Friday, December 31, 2010

What Was Your Best Investment This Year?

I just finished crunching the numbers in the my year-end portfolio analysis, and overall things went pretty well in 2010.  Aside from dividends, I purchased the bulk of my securities in the first half of this year, so with the latest market rally, almost everything is up (JNJ and being my biggest loser). 

My best performer of the year however, was that wonderful beverage company...

YTD, including reinvested dividends, Coca Cola has returned 21.86%! 

I'm still going to hold my position, reinvesting dividends and adding when the price drops (it's a bit pricey at the moment) but it's always fun to see some real returns, even if they are only short term. 

Who was your best performancer of the year?  What was your return?  I'm interested to hear about the successes of my fellow investors and bloggers! 

Have a great New Year's everyone!  To a Happy, Healthy, and Profitable 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Free Retirement Planning E-Book Available

I recently came across a great opportunity to download a free e-book over at FiveCentNickel.  The book available is "Unveiling the Retirement Myth" by Jim C. Otar, a certified financial planner from Toronto.  It has garnered some good reviews over at Amazon, where it sells for $49.99.

I'm not entirely certain why this book is being offered for free, but I would recommend you take advantage of the offer.  The e-book can be found here

Don't forget to thank Nickel for this great find!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Hope We Never Run Out of Beer: Supply and Demand for Non-Economists

I am not an economist.  In fact, in my four years of higher education, I never even took an economics class.  But I am an investor, and I am also a consumer.  In being so, I think it is important to understand the basic forces that explain and influence our economy. 

Over the next couple of months I will attempt to understand and explain these laws of economics in plain English.  If you enjoy reading this post, please subscribe to my RSS feed for regular updates.

Today, I’m starting with the most fundamental building block of an economy, Supply and Demand.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Weekly Links for 12.26.10

I hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday season.  Here are my favorite articles from the last week

Exxon Mobil Stock Analysis by Matt @ Dividend Monk

Why I'm Short Netflix by Whitney Tilson @ Seeking Alpha

Best Dividend Stocks You Can Buy @ The Motley Fool

How To Get Paid Tweeting by Mark @ BuyLikeBuffett

Retiring At 65 Isn't Supposed To Be Easy @ The Oblivious Investor

10 Reasons to Be Cautious in 2011 by David Rosenberg @ The Big Picture

Calculating Free Cash Flow by Geoff @ Seeking Alpha

Unconventional Income From Uncommon Stocks @ Money Cone

Is SuperValu a Super Value? by Jacob @ Value Walk

10 Year End Tax Moves @ FivecentNickel

Thursday, December 23, 2010

China Bails Out EU

In yet another show of China's economic strength, officials have publicly stated their willingness to bail out the troubled EU nations using their 2.7 trillion dollar overseas investment fund.

How to Wrap Christmas Presents on the Cheap

I'm what retailers call a "price insensitive" customer.  Aside from big ticket items, I rarely search for deals, and buying goods at a discount does not excite me.  I am a rather simple man, and save a large chunk of my income.  So buying deodorant for 15% off just doesn't seem that important to me. 

But my price insensitivity radically changes when it comes to wrapping paper.  Christmas wrapping paper is such a rip-off it drives me nuts.  $3 or more for a 7ft roll of paper?  Wrap one medium sized box and you've finished the roll!  Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy nicely wrapped presents sitting under the tree.  But I always thought there had to be a better way.

I've gone through a number of different methods to solve this problem, but have settled on one my girlfriend pioneered.  Instead of regular wrapping paper, we use 3M Dust Paper.

Dust paper is most commonly used in art and framing projects, and can be found in most art supply stores.  We buy a 30ft roll for about $4.  Not only is this 3x or more the amount of wrapping paper you can get, but it actually looks great on presents.  Add a little bit of ribbon (which we always save from year to year, since ribbon is also expensive) and you have a simple, attractively wrapped present that people find interesting and original. 

Do you have any interesting ways to wrap presents or save money during the holidays?  Let me know!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!  And may 2011 be your best investment year ever!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Illinois Tool Works Dividend Stock Analysis

Illinois Tool Works (NYSE: ITW) is a multinational manufacturer of a diversified range of industrial products and equipment.

The Company has approximately 840 operations in 57 countries, which are aggregated and organized into eight segments: Transportation, Industrial Packaging, Food Equipment, Power Systems and Electronics, Construction Products, Polymers and Fluids, Decorative Surfaces and All Other.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weekly Links for 12.19.10

My favorite reads from this week.  Have a great weekend!

