Checking on 20-30 different investments in my Roth--stocks, ETFs, funds--many dirt cheap--BiPIX is the only investment that clearly excells in each of the Yahoo Finance categories for comparing--Maximum, 5 year, 2 year, 1 yea, YTD, 6 mos, 3 mos., 1 month. BIPIX is #1 in every one of those categories, sailing above some pretty successful investments. But health is a can't faill asset. If people have it, they want to figure out ways to keep it; if they don't, they want more remedies and cures. Emerging Markets funds may be volatile, but BIPIX is a fund I urge my own kids to get started on since it's resource--health--can't be exhausted--there's never too much or too little. Surprising that this fund has such a small market cap (less than 1 bil.)
It's rare that a 3rd-party fund beats out my broker's dirt-cheap, no-transaction fee ETFs and funds, but Parnassus is currently #1 on a portfolio of about 20 positions in my Roth. And you can't argue with their leading position in Apple on a day when the stock popped (deservedly so--their products are simply that good. it's hard to believe that no iPhone or iPod Touch was around less than 10 years ago. Now they're indispensable. And above all, some of us remember the furor when Apple introduced an "off-beat, weird-looking" computer without an optical drive! Everyone panned it (except me). and in 2012 they even got a day-long battery in it. Now optical drives, along with CDs, are going the way of the LPs. But I'm giving up on the 2-hour life of my IPod Touch unless Apple can come up with a decent small battery for it.
The market is up ½ % for the day, so how does Yachtman do compared to an S&P index fund? He's up 1/10%, which isn't good enough to keep up with ordinary inflation. If that promised "correction" doesn't come soon, Yacktman could find himself in the same pickle as the late '90s, when the go-go market caused his shareholders to look for a new manager. After all, investors don't shift from bonds to stocks in order to realize bond-like gains. But he's protected himself from fleeing investors by doubling the fund's fees. All the more reason for the smart defensive money to avoid the surcharges of this fund and simply emulate Yachtman's style: invest it all in Pepsi.
This is listed as the biggest holding in a small Oberweiss venture fund (OBIOX). It's a joke, right? There's nothing on the company, no business, no earnings, apparently some kind of "chiropractors' listserv pay service"? Nevertheless, OBIOX shows it up 1.1% for the year (dare we hope for a 1.5% gain by the end of 2014?). What sort of slight-of-hand is going on here. Whatever it is, someone is getting away with something. An operation like this--maybe it's no more than a listing--is too small for a publicity-hound like crusader Bill Ackman to bother with. Ralph Nader has better things to do in his latter years. We can only hope that Elizabeth Warren gets wind of it. (If only the shareholder's best friend, Eliotl Spitzer, hadn't been seduced by something sexier than cooked books.)
GPRE is up more than 300% over the past 52 weeks. Anyone who's been part of that run and who doesn't take some profits probably deserves what's in store for the latecomers to the party.
Apple frivolously, irresponsibly threw over 3 billion at a recent newcomer/fluke haedphones seller, Dr. Dre's Beats. What the company lacks in profit margin for overrated headphones (except by Amazon consumers, who routinely pan them), headphones now being sued as Bose knock-offs (just what Apple needed--to spend billions on the opportunity to incur a massive fine--double reverse-indemnity for Apple). These negatives supposedly will be made up for by Dr. Dre's "connections" with "Hollywood insiders" (apparently no one on the Apple's aging board has heard that one).. A huge embarrassment, not to mention loss, for Apple. Look for them to come after industry-leading Harman Industries next. Two years ago Apple could have bought the company whose "iSub" was inspired by Apple as well as the "Harman Kardon Sounsticks, the nicest complement to an iMac. If not a buy-out, Apple will establish a major share position in Harman, which is also the industry leader in supplying quality audio to automobiles (how could Apple be so tone-deaf, unaware, dumb (and deaf). Are Cook's advisors fearful of telling him the score? Of course they are. They're older than him, desperate to "tune in" rather than "drop out."
Even at a loss, and a set-back, Apple will in the long run recover thanks to Harman, which gives Apple some control of the actual sounds emitting from their iTunes catalog and mobile devices. Harman gives them the whole world of audio, from a single consumer's iPod to the most luxurious automobiles to the world's largest theaters. Every true "insider" knows that JBL "rules" in the music world. (Even Tivoli, a descendent of the East Coast's Henry B. Kloss, responsible for what was revolutionalry in the '60s--Acoustic Research, the AR2 and 3, hermetically sealed, low-efficiency, high-fidelity bookshelf speakers--would have been infinitely preferable to, who?, Beats!?!
