fool.com is an excellent site. They offer commentary that is both informative and even better educational. One strong theme they preach is to buy for the big score. Today, one of the founders, David Gardner, has a great article on this theme: The Highest Possible Returns. Period.
I disagree. Investing in great companies early on in their high-growth stages, then holding them for the long term, will provide the highest possible returns. Period.
We call those companies Rule Breakers. Our investment service of the same name seeks out the great growth stocks of tomorrow — the potential AOLs — before the Street catches on.
I missed out on the IPO for Google, much as he missed out on AOL. Luckily for me, I did buy at $220 (the IPO price less than a year earlier was $85): now it is at $476. Buying after you watch a stock more than double is not easy. My investment experience helps me make that decision today when I likely would have decided not to buy before – thinking I should have bought before it doubled so since I didn’t I wasn’t go to jump in later… I doubt I would buy Google now but I am keeping what I have.
Related: 10 stocks for 10 years update
One of the goals for this blog is to help people protect themselves from predatory behavior from corporations. I love capitalism and love being able to benefit from the innovations created by the marketplace. I wish companies tried to do well financially by providing value to the customer. This is what Google, Toyota, Berkshire Hathaway, Apple… do.
However there are many that seek to trick and take advantage of gullible customers. This is especially true of financial companies. If a company tries to trick you by selling you on a less than truthful description of their offer (such as $1 for the first month, or 1% interest for the first 6 months) my experience leads me to believe they don’t have faith that they offer a real value. They don’t believe people would buy what they offer for the real price, so instead they try and trick people with misleading information. And there are plenty of financially illiterate people that fall for these bad deals – don’t let yourself be one of them.
Credit card companies seem to be especially bad at this type of behavior. Most often they just take advantage of people that don’t bother to understand what the real fees and interest rates are. The consumer obviously should accept some of the blame. But tricking people that are not financially literate is not an honorable way to make money. But there are many who don’t seem to mind taking advantage of those that don’t educate themselves.
Continue your financial literacy education by visiting both those sites and reading and watching (you can watch the entire PBS show online) and learning. If you don’t make the effort to increase your financial literacy it will cost you as others take advantage of you.
The TIAA CREF site has some valuable retirement planning advice (link updated since some pointy haired boss doesn’t know that web pages must live forever – when are we going to get competent people running web sites?). Take some time to read one of their articles (or read more), for example: Retirement Strategies, a 48 page overview. Yes it requires some time to read but the money involved in retirement is huge. Making the wrong decisions can cost you not $2-5,000 but $100,000, and more, easily. Don’t avoid the steps you need to take to learn cost you.
The key is to get started. If you are relatively young you are lucky, you have decades to learn more and improve your plan. Don’t wait until you are only 10-15 years from retirement. The early you get started the better for you and the more money you will make by choosing wisely. The documents TIAA CREF puts together make it much easier to succeed. We will continue to point out resource to aid your continual quest for financial literacy. It is a long term project.
Fraudulent web click are friction in Google’s business. Fraudulent clicks ad costs to the system without a benefit to the performance of the system. Google’s profit is derived from improving the system (of finding customers for advertisers) and taking a cut of the profits that their system creates. Google makes a great deal of money because their system of matching advertisers with dollars to spend to customers. Google does this through ads on their search results pages and on third party web sites. Google engineers will do whatever they can to find ingenious ways to reduce that friction.
There have been many stories over the last few years about click-fraud. But none I have seen explain the simple idea that Google is the company with the most to gain by eliminating it (and Yahoo next). They often point to companies suing Google about fraudulent clicks instead.
Companies like Google run ads on web sites and charge the advertisers for each click (anywhere from a few pennies to several dollars for each click). Advertisers want to get potential customers when someone clicks on their ads, obviously they don’t want to pay when there is no chance the “visitor” is going to become a customer. Obviously, fraudulent clicks are bad and those that engage and encourage such behavior are acting unethically and immorally and should be stopped and punished.
We will be posting messages on various terms and concepts in investing and economics. Here we offer some information on cash flow.
Earnings per share include many adjustments to reflect the standard accounting wisdom, beyond the cash taken in and spent by a company (depreciation, expensing options, expensing long term investments over the expected life, writing off inventory…). Cash flow is a measure that tries to more closely measure the increase (or decrease) in cash for a company over a period of time.
