Lake Michigan September ’18

My extended family spent several days near the Lake Michigan shore this month.  It was an easy walk thru this gate to the beach below after walking through an amazing township park.

The Lake Michigan beach is wonderful and all without salt, sharks or jellyfish.

And looking west, the sunsets are usually tremendous with or without storms.

Lighthouses are plentiful and old … and there was a reason they were built

Searching for the most wonderful wave-polished stones can fill hours of tremendously peaceful hours.

Declining Bank Assets

This post by a followed article is a good read, and rather than comment on the details (you can read it) … i’ll ask some questions

Eric Basmajian on SA today

Questions:  

  • Is college debt for ages 25-35 having an impact on additional debt assumption?
  • What is the driver behind the decline – Banks unwillingness to lend, or debtors unable to take on more (other than credit cards)?

This was an interesting look an another indicator that suggests the economic growth continues to deaccelerate.

3 must reads for the week

Rather than comment on different articles this Sunday, i will point them out and make a point

i do not think there’s a needed order to read – but read the comments

Point – risks continue to grow globally across mutliple asset types.  there are short term plays but they contain complex variables and winning hands are beyond average investors (myself included).  i am comfortable with my recent moves taking more and more capital out of equities and placing in short-term treasuries (<6 months).  Might i miss out another 5% of S&P upward melt?  sure … but as somebody posted last week (can’t remember who):  i want a return OF my capital, not just a return ON my capital.

Reminder:  i’m semi-retired with short runway to acquire additional capital

How daily news distorts

I woke up early this morning and reviewed overnight market results and became momentarily optimistic … maybe all this trade tension has released, and we can go back to normal investing / trading.

Alas … that’s how daily news distorts things and invites us to relase our well thought out strategies.  I am often reminded of something smart people taught me long ago:  a single or couple of data points do not make a trend.  Plans and strategies are based on a set of clues (trends) not single data points.

Here is the key single data point that i found burried in https://barchart.com daily update:  “China’s Shanghai Composite climbed to a 2-week high on signs that state-sponsored funds entered the market and bought blue chip stocks.”  – that diffused some of my news based optimism earlier.

My bearish move money to Treasuries and wait for better value entry points (in US and Asia) remains intact.

Here’s another post on the topic of government intervention  https://seekingalpha.com/article/4207078-comes-chinas-literal-plunge-protection-team

SA Author (Thomas) Points to Bain & Co Post

In the not too distant past, I worked on a large corporate project w/ Bain & Co, so a SA post from Brad Thomas (Mr. REIT) caught my attention.  Knowing Bain’s basic methodology is not necessary to undertstand this article https://www.bain.com/insights/some-companies-arent-the-biggest-players-in-an-industry-wsj/

Segment profit pools and differentiation are the critical elements here from an investment analysis perspective.  I will be using this in my portfolio 2.0 (or 2025 Portfolio) exercise targeting first on two segments:  Global telecom (Canada and India) and IOT low-power connectivity solutions.  These are both foundational elements in my 2025 Portfolio. 

A subsequent post in October will build out the other elements in 2025 Portfolio, and how that construct will be used.

Late Cycle Stimulus – SA commentary

I’m back after vacation …

One of my favorite SA authors posted a great summary of Jeff Gundlach’s recent webcast, and it is definitely a good read.  there was one point that i think is critical for non-investors (or investors who know and care about others)  https://seekingalpha.com/article/4205991-maybe-listen-jeff-gundlach-says

Quote:

“Meanwhile, the threat that tariffs will eventually push up consumer prices in the U.S. only adds to the case for preemptive rate hikes. Goldman’s Jan Hatizius released a note this week that carried the title: “More growth, more tariffs, more hikes”. Whether or not the Fed will reach the end of the road in terms of their capacity to raise rates sometime in 2019 is the subject of vociferous debate and I won’t broach that subject here. For our purposes, the point is simply that piling stimulus atop a late-cycle dynamic forces the Fed into hawkishness.

That’s dangerous because it has the potential to create a false sense of confidence among, for instance, small-business owners, who may not appreciate the finer points of what’s going on. On Tuesday, the NFIB said small-business confidence (as measured by their optimism index) hit the highest level in its 45-year history in August.”

