Archive for February 2014

Update On Moving Accounts

I have made some progress in moving accounts, and I am gradually ending my support of a bank headed by a Thief Executive Officer.

The big investors in JPMorgan decided to let Jamie D keep the posts of Chairman and Thief Executive Officer. I still say that those jobs should be split. Especially in a firm that got a lot of state support.

A lot of people hate their big banks and want to quit them. I got a credit card card at a non-bank financial services firm, and I opened a savings account at a bank here in Texas. They do not offer credit cards. I would like to get another one at different institution.

I don’t know where I will get a checking account. If I went with the Texas bank, I would not be able to use ATMs in other states. They do have a deal with 7-Eleven. But sometimes I wonder if I need to use ATMs. I could get cash back at a grocery store or SprawlMart if I need to.

I might get a credit card through my broker. I could get 2% cash back and put that towards my IRA account. But sometimes I wonder what the point is of credit cards that give cash back. Especially after I had to spend a night in Atlanta due to a missed connection; there was a mechanical failure on the plane in California, so I missed my flight out of Atlanta. Instead of giving away free flights, why can’t the airlines make their service better?

Image from Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Armatoloi were robbers who were granted amnesty by the Ottoman Empire and allowed to rob/suppress the populace.

2014-02-20 Blog Title

New blog title:

Tears Don’t Fall

The phrase comes from an interview with an astronaut on Science Friday. If you get something in your eye, tears won’t wash it out since there is no gravity.

It sort of implies a lack of closure, like some of Hemingway’s titles: Men Without Women, or Winner Take Nothing.

Image from Blogger website

Portfolio Update: Deere

I bought some John Deere today. I put a limit order in a week ago, and it was triggered this morning.

I looked at the financial statements, and things looked pretty good. It has been increasing its dividend for 10 years. The most recent two increases were 12% and 10%. The P/E ratio is lower than most of the stocks on the market. It is about 10. I think a lot of stocks will pull back at some point. I have been thinking that for about a year, and it has still not happened. I don’t think Deere would go down as much when that happens.

I also wanted to increase the number and amount of stocks that I own. I have sold a few in the past few years, and that has limited the growth of my dividend income stream. So I need to buy more stuff.

Plus it is a “play” on food. I think that there will be more resource constraints going forward, food being one of them. Better agricultural practices will be one of the ways those constraints will be dealt with, and I think that the world will need more Deere tractors going forward.

Image from John Deere web site, assumed allowed under Fair Use

Thoughts On Boise

I am done with the assignment in Boise, Idaho.

I was not too thrilled with the idea of going there, and I would not want to live there, but all in all it was okay. If I get sent to another mid-sized city in another state, I won’t complain too much beforehand.

I was working on a state government project. I mostly dealt with other software developers, and testers, scrum masters, some infrastructure people, stuff like that. Almost all of them were contractors. Only about three were actually state employees. A lot of them were from India, and four were from Nepal.

People in startups can rave about their small companies all they want. I have noticed that government and corporate jobs have one thing a lot of startups do not: a chance to be around some beautiful Indian women. Granted, I doubt that any Indian woman would want me to touch them with my ten foot pole. (See what I did there?)

One reason I would not want to live there is that it is a pretty small city. If you lose your job, where do you land? There are not too many places to go from what I could tell. One local did mention the name of one local company that got acquired. It may have been Ore-Ida. They were bought by Heinz in 1965. There was a big office in Boise until 1999.

As far as tech, there is Micron, HP, Microsoft, Google and IBM. I think that Google, Microsoft and IBM are mostly just sales or call centers, so they really do not have much for a tech person. I went to the Java user group and met a few HP people there. And, of course, there is Micron, probably the biggest tech company and largest public company in Idaho. At first it seemed like Micron was the only tech company that locals could name, sort of like for a long time the only tech startup in Chicago anyone could name was Groupon. But Micron is not useless.

Did I mention there were some hot Indian women there?

One thing I noticed about the downtown area is there are no large chain stores, or even small ones. Chicago has a lot of Walgreen’s and CVS stores in the Loop. But the area near the capitol was all local businesses. I did shop at WalMart. There is a local grocery chain called WinCo which for a while I avoided since they do not take credit cards. Say what you want about large corporations, they can be pretty convenient. But one day I was pressed for time, so I went in there and the prices were about the same as WalMart.

The WalMart I went to in Boise is a lot nicer than the one I went to in Sacramento.

And there were some hot Indian women.

One Indian guy said that while waiting for the bus he did get hassled by a nutcase. The guy asked him if he was Muslim, and went on about how Obama is a Muslim.

I did go driving a bit into the mountains. It was okay, but both times I turned around after a while. The roads are really winding, and there are no guardrails for large portions. I decided it would be best to turn around and stay on flat ground. I would hate to drive those roads when there is ice. One weekend I did drive to Oregon to get the map. I went to Portland about a 15 years ago, and later I started getting the map of every state I go to or drive through. I did not get maps for the states that I have layovers in.