3 Major Dividend Toy Makers by Matt @ Dividend Monk

Using the P/E Ratio by Barbara Friedman @ BuylikeBuffett

INTELligent INTC by Roger Vertes @ Benzinga

EU Questions Intel-McAfee Deal on Anti-trust Law @ Cnet

The Enterprenurial Investor by JWolinksy @ ValueWalk

SuperValu: A leveraged buy-out by Barel Karsan

A Dividend Play With Potential (SVU) by Mark Riddix

Temporary Tax Code Puts Nation in Bind by John McKinnon @ WSJ

4 High Dividend Stocks @ Fortune

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Best Money Move During a Payroll Tax Holiday

Congress is getting close to a deal that would, among other things, create a one year payroll tax holiday for all workers.  This 2% tax break means that someone earning $70,000 could add about $1400 a year to their take home pay.

The government is hoping this money will be used to consume more goods and services, jump starting the economy.  But you're reading an investing blog, so you're probably more interested saving and investing this "free" money.  What is the best way to do so?  Tax advantaged accounts.

By taking home a larger paycheck without an increase in gross pay, your dollars are "cheaper" now than they were before.  The best way to juice returns on these dollars is to invest them in a 401(k), Traditional IRA, or Roth IRA.  In doing so, you win twice, once in your paycheck, and again in your deferred gains / taxes.

For example, say you invest that money in your 401(k).  Since contributions are from pre-tax dollars, you lower the taxable portion of your paycheck.  You will be paying less in taxes on a smaller amount of money!  

Another option is to contribute that money into a Roth IRA.  Roth contributions can be withdrawn tax free after age 59 1/2, and if you think taxes will be higher in the future (I hear a resounding yes...) you are using cheaper dollars now to buy more expensive dollars in retirement.

More important than how you save is simply that you do save.  You managed to live in 2010 on a budget 2% less than you'll be making in 2011.  It's free money.  Set up your accounts to invest it automatically, and you'll never miss it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bernie Madoff's Son Commits Suicide

Bernie Madoff, ponzi scheme extraordinaire, has lost his oldest son, Mark Madoff.  He was found hung in his Manhattan apartment Saturday morning.  He hung himself with his dog's leash while his 2 year son was in the apartment.

This is truly heart-wrenching.  Both of Madoff's sons claim to have had no knowledge of his scheme, but the multi-billion dollar scam he perpetrated has directly impacted their lives.  Since his arrest, both his sons and their wives have been sued by former clients seeking retribution for their losses.  Mark even got into a fist-fight on a New York street when he was accosted by a disgruntled former employee.

These poor guys have had their lives ruined by their father's dishonest conduct.  I send my heart out to Mark's mother, and hope that his soul finds solace.  And I hope Bernie rots in prison. 

Weekly Links for 12.12.10

Here are my favorite articles from this week.  Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Bar Stool Economics by The Biz of Life

Waste Management Stock Analysis by Dividend Growth Investor

Lowes Company Stock Analysis by Dividend Monk

A Good Mix of Yield and Growth by Dividends Value

BofA and it's misdeeds by Money Cone

How To Handle Company Stock Options by Retireby40

Royalty Trust: What is it? @ Wikipedia (I just learned what these are)

3 Reasons the Mortgage Tax Break isn't a Break @ Forbes

Better Than Buy and Hold: Using Options @ The MotleyFool

10 Really Simple Financial Lessons to Live By @ The MotleyFool

Bet the Opposite of the AAII @ The Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Brown Forman Declares Special $1 Dividend

Brown-Forman, maker of such popular alcoholic beverages as Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort, recently declared a $1 special dividend payable to all shareholders on Dec. 28.

A number of companies have declared special dividends this month, in an effort to avoid any tax increases that may pass in 2011.  With piles of extra cash sitting on their balance sheets, I think a special dividend is a great way to reward shareholders during the holiday season.

Do you know any other companies that are rewarding shareholders with a special dividend? 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Microsoft Dividend Stock Analysis

 Every where I turn, I see an article condemning or praising Microsoft.  At 26.87, some say it is the dividend play of a lifetime.  Others feel it is a relic, a tech Goliath that has been beaten down by the likes of Apple and Google. 

I decided to take a look myself, so here is my analysis of Microsoft...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weekly Links for 12.3.10

Some great articles this weekend!  Enjoy

Dividend Yield: Is Telefonica a Play?  by The Passive Income Earner

7 Stocks with Great Balance Sheets by Dividend Monk

ONEOK Analysis by Dividend Growth Investor

3 Unconventional Investment Moves by Invest it Wisely

Microsoft Stock Analysis by Barel Karsan

Pepsi Co. Analysis by Dividends Value

Buy A House Without a Mortgage by First Gen American (this is an old article but I just found it and really liked it)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Acme United Dividend Stock Analysis

Acme United Corporation (AMEX: ACU) is a supplier of cutting, measuring and safety products to the school, home, office, hardware and industrial markets.