Portfolio Post Election

After the elections, stocks have generally gone up. Some sectors have done well, and others have fallen. The US dollar is stronger, which means that our overseas stocks have gone down on a relative basis.

We are judicious on selling off stocks here. However, since the election is past it is likely time to make a few moves in some areas.

Portfolio One:

  • Novartis (NVS)– the Swiss drug maker is down about 20% from where we bought it (but has almost a 4% dividend), and drug makers seem to be under pressure with the new administration calling for price reductions. On watch will look at the next earnings release at the end of January
  • Statoil (STO) – the Norwegian oil company is down 20% off our purchase price but has come back significantly with possible increases in oil prices.  They also didn’t cut their dividend which remains a high 6% yield which also is positive for investors.  Will watch and see if it rises further
  • Infosys (INFY) – Infosys has fallen about 25% off its peak.  The company benefits from the declining Indian currency since most of its revenues are earned overseas.  However, the offshore firms have also been hit by the new administration and potential curbs on outsourcing, which they are trying to limit by having more US based staff and less overseas contractors.  The company is on watch
  • Tesla Motors (TSLA) – this is a very speculative stock (little earnings, high valuation) and has high volatility.  We will keep it on watch
  • Anheuser Busch Inbev – the stock has dropped by over 30% recently as they attempt to purchase Miller Coors.  They also have been hit with economic volatility in Brazil.   They are a well run group but these are strong headwinds.  We will put the stock on watch

Portfolio Two:

Portfolio Two moved over to ETF’s and CD’s.  Their ETF’s have been doing well with the exception of the NASDAQ Biotech ETF (IBB) in which we have a relatively small position that is new.  We will continue to watch this sector ETF.

Portfolio Three:

  • Wynn (WYNN) – the casino stock is a major operator in China.  The stock is down over 30% and no longer delivering “special” dividends beyond the regular quarterly dividend.  We will sell the stock now
  • Infosys (INFY) – Infosys has fallen about 25% off its peak.  The company benefits from the declining Indian currency since most of its revenues are earned overseas.  However, the offshore firms have also been hit by the new administration and potential curbs on outsourcing, which they are trying to limit by having more US based staff and less overseas contractors.  The company is on watch

Portfolio Four:

  • Coca-Cola FEMSA (KOF) – the Central American distributor of Coke is 40% off from our purchase price,  been hit by various issues and negative currency fluctuations and now finally the current administration.  We will sell the stock now
  • Tesla Motors (TSLA) – this is a very speculative stock (little earnings, high valuation) and has high volatility.  We will keep it on watch
  • Novartis (NVS)– the Swiss drug maker is down about 20% from where we bought it (but has almost a 4% dividend), and drug makers seem to be under pressure with the new administration calling for price reductions. On watch will look at the next earnings release at the end of January
  • Statoil (STO) – the Norwegian oil company is down 20% off our purchase price but has come back significantly with possible increases in oil prices.  They also didn’t cut their dividend which remains a high 6% yield which also is positive for investors.  Will watch and see if it rises further
  • Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B) – the European oil company is down almost 20% on price but has been rising and hasn’t cut the over 6% dividend.  Will watch and see if it rises further
  • Devon (DVN) – unlike Statoil and Shell, Devon did cut their dividend and is down about 20% on price.   However, the stock is up almost 2 1/2 times off its low so we will hold it as it keeps recovering.  Will watch and see if it rises further

Portfolio Five:

  • Anheuser Busch Inbev – the stock has dropped by over 30% recently as they attempt to purchase Miller Coors.  They also have been hit with economic volatility in Brazil.   They are a well run group but these are strong headwinds.  We will put the stock on watch
  • Juniper (JNPR) – Juniper had been down significantly but now is above our purchase price.  We will watch this stock as an acquisition candidate and may sell if it stops rising.  This stock is on watch

Portfolio Six:

  • Coca-Cola FEMSA (KOF) – the Central American distributor of Coke is 40% off from our purchase price,  been hit by various issues and negative currency fluctuations and now finally the current administration.  We will sell the stock now

Portfolio Seven:

  • Unilever (UNLV) – Unilever is down about 14% off peak due to the reduction in the value of the British pound and other factors.  This is a recent purchase and a well run company we will put the stock on watch

Portfolio Eight:

  • Unilever (UNLV) – Unilever is down about 14% off peak due to the reduction in the value of the British pound and other factors.  This is a recent purchase and a well run company we will put the stock on watch

 

Stocks on watch update

Generally waiting and putting these stocks on watch have gone well.  They have mostly increased in price recently.

Novartis (NVS) – did not have a good quarterly earnings release.  Still on watch may sell.

Statoil (STO) – still generally on the rise with the recent increase in oil prices

Linked In (LNKD) – up since lows.  Will see if it stalls

Wynn (WYNN) – up almost 50% off its lows.  Beat q1 earnings.

ConocoPhillips (COP) – up off lows but hurt recently by Canadian shutdown due to wildfires

Coca Cola Femsa (KOF) – generally still on the rise off lows.  OK dividend

Devon (DVN) – up significantly off lows.  Benefiting from recent rise in oil prices

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B) – also up on recent oil price rises.  Hit some by closing of Canadian oil sands due to wildfires

Oracle (ORCL) – still doing OK.  Will keep on long term watch due to cloud threat

Juniper (JNPR) – missed their 3/31/16 earnings.  Will watch on 6/30/16.  May be passed up by the cloud environment.  Could be an acquisition target

Current inclination… is to sell Juniper and Novartis.  Will watch.

