Thursday, June 30, 2005

Another quarter point

The Fed raised interest rates by another quarter point today. This was basically expected, but everyone was wondering about the language from the Fed. Well as you can see from the drastic drop in the indices, the language didn't meet expectations. Wall Street wants an end to the hikes or at least language indicating that an end is near. The Fed is going with the same language as before when they note that they intend to move rates up "at a pace that is likely to be measured".

I haven't done any CFA studying nor job hunting today! Well I did a little job hunting (limited computer time). I'm going to try to get through some more accounting tonight. I know Another Bean Counter suggests I give it another try, but this stuff is not fun. Overall though I'm feeling pretty good about my progress with the CFA. There are basically 18 sections and once I finish the accounting part I'll be on the 7th section. I think it's good that I'm getting a lot done while having some free time.

I emailed someone from the other hedge fund place about trying to set up an interview for tomorrow. They emailed me promptly to let me know that tomorrow is when they launch a new fund, so it will be a busy day. Someone from HR is going to email me back the times available for next week. Since my schedule for next week is fully open, I think I can fit the interview in....
I'm hoping the interview is for Tuesday, so I can get things going. Sometime over the weekend I'm going to brush up on some credit derivataives (that's what the job is for) and I have limited knowledge in this area. That's okay though since this is more of an assistant position, but I want to have some info before I go.

So to recap my job hunt (because this stuff is even confusing me):
  • I had a great interview last thursday with a hedge fund. They told me they would get back to me at the end of this week, but probably early next week.
  • I thought the interview for the Junior Trader role went well last Tuesday, but I haven't heard back. I sent a few emails, and I might call but I also saw that they put the position on Craigslist once again. I might call just to see why I didn't make the cut- might help me out in the future.
  • I talked with a recruiter early this week and she said she had a fixed income associate position in mind. The firm is going through an internal audit so it might take awhile to get the process going. I need to email her to see what's going on with the position.
  • I'll most likely set up an interview with the second hedge fund for next week.
  • I applied to three trading jobs. One is in NYC and two are in SF. I'm trying to find firms that pay a salary since I have close to zero trading experience. There are a few that will train you (but I've read some issues about how good the training is) and then you keep some profits- this seems a little too risky.
I've found two more jobs today, but I've been disappointed that I can't find more jobs.
I haven't been able to seek out too many articles, but I've been up to date on my blog reading.
I've been reading the series over at Free Money Finance on advice from bloggers, and I think it's a great read (and not only because some of my advice is there).
An earlier series was done about the best financial advice from experts, and that was definitely a great read.
I also read Neville's blog on a daily basis and I can't believe he's getting so much flack for his last post. My main view on goals is this: why not set it high. I believe in setting high goals because that is how I motivate myself. Others post average goals that they will realistically hit so they can feel better because they hit their goal. Both ways work, some use one and some use the other. I don't get why people would bad mouth that post, anyways this reminds me of a Reebok or Adidas slogan. I can't remember right now, it was always on the back of Slam magazine. I'll try to look it up later.
My average viewers on a daily basis ranges from about 30-45/day and I wanted to thank you for reading my little blog. Hopefully some of you are more than first-time visitors and I'm always trying to think of ways to improve this blog. If you have any suggestions, either comment or email me through my profile.
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Accounting = Boring

I applied for two trading jobs in San Francisco today, but that's about all I did on the job hunt.
I might do a little tonight, if I don't fall asleep soon.

A few days ago I finished writing notes for the Econ section of the CFA. The material towards the end wasn't interesting at all! The next section is financial analysis so it seems cool, but then I saw that the preliminary section is accounting. I hate accounting. During my classes I tried to get interested in the subject, but I just couldn't. Anyways, I'm slowly getting through the section.

Thanks for the comment stockdiva. Once I start receiving a paycheck, I'm going to take a long-term position in Jones Soda. Hopefully those paychecks start coming soon!

The market had a good day, and my portfolio finished with some nice gains. I really didn't have a chance to read too many articles, but another article by Jubak was posted today. He writes about three power plays involving utilities who will update their systems and the companies that will benefit from this.
The article that caught my interest was the one about AMD taking Intel to court. Some strong allegations were made by AMD regarding Intel's competitive tactics. I've always had an interest in the AMD vs. Intel war because my past roommate and friend was a big AMD supporter. He usually keeps me up to date on their new chips and all the studies done showing AMD chips are better.

