Winter 2024

Que Sera, Sera

How quickly times can change! Investors were decidedly pessimistic entering 2023, as it appeared that the Federal Reserve (Fed) in its quest to subdue inflation would have to maintain high interest rates for an extended period. The consensus view of economists was that the higher rates would restrain economic growth, most likely resulting in a recession. The stock market declined in anticipation of the expected tough times, with the S&P 500 falling 18.11% in 2022. Of course, we now know that the dire scenario did not materialize. Instead, inflation rates declined to more manageable levels, and the economy continued to grow at a steady pace. As the end of 2023 approached, investor sentiment turned decidedly optimistic, and the market rallied. The S&P 500 rose 11.69% in the fourth quarter and finished the year up a very respectable 26.29%, near an all-time high. 

No doubt about it, the past few years have presented the financial markets with a multitude of formidable challenges. Since 2020 and the outbreak of the pandemic, the markets have had to face a war in Ukraine, international trade disputes, an inflationary spiral, a record increase in interest rates, a banking crisis, and most recently, a war in the Middle East. Given the magnitude of these problems, it is not surprising that the financial markets would experience heightened volatility. But what has been surprising to many is the resiliency of the US economy, which continues to grow despite these headwinds.

During the initial Covid shut down in 2020, the US economy contracted sharply, but it quickly recovered and has grown steadily ever since. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 5.9% in 2021, and by 2.06% in 2022.  Estimates for 2023 put GDP up by another 2.6%. For 2024, economists are forecasting slower growth to start the year but expecting a pickup in the second half. Overall, estimates put GDP for the year up 2.3%.

With the recent good news on inflation, it is possible that the US economy is finally shaking off the aftereffects of the pandemic and returning to more normal times. While inflation at 3.1% is still running above the Fed’s target of 2%, recent reports have given investors hope that we have seen the peak in short-term rates for this cycle. The market is anticipating that the FED will enact two or three cuts in the Fed Funds rate this year.  Accordingly, the bond market has rallied to reflect the outlook for rate cuts, with the yield on the ten-year US Treasury bond falling about 100 bps, to 4.10%.

Corporate profits are more variable than GDP but have also grown over the past four years. Despite the disruption of the pandemic, earnings per share for the S&P 500 have increased by about 30.7% since 2019 and are expected to grow by an additional 23.4% in 2024. Should profits meet expectations for 2024, they will have increased by an impressive 45.5% since the end of 2019, when the pandemic was just beginning to emerge.

All this positive news on inflation, GDP, and corporate profits has helped the stock market to rally, despite the pressure of the worrisome events around the globe.  This can only give great relief to investors who survived the pandemic with their assets intact. However, promising the outlook for 2024 might be, we should point out that the current valuation of the equity markets (as of 12/30/2023) already reflects much of this good news. The P/E of the S&P 500 based upon consensus earnings for 2024 of $227 per share is about 21x, above the long-term average of 18x. Part of the higher valuation is due to the dominance of a few very large tech stocks, the so-called Magnificent Seven, which are trading at very high multiples. These seven stocks comprise 28% of the market value of the entire index. The equally weighted S&P 500 (contains the same companies as the S&P 500 but each is 0.2% of the total) is trading at a more reasonable P/E of 18x. An even broader index, the Russell 2000 (an index of 2000 smaller US companies) is trading at 15.2x projected earnings over the next 12 months, below the ten-year average of 16.7x. Given the current valuation of US equities, we would not expect returns going forward to approach what the markets accomplished in 2023.

Now that the economy and the markets have recovered to pre-Covid levels, can we look forward to more normal times? It appears that the virus that causes Covid will continue to circulate and mutate but will be a manageable health concern. Nonetheless, given the number of surprises over the past four years, we would caution investors not to become too complacent. Who knows what the future will be? Hopefully, investors have learned from the past that surprises are inevitable, but that the economy and the financial markets will survive them, and that patience will be rewarded.



John Grady

Research & Operations Associate

As Research & Operations Associate, John assists the equity research effort in support of the portfolio managers and works closely with the operations department. Prior to joining the Ironwood team in 2023, John earned his BA in Psychology, from the University of Denver. While studying, John developed several business plans for small businesses in the Denver area for a capstone project for his business minor. Prior to joining Ironwood, John was developing his research skills through an apprenticeship by regularly meeting with management teams, attending investor conferences, and developing investment theses.

Cameron Marshall

Trading & Research Associate

As a Trading & Research Associate, Cameron is responsible for investment portfolio trading and operations as well as conducting equity research in support of the portfolio managers. Prior to joining the Ironwood team in 2022, Cameron earned his BA in Economics, with a minor in Mandarin, from the University of New Hampshire. While studying, Cam held several internships working with investment teams across asset classes in both private and public markets. An active member of his community, Cam has contributed his time and energy to charities including Best Buddies International, Be Positive for CHaD Kids, and Positive Tracks.

