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Sunday, 26 October 2008
Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) "A Personal Experience with Prostate Cancer"

Hello Friends!  Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting my blog, Stock Picks Bob's Advice!  As always, please remember that I am an amateur investor, so please remember to consult with your professional investment advisers prior to making any investment decisions based on information on this website.

I haven't been blogging for a few days.  I haven't even been paying attention to my portfolio.  In fact, I have even missed sale points for some of my own stocks (especially Covance (CVD)) which passed a sale point on the downside.  I can attend to that next week.

But what I want to share with you this afternoon is not about investing in any particular fashion, but rather my own personal journey with cancer, in particular Prostate Cancer that has entered my life and is an issue that I am now confronting and dealing with.  As with my financial advice, my thoughts on prostate cancer should be considered my own reflections and not medical advice for you.  Please consult with your medical professionals for that advice and information.

Back on April 30, 2004, more than four years ago, I wrote up an entry about Intuitive Surgical (ISRG), a stock pick which turned out to be a great pick for this blog.  I do not own any shares of ISRG at this time, nor do I own any options.

But last week, I became a customer of Intuitive Surgical (ISRG), undergoing a robotic prostatectomy at St. Mary's Hospital affiliated with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

I will not offer an opinion on the investment opportunity that Intuitive presents.  In the rocky environment of this stock market, any investment is suspect, and in our difficult economic times of more people possibly losing jobs, and losing their healthcare insurance, there will be increasing pressures on hospitals that may be looking to forego expensive equipmnent purchases regardless of the value of these purchases to patient care

I am lucky that I have access to as amazing an institution as Mayo.

This year I became part of an frightening statistic.  In the United States, 186,320 cases are estimated to be diagnosed in 2008, and 28,660 men will die of this disease.

Two years ago, at the age of 52, I had a PSA test (generally recommended to be a routine part of the examination after the age of 50), which was slightly elevated at over 3.0.   Repeat testing this year came in at 5.3 and it wasn't as much as the absolute level (which was important), but what is referred to as the PSA velocity which raised some alarms in my own physician.  My digital examination was normal, I was essentially asymptomatic, but the laboratory screening test raised concerns that needed to be addressed.

An appointment was made with my Urologist, and the decison was made, as it is made each day in so many doctor's offices, to obtain an ultrasound exam with biopsy to obtain some actual prostate tissue to determine whether I had prostate cancer or not. 

Needless to say THAT wasn't much fun.  But it wasn't that bad either.  A total of 12 biopsies were taken that afternoon back three months ago.  A few days later, my Urologist met with me to let me know that two of the twelve had come back positive.  In other words, I had cancer of the prostate.  

It appeared that it had been discovered relatively early, with only 10% of the two positive biopsies showing cancerous changes.  Technically, I was told it was a Gleason 3+3=6, as the pathologist reported. 

Faced with a diagnosis of Prostate Cancer, a patient has three basic options.  For older patients, watchful waiting may be suggested.   Since prostate cancer is a relatively slow-growing cancer (as I undertand it), patients in their 70's or 80's may choose to simply do nothing or even skip routine testing.

Treatment is essentially divided into two basic approaches:  radiation treatment and surgery.  Each of these is also broken down into different strategies:  radiation treatment through either external beam or by implantation of radioactive particles;  likewise surgery can be broken down into open radical prostatectomy and the newer robotic surgery on the Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) machine.

The best I could tell there is no definitive 'winner' between the two treatment modalities.  The figure I was given was an '85% chance of being cancer-free' at ten years with either approach.  Complications were somewhat different.

I chose surgery.  There wasn't really a right or wrong decision.  However, at my younger age for prostate cancer (54), my life expectancy was greater than a 70 year old patient, and I intended to be around to at least see some of my current stock investments recover :).  My own tumor was confined to the prostate gland and the margins were clear.  The grade was upped to 4+3=7 so it was a bit more serious than the biopsy suggested.  All lymph nodes checked were negative.  So things were as good as could possibly be expected.

Fortunately I had access to the robotic surgery with the Intuitive Surgical unit at Mayo.  I do not know if the results overall will provide me with longer longevity and success but the morbidity of the operation with the laparascopic robotic procedure is less with reduced bleeding and quicker recovery reported. 