That's all for right now.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Phone Interview

I had a good phone interview today for a portfolio assistant job. The details mentioned a good amount of admin stuff, but it did involve other duties. I called up and we talked for awhile. The position is actually for a really big hedge fund in San Fran, and I was excited about that. Plus she said the ad mentioned administrative duties, but it wouldn't be too much since none of them travel too much. The position sounded really good and she said I was a good candidate. We're going to try to set up an interview for Friday or early next week, depending on the portfolio manager's schedule.
So to recap: there's two jobs at hedge funds I want, a trading job in NYC, and a fixed income associate position that should be coming up soon. I'm going to try to go for a few trading jobs in SF.

I might be doing this study at Stanford for $100. There's a teacher who is doing a study on trading strategies, so he set up this test and is asking for volunteers. I was interested because he wrote a lot of interesting papers on the stock market and other financial instruments. I was also interested because it would only take 2 hours, and well I have some free time.
We'll see if I will be able to do the study.

The market has been down the tubes lately. I'll try to talk more about this later.
On another note, (stockdiva): I saw that Jones Soda was in the new (I think) issue of Business Week. It was towards the back in Gene Marcial's column. Some good remarks. I don't have the issue with me but I remember some analyst saying it was a strong buy (long term) and they had a few estimates.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Another interview recap

Well the indices had an ugly day today, with all of them being down over 1%. I started the day off okay and FRX was helping my portfolio. Then the nose-dive happened and next came the losses. During days like these it makes me want to diversify with some microcaps. One blogger with a good track record (the majority of his stocks are under $10) is the Stockcoach. His past record is pretty damn good, and I enjoy reading this blog everyday.

When I look at stock graphs, one of the things I keep my eye out for is a stock that is trending down fairly fast without any incredibly bad news. I especially notice if this is with a slow growing "boring" company that generates a good amount of free cash flow. When I see this type of graph, I wait for things to level out before I take a position. The trend is your friend.
I don't always take positions, and this has caused me to lose out on some profits- but I can't change anything about the past. Off the top of my head I've thought of three examples.

Aeropostale: check out the three month chart. I know I mentioned ARO earlier when it was dropping down to the $27 level. I didn't buy any, but I should have. The thing that caught my eye is the steep downtrend from March to mid-May. This one really didn't level out, but started a sharp upward trend to $33.

ARO is a growth company, but Ennis is more of a boring slow growth company (and growth through acquisitions). This is a 6 month chart. It's a slow growth company that you would expect to stay in a tight range of its historical ratios (of course, unless bad news comes out).
The downward trend from $20 to $16. I bought in a little too early when I thought it leveled off around the $17 range. It did drop a little more before starting to head back up but what I figured is this: it's a boring company generating a lot of free cash flow with a nice (sustainable) yield. That provided me a floor.

Last is a stock that I've been meaning to check out for awhile, but haven't. The company is Journal Register and they publish newspapers. Definitely not glamorous.
Here's a 6 month chart. It trended down fairly fast from the $19 range to the $16 range. It came out with good news so now it's starting to trend upwards. Here's a comparison of JRC with the S&P and the Dow.

Just to note: when I see these types of formations and after reviewing the company, I'm not looking for a long-term investment.

I interviewed today for a finance/operations assistant position for a hedge fund. I interviewed with the CFO and one of the main portfolio managers and I thought the interview went very well. I would be doing a lot of operations stuff and it sounded interesting. I think I impressed them with my internship background and that I managed to do those jobs while finishing two degrees. The portfolio manager asked if I've read any finance books outside of class and I think I made a good impression by listing off many of the books I've read.
The drawback: there isn't one. I'm fairly sure if I was offered a job at this place I would take it.
They said they would let me know about a second interview in one to two weeks and the entire process should take no longer than one month.
The one thing that might hinder my chances is that they could tell I had a strong interest in stocks and research, but the job was more operations. I explained that was great, because I do want to work at a hedge fund. They did clarify that the chance of doing research is small, but can be in the future. I hope they give me a chance.