Alyssa Wade

Director of Client Relationships

Alyssa Wade is the Director of Client Relationships and assists in the Marketing Department at Ironwood Investment Management, LLC®. Prior to joining Ironwood, Alyssa worked at Boston Technologies and Regan Communications Group. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a minor in Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Regina Wiedenski

Co-Portfolio Manager
Value Investment Partners (VIP) Strategies

Regina Wiedenski is Co-Portfolio Manager for the VIP strategies at Ironwood Investment Management, LLC®. Ms. Wiedenski has an MS in Management with a concentration in finance from the Sloan School at M.I.T. and a BS from M.I.T. Prior to joining Ironwood to manage VIP portfolios, she was a Portfolio Manager at J.L. Kaplan Associates. Previously she was an equity analyst at Advest, Inc. and had spent nine years as an analyst at Adams, Harkness & Hill covering healthcare, specialty chemical, instrumentation and publishing companies. She began her career as a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Paul Weisman

Co-Portfolio Manager
Value Investment Partners (VIP) Strategies

Paul Weisman is Co-Portfolio Manager for the Value Investment Partners (VIP) strategies at Ironwood Investment Management, LLC®. Mr. Weisman has an MA in Industrial Organization (Applied Microeconomics) from Boston University and a BA from Haverford College. Prior to joining Ironwood as the head of the V.I.P. team in 2009, Mr. Weisman was Chief Investment Officer at J.L. Kaplan Associates which he joined in 1986. From 1983 to 1986 he was an investment analyst at Delphi Management.

Ravi Jain, Ph.D., CFA


Ravi Jain, Ph.D., CFA is a Partner at Ironwood Investment Management, LLC®. Dr. Jain has a Ph.D. in Finance from the University of Missouri Columbia (doctoral thesis on corporate spinoffs), a Master of Finance and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Delhi. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA). Dr. Jain is an Associate Professor of Finance at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where his research focuses on capital markets and corporate finance.

Warren Isabelle

Portfolio Manager

Warren Isabelle, CFA is a Portfolio Manager at Ironwood Investment Management, LLC®. Prior to forming Ironwood Investment Management, LLC® in 1997, Warren was the Head of Domestic Equities at Pioneer Management Company and the Portfolio Manager of more than $3 billion in small cap assets including the Pioneer Capital Growth Fund (later renamed Pioneer Mid-Cap Value Fund), Pioneer Small Company Fund and several institutional portfolios. Warren has received national attention for his research efforts and results.  He has also appeared in feature articles in Barron’s, Business Week, Forbes, Fortune, Money and The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on “Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser.” Prior to joining Pioneer, Warren was an Analyst at The Hartford Insurance Company.  He earned a BS in Chemistry from Lowell Technological Institute, an MS in Polymer Science and Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Paul Anderson

Executive Managing Partner

Paul Anderson, CFA is Executive Managing Partner of and leads investor relations, business development and management activities for Ironwood and is a member of the management committee.  Paul joined Ironwood in December 2020 after 12 years at Natixis Investment Managers where he developed and led the U.S. institutional distribution group at Natixis Distributors L.P. Over the course of his 30 years in the industry, Paul has held roles in investment research, sales and management.  Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of New Hampshire, and an MBA from Vanderbilt University.  He is a member of the Committee on Investor Responsibility at UNH advising the UNH Foundation on sustainable investment practices.

Shantelle Reidy

Executive Managing Partner
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Compliance Officer

Shantelle Reidy is Executive Managing Partner and the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Compliance Officer for Ironwood Investment Management, LLC®. Shantelle is a member of the management committee and has served Ironwood in various capacities since joining the firm in 1998, including as Executive Director of Trading and Operations from 2001 to 2014. Prior to joining Ironwood, Shantelle was an Investor Relations Analyst at Talbots, Inc. where she conducted research for the company and managed the firm’s communication with investment analysts. Shantelle holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science from Boston University and a Master of Business Administration in Marketing and Finance from the Boston University School of Management.

Donald Collins, CFA

Executive Managing Partner
Portfolio Manager

Donald Collins, CFA is an Executive Managing Partner and Portfolio Manager at Ironwood Investment Management, LLC® and is a member of the management committee. Prior to joining Ironwood in 1998, Don was a portfolio manager with Boston Advisors where he managed portfolios for institutions and high net worth clients.  During his tenure at Boston Advisors, Don participated in the management of the Advest Advantage family of mutual funds and managed the Advantage Special Fund.  Don began his career as a Manager for Burgess & Leith.  He earned his BA in Geology from Boston University and studied at the Boston University School of Business.  In addition, Don is the Director and Investment Committee Chairman for the Abelard Foundation, Chairman and Commissioner of Trust Funds for the Town of Lincoln, MA and Director and Chief Financial Officer at Igan Biosciences.