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Austin Pryor

Austin Pryor

Founder and Publisher

Austin leads SMI, the newsletter business he founded in 1990. With over 35 years of experience in the investment business, Austin provides overall direction to the organization while continuing to author many articles for the SMI newsletter and web site. Before founding SMI, Austin started and ran his own investment management firm, which ranked in the top 5% of all investment advisers in the U.S. during its first five years of operations. 

He is the author of the Sound Mind Investing Handbook, A Step-By-Step Guide to Managing Your Money from a Biblical Perspective, which enjoys the endorsements of numerous respected Christian teachers and has sold more than 100,000 copies.

Austin was once on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, working directly with founder Bill Bright, helping to develop the ministry’s approach to working with high-capacity donors. He was a founding board member of Pro Athletes Outreach, a Christian training ministry to pro athletes and coaches of many sports, and The Christian Embassy, an outreach ministry to government and diplomatic officials in Washington, D.C.

Austin received an undergraduate degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Kentucky. He and his wife, Susie, have three adult sons and 10 grandchildren, and live in Louisville, Ky.

Most Recent Articles

Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker and Fund Performance Rankings with Data through 12-31-16

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings report have been updated to reflect mutual-fund performance data current through 12/31/2016. The Tracker and FPR are typically updated monthly between the 10th-14th of the month, depending on when the weekend falls.

Note: We ran a little late this month because a change in the Morningstar download created errors in the final output. It took a few days to track these down and fix them. Everything should be fine, but there remains an issue with the Relative Risk calculation for a few of the leveraged ETFs. If a Relative Risk score you see in the Tracker is far higher than usual for that ticker, disregard it. The issues that caused these problems should be resolved before next month's release.

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker is our most popular web tool. It allows SMI members to easily personalize our mutual-fund rankings to their specific situation. The end result is a personalized monthly report showing only the funds each member is interested in, ranked by momentum and sorted according to SMI's risk categories (or without the categories, if a member prefers). This allows a member to take the 20,000+ funds SMI tracks every month and instantly transform those rankings into a concise report covering only the specific offerings of their 401k (or other plan).

The Fund Performance Rankings report contains performance data and momentum rankings on more than 1600 no-load funds and ETFs. The funds included have been selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability. You'll find help in understanding how to use the FPR (page 2), an overview of the 70+ risk categories that help you compare "apples to apples" (page 3), and explanations for the various data-column headings (page 4).

You can sign up to receive an email each month when the data goes live. Just go to the SMI home page and click on "My Account" under Quick Links. From there you can go to the "Email Subscriptions" page and check the box next to "FPR/Tracker Update" to receive the monthly email notification.

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Enhanced Just-the-Basics Update: Q1 2017 — and More

For those following our Enhanced Just-the-Basics (EJtB) strategy, first quarter 2017 recommended fund selections are now available. Be sure to read this entire article as an important strategy update follows the latest recommendations.

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Successful Stock-Fund Upgrading Requires Owning Only 5 Funds

SMI’s Fund Upgrading strategy diversifies your portfolio across five stock categories. Within each category, we recommend three fund options.

If you wish, you can invest in all three funds in each category. However, we assume that most of our members keep things simple by investing in only one fund in each category, and that’s fine.

With such an approach, you invest in the top-ranked fund in each category at the outset, and when it’s time for a fund you own to be replaced, you sell it and invest the proceeds in the fund that is top-ranked at that time. (The top-ranked fund is not necessarily the most recently recommended fund.)

Readers following our Upgrading recommendations naturally expect their results to be similar to those published in the newsletter. But there’s a rub. Our published results are necessarily based on all of our fund recommendations, which means the average of all three of the funds recommended in each risk category. In other words, you would need to own all 15 of the recommended stock funds listed on the Upgrading Recommendations page to get our published results. However, due to fund minimums and brokerage availability, that may not always be possible. Even if it were, owning that many funds requires more effort and a level of complexity that would not be welcomed by every reader.

So that raises the question: How would buying only the top-ranked funds impact your returns as opposed to owning all of the recommendations?

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Watching, Waiting, Planning, Working

“The end times are at hand and you want me to set up a plan?”

Years ago, we sent out several thousand letters to Christians who we thought might have an interest in a resource such as SMI, one that could help them set up a personalized financial plan based on biblical principles. To many, this was welcome news—we added about a hundred new subscribers.

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker and Fund Performance Rankings with Data through 11-30-16

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings report have been updated to reflect mutual-fund performance data current through 11/30/2016. The Tracker and FPR are typically updated monthly between the 10th-14th of the month, depending on when the weekend falls.

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker is our most popular web tool. It allows SMI members to easily personalize our mutual-fund rankings to their specific situation. The end result is a personalized monthly report showing only the funds each member is interested in, ranked by momentum and sorted according to SMI's risk categories (or without the categories, if a member prefers). This allows a member to take the 20,000+ funds SMI tracks every month and instantly transform those rankings into a concise report covering only the specific offerings of their 401k (or other plan).

The Fund Performance Rankings report contains performance data and momentum rankings on more than 1600 no-load funds and ETFs. The funds included have been selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability. You'll find help in understanding how to use the FPR (page 2), an overview of the 70+ risk categories that help you compare "apples to apples" (page 3), and explanations for the various data-column headings (page 4).

You can sign up to receive an email each month when the data goes live. Just go to the SMI home page and click on "My Account" under Quick Links. From there you can go to the "Email Subscriptions" page and check the box next to "FPR/Tracker Update" to receive the monthly email notification.