Tomorrow I'm interviewing for a Game Associate position. Here are the details I do know: it would be working nights and weekends and I think it's full-time (but possibly only part-time).
In California many of the Vegas style games are illegal. The indian casinos can have these games, but the card rooms can't. So if you play blackjack in a card room you are not trying to beat the dealer's hand. One person (not the dealer) is designated as the bank/banker, and you want to try to beat his hand. In this position I will be trained to play as the banker.
That's all I know so far, it seems interesting. I'll get paid to play blackjack!
More on this later.

Market ramblings

The S&P has been on a roll these past few months. I haven't spent too much time looking for new investments, although I should since some of my holdings are getting near my target levels. My portfolio is doing pretty well. It's up 8.8% for the year, and I like how things are going. There is definitely a sense of optimism out there.
UNTD finally had a good day finishing up 3.7%. LB had another good day, while FRX is still showing some weakness.

I think the big news of today is that the consolidation in the online brokerage industry got a bump. Ameritrade announced that it is going to buy TD Waterhouse. I think this is a good move and it will give them more strength against E-trade. AMTD finished the day up over 20%!

When I look for articles online about stocks, I usually hit two main sites: Business Week and MSN Money. From MSN I really like reading Jim Jubak's articles. I think he usually makes some strong points and explains things in a clear way. Today he wrote about 5 potential earnings surprises and it's worth checking out.
From Business Week, I've always enjoyed reading articles by Robert Barker. He does a great job of uncovering certain stocks or events and when I subscribed to Business Week this was the first article I read. On the site right now is his article on Auto Parts stocks. I think this is a very interesting sector with the problems Ford and GM are having. Many of the auto parts companies have a high yield and have been getting crushed lately. Barker thinks he has uncovered a few value plays in this sector.

Two more articles: Business Week came out with a list of five stocks that are growing, but not by issuing debt. NTE was mentioned, which is why I came across this article.
When you think of biotech, you think of Genentech (DNA). This article talks about their pipeline.

Other Things
  • I was offered a second interview for the Assistant position (the one that was basically all admin). I turned it down because I think I can find a better position. This one involved way too much administrative duties and it would have been practically two years until I did some research.
  • I'm going to fax in my resume for a trading job in NYC. Keeping my fingers crossed.
  • I'll report how tomorrow's interview goes in tomorrow's post.
  • I sent my resume in for a Portfolio Assistant job awhile ago, and I heard back. I emailed them to set up an interview time. The job does involve admin duties, but also more finance activities as well.
  • On Friday I'm going to an interview for a Gaming Associate position. I think I mentioned this in yesterday's post. More on this later (this would be part-time on nights and weekends).
  • Tomorrow I'll try to talk a little about why I look at graphs all day long.
  • That econ part for the cfa is too long!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The second interview

Today I had the second interview for the job listed as a Research/Admin Assistant.
I met with the HR person first and had a great interview. I asked a good amount of questions, talked in depth about my resume, and it was a good interview.
Next I met with some people on the research side (who were in another building for some reason).
I first met with an Associate. The position order level goes assistant--Associate--Analyst.
The Associate and I had another good interview, but then I was realizing that this position was more of an administrative role. He looked at my degrees and internships and did ask why I was going for this role. I explained that most of these types of positions I've seen, has that admin part to the role. He was okay with the answer and we continued to have a good interview.

Then I met with the person who I will be taking over for (she was promoted to an Associate). She made the role seem more administrative than the Associate guy! She basically said for the first six months the position is all admin (answering phones, doing the travel coordination, expense reports,etc.). Then I would be able to take on other projects, but with the admin part being the most important part.

I was told that one analyst was out of the office and the other was on the phone, but if I waited a few minutes I would be able to talk to him. So I waited literally two minutes and they brought me to his office. I think that all the interviews I had so far were good, but the one with the analyst was the best so far. We talked for awhile about my resume and experience. He said the position would be about 70% admin. We talked about stocks and he asked me what I'm investing in. I talked about LB and FRO and it was a good conversation. He quizzed me on the income statement and I passed that, and I made him laugh a couple of times.

So far I've been on two interviews and I think the junior trader role would be the best option right now (or the best option might be to continue looking). The role today does seem to be really on the admin side! The job description online made the position seem a lot more research oriented. I thought that maybe I would be able to take on some more research stuff, but then they told me the timeline for this job: 2 years. So basically I will spend two years answering phones and managing the travel arrangements. Towards the end of two years I can show off my stuff by taking on more research projects. Then I might be able to get promoted to an Associate position.
I was kind of disappointed.