My own surgery was on Wednesday, just four days ago.  I am sitting on my couch in my own home blogging this entry that I felt important to write.  My catheter should come out this Wednesday.  I am staying off work for the month but hope to gradually continue to up my activity.  The pain was worse than I expected with all of the hype about robotic surgery but I expect that my ill effects would have been greater if I had chosen the open radical approach.

Wish me well.  I shall try to keep you all posted of my continued progress.  

For once I have been focusing on something other than the Dow or the Nasdaq. If you are over 50 or know any men 50 or older, please make sure they get their PSA tested.  It might just save their lives.  I hope it saved mine.

I shall get back to talking about stocks soon.  I have missed some sale points, my performance is dropping back to the mean, but it just doesn't seem to matter that much anyhow. 

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them on the blog or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com.  

Yours in investing,

 

Bob 


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 5:41 PM CDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 26 October 2008 9:57 PM CDT
Monday, 20 October 2008
Imperial Oil LMT (IMO) "Trading Transparency"

Hello Friends!  Just a brief note to let all of you know that I purchased 140 shares of Imperial Oil (IMO) at $35.115 to get me up to the 5 position minimum that I utilize in my trading account.

Imperial is the Canadian subsidiary of ExxonMobil (XOM) which owns about 60% of the stock.

The company is traded on the AMEX where it made the list of top % gainers closing at $35.52, up $4.90 or 16% on the day, a few cents higher than my purchase.

Basically, the 2nd quarter results for Imperial were strong, the Morningstar.com looked nice, and the stock is trading at a deep discount to levels it was at earlier this year.

The company has been growing its revenue, increasing its earnings, and raising its dividend regularly while maintaining a relatively stable outstanding number of shares.  Free cash flow is positive and growing and the balance sheet, when we check the 10 year balance sheet from Morningstar.com, appears to be satisfactory.

Certainly, if we look at the "point & figure" chart from StockCharts.com, we can see that the stock is trading well off its highs near $63 earlier this year, and has come down along with all of the oil-related stocks.

Oil and commodity stocks helped move the market higher today as investors were expecting that the near-term bottom in the price of oil might be near.  As this news story reports:

"Crude's rise came as investors appeared all but assured that OPEC will announce a sizable production cut in an effort to keep oil prices from falling too fast. Chakib Khelil, president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said Sunday that members plan to announce a "substantial" output cut at a meeting beginning Friday in Vienna.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery rose $2.40 to settle at $74.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract Friday gained $1.53 to settle at $71.38.

Crude has fallen about 50 percent from its July 11 high of $147.27."

Also driving energy stocks higher was an Oppenheimer upgrade this morning of a lot of oil-related stocks that helped this sector throughout the day.

As reported:

"Oppenheimer upgraded a number of oil and gas companies this morning, saying they expect industry consolidation in the next 12 months

Upgraded to Outperform:

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC)
Apache Corp. (NYSE: APA)
BP plc (NYSE: BP)
Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (NYSE: COG)
Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX)
Comstock Resources Inc. (NYSE: CRK)
ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP)
Devon Energy Corporation (NYSE: DVN)
EOG Resources, Inc. (NYSE: EOG)
Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM)
Frontier Oil Corp. (NYSE: FTO)
Hess Corporation (NYSE: HES)
Murphy Oil Corp. (NYSE: MUR)
Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NBL)
Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (NYSE: PXD)
Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS.a)
Sunoco Inc. (NYSE: SUN)
Tesoro Corporation (NYSE: TSO)
Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO)
XTO Energy Inc. (NYSE: XTO)"

 

Now Imperial (IMO) was not on the list, nor was National Oilwell Varco (NOV) nor Graham (GHM).  But these stocks moved higher 'in sympathy' with the rest of the stocks upgraded and as Paul Harvey would say,'that's the rest of the story'!

When choosing stocks, I am certainly looking for momentum, and oil and financial stocks were up and down the list today!  Maybe I should have purchased some financial shares, but they don't really fit my revenue and earnings momentum and while they may be great value plays, I am not really oriented to those selections and usually have little patience or the stomach for buying stocks as deeply discounted and 'banged up' as these.

