Archive for May 2014

Portfolio Update: Aflac, Kellogg And Deere

I have made a few changes to my stock portfolio.

I sold Deere a while back, about two days after I wrote a post about not knowing that to do with it. It did not raise its dividend this year. I decided I am going to stick to my rules.

I also bought about 50 or so shares of Aflac. I now have about 103. When I stared buying dividend stocks, I just bought as many shares as I could get for $1000. Before too long I changed my mind and I then went for 50 shares of each stock. Now I want to get to 100. (I don’t know what I will do about stocks that split.) I still have only 13 shares of 3M and 15 of Air Products.

Aflac has a P/E ratio of 9.5 or so. A lot of stocks have pretty high P/E ratios. I am going to start out my maxing out on the stocks that are lower than average at the moment. I think the historical average for the S & P 500 is 16. The webmaster of Dividend Growth Investor will not buy a stock with a P/E over 20. I wonder why he/she is willing to go a bit higher than the historical average.

I also bought 100 shares of Kellogg. Maybe it was not a great idea to buy a new stock when I still have a lot under 50 shares, but the P/E ratio is 12.96 (right now), and I wanted to get more into the food/water/land sectors.

I don’t know if I bought Aflac in time to get a dividend payment for all 100 shares. I intend to hold these stocks for a while, or at least as long as they make their payments. I honestly do not pay too much attention to the ex-dividend date or the date of record too much. Yes, I want to make as much as I can, but I have held Aflac for four years. Missing out on one payout is not the end of the world. When I bought 50 more shares of Exxon I missed the cutoff date.

Images from Aflac website and Kellogg website, assumed allowed under Fair Use

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Obama Takes on False Equivalence

I have written a few times about false equivalence, which I have called the “both sides fallacy” (see here, here, here, here, here and here). It is also called the balance fallacy or false balance.

We see it when people talk about the inability of government to solve our problems, or pass any meaningful legislation. “Both parties are to blame”. Democrats have been willing (sometimes I think too willing) to compromise, while Republicans have not. And our so-called “liberal media” has been either perpetuating or going along with the “both sides” meme.

Now, President Obama is calling out the media in speeches. There is an article about it in the Washington Post. He lists issues that Republicans have not been willing to discuss, and legislation they have torpedoed. You can’t blame both parties for Congress being broken when one party wants it to be broken. You cannot blame government for being ineffective when a lot of people in it do not want it to be effective.

The article was also mentioned in The Immoral Minority, Salon and a site I had not heard of until now called Driftglass. I will have to look at this Driftglass site. He (or she) says he was talking about this for a while, as I have.

Go read them. There are some pretty good quotes from Obama on the topic.

Image from Hollywood PQ, assumed allowed under Fair Use


Possibly Last Thoughts On The Next Generation

I got through Star Trek: The Next Generation this weekend.

There is one thing I did not like thoughout the series, or at least the last couple of seasons.

Picard had this uniform that was a jacket that he always wore open, with a purple shirt underneath. I did not think it was appropriate for the captain to walk around with his jacket open. It looked like he was getting sloppy. It was very un-military in my opinion. I do not think the purple shirt underneath looked good either. It made Patrick Stewart look small. He did not seem to fill out the shoulders and arms. Just about all the men on TNG looked pretty muscular in the standard uniform. Supposedly Patrick Stewart asked for this uniform to stand out, but I do not think it looked good at all.

Granted, Counselor Troi spent most of the series in non-standard clothes, and I think it all looked good on her. Even the standard uniform looked good on her. Pretty much anything looks good on Marina Sirtis. I think they should have kept the season one unitard longer. I think the v-belt accentuated her waist. T&A are nice, but lately I have been noticing women’s waists. I saw a web page in which one guy said he never noticed how hot Linda Park was on Enterprise since they were all in the garage mechanic uniforms most of the time. You just need to know where to look.

I watched a video on YouTube in which she spoke with her natural accent. Maybe it was just a bad sample, or she had a cold, but she did not sound pleasant at all. She sounded like a British person trying to imitate a Noo Yawk-er, or vice versa. Her Troi accent was much nicer.

Another thing I did not like about Picard is that Patrick Stewart always seemed to let his arms hang limp a lot. He was just a talking head. I actually did a bit of googling about this, and it appears I am the only one who ever got that impression. I think if he made more gestures, he would have had a more dynamic presence, and he would not have needed the open jacket uniform.

Images from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.




Thoughts On the Shale Gas Revolution

We have seen a lot of predictions that the “tight oil” revolution will change everything about America. The shale gas and shale oil and the fracking and the horizontal drilling will make USA energy independent. It will lead to a resurgence in US manufacturing. It will change the balance of power in many regions throughout the world. There is enough to last 100 years.

The CEO of NRG said that many people will go off the electric grid in a few years. They will stay on the gas grid, using the gas for heating and some electricity generation. He says that people will get most of their electricity from solar, and use gas to fill the gap.

