Thursday, March 30, 2006


In a recent issue of Grant's (a very well known newsletter), they highlighted the chicken industry and it had some good points. They mainly talked about two companies: Gold Kist and Sadia. They feel that the chicken industry is near a bottom and it's worth taking a look into these two companies. Gold Kist is a pure chicken play and it has an advantage over some of its competitors because of their balance sheet. Many chicken producers have a lot of long term debt when compared to cash levels, but Gold Kist has an even amount. They currently have $143 million in long term debt and about $145 million in cash.

Sadia is a little bit different because it's a Brazilian company (and has also had a nice run-up while the other companies have been declining). They have lower costs, which is another advantage, and have captured a good amount of the Asian market. Grant's hypothesizes that they may capture even more market share in Europe and parts of the Middle East.

On a normalized earnings range between 8 and 12 for the chicken industry, Grant's thinks Gold Kist and Sandia are cheap. Sandia is around 6 to 7 realizable earnings, whil Gold Kist is a bit higher. According to Yahoo Finance Sandia has a 6.2% yield, but their dividend seems to fluctuate quite a bit so I doubt this is a reliable number.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Netflix is awesome

I don't own a tv and I really don't plan to in the near future. Although I miss having a tv for certain events (sports), I normally just watch the big games at a friends house. Also, most of the good shows are on around 9pm or 10pm and that's too late for me during the week. Since I have to get up at 4am, I try to be asleep by 10 at the latest.

So a few weeks ago I decided to do a trial offer of Netflix and I think it's fantastic. I'm getting the 2 dvds at a time deal and it's fairly cheap. For me, I think it's worth it because I can watch dvds on my laptop whenever I have some free time. I was also surprised by their inventory! I searched for some hard to find dvds and they had them in stock. This is starting to sound like an ad, but I'm definitely not getting anything from them. I just like their service and wanted to write about it.

I also added a new blog: Russell Bailyn's Financial Planning Blog. He's around my age and I'm currently reading his older posts.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What's up with ING?

Normally ING has one of the highest rates around (but not the highest). I decided to check the current rates at Bank Rate. I was surprised that ING was pretty far down on the list. Many on the list are regional banks and some require minimums, but the difference between ING's rate and some of the other ones is pretty big.

ING is currently at 3.8% while the number one on the list is 4.8% (although this might be a promotional rate). Still, many of the other ones are 4.5% or greater. I might spend some time searching to see if some of the other ones are just as easy to use as ING. It would be worth the switch over the long run if I can park my cash in a place that's getting almost one full percent more per year!

Please post a comment or send me an email if you use a different savings site and how do you like it.
Also, I received a few emails lately and I promise I'll get back to you shortly (and add links to your sites).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Portfolio moves

Jones Soda had a great day today finishing up 9.78% on pretty big volume. The stock has had a fantastic run lately and I'm hoping it continues. It's up over 50% from when I bought it a few months ago and things are looking good.

I sold FRX two days ago and it was decent timing. I had a good gain and I ended up selling it in the morning around $44. The stock then started to drop and ended the day down over $2 I think (I sold it when it was down under 30 cents). My main reason why I sold it is that there is too much news in the near future. This sentence doesn't really make any sense, so this is what I mean. They have a patent trial coming up that could potentially take another two months to wrap up. If they lose the trial, they will basically lose 50% of their sales -this is a huge case! Some analyst reports put the probability of them winning the trial at 75%. This is a good number, but then you have to think that they still have a 25% chance of losing 50% of their sales (scary!). Here's my thinking: this won't be settled for another few months so what's going to make someone buy the stock now? It just seems that there's too much potential for selling rather than buying. If I was looking at a stock and I knew they had a 25% chance of losing half their sales in two months- I would wait it out. This is assuming I have no great insight into the trial. Even if someone wanted to get in because they think FRX will win, why buy now and not a month from now? Logically, I would think there will be more selling pressure in the near future (but I'm probably going to be wrong). I just didn't want to take that chance with a position that turned out to be my biggest position. There's a very small chance they might settled, which could be a good thing (look at BMY today, which I almost bought at 22...).

Other news: added Intel a few days ago. 2006 might be a little tough, but it looks cheap, and I think they will get back on track.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bargain site

I mentioned this site a long time ago, but I thought it was time to talk about it again because I just bought something off of it. The site is called Ben's Bargains and throughout the day the site updates with various bargains. Most of the products are electronics, but they have all sorts of goods. For instance they might find a bargain off of Dell's site for 15% off select items. This coupon could be added to another coupon bought off of eBay for Dell for greater savings (they are stackable). I've needed a USB flash drive for quite awhile, but I waited until today to finally buy one. I searched Ben's Bargains and I was able to find one for roughly $53 (includes shipping, after rebate) for a 2 gigabyte usb drive. I thought this was an excellent price because the other ones I've seen were over $70.
I just like browsing the site because I find a lot of good deals. Another section they have is the Freebies section. This part is not updated as frequently, but you can sometimes find some good stuff. For instance a week ago they had a link to a Microsoft survey for a free usb flash drive. I'll let you know if I actually receive the drive (it's probably going to be small like 64MB), but it's free!
Other past deals where free keyboards from Lenovo and a good amount of free magazine subscriptions. I've received a few free ones from here and the only thing is that it takes awhile for the first issue to arrive. I think last week they had a link to a free subscription to Smart Money. Considering that my subscription is almost over with, I'll go for the free one.