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SMI Members Helped Plant 270 Churches in India!

On Giving Tuesday, November 29, I offered a challenge to SMI members in the form of a giving opportunity---let's all work together this Christmas to help take the gospel to the people of India via the church-planters working with The Jesus Film Project:

So, if all SMI members together, each giving what he or she has a heart to give, contribute $8,750, Susie and I will match it and the Jesus Film receives $17,500. Then the Jesus Film's matching-grant donor kicks in $17,500 more, and the $35,000 raised can plant 200 churches! Working together, we can do something significant to "seek and save the lost" in that corner of the world.

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Giving Tuesday: It May Be the Only Day in Your Year When Every $1 You Give Turns into $4!



Hey friends! When you woke up this morning did you ever think you’d be planting churches in India?

Well, welcome to #GivingTuesday, a movement designed to launch the Christmas season with an emphasis on generosity rather than material pursuits. It's a response to the materialism of Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) that is all about spending on self and loved ones.

My friends at the Jesus Film Project are "Giving Tuesday" partners, and this year Susie and I --- and hopefully you --- are joining them in their campaign to help grow the church in India!

Dozens and dozens of communities across India lack any knowledge of our Savior. There are just no churches in these places. Moms, dads and children are completely unreached, but we can help do something about it.

Note that this campaign comes with a matching offer from other Jesus Film supporters that, when combined with the match that Susie and I will also make, means every $1 you give translates into $4 for this outreach. Where will you find a better kingdom investment than that?

A gift of $175 would normally be enough to plant one church in India … but because such a gift would be doubled ... and then doubled again ... it would result in planting four churches in a country that desperately needs to hear the gospel. While $175 is the amount needed, on average, per church plant, your gift of any amount would be appreciated!

Here's a little about the project from the Jesus Film site. Note that their reference to your gift being doubled doesn't reflect the gift Susie and I will make.

We want you to make #GivingTuesday all about Jesus.

And so to help you do that, we’ve partnered with generous partners to provide you with a life-changing challenge gift offer that will help fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission.

That’s right. Today you can help make disciples and plant churches all across India.

You might be surprised to know that it only costs $175 to plant a church in India.  (That’s literally just a few dollars per person!)  But today—#GivingTuesday—your gift will be doubled, making twice the impact.

This is a country that is desperate to hear the Gospel. They are growing rapidly, and we must do all we can so that the enemy does not get a foothold.

Our goal is to see 20,000 churches planted in India, and I believe that with your faithfulness God will multiply your giving even further.

Happy #GivingTuesday!

May I encourage you to watch a two-minute video and learn how to donate here.

So, if all SMI members together, each giving what he or she has a heart to give, contribute $8,750, Susie and I will match it and the Jesus Film receives $17,500. Then the Jesus Film's matching-grant donor kicks in $17,500 more, and the $35,000 raised can plant 200 churches! Working together, we can do something significant to "seek and save the lost" in that corner of the world.

Susie and I are happy to participate in the effort to take the gospel to new parts of India. After all, Christ came and loved a lost world (which included us), and has given us a similar mission. "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

Hopefully you will join with us and help a little bit. (If you read this too late to give on Tuesday, anything given this week will count.) It's an appropriate way to worship and a great way to begin your celebration of Christmas!

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Names for the Holy Spirit: Our Seal

Following is a brief excerpt from a book being offered as a Christmas gift to SMI subscribers. See the announcement below the article for details. The Body Tithe Devotional takes you on a 90-day journey to build up your spiritual and physical health. — Austin
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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker and Fund Performance Rankings with Data through 10-31-16

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings report have been updated to reflect data current through 10/31/2016. The Tracker and FPR are typically updated monthly between the 10th-14th of the month, depending on when the weekend falls.

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker is our most popular web tool. It allows SMI members to easily personalize our mutual-fund rankings to their specific situation. The end result is a personalized monthly report showing only the funds each member is interested in, ranked by momentum and sorted according to SMI's risk categories (or without the categories, if a member prefers). This allows a member to take the 20,000+ funds SMI tracks every month and instantly transform those rankings into a concise report covering only the specific offerings of their 401k (or other plan).

The Fund Performance Rankings report contains performance data and momentum rankings on more than 1600 no-load funds and ETFs. The funds included have been selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability. You'll find help in understanding how to use the FPR (page 2), an overview of the 70+ risk categories that help you compare "apples to apples" (page 3), and explanations for the various data-column headings (page 4).

You can sign up to receive an email each month when the data goes live. Just go to the SMI home page and click on "My Account" under Quick Links. From there you can go to the "Email Subscriptions" page and check the box next to "FPR/Tracker Update" to receive the monthly email notification.

Continue Reading

The Declaration of Independence Revisited

[This article has been updated from one that first appeared in SMI in the October 1994 issue.
Sadly, more than 20 years later, it's more timely than ever.]

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16

  • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness...

I have always been awed by the courage required of the Founding Fathers. Signing the Declaration of Independence was an act of treason against the king’s government. They risked everything in their desire for freedom.

  • That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

These men, as well as their successors down through our history, were heroic, larger-than-life figures to me when I was growing up. They secured our freedoms, and then protected them from tyranny.

  • All experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed...

As I moved into adulthood, I was eager to vote for the first time. I registered as an independent because I thought I should vote for the candidate whose agenda best represented my views.

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