Archive for February 2015

Stock Update: Abbott Laboratories

I recently sold my shares in Abbott Laboratories (ABT).

I had a little more than 53 shares, and I got a letter about an odd lot tender offer. This is when a company tries to get shareholders with less than 100 shares to buy more to get up to that price.

I guess it is better for them, since small shareholders can require more bookkeeping. But I don’t think it’s always good for the small shareholder.

For one thing, if I read the letter correctly, I would have to pay $52 a share, plus a processing fee of $2.50 a share. That comes out to $54.50 a share. Right now it’s at $47.47, with an all-time high of $47.59.

I got a tender offer from Verizon when I had 14 shares. I bought more on the open market to get up to 100. They also offered to sell to me above the market price.

Abbott has a P/E right now of 31.88. I know PE ratio is not everything, but that is pretty high. I don’t mind re-investing dividends in stocks with a PE ratio that high, but I would not buy more shares or shares in a new company with a PE ration that high. I think 20 is as high as I would go. If ABT’s PE ratio goes below 20, and they are still paying increasing dividends with a good payout ratio, then I would buy more someday.

I was hoping to get more of my stocks up to 100 shares, but if some company with a high PE ratio forces my hand, I will sell. I will have to get that $12 every three months from somewhere else. I did buy more JNJ. Even after selling ABT, I am still going to come out ahead. I might just buy more JNJ to get that to 100.

Image from Abbott Laboratories website, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

This site has a disclaimer.

MDU Resources

After being a dividend growth investor for five years, I have started listening to the conference calls of some of the companies that I own shares in. Eventually I plan on getting to the calls of companies I am interested in as well.

One of the companies that I started with is MDU Resources, ticker MDU. They are based in North Dakota. They have multiple lines of business: utilities, oil exploration, pipelines and construction. For the most recent quarter, the percentages of earnings from each division was: 38% from construction, 22% from utilities, 8% from pipelines, and 32% from exploration and production.

One reason I am listening to their calls is the decline in oil prices to see how it affects them. On one hand, they are not just an oil driller, so the price decline will not sink them. On the other, while they are diversified in terms of industries, a lot of their activity is in the Dakotas. Oil prices did decline during the period covered by their most recent quarterly report, but the consensus is that oil prices might fall further.

I have over 50 shares of MDU. I would like to get all my stocks up to at least 100. I think for now I will wait to see what happens with MDU. Their earnings increased last quarter, but not by much. Their exploration is concentrated in the Bakken, so there is some risk there.

On the other hand, they have paid a dividend for over 50 years, and raised it for almost 30. The company seems committed to keep raising the dividend. They managed to keep raising it during the financial crisis of 2007-2009. If they could keep things afloat during that period, I think there is a good chance they will keep the company profitable going forward.

Image from MDU Resources website, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

This site has a disclaimer.

Language: Taking Responsibility

I used to listen to Loveline with Dr Drew, when Adam Carolla was on it.

Sometimes Dr Drew would tell people they need to “take responsibility” for their life. Sometimes people would object to that, especially if they were dealing with mistreatment from significant others or their parents.

I think that these people would object because they thought that Dr Drew was telling them to admit guilt or accept blame for the bad things that happened to them, or admit that they deserved it, or wanted their lives to be in bad shape.

I think instead of telling people to “take responsibility”, it would be better to tell people to take control of their life.

If someone mistreated you, then you cannot expect them to try to make things right. If they wanted what was best for you, they never would have mistreated you in the first place. It is not fair that you have to clean up someone else’s mess, but sometimes that is the way things are.

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.


Huckabee: Just Following Orders

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has been in the news lately.

First he said that we must become a god-centered nation, and that laws come from god, not from man. Well, Governor Huckster, god is not telling me what to do with my life, you are. Put if you are telling people what god wants, aren’t you putting yourself in god’s place? Isn’t that a sin in your religion?

He also said that he really, really doesn’t want to hate gay people, but he has to. He’s just following orders. He has to be a jerk until a new version of the scriptures comes out. “…It’s really not my place to say, ‘Okay, I’m just going to evolve.'” But it is your place to say that. You are choosing to follow the bible, you are choosing to let it guide your decisions. You are not the passive agent you are claiming to be.

The Immoral Minority lists many other rules that Huckabee is choosing not to follow. He is not advocating helping the poor either, even though that is mentioned many more times in the Bible than homosexuality. He doesn’t think his god is telling him to help the oppressed, but it’s telling him to kick people around. I guess it’s another example of christians doing the easy thing instead of the right thing.

