The month (and quarter) has drawn to a close and am waiting for some foreign dividends to post before being able to officially call the month. It appears that the dividends are up Y/Y, down Q/Q (mostly due to a shift in pay date) and portfolio flat against the S&P. But I’ll do my normal elaboration next week.
Making the headlines this past week was the atrocious scene along our border. Being an event driven investor, I had to at least take a look at the situation to – at a minimum – determine my exposure and whether strategy adjustments are necessary.
I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination but (outside of ETFs) have never invested in tobacco stocks. I have minimal exposure to wine and spirits. While I’m not casting aspersions on those that do, I figure there are more than enough alternatives that better fit my preferences.
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.
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.
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.
My granddaughter got a job. Her first job – outside of babysitting. She’s finding that responsibility now has a much broader meaning with planning, scheduling and developing her work ethic. She’s certainly experiencing a rude awakening insofar as her sleep schedule is concerned. Gone are the days of Snap chatting until the wee hours of the morning and being able to function at peak performance.
While she doesn’t have a burning desire to obtain her driver’s license (preferring to be chauffeured), she’s one of the first in her peer group to become employed. While some of her friends were looking to become summer camp staff, her ordered list of priorities included:
- Air conditioned
- No cleaning of bathrooms
- Preferably, not food service
- Starting wage greater than minimum wage
- Slight schedule flexibility regarding school events
These goals were met and a job offer provided during her very first interview. Ever. (If you can’t tell, I’m a proud grandpa) 🙂
Since she is Gen-Z kid, I had to do a little research on her nature and whether it is atypical for her generation. In George Beall‘s Huffington Post article, the eight characteristics compared, (Gen-Z to millennials), fit her to a T. While this job may only be fleeting (likely entrepreneur?), I was flat out shocked that she received Day 1 eligibility (auto enrolled) to her companies’ 401K with a 50% match. Back in my day there was a two year wait for eligibility. Talk about a game changer. She may experience a roll-over years before I ever did.
The one negative is the limited selection for investment options, but I consider the match an offset to this. Plus there is profit sharing. As a private company there are no stock purchase options.
If you ask her, she’ll swear I always look to profit from all the angles. She could only shake her head and groan when I pointed out her retirement plan was provided by a subsidiary of Great-West Life which in turn is 66% owned by one of my companies – Power Corp. of Canada.
It’s the time of year when winter is but a memory (for most of us), taxes have been filed and proxies are filling our mailboxes. As I review the filings and determine how to cast my votes, I’m struck with one of these off-the-wall thoughts that hit me every now and again. I wondered how much was earned – and the margins derived – via the annual proxy season. I didn’t delve into the number of trees sacrificed though I’ll wager it’s fewer than before electronic transmissions.