In any case, I wanted to get you caught up on my own activity in my trading account.   Good-luck to all of you in this stock market!

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them on the blog or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com.

Yours in investing,

 

Bob


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 9:25 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Saturday, 18 October 2008
National Oilwell Varco (NOV) "Trading Transparency"

Hello Friends!  Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting my blog, Stock Picks Bob's Advice!  As always, please remember that I am an amateur investor, so please remember to consult with your professional investment advisers prior to making any investment decisions based on information on this website.

With the market moving higher (at least temporarily yesterday), I visited the lists of top % gainers and since I was under my 5-position minimum, I had a 'permission slip' to be buying a new position, I was looking for a possible new holding.

Seeing National Oilwell Varco (NOV), an old favorite of mine, moving ahead strongly, I purchased 210 shares at $28.796, near the high for the day.the company's latest quarterly report was strong, and their Morningstar.com "5-Yr Restated Financials" are also impressive.

Even I wasn't prepared for the same-day price volatility in this stock.

Reviewing the Yahoo Finance Chart for NOV for 10/17/08, you can see the wide price swing of this company yesterday as it swung higher and then dipped in an almost as strong fashion.


National Oilwell Varco (NOV) actually closed at $25.58, up $2.05 or 8.71% on the day.  But my performance was obviously rather less than that.  Based on that purchase price of $28.796, I already have a loss of $(3.216) or (11.2)%.

Should I be selling at this point?  Somehow I don't think so.  Maybe this amateur is learning something.  My entire strategy is based on avoiding compounding my losses by stepping away from the market when times are bad.  So called 'sitting on my hands'.  However, I am getting clobbered in the extreme portion of my own strategy, my insistence on keeping myself at 5 positions is allowing me to compound my losses, buying stocks in sequence after they hit sales points on losses, instead of avoiding reinvesting in a declining market.

Something is very wrong with my approach!  

Two proposed changes.  In the bottom five stocks of my range, that is when I am down to five or less holdings, I shall continue to sell portions at the same intervals as they appreciate.  In addition, on the downside I shall be doubling my loss tolerance to (16)%.  

Next change.  When I am adding stocks to get to my '5 minimum' holding, I shall decrease the size of my purchases.  That is, if my 'average' holding is approximately $5,000, then my purchases that I make 'just to get back to 5' shall be 1/2 that size, or $2,500, for example.

These holdings shall still be good as indicators for my portfolio, but they haven't really shown that the market is truly ready for a new holding.

Will this help?

I don't really know.  This is all new territory for me.  For us all.  And while my overall performance has been above the S&P for the last 18 months, I am quickly declining to match the mean, if I haven't done so already.

Thanks for bearing with me.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them on the blog or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com.

Yours in investing,

 

Bob

 


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 9:18 AM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 18 October 2008 9:19 AM CDT
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Rollins (ROL) "Trading Transparency"

I keep looking for the right picture to describe my own feeling of being whipped around in this market.  Would a bucking bronco from National Geographic explain it properly?

This is far worse than any roller coaster I have ever been on.  The daily gyrations are enough to give anyone motion sickness.  The lurches and dips are a challenge for a professional investor, let alone an amateur to deal with in any rational fashion.

After being led to dump shares in holdings on losses, the market took me for another ride moving higher this afternoon, the Dow closing at 8,979.26, up 401.35, and the Nasdaq finishing the day at 1,717.71.

Noticing that the market was lurching in an upwards direction, I took a look at the lists of top % gainers, trying this time to stick with my own rules, and with a "permission slip" to be buying a position (since I was once again under my minimum of 5 holdings), I saw that Rollins (ROL) was making a nice move higher, and with a brief inspection of the latest quarter, the Morningstar.com "5-Yr restated", it appeared to be appropriate and purchased 350 shares at $14.67/share.

Just one position for today.  No more "all in"!

Anyhow, wish me luck.  I shall try to hang onto this bronco at least for a few more hours.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them on the blog or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com.

Yours in investing,

 

Bob


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 4:34 PM CDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
ResMed (RMD), Newell Rubbermaid (NWL), and Ecolab (ECL) "Trading Transparency"

Oil and vinegar!

They don't mix well do they?  I could have said oil and water, or some other analogy, but that is what I have been doing the past few days in my own amateur fashion.

