Thursday, February 1, 2018

Twenty-three Percent Profits Last Year

Last year was a good year. No I am not talking about tires on the road, though I did go on a 16 state, 6,000 mile roadtrip from California to Illinois and back via the Grand Canyon, the hot and humid Midwest and the Great Salt Lake.

The last year from February 1, until January 31 2018 has seen my portfolio grow by a decent 23%.

This was almost all due to prudent re-balancing at the beginning of the period and then just leaving things alone. No trading for the most part.

Remember trading costs money and that can quickly burn away any profits.

I did take some profits, for instance recently I trimmed back on Starbucks to leave me  holding a small number. This rump of shares  will keep me interested in the company but I have now removed all my original investment.

As you might say, the remaining stock is house money  and I see no harm in letting the house money ride in this case.

I also added a little cash to buy in Boeing (BA) back in August when the stock was hovering around the $100 mark. I liked it because of the name, it is an engineering specialist with a good track record across several core competances, Aerospace and defence to name just two. So that was a nice little punt, which has paid big bucks subsequently.

I also held my favorite bank ETF and utillities. Giving a reasonable return on investmen.

Walt Disney (DIS) also saw some weakness at varying time over the year and allowed me to increase some of my holdings in that company as it fell into the nineties.

Most of the other gains were in the area of re-invested dividends. My average dividend yield last year was 2.15% Enough to give a inflation beating return in cash.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Locking in Profits

In recent months I have seen lots of my stocks break out of their usual ranges. One such stock was CSX, a railroad company.

I had bought CSX way back around 2007, it has been a reasonable dividend payer and I reinvested my dividends and the stock moved up and down in a range from $19 at the time of purchase to the mid $30's for most of the time.

In a recent burst of activity however the stock reached $47 and so I took the opportunity this week to sell some of my holding to recoup my initial investment.

I sold just over half of my holding leaving me with stock in my portfolio. Taking the recent profit means that I returned  a little more cash to my pocket than my initial investment of $1,000

It is always nice to take a profit like this and is a good way to increase ones portfolio.

With the profits I added to my retail exchange traded fund investment, XRT.

 I see a volatile future to the markets and I have reduced most of my individual  stock investment in retailers as individuals to zero. To add some depth to a risky area of my portfolio I decided to invest in a ETF which covers the retail sector instead. Risking less volatility in the long run.

In the interest of openess I hold stock in CSX and XRT. This post is not intended as financial advice it is just a diary of my own investment strategy and you should seek advice from a professional investment planner if you are uncertain as to investment strategy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Book Review: The Perfect Bet

I am sure that you, like me, have been told that investing in the stock market is little more than gambling. Well in his book 'The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling" Adam  Kurcharski looks at the history of ideas such as probability theory, chaos theory, mathematics and even the building of atomic bombs have led to changes in betting and in how modern stockmarkets work.

book cover the perfect bet how science and  and math are taking the luck out of gambling by Adam Kucharski
The Perfect Bet

I personally do not agree that investing is a form of gambling there are too many differences in the ideas of the two motivees. Gambling and investing do have similar intangible links though, they both involve markets and as such you are playing a role in their movements. The second is that you are playing on your information against everyone else in the market playing with their information.

Kucharski is a wonderful writer and explains a complex situation very well, a mathematician and statistician himself he draws on history and a broad knowledge of many intertwined disciplines, including physics, mathematics, economics and computer science.

Though the main thrust of the book looks at several gambling systems including blackjack card counting, horse racing, and roulette systems. He points out flaws along the way but extracts the golden nuggets of fact based ideas that they produce. So for instance card counting does work, but it is time consuming to build a knowledge system that allows you to make the system pay with multideck dealing and limited betting practices to not draw attention to the fact you are card counting.

But then he turns to other areas of the gambling idea. Trying to beat the house is nigh on impossible, like beating the market in investing. But the weak link in the houses chain and in the market is that players, investors, punters or marks play at different levels of skill and with differing levels of information.

There is the investors strength, bringing together knowledge both of the market and the players in the market leads to arbitrage situations. The point where one stock or one side of the bet is skewed. That is where the skilled gambler and investor can step in to buy. That is The Perfect Bet.

This book is a solid read. I enjoyed reading it from cover to cover in just a few hours. It is similar to  A Random Walk Down Wall Street  In that psychology plays a huge role in outcomes, but Kucharski  then looks at robots and time which adds even more complication to strategies which are employed. So here he moves from gambling to the stock market. There we face the ever growing influence of automated trading. Both the stock market and gambling markets are at the mercy of the arbitrage robots. Bots can be looking and dealing with millions of trades per second. In the time it takes you to blink a bot will have dealt in thousands of trades, you cannot even hope to beat a bot that is on an arbitrage deal.

So in conclusion this book might seem to be merely about gambling systems and their mathematical histories, but it is a worthwhile read for any investor in the stock-market too. If only to see why you cannot win in the short term arbitrage trade.  Read what others say about 'The Perfect Bet.'

Friday, November 14, 2014

Time to Think of a Reshuffle in My Portfolio

We are almost at the end of the year now. 2014 has been a pretty good year. I have gained back almost all of the losses of the fall during the August to October period.

Drat those little whipper snappers on Wall Street, they don't beat me into a panic to sell just so they can bring back the market in November to pad out those nice little Christmas Bonuses.

I hope you s stayed in the market during that little big boy play?

Anyway my stock balance is now way out of balance as the year draws to an end. I have some 100% plus risers and some  -30% losers in my portfolio.

Who were the 100% plus risers you may ask?

