Who makes up the Fortune 500?

Landing on the Fortune 500 is a pie-in-the-sky dream of many business owners. The most profitable U.S. companies that make up the latest list collectively employ 27.9 million individuals across the world and represent $840 billion in profits and $12 trillion in revenues. Who are these business dynamos and where are many of them based?

The Top 10
In June 2016, Fortune magazine took a look at 2015's top moneymakers, most of which are household names. The No. 1 spot goes to the Arkansas-based big-box retailer Wal-Mart, followed by oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil, tech innovator Apple, insurance and investment outfit Berkshire Hathaway, and pharmaceutical distributor McKesson. Health care companies, auto manufacturers and a communications company round out the top 10.

Hot Areas for Headquarters
Many Fortune 500 company headquarters are on the East Coast -- from Comcast (No. 37) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; to JetBlue Airlines (No. 405) in Long Island City, New York; to General Electric (No. 11) in Fairfield, Connecticut.

The Midwest also houses several successful centers of operation, including Motorola Solutions (No. 451) in Schaumburg, Illinois; Harley-Davidson (No. 432) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Dow Chemical (No. 56) in Midland, Michigan.

How States Rank for Business
Knowing where a state ranks on business matters and understanding their differing approaches to incentives, tax rates and more may narrow down where to move next, even if a job isn't waiting for you upon arrival. According to Chief Executive magazine's "Best and Worst States for Business," Texas is the most beneficial, pro-growth spot for business owners, while California ranks lowest.

As we begin a new year, one way of exploring the economic landscape ahead of us is to examine the biggest revenue generators in America and the impact they have on national and local scales.

E. CARTER MORRIS IV, AIF
ATTICUS ASSET MANAGEMENT // President & Chief Investment Officer
EMAIL ecmorris@atticusassetmanagement.com
PHONE (404) 907-1899
ADDRESS 3399 Peachtree Road, Suite 439 Atlanta, GA 30326

Carter MorrisComment
3 Ways to Prepare Now for 2016 Taxes

It may seem early, but the start of a new year is an ideal time to get your ducks in a row when it comes to tax preparation. Use the following tips to get some work done now and avoid the panic of procrastination.

Revisit Your Usual Routine
The bulk of tax prep comes down to organized paperwork, so take stock of your documents. To report income, you'll want W-2 statements if you're salaried, 1099s if you do any freelance work and end-of-year statements for taxable investment accounts. Keep in mind that employers have until Jan. 31 to file and provide copies of W-2s and most 1099s to employees and contractors.

Strategize Your Upcoming Tax Bill
One significant benefit to gearing up for tax season now: You can potentially owe less to the IRS by stashing away some funds in tax-advantaged accounts. You have until April 17, 2017, to max out 2016 contributions in a Traditional IRA, solo 401(k) or health savings account and potentially net a nice deduction as a result. Or if 2016 resulted in lower-than-usual income and you can afford to pay more taxes (but at a lower rate), consider whether a Roth conversion makes sense for the year.

Note What's New
High-income earners should be aware of phaseout limits for itemized deductions, the Medicare surtax and a new higher rate for dividends and long-term capital gains. And if you were without healthcare coverage in 2016, don't be surprised when the IRS levies a penalty fine.

Square away your tax situation early in the year so you have plenty of time to identify potential gaps, valuable opportunities and strategies to protect your hard-earned wealth for this year and the next.

E. CARTER MORRIS IV, AIF
ATTICUS ASSET MANAGEMENT // President & Chief Investment Officer
EMAIL ecmorris@atticusassetmanagement.com
PHONE (404) 907-1899
ADDRESS 3399 Peachtree Road, Suite 439 Atlanta, GA 30326

Carter MorrisComment
Listen and Learn: Financial Podcasts

One common trait among the highly successful is their endless drive to improve and learn. Take a page from their book during your downtime this holiday season by feeding your curiosity and keeping your mind engaged. Make space on your digital device for some of these popular finance-focused podcasts:

  1. National Public Radio's Planet Money tackles broad economic topics with a fun, inventive approach. One example: In August, a five-episode series chronicled their 100-barrel oil purchase, following it from a Kansas well to its final stop at an Iowa gas station. Look for new podcasts once or twice a week.
  2. Marketplace delivers a daily podcast that takes a detailed look at the day's business and financial news in a relatable and highly digestible format.
  3. What started in 1997 as a syndicated newspaper feature has evolved into Motley Fool Money, a weekly radio show and podcast. A team of analysts helms this production, deciphering technical jargon and covering investing-related stories and interviews.
  4. Fans of the 2005 nonfiction bestseller "Freakonomics" may appreciate the eponymous weekly podcast, which looks at economic systems from fresh perspectives. Podcast topics range from an economist's take on ride-sharing apps to conversations with innovative entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss and more.
  5. Stacking Benjamins focuses on personal finance, alternating between guest interviews that touch on earning, saving and spending, and a roundtable format that features other podcasters and bloggers.

Time is money, so spend it wisely. Put your downtime to good use with these and other informative podcasts.