What do I mean?  What qualifies me as an amateur, is my ability to change my previously developed strategy on a virtual hunch, for all of the wrong reasons and believe that 'this time, somehow things are different.'

My trading strategy has generally been about a disciplined approach to equities involving identifying high quality companies hitting the top % gainers list that met my own criteria. 

If you didn't notice, when I went 'all in', I simply picked some of my 'old favorites' from this blog and simply added them en masse to my portfolio.  So much for anything very disciplined, rational, or consistent with my past picks.  I justified each of them really on the basis of value, not momentum.  That these were great growth stocks of the past that were beaten up beyond real recognition and were a 'great price' at these levels.

Like 'oil and vinegar', I was mixing a value approach to a momentum approach.  And I am not really a value investor at all.

A value investor must identify stocks of great value and purchase them (as I see it) and hang onto them if they should decline without any particular fundamental reason presented.  In fact, many value investors would consider adding to their investment on a decline, as the stock considered would be an even more attractive investment for them.

It isn't a bad approach at all.

But it isn't my approach. 

It is one thing to be flexible, it is another to be erratic.  Consistency is the key to any approach one wishes to employ in dealing with investing.

Earlier today, with the market continuin to show an anemic performance, I unloaded my 154 shares of ResMed (RMD) at $33.04.  I had purchased them 10/14/08, two days ago!, at a price of $36.396.  Thus, I had a loss of $(3.36) or (9.2)% since purchase.

Similarly, I sold my 154 shares of Ecolab (ECL) at $37.0824.  These shares also were purchased 10/13/08 at a cost of $40.646/share.  Thus, I had a loss of $(3.56)/share or (8.8)% since purchase.

Finally, I sold my 420 shares of Newell Rubbermaid (NWL) at $13.5222.  These shares were similarly purchased 10/13/08 at a cost of $15.20.  This represented a loss of $(1.68) or (11)% since purchase.

It is hard being an amateur investor and sharing with you readers my own foibles and expensive lessons.  I hope you are learning alongside with me without losing your own money as well!

I shall not be putting any buy, sell, or hold ratings on these stocks.  My own sales are a reflection of my desire to continue to implement my investment strategy in a coherent fashion.  I shall continue to limit losses, but I shall refrain from rushing to buy shares even if I have a "permission slip" from my own trading system, unless the requirements I have previously established are met. 

If I am not finding my kind of stocks on the lists of top % gainers, perhaps that suggests it is not my kind of market to be buying stocks!

In the meanwhile, I hope that all of you are learning from my own blunders as I struggle to deal with the incredible volatility of this market that humbles the cockiest of individual investors who might believe that he is able to develop a strategy to deal with investing that might apply to any kind of market and any kind of investment.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them here on the website or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com.

Yours in investing,

 

Bob
  


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 2:10 PM CDT | Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 16 October 2008 2:11 PM CDT
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Coach (COH) "Trading Transparency"

With thanks to Hellkvist.org for the photo of the Japanese Roller Coaster!  Thanks Stefan!  I do not think I found a better picture illustrating my own vertiginous feelings as the market has soared and swooned in an increasingly volatile fashion day after day!

After climbing 900 points Monday, and sitting near that peak Tuesday, the roller coaster turned south once again and the market dropped more than 700 points today.

I should know better than to go "all in" in this environment.  I guess that is what makes me an amateur when cooler hands are around.

Before all hell broke lose in the last hour of trading, I pulled the plug on my Coach (COH) stock that I just wrote up, selling my 280 shares at $17.6142.  I purchased these shares yesterday at $20.0454, giving me a loss of $(2.43)/share or (12.1)% since purchasing these shares just hours ago.  Ouch.

My Newell Rubbermaid shares were purchased yesterday at $15.20.  They closed today (still in my account) at $13.87.  They now have incurred a loss of $(1.33)/share or (8.75)%.  This stock, if it holds at this price or moves lower tomorrow, shall also be history.

These (8)% loss limits are not very helpful in these wild swings of stock prices.  But then what is?

Frankly, I do not know what to rate these stocks---Buy? Hold? Sell?

I shall keep you posted regarding the continued progress or lack thereof in my dealing with the market. 

