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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tracking Mohnish Pabrai's Portfolio - Q1 2013 Update - Seeking Alpha

Mohnish Pabrai's Portfolio is a successful attempt at following Warren Buffett's early investment activities.  While it is difficult to simply jump in at the current portfolio; by doing a bit of investing each quarter to position one's portfolio to emulate the Pabrai portfolio, performance should be essentially the same.


Tracking Mohnish Pabrai's Portfolio - Q1 2013 Update - Seeking Alpha

Friday, May 10, 2013

NASA - NASA'S Hubble Space Telescope Finds Dead Stars 'Polluted' With Planet Debris

NASA - NASA'S Hubble Space Telescope Finds Dead Stars 'Polluted' With Planet Debris
This may well lead to the greatest advance ever, in space exploration !!! 
RJC

J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-5241
j.d.harrington@nasa.gov

Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
410-338-4514
villard@stsci.edu
  
May 09, 2013
RELEASE : 13-133
NASA'S Hubble Space Telescope Finds Dead Stars 'Polluted' With Planet Debris
WASHINGTON -- NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has found the building blocks for Earth-sized planets in an unlikely place-- the atmospheres of a pair of burned-out stars called white dwarfs.

These dead stars are located 150 light-years from Earth in a relatively young star cluster, Hyades, in the constellation Taurus. The star cluster is only 625 million years old. The white dwarfs are being polluted by asteroid-like debris falling onto them.

Hubble's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph observed silicon and only low levels of carbon in the white dwarfs' atmospheres. Silicon is a major ingredient of the rocky material that constitutes Earth and other solid planets in our solar system. Carbon, which helps determine properties and origin of planetary debris, generally is depleted or absent in rocky, Earth-like material.

"We have identified chemical evidence for the building blocks of rocky planets," said Jay Farihi of the University of Cambridge in England. He is lead author of a new study appearing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. "When these stars were born, they built planets, and there's a good chance they currently retain some of them. The material we are seeing is evidence of this. The debris is at least as rocky as the most primitive terrestrial bodies in our solar system."

This discovery suggests rocky planet assembly is common around stars, and it offers insight into what will happen in our own solar system when our sun burns out 5 billion years from now.

Farihi's research suggests asteroids less than 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide probably were torn apart by the white dwarfs' strong gravitational forces. Asteroids are thought to consist of the same materials that form terrestrial planets, and seeing evidence of asteroids points to the possibility of Earth-sized planets in the same system.

The pulverized material may have been pulled into a ring around the stars and eventually funneled onto the dead stars. The silicon may have come from asteroids that were shredded by the white dwarfs' gravity when they veered too close to the dead stars.

"It's difficult to imagine another mechanism than gravity that causes material to get close enough to rain down onto the star," Farihi said.
By the same token, when our sun burns out, the balance of gravitational forces between the sun and Jupiter will change, disrupting the main asteroid belt. Asteroids that veer too close to the sun will be broken up, and the debris could be pulled into a ring around the dead sun.

According to Farihi, using Hubble to analyze the atmospheres of white dwarfs is the best method for finding the signatures of solid planet chemistry and determining their composition.

"Normally, white dwarfs are like blank pieces of paper, containing only the light elements hydrogen and helium,"Farihi said. "Heavy elements like silicon and carbon sink to the core. The one thing the white dwarf pollution technique gives us that we just won't get with any other planet-detection technique is the chemistry of solid planets."

The two "polluted" Hyades white dwarfs are part of the team's search of planetary debris around more than 100 white dwarfs, led by Boris Gansicke of the University of Warwick in England. Team member Detlev Koester of the University of Kiel in Germany is using sophisticated computer models of white dwarf atmospheres to determine the abundances of various elements that can be traced to planets in the Hubble spectrograph data.

Farihi's team plans to analyze more white dwarfs using the same technique to identify not only the rocks' composition, but also their parent bodies. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Still Transitioning To A Dividend Growth Portfolio - Seeking Alpha


This is a timely and well researched article.  When I review my portfolio, the stocks that provide dividends and are large cap stocks, outperform the non-dividend stocks by a significant margin.  In today's climate of very high uncertainty, and massive government interference, there are very few alternatives to move one's existing portfolio to.  The dividend growth portfolio seems to answer the current need.  The other alternative would be cash under the mattress !!

