Tracking Spreadsheets

As many of you know, Two Investing has published – and periodically updates – a Google spreadsheet for portfolio tracking.  I started using the original one published by Investment Moats several years ago and later migrated to the Two Investing version.  A new version was recently released due to Google/Yahoo API issues – basically not all data was readily available.  So I spent the last three weeks manually converting my data.  I chose a manual process so I could cleanse data that was no longer relevant primarily due to mergers.

As advertised, I found the new version to be more robust and faster.  But there are a few issues to be aware of.  I did comment on most of these on their site November 30th but figured I’d include my additional findings to provide a heads up to people reading my ramblings.

1. Perhaps you caught it by now but the version I downloaded was missing Telecom as a sector.

This is readily corrected by adding it via the Lists tab.  You also have to update the Summary tab to include it as well.  Update: S&P announced on November 15th the Telecommunications sector will be replaced by a newly formed Communications Services sector on September 28, 2018 with preliminary components announced in January and finalized by August 1st.

2. An error is received (Reference Data) when the company name has an apostrophe (Casey’s/CASY). (I did a manual override).

The override I referred to is ‘IF($D146=””,””,”Caseys General Stores Inc”) which is the name (less apostrophe). Google’s name function includes apostrophes.

3. It appears some ADR issues have data and some don’t. I haven’t figured out the why (maybe the sponsor?) ex. AKO.B does, CMSQY doesn’t.

4. OTC pink sheet data (US pricing/dividends on Canadian issues) not available. ex. HRNNF (corresponds to H.TO)

5. OTCQB market data is lacking. I didn’t check the greys as I own none.

I still haven’t figured it out. Cross (dual) listings work and some ADRs as well.  My work around (for my 7 outliers) is to enter ‘=GOOGLEFINANCE(A100,“price”) in column J on the Reference Data tab (where A100 corresponds to the ticker symbol field of yours) and manually enter the annual dividend in column K.  This sets the override function so the DivPayoutCalc tab and Portfolio tab both update properly.

6) ReferenceData generates ‘error getting data’ (ExDate, PayDate) when the company does not pay a dividend.

Not a functional problem only cleanliness of presentation.

7) (New): Optional use column P – DivCalendar – doesn’t lock to the year as do the other columns.

8) (New – 17 Dec 2017): Column H – ReferenceData – IEX data for ex-div does not reflect current announcements.  Ex: KMB shows the prior 7 Sep 2017 ex rather than the current 7 Dec 2017.

Bottom line I’m pleased with the improvements and improved performance.  It’s been awhile since I’ve had all the fields working and look forward to approaching year end with a minimum of manual adjustments!


Hammurabi and DGI

This week I ran across a post on Farnam Street titled, The Code of Hammurabi: The Best Rule To Manage Risk.  While an interesting piece, there were a couple of areas that I had an issue with, notably bonus payments.  If one navigates successfully through rough waters a reward may be warranted.  Conversely, failure should not be rewarded and be, perhaps, punished.  In my mind, the degree (lavishness) of the reward has the ability to inflict more damage than the remuneration itself.  Risk taken should not be without reward so long as potential downsides are properly mitigated (margin of safety).  Excessive CEO pay is an entirely different matter.

The tangent my mind followed was if there was a correlation between Hammurabi’s Code and Dividend Growth Investing.  Following I’ll perform a deeper dive into the tenets noted by the author:

Three important concepts are implicit in Hammurabi’s Code: reciprocity, accountability, and incentives.


the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit

As DGI bloggers we freely share our buys, sells, portfolios, reasoning and rationale.  We solicit comments and questions.  All of which is performed with no expectations other than others knowledge and experience will in turn be of benefit to us.


willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

There have been times that our choices or decisions resulted in a loss or failure to achieve the desired outcome.  Sharing within the community of a loss incurred or a dividend cut is a form of accountability.  Sharing our thoughts and concerns – particularly in a time of failure – is not only cathartic but an exercise in self-improvement.


a thing that motivates or encourages one to do something

The encouragement provided to each other is by far the largest incentive.  Considering DGI is a journey that is a lifetime in the making, having our spirits lifted or a nudge along the path is a job undertaken by everyone in the community.

To summarize, you could say we are adherents to the Code of  Hammurabi.  Perhaps not to the degree or brutality as the original, but to the parts that depict a sense of community and a helping hand to our neighbors.