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them on the blog or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com.

Yours in investing,

 

Bob


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 4:51 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Coach (COH), Ecolab (ECL), Newell Rubbermaid (NWL), and ResMed (RMD) "Trading Transparency"

Hello Friends!  Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting my blog, Stock Picks Bob's Advice!  As always, please remember that I am an amateur investor, so please remember to consult with your professional investment advisers prior to making any investment decisions based on information on this website.

Yesterday with the Dow up 500+ points (on the way to a 900+ point gain), I decided that it might be wise to go "all in" with my investments.  That is, after my partial sale of Graham (GHM) at a gain, I had another 'permission slip' to be adding a position.  With two positions in my portfolio, my minimum being 5, that meant I could move my holdings up to six positions.

These are different times, and while I chose stocks that are generally "growth stocks" and stocks that were indeed moving higher yesterday (weren't all stocks moving higher?), they were what I would call 'favorites' of mine.  Stocks that I have owned in the past either in this account or elsewhere and stocks that I have written up here on the blog.  All of them were what I would call 'value/growth' investments---that is stocks of great value due to their decline in price and yet shared many of the growth characteristics that I have written about in the past.

On October 13, 2008, I purchased 154 shares of Ecolab (ECL) at a price of $40.646.  As I write, ECL is trading at $44.03, up $.02 or 0.05% on the day today.  This represents a gain of $3.384 or 8.3% since purchase.

ECOLAB (ECL) IS RATED A BUY

On October 13, 2008, I purchased 280 shares of Coach (COH) at a price of $20.0454.  As I write, Coach is trading at $20.67, up $.43 or 2.12% on the day.  This represents a gain of $.625 or 3.1% since purchase.

Coach (COH) is an old favorite of mine.  I have owned shares of this stock in the past and have written up this investment previously as well. Trading as high as $50/share in mid-2007, the stock is well below its recent price levels and may represent a 'value' purchase. 

 

 

 

COACH (COH) IS RATED A BUY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newell Rubbermaid (NWL) is an old favorite of mine, a stock that my kids have owned shares in and a stock that I have owned on and off in the past.  I don't believe I have written this one up on the blog previously.

On October 13, 2008, I purchased 420 shares of Newell Rubbermaid (NWL) at a price of $15.20.  NWL is currently trading at $15.64, up $.51 or 3.37% on the day.  This represents a gain from my purchase of $.44/share or 2.9% since purchase.

Newell Rubbermaid is also a 'value' investment with an underlying growth profile.  The stock has been beaten up pretty severely both with the economic slowdown and the soaring price of oil driving up resin costs for all of their plastic products.  NWL currently trades at a trailing p/e of 10.08, and yields 6.6% in dividends.  Over the past two years, this stock had been trading just above $30/share.

Boy do I sound like a different investor today!

NEWELL RUBBERMAID (NWL) IS RATED A BUY

Finally, I chose to pur ResMed (RMD) back into my portfolio.  I purchased 154 shares of ResMed (RMD) at a price of $36.396.  As I write, ResMed (RMD) is trading virtually unchanged from my purchase at $36.42, actually down $(.12) or (.33)% on the day.

ResMed which traded as high as $55 in early 2007, has not traded at these levels since 2005.  But then again, most stocks are trading at multi-year lows as well!

RESMED (RMD) IS RATED A BUY

If I get a chance, I shall try to write up each of these individually to give you a better assessment of my own view of the prospects.  They are not my usual picks; I promise you I shall be getting back to my usual 'strategy' as more 'usual' times return!

But I shall be managing them in my usual approach of limiting losses and taking gains when appropriate.

Thanks again for visiting!  If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them on the blog or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com.

Yours in investing,

 

Bob


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 9:42 AM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 14 October 2008 10:31 AM CDT
Monday, 13 October 2008
Graham (GHM) "Trading Transparency"

Hello Friends!  Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting my blog, Stock Picks Bob's Advice!  As always, please remember that I am an amateur investor, so please remember to consult with your professional investment advisers prior to making any investment decisions based on information on this website.

One of my favorite gurus in the investment world is Martin Zweig.  Zweig's philosophy rings true today.