Comments for Stocks on Watch

In general, earnings season is coming up now (mid to late April) for many of these stocks and we can hear about forward revenue projections and their views on oil prices as well as dividend policy.

Comments for Stocks on watch:

Novartis (NVS) – April 21 we will hear Q1 results and updates on strategy and EPS.

Statoil (STO) – April 27 we will hear Q1 results.  Stock price linked to dividend policy.  Their current dividend is over 7% and sustaining the stocks’ value

Linked In (LNKD) – April 28 Q1 earnings call.  Stock hit hard after forward guidance but still has significant and growing revenues (not a unicorn).

Wynn (WYNN) – Stock still in 90’s… will continue to watch (up from far lows).

ConocoPhillips (COP) – Stock already took hit from 75% dividend cut.  Now they believe they can break even on cash flow perspective at $45 oil which is attainable.  Remains on watch

Coca Cola Femsa (KOF) – Stock in 80’s… will continue to watch.

Devon (DVN) – still watching with oil prices.  Devon has a low dividend so little downside risk now of dividend cuts.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B) – will watch with oil prices and their restructuring.  Still holding on to high dividend for now (almost 8%)

Oracle (ORCL) – still rising with cloud numbers.

Stocks on Watch – March 2016

The strategy of these 8 portfolios has been to purchase individual stocks, and to hold them for the medium term.  These portfolios are not the same as an individual investor who seeks to invest for their long term financial future – they should utilize low-cost ETF’s and brokerage CD’s as is described in the “basic plan” that is linked to here or at the top of the site.  Portfolio 2 (see link on the right side of the page) has now converted to a long term type of model.

The reason we employ this strategy is because 1) I want to teach the principles of investing 2) I want to encourage thrift (savings) with the “match” concept 3) I want the beneficiaries to be actively involved in selections and see the consequence of their selections (stocks go up, stocks go down).  In addition, choosing stocks teaches a lot about capitalism and is a fundamental aspect of everything that happens in the world of business – stocks move up and down due to business fundamentals, their particular industry situation, the impact of commodity prices, the impact of foreign currencies vs. the US dollar, the geopolitical situation, and due to the actions of our central bank (ZIRP).  It is my selected role to attempt to teach about all of these concepts at once through the act of stock selection and portfolio changes.  These stock portfolios are not intended to be their entire net worth – if it was, then I would recommend moving to something more similar to Portfolio 2, above.

Given that we use individual stocks, we need to “watch” these stocks, especially if they fall significantly and stay down in price.  We also look for stocks that might have hit their highs and are on their way down, although we would be more likely to “ride the winners” over the medium term.  Portfolios 2, 7 and 8 don’t have any stocks on watch.

Stocks on watch

Portfolio 1

  • Statoil (STO) – Norwegian oil company, hit by the fall in crude as well as the fall of the local currency vs. the US dollar.  Will hold – seems unlikely they will cut their dividend which supports their current price.  The company will likely raise their debt level which is sustainable.
  • Novartis (NVS) – Swiss drug company, a recent purchase.  We will see how earnings play out at the end of April and how the company presents forward guidance.

Portfolio 3

  • Linked In (LNKD) – Online business networking company that recently gave poor forward guidance and had its stock price cut in half.  We are going to continue to watch Linked In since it seems over sold but if it doesn’t move we will sell it.
  • Wynn (WYNN) – A casino operator with interests in China, hit recently by a crackdown on corruption and gambling in China.  The stock was in the 60’s and came back into the 90’s and is on the upswing.  Will look to see if it get’s into the 100’s and make a decision but don’t want to sell while it is rising.
  • ConocoPhillips (COP) – An oil and gas major, hit by the recent collapse in oil prices.  They reduced their dividend by 75% which impacted their stock price, as well.  We are going to watch the price of oil which drives many of the companies on this list.  It went from the high 20’s up crossing the 40 dollar barrier.  If it gets into the middle 40’s and stays there many of these companies will be in OK shape for holding

Portfolio 4

  • Coca Cola Femsa (KOF) – Central American Coca Cola distributor, hit by the decline in currency value against the US dollar and also turmoil in local countries.  KOF has bounced up from the 60’s and recently crossed $80 / share.  Will watch and see if it retains upward momentum after earnings.
  • Devon Energy (DVN) – US oil company hit by recent collapse in commodity prices.  We are going to watch the price of oil which drives many of the companies on this list.  It went from the high 20’s up crossing the 40 dollar barrier.  If it gets into the middle 40’s and stays there many of these companies will be in OK shape for holding
  • Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B) – European oil company hit by the recent collapse in commodity prices and the Euro / UK Pound vs. the dollar.  We are going to watch the price of oil which drives many of the companies on this list.  It went from the high 20’s up crossing the 40 dollar barrier.  If it gets into the middle 40’s and stays there many of these companies will be in OK shape for holding
  • Statoil (STO) – Norwegian oil company, hit by the fall in crude as well as the fall of the local currency vs. the US dollar.  Will hold – seems unlikely they will cut their dividend which supports their current price.  The company will likely raise their debt level which is sustainable.
  • Oracle (ORCL) – while this stock has been doing well, Oracle faces severe competition from the cloud and resulting price pressures on their product.  Gross margins are still going up and they are claiming significant cloud earnings.  We will keep watching these trends
  • Linked In (LNKD) – Online business networking company that recently gave poor forward guidance and had its stock price cut in half.  We are going to continue to watch Linked In since it seems over sold but if it doesn’t move we will sell it.
  • Novartis (NVS) – Swiss drug company, a recent purchase.  We will see how earnings play out at the end of April and how the company presents forward guidance.