Inevitably, Apple will wake up, and holders of Harman stock will be the winners.
And who do you suppose is responsible for rejecting every spending bill on behalf of jobs for minorities, for restless youth white and black, for women who, despite being pregnant, require a source of income? The "excuse" is always the "horiffic" national debt that our country's youth will be saddled with and will never ever be able to pay back. Certainly not if they have no opportunities to earn money. This President speaks out continually about the importance of preserving a middle class -- but Congress fails to listen and take action. All they can come up with is smears against the President for "weakening America's reputation as a miltary power"
But we know what the "national dabt" scarce/excuse is all about. It's about a congress that, rather than take pride in our first "Black" President--who is bright, sociable, eloquent, and thoughtful, and who has not blamed the mess he inherited--a full-blown depressionstock and, more importantly, the tragic folly that was Iraq, which proved costly beyond most people's comprehension. Why wouldn't a member of congress do everything possible to ensure this remarkable American's Presidency will be a resounding success?
The reason is not that complex,. Read William Faulkner and you're likely to come up it. This chapter will go down in history as a period of irrational incompetence by the congress, of seething hatred and opposition, of failed lawsuits and impeachment threats--against our first Black President! My grandfather was in the Civil War. We're not all that far away from the blot on American history. And the hatred that caused Americans to fight one another, with over one million deaths, still lingers in American consciousness (but not conscience, apparently).
As it is, we could not be more fortunate than to have a leader like President Obama. If you don't like the color of his skin or his name, that's too bad--because both represent more than 50% of the world's population.
Impressive uptick in revenue, income, and earnings. If the stock doesn't respond after today's announcements, it's time to jump ship. Cheniere and Golar still looking strong.
Presently there's a lot of space between Thrivent Muni and the rest of the field. Thrivent Muni has gained approx. 6% over the past 12 months, which is really not bad in absolute terms for a tax-free bond fund in a low-interest environment. However, the average Muni Bond fund (according to one of the most hyped rating services) is 11%, and Muni Bond funds rating "high" in returns have rewarded investors 12%. (Let's see, a hundred grand investment would be an extra $5000+ to leave in the offering plate.) Neverthelless, it's a safe and solid fund in an organization that, apparently, instructs its managers to: 1. make winning transactions, if possible; 2. never incur a loss, at all costs.
Schwab offers this fund among its no-fee funds, but the 5 year record shows that Schwab's own SICNX has done slightly better, with almost half the expense ratio. For in-and-outers Schwab's ETF (SCHF) is another bet on international companies, though it looks better than the former 2 funds only in year-to-date gains (with a negligible .09% expense ratio. The safest bet is the S&P index fund, which is close to, or better than, the records of any of the other funds. (If you believe the USA is sinking (thanks to its "historically worst" leader), then you might wish to have the foreign exposure. The markets have been straight up for all of the Chief Exec's 6 years, but he has only 2 to go.)
Sure, this fund will shine during economic collapses like 2008, but that doesn't make it a prudent investment let alone a "winner." The fund is a bet on short odds, not a long-term investment in America's future. It's for investors who clip coupons and look for Walmart specials. If I were to play this game, I'd rather see 100% in cash, waiting for aggressive bottom-fishing at the "low point" (but when has market timing ever worked for anyone?) The worst option is putting a quarter of the cash horde in dead metals. This is a fund for those who have a few thousand extra to place in the hands of a market timer--or for doomsday prophets (i.e. "survivalists") who believe the apocalypse is upon us and in a global meltdown gold will somehow have meaningful value.
A closer look reveals that Schwab's two outstanding foreign investments--SCHF and SWOIX--are worthy of equal consideration. The first is an ETF (i.e. trades like a stock) and the 2nd a mutual fund. The first is tied to an international index; the 2nd is actively managed. The first has a minuscule, practically "invisible", fee ratio of .09%; the 2nd has a fairly "hefty" fee ratio of almost 1.5%. Both funds have no transaction costs to Schwab clients.
Comparing both to the 5-year market averages of the U.S. markets reveals that neither of these funds has, as yet, equaled let alone bested the S&P500 index. However, in the longer term (5 years) SWOIX has at least managed to match the S&P domestic index, whereas SCHF is trailing it by a wide margin. So, at this point, SCHF would appear to be the smartest choice for anyone wanting international exposure at minimal cost for the next 2 years. For the longer term (up to 5 years and longer), the actively managed SWOIX would appear, despite the inflated fee ratio, to be the better choice.