Christians use this excuse to evade responsibility all the time. This happened to me once on the CTA. Some bozo starts trying to talk to me about religion. I told him there is no god, and he told me I was going to hell. He said, “If you have a problem with that, talk to god.” I told him that god wasn’t the asshole pestering complete strangers on the bus.

You should not advocate a position and then evade responsibility for that position.

Image from Wikipedia,  assumed allowed under Fair Use. The picture is of Peter von Hagenbach, who used the Superior Orders Defense in 1474.

2015-02-08 Blog Title

New blog title:

Recursive Fury

This one is not one that occurred to me.

University of Bristol Professor Stephan Lewandowsky (and two other researchers) published a paper stating that climate change denial is associated with a belief in conspiracy theories. The work was based on surveys filled out by readers of climate change denial sites who were invited to participate.

The response of many climate deniers was that Lewandowsky et al did not in fact use  responses from true climate change deniers, but instead from people who only claimed to be climate change deniers. The assertion is that the responders were people who accepted the science of climate change, but claimed to be deniers to make the deniers look bad. Some climate change deniers insisted this was done in collusion with the researchers.

In other words, when accused of being conspiracy theorists, climate change deniers insisted they were not, and that any allegation that they were conspiracy theorists was in fact, a conspiracy.

He then wrote another paper called “”Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation”.  This got the deniers more upset, and some threatened legal action against the journal that published the paper. This second paper was retracted.

At the time of this writing (early February, 2015), you can find the second paper on a site hosted by the University of Western Australia here.

Image from Blogger website.

2015-02-07 Blog Title

New blog title:

Assless Chaps At The Office

Do you really need a reason?

Image from Blogger website.

2015-01 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for January, 2015.

The total for the month was $213.49, which is also the total of the year through the end of January.

In January, 2014 the total was $159.67. I think the increase is mostly through buying enough shares of Chubb Insurance to get me to 100 shares. In January, 2013 I only had about 21 shares.

Here is a table I made with TablePress. It shows the amounts, the year-to-date amounts and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each January from 2012 through 2015:

[table id=1 /]

Just for fun, here is the same table with Easy Table:

Month Amount YTD 3MMA 12MMA
Jan 2015 213.49 213.49 471.54 374.28
Jan 2014 159.67 159.67 335.67 287.98
Jan 2013 110.12 110.12 348.07 292.20
Jan 2012 188.68 188.68 316.66 256.77


Here are the stocks and the income amounts for January, 2015:

  • Automatic Data Processing: $28.44
  • MDU Resources Group Inc.: $10.21
  • Kimberly-Clark: $47.16
  • Chubb Corp: $50.75
  • Illinois Tool Works: $26.15
  • Piedmont Natural Gas Inc: $19.33
  • Sysco Corp: $16.87
  • RPM International Inc.: $14.58

Image from Wikimedia,  assumed allowed under Fair Use.

This site has a disclaimer.

Guns, Property, and Religion

A bill was filed with the Texas Legislature called the Teacher’s Protection Act. You can find the text here. The basic idea is to limit liability for teachers in self-defense situations.

First off, I thought that people already have a right to self-defense, regardless of who or where they are. According to the article, lawyers at the Association of Texas Professional Educators feel the same way.

But what is interesting about this one is that it allows “deadly force”. That phrase is used several times. I am guessing this means guns. I guess it’s not enough to be a pro-gun legislator in Texas. You have to be so pro-gun you have to file redundant bills.

It does say that “force or deadly force” can be used by the teacher to defend themselves or other people. What is interesting is there is also a provision for using force to protect school property. Not defense while ON the property, but defense OF the property. I guess putting that in the same section as defending actual human beings was not enough.

Back in the 1990s, Whoopi Goldberg had a talk show that was on late at night. One of her guests was George Carlin, and he said something that has stuck with me all these years: Democrats care about peoples’ rights, Republicans care about property rights.

Republicans seem to want to take that as far as they can. Some of them probably want to go back to the 1850s.

This bill was mentioned on The Immoral Minority blog. There is one paragraph in the comments that I think sums up a lot of the religious people in this country:

You righties mock the Islamists, yet you do the same things: glorify weapons of death, glorify those who use them, teach the usage of weapons of death to children, and by your ideology teach your people to hate the ‘other’ – thus ensuring that eventually, the ‘other’ is obliterated by your weapons of death. All because you, just like the Islamists, are totally lacking in any positive, socially transformative, ideas that are uplifting to your fellow man, including those with whom you disagree. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is anathema to you, just as it is anathema to the Islamists. Your ideology is ‘obliterate your neighbor’, the same ideology that they have.

Image from Wikimedia,  assumed allowed under Fair Use.