Other things: the hours were 630-3 and they paid over-time. It seemed like most of the assistants worked 10 hour days and when it was busy I was told the days are 12 hours long. I did think about the money for a split second. I don't know the base salary but I would guess $40k. The over-time could potentially bring in another 15-20k (they pay time and a half) -so I think it's a potentially $55-60k job.

One of the things I constantly think about is the future. I know I'm trying to get my first position, but I always try to think about the path the position will lead to.
Today's position could lead to an Associate position after two years of work, and then possible to an Analyst's position. Honestly, I don't want to be an analyst for a sell-side firm. It definitely seems more like a sales job. Basically the Associates write up the research reports, put them together, and take care of the finance models. The Analysts review the reports and then travel all over the place talking with clients. They do presentations and "sell" their research.
Back to the first sentence: I definitely try to map out how each position might lead me down a certain road. "If I take this position, it will give me experience to get this type of position, and that can lead to this other position."

Thursday I have my last interview of the week, but I have received two more phone calls today.
There's one position I'm just really interested about. First of all, it seems fishy so I will be hesitant. Here's the first two lines of the job description: "Would you enjoy playing cards in a casino setting? Yes, you'll be playing cards, not dealing."
I saw this and it caught my eye. Full-time positions will be nights and weekends. I will call them tomorrow. I'm really curious about this one.

The other one, I'm not too sure right now: I have to listen to the message again because it was hard to hear.

Tomorrow I have a free day. I'll be studying/taking notes for the CFA (the econ section is taking more time than I expected). My main goal is to also write my next post only about stocks and the market. I've been slacking off in that area and I don't want to bore too many readers with this job stuff.
I will try to find some good links about some interesting topics.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Recap on the first interview

I left early so I can get there in time and hopefully not have to deal with too much traffic. Well, there wasn't any traffic at all and I ended up getting there at 10am when my interview was at 11:30am! I ended up walking around downtown Oakland a bit and went up fifteen minutes early.
Just to recap: this was for the Junior Trader role. Basically the majority of the portfolio management duties are outsourced to other big firms. The PM's give their trade allocation and the traders go through with the trades. Then they also have to deal with new accounts, deposits, withdrawals, fixing any account problems, and other general things.

I meet with the first guy, the head trader, and he was nice. He talked to me about the firm in a general manner and then went through the details about the position. Next, I talked about my resume and the various internships I've had. He asked me if I had any questions, so I asked a few.

Then I met with two traders and they were really nice and friendly. We had a nice chat, basically about what they do and then they asked if I had any questions. I asked a few and so far I thought things were going pretty well.

I next met with the Vice President of one of the divisions and he talked to me about the firm and then went through my resume. The he also asked if I had any questions and I asked a few. Then I noticed he had a CFA designation, so I asked him a few questions about the test. He gave me some tips that I will definitely use.

The last guy I met was another senior guy and he was also really friendly. He talked to me about what the job is not about as well as more about the firm. He went over the resume and talked about the CFA (the company pays/reimburses for many of the CFA expenses). He then asked if I had any questions.

The running theme: they all asked if I had any questions. By the third guy I was running out of questions to ask! I knew about the position from the HR department (who answered some of my questions). Towards the end I was racing through all the types of questions I could ask. I also didn't want to ask the same questions, just in case they talked later on.

Overall, I think the interview went okay. The only problem I had is that I wish I asked more questions! I'm going to email the three main guys and the HR lady probably tonight (or tomorrow) to thank them.

Tomorrow I have the interview for the research assistant position.
Looking back, I think I do want to go more into trading first (then research later). There's a job in NYC that I'm going to apply for tonight.

If you have any suggestions about my questions problem, please leave a comment!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Good things come in three

Yesterday I had another pretty good day in the market; and today some of my gains have disappeared. LB is down a bit, EBF is down only slightly, and everything else is up. Overall, I'm feeling fine by today's actions.

Next week will be the interview week.
I have an interview tentatively set up for the Junior Trader job in Oakland for Monday at 11am.
Someone from HR is going to get back to me sometime today just to confirm the time.
Then on Tuesday at 10am I have an interview for the research assistant job in San Francisco.
This morning I got another call from a job I applied for off Craigslist. So I set up an interview for Thursday at 8am. This is a smaller firm and it was listed as a trading,finance,admin assistant. The job description seems pretty good.

