Archive for the 'investment' Category

I ask for a financial blog and I get one called SocialPicks. Not bad…

After requesting a financial blog about a week and a half ago, I found one that meets a lot of my needs and seems that it might become a compelling site over time – SocialPicks. First off, let's just address that this site is really new and, as such, is a bit of a ghost town. After sign up, you land on a page where the most recent postings may be hours old. Whatever. That'll change.

The basic idea at SocialPicks is to form a community which debates stock picks and posts research on stocks. You can post your "pick list," "sell list," and "watch list." You accumulate "friends," "favorite experts," and "followers" (which sounds a touch cultish but if I find anyone that can me 6 bazillion dollars on this site, I'll be happy to count myself one of their "followers"). There are also ways of responding to other people's research and cheering them on. It's a place to learn from the community and hopefully improve your own stock-picking. Right now, it's a touch too soon to see if the community will really pan out. I am a little disheartened at the level of research I have seen on some of the picks so far (i.e. Yahoo and eBay signed a deal today, therefore I am recommending Yahoo and eBay…). One line comments do not really constitute research people. Do something useful.

There are early tools in the system intended to help you identify the most successful pickers at any given time. Sooo, if you think you're a savvy stock-picker, now might be the time to jump on board and put yourself in a position to benefit from new users as they sign-up (I've found that being early in these things can put you in a nice reinforcing cycle).

The site is not currently open for public sign-up, but you can put in your name on the homepage and, if you're as lucky as I apparently am, the people running the site will send you an invite token within a day or two.

If you do make it on to the site, feel free to befriend me under my "mrefranklin" moniker. I'll be happy to share whatever investing expertise I decide to put there. Of course, this blog will still be my primary vehicle for sharing that information…

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Personal Sell: Paychex Inc (PAYX): $40.07: 20060428

As much as it pained me to do so, I had to sell out of my shares in Paychex for reasons related to taxes. Basically, I had to pay the government before a refund check was scheduled to arrive and my only funds available were in my trading portfolio. I got pinched and I hate it. Shut up. I know I should keep a better reserve pile so I don't have to do this (it's just that I've always liked having as much money as possible really working for me at any given time).

This stock was the only stock left in my portfolio that I could sell and get long term capital gains treatment. Paychex was a good run for me, however, as my shares were purchased at $31.06 on February 25, 2005. This means I had a percentage increase of 29% in 14 months or so. Booyakasha.

Club Buy: Novartis (NVS): $55.94: 20060418

I presented Novartis (NVS) to the club on the 17th and we made a purchase on the 18th. Novartis is the currently the world's fourth-largest pharmaceutical company. It is Swiss-based and is traded as a deposit receipt here in the states. It made sense for our group since we did not yet have any positions in the pharmaceutical industry and it gives us a valuable hedge against the dollar. NVS is denominated to the Swiss franc, one of the most stable currencies in the world. Given the absolute monkeys we have managing US fiscal policy right now it is widely believed that the dollar will continue to deflate against some of the stronger currencies for the foreseeable future (at least for the next several years).

The pharmaceutical business is really driven by the following demands:

1) aging of the world's population

2) increased pace of technological discovery and development

3) quickly industrializing countries like India, China and Russia which are greatly increasing the availability of healthcare to their populations.

Novartis addresses all three very directly. I have posted a link to the research I presented to our group. It is available for download here.

Personal Sell: Disney (DIS): $27.82: 20060413

So I sold this stock for a few of reasons. Really, I felt it was the weakest story in my portfolio, I could get long-term capital gains treatment, and I needed the money for writing a check to the IRS this year.

My cost basis on the stock was $27.69 on 20050303. At a sell price of $27.82 a year later, I obviously did not make a ton of money on this one…

Since the time I sold, however, the stock has gone down a bit to a current price of $27.23. There just aren't many short-term catalysts on this one although I am still intrigued in how the digital strategy will play out.

Having Eisner out of the company and Iger getting much more chummy with Steve Jobs makes for an interesting mix and something which might be really fun to follow.

Personal Buy: Microsoft Corp (MSFT): $27.61: 20060322

I’ve been watching Microsoft for a long time and the offering finally became so compelling I did not feel I could pass it up any longer. My timing, however, could have been a bit better. Literally days after picking this up, Microsoft announced that Vista would not be out until early next year. It was previously scheduled to ship in time for Christmas. Ouch!

Seriously though, launching near Christmas for a company like Microsoft is just stupid. Look how badly they hosed the 360 launch this holiday season. Why would you want to release the new OS before all of you vendors have a chance to get their products full ready?

Anyways, here are some major reasons for owning Microsoft:

– 10 years ago, sales were $6 billion. Last year? $40 billion.
– MSFT is in the midst of the single largest product/platform expansion in their history. Even the delay of Vista can’t hold it up too much.
– With Sony continuing to flub the PS3 release, MSFT has more options in cornering the next-gen gaming console market.
– Did you know that Bill Gates now sits on the board of BRK? If that’s not an admission that the dude knows how to mint money, I don’t know what it.
– Software – with an installed base like that of Microsoft’s, beaucoup dinero. Yowzah!

Personal Buy: Tidewater Inc (TDW): $49.94: 20060309

Based on a recommendation from one of the trading services I subscribe to, I picked up a position in Tidewater. When an energy company decides to explore for oil and gas in deep seas, Tidewater is the premier service provider. If I get my own research on this posted soon, I will try and create a link to it. As it is, the only thing I have on paper is not something I can share as it is against the rules of the club. “The first rule of Fight Club: you don’t talk about Fight Club.”

Personal Buy: International Speedway Corp (ISCA): $46.69: 20060223

On February 23rd, I purchased a position in International Speedway Corporation (ISCA) at $46.69 per share. I originally discovered the stock as a 5-star stock on Morningstar.com about a month prior. The business intrigued me enough to present to our investment club at our February meeting. ISCA has a significant business moat in its ownership of 12 tracks, (including Daytona), solid long-term management, close relationships (familial) with the Nascar organization, long-term media deals, and obviously large unique land holdings and properties – an easy to understand business taking place in a market which has been growing for more than 50 years and does not look to change anytime soon.

Unfortunately, the Green Lantern Investment didn’t necessarily see it as clearly as I did. That’s fine. The point of having a group is to learn and vote together. We’ve done well in the past doing this and I’ve generally done worse going out on my own. What can I say other than I hope I am getting better. In the meeting, there was one conscientious objector, who chose to be the only vote directly against the stock. His objections were on the grounds that it supported cars, gas, and therefore generally negative environmentally unsound things. 3 people abstained from voting entirely, 2 of them on the grounds that they were against the possible track construction on the Kitsap Peninsula. Oddly, after the fact, they both now wish they had voted for it – or at least that’s what they told me. Oh well. They took a pass on it. I did not. I don’t feel like presenting it to the group again. Move forward, not backwards you know…

My initial research is posted in a word doc here.


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