E. CARTER MORRIS IV, AIF
ATTICUS ASSET MANAGEMENT // President & Chief Investment Officer
EMAIL ecmorris@atticusassetmanagement.com
PHONE (404) 907-1899
ADDRESS 3399 Peachtree Road, Suite 439 Atlanta, GA 30326

Carter MorrisComment
Making the Most of a Financial Windfall

Whether it's tied to performance, holiday profits or a tax refund, nothing beats the joy of receiving a bonus. But resist the temptation to blow it all on something that could be short-lived. Instead, consider the following, all of which can have a lasting impact.

  • Pay down debt. If you're carrying a credit card balance or another high-interest, short-term debt, here's a chance to reduce it. With average credit card debt at nearly $8,000 per household, even a modest holiday bonus can make a serious dent and minimize the snowball effect.
  • Refresh your emergency fund. Are you one of the 63 percent of Americans who doesn't have the savings to cover an unexpected $500 expense? Consider building a cash cushion that will help prevent you from reaching for your credit card at the next emergency.
  • Superfund your retirement savings. Take this opportunity to max out your IRA or 401(k). Using a bonus to put more long-term money into tax-advantaged accounts lets you avoid the end-of-year funding rush.
  • Leap ahead a few payments. Overpaying your usual mortgage amount means you're shaving down the principal faster, which results in less interest. You can do the same with student loans and other long-term payments, just make sure there isn't a prepayment penalty.
  • Don't just treat yourself; invest in yourself. Reserve 10 to 20 percent of your bonus for a home, health or education upgrade. Spending in areas that are likely to generate more money in the future is a smart way to rationalize a purchase since you're putting the unexpected funds to good use.

Consider dividing your bonus among multiple categories, giving higher percentages to your more urgent priorities. Using this strategy for a lump-sum windfall can turbocharge your existing short-term and long-term financial goals while still giving you a little breathing room to enjoy your reward.

E. CARTER MORRIS IV, AIF
ATTICUS ASSET MANAGEMENT // President, Chief Investment Officer
EMAIL ecmorris@atticusassetmanagement.com
PHONE (404) 907-1899
ADDRESS 3399 Peachtree Road, Suite 439 Atlanta, GA 30326

Carter MorrisComment
Check Your Risk Tolerance Regularly

When it comes to investing, there is no reward without risk. But risk comes in different forms, and understanding the variations and contexts can help you become savvier and steadier when it comes to your money.

Risk Tolerance
An investor's comfort level with risk is often personal. Risk tolerance, the amount of risk you are personally comfortable with, may not match your risk capacity, the amount of risk you must take in order to reach your goals. This mismatch is common among investors, because as one moves through life alongside major world events (like the financial crisis in 2008), one's comfort level with risk can change.

Necessary Adjustments
Consider someone who has only begun saving for retirement in their 50s, but cannot stomach a high degree of exposure to the financial markets. To meet their goal of a financially secure retirement, they may have to make other adjustments such as:

  • Tightening spending
  • Downsizing their lifestyle
  • Kicking their career hustle into high gear to improve income earnings
  • Taking excellent care of health to forestall expensive medical expenses
  • Delaying retirement

 

Other Risk Factors
There are also nonpersonal risk factors you must also take into account. When the health of a particular company or an entire industry begins to falter, a portfolio with a high concentration of these holdings may be disproportionately affected. And for international investors, global headlines of government mishaps can also impact a portfolio's return.

Ultimately, it's crucial that you understand there are certain things you can and cannot control when it comes to your investment strategy. That's why it's important to check your risk tolerance regularly to make sure your investment strategy reflects your personal approach while keeping your goals in mind.

E. CARTER MORRIS IV, AIF
ATTICUS ASSET MANAGEMENT // President, Chief Investment Officer
EMAIL ecmorris@atticusassetmanagement.com
PHONE (404) 907-1899
ADDRESS 3399 Peachtree Road, Suite 439 Atlanta, GA 30326

Carter MorrisComment
3 Life Changes That Call for Review

Financial planning is an ongoing process meant to build and protect your wealth as you go through life. Along the way, certain milestones can have an impact on your financial goals. When these crop up, it's important to consider making adjustments to your strategy sooner rather than later.

While it's by no means a conclusive list, here are some major life events that can warrant a revision of your financial plan:

  • Coming Into Sudden Wealth -- Whether you've just landed a whale of a gig or been left a sizable inheritance, sudden wealth can have an impact on your financial goals. In addition to allocating these new dollars in a tax-aware fashion, your estate plan may need updating too.
  • Changing Jobs -- Remember that 401(k)s are essentially portable. When switching jobs, be mindful of your accounts and handle them properly to avoid paying costly fees and penalties. It's also important to maintain proper life, health and disability insurance coverage for you and your family; this may require special timing or out-of-pocket coverage.
  • Evolving Family Structure -- Whether you're getting married or divorced, expecting a baby or supporting an aging parent with escalating medical needs, these changes have financial implications. From education funding and estate planning to exploring long-term care options, waiting too long to put a plan into action can be a costly mistake. Taking the time for a review of your accounts and strategy can benefit you down the road.

There may be hidden costs or advantages with life's changes. Maintaining a close working relationship with a trusted professional can help you stay on track.

E. CARTER MORRIS IV, AIF
ATTICUS ASSET MANAGEMENT // President, Chief Investment Officer
EMAIL ecmorris@atticusassetmanagement.com
PHONE (404) 907-1899
ADDRESS 3399 Peachtree Road, Suite 439 Atlanta, GA 30326

Carter MorrisComment