The point of investing is to make a profit. Some folks are happy to stay a percent or two ahead of inflation and simply not lose any of their hard-earned money. And others would prefer to multiply their holding every few years. How do you find success in making more money and not taking on more risk? One of the approaches that have worked is to pool assets and then invest in a broad range of more risky but better paying alternative investments. In regard to reward and risk in alternative investments, we would like to look back a few years to Michael Milken and junk bonds and then fast forward to today and a company that is selling alternative investments and wants sell them to masses. Michael Milken and Junk Bonds When he was only a 20-year-old student at the Wharton School of Business, Michael Milken read something written by a member of the Federal Reserve Board and over the years put the idea into action. Companies that were poor investment risks had to pay much higher rates of interest in order to sell their bonds. Investors demanded a higher return because of the increased risk that the company would default on its debt. But, if an investor purchases a wide range of these bonds, the rate of return was such that, even with defaults, the total investment...Read More
Over the years much of American agriculture has become a highly leveraged and high cost of entry business. How the trade war damages investments in agriculture is compounded by these facts. A recent article in The New York Times focuses on the loss of soybean markets in China due to the trade war and the damage that is doing to North Dakota soybean growers. Many investors have never visited, much less worked on, a farm or have any idea about how US agriculture has changed over the recent decades. Mechanization and Consolidation of US Farms The Midwestern USA is...Read More
The bull market has had a historic run. And, even as it ages and becomes more volatile, the S&P 500 has still not had the substantial correction that has been predicted by many. One factor that keeps stock prices from falling too far is stock buybacks. We are wondering, are buybacks keeping the bull market alive? And, what else are they doing? Stock Buybacks Just a couple of months ago Forbes wrote about stock buybacks by Apple and other companies. The article is informative and helps shed light on one of the reasons that the market and especially the FANG stocks have not had a significant correction. Stock buybacks were outlawed until 1982, when the SEC changed its rules to allow companies to repurchase shares on the open market, although doing so can artificially boost the stock price. CEOs and other corporate executives benefit the most from this behavior because their compensation, unlike that of rank-and-file workers, is closely tied to stock performance. Between 2015 and 2017, U.S. publicly traded companies across all industries spent three-fifths of their profits on buybacks. The low-wage restaurant, retail, and food manufacturing industries spent 137%, 79%, and 58%, respectively. The restaurant industry borrowed money or used cash on its balance sheet to exceed the amount of its bottom line. The argument that Forbes makes is that money which could have gone to higher...Read More
IBM just used part of its cash hoard plus a lot of debt to buy Red Hat which is a Linux software and cloud computing company. The purchase comes on the heels of a weak quarterly report due to soft software and server sales. And, news of the purchase drove the stock a bit lower. We have ask, is IBM a good long term investment? International Business Machines IBM has been around since 1911 and took the name International Business Machines in 1924. The company has been a dominant presence in the world of computing and basic research for decades. Over that time its employees have earns five national medals of science, 10 National Medal of Technology, 6 Turing awards, and 5 Nobel prizes. Inventions from IBM include the SQL programming the language, automatic teller machines, bar codes, DRAM (dynamic random access memory), and many others. The company holds the most US patents for any business. Through the middle of the 20th century IBM dominated the marker for the large main frame computers that were necessary for large businesses and governmental organization. But, the company was caught napping by the advent of the personal computer and faster and more efficient computer chips and programming. In its attempt to catch up with Apple computer it gave Bill Gates and Microsoft a start by using its operating system for their computers....Read More
The long-running bull market is starting to correct. We, and many others, have suggested that investors may want to get out of growth stocks and switch to value stocks in preparation for a market crash or at least a painful correction. The rationale is that value stocks are companies with low debt, cash in the bank, and property unencumbered by excessive debt. However, the basis of intrinsic stock value is forward looking earnings. And, the best earnings in recent years have come from tech stocks like the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google-Alphabet). Protected from a Trade War with China One of the expected contributors to a market correction, or worse, is the evolving trade war with China. We looked at what you can invest in and not get hurt by a trade war. It turns out that Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google (Alphabet) either do not do business in China or have a very limited presence. Even though these stocks have become somewhat pricey in the current market they could not be directly hurt in a trade war with China. CNBC quote Cramer of Mad Money who is saying basically the same thing as he suggests that investors buy given-up-on FANG stocks. The FANG cohort benefits from having very few ties to the Chinese market, Cramer said, with the use of Facebook, Netflix and Google’s services almost entirely...Read More
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