Well one is QQQQ  NASDAQ ETF that was an early purchase for me, way way back in 2007 when it was just over $100 now after the crash in 2009 it wasn't worth alot but I added some positions on the way down and with the stock now above $200 it is still a keeper for now. Of course now I have enough there to take out some in order to return my investment and will have some stock left over to have almost no real capital investment in that stock.

My whooping great loser is another ETF this time XME the Metals and Mining SPDR.  Though it has consistently lagged behind all my other stocks,  I still like the stock, it is a add too stock on my rebalance list. I am not looking for a big jump in the stock to reap massive profits I am just aiming to lower my  overall cost per share average. Then when it does pop as it will. A little pop will allow me to consider backing out with little loss. I don't see this ETF disappearing as it has a wide base of mining companies in many different industries so for me it is a buy into recovery with the risk of short-term loses.

< ============================================================= REMEMBER: I am not a stock advisor or professional. I am a private investor and these are my personal views as to the management of my own stock portfolio. If you are in doubt or wish to purchase any stocks which I may mention, please take advice from a qualified accountant, broker or financial advisor as stock prices may fall as well as rise.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Recent weeks have been a bit of a downer haven't they?

We investors have seen a steady fall in the values of many investments.

I personally have seen my investments drop by about $2,000 since July. It does seem a bit scary when you think in dollar terms, though I tell myself that I only had that $2,000 on paper it is still a psychological loss.

But on the other hand I am still well up on the year sofar, by about $2,300.

As investors it just goes with the territory. You should be in for the good times and accept the bad for what they are. Imposters.

At work the other day, a colleague was saying how glad they are they were that they hadn't invested in stocks back after the upturn in March 2009. That the stock market is about to crash aagin and this summer's fall is a sign of things to come.

Well from someone who was invested throughout the crash, this is nowhere near a crash. Nervous investors like my colleague are right to stay away from the markets, for a nervous investor a crash does make. For themselves alone if not for everyone else. Putting money in and pulling it out at the first sign of a stock price drop. No not another panic.

Ooops as an investor I should rejoice and encourage a mini panic.  How else do bottom feeders like me get to sweep up the bargains?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lending to Invest

Over recent weeks I have been working on a new investment.

Micro-lending and crowd funding have been around for a while but often the high risk and high minimum entry level of investment has put people including me off.

Recently I heard of a company named Lending Club,  based in San Francisco . Lending Club has been in business for several years and specializes in small loans, mostly to individuals at low interest rates 6% upwards and an investor can lend from just $25 to any single loan. You can even open your account with just $25, though this is very risky indeed if your one loan fails to pay back. Lending Club therefore ask that you increase your minimum investment to $2,500 by the first anniversary of opening the account.

How it Works.

A borrower asks for a loan from Lending Club. who procede to do credit checks and also advertise the purpose and assessed interest rate to lenders.

If you are a lender you can choose to buy a share of this borrowing note  for $25 or even buy all the outstanding value of the note which could be several thousand dollars.

Lending Club then after all checks are made, funding has been received and notes prepared send the borrower the money less a fee for finding the lenders.

At monthly intervals the borrower repays the loan over 36 or 60 months to Lending Club who pay back the lenders in proportion to their ownership of the particular note. This includes a portion of interest plus the original principal.

How Are Notes Assessed?

Notes are given an assessment by Lending Club assigned by factors such as previous payment records, debt to income ratios etc.  Note nates  go from G5 returning about 30% interest (but at very high risk of default) tio  A1 with an interest rate of 6.03%.


In order to increase your chances of having a good return on your money it is neccessary to diversify across several hundred notes and varying the grades of note. Bearing in mind that there is no guarantee that any note will not go into default.

What Can You Do to Reduce Your Risk?

When you are choosing your notes you can add in a variety of filters, you can ask for loans to home owners, renters, set length of employment times, have only notes offered where a borrower is in little debt to income percentages or deselect borrowers who have had recent records for collection against them.

So if you set filters for borrowers with only A grade notes, with high credit scores above 700, home owners with zero defaults in the past five years that is all Lending Club will show you.

You can read the borrowers details, occupation, State of residence, default history, length of time since last default , their debt to income ratio and also their current revolving debt as well as if they have a mortgage, rent or own their own home.

What does it Cost?

Lending Club take 1% of your return as a fee, plus for accounts valued under $10,000 on each anniversary there is a current $100 fee to you.

Lending Club suggest a minimum of $2,500 to open the account but at the moment you can open the account with just $25. At the end of the first year however you must have a minimum of $2,500 in the account to keep it open.

Funding Your Account

Funding your account is simple all you need is to send a check to Lending Club or set up an electronic transfer from your bank.

Funding your account takes four business days, then you can invest in your choice of notes.

Funds received from borrowers are paid back into your lending club account throughout the month depending on the borrowers repayment schedule and you may choose to reinvest the receipts or withdraw them allowing a four business day window for funds to pay to your bank.

Find out more

 The Lending Club Homepage


This post is not suggesting that Lending Club is an investment for everyone. 

You should make enquiries of your financial advisor or Public Accountant before investing.

The author does have an account with Lending Club but is not paid by Lending Club or any of its officers or affiliates to introduce new clients.

This post is merely to inform you of a possible source of investment and you should remember investing in any credit notes to the public is very risky and that you can lose some or all of your invested capital.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Union Pacific (UNP) NYSE

On May 16, 2014 tthe Union Pacific (UNP) board announced a stock split of 2 for1, the split to take place on June 6, 2014.

This will double the stock of the company available and also double the holdings of current stock holders.

I am a long term holder of UNP, it is the largest railroad owner in the US West of the Mississippi, controlling a wide range of transport route into and out of the U.S.A. and being a major player in international trade routes.

Union Pacific 2014 Stock Split.