As his website points out:

"Martin Zweig's objective is to ensure his money is fully invested in the market at the right time - he wants his money to be exposed to major bull markets but not to be exposed to major bear markets."

Isn't that what we all would like to do?

He is also a big fan of earnings rather than the Peter Lynch style of 'knowing what they do'.   As this article reports:

"In his analysis of individual stocks, Zweig is first and foremost concerned with the company's earnings. "I don't get that much involved in the product being produced," he wrote in Winning on Wall Street. "If a company can show nice consistent earnings for four or five years, I don't care if it makes broomsticks or computer parts."

Unlike many investors, however, Zweig doesn't simply look at earnings growth over one fixed period; instead, he dissects a company's earnings from a variety of different angles, trying to find firms that have shown steady and "reasonable" long-term growth that has been accelerating in recent quarters."

That's what I try to do in my humble fashion utilizing the Morningstar.com "5-Yr Restated" financials on each of my write-ups.  I am certainly NOT in Mr. Zweig's league at all.  But I am truly a fan of his.

I bring up Zweig, because as this Wharton Alumni Magazine article points out (and where I found his photo), he is the guru attributed to the "Do not fight the Fed" philosophy.

"He had started his newsletter in 1971 and his hedge fund in 1984, well before those limited high-end-investors became the rage. While still a professor, his by-word was, “Don’t fight the Fed.” That meant, according to Zweig’s theory, that if interest rates were going down, stocks would go up, and vice versa. He also claimed the way to make money was to be risk-averse, rather than taking chances on the upside. He said he was a big poker player while at Wharton, but had stopped playing when he became a money manager because he hated losing, even at cards. One of his major pieces of advice was never to hold stocks, even of the best companies, in a bear market, since even they could disappoint."

I wrote this up because I wanted to talk about fighting the Fed and the fact that the Fed and the Treasury Department are throwing everything they can at the market and the economy, including rate cuts, buying paper, and now injecting capital directly into banks.

The stock market appears to be responding.

As I write the Dow is trading at 8,970.97, up 519.78, and the Nasdaq is at 1,752.57.  And it doesn't appear to be trading with much volatility today.

At least so far.

In the midst of this big move, my Graham (GHM) stock really took off this morning.   I purchased my Grahm shares last week at $16.34.  This morning I sold 60 shares of my 420 share position (1/7th) at $22.50/share.  This represented a gain of $6.16/share or 37.7% since purchase.  (My next sale on the upside would be at a 60% appreciation level or 1.6 x $16.34 = $26.14, or on the downside, instead of waiting for an (8)% loss, after a single partial sale of a holding, my sale point for ALL remaining shares would now be moved to break-even.)

GRAHAM (GHM) IS RATED A BUY

Since I was only at 2 positions, well under my 5 position minimum, and I now had a 'buy signal', that moved my 'permission slips' up to a 6 position level.  I went ahead and purchased shares of Ecolab (ECL) and ResMed (RMD), two stocks that were not on the top % gainers list, but were moving higher and are the kinds of stocks I want to have back in my account.  I shall write something about them later when I get a minute or two :).

ECOLAB (ECL) IS RATED A BUY

RESMED (RMD) IS RATED A BUY

Thanks again for dropping by and visiting!  If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them on the blog or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com.  If you are interested, please feel free to visit my Covestor Page where my actual trading account is monitored and my performance evaluated, and my SocialPicks Page where my write-ups on the blog and my 'picks' are reviewed.  I also have a podcast page, which is crying out to me for another show!  

Yours in investing,

 

Bob


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 10:43 AM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 13 October 2008 10:46 AM CDT
Saturday, 11 October 2008
A Reader Writes "...I'm trying to figure out where to look....."

Hello Friends!  Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting my blog, Stock Picks Bob's Advice!  As always, please remember that I am an amateur investor, so please remember to consult with your professional investment advisers prior to making any investment decisions based on information on this website!

After writing about the terrible market conditions that we have been experiencing, especially the last week or two, it is nice for a change to answer a question from a new investor, a reader who also happened to visit my stock club this past month.

Mike A. is trying to figure out how I go about 'picking' stocks and where he can find the information both about my process as well as the actual data underlying my decisions.