Schwab also offers a leading out-of-house actively managed fund, with fees and costs competitive with those of SWOIX: it's Artisan International Fund (ARTIX). These considerations apply only to investors who anticipate a resurgence in economies outside the U.S. and wish to initiate exposure to such a scenario. Without question, at present the very best investment is a domestic one. In fact, it's hard to beat the U.S. index Fund: SWPPX (over the past 12-18 months approximately 80% of all actively managed mutual funds have failed to match or exceed the S&P500 index).
As a non-transaction fee, 4-star fund based on the selection of leading money managers,SWOIX looks good on the surface. But it's so easy to collect more funds than necessary, some overlapping with others and at higher fee ratios. This one should be a solid investment, but a committee of stock pickers, however competent, can easily add up to diluted results. Too many cooks serving up an uninspiring plate-de-jour is insufficient justification for a higher fee ratio. Still, it's always a viable "buy" candidate.
As if the mediocre Amazon reviews weren't enough, now Consumers Reports declares the "Pill" precisely that--overpriced metal waste. The headphone did better. Will Apple surge because of an 11th place headphone (costing 200). Meanwhile, companies that Apple passed up--Sonos and Harman-JBL dominate the ratings (with Bose below them in the middle). 2 years ago Apple could have bought Harman Industries. But they're more clueless than the average consumer. (At least Beats has managed to get marquee space in Best Buiy stores--thanks to hard-hustle tactics.The public is unlikely to fall for it.)
Finally, this dog is returning to the levels at which it could have been sold without realizing any surplus from the promise of an impending $158. But this is the most aggravating merger I've ever experienced from the shareholder's perspective. And there's no finalization date--that is, if the merger is allowed to transpire.
Who is he? A football coach? He'd have to be Vince Lombardi or Mike Ditka to carry any weight with viewers in the Mid-West. Maybe they should try SuperBowl quarterbacks. Jim McMahon is still available.
Cook seemed realistic about limiting "innovation" in favor of a focus on the quality of current product. But by over-paying for a recent 3rd-rate audio marketing company and finagling with the stock price (set it under $100 to "guarantee" elevation to $100+), he has sullied the reputation of the company and, by association with Beats, reduced Apple to a mere "marketing scheme."
All of this could have been avoided by leaving the stock price alone and striking an alliance with a reputable audio company (Apple could have purchased venerable, mighty Harman Industries 2 years ago--or Logitech 1 year ago. Or they could have established an influential position in Harman with their 3 billion. Instead--the "Pill" is now looking like a "bomb."
The fickle world of consumer technology is now finding better deals for BT streaming than the Beats Pill--like the JBL Charge, offering great sound in a compact package plus charging capabilities and a lower price point. This item from "stodgy", "venerable" Harman Industries (JBL, Harman-Kardon) is getting better reviews from experts and consumers alike. The point is that Apple's throwing billions at a "faddish" headphone marketer and its manipulation of its stock price is not merely irrelevant: it's projecting an image that's the opposite of Steve Jobs' exclusive attention to: 1. innovation and 2. quality control. If the new CEO is clueless about the first priority, he should have enough sense to attend to the 2nd.
This is the first time in the past 15 years as an investor that I've begun to have negative feelings toward the company and its stock price. And most of my malaise is centered on the Beats deal--3 Big Bills (Billion) for the latest headphone phenomenon. How can Apple be trusted to deploy its capital wisely--in the interest of both its product and shareholders--when it throws money at a recent company that supposedly is a marketing whiz and has "connections" with powerful gurus who have access to the extra cash of GenX successors?
5 years ago Apple could have bought Harman Industries. Even as recently as 14 months ago Apple could have established a large, influential position in this venerable, admired industry leader (JBL, Harman Kardon), which in addition to competing with Bose and Sonos for the "home space" is now the leader in supplying audio equipment and streaming capabilities in the automotive industry.
Nothing wrong with the split--though I'd agree that "cosmetically" it may look to some investors like Apple is, contrary to the fairly high prices commanded by its products, concerned about the price of its stock when instead it should be focused on almost exclusively on its product and reputation for innovation and quality control.
What would worry me far more than the split is the Beats deal--doesn't Apple sense the disproportion between the price they paid (3 Billion--yes, that's a capital B, not an M) for a Johnny-Come-Lately headphones company that got lucky with a couple of shrewd and savvy marketing moves. In retrospect, that 3B may look like an extravagant waste, especially when opportunities with leaders in the audio industry--Bose, Sonos and above all Harman Industries (remember the Harman iSub?) were passed over. Less than 2 years ago Apple could bought the venerable, still influential Harman--before the stock exploded after gaining control of the booming automobile audio market.