Portfolio 5

  • Linked In (LNKD) – Online business networking company that recently gave poor forward guidance and had its stock price cut in half.  We are going to continue to watch Linked In since it seems over sold but if it doesn’t move we will sell it.
  • ConocoPhillips (COP) – An oil and gas major, hit by the recent collapse in oil prices.  They reduced their dividend by 75% which impacted their stock price, as well.  We are going to watch the price of oil which drives many of the companies on this list.  It went from the high 20’s up crossing the 40 dollar barrier.  If it gets into the middle 40’s and stays there many of these companies will be in OK shape for holding

Portfolio 6

  • Coca Cola Femsa (KOF) – Central American Coca Cola distributor, hit by the decline in currency value against the US dollar and also turmoil in local countries.  KOF has bounced up from the 60’s and recently crossed $80 / share.  Will watch and see if it retains upward momentum after earnings.
  • Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B) – European oil company hit by the recent collapse in commodity prices and the Euro / UK Pound vs. the dollar.  We are going to watch the price of oil which drives many of the companies on this list.  It went from the high 20’s up crossing the 40 dollar barrier.  If it gets into the middle 40’s and stays there many of these companies will be in OK shape for holding
  • ConocoPhillips (COP) – An oil and gas major, hit by the recent collapse in oil prices.  They reduced their dividend by 75% which impacted their stock price, as well.  We are going to watch the price of oil which drives many of the companies on this list.  It went from the high 20’s up crossing the 40 dollar barrier.  If it gets into the middle 40’s and stays there many of these companies will be in OK shape for holding

Portfolio Three Updated March 2016 – Tax Time

Portfolio Three is our third longest lived portfolio, at 8 1/2 years.  The beneficiary contributed $4500 and the trustee $9000 for a total of $13,500.  The current value is $12,814 for a loss of ($685) or (5%).  Adjusted for the timing of cash flows, this is (1%) a year.  The detail can be found in the links on the right or here.

This year we sold Yahoo after all the drama and bought ConocoPhillips, Alibaba and Facebook.

There are a few stocks on watch.  LinkedIn (LNKD) dropped almost half its value when it issued forward earnings guidance; since then the stock has stabilized and is on watch.  I still believe in the company although many others apparently do not.  ConocoPhillips (COP) was hit immediately by the collapse in oil prices (even though we were buying it on a dip) – this is also on watch to see how they do in this difficult environment for commodity companies.  Wynn (WYNN) is a casino company with properties in Macau China catering to heavy Chinese gamblers; the crackdown on corruption has severely dampened earnings.

For taxes in 2015, there is a net loss for the year due primarily to a fall in value of Weibo (WB) which was pummeled in the great Chinese stock market rout and we sold the stock (it since gained back some of its value).  

Of the other stocks we’ve sold in recent years they are still below the price we sold them at.

Portfolio Three Updated October 2015

Portfolio three is eight years old, with the beneficiary contributing $4500 and the trustee contributing $9000, for a total of $13,500.  The current value is $13,243 for a loss of ($256) or (1.9%), which works out to an annual return that is slightly negative (0.4%) / year.  See the details here or use the links on the right.

The portfolio has had some stocks move against us lately.  Wal-Mart (WMT), an historically strong performer, recently came out with 3 year stock guidance that showed low growth and the stock went down.  Wynn (WYNN), a gambling company with strong interests in China, was also adversely hit by the Chinese governments’ crack down on money laundering and VIP gamblers.  Exxon-Mobil (XOM), the energy giant, has gone down tied with the commodity bust.  Yahoo (YHOO) is up overall but down from recent highs and is mainly a value play on its Alibaba (BABA) stake.

We will look at selling some of these stocks as part of our 2015 new stock purchase planning.

Portfolio Two Updated October 2015

Portfolio Two is our second longest portfolio, at 11 years.  The beneficiary contributed $6000 and the trustee contributed $12,000 for a total of $18,000.  The current value is $28,334 for a gain of $10,334 or 57%, which works out to about 6.8% / year across the life of the portfolio.  You can download the detail here or utilize the links on the right side of the page.

This portfolio has been buoyed by two star performers, Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook (FB).  Both of those stocks have moved up substantially recently and account for half the total gain.

Poor performers are TransAlta (TAC), which was hammered by the drop in the Canadian dollar and the collapse of the commodity markets, and Wynn (WYNN) resorts which was hurt badly by changes in Chinese policy that limit gambling and especially “high roller” VIP gambling in Macau.