I am not against all of this, but I think we need to be careful about some of these predictions. Maybe there is not enough shale gas to last 100 years. Some people are saying that we do not need to invest in solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal or wave power because gas and oil will still fulfill all our energy needs.

The issue I have with all of this is I think a lot of people in the energy industry did not see this coming. And given that shale wells run out a lot more quickly than conventional, we should be worried.

This occurred to me while seeing a couple of stories a few times in the past few weeks.

Charif Souki, chairman, CEO and president of Cheniere Energy Inc. was the highest paid executive in Houston in 2013, taking home $142 million dollars, mostly in stock awards. Chenire Energy is coming on like gangbusters because they are preparing the first terminal in the USA to export natural gas. It is actually a bi-directional terminal, although most articles will refer to it as an export terminal. They got this export terminal up and running just in time for the shale revolution because they originally built it as an import terminal. According to a press release on the DOE site, they will “retrofit an existing LNG import terminal in Louisiana so that it can also be used for exports.” If a cheap gas company didn’t see all this cheap gas coming, will they be able to predict when it will end?

The other event was the bankruptcy of Energy Future Holdings (articles in Bloomberg here, here, here and here, article in New Yorker here, article in Washington Post here). It was the biggest private equity deal, and now it is one of the biggest bankruptcies. They produce a lot of their energy from coal and nuclear. They thought gas would stay expensive. But gas got cheap, and when it did, it brought the price of other types of generation down as well. They could not pay off the debt, and the rest is legal and financial history. It looks like the trial will be take several months.

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use

Thoughts On Finishing The Next Generation

I am almost through watching (mostly re-watching) Star Trek: The Next Generation. There are about five, including the finale. I think I have not seen three of them all the way through. I also finally saw an entire episode of Voyager all the way through.

I seem to be putting off watching them. Perhaps once again I am just getting old and thinking of the good old days, when my life was full of possibilities instead of bad choices. TNG ended in 1994, twenty years ago, in May. As any good skeptic will tell you, humans love nice round numbers.

At the time I was living with my father. He introduced me to Star Trek when I was a kid. I remember going to see The Motion Picture when I was 8. We were living in Colorado. We went with my older brother. The theater was packed. My brother and I sat together, and my dad went further up front to get a seat.

When TNG was ending, things were not too good between us. My mother finally left him a few years before that. He did not treat her well. Let’s leave it at that.

I had gotten a useless humanities degree. After starting martial arts, I decided to go back to get a degree in exercise physiology. I needed financial aid to get it, so I got the FAFSA and started filling it out. If you are single, not a parent, not in the military and under the age of 25, you have to put information about your parents’ income on the form. I assume because you have to be registered with the Selective Service until you are 25. He insisted this was a plot by my mother to get more info about his income and assets.

Then he got upset when I told him that I was going for another undergraduate degree. For some reason he thought I was going into a graduate program. I think the idea of going into a graduate program for a hard science with a humanities undergrad degree is absurd. Plus I never mentioned the GRE. I guess he drank more booze than I had thought. So he accused me of lying twice in a short period of time. We watched All Good Things… in separate rooms. I went back to UIUC that fall, and we have not spoken since. Which is fine with me.

The 1990s were the golden age for Star Trek: Three series and a few good movies. First Contact is one of my favorites. I did not have a lot of money (or access to a television), but in general times were good in the 1990s: plenty of jobs, interest rates were low, people were hopeful about the future. I never wanted to be one of those old people talking about the good old days, but for Trek fans and the economy in general, the 1990s were pretty good.

Now after each episode I look at its article on Memory Alpha. It is a pretty neat resource.

According to MA, the producers did not put Crusher and Picard together so they could have Picard involved with other women. I think they should have put Dr Crusher and Capt Picard together. (I never violated the Prime Directive.)  I think some fans would have preferred that. Picard would save The Amazing Beverly that we have known all these years, instead of some character that drops out of the sky.

Nurse Ogawa had the prettiest face, but I think Ensign Ro probably had the best body. Too bad women on the Enterprise D did not walk around in boots and miniskirts.

I always had a problem with the Klingons in TNG. They had warp drive, cloaking devices and all this advanced technology, but they always seemed too rowdy. Can you imagine a bunch of Klingon undergrads taking a calculus exam? There would not be any students or professors left after a few semesters.

I am looking forward to DS9 and Voyager.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

2014-04 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for April, 2014.

The monthly dividend income came out to $196.43. The yearly income total for 2014 through the end of the month was $1,130.58.

The income for April, 2013 was $179.23, and the yearly income total up through that month was $898.59.

There is not much else to report. I am thinking about going with another broker. So far I have not made a decision.

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

  • Automatic Data Processing: $27.35
  • Chubb Corp: $10.25
  • Coca-Cola Co: $32.73
  • MDU Resources Group Inc.: $9.76
  • Kimberly-Clark: $46.09
  • Illinois Tool Works: $22.29
  • Piedmont Natural Gas Inc: $18.79
  • Sysco Corp: $15.93
  • RPM International Inc.: $13.24


Image from Wikimedia,  assumed allowed under Fair Use

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