Monthly Archives: March 2012

Warning! Watch Out for Foreign Stocks!

I was pleased with my recent investment in Canadian companies trading on the NYSE, they seemed like good dividend plays, maybe not long term holds, but solid for a year or two, with careful watching.

The past couple months I picked up Student Transportation (STB) Just Energy (JE) and Atlantic Power (AT) sure their dividends seem a little higher than a slow prudent investor would pick, but hey I’m young and don’t mind a little risk.

When I received my dividends in my account, I noticed a deduction for foreign tax of 15% of the dividend, hmmm, not really thrilled about that. I guess that’s what I get for my lack of research, boo.

If you learn anything from my site, it’s that you need to do your own research, learn from my mistakes. I need to do more research and careful analysis of stocks instead of just reading a couple positive articles on SeekingAlpha and throwing in my money. This is why investing can seem like gambling, honestly the money sometimes doesn’t even seem real. I feel a pinch more when I go on a shopping spree and blow a few hundred dollars (please don’t judge me, I haven’t done that in at least two years) than when I put the money in the market and watch my investment drop 1-2%, and I lose a few hundred dollars in the market. I guess I am a natural optimist and think, it’s going to come back up, I just have to be patient. But have I been prudent? Is it realistic to think that the investment will come back up, when I haven’t done enough in depth research to merit this hope? I guess I’m just thinking out loud and throwing these questions out into the internet to see if anyone can relate to my thoughts. Also PLEASE do your own research, as it is painfully obvious that I am not an investment professional.

However, to be a little positive, since I started investing, I have only lost money on one stock Deutsche Telekom (DT) in 2010, and it was just a couple hundred dollars, nothing too crazy.

So far this has been a stellar quarter of Dividend Income and overall Portfolio Performance for me, and I can’t wait until the end of the month to give an update. Stay tuned!

Workout Update

The good news is that I completed my half marathon on Feb 26th, and I felt great. I ran most of it, only a tiny bit of walking, with my brother and sister-in-law. We had a wonderful time and I felt surprisingly good at the end. I am still keeping the goal of running a marathon this year. I haven’t decided what one, and it also doesn’t *have* to be this year. It is just on my list to complete before age 40, which gives me little over 3 years to accomplish. But I have always figured why wait if you’re feeling good about it. Procrastination is not for me!

However, after a long race with lots of build up (we traveled to Florida for the race) and made a weekend of fun out of the event, I felt a little under the weather. So I have basically taken the last 3 weeks off, only a few walks, no regular runs, no serious workouts. This annoys me! I can only blame myself, boo!

I’m feeling much better, thanks to a product called Isotonix OPC-3, a powerful antioxidant, which really helped my sinus issues. Now I’m ready to get back on track.

Without further ado, I am re-committing to my running schedule and getting one “power workout” in a week. A power workout will either be a drop in session at my local Crossfit or a routine from my past trainer.

Next month, sometime after April 19th, I will give an honest update.

Recent Buy – Heska Corp. (HSKA)

D When I first look at purchasing a stock, I make sure I at least understand what the company is doing, making or selling. I thank Buffett for that little tip.

This is a little company background from Scottrade.

Heska Corporation, incorporated in 1988, develops, manufactures, markets, sells and supports veterinary products. The Company is focused on the canine and feline companion animal health markets. It operates in two segments: Core Companion Animal Health and Other Vaccines, Pharmaceuticals and Products. The Core Companion Animal Health segment (CCA) includes diagnostic instruments and supplies, as well as single use diagnostic and other tests, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, primarily for canine and feline use. These products are sold directly to veterinarians by the Company, as well as through distribution relationships. The Other Vaccines, Pharmaceuticals and Products segment (OVP) includes private label vaccine and pharmaceutical production, primarily for cattle but also for other animals, including small mammals and fish. All OVP products are sold by third parties under third-party labels.
I’m a pet lover, and I know in a down economy people stay in more, focus more on family and pets. People love their pets.  My picture for this post is my dog, isn’t he the cutest! 
This company just started giving a modest dividend 3.35% and from an article on SeekingAlpha could make some significant gains this year. I am excited to watch and am pleased to have purchased 430 shares at $11.90. Of course I would have loved to have purchased in the single digits, but well, I was a little slow on the trigger.
I really want to analyze companies and not just chase dividends. I know that is not a good long-term strategy. But for the short-term, it’s just so enticing! What can I say, I’m young and impetuous! Easily excitable, prone to optimism. Currently my dividend portfolio is about half long-term holds (dividend rate of 5% or less) and about half short-term watching (probably too high but just so darn exciting). Hopefully by watching closely I won’t get burned. I know as I get closer to FI, I will be less risky. But honestly, if I wasn’t saving this money in this after tax investment account, I would probably be buying frivolous things like overpriced trips to Europe or a sports car to drive in the summer.
How you determine stock picks? What are your strategies? I’m always interested in hearing what my readers have to say, even if it’s critical, I appreciate the feedback.