We will likely sell off all these stocks and move into cash and then ETF’s, likely following the approach listed in this post titled “Investing – Basic Plan” of low-cost ETF’s and CD’s purchased through a brokerage.  At approximately $28,000, the portfolio would likely be about $10,000 5 year CD (at around 2% / year) and $9,000 of VTI (Vanguard total stock market) and $9,000 of VEU (Vanguard total stock market ex-USA).  There would be about $6900 in net taxable gains that would need to be paid and the trustee / their parents need to decide who is going to pay this amount (if the rate was 15%, this would be about $1035 in taxes).  If the taxes were paid out of this distribution, then we would be re-investing just under $27,000.  This portfolio has unique reasons for doing the sell-off and re-investment into ETF’s that we don’t plan to repeat with other portfolios unless it is necessary.

Stock Sales Summer 2015

We have been watching the markets and trends and there are some stocks that we will cull prior to the next round of investing.

Coca-Cola Femsa (KOF) – this is basically the Mexican and Latin American Coca-Cola distributor.  Per their last earnings release:

“As beverage transactions continued to outpace volumes across our operations- reinforcing our daily consumer engagement – we are encouraged by our operators’ positive performance in the midst of a challenging environment, marked by weak consumer trends in Brazil, a slowly recovering consumer landscape in Mexico, and currency volatility across our markets. On a comparable basis, we delivered high single-digit consolidated revenue growth and double-digit operating income growth during the quarter.”

What they mean by “comparable basis” is that the currencies of Mexico, Brazil and other countries such as Argentina have collapsed and they are still making a lot of sales but the sales are worth less when they are converted into the US dollar or some other index as they were in prior periods.

So what do we do?  Do we hold on and wait for the dollar to fall and / or their currencies to rise?  The company seems well run (they have growing transactions) and Coca-Cola is never going away, and these countries have a rising middle class and growing populations (unlike most of the world) to consume more goods in the future.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B) – Shell has been pummeled by the commodity price slump.  They are also based in the UK / Europe so they face an additional currency overhang when translated into US dollars.  They also were “acquirers” of a natural gas company in the midst of these events which means they paid a premium price in a time of decline.  The most worrisome element, however, is that they continue their high risk plan of drilling for ice in the volatile and difficult arctic, at a time of reduced oil prices (which makes high cost investments like deep water drilling even riskier).  They also have a relatively higher chance of environmental catastrophe which will be very difficult to clean up given the paucity of local resources and the ferocious environment in the far north.  They are a sell.  If we want to “buy low” in the oil or natural gas business there are better candidates.

Trans Alta (TAC) – Trans Alta is a Canadian power generator.  They have strong exposure to coal and also the Canadian commodity boom / bust which consumes much of their electricity.  They pay a strong dividend (for now) but it has been reduced as the company struggles.  Future dividend cuts would impact the company even further.  Given the combination of the poorer Canadian economy and currency, the dire forecast for coal, and the commodity bust, this is a sell.

Wynn (WYNN) – Wynn is a gaming operator with operations in Macau, the only area of China where their gambling-mad citizens are allowed to play.  There are also many other more subtle elements to this infatuation with gambling including an ability to move currency out of the country, which is otherwise difficult to do.  Recently the new Chinese premier (dictator?) has cracked down on certain types of ostentatious corruption (generally among those who are not politically allied with him, since “corruption” is embedded into all aspects of their command economy) which has hurt gambling.  But Wynn is a shrewd operator and he is expanding capacity and likely this too, shall pass.  It is hard to sit while revenues and profits decline, however.

Exxon (XOM), Statoil (STO), and Devon (DVN) – these energy giants (Exxon is the biggest, but Statoil is unique since it is from Norway, and Devon is smaller but well run) have all been hurt badly by the reduction in oil and natural gas prices.  For now, unlike Shell above, I think it makes sense to stick with them.

Seaspan (SSW) – Seaspan owns container ships that travel between China and overseas destinations and has been investing in a new, fuel efficient fleet.  Seaspan has a very high dividend (8%) which they have been able to sustain so far.  On the one hand they seem to be a good operator but overall Chinese exports are faltering and if there is a general fall in the market they likely will still be able to rent out their newer, fuel efficient craft but the rate that they would receive would be correspondingly lower.  This one is on the edge.

Westpac Banking (WBK), Canadian Imperial Bank (CIB), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) – the first bank is Australian and the latter two are Canadian.  These banks are generally well run but all have been hit by the depreciation of their currencies vs. the US dollar, and the fact that they are exposed to real-estate “bubbles” in the Australian and Canadian markets.  As the commodity markets fall, the entire country can be hit with reduced services, demand and an overall high level of debt.  These are on watch.

Recent Stock Moves

Rise of the China Stock Market

When you are judging the success of your portfolio against benchmarks, which conceptually is a simple exercise, the question soon arises:

1) who are you comparing yourself against?

2) what currency is your benchmark denominated in?

Whether you want to invest there or not, China has had a major rally, and the Chinese Yuan is stable against the US dollar (in the range of 6 Yuan / dollar and 6.4 Yuan / Dollar over the last 3 years) as opposed to other currencies like the Euro and the Japanese Yen which have cratered in dollar terms.