He wrote:

"Hey Bob,

I was looking at GHM, and I'm trying to figure out where to look to
find the number of shares outstanding? That's what you look at
right? Of course that'd in addition to the other criteria
(increasing positive free cash flow, increasing dividend).

-Mike A."

Thanks so much Mike!  As you may know, I have been in and out of shares of Graham (GHM) several times now.  I am currently a shareholder, but with the volatility of the market, that could well change!

Let me try to briefly answer your questions.  There are just a few places that I tend to go to get the information you are asking about.  I shall give you the links which will be 'hyperlinked' so you just need to 'click' on the words which should be in blue or purple to get you to these pages for the information.

Let me review again with you (and the rest of the readers) some of the key things that go into my selection of a stock for inclusion in this blog and possible inclusion into my own trading account.

First of all, I start looking for stocks on the top % gainers lists.  I generally stay with stocks near $10 or higher so as to avoid getting stuck with the inherent volatility (in these volatile times) of lower priced stocks.  (As I got stock with Servotronics (SVT)).

From there, I check the latest quarterly results.  I have personally found Yahoo Finance to be the most helpful.  (Other people might prefer Google Finance which also is rich in information.)

Working with Yahoo, I enter the symbol for Graham which is the three letters GHM into the box for the "get quotes".  That will get you here.  To find the latest quarter, I go to the "Headlines" link along the left side of the page which is below the section head of "News & Info".  Clicking on that gets you here.

Scrolling down the list of headlines, you can see the headline titled on "Fri, Aug 1, 2008" "Graham Corporation Reports Net Income More Than Doubles on 38% Increase in Sales for First Quarter Fiscal 20009"....a Business Wire story which is found here.   It certainly was a strong report from my perspective.  You can peruse it further to see if there is anything in that story that should have drawn my attention.

Going back to your question.  I then look for data.  Most of the data can come from my longer-term view which I find on Morningstar.com.  If you click on the "Direct to Morningstar.com" or simply wait, it will open up a page that looks like you need to register.  You don't. 

Up towards the upper left on the page under the Morningstar logo, is an empty field where you can enter symbols for "Quotes".  Enter GHM there and you will get to this page.  (You can close the annoying pop-up for the Economist Magazine).

Now head over to the "Financial Statements" section by clicking on those words along the left side of the page in the box of terms headed up by "Snapshot".  If you click on "Financial Statements" it should get you here.

You should be looking at the "10-Yr Income" for Graham (GHM).  I find the "5-Yr Restated" the easiest to utilize....at least for me.  You can find that page by looking at the tabs above the blue bargraphs with the yellow background titled "5-Yr Restated".  If you click on that page, it should get you here.

This page is really helpful imho.  Here we can get the data that really provides me with the bulk of my analysis:  the revenue growth, earnings growth, dividends--which I don't require but like and if they do pay dividends, I like it even more, like you say, if they raise them on some regular basis--outstanding shares....which here have been 4 million 2004 to 2005, and 5 million since then---relatively stable.  I also look at free cash flow, which for Graham is positive and growing, and the balance sheet, checking the cash and current assets relative to the current liabilities and then inspecting the long-term liabilities.  Graham checks out just fine in this regard.

Returning back to the Yahoo Finance Page for Graham,  I usually like to loook at the Yahoo "Key Statistics" which is found along the left side under the section in bold called "Company".  For Graham (GHM), it is located here.

On that page, I can get some basic 'value numbers' like the Market Cap, the p/e ratio, the PEG ratio, the Price/Sales ratio (which I like to compare to other companies utilizing my Fidelity.com page, the outstanding shares, the short interest----indicating the number of shares out short relative to the daily trading volume, and the latest stock split and yield.

If you look at a few of my past write ups of stocks, you can follow along as I link to this information and discuss it over and over again.

Finally, I like to look at a chart.

I utilize Stockcharts.com which may be found here.  Again, if you enter "GHM" in the light blue box titled "Easy as 1-2-3. Create a Chart Now!", and choose "point & figure" you will get here. And see a chart which looks like this company's price has totally broken down:

Mike I hope that answers your questions about finding information on stocks.  If you talk to some other investors, I am sure you will find and identify other sources of similar information.  This is just what I like to do.  Many people like to look at other pieces of information that are probably equally important including insider buying and selling and other technical charts.