Stock I'm watching: TOPT (tanker)
It's about to give off a big dividend and I want to see how the price reacts afterwards

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Work update

I've barely posted this week, but that's because I've been busy with numerous things.
I had a fairly big update at work and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm not sure if I actually explained what I do: I assist the two traders and I also help out with the operations side of the business. This means I talk to other traders/brokers and sometimes give them trade orders. Once those are complete, they need to be entered into the system. The operations side takes care of all the details after the trades are done. For instance we use two different prime brokers and one needs to shadow the other. So if one shows 100,00 shares traded of XYZ the other one needs to show this. Sounds simple? I wish! Mistakes are made all the time and these need to be tracked down and fixed. I aslo take care of tax lots because sometimes we might spend a month buying something and then when we're ready to sell, I'll specify what tax lots to sell for tax reasons.

Anyways, back to the update. A few weeks ago I asked if I could use a certain piece of software that the analysts use. The portfolio managers decided to think about it because to add another user it's rather expensive, but I found out this week that I'll be added! I'm also going to be working with one of the analysts developing models and short ideas (short = stocks to short).
I'm excited about this opportunity and I should be learning a good amount.

Nothing new with stocks!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Jones Soda conference call

I was able to print out the JSDA conference call on Friday and read it over. First of all, JSDA went up over 6% today so that greatly helped my portfolio while the markets remained flat.
I thought the conference call was good and the results were great.
4th quarter revenue was up 37% and they had a positive EPS of 3 cents (which would have been higher but they dealt with some one-time costs).

Some more positive news: they extended the Barnes and Noble agreement for another year and Starbucks will add a third flavor. Panera is rolling out a customization program and Starbucks is going to start one soon.
I was hoping lincensing revenue was going to come up bigger. It increased 12% and this is revenue from Target (cans), Kroger (frozen pops), and Big Sky (candy). This number seemed a bit weak considering the base amount was fairly small. The 12% increase equals about $123,000

Gross margins improved as did their cash position. A few financial ratios declined though, so it's worth keeping an eye on them. Accounts receivable days outstanding increased to 38 days, while accounts payable increased to 42 days. Average days of inventory increased to 77 days. It's nothing too drastic, but it could cause trouble if the trends continue (I don't think they will).

I'm curious as to how long they will keep going with their energy drinks. The margins are good, but it doesn't seem to be catching on.
Most of the analysts thought it was a good earnings report, except for Jeff Kanter who seemed disappointed (but I think this is a common thing with him).

One last thing to mention is their cash flow position. They had cash flow from operations of about $875,000 and capital expenditures of roughly $240,000 (60k from branding and 180k on regular capex). This equates to a rough free cash flow calculation of $635,000
FCF = CFO - Capex
On a FCF/share basis, the results are not very meaningful, but the important thing is that they are cash flow positive.

I've successfully caught a cold, so time for some rest.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Jones Soda

Jones reported today and here are the highlights:

4Q revenue increased 37%; full year revenue increased 22%; and their gross margins in the fourth quarter increased 90 basis points. So far, so good!
I only had a few minutes to read over the press release and I didn't get a chance to listen to the conference call. Tomorrow at work I'm going to print out a transcript of the call and I'll probably post my remarks early next week.

Other random notes
* I still need to do my taxes (I don't know why I'm slacking)
* I still need to fill out my reimbursement form (a few hundred bucks!)
* I might be selling FRX soon. I wanted to wait till I get to long-term status (over a month away), but there might be some risks coming up soon with their litigation. Although it seems favorable to FRX, I have read reports where they put it 50/50 of helping FRX.
* I might add to TCHC and SFL
* I have way too much cash and not enough investments and I need to fix this

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Where's the Walmart talk?

At the beginning of the year, every other article I read about the market in general had some quote from some professional that basically said "this is the year for large cap stocks".
This is the big theme for 2006 and that's why I'm a little surprised I haven't seen too many articles on Walmart. I've read some, but I expected at least a few more.

It's had a few problems, but things seem to be working out. They recently raised their dividend, appear cheap on a historical price/sales ratio, and they might have worked out their problems with some of their European stores (sluggish sales). They have a p/s ratio of 0.60, which is the lowest it has been in about eight years.

