Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The last remaining in the world

check out this story about some big bugs thought extinct - except they found some under one bush on an otherwise deserted rocky island. fun story - and the bugs are huge.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

selling a bit into market strength

It's been an exciting few months in the stock market recently as long positions have done well. Following the run-up and run of buying I've decided to take a little bit off of the table given some uneven economic data along with international concerns like Isreal/Iran, and the always present Greece and significant economic slowing across Europe that I've heard discussed in several conference calls.

In addition I was just running out of interesting buy opportunities so I changed approach and raised some cash. (Most of my funds are in retirement accts so tax impacts don't come into play very often for me).

These are my first sells of 2012.

NEU - Newmarket was my largest position and it has continued to act weak following the conference call, so I liquidated. I actually expect to re-establish the position as mgmt characterized the slowdown they saw in Q4 as inventory drawdown, especially in Europe, and said it was not due to lost customers. They sell petroleum additives and there's only so long folks can go without re-ordering. But the stock currently is just short of buyers so I'll step aside for a while.

TEO - I took about half of my Telecom Argentina off the table. Again, I'll be glad to re-establish the position at lower prices, but it's just too weak in this market. The conference call for the company sounded excellent to me, so I gotta think the market is concerned more with international issues (seems like it reacts particularly negatively to bad news in Europe), and concern over Argentine regulatory issues the company may have to deal with. Sounds like alot of analysts are concerned the dividend may be in question due to Argentine govt influence. (TEO is traditionally a big dividend payer). This is still a long term hold for me, it's just smaller now than it was. Will re-buy more on pull-backs. All the metrics tell me this is still cheap.

CHL - China Mobile. Sold my full stake after watching it bounce around in a trading range for several years. It pays a very nice dividend also. I expect to repurchase should it fall back to the 47 range. The metrics look very good on this one. They may be getting the AAPL i-phone soon so might see upcoming bump, but it's near the top of it's range and I promised myself the next time it got here...

WFR - a small position betting on rebound of semi-equips/solar. while those areas in general have done well for me - WFR was the dog of the bunch and it may be too wounded and not the best vehicle to invest in this theme.

In selling I normally try to pair losers and there's a couple of recent buys in the material area I'm keeping an eye on (CLF and BBL in particular), but here are my larger position by size now.

LHCG - LHC Group - home health
SNDK - Sandisk - digital storage - flash drives
AFAM - Almost FAmily - home health
EBAY - eBay
TEF - Telefonica SA -
CLF - Cliffs Natural Resources - mining - iron ore in particular
DAR - Darling Intl - grease recycling
ASML - ASML HOlding - semi equips
HITK - Hi-TEch Pharmacal
VECO - Veeco Instruments - semi equips
TEO - Telecom ARgentina
BBL - BHP Billiton - diversified mining
.... and I'll stop there. the rest tend to be smallish positions, many more speculative small caps so I'll stop here.

Happy investing all

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dichotomy of Small Jobs

Here's an important observation I was unaware of. I'd always seen statistics showing that almost all the job creation in the country is via small business - footing the idea of creative destruction, that as part of economic growth the old companies die and are replaced by the new.

Interestingly, it's easy to slide into an overly broad generalization that that small business creates jobs -which is true - but the deeper truth is that NEW STARTUP small business creates jobs, not existing longer-term small business.

This AP article gets a little politicky - but if you just ignore that part and read the economic references inside an interesting fresh observation is in there regarding new startups that I hadn't heard before:

"Haltiwanger and two other economists showed, in a study of millions of companies over 30 years, that small businesses no more than five years old — that's about 40 percent of them — are the only ones that create more jobs each year than they cut.

In 2005, for instance, more than 99 percent of the 2.5 million net new private-sector jobs in the United States came from these startups, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But the 60 percent of small businesses that have been around more than five years act as a slight drag on the number of jobs available in the United States. They have cut about 0.5 percent more staff than they have added in a typical year, according to Haltiwanger.

By contrast, big businesses, the ones that get all the headlines for layoffs, have hired more than they have cut — about 0.1 percent in a typical year."

Summary/Key Takeway: If we want job creation create incentives targeted not to small business broadly, but to NEW small business formation specifically.

Anyhow - I found that portion very interesting and not often discussed.