Explore some of these other approaches as well, utilize anything I do to your own advantage, and with time you will easily pass my own simple grasp of stocks without too much effort or time on your own part!

Thanks for inquiring.  Let me know if you would like me to discuss my portfolio management strategies or my general and idiosyncratic rules for buying and selling portions of stocks at varying price levels.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them right here on the blog or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com.

Yours in investing,

 

Bob


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 10:39 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 11 October 2008 10:45 PM CDT
Friday, 10 October 2008
LDK Solar (LDK), Servotronics (SVT), and Potash (POT) "Trading Transparency"

Hello Friends!  Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting my blog, Stock Picks Bob's Advice!  As always, please remember that I am an amateur investor (!), so please remember to consult with your professional investment advisers prior to making any investment decisions based on information on this website. 

Getting away from the market and the workplace, I had a nice dinner last night at Hackberry's in La Crosse.  If you are driving through this town, stop by and visit our Co-Op and get a bite 'upstairs' at the restaurant.

(And no I don't get paid to mention these businesses...they are just places I like and am happy to mention them right here on the blog!)

You probably aren't wondering, but I had the 'Brown Rice Sir Fry' with the chicken added on top :).  For $10.75, it was more than enough for dinner!  I like this restaurant because it is relatively easy to walk right in and eat, has reasonable prices and good food, and a view of the downtown.

Getting back to work today, I checked the portfolio realizing that some of my stocks (as I wrote last night) had likely hit sale points. 

Indeed, I was starting to feel a bit 'banged-up' by this vicious correction!

First of all my LDK Solar shares were acting less than sunny, and in fact were trading below my (8)% loss limit.  I sold my 280 shares of LDK at $20.43, having just purchased these shares YESTERDAY at $23.82 (!)----OUCH----for a loss of $(3.39) or (14.2)% in about 24 hours!

LDK SOLAR (LDK) IS RATED A HOLD

But the disaster that was the stock market didn't stop there! 

Servotronics.  Another purchase from YESTERDAY of 700 shares at $8.45/share; these shares were unloaded this morning at $7.05.  This was a QUICK loss of $(1.40) or (16.6)% in about 24 hours.  YIKES AGAIN!

SERVOTRONICS (SVT) IS RATED A HOLD 

But wait, the disaster wasn't complete! 

Potash Corporation (POT), that I have been ribbing my good friend Jerry H. who I walk with in the morning about HIS problems with this stock, well, I couldn't help myself and get in there and bloody my own nose on this stock.  In fact, I haven't even had the time or made the time to write this stock up after purchasing 70 shares 10/8/08 (two days ago!) at a price of $95.84. 

Potash (POT) dipped quickly and my shares were sold at $84.67 for a loss of $(11.17) or (11.7)% since my purchase.  The market is crazy enough that the stock flew back later in the day to close at $91.08, down only $(1.77) or (1.91)% on the day.  Too late for me as I was no longer a share-holder.

POTASH CORP (POT) IS RATED A HOLD

Not all was lost as my recent purchase of Graham (GHM), a stock that I thought I might be also selling today, closed at $19.70, up $4.15 or 26.695 on the day.  I had purchased my 420 shares of GHM two days ago as well at $16.33.  Thus, I now have a gain (for the moment) of $3.37 or 20.6% since that purchase. 

GRAHAM (GHM) IS RATED A BUY 

Now down to two positions (Graham (GHM) and Covance (CVD)), I do not think I shall be that quick to spend that nickel in my pocket and get back to my alotted 5 positions.  Of course.....you know I never do have much self control so if there is some large move on the upside....well you know I shall be checking out those top % gainers lists no matter what I tell you this evening!

Thanks again for visiting!  This kind of market only brings to mind one image for me.  My desire to climb under my desk as all hell breaks loose as I did so many years ago during the 'cold war' when we all needed to be ready for a 'drop drill' on a moment's notice!  I guess that kind of comment is rather revealing of my age!

 

I hope you all have a nice weekend and that next week finds us in a market that is acting a bit more sensibly than what we have experienced this past week of trading!

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them on the blog or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com.

Yours in investing,

Bob


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 5:43 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink

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