Recent Buy – Atlantic Power (AT)

Last week the market took a little dip and I was able to pick up 500 shares @ $14.03 of a stock that had been on my radar for a while, Atlantic Power (AT). I had been looking at mining or power or oil and gas, as a new category to add to my small (but growing) portfolio. AT had lots of factors in its favor.

1) After listening to a recorded conference call, I see the company spent much of 2011 developing partnerships that will allow for increased income and maintain their high dividend. Even though they recorded a loss for 2011, they were building partnerships so their funds were well spent, IMO.

2) They have a decently high dividend, 8.05%, and they pay monthly. Woo hoo! For anyone who is keeping track, we now hold three stocks that pay monthly dividends.

3) This will probably not be a long term (probably not over 5 years) hold for me. I think high dividends are great, but I don’t want to hold more than half of my portfolio in what I would consider high dividend stocks (over 5%). I just don’t want the risk if dividend announcements go down and I feel I have to scramble to sell. Which makes me realize that my next buy should have a lower dividend rate.

That’s it for now, but I am working on a post where I report on my quarterly results and review. I am really excited about the trend I’ve seen since I’ve been putting more money in this account and investing for serious dividends. At this rate, 2012 is going to be fantastic! How has your 2012 started? Are you as optimistic as me, I hope so! Wishing all my readers a fantastic week. Hope you had a wonderfully and relaxing weekend.

JCPenney – Customer service and Great prices

Once in a while I experience wonderful customer service and I have to give a “shout out” when it happens. First of all you should know that I am a clearance shopper, I comb those clearance racks and look for items that I can get for a fraction of full price. My downfall is that sometimes I buy items that I don’t need, I am working on that (but that’s a story for another post). Back to JCPenney. I needed two bamboo shades for my updated sitting room. The clearance rack had two sizes, 23 X 64 ($7.97- original price $40) and 36 X 64 ($9.97-original price $50), I hadn’t measured but figured one might work for an inside mount (didn’t happen-too narrow) and one would work for an outside mount (oh yeah!) then I would just return the one that didn’t work and order another of the right size for full price, saving a decent amount on at least one shade.

So last night as I went to return the smaller shade, I commented to the sales clerk that I needed another shade in the larger size and would have to order it online.  The clerk asked if I’d like her to order it for me, sure I had a couple minutes, little did I know, she ordered it for me (store pickup) and it will be available for store pick-up in 4-5 days and she is giving me the clearance price! Woo Hoo! I didn’t even have to ask for the clearance price, I assumed I’d have to pay full price. What a pleasant surprise. Yay for JCPenney! Yay for me.

Also as I was wandering through the store, as they have recently started a new marketing and pricing plan, I found two wonderful items for $2- each. A nice pair of slim khaki pants (MNG by Mango) and a fun purple and black striped knit shirt (American Living, the Ralph Lauren line for JCP). So even though I didn’t really *need* either item, they are both work appropriate and I can wear them full season. There was also a one shoulder cocktail dress for $5-  I was tempted to buy without trying on, but really I don’t have occassion for too many cocktail parties, but for $5- I might go back and pick it up. I can’t help it, I am weak 🙂

What about you? Ever have a great customer service experience and want to give a shout out? Do you love a bargain? How do you say “NO” to a great deal, when you don’t need it? I need a little help in that department, I’m still thinking about that dress! I could wear it out for our 1 year anniversary, coming up soon….see I’m great at justifying things….