The incredible rise in stocks in Chinese stock prices has mostly gone “under the radar” of US media.  Recently they connected the stocks in Hong Kong with stocks on mainland China and not only have prices risen substantially, the same stock trades for different prices in each location.  Per this WSJ article

Shares of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong look like a steal compared with shares of the same companies that are listed in Shanghai. Such stocks on average trade at a 32.89% discount in the former British colony, according to the Hang Seng China AH Premium Index.

Typically, under a concept called “arbitrage”, the price of equivalent items in different markets are narrowed when investors take steps to capture the “easy money” of buying that same good cheaper in a different place.  A very simple example is that you can’t have gasoline selling for $4 in one state and $3 in an adjacent state; everyone just crosses the border to buy the cheaper gas until the price differential narrows.  Gaps of a couple of percentage even across exchanges is enough for investors to jump in and take advantage; a 32% differential is extreme.

This rally isn’t due to a perception that the economy in China is getting better; in fact it seems to be getting worse.  The rally has been enhanced by structural moves that allow more investors into the market (largely retail mainland investors) and lets them buy stock on margin, as well.  Per this WSJ article:

Margin lending has more than tripled in the past year to a record 1.7 trillion yuan ($274.6 billion)…The practice isn’t unique to China, where margin debt equals 3.2% of total market capitalization, compared with 2.3% in the U.S. But when compared with the value of stock that is freely traded, making it accessible to ordinary investors, the percentage for China rises because state entities own more than half of the market.  Research by Macquarie Securities Group shows China’s margin-debt ratio at 8.2% of the free float. That easily exceeds the peak of 6% reached in the late 1990s in Taiwan, the second-highest level globally in recent years.

Thus if you didn’t have a proportionate share of your portfolio invested in Chinese stocks, you were a “relative” loser, although there are many reasons to believe that this rally isn’t sustainable.  This goes back to the original question of how benchmarks are defined.

Individual Stock Moves

In one of the portfolios I follow there have been significant and immediate moves in several of our stocks.  These stocks were related to China or the the technology industry.

Linked In (LKND) recently had an earnings call and their stock price plunged by over 20% in one day.  The cause of the drop wasn’t the earnings themselves (they beat expectations), it was their “forward guidance”.  For stocks with a high price / earnings multiple like Linked In, the market needs to have continued rapid growth to justify the high stock price today.  In fact, Linked In currently doesn’t book profits, primarily due to their high amounts of stock based compensation (stock given to executives in lieu of cash).  Linked In’s guidance talked about currency headwinds (meaning that if they brought in the same revenues overseas it would “count less” towards net income because of the rise in the US dollar) and also some one time acquisition costs from recent companies they’ve purchased.

Amazon (AMZN) had their last earnings call where they continued to show no profits on a GAAP basis and yet their stock rose 6.8% due to other factors that analysts apparently found compelling.  Note that a 6.8% gain for a company the size of Amazon is a large increase in market capitalization (over $10 billion) in a single day.

China Life Insurance ADR (LFC) has almost doubled from around $40 / share to $80 / share as part of the overall China rally discussed above.  While a seemingly sound stock this performance gain is not tied to any fundamentals in how the company operates; this growth is tied to the giant overall rally.

Wynn Resorts (WYNN) dropped more than 10% in a single day after earnings were released.  Wynn has a property in Macau (China’s only location with legal gambling) and it has been hit hard with a recent crackdown on high-roller gamblers by China’s communist leaders.  Note that the scale of gambling in China dwarfs Las Vegas by any measure (total market, amount bet per player, etc…) and thus properties in China have been proportionally more lucrative than their US equivalent.  It is not known whether this will be a long term reduction of high rolling gamblers or a short term hit; that depends on inscrutable Chinese government polices.  Left to their own devices, it is highly likely that Chinese would continue to gamble at record rates.  Wynn also has long running board issues and governance issues as well.  At risk is their dividend, which “income investors” price highly in an era of virtually zero yield on debt (without taking on significant risk).

Westpac (ADR) – the Australian bank slightly missed earnings and their stock went down almost 5%, but then recovered a bit and was down 3%.  The CEO said that flat earnings won’t be tolerated in a later interview.  Unlike those companies with little or no GAAP profits (Amazon, LinkedIn), a company like Westpac won’t usually fall as much with a minor earnings miss because it has a lower P/E ratio and incredible future profit growth isn’t already “baked in” to the stock price.

Seeing large moves in single stocks can be viewed as a sign of a bull market in its last stages.  Since we invest for the long term we don’t pull in and out of the market based on short term moves but it is definitely something to consider; stocks with limited earnings and high P/E ratios or tied to giant rallies like is occurring in China today should be on some sort of watch.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Stocks to Review – December 2014

In order to decide what we should sell or keep, we need to review the stocks that have been hit across the six portfolios.  There are 12 stocks listed and grouped across the various industries and regions.

We will look by group to determine what we recommend to do next based on the specific circumstances of that stock and the factors that caused their valuation to change.  If it is a dividend related stock, we will also start to think if their dividend is “at risk”, because that would likely trigger another price drop.  Many of these stocks have rebounded off their lows, which makes this task easier.

