Why I’m Like Trump (and …

 you could be too)

After an election season, inauguration, semi-messy transition and a weird first month it appears the dust is beginning to settle and a state of normalcy is beginning to take hold.  There remain plenty of pitfalls and Team Trump seems determined to find them all.  Uncertainty and chaos have traditionally been bad for stocks yet the markets have soldiered on powered by promises and hope although the expectation timeline begins to be extended.  Through all this, I’ve remained steadfast in my belief that at its core there is a logic that investors can incorporate into their strategy.  I believe this nugget has been identified and it’s called diversification.

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Moral Investing?

When visiting friends and acquaintances, some topics are generally held as taboo for discussion with financial status, politics and religion usually top of the list.  It’s not due to political correctness but more along the lines of common courtesy.  Unless invited, why would I discuss the success I’ve enjoyed with someone who’s filed for multiple bankruptcies?

There are investors that choose to invest in faith based, moral or social causes that fit their beliefs.  Some choose to avoid tobacco, liquor, coal or oil issues in their portfolios for personal reasons.  Others have no issues or concerns whatsoever.  I believe Lawrence Meyers presents this view nicely in The Myth of Socially Responsible Investing.

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The ‘Ole Ball Game

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Jack Norworth – 1908

As a result of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission decision to classify broadband as “a basic telecommunications service for all Canadians” I figured an update was in order for Part 3 of Methods to My Madness  post of last year.  Previously I had postulated that the Carriers were a viable segment in order to capitalize on Cord Cutting.   This segment over the past year proven to be more a commodity with streaming essentially the same regardless of carrier.  With limited pricing power, I now feel  this segment is more likely an indirect beneficiary rather than a driving force of Cord Cutting and am dropping this segment as a viable candidate going forward.

The other two segments, Creators and Providers, in my initial thesis remain intact.  In fact, AT&T’s (T) overtures with Time Warner (TWX) enhance the argument.  Casting about for a replacement segment, I ran across Mr Free At 33‘s post on “Experiencism”.  Although I can quibble with his choice of wording (I think the word he was looking for is Experientialism), the heart of his message is sound being a cautionary tale on falling under the spell of excess.

While I doubt many have the will, means or gumption to head to Thailand on a whim, many are seeking  “Experiencism” locally or with family and friends – and there lies my replacement!   I’ve written before on my interest in business interrelationships.  Localized Experientialism melds nicely into this strategy.  A family visit to the circus or an outing to a sports event are just a couple of examples.

Assume you experience a Flyers game in Philadelphia.  The Wells Fargo Center and Flyers are owned by Comcast (CMCSA), Spectracor (also CMCSA) manages it, Aramark (ARMK) has the food service contract and Comcast SportsNet (CMCSA yet again) the broadcast rights.  So the primary lines of business are the Content Owners/Creators (Teams/Studios), Aggregators and the Experience.  In sports, this model is pretty much followed across all leagues with only the companies involved changing.  In this definition, The Experience includes the cleaners, concessionaires and venue managers.

Many of these companies and teams are privately held with associated interrelationships managed or owned by an entity controlled by the owner .  Others, while public, pay a minimal – if any – dividend.  But there are a few that do pay a healthy – and growing – dividend.  Generally, to invest in this manner requires patience and a willingness to await a change in control of the team while being satisfied with bragging rights of ownership.  In fact, I have to agree with Christopher Lackey in his assessment: “The sports properties, which include the suddenly not laughable Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Blue Jays, are doing well and increasing in value, but investing on this basis alone is not sound because if the teams achieve success they require significant reinvestment to sustain it.

During the past year, Comcast (CMCSA) became sole owner of the Philadelphia Flyers and Liberty Media created a tracking stock (BATRA) based on the financials of the Atlanta Braves, new ballpark and nearby real estate.  I also uncovered two additional teams that have – at least in part – public ownership, the Chicago Cubs (TRNC which I believe retained ownership with the Tribune changes) and Seattle Mariners (NTDOY).

With content being the driving force in landing eyeballs – which in turn lands revenue, providers and the groups providing the eperience are the more direct beneficiaries.  Point in fact is Dustin Blitchok‘s article, “Which Streaming Providers Are Winning The Content War?”  This was also confirmed in series of interviews by AT&T employees aired on CNBC last week.  The following table presents my current take on this strategy which, as always, is subject to change.

OWNERS/CREATORS

COMPANY YIELD SEGMENT
Disney/DIS 1.41% C,E
Comcast/CMCSA 1.57% C,A,E,O – Philadelphia Flyers
Time Warner/TWX 1.67% C,A
Fox/FOXA 1.19% C,A
BCE/BCE 4.96% O,A,E,C – Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Montreal Canadians
Rogers Comm./RCI 3.42% O,E,A – Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Blue Jays
Madison Sq Gdn/MSG n/a O/E – New York Knicks, New York Rangers
Netflix/NFLX n/a C,A
Amazon/AMZN n/a C,A
Liberty Media/BATRA n/a O/E – Atlanta Braves
Nintendo/NTDOY 0.42% O – Seattle Mariners
Tribune Co./TRNC (susp) O – Chicago Cubs
NOTE: Nintendo also includes the Pokémon GO experience

AGGREGATORS

COMPANY YIELD SEGMENT
AMC Networks/AMCX n/a A
Discovery Communications/DISCA n/a A
Cox/(pvt) n/a A
MSG Network/MSGN n/a A
Charter/CHTR n/a A

THE EXPERIENCE

COMPANY YIELD SEGMENT
Aramark/ARMK 1.16% E
ABM/ABM 1.69% E
Compass Group/CMPGY 2.05% E
Sodexo/SDXAY 2.31% E
SMG/* n/a E
NOTE: SMG was an ACAS portfolio company as of June 3, 2014. ARCC does not include in their portfolio a/o 3 Jan 2017 merger. Both Bloomberg and Wikipedia classifies them as a private company.
NOTES: C-Creator, O – Owner, A – Aggregator, E – Experience.
Yields as of 14 Feb 2017.

