Road Trip Musings

Settling in at home after wandering the country a little, provides an opportunity to reflect on my observations, discussions and tenor of the people I engaged with.  I thoroughly enjoyed the visits and sometimes lively discussions and following are a sampling of these.  There is but one potential action item for my portfolio review – which is less than normal for these adventures.

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Thoughts on EV Investing

FI Fighter returned from his self-imposed exile with a renewed passion.  Now I’ll be the first to admit that his investing style is a little (ok, maybe a lot) more on the fringe than mine, but his concepts and theories are well-reasoned.  Perhaps the downside to his methods as the timing – not in the sense of timing the market but in having a measure of foresight in developing trends. Being ahead of the curve tends to have drawbacks as Elon Musk can probably attest.

He returned May 18th with a series of three posts/podcasts, one of which garnered my attention.  His views on metals – in particular Lithium – seem to resonate with me. I agree with his general view of market direction, our disagreement would be in the investment manner.  In short I prefer a greater margin of safety with a ‘proven concept’ where he’s all-in on a ‘plausible theory’.

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May 2018 Update

The month was fairly normal until the final week with Italy followed by Trump’s tariff rollout.  In between we saw the on again – off again negotiating style with North Korea and China.  Other than a couple of down days it appears the market is learning to ignore the noise.  Again I used the dips to my advantage and stayed the course.  May saw a rise in the S&P of 2.16% while my portfolio outperformed the index by registering a rise of 2.24%.  YTD I still lag the S&P by 0.35%.

Portfolio Updates:

  • Added to CMCSA (making another round lot)
  • Added to my ETF group (CUT, EWA, EWW, JPMV, VGK)
  • Added to GE (on the rail spin (WAB) news)
  • Added SMTA (via SRC spin)
  • Added to BKSC (via 10% stock dividend)
  • Added to DGX on news of UNH strategic partnership

DIVIDENDS

This is where my main focus resides.  Market gyrations are to be expected but my goal is to see a rising flow of dividends on an annual basis.  I’m placing less emphasis on the quarterly numbers as the number of semi-annual, interim/final and annual cycles have been steadily increasing in my portfolio.

  • May delivered an increase of 12.97% Y/Y fueled by dividend increases.
  • May delivered a 15.98% increase over last quarter (February).
  • Dividend increases averaged 12.14% with 55.98% of the portfolio delivering at least one increase (including 1 cut (GE).
  • 2018 Dividends received were 46.53% of 2017 total dividends putting us on pace to exceed last year in early November.

Notes: the Q/Q shows an increasing trend line due only to timing of dividend payouts (pay date shifts).  Y/Y is only on par with dividend increases as dividends received were used to purchase next quarter (rather than current quarter) dividends.

Spinoffs:

GE‘s rail unit to spin then merge with WEB

Mergers:

XRX merger with Fujifilm cancelled.

SHPG to merge into TKPYY

Summary

Any month with increasing dividends and beating the S&P has to be considered a good one.

Hope all of you had a good month as well.

When a Dividend Increase Really Isn’t

As a kid I enjoyed a good riddle every now and again but as the years went by thought I’d outgrown them to a large degree.  Until now.  One of the companies in my portfolio announced a dividend.  In reviewing the announcement (specifically the SEC 6-K filing), I noticed the dividend amounted to an increase of 13.16%.  Not shabby – in fact it exceeds the average of my portfolio (12.08% current).  So imagine my surprise to find the amount to be credited resulted in a 15.23% reduction!  Hmm … kind of blows away the increase, doesn’t it?   Of course I had to investigate – it appears like that’s what I seem to do.

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Trump-World

Inside this feeble brain resides a significant amount of skepticism.  Perhaps from age or maybe the result of life’s encounters – the result is there is a difficulty in accepting anything at face value.  Especially when it’s a moving target – otherwise known as a changing story line.  Another case in point is the curious case of ZTE (ZTCOY) which exploded into our consciousness in major form this past week due – in no small part – to tweets from the president.

To set the stage, ZTE agreed to enter a guilty plea and pay a fine to settle a 2017 case that they violated export sanctions by shipping products with US components to Iran.  On April 16, 2018 the Commerce Department enacted a ban on American companies conducting business with ZTE for seven years  as a result of ZTE allegedly breaching said settlement.  In addition, the US military had previously raised concerns of potential espionage by ZTE’s equipment on or near military bases.

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M1 Finance


M1-Finance

I was sorely disappointed when the Loyal3 investing platform was absorbed into FolioFirst last year.  Sure it had disadvantages and limitations (limited number of stocks, only batch trade) but as in life, you get what you pay for.  A transaction fee of $0 for a buy, $0 for a sale was nothing to sneeze at. With the monthly service fee FolioFirst wanted I figured I’d be ahead in the game by just transferring my shares to my regular broker and paying their $4.95 fee as needed (which isn’t monthly purchases with this group of stocks).  I did look at other alternatives (RobinHood, Stockpile, WiseBanyan) but each had their own drawbacks to my way of thinking.

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Takeda/Shire Merger

This morning, the long-rumored merger between Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd (TPKYY) and Shire plc (SHPG) has been approved by both companies boards for the consideration of $30.33 in cash and either .839 shares stock or 1.679 ADS for each Shire share.  (Takeda’s current NYSE listing is at a 2:1 ratio, hence the differential).  Shire shareholders will also be entitled to dividends paid or declared through the merger effective date.

The combination is expected to complete in the first half of 2019 and will result (I believe) in the eighth largest pharma company.  Takeda expects to maintain both its’ dividend policy and investment grade rating.

My investment came about via Baxter’s spin of Baxalta which was subsequently acquired by Shire.  The overall investment is currently a little under water but the cash portion of this deal should mitigate this to a degree.  Apparently a major concern is that some large holders don’t care to hold Japanese paper.  Although Japan’s monetary policy (and resulting exchange rate) is a potential issue, my belief is that the combined company will have enough of a worldwide footprint to offset this.

Therefore I favor this deal and expect to increase my Shire holdings enough to avoid a weird fractional allocation of shares based on the merger terms.