Of the stocks reviewed, the ones we will watch closely will be Anadarko (APC), Sasol (SSL), TransAlta (TAC), Weibo (WB), Seaspan (SSW), and Coca-Cola Femsa (KOF).  We will consider stop losses on these stocks.

US Energy

  • Exxon Mobil (XOM)
  • Devon (DVN)
  • Anadarko (APC)

Of the 3 US energy companies, Exxon Mobil is a long term keeper because it is so well and ruthlessly run.  They have a reasonable dividend of about 3% that doesn’t seem to be at risk.  XOM may even be a candidate for further purchases if it keeps declining in the short term.

Devon is much smaller than XOM.  Their dividend is not as good, under 2%, but that also means that they aren’t being forced to support an unmanageable dividend burden.  From what I’ve read they seem to have hedged against falling oil prices which should insulate them a bit in the short term.  Devon also could be an acquisition candidate at some point although their market cap is $24B so only a giant like XOM could take them out.

Anadarko (APC) (like XOM and DVN) hit a 52 week low, but bounced back recently.  Their dividend at 1.4% is low and doesn’t seem to be at risk.  The company also has financial flexibility.  We are on the edge with APC if the oil rout is extended this may not be a stock to hold.  For now we are holding on with the rebound in energy prices off their lows, but this is on watch.

Global Energy (ADR)

  • Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B)
  • Sasol (SSL)
  • Statoil (STO)

These global energy companies not only are hit by the drop in crude (see above), but also the decline in foreign currencies vs. the rising US dollar.

Statoil (STO) is denominated in Norwegian Kroner.  Over the last year the Kroner has declined 20% vs. the US dollar.  This means that our ADR has fallen 20% additional beyond the impact of other (negative) factors on the STO stock.  On the other hand, in the past the rising Kroner has boosted returns compared against US equivalent stocks, and provides diversification should the US dollar fall.  Statoil is likely going to defer some major deep water projects since those are not economical at the current oil price.  The dividend is now over 6% with the stock price decline; in general when dividends go much beyond 5% they often turn out to be unsustainable, or in any case should be watched closely.  The Norwegian government also holds a significant stake in this company, which allows them to impact behavior, but they seem to be a prudent steward (compared to partially public or state owned oil companies in Mexico or Brazil, for instance).

Shell (RDS.B) are denominated in UK pounds, which has fallen 5% this year vs. the US dollar.  Shell seems to be in relatively good shape, but the stock (like virtually all energy stocks) is near its 52 week low.  Their dividend is at almost 6% which seems sustainable for now but may not be in the long term.  They seem to be taking steps with their asset portfolio by country to sell components to optimize the company, which seems prudent.

Sasol (SSL) is denominated in South African Rand, which has fallen 11% vs. the US dollar.  SSL is a large energy company for Africa, but is much smaller than the other global majors.  The dividend is near 6%, a level to watch closely.  The stock at one point lost almost 50% of its value and may be a buy at this point or for consideration.  This stock seems more speculative than Statoil and Shell up above (which makes sense because each of the other companies are much larger) which means it is on watch (like APC, above).  On the other hand, since it is smaller, it has more room to grow on the high end in terms of stock price.

Canadian Energy (ADR)

  • TransAlta (TAC) – TransAlta is a Canadian energy company primarily operating in the electricity business.  They also have substantial and growing interests in Australia.  The company has been hit with a big fall in electricity prices in its main provence, Alberta, which means it earns substantially less revenue on the power it generates (most of the company’s costs are fixed in the short and medium term, so this goes straight to the bottom line).  The long term bet on why power use is growing in Alberta, however, is the oil industry so this stock is significantly impacted by the same forces (low oil prices) as the other stocks listed above, in a medium or longer term horizon.  The stock has a large dividend, at 7%, which means it definitely is on watch.  If the company decided to cut the dividend (for whatever reason), it is likely that the price of the stock would fall.  Many investors likely own this stock for income purposes.  As an ADR, they also are driven by the fall in the Canadian dollar, which has dropped about 8% vs. the US dollar over the last year

Chinese Internet (ADR)

  • Weibo (WB) – Weibo is a Chinese internet company, sometimes called their version of Twitter.  Alibaba, the giant of Chinese e-commerce (their Amazon), owns a 14% stake in WB, and in September the stock shot up because of speculation that Alibaba might buy the company or increase their ownership.  Chinese stocks are generally volatile and the tech industry is particularly so.  The stock has gone up recently, but is near a 52 week low.  This one is also on watch but seems to have a reasonable upside, especially if it was swallowed up.

US Technology

  • Amazon (AMZN) – Amazon is, to (partially) quote Winston Churchill, “a riddle wrapped in an enigma”.  The company is a powerhouse, altering whole industries and taking a giant role in e-commerce.  The founder is famously frugal and uses old doors as desks for employees.  Also – the company doesn’t make profits or focus on short term profits.  They continue to invest and to move into new markets.  This company is probably the hardest company in the world to analyze as a result and I personally have had more arguments about Amazon than any other stock.  To be clear, we had it at $14, and I sold at over $100, taking almost an 8x gain, but then it marched all the way to $400 / share, and now has lost about 25% off its peak and is near $300 (we bought most recently at $337).  The market seems to generally believe in Amazon so this is a keeper, even though as an accountant I am often perplexed.