The Tax Plans Are Here

It’s little wonder that the markets finally had a losing week as both the House and Senate released their respective (Republican) versions of the new tax plan(s).  While there are items to both loathe and like in each plan, as is normal, the devil will be in the details.  I spent the better part of last week parsing through the little we know to figure out the personal impact of the proposals.

Bottom line it depends on how a few things will be applied.  I am assuming a worst case scenario in that the new standard deduction will be high enough to prevent itemization in my situation (this blows away property tax, mortgage interest and sales tax).  I’m also assuming foreign dividends will receive no offset.  In this scenario, my tax rate would more than double from last years 9.32%.  Being retired, if necessary I could probably pursue one of two paths to reduce my liability.  The first is to take a one year hit on taxes by accelerating my RMD to reduce subsequent years tax rates to either 0% or 12%.  The other is to create a corporation for my investments as this could (potentially) protect foreign dividends from dual taxation.  One has to decide if the time, effort and cost is beneficial – and which is ultimately best.

I’m sure this thought process will be playing out in the minds of many.  Probably others will be caught unaware.  The unfortunate reality is the impact will be felt differently by everyone – and the rules of the game are still changing.  401Ks, state and local tax offsets and elder care benefits are among the areas at risk.  I would suggest keeping one ear tuned to the debate that will be taking place in Congress.  At a high level, if you’re a trickle-down theorist, you’ll be happy.

In my opinion, what worked – to a degree – in the Reagan years will not work today.  There are two things allied against success – and one of them is not the Democrats.  First the tax rate was significantly higher and the debt (and servicing load) much smaller.  These two factors will result in this effort ending in failure but not, perhaps, before being passed into law.  The Tax Policy Center has stated that Trump’s 2017 plan would reduce GDP after 2024 (thanks to debt service).

Over the years I’ve found that where turmoil and uncertainty exist, opportunity is also resident.  From a business viewpoint I fail to see a benefit to home builders.  I see some clouds over the nursing home industry dependent on tax breaks through their clients.  If we make it through the clouds, there is also some hope – if only there is not too much damage inflicted in the meantime.  Stay tuned and keep your seat belts fastened and over the next few weeks I’ll consider themes that could have some legs if the taxing scheme changes.

Week in Review

Blog Update

This week I finally decided to do a little housekeeping on the portfolio section of the site, getting rid of the XIRR column – which is probably meaningful only to me, and adding price (updated with roughly 20 minute delay), prior dividend, dividend frequency, ex-div date (which may or may not be retained) and cost basis.  The Div Wt column is updated when a dividend is credited and reflects the YTD weighting which is most accurate at the end of each quarter.  Basically I’m trying to reduce manual intervention.

Weather Updates

As Texas begins their recovery process from Harvey, Irma slams into Florida and Jose is lurking just behind.  One has to wonder as to the luck of Maersk (AMKBY) who diverted the Ohio from Houston (Harvey) to Freeport (Irma).   I’m also keeping an eye on Antigua and Barbuda where I’ve frequently vacationed and enjoyed their hospitality on my honeymoon years ago.  Impacted issues may include Disney (DIS) and Comcast (CMCSA) as well as the entire Florida tourism and orange businesses.

The End of the Year

As I was updating the site, I realized that two issues have already paid their final 2017 dividends.  Delving a little deeper shows all of my holdings are past the ex-dividend date for a September dividend leaving but one quarterly payment remaining.  This is only a reminder that time is running out on impacting 2017.  Generally I enter October with an eye on the strategy for the upcoming year as most of my moves will have a minimal impact on the current year.

More Dollar Weakness?

Deutsche Bank argues that more weakness is in store for the US dollar as a result of current monetary policy and a failure of the market to price in further 2017 rate hikes.  They may be onto something as hurricanes and a lack of rational policy agendas from Washington can also be added to the mix.  Now this could be good for exports but lousy for the typical consumer.

Hope your week was uneventful.


Insider Dealing?

The news cycle appears to be churning ever faster.  Whether as a reaction to events, an attempt to manage the narrative or obscure the message is a debate that will occur for some time with the real answer becoming apparent in the hindsight of history.  Not to minimize the Charlottesville tragedy or the headline grabbing Bannon ouster, but these stories are playing out in several flavors depending on the source.  As one who attempts to discern the impact of issues on my investments, two (possible) financial headlines crossed my desk amid the other events that intrigued me.