Now, back to some CFA reading.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Today was a good day

Finally, some good news on the job hunt!

I was studying at the library for the CFA today. I was busy taking notes on the Econ section for the test and I was making some good progress. My phone was off and I missed a few calls. One was from the Associate Trader position out in Oakland. The process with this job has been a bit frustrating. They contacted me before I left on my trip and after a mix-up we rescheduled a phone interview. I passed the phone interview before I left for the trip and I was told I should expect an email after I came back detailing when the next interview will take place. Then another mix up: person A was suppose to email me but the job switched over to the hands of person B (who was the first person to contact me, then I think left the company according to another HR person). Anyways I guess A didn't tell B that someone was suppose to email me about the next interview. So I spent a few days calling (they are in Boston) and finally got a hold of A who told me about the switch. It was a lot of back and forth but they were both extremely pleasant. Back to today: she left me a message about setting up an interview with the head trader and two other executives for sometime next week. She also emailed me, so I emailed her back letting her know when I was available (basically any time of the day, any day of the week). I chose Monday or Tuesday, and I'm faxing her my application.

This might be a good time for a new paragraph. Okay so the job seems pretty good. Basically to sum it up: the outsourced portfolio managers send in the orders and the traders put in the orders and make sure everything in the portfolios are in order. Plus other duties.
The pay is on the low side of the average range (38-40k) and it has full benefits. They also will reimburse $6k worth of education per year, which is a great thing because I can then take some classes. I also like the hours: stock market hours so 6:30 to either 2:30/3.
I'm excited about this one; now I just need to concentrate on the interview and not screw up (easier said than done).

Then I also had another message from a different firm. I applied for a Research Assistant position a little over one week ago. I think I actually applied twice because they kept putting up the same posting every other day on various websites. Well, maybe that paid off. I don't know too many of the details besides the fact that it is stock market hours, some admin duties, and it seems like a good fit for me. It was after 5pm when I listened to this message, and I will call tomorrow in the morning to hopefully set up an interview.

Besides the good news on the job front, I had one of my best days this year in my portfolio.
Two of my stocks finished the day strong. EBF announced some great results and finished the day up $1.24 (or +7.52%). LB also had a strong day and had an article in IBD (which can be both good and bad). For the day it finished up $0.99 (+6.19%).
With the market around 0% for the year, I'm ahead by 8% (more on a time weighted basis).
EBF is finally in the plus for me, and hopefully it moves up a little more. I have about a 14% gain in FRX. LB is my big winner with a plus 54% gain. NCC is up marginally, while NTE is down marginally. UNTD began in my portfolio with a nice 5% gain, but after the downgrade awhile back it's my big loser (down 9%). Overall, I think things are going well. I wouldn't mind getting out of EBF in the near future.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Recruiter and the Net Worth update

The meeting with the recruiter went well today. We talked about my resume, some of the jobs I've applied to through their website, and the way to continue searching. She thought I had a great resume and I did bring up the fact that I think the school I went to (San Jose State University) might hinder my chances with some of these positions. She put me at ease by saying that the top tier jobs are probably out of reach, but the other positions will be fine.
One of the positions I applied for is down to their final two candidates, but she said she's calling them tomorrow to see if they are looking for more candidates. She also noted on their internal system that I am willing to relocate to NYC and this might help me a bit with the out of state positions. This firm does have a great Trading Assistant position in NYC that I would love to have, hopefully I'm not too late. Next we talked about the future: basically check their site (and others) on a daily or 3 times per week basis and apply soon. Overall it was a good meeting and she gave me some tips. I'm probably going to email her more questions in the near future.

Net Worth Update
I haven't done one of these lately, so now is the time. My goal was to have $25,000 by the end of May and I did have this month but it was during the first week of June. I'm pleased with the results, but another goal won't be set until I have a job. Right now I'm trying to limit my expenses (like eating in, getting rid of a few subscriptions, etc.).
My net worth increased for a few reasons: getting some eBay money, increases in my portfolio, and getting some money back that was owed to me.
So here it goes:
  • Bank: $1,835
  • IRA : $ 55
  • ING: $ 6,881
  • Brokerage: $17,057
Total: $25,828
Definitely better than I expected. My portfolio is up almost 6%, but if I take out a recent addition the return goes up to almost 9%. I should get some software to figure out some time weighted returns....
My plan is to limit my expenses, make a few more eBay sales, and try not to spend too much. I mentioned that I might be going to Vegas in July- so that will be an expense (unless I get my cards...).
Also, a few more months and get ready for some NFL betting!