Other news:
Jones Soda reports tomorrow and CUP came out with a good preliminary mining report (I think the stock is selling off because many people are exercising their warrants and taking some profit).

I also added an Investing Quotes site and my net worth is now part of the Financial Blogger's Net Worth Index.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Commenting on another blog

I usually scroll through some daily finance related blogs (mainly the ones listed on the right side of this page) and I read one recent post over at No Credit Needed that I wanted to comment on.
He mentioned how when he was growing up his parents really didn't discuss money issues with him. He ran into some debt but has done a great job working his way out of debt and is now on to his savings goals.

His post reminded me about how important it is to teach children about money. Why is it such a guarded topic? My parents were pretty open with me about money issues and this is how I learned about credit cards, how to buy a house, loans, etc. It seems too many parents are potentially setting up their kids for a fall when they grow up by not teaching them any money basics, the pitfalls of debt, and the importance of savings. Our savings rate is near 0% (or possibly negative) and I think it's up to today's parents to help reverse these figures by teaching their kids.

A 10 year can grasp some of the simple concepts of savings and credit cards. It's important to teach them that credit cards are not "free money" (I've heard many kids use this phrase) and how important it is to save for the future.

I'm still a very young guy, but if/when (!) I have kids here are some of the things I would do:

* Start them off early because money concepts can be said in a simple way.
* Have them set their own savings goals. I do it for myself, so why can't kids? I would probably come up with some sort of game and have a savings goal that is somewhat easy to attain to not discourage them if they don't make their goal.
* Give them an allowance, but require them to save a bit and talk to them about how to spend their money
* Once they reach high school, I would encourage a part-time job (10 hours) just so they could experience working for their own paycheck

I'm sure to come up with more, but these are just the ones I thought of right now.
I just think that if parents spent some time teaching their kids at a young age, then they will have fewer financial problems when they grow up. They won't have to go through some of the mistakes their parents made.

Stockdiva posted a few links to some stock picking constests (here and here)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Who I want to go public...

A few things have caught my eye recently and it's time for a few links.
I saw this article on Wendy's and their future plans. It first caught my attention because it mentioned Baja Fresh, which is a fairly popular food chain over here (I'm not exactly sure how spread out they are; it's like Taco Bell but a lot better). Apparently their sales are rather weak, but it got me thinking of brands that I would find interesting if they went public. Here's my rather short list:
Whenever I go to the mall, I notice one store is normally packed and that's Forever 21
I think it's mainly for high school/college girls and it seems to be really busy. They are in the top 10 most popular stores for high school girls (last ranking I saw as #7) and I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they generate a good amount of sales.

Another clothing company I would watch out for, and this is very premature, is Company 81. I saw an ad for their clothes and they are along the lines of American Eagle and Abercrombie. It seems for the slightly older crowd so it might be comparable with Urban Outfitters. They are incredibly new and I don't even think their online store is up as of yet, but just by looking at their clothes I want to at least keep an eye on them. I definitely think the AE/Abercrombie look is going to be popular for awhile.

The next companies are food companies. The first one is found in all the malls around here and it's Panda Express. It's basically a take-out chinese food place that is incredibly popular. I've been to the mall countless times when the other food places are barely packed, but there's a long line for Panda. The food is definitely good, especially the orange chicken!

Another place, but I doubt it will go public, is In-and-Out. I think there's only two in San Francisco and a few in San Jose. This place is packed all the time! I'm amazed by how crowded these places are. There's one south of San Francisco that always has a packed drive-thru line.
I always wonder how profitable they are because they generate a ton of sales, but I would figure their labor costs are rather high. I know they employ a good amount of workers (there seem to be at least 12 people working at one time) and each one starts off at $10/hour, which is higher than the other fast food places. Plus their food costs less than the other places.

I'm fairly confident that the stores I listed are not public (or part of a bigger company), but I might be wrong. If you have any favorites that you wish would go public, write a comment about them.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

February Month end review

Another month has passed and so it's time for another month end review.
The month went fairly well and I had some nice gains in my portfolio. I cut back a little on my spending but I need to update my Quicken (and learn how to use the damn thing) to really track my expenses. March should have a good amount of expenses due to some CFA expenses and I'll be taking a small trip for my birthday.

My net worth increased by 4.3% from January's number. I think this was a decent sized jump.
My February month end net worth is $42,965

In dollar terms my net worth increased by $1,777 and I'm pretty happy by this figure because it represents over 50% of my take-home pay. Once I start tracking my expenses closer, I think I'll be able to cut back on a few things and increase this percentage. My goal was to save 40%, so I'm on track.

March should include some higher expenses, but they might be offset by a few things. I think I have about 200-$300 in my transportation account. I'm going to fill out a form to get that back this month. I might sell a few items for $200. Also, I still have a few things I can sell on eBay (like an iPod shuffle and my digital camera). If I do this in March, I think I might be able to bring in another $200-300 dollars. Every buck helps!