/2017

Aquila Group of Funds’ Municipal Bond Funds Recognized by U.S. News and World Report

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Aquila Group of Funds’ seven single state municipal bond funds were recently included in a US News and World Report Best Funds list for Municipal Single State Intermediate Funds.

For over 30 years, we have sought to provide municipal bond fund investors with double tax-exempt income and preservation of capital. We seek to manage interest rate and credit risk by consistently maintaining broadly-diversified, high-quality bond portfolios with an intermediate average maturity.

Our locally based portfolio managers and credit analysts have an up-close perspective on bond issuers and the economy in their states. We believe this gives them valuable insights about the economic and political climate of the state and the financing needs and the capabilities of individual issuers.

The U.S. News Mutual Fund scores assigned to the 65 funds included in the Municipal Single State Intermediate Category is produced using an equal weighting of the overall ratings provided by their data sources (Morningstar, S&P, Lipper Leaders, Zacks, and TheStreet.com ), and was published on 11/22/16. Individual fund rating systems are normalized to a 100-point scale based on point totals assigned to individual scoring systems. For example, each star from Morningstar would receive 20 points. The U.S. News score is calculated by dividing total points awarded according to their system by the five data sources. The Combined U.S. News Mutual Fund Score ranks funds numerically based on the score and funds with identical scores are awarded the same numerical ranking.

Before investing in a Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus. The prospectuses are available on this site, from your financial adviser and when you call 800-437-1020.

12/14/2016

Municipal Market Outlook

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Due to the recent outcome of the U.S. Election, and the accompanying expectation of a large infrastructure spending program that could increase inflationary pressures, the municipal market has experienced an increase in municipal yields and a decline in market values. While there is significant uncertainty concerning policy changes that may be implemented by the new administration, there are still overall positive underlying themes to the municipal market that we think investors should keep in mind.

• Interest rate increases tend to reduce the supply of new municipal bond issuance coming to market which helps mitigate supply/demand imbalances.

• Muni bond yields, as a percentage of Treasuries, which are relatively attractive at these levels, have historically encouraged traditional taxable buyers to cross-over into the municipal bond market.

• An increase in the Federal Funds rate had been widely-anticipated by the markets, based on commentary from the Fed, and was likely reflected in recent bond prices.  A wide range of economic factors, domestically and globally, will affect the markets’ reaction to the rate increase.

• There have been occasions, over the past 10 years, when the municipal bond market sold off. At some level, buyers were attracted by the values seen in municipal bonds, and the market subsequently rebounded, as illustrated below. This past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Index chart

 

We expect market volatility to continue until we get more clarity on President-elect Trump’s policies and his ability to pass the proposals he offered during his campaign through Congress. We have positioned our municipal portfolios in anticipation of higher rates, and with the expectation of potentially being able to take advantage of buying opportunities.

12/07/2016

Estimated capital gains as of November 30, 2016

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The funds listed below may pay a capital gain distribution in December, 2016.  The amount reflected represents an estimate, per share, as of the date indicated.     Printable Version

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXShort-Term          Long-Term

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXEstimate              Estimate

Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund1            $0.00                   $0.01

Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Arizona2                                $0.00                   $0.01

Aquila Tax-Free Fund For Utah2                                  $0.00                   $0.01

1 Represents undistributed gains from fiscal year 2015 which must be distributed.

Represents undistributed gains from fiscal year 2016 which must be distributed.

Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund:  In the event that capital gains distributions are declared, the fund is anticipated to have a record date of December 1, 2016, an ex-date of December 2, 2016, a payable date of December 2, 2016, and a reinvestment date of December 2, 2016.

All Other Funds:  In the event that capital gains distributions are declared, the funds are anticipated to have a record date of December 28, 2016, an ex-date of December 29, 2016, a payable date of December 29, 2016, and a reinvestment date of December 29, 2016.  Note:  these dates have been revised relative to earlier announcements.

Estimates are subject to change depending on market conditions, board approvals, and other circumstances.  This report is the result of estimates and is based on information available as of November 30, 2016.  The amount and character of distributions will be finalized on the record dates.

Although the funds listed below could pay capital gains distributions in December, 2016, at this time, a capital gain distribution is not anticipated.

Aquila Tax-Free Fund of Colorado

Hawaiian Tax-Free Trust

Aquila Churchill Tax-Free Fund of Kentucky

Aquila Narragansett Tax-Free Income Fund (RI)

Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Oregon

Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund

Shares of the Funds may only be sold by offering the Funds’ Prospectus. Before investing in a Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus.  The prospectus is available from your financial advisor, and when you call 800-437-1020 or visit www.aquilafunds.com.