Quick Notes
Awhile ago (a few weeks) I mentioned ARO at $27. Why don't I listen to myself? Today it's just near $33.
Also I'm going to add two more stocks to my watch list: MOT (Motorola) and SLE (Sara Lee).
I don't have any opinions on it, but Sara Lee has taken a beating and is now semi-cheap on P/S and sporting a near 4% yield. I'll check on it later though.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Happiness and other things

I've been thinking a lot about happiness lately and it's leading to the conclusion that I cannot settle for a job I really don't want. The way I see it is that I'm living at home, but I'm also a young guy with two degrees, high grades, good experience, and patience. Alright maybe not too much patience, but I have those other things.
One of the few fears I have is this: ending up in a 9 to 5 job that I really don't want. I've seen numerous people who are in these situations. They end up with a job they really don't want to pay the bills and then come home and complain about their work. I know some people are stuck in these situations because of their circumstances, and I also know that I'm not going to be one of these people.

Other News

I need to get back to reading more articles online. Also, awhile ago someone from the Wall Street Journal contacted me about free online articles. They are targeting bloggers and if I get any relevant articles I will post them.

Market News: the major indices finished up (barely) with the Naz leading the way. I didn't see too many major headlines, but I did notice Purcell (CEO of Morgan Stanley) is "retiring". Many people wanted him out, and they get their wish.

My portfolio had a relatively strong day. News came out stating that LB will be added to three Russell indices and this sent the stock up 3.54%. It did hit +5% during the day, but settled down towards the end of trading. NTE and FRX also had good days with both finishing up north of 1.3%.

Today I spent a few hours at the library finishing off the Econ book for the CFA. I also started McMillan's book "Options as a Strategic Investment". This is not part of the CFA, but I want to continue my education in options. I've read one of his other books (McMillan on Options), but the one I just started is 10x better. I enjoyed the other book, but this one goes into much more detail. If you're interested in options, I recommend this book (also Natenberg's "Option Volatility"). Back to the Econ book: it was well written and I've covered 99% of the topics in my previous classes (that's a plus).
The next book is Fundamentals of Financial Management by Brigham. I've actually used an earlier addition of this book for a class, so I should be familiar with the material. Plus I only need to read one chapter out of this one. I think I've mentioned it, but for the Level 1 test I don't have to read the entire books. So when I said I finished the econ book it was only 12 chapters (I started earlier, not just today).

Small News

I'm meeting with another recruiter tomorrow, but this one actually has jobs I want. I've applied to a few of the jobs listed so far, but no results. Finally today they called to meet. I'm pretty excited about this one.

I'll update my net worth/financial goal probably tomorrow: I reached my goal, but a week late. More on that later.

I might go to Vegas at the end of July.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Not too shabby

The market was up a little bit today and my portfolio finished the day with a nice gain. Four out of my seven positions finished up over 1%, while two finished down. I didn't get a chance to read too much news, but I did notice Intel moved up some of their targets. Honestly, I'm still a bit out of it from the trip and haven't got back to a normal schedule. I usually read a good amount of articles and check out the other blogs listed on my main page.

I applied to three more jobs today: one portfolio assistant position and two research associate positions. I was rejected from one research assistant position. It was through an agency and I'm curious as to why, but I don't think I will be able to find anything more.
I decided to concentrate my job search only in the San Francisco- bay area section for right now. It will be a little hard considering that there aren't too many opportunities.
The end of August is my deadline (although it's not a firm deadline). After this day I will take the chance and move to NYC and hope for the best!

CFA: I'm almost done with the Economics book for the exam and I've covered all the topics before. I think I'm making some good progress, but I definitely have a lot more to cover.

Hopefully tomorrow things return to a somewhat normal state!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

One more thing about Tokyo

The one thing that struck me about Tokyo was how it seems that everyone has at least a cell phone or mp3 player, and many have both. While checking out the stores for certain electronics, my friend and I would always check out the new phones.

I was always interested in the makers of the phones, and the big company seems to be NTT DoCoMo. Some of the big phone companies here also have phones in Japan, but DoCoMo seemed to be the most popular one with the most versions. Their website is in Japanese, but you can sort of navigate around to check out some of the phones.