All the best,
Bob



Still Transitioning To A Dividend Growth Portfolio - Seeking Alpha


Disclosure: I am long KEYUF.PKENBMCDKOVWURYINTCCPXGF.PKCJREF.PK,ATGFF.PKGGCNICSCTF.PKTDPMBCETU(More...)
I am very pleased with the progress of my portfolio this quarter. Most of my goals for the year have already been exceeded and my approach and strategy have been further refined. The disheartening original four-figure portfolio has a couple more zeros on it now, and I have a little experience with common pitfalls.
If you would like more information on my investing journey, which many have mentioned has parallels to their own, here's a link to the original,"Transitioning To A Dividend Growth Portfolio", and a couple of instablogs. The comments on that article have dramatically shaped my thinking and research, and I look forward to that stretching experience again.
My primary goal, and the only purpose of my investing is to be able to afford to retire at a reasonable age (65-ish) 20+ years from now, and to be able to live off the dividends and income from those investments without needing to spend down the principle. My plan is to create sustainable wealth that will allow us to continue our simple lifestyle with ample room for generous giving. I hope that this wealth, and the accompanying values, will be passed down to my children and their children.
What are the biggest changes?
The biggest and most significant change to the portfolio this quarter is that I have 'traded up' to higher quality, larger companies that better fit the dividend growth model. More of the companies listed below will be ones everyone is familiar with. That was not the case formerly.
I am no longer specifically seeking a diversified sector allocation. The main reason I had for holding smaller companies was that I was reaching for stocks that would fill all my sector ideals, but I sacrificed yield and quality to have them. I am now putting fundamentals and dividend growth ahead of sectors in determining allocation.
Allocation
Compared to the portfolio offered in the first article, this portfolio is a dramatic improvement in quality and allocation. Although three positions, Keyera Corp (TSE:KEY, KEYUF.PK), Enbridge (ENB), and McDonald's (MCD) are still positions over 10%, I'm content with those. These largest positions are also my longest holdings, some of which have been trimmed. Since then, substantial contributions to the portfolio have reduced the position further percentage-wise.
At this point, I do not want to trim any of these further as they will gradually dwindle in percent to more reasonable sizes over time. I make contributions of about 1% of the portfolio value twice each month. My current plan is to allocate new money entering the portfolio to new names, for diversification, but I'm willing to occasionally buy companies that I already own which are of smaller position size that are great values at the time. I am not currently using a DRIP program as it's easy to simply add the dividends in with my next bi-monthly purchase. This allows for further diversification of dividends and strategic purchasing without additional costs.
New Additions
In my last article, I was gearing up for a shopping spree of approximately 10 new stocks. Last year, we decided to dump all of our savings into a sheltered retirement account to generate a substantial tax refund to help jump -start our young portfolio. Yup, I know I'm just borrowing the tax money for 30 years or so, but I figure I can make good use of it! However, since I am involved in tax season, my part time job has transformed into 6 days a week, not always limited to 8 hour days. I simply haven't had the time to devote to careful research. Though I have missed a few opportunities, I'm sure this will work in my favor as I will have more cash on hand for compelling purchases when a market correction materializes. These are my new purchases.
Visa (V): I had been watching and intending to purchase Visa for a while, but another name was always more compelling when it came time to pull the trigger. One portfolio manager described it as "the stock you just have to hold your nose and plunge into as the valuation is always high". I have heard Enbridge, one of my best performers, described similarly. I know this name does not make the minimum cut-off for dividend yield for most dividend growth investors, but with a long time horizon, I'm trying to purchase future dividend stories. The dividend growth for Visa has been excellent of late, and I look forward to participating in the future of this company that makes money on each transaction made using their service.
Western Union (WU): Another best-in-class choice with excellent dividend growth of late, and a moderate yield, is currently quite undervalued according to F.A.S.T. Graphs. The recent sell-off produced an attractive entry point.
Royal Bank (RY): I was tired of complaining to myself that I missed the boat on this one, so I bought some! The Canadian bank stocks may not be at compelling, attractive prices right now, but they are stable dividend companies with decent yields, good dividend growth, in the top 10 list of every Canadian dividend-growth fund. One day I will own them all!
Intel (INTC): I did not have any technology in my portfolio, mostly because I just did not know what to choose. The current attractiveness of Intel's valuation combined with its sell-off this winter makes it an easy choice. The comfortable dividend, good dividend growth, and its position in its market niche makes it a great buy.
Cineplex (TSE:CGX, CPXGF.PK): Cineplex always commands a premium valuation, and has been on my watchlist for a long time. It continues to charge a premium for premium services and its oligopoly state situates it well for the future.
Corus Entertainment (TSE:CJR.B, CJREF.PK): A great management team, and great success in smaller, lower cost niche markets has this company doing well for the long term. Its majority owners are the Shaw family. It has had a couple dividend hiccups, but I'm willing to give it a try.
AltaGas (TSE: ALA, ATGFF.PK): I doubled my very small position on the current dip. It's a respected dividend company in my own backyard. The recent dip is the market reaction to a large acquisition.
Goldcorp (GG): At this valuation, it's time to have a little fun! There may not be much for growth in share price for another quarter or so, but I'm a patient investor.
(Please note that as a Canadian investor, many of my choices trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Some of these names do not trade on any US exchange. Those are prefixed with TSX: as that is how they are displayed in Google Finance. Yahoo! Finance uses .TO after the ticker and F.A.S.T.Graphs just has a period after the ticker.)