Chinese Shipping (ADR)

  • Seaspan (SSW) – Seaspan is a smaller company that ships goods back and forth primarily to China.  They now have a very high dividend, near 7%, so that is something to watch.  If they ever cut this dividend I would expect that the stock price would be significantly impacted.  The stock price fell on SSW, but bounced back from its 52 week lows.  Even if China itself is slowing in terms of growth the demand for Chinese goods worldwide is still rapacious.  The company is also looking to upgrade their fleet continually to make it more fuel efficient in terms of scale.  On the other hand, shipping is a difficult business in a downturn, as shippers cut rates to near the marginal costs of running their fleet, just to keep afloat (bad pun).  If SSW has a more fuel efficient fleet than most, it should be able to withstand a downturn longer than competitors.  This is a stock on watch.

Casino / China

  • Wynn (WYNN) – Wynn at one point lost almost half their value on concerns over Chinese cutbacks in gambling.  China has a huge gambling culture (wagers at Chinese casinos on average are much higher than in the USA) and there is only one place in China where you can gamble, and WYNN has a casino there.  Much of the Chinese gambling is also a method to move money out of the country, a much more complex topic than I could cover here, but it is safe to say that gambling in China is a much more serious business than it is in the USA.  The current Chinese leader is cracking down on “corruption” (I use parenthesis because the whole business culture is corrupt in a mega-sense, but he is talking about specific behavior elements like lavish behavior with official money) and this means gambling.  WYNN does have an attractive dividend and special dividend and in the long term (unless they open casinos on the mainland) they can recapture money as soon as the official glare goes away.

Mexico / Consumer Staples (ADR)

  • Coca Cola FEMSA (KOF) – Like our other ADR’s, the Mexican Peso has been hit by a 10% drop in value vs. the US dollar, which weighs on this ADR.  It is off 52 week lows but has lost 1/3 of its value over the last 12 months.  The stock has a modest dividend so it is looked at as a long term growth play on the Latin American market.  The stock is on watch due to performance and low dividend but, like Chinese gambling, it is a hard market to walk away from since it is hot and bottled drinks of sugar and beer seem like a safer bet in the long term too.

Portfolio Three Quick Update December 2014

Portfolio Three has Anadarko, the US gas / oil company, which has been hit by the crude rout, and also Exxon Mobil the energy giant.  Weibo Corp, one of the two Chinese internet companies we own (the other being Baidu) also has done poorly recently. Finally while Wynn has a positive return it has fallen as the Chinese government cracks down on corruption and gambling.

Portfolio_3_12-12-14

Portfolio Two Quick Update December 2014

Portfolio Two is listed below. We were hit in Statoil due to the crude collapse and the falling Norwegian currency. TransAlta, the Canadian energy company, was also hit by these forces.

The portfolio also has Amazon, which is falling a bit relative to other tech companies. They are a well run, long term player, but the street was looking for (marginally) higher profits.

Wynn casinos are also on watch because of a crack down on corruption in China, which limits gambling revenues.

Many other companies are doing well, particularly Facebook and Nidec (Japan) which have half the portfolio’s current unrealized gains.

Portfolio_2_12-12-14

New Stop Loss Orders Entered

Back in October we set up some stop-loss orders.  None of these orders were executed because the market has been up since then (for my stocks, at least).  Since the orders didn’t occur they were free to set up and it is free when they expire (or I cancel them).  We did “pull the trigger” on some stocks that have been on watch (Riverbed, Bancolumbia).

Stop loss trades are good for 60 days, and then they expire.  Given that the market has been on a tear, it makes sense to set up some more stop loss trades in case we move into an extended downward phase – I don’t want to watch the run-up and then watch them go back down.

While there isn’t a “rule” on stop losses, I am going to make some now.  In general:

– I don’t want more than 1/3 of a particular portfolio in “stop loss” mode (this may not apply if you have only a few stocks, like 4 or 6).  These are long term investment vehicles, and I don’t want to deal with re-buying an entire portfolio after a 10% small market correction

– If a stock needs to be sold, then sell it, don’t use stop losses as a wimpy sales mechanism.  We did clean up a couple of stocks that were on watch recently

– Remember that while stop loss orders can prevent you from taking a big loss, they also take you “out of the market” if it goes right back up

– Sales near year end will generate gains that may generate additional taxes for the government.  In general these portfolios are not as tax sensitive because they are owned by individuals who don’t pay much in taxes but if we had a big selloff it could cause them to pay some additional amounts to Uncle Sam

– Finally, remember that money sold off needs to be re-invested.  Back in 2007 I sold off some stocks that made big runs, and we did well and many of the stocks haven’t reached their pre-crash peaks.  However, that money has to be re-invested, and often the stock you pick is as over-valued as the one that you are selling.  This isn’t a free lunch…

Portfolio 1 – 20 stocks

  • Urban Outfitters – URBN – at $35 (don’t want to ride this back down)
  • PM – recently dropped from $92 to $85… Stop loss at $80
  • SNP – went from 70 in July to 90 then down to $84.  Stop loss at $78
  • TSM – was down to $12 then up to $20 now at $17.  Stop loss at $15
  • CMCSA – from $37 to $50… a big run… At $44
  • EBAY – big rise and then recently from $58 to $52…  at $47

