Stocks to Invest in 2009 (Energy and Dow Industrial Stocks)

February 15, 2009

2009 is the Year of the Ox according to the Chinese Astrology, but for the stock market participants, 2009 will be the Year of the Stock Trader.  You are going to see some volatile days with very big news revolving around long term oil prices, viability of the United States stimulus package, increasing unemployment, California running out of money, and whether the housing market will ever bottom out.

My strategy this year will be taking positions in companies that are being oversold and doing it incrementally instead of “going all in” like they say in poker.  If you normally invest in $3000 chunks, break that into $1500 chunks and reserve a bit of money in case that stock you love falls another 10% so you can cost average and spread around your funds to different sectors.  2008 showed us that no sector is immune to the slaughter in stock prices although some stocks only fell 40% compared to 80% from yearly highs.

With oil hitting $150/barrel and even though it’s sitting at barely 25% of that value, I am a big fan of energy and commodity stocks.   Knowing how important natural gas, coal, solar, and petroleum will be through every developing nation, it’s a golden opportunity to take a position while these prices are so depressed.  Banks and housing stocks will have many more tough times ahead of them and a lot of infrastructure stocks will follow the health of the economy.  Most of the ten investments below are ones that I believe will have a better chance to go up than down in the next few months.  If they do go down any further, just add more shares!

  • Alcoa (AA)
  • Procter & Gamble (PG)
  • Wal Mart (WMT)
  • Garmin (GRMN)
  • Diamond Offshore Drilling (DO)
  • Transocean (RIG)
  • Devon Energy Corporation (DVN)
  • Nabors Industries (NBR)
  • General Electric (GE)
  • Perdigao (PDA)

Most of these are large companies with none being small cap stocks.  6 of the 10 corporations have some kind of ties to the energy industry and all are well off their yearly highs.  I threw in some Dow Industrial stocks too for some dividend plays that shouldn’t take too big of a hit if the market tanks any further.  Take your 30% gains when they come and be a happy investor!!!

Disclosure: I have current ownership in Transocean.

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What happened to General Electric?

April 12, 2008

Yesterday, GE’s (GE) shares fell nearly 13% after CEO Jeffrey Immelt announced that quarterly earnings fell for the first time in five years. Even though Immelt had confirmed a positive earnings forecast for 2008 just in December, he blamed the lower earnings report yesterday on the credit market collapse.

The earnings report came as a shock, as GE had been reputable for consistently following its estimates.

What is GE?

GE consists of six divisions: GE Infrastructure, GE Industrial, GE Commercial Financial Services, NBC Universal, GE Healthcare, and GE Consumer Finance. The infrastructure division is the area where GE sees the greatest demand, consisting of energy, oil, rail, gas, and water.

Over half of GE’s revenue is derived from its financial services, which explains the dependence of their earnings on the credit market. Last quarter, the company was forced to write down the value of loans and Chinese securities it held, and was unable to follow through with the planned sale of its US credit card and Japanese consumer finance divisions.

However, the financial services division is not the only area with problems. The industrial division, which accounts for about 10% of overall revenue, also reported a 16% drop in first-quarter profit, which the company blamed on slowing consumer spending and a drop in housing starts in the US.

The only divisions to actually report profit growth were NBC Universal, whose profit rose 3%, and the energy-producing infrastructure division, whose profit rose 17%.

GE, the market barometer

Because GE is such a diversified industrial manufacturer, its performance is often viewed as an indicator of the state of the general economy. The DOW fell 2% Friday following GE’s lead.

Earnings season is just beginning. GE’s poor performance is likely just a preview of many disappointing reports ahead. Many corporations, like GE, delivered optimistic forecasts for 2008 late last year without realizing just how significant an impact the current economic weakness will have on all sectors.

Despite yesterday’s beatdown, GE has a strong track record of weathering decades of fluctuating economic conditions. GE CFO Keith Sherni has already reported that GE will lighten up on US exposure, heading back on track to sell its US private label credit card business. The drop in share price was mostly a shock response, and probably far harsher than deserved.

If GE continues to strengthen its infrastructure division and take advantage of growing worldwide demand for energy, it should soon be back on track to the consistent growth rate it has been known for.


Basics: Be Aware of Dates

September 20, 2007

Whether you’re a casual investor or an active investor, you should do occasional research about the companies that you own. It’s fine to keep up with every major news item that comes out about your company, but you should at least be aware of three key dates (listed below) and make appropriate decisions.

1) Earnings Reports Release Date

Much volatility does occur right after the release of quarterly earnings. I like to use Google Finance to find the dates that companies release their earnings under “Events”. Then if you use Google Calendar, you can conveniently add the earning release date to your calendar of events so you don’t forget about it. If you believe that a company will not meet analyst expectations or that it will be hard to maintain a level of growth in the current economy, it may be wise to sell before the earning release. On the other hand, if you notice that a company has high cash flow, low debt/equity ratio, and has a history of beating expectations, then it might be good to wait for exceptional earnings that will surprise investors and propel your stock even higher.

2) Dividend Dates

– Be aware of how often your stock pays dividends. Stocks don’t pay dividends like banks pay you interest on a monthly basis. General Electric (GE) pays dividends four times a year while China Mobile (CHL) pays dividends twice a year.

– Know when the ex dividend date is. If you aren’t an owner on a dividend paying stock before the ex dividend date, then you are not entitled to the dividend for a particular period. The payable date (dividend date) is usually a week or two after the ex dividend date so that dividend paying companies have adequate time to ensure investors that are entitled to the dividend are paid.

– Real World Example on how to miss a dividend payment:
Let’s look at JP Morgan (JPM) that pays dividends four times a year. Say you bought JPM on April 4, 2007 (one day after the ex dividend date), then you are not entitled to the .34/share dividend. Even if you bought this financial holding company on April 3, the ex dividend date, you are still not entitled to the dividend. Therefore you would have to wait until the next ex dividend date on July 3, 2007 to profit from a .38/share dividend.

3) Taxes on Short Term & Long Term Capital Gains

The tax rate on short term capital gains and long term capitals gains are different and generally apply more to long term investors more than short term investors. Short term capital gains are stock investments that are held less than one year and are taxed as ordinary income. Long term capital gains are stock investments held more than a year and taxed at a rate of:

a) 5% for the 10% and 15% tax brackets
b) 15% for the 25% and higher tax brackets

If you are near a holding period of one year and you think that the stock is going to trade flat, then just wait it out and take advantage of the long term capital gain tax benefit. If you are a few months away from the one year holding period and you believe that the stock will drop significantly, it may not be worth saving 5-15% off your capital gains. Remember, locking in a 15% gain on your investment is better than watching your stock fall below the price you paid and incurring a net loss.
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Regardless of how you invest, it would be wise to be aware of earning release dates, dividend dates, and the cutoff date for a short term capital gain tax to become a long term capital gain tax. This is a major step to become a well informed investor.