Continue reading

Weekly Musings – 13 Aug

Periodically, I post my thoughts on current news or recent postings adding my slightly irreverent take on the events and a sometimes offer a slightly contrarian view.  So follows the current installment.

Observation #1 – MET

This week, my allocation from MET’s spin of BHF arrived.  In layman’s terms, Brighthouse is a domestic play while MET has both domestic and international operations.  Personally, I viewed the logic as being a way to strengthen their hand (MET) in the ongoing court battle with the US regarding the SIFI designation -a view not presented in any interviews I saw.  Once trading began, it was widely panned as a lackluster performance.  Now this was a spin not an IPO, my take was it was aggressively valued – meaning (in theory) greater value was retained by the mother ship.  What garnered my wrath was the incompetence MET exhibited with the spin.

First the costs associated with the spin were underestimated.  This requires consent from bondholders to modify debt covenants (for a fee) with the alternative being selling common stock to attain appropriate debt ratios (dilution).  Secondly, a special meeting has been called (more costs) to vote on dividend payment tests included in the corporate charter.  The press release states:

These changes would avoid potential dividend and common stock repurchase restrictions which could occur as a result of the August 4, 2017 spin-off of Brighthouse Financial, Inc.

Why was this issue only identified post spin?  This gross mismanagement has placed MET into my Penalty Box and one has to wonder whether a meeting should be called to replace the CEO and Board?

Observation #2 – NUE

Sure Dividend analyzed Nucor recently, but his usual precision was (in my opinion) lacking.  Invoking “Trump” in the headline was bound to get visits and his ‘Take a pass’ recommendation hit the mark but the review missed in a few areas:

  1.  The claim of dumping is certainly an allegation yet no part of his analysis was to drill down on the validity of this claim.  Such as a strong US dollar.  Or the findings of the WTO.
  2. He does address electricity as being a significant cost component to the manufacturing process but fails to note that they entered into a 20+ year contract with Encana (ECA) for natural gas in 2012.  Any failure to perform (deliver) could be detrimental to NUE’s margins.
  3. Lastly in a dent to NUE’s dumping claims, their 2016 JV with JFE (JFEEF) to build a Mexican factory to supply the auto industry has a hollow ring to it.  As in, Who’s really doing the dumping?

Observation #3 – DIS

While roaming the channels this morning I came across a segment on Fox (FOX) about how to invest despite the troubles in North Korea.  One talking head said Disney citing their theme park exposure was insulated from it.  Really?  Perhaps he ignores the fact that 18-20% of US Disney visitors are foreign.  How would this be impacted?  What would the traffic count (or currency repatriation) be like in China?  What about travel to Paris or Tokyo?  Just one more reason why Fox is not my choice for news.

Hope you enjoyed this segment … until next time.

Musings (Jul 2017)

This is the time of the month that results in added scrutiny on various levels.  Not so much on the strategy, but on events that have the ability to impact my investments.  With July going to the wire with seven dividends being paid Monday.  It will likely be Wednesday when I get the final results and my performance will probably hinge on the exchange rate.  Which triggered my random thought process – which at times is scary.

Observation #1

  • The USD has been weakening as I reflected on in a prior post.  Japan faced a mini-crisis vis-à-vis North Korea on Friday.  Previously, in such times, the dollar would strengthen while the Yen weakened.  This time, it was the Euro that strengthened versus the Yen.  

Observation #2

  • With a weaker USD, gas prices have pretty much increased in inverse tandem as world oil is priced in USD (reserve currency, etc.)  Although the weaker dollar should be good for exports, how long until inflation begins its’ ascent?

Observation #3

  • Several companies have reported earnings that missed on revenue forecasts yet beat on profits.  While I don’t place significant value on analyst’s opinions, it’s telling that if this trend continues, profits will be next to suffer.
  • This I expected from regional banks which was why I anticipated a pickup in M&A activity going into the last half of the year.

Observation #4

  • The Swiss observed that the Franc may be overvalued.  Could this be a precursor to another devaluation?  If so, to what impact on the USD?

These are some of the reasons why I chose to modify my strategy earlier this month.  Not to mention the potential political impacts – or lack thereof.  Perhaps a clear US direction will be established enabling us little guys to try to navigate choppy waters.