Portfolio 2 – 18 stocks

  • Urban Outfitters – URBN – at $35 (don’t want to ride this back down)
  • SI – from $82 to $131…  At $123
  • SNP – went from 70 in July to 90 then down to $84.  Stop loss at $78
  • WYNN – from $94 to $164… at $150
  • FB – $20 to $51, now $47… at 43
  • SPLK – $26 to $75, now $72… at $65

Portfolio 3 – 10 stocks

  • Urban Outfitters – URBN – at $35 (don’t want to ride this back down)
  • SI – from $82 to $131…  At $123
  • WYNN – from 94 to 164… at $150
  • SPLK – $26 to $75, now $72… at $65

Portfolio 4 – 10 stocks

  • NUE – from $41 to $55, now $51.  At $46
  • SSW – from $15 to $25, now $21… At $18

Portfolio 5 – 9 stocks

  • SI – from $82 to $131…  At $123
  • SNP – went from 70 in July to 90 then down to $84.  Stop loss at $78
  • SSW – from $15 to $25, now $21… At $18

Portfolio 6 – 4 stocks

  • SSW – from $15 to $25, now $21… At $18

 

Portfolio Three Updated November 2013

Portfolio Three is our third longest lived portfolio, at six years. The beneficiary contributed $3500, the trustee contributed $7000, for a total of $10,500. The current value is $12,673 for a gain of $2948 or 28%, which is 6.2% / year over the life of the portfolio. See details here or download the spreadsheet on the right.

There are 10 stocks in the portfolio, of which 6 are US and 4 overseas, although since WYNN has most of its’ value from China holdings, you could say that it has a 50/50 ratio.  The portfolio is almost to the point where the swing in a single stock won’t disproportionately change the total portfolio value and it is reasonably diversified.

Splunk has been a big winner, with a gain of over $1000 in less than a year.  Other winners include Siemens which is near a five-year high as well as Wal-Mart which is steadily growing with a solid and rising dividend.

We are watching WYNN and Urban Outfitters which had been way under water until the recent run-up; we are using stop loss orders that we will renew to ensure they don’t go back underwater.  Cliffs also has a stop loss because it originally started tanking after we bought it but turned around immediately.  We recently sold Bancolumbia as it neared a 20% loss (excluding dividends).

Stop Loss Trades Entered

Update – since the market has kept going up, none of these stop / loss orders has been triggered. This is a good thing. We will leave the orders out there and may re-calibrate them based on the new highs. We only put stop losses on stocks where we thought that either they were near a top or a stock that we’ve had a long term issue with and I wasn’t going to sink all the way back down once it had gotten to break even.

The market has been on a nice rally. Some of the stocks that we’ve held on to for years we’ve given up on (Alcoa, and Exelon a while back) while others we are now putting on “watch” and have a “stop loss” price where they will automatically be sold when the market hits a certain price.

In general, these portfolios are managed as if they have a long time horizon. We will stay invested in the stock market over the entire haul. However, we will watch for stocks that have either stagnated for a long time or may be entering a period of secular decline. Finally, some stocks we’ve nurtured back from earlier lows and I won’t be able to take watching them fall back again.

The last time we put this strategy in play was before the stock crash in 2007-8. We did sell some high flying Chinese stocks that never recovered those high prices again. However, you have to re-invest the money so even selling at a high doesn’t mean that you won’t necessarily lose money; it means you took the gain off the table (or avoided the loss) and then started with a NEW stock that was possibly over-valued at the time of your initial purchase. There is no free lunch, and that is why we employ this strategy sparingly.

How a “stop loss” works is that if a stock hits a certain price, a sell order is immediately issued. It doesn’t mean that it will sell exactly at that price (for instance if your stop loss is at $34 then that is when the order is triggered but it could get filled at $33 or any other price in that range depending on how quickly it is moving down). There is a variant with a “limit”, where you stop at $34 but say something like you don’t want it selling below $33. In that case, if the stock plunges on past your stop and the only offers are at $32, nothing at all happens. In my case I went for the simpler “stop loss” order.

These orders are outstanding for 60 days. After that time they expire, unless renewed. The hope is that the stock market continues to rise and we never trigger ANY of these orders. At that point I will review the market again and determine if I want new stop loss orders for these or different stocks and how to proceed next based on conditions and my specific stocks.

Stop Loss Trades Entered

Portfolio 1

URBN 28 shares at $34 good til December 6

Portfolio 2

ORCL 30 shares at $30 good til Dec 6

WYNN 6 shares at $150 good til Dec 6

URBN 23 shares at $34 good til Dec 6

Portfolio 3

WYNN 6 shares at $150 good til Dec 6

URBN 28 shares at $34 good til Dec 6

CLF 44 shares at $17 good til Dec 6 (updated)

Portfolio 4

ORCL 26 shares at $30 good til Dec 6

NUE 14 shares at $45 good til Dec 6

Portfolio 5

RVBD 30 shares at $13 good til Dec 6

No stop loss orders were entered for Portfolio 6