S&P Earnings Growth Projections

this is a well measured take on recent earnings growth projections and historical comparisons of PE expansion / contraction.  The industry growth changes since July 1 are important i think.  The two areas i will be diving into:  Teleco and Utilities (sustainable) to look for additional solid dividend payers with dividend growth at good price (entry point).

This both fits the current target narratives (IOT and 5G)  … VOD was added this past month, and the Canadian telecos (especially RCI and TU) are being watched carefully.

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4203629-s-and-p-500-earnings-much-earnings-growth-tax-reform-related-year-pe-contraction

South Sister Ramble

This week, I went up South Sister for the second time.  This time, I was much more prepared and thoroughly enjoyed the ramble … but was still tired by the end of the day.

On the way there, it was very cold (below 30 F), and the steam from the cascade lakes was amazing

Once up through the scrawny pine trees, the first plateau (alpine meadow) with a look down to Moraine Lake

Looking upward toward the top, here’s the path

On the second plateau, you can look back to Moraine Lake 

or over to another glacier melt lake.  I stopped here on the way back down as the breeze coming off the lake was very cold and refreshing after the ascent.

Then it is the last uphill section to the top

From the top … just look around, but be careful on the path (there are parts that carry risk)

 

Simply Flowers

The beauty of flowers amazes me … and in part why that dirty sky is so terrifying – could it eventually snub out beauty like this? (clicking on the pic will open in higher res)

PS – unmodified pics taken w/ Nikon Coolpix B700 … higher resolution pics are available if you ask

Such a dirty sky

There have been some really red sunsets recently due to the dirty sky from near-by fires (like CA near) … while it can be beautiful, it is terrifying to me.

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PS – unmodified pics from Nikon Coolpix B700

Random Birds from Spring & Summer 2018

Birds are incredibly difficult for me to capture a good picture.  For every 1 good one, there are 3-5 bad ones.  Here are some of my better ones spanning Spring and Summer 2018 – most were taken in Eugene, OR, but a couple came from Napa, CA.

Blue Herons (they do stand still)

Swimming Ducks

Humming Birds

Small birds that sometimes sing

Some of the best hunters in the world – the Osprey pics are not as good as desired, but worth it nonetheless.

PS – a couple of these pictures were edited after the fact – just background color edits to bring out the bird a bit from background.  All pictures taken w/ Nikon CoolPix B700

Owls and a butterfly

The other day while sitting inside hiding from intense heat, my wife called out that there was another squirrel in the cherry tree in our backyard.  Blasted squirrels, I thought … headed to the door and looked at the movement in the tree, and it was NOT a squirrel.

Two baby owls had parked themselves in our tree which is on the other side of our deck.  These pictures were taken from inside thru the glass door.

This one seemed very interested in where i was – standing right inside the door to our back deck

It either knew exactly where i was, or was fascinated by something near me … if looks could melt you away

but after this work, it just needed to just rest their eyes … so tired

Then the other day, I was hiking up in Sisters Wilderness, and i was ready to take a picture of this very beautiful wildflower, and I was surprised by a visitor

PS – none of the photos were altered; they are posted as they came from my Nikon Coolpix B700

Takes brains to turn data & information into knowledge

A recent post really hit the nail on the head in describing a future scenario where the overwhelming quantity of data and information will require well-educated people to analyze, interpret and make plans (knowledge).  It is easy, I think, to infer that those markets (geographies, countries, cities, etc) that are heavily investing into education, training and innovation around mathematics, science and computer science will be the economic, innovation and thought leaders of the future.

Sadly, most of us in the USA watch as our education programs wither from underfunding and especially the under appreciation of teaching as a serious, high-paying profession.

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4192307

Customer orientation

A recent article which I am assuming is accurate at least at the root highlighted a view of ‘Orientation’ by companies.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kroger-threatens-to-ban-visa-cards/

Now … I find the ‘corporate profit orientation’ above that of the customer.  Would not a retailer want to provide convenient and customer choice modes of payment?  I get it the op costs could be higher with different vendors, but would you rather have happy, loyal customers?