It Already Seems Like Forever

Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.

– William Howard Taft

I haven’t done a general musing type of post recently so I figure one is in order especially in light of recent events.  My political views generally run fiscally conservative but liberal on social issues.  Kind of a mix between Blue Dog Democrats and Libertarians.  With that said, the first two weeks of the presidency has taken on an interesting tone where the business side is trying to hit its stride.  Unfortunately, the diplomatic side (Mexico, Australia) is lacking and the social issues (visas) agenda has gotten the presidency off to a rocky start.

There is a silver lining to this mess – especially for a contrarian view.  Since the election, I’ve been casting about for a 2017 investing strategy.  First I tracked the tweets related to companies – like Ford, Carrier, et.al.  The results were mixed and were more akin to a market timing exercise.  NPR highlights thisTrigger has released an app to providing notification of his market impacting tweets.  Their competition includes Dataminr, StockTwits and Motif Investing.

Since I’m not a fan of market timing – probably because it’s not my strength – the second part of this equation is more to my liking.  The day following the Australian phone call, My Australian holdings were up in a down market.  The same was true with my Mexican stocks the day following their dust up.  I can’t wait to see the impact on my Chinese and Hong Kong holdings following their meeting.  Then again there’s always Canada and Europe.  Perhaps a viable strategy is emerging …

On an unrelated note, I’m honored to be included in Frugal Student‘s Top 100 blogs.  The Finance Master expresses many of my feelings so I but hope my somewhat irreverent style continues to entertain and educate.  I did go through all 100 and found a couple to include in my directory.

On the M&A front, bank mergers have slowed drastically for three reasons:

  1. Their participation in the ‘Trump Rally’ has reset valuations
  2. Potential Dodd-Frank revisions
  3. Tax Law reform

I suspect as the future becomes less hazy, activity will pick up 3rd or 4th quarter.  Until then I’ll collect the dividends – or if Dodd-Frank is repealed rather than modified I may have to reassess my banking exposure.

Jan 2017 Update

January saw DOW 20,000 being attained before dropping under once again.  The post inauguration euphoria  beat a hasty retreat in the wake of record protests, a wave of executive orders and a record number of lawsuits filed against a president in his first eleven days.  In finance terms, this uncertainty translated into concerns about the the ability or  time required to effect change through the legislative process – in particular tax reform.  This month The S&P gained 1.79%.  while my portfolio recorded a gain of 3.51% largely due to the final significant merger completing.  After a great 2016, I’m making some changes in my 2017 strategy that will (hopefully) accelerate performance in 2018.  Meanwhile I’ll be content with a slight win versus the S&P this year.

Headlines impacting my portfolio:

  • 1/5 – WMT ends V ban in Canada
  • 1/9 – SBUX discontinues Evenings concept
  • 1/10 – NWBI divests MD assets to SHBI
  • 1/13 – LSBG/BHB merger completes
  • 1/17 – ADP acquires Marcus Buckingham Co.
  • 1/20 – IRM acquires Kane Office Archives LLC through BK court
  • 1/23 – AMC acquires Nordic Cinema
  • 1/24 – Executive order moving Keystone (TRP) forward signed
  • 1/25 – DOW 20,000
  • 1/25 – BLK moves 1T$ from STT to JPM
  • 1/26 – JNJ to acquire ALIOY then spin R&D unit to ALIOY shareowners
  • 1/30 – GDOT buys UniRush (RushCard)
  • 1/31 – BX prices INVH IPO

Blog Updates:

posts under consideration for Feb are Methods to my Madness Pt 3 update, Anti-Trump strategy, My Coca-Cola strategy and The Commonality Between Trump and Me

Portfolio Updates:

  • Added to CLX
  • New position – CCLAY
  • New position – BHB (LSBG merger)
  • New position – SWRAY

Dividends:

  • January delivered an increase of 15.46% over January 2016.  This requires normalization due to PEP and WRE paying in January rather than December, KO paying in December rather than January and BUSE paying in February.  On a normalized basis, this represents a Y/Y increase of 3.1% which is attributable to dividend increases (Y/Y).  This means my October purchases from merger proceeds were successful in maintaining my Jan,Apr,Jul,Oct income stream.
  • January had a 3.0% increase over the prior quarter.
  • Declared dividend increases averaged 7.44% with 19.65% of my portfolio delivering at least one raise (1 cut – YUM).
  • Dividends received were 9.2% of total 2016 dividends and if the current run rate is maintained would exceed this total around October 15th.

Spinoffs:

The MET spin (Brighthouse Financial – BHF) remains pending.

Mergers:

Agrium/POT, JNS/HGG.L remain pending