An advantage of looking at cash flow is it is more difficult to distort than earnings per share (though it is still very possible). A disadvantage is that standard accounting practices exist for a reason and often give a better picture than a simple view provided by the cash flow. Therefore cash flow is normally useful in conjunction with the earnings statement – not instead of.
Operating Cash Flow attempts to eliminate such non-operations impacts (like selling or buying stock) and give a cash flow figure for the operation of the business. Free Cash Flow is equal to “operating cash flow” less “net capital expenditures.”
Like many accounting terms, cash flow is more complex in execution than it seems but this gives you a start on understanding cash flow.
You might think that China has been exporting more than the USA but you would be wrong. As Brad Setser discusses in, China tops the US — at least in the goods exporting league table, in August (which is a bit misleading – USA exports are seasonally adjusted, China’s are not) China exported more than the USA. He predicts that next year China will export more than the USA for the first time.
That calls into question my credibility. China has a great capacity to surprise.
He is right, China continues to surprise. However, don’t forget that the USA is still by far the largest manufacturer in the world (more than double China). And Japan still manufactures more than China too (though that is probably getting very close).
One week before the presidential election, it passed a new $1.8 billion disaster bill to assist farmers hurt by bad weather. Two others followed in subsequent years, totaling more than $6 billion. Today, after a searing drought in the Plains, farm-state legislators are pushing for billions more in aid.
The result is that farmers often get paid twice by the government for the same disaster, once in subsidized insurance and then again in disaster assistance, a legal but controversial form of double-dipping, a Washington Post investigation found. Together, the programs have cost taxpayers nearly $24 billion since 2000.
Some politicians talk as though they respect capitalism. They claim to reject taxing people just to give that money to others. Yet they continually increase the debt (taxing our children and grandchildren) and make payments to corporations, farmers and others for no reasonable purpose, other than buying votes. In addition to payments to farmers the government pays those who build million dollar beach house when the predictable storm knocks them down. No rational capitalist or economist would support such behavior (a political consultant might if when voters reward those that buy votes with taxpayer money, which seems to be the case now).
The estate tax is the most capitalist tax that exists. Capitalism, which some seem to think is based on people inheriting assets from their relatives, is not. Capitalism is based on the concept that each person gets to receive rewards for their work.
Long before Adam Smith, noble rich passed on their wealth to their heirs. It was not Capitalist then and it is not Capitalist now.
Unfortunately many seem to have skipped economics in school and accepted the claim that Capitalism is about protecting the rich. They seem to believe it is a tenant of Capitalism that those that have the gold make the rules. That is in fact a risk that Capitalists must protect the economy from, not something Capitalist approve of. Those who believe in the wealth being passed from those who earn it to those who they like, believe not in Capitalism but in the state not taxing the idle rich but instead taxing those who don’t have millions given to them. While many have come to believe that such idiocy is Capitalist, it is not. People should read the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith to get a much clearer idea of what Capitalism is about than those in Washington DC have.
The 2006 Nobel prize has been awarded to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank (which he founded). Trickle Up has long been my favorite charity. It is based on a model similar to the Grameen Bank where small micro-loans help people help create an economic future for themselves out of poverty (Trickle Up makes small grants instead of loans).
Trickle up and Grameen bank are amazing studies in financial literacy. They provide both seed capital and training to help people create businesses and have an absolutely amazing track record. Interview on the Noble Prize web site:
Muhammad Yunus: The one message that we are trying to promote all the time, that poverty in the world is an artificial creation. It doesn’t belong to human civilization, and we can change that, we can make people come out of poverty and have the real state of affairs. So the only thing we have to do is to redesign our institutions and policies, and there will be no people who will be suffering from poverty. So I would hope that this award will make this message heard many times, and in a kind of forceful way, so that people start believing that we can create a poverty-free world. That’s what I would like to do.
Questions You Should Ask About Your Investments from the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). They offer questions relating to: general investments, mutual funds, investment advisers, performance of your investments. Questions such as:
What are the total fees to purchase, maintain, and sell this investment? Are there ways that I can reduce or avoid some of the fees that I’ll pay, such as purchasing the investment directly? After all the fees are paid, how much does this investment have to increase in value before I break even?
How liquid is this investment? How easy would it be to sell if I needed my money right away?
Pretty basic stuff but it provides some questions that you should be able to answer. If you can’t then continue on your path to increase your financial literacy. We hope I site can help with that. In addition we link (on the left) to some good sites including fool.com and Marketplace that are useful in educating yourself.