SECTOR
NAME
TICKER
% OF PORTFOLIO
DIVIDEND YIELD
Industrial
Ford Motor
7.05
3.16%
Canadian National Railway
CNI or CNR
5.39
1.76%
Pipeline
Enbridge
ENB
10.22
2.72%
Inter Pipeline Fund
TSE:IPL.UN
4.24
4.56%
Energy
Keyera Corp.
12.4
3.82%
Crescent Point Energy
TSE:CPG,CSCTF.PK
3.99
7.62%
Banks
TD
4.51
3.95%
Royal Bank
RY
3.33
4.17%
Non-Bank Financials
Visa
V
3.71
0.79%
Western Union
WU
3.27
3.41%
Restaurant
McDonald's
MCD
11.22
3..06%
Consumer
Coca-Cola
4.52
2.76%
Philip Morris
3.16
3.6%
Entertainment
Cineplex
TSE:CGX orCPXGF.PK
3.71
4%
Corus Entertainment
TSE:CJR.B or CJREF.PK
2.77
4.05%
Technology
Intel
INTC
2.36
4.26%
Utilities
Bell Media
2.57
5%
Telus
3.82
3.69%
Altagas
TSE:ALA
4.23
4.12%
Gold
Goldcorp
GG
3.52
1.93%
I still allocate 10% of my portfolio to a Growth or Value Play. Painted Pony Petroleum (PPY.V, PDPYF.PK) and Legacy Oil and Gas (TSE:LEG, LEGPF.PK) are my current holdings in those arenas. As those are not really part of the Dividend-Growth Portfolio, I've removed them from the table above. Although a few recent purchases are hovering around even, Legacy is my only losing holding. As it seems that only the stock is broken, as are many other oil and gas names, and the company is doing fine, I plan to give it until Christmas to start to show its true worth.
Watchlist:
With 7 stocks recently removed from my watchlist, I took the watchlist off of the table to facilitate discussion.
RioCan (REI.UN, [[RIOCF.pk]]) & Morguard REIT (TSE:MRT.UN, MGRUF.PK): These REITs will join my portfolio before the next quarter. I missed their recent bottom, just too busy with work. I'm hoping they will pull back just a little more.
Darden Restaurants (DRI). Same story. For the few minutes a day I have had to devote to my portfolio, it's just slipped my mind to check in on it. Oh well. Hopefully this summer will bring an attractive buying opportunity.
Tim Horton's (THI). I sold my position in THI when the CEO announced his resignation and an interim CEO was appointed. I took that money and purchased my MCD shares, which had also dipped, and have done very well since. I am looking forward to the opportunity to purchase more THI, and missed purchasing (no cash at the time) when it dipped. However, I am reticent to purchase until the new CEO is announced. One should never underestimate how much Canadians love their Timmy's as the stock has fully recovered from its lows.
Diageo (DEO). My husband's favorite beer is from Big Rock Breweries, which is very thinly traded on the TSX. We both love the idea of some beer dividends for him for retirement, but again, I have decided to own a larger, more stable company. Since they also make my favorite drink, Bailey's Irish Cream, we will both be happy retirees with our 'special' dividends.
H&R Block (HRB). I started watching HRB at $17, and it's nearly doubled since! This leader in tax preparation was underappreciated but is now fully valued by FAST Graphs. I did not purchase it as soon after I started watching it, it began its parabolic move. Also I have noted that it has strong dips at the end of tax season, so I was waiting. Oh well, missed another one!
Hershey (HSY). Another 'fun' dividend. It's great when companies whose product is an important part of your life are the kinds of companies you want to own. Though it's never Hershey's, chocolate is my favorite reward as well as my favorite comfort. One day it'll be valued just right for me to plunge in.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Walgreens (WAG), Hasbro (HAS) 3M (MMM), Textainer (TGH), These companies are also on the watchlist awaiting good entry points. To avoid withholding tax as a Canadian, I am limited to holding U.S. stocks in a sheltered retirement account. I currently only have room for one more.
How am I doing on my goals?
As stated above, my primary goal is to have enough income from dividends in retirement, not needing to use any of the principle. I created a spreadsheet, starting with the current balance of the portfolio, added in the amount we can contribute plus a dividend of 4% a year and modest growth of 4% a year. This should give us enough. Beyond convincing me that this plan should work, the added benefit of the spreadsheet is that I have quarterly dividend targets, growth amounts and total portfolio value goals to work towards. I do not need to compare to any index, and success is measured by how close I come to meeting my very own goals which will allow us to live off the dividends of our investments in retirement.
1. Dividend Targets.
I have not yet managed to meet my quarterly dividend targets. Yet. Since I have only transitioned to a dividend growth strategy recently, this is not surprising. However, I am very pleased to report that my dividends are dramatically growing quarter over quarter. Q4's dividends grew 28% from the previous one and this quarter's have grown 30% over Q4. Once all these contributions become invested, I expect an even larger growth in dividends for next quarter. I'm confident I will be able to meet my quarterly dividend goals by the end of the year. This is very important as I am setting up a strong, growing income stream for the future.
2. Growth Amounts.
This quarter has been excellent for growth amounts and I have exceeded my year's goal for growth in just this quarter. But I understand that this is not guaranteed to continue for the rest of the year, and I am prepared for a market correction, especially during the summer months.
3. Total Portfolio Value Goal.
I understand that most dividend growth investors pay less attention to total portfolio value than dividend growth. However, during these early years of the accumulation phase of my portfolio, total portfolio value is of great importance to me. Unless I concern myself with this, we won't be able to live on the dividends our portfolio can generate. As we approach retirement, the focus will gradually move from this to income alone, but for now, I'm looking at both.
This quarter has been excellent in terms of total portfolio value. I have already substantially exceeded our year end goals for total portfolio value. How is this possible? A tax refund windfall and disciplined personal spending creating excess contributions coupled with some great capital gain.
Where to now?
The new money expected is now in the portfolio but is only partially invested. When the busy tax season is over, I will have more time to keep careful watch over my watchlist and do further analysis while awaiting buying opportunities accompanied by strong conviction.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