I wanted to ask how often they change their phones, but it would be too difficult with the language barrier. It seems like someone was always buying a new phone though. NTT does trade over here under the symbol DCM. I need to re-organize my symbol lists, but I think I will add DCM to it just to check it out. It's been trending down over the past two years from the 25 range to the 15 range.
Their sales have been sluggish lately, it's on the low-end of the P/S history, and it has a 1.24% yield.

Other news: I'm still trying to catch up on everything and today wasn't normal (I didn't get up till 2pm, so I'm still a little out of it). Hopefully tomorrow I get some things done.

The Trip

Tokyo is an amazing city. I was there for seven days (six really, the last one was just at the airport) with a friend. We had enough time to visit the major sections of the city, but not enough time to visit any other cities. Hopefully I'll go back again to visit some of the other places.

We used the subway system to get around and at first it was incredibly confusing. The subway map of all the lines looks basically like a crazy drawing by a small kid. Lines going everywhere, different colors, transfers, etc. We also walked a lot; at least 5 miles per day. I would say a good 15% was because we were lost, but the rest was just walking around the different sections.

Each major prefecture seemed like a separate city. Shinjuku and Shibuya reminded me of NYC (I've never been, just what I've seen on tv); lights and big buildings everywhere, and crowds of people. Roppongi had all the clubs, Ginza has all the upscale department stores, and Kasai really didn't have anything but our hotel.

Basically each day we got up and left around 11 to check out a new place. Then we made it back to the hotel to rest for a little while (1-2 hours). Then we went back out to enjoy some of the night sites (like Shibuya) and made it back to our hotel by 12. We made it back before 12 because that was the time of the last subway run. You may have heard how they pack in the subways and this happens to be true. One night we got on the train for its last run and they literally pack everyone in. Some of the subway guys would actually use a baton to gently shove people into every nook they could find. It was definitely a sight to see; I would have taken a picture but I couldn't move my arms.

I won't make this too long, so rather than writing paragraphs I'll write some short lines.

Everyone there was extremely nice and even though they knew limited English they helped as much as they could. For instance when we were trying to find our hotel I asked someone working at 7-11 and he left the store and walked us two blocks to our hotel

McDonald's is odd: they have a McTeriyaki burger (but they also put mayo in it, which is a bad thing) and instead of chicken McNugget's they have fish ones!

Food: the food was great and the prices were decent ($7 on the low end). They had a good amount of pork and the sushi was fantastic.

Expenses: most of the prices really didn't shock me because they were right around San Francisco prices. The one thing that did eat into my wallet was the subway prices. The tickets on the low end were $1.30 while went into the $3 range on the high-end. Now it appears to be cheap, but to get to a place across the city might need two or three transfers. Since we were checking out a few places per day, we had to buy a lot of subway tickets! Each day we were spending about $10-$15/day just on the subway. Going to the airport was even more expensive since it was outside Tokyo (one way was about $13 with one transfer).

Sizes of things: everything is pretty small. At one station I had to walk with my head at an angle because the ceiling was at about 6'2" (I'm 6'5"). I also had to duck going into doorways and I did bang my head a few times (ok many times...).

Electronics: Akihabara is the electronics center and it was amazing. The phones they have there are extremely more advanced then the U.S. phones. Each phone has amazing screen quality with the capability to play really good games (like House of Dead) and they almost all had cameras built-in (good cameras too, like at least 2/2.5 megapixels). They had many minidisc players (they are popular there), all the new mp3 players, and extremely small digital cameras. Sony had two great products (I think they are either in the U.S. or will be shortly). One was a really small mp3 player and an incredibly thin 5.1mp digital camera.

Overall the trip was a great time and hopefully I'll go back soon.

I didn't have internet access so I have no clue about anything that went on the last week. I checked my stocks and a few did well although UNTD was downgraded (it didn't phase me though). Some of the stocks I were watching had some nice moves. Today I slept for about 13 hours, so it wasn't really a normal day. I should be better tomorrow. I searched for jobs tonight, and I'll apply to them tomorrow. I also need to reschedule an interview for the associate trader job.
Back to normal!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Jet Lag

I'm finally back and I had a great time, I'll post more about it tomorrow night.
As for right now, I haven't had any sleep in almost 24 hours, so I need a little rest.