It got a bit cold during the polar vortex, but a lot of people said Boise does not get as cold as people think. You can ski in the mountains one day, and golf in Boise the next.

Not to mention some hot, exotic South Asian ladies.

It was a hassle to get to. There are no direct flights from Austin to Boise. I usually went through Denver or Salt Lake City. One time I went through Phoenix. I was in Denver when the Broncos won the championship. On the flight to Phoenix I saw Gabrielle Giffords. Salt Lake City has a smaller population than Boise. When I took the Salt Lake City route, I noticed that both ways the plane for the ATX-SLC flight was smaller than the plane for the SLC-BOI flight.

A few times would see someone while waiting for the flight in Boise, and I would see the same person in Austin. I think the reverse happened a couple of times as well. What are the odds of that? I thought that was strange. Aside from a consulting firm that works with state governments, how many people would need to take this particular trip? Is there some subculture of hipster snowboarders that I have not heard about?

I did speak to an elderly couple in Austin who were going to Boise. I do not recall them saying what brought them to Austin. The wife said they grew up in the same small town in Iowa, got married, and raised their kids close to where they grew up. I cannot remember why they went to Boise, but she said that if they did not leave they would die in Iowa. I don’t think they hated Iowa per se, just the idea of spending their whole lives in one place.

For a while it got kind of surreal. I would go for a couple of weeks without much contact from anybody in the company that actually employs me. I would fill out timesheets and submit expenses, and I would get paid. But it seemed kind of odd, like I was on some assignment that time had forgotten. Sometimes there were five of us there, sometimes it was just me.

And, of course, there were some attractive Desi lay-deez.

When I was in college I was placed with a Korean roommate, so I wound up with a lot of Korean friends. One of them, named Jin, said that he thought Indian women had beautiful eyes. I do not recall what I said in response. It is not the part of a woman’s body that first catches my attention. But after he said that, I started looking at Indian women’s eyes. And he was right.

Koreans and Indians both enter into arranged marriages, although I think these days Korean marriages are less arranged than they used to be. Jin told me that his parents really did not speak to each other very much. I asked him why don’t they get divorced, and he said that amongst Koreans divorce is just not considered to be an option. After he told me that, it did seem that there were a lot of unhappy elderly couples amongst the Koreans at the church I attended in college, and amongst the parents of Koreans I met later.

Granted, this is anecdotal, but it seems like Indians deal with arranged marriage better than Koreans. They are not glowing, but they are not miserable or as distant towards each other as Koreans seem to be.

Most of the Indians there were married. Two of the Nepalis were married to each other. They had been married for three years, and this was the first assignment they had where they were together. One woman had recently gotten married, and her husband was in California; one guy’s wife was on the East Coast. They would fly out once a month to see their spouses. I don’t think their spouses left the coasts to come to Boise quite as often. Another guy had recently gotten married, and his wife left her job in India to live with him. She was looking for work in Boise. I think they were also looking for work elsewhere as well.

My impression is that none of the Indians knew how long the assignment would last for them. The guy whose wife was on the East Coast had been on an assignment in New York before Boise. Another guy had been in Indianapolis.

I got the impression that some of them knew all the good and bad of this global labor arbitrage game. One said that a lot of Indians want to move to the USA, but you need to work for several years. They are sponsored by their contracting firms. A lot of them get yanked back to India before they are here long enough to get a green card. A lot of Americans are mad about Indians taking American IT jobs. I think the Indians are also getting shafted.

A few of them were impressed by how much I knew about India. I just read a lot and ask people questions. When I spent a month at the incubator in Dallas there were a couple of guys there from South Africa. One of them was amazed that I knew that the three branches of government were based in three different cities. I had read that little tidbit on Wikipedia literally five minutes before talking to them. I also asked if they spoke any Afrikaans; I had heard of that long before. I guess foreigners have low expectations for Americans with regard to our knowledge of the rest of the world.

I have no desire to have kids, but marrying an Indian woman might not be too bad. They have pretty eyes. They have long, straight black hair. I like their accents; when they speak they sound like they are singing. Perhaps I will head down to the nearest temple and who knows? My passport might “accidentally” fall out of my pocket.

Or maybe I will get lucky and all the 3.5 billion other men on the planet will all die and the ladies will have no choice. Or I could save the whole planet. My genitals are large enough to shield Asian women from an asteroid colliding with the earth. Or knock it back out into space if need be. Really. Trust me, it’s big.

Anyway, Boise was nice.

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. The first time I drove down that street, I thought: “Hey, that’s the picture in Wikipedia.”