ADHD

We will over the next few days write about several of the other development disabilities.  The information is supplied by the Centers for Disease Control. Please feel free to share your feelings, experiences or information.  Questions will be researched to provide the best available information.



Facts About ADHD

Facts
ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioraldisorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.[1]

Signs and Symptoms

It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviors. The symptoms continue and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.
A child with ADHD might:
classroom of children
  • have a hard time paying attention
  • daydream a lot
  • not seem to listen
  • be easily distracted from schoolwork or play
  • forget things
  • be in constant motion or unable to stay seated
  • squirm or fidget
  • talk too much
  • not be able to play quietly
  • act and speak without thinking
  • have trouble taking turns
  • interrupt others

Types

There are three different types of ADHD, depending on which symptoms are strongest in the individual:
  • Predominantly Inattentive Type: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations. The person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: The person fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly. The individual feels restless and has trouble with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions. A person with impulsiveness may have more accidents and injuries than others.
  • Combined Type: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.

Causes of ADHD

Scientists are studying cause(s) and risk factors in an effort to find better ways to manage and reduce the chances of a person having ADHD. The cause(s) and risk factors for ADHD are unknown, but current research shows that genetics plays an important role. Recent studies of twins link genes with ADHD.1
kids playing on ballsIn addition to genetics, scientists are studying other possible causes and risk factors including:
  • Brain injury
  • Environmental exposures (e.g., lead)
  • Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
  • Premature delivery
  • Low birth weight

Did you Know?

While some individuals, including many professionals, still refer to the condition as "ADD" (attention deficit disorder), this term is no longer in widespread use. For those who may have been diagnosed with ADD, the corresponding diagnostic category, using current terminology, would most likely be "ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type".
Research does not support the popularly held views that ADHD is caused by eating too much sugar, watching too much television, parenting, or social and environmental factors such as poverty or family chaos. Of course, many things, including these, might make symptoms worse, especially in certain people. But the evidence is not strong enough to conclude that they are the main causes of ADHD.
For more information about cause(s) and risk factors, visit the National Resource Center on ADHDExternal Web Site Icon or the National Institute of Mental HealthExternal Web Site Icon.

Diagnosis

Deciding if a child has ADHD is a several step process. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like anxiety, depression, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms. One step of the process involves having a medical exam, including hearing and vision tests, to rule out other problems with symptoms like ADHD. Another part of the process may include a checklist for rating ADHD symptoms and taking a history of the child from parents, teachers, and sometimes, the child.

Treatments

physician speaking to family
In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behavior therapy. No single treatment is the answer for every child and good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way.

Get Help!

If you or your doctor has concerns about ADHD, you can take your child to a specialist such as a child psychologist or developmental pediatrician, or you can contact your local early intervention agency (for children under 3) or public school (for children 3 and older).

Sharing ConcernsFor tips on sharing concerns about a child's development, click on one of the following:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sponsors theNational Resource CenterExternal Web Site Icon, a program of CHADD – Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Their Web site has links to information for people with ADHD and their families. The National Resources Center operates a call center with trained staff to answer questions about ADHD. The number is 1-800-233-4050.
To find out who to speak to in your area, you can contact the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities by logging on to http://www.nichcy.org/External Web Site Icon or calling 1-800-695-0285.
In order to make sure your child reaches his or her full potential, it is very important to get help for ADHD as early as possible.