Portfolio Update: More ExxonMobil

Like many other dividend growth investors, I plan on posting changes to my portfolio.

I recently bought some more shares of ExxonMobil. My goal is to have 100 shares of each stock, and more if it splits before I get to 100. ExxonMobil has a P/E ratio under 12 (at least it did when I bought it a week or so ago). It has gone up about 5% since I bought it. I don’t like to buy when a stock is pretty high (using P/E ratio as a metric), but my real goal is the cash flow from dividends.

I admit, to a certain degree I bought because I have not bought too many new shares in a while, and I kind of felt like I should do something. I know that it is wrong to buy based on emotions rather than metrics, but this stock did seem to fit both criteria.

I also put in some buy orders for a few more stocks. If or when those orders are filled remains to be seen. They all went up in price right after I put the orders in.

Image from ExxonMobil web site, assumed allowed under Fair Use

Thoughts On Military Service

I am cleaning house. Here is something I found in a text file that I posted on a forum. I posted that I don’t think people who never served are not allowed to have an opinion on the military. It is a repeat of some of the thoughts in “Military Opinions.”

When I said that

It’s a volunteer military, and I’m helping to pay for it. Why do some people think you have to “serve”?

I was not knocking those who served.

But I don’t think that not serving means I cannot have an opinion on the military. Why protect my freedom if I can’t have freedom of thought?

We spend as much on the military as the rest of the world combined. Do we really need to do this?

We have spent billions on a war in Iraq that was based on lies, and was not actually declared by Congress per the Constitution. Am I unpatriotic pointing this out?

There have been a lot of weapon systems that came in late and way over budget. Some were junked without ever being used. Why do a lot of people think that a strong military means giving military contractors a blank check no questions asked?

I have found that veterans usually do not mind me asking questions. Middle age conservatives who were never in the military and think the answer to all our problems is to bomb someone (and then turn around and ask “Why do they hate our freedom?” when things go wrong somewhere) usually do get upset. And I think a lot of them feel guilty.

Obviously, if nobody joined the military, there would be problems. But since it is a volunteer military, nobody (at an individual level) is required to join. And if someone else feels guilty for not joining, that is not my problem.

Image from Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use

I Sold Intel and I Bought Bemis

I sold Intel today. I also bought Bemis (ticker BMS). I put in limit orders, and they were filled within a minute early in the day. The day I decide to buy, and it goes down 3%. It looks like the correction that everyone keeps talking about is here.

So the clock on Intel’s dividend increases is going to be reset. I find it a bit odd that everybody thinks Intel is toast since they are not in a lot of mobile devices. People are going ga-ga over the cloud, which is all servers, and I think most of those run Intel.

I now have 100 shares of BMS. I originally bought as many shares of stocks as I could get for $1000. I dropped that idea, and tried to go for 50 shares of each. Now I want to try to get 100 shares of each. If I already have 100 due to stock splits, I will buy 100 more. 3M is down 3%, so that might be a good stock to buy soon.

Image from Bemis web site, assumed allowed under Fair Use

I May Sell Intel

I am thinking about selling Intel. They will pay their next dividend in March, and it will be the seventh time they pay out 22.5 cents per share.

Many dividend investors only invest in stocks that grow their dividend every year. (Some also have criteria including the payout ratio, the growth of the dividend and the yield.) If I stick to that rule, then I should sell Intel.

One issue is I do not know what I will buy. A lot of stocks are still going up and have P/E ratios above 20. If I do not buy something else, I will get less income.

But on the other hand, I think that coming up with some rules and sticking with them is the way to make money. I know that a lot of studies have shown that most active investors do not beat the indexes. I wonder if those studies looked at actual behavior, or if there are any that looked at stratgies. There is a saying on Wall Street: Bears make money, bulls make money, pigs and sheep get slaughtered. So you should plan your work and work your plan. I sometimes think part of the reason that a lot of active investors do not do as well as the market because they do not stick to their plan.

Image from Intel’s Twitter feed, assumed allowed under Fair Use

2014-01 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for January, 2014.

The monthly dividend income came out to $159.67. The yearly income total for 2014 was $159.67.

The income for January, 2013 was $110.12, and the yearly income total for that month was $110.12.

Due to the ridiculousness over the dividend tax last year, a few companies that pay in January paid them early in December, 2012. There were a few stocks that pay in January/April/July/October that I have sold, like Altria and Family Dollar Stores. So the income for those months might be lower for a while.

Here are the stocks and the income amounts for January, 2014:

  • Automatic Data Processing: $27.19
  • MDU Resources Group Inc.: $9.71
  • Kimberly-Clark: $44.10
  • Chubb Corp: $9.50
  • Illinois Tool Works: $22.18
  • Piedmont Natural Gas Inc: $18.02
  • Sysco Corp: $15.81
  • RPM International Inc.: $13.16

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use