American Dividend Investor

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thinking about Investing? Start Now

The below chart illustrates the importance of investing early and the power of compounding interest. When it comes to investing time really is on your side.

Case 1:
• $2,000 invested annually in years 1 to 5
• No contributions after year 5
• Assumed rate of return of 10%
• Interest compounded annually.
• All interest is reinvested.
• Total invested $10,000

Case 2:
• No money invested in years 1 to 10
• $2,000 invested annually in years 11 to 40
• Assumed rate of return of 10%
• Interest compounded annually.
• All interest is reinvested.
• Total invested $60,000

You have probably seen similar charts on the front of mutual advertisements and although I’m not a huge proponent of mutual funds I think the underlying message is valid---The earlier you start investing the better.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Secret to Financial Success

Many people have the view that finances and investing is some kind of mystical puzzle that once solved will instantly eliminate all their financial troubles. The code will be broken and the chest of gold will fly open (just watch any late night infomercial). In my opinion the notion of a financial quick fix is the most dangerous and damaging perspective that anyone can have. Having this view effectively removes individuals from their current financial problems. It rationalizes the belief that you don’t have to diligently and effectively manage your money because once you figure the secret out everything will be OK.

In my opinion the real secret to financial success is the realization that there is no secret, and that for 99.99% of the population (myself included) there is no formula or secret that is instantly going to solve all your financial problems. The real secret to financial success can be found by following these 3 easy steps:

1. Spend less money than you make.
2. Invest your saved money.
3. Repeat 1 and 2 until you can retire.

Well the secret is out...that’s really all there is to it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

If Only You Had the Inside Scoop

Bought too early? Sold too soon? Should have seen it coming? Well don’t feel too bad, here’s a list compiled by Micheal Brush of MSN Money of some of biggest insider mistakes of 2007.

*The losses above were as of Jan 18, 2008. As we know the market hasn’t performed well this year so many of the above losses are potentially much higher.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Toyota - Soon to be the Worlds Biggest Car Maker?

Toyota’s strategy of shifting their focus to emerging markets seems to be paying off as they are now expected to surpass GM in annual sales by the end of 2008 making them the world’s largest automaker.

According to an article by Martin Foster in the New York times.

“While sales declined in North America, they increased in Asia, especially in Indonesia and Thailand, and in other regions including South and Central America, Africa and Oceania.

In the nine months through December, less than half of Toyota sales came from its showrooms in North America.

Sales to North America slid to 44 percent from 57 percent a year earlier, while Asian sales rose to 25 percent from 15 percent.”

As a consumer it’s no surprise that GM is about to be bumped from the #1 spot. I am by no means a picky shopper but for me it’s basically at the point that when I’m car shopping I don’t even bother looking at North American cars anymore. My reason for this is simple...I want to own a car that isn’t going to break down and from experience and the experiences of people I know GM can’t seem to meet my single criteria.

Friday, March 28, 2008


What is a DRIP?

DRIP stands for Dividend Reinvestment Plan. There are 3 different types of DRIPs however they all work on the same principle, instead of shareholders receiving dividend payouts in cash they receive their dividend payout in the form of more company shares.

3 basic types of DRIPs

Company Run
This type of DRIP is administered directly through the publicly traded company. Fractional shares are permitted in this type of DRIP meaning that if you receive a quarterly dividend of $1 and the share price is $5 you would receive an additional 1/5 of a share. Additionally, many company run DRIPs also provide shareholders some incentive for staying enrolled ie – 3% bonus to the regular dividend. Company run DRIPs also usually offer a Share Purchase Plan which is a plan that allows investors to buy additional shares with no commission.

Transfer Agent-Run
For the shareholder this type of DRIP is the same as a company run DRIP. Transfer Agents are employed by companies to streamline their DRIP process and reduce the administrative costs associated with running a DRIP. Transfer Agents run DRIPs for a many customers and as a result can run offer the same program to multiple companies using the same resources resulting in lower costs.

Brokerage Run
Many brokers will now allow customers to reinvest their dividends at no cost. This type of DRIP is not a “real DRIP”, it is more of a service that the brokers provide to their customers and is often referred to as a “synthetic DRIP”. One benefit of brokerage run DRIPs is that they will allow you to DRIP many companies that do not even have a formal DRIP program. This allows investors to now DRIP virtually every blue chip company on the US exchanges. Although synthetic DRIPs have really expanded the number of drippable companies they do have a few drawbacks. The first of which is brokerage run synthetic DRIPs do not allow for fractional share ownership, only full shares will be purchased and the remainder of the dividend will be deposited as cash into the customers trading account ie-company ABC has a $15 quarterly dividend and a $10 share price, this would result in the customer receiving 1 share of ABC and $5 cash instead of 1.5 shares. The second drawback of brokerage run DRIPs is that share purchase plans are not available. If you want to buy additional shares you have to pay the regular commission price of your broker.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Facebook Worth 15 Billion?

For those of you who haven’t heard of Facebook here is an extract from the “about” section of Facebooks website.

About Facebook
Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.

Anyone can join Facebook
All that's needed to join Facebook is a valid email address. To connect with coworkers or classmates, use your school or work email address to register. Once you register, join a regional network to connect with the people in your area.

Discover the people around you
Facebook is made up of many networks, each based around a company, region, or school. Join the networks that reflect your real-life communities to learn more about the people who work, live, or study around you.”

Microsoft recently invested $240 million for a 1.6% stake in facebook while Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing invested $60 million for a 0.4% stake. Using those figures, would value the company at a whopping $15 billion. I have little doubt that the 4 year old company and its 23 year old founder are brilliant but are they worth $15 billion? Just to put this into perspective here are the market capitalizations of some popular U.S large caps.

Walgreens – $38.3 billion
Brookfield Properties – $7.9 billion
Lowes – $35 billion
Newmont Mining – $20.6 billion

Although there is no denying the popularity or marketing potential of Facebook I would have reservations about investing in an online “social utility” that is valued the same as 75% of Newmont mining. The valuation may be appropriate if its current growth were to continue indefinitely however, personally I think there is a chance that Facebook has the potential to become a “flavour of the month”. Anyone remember geocities? Of course there is a chance that it may stick around however, if I had $15 billion to invest I think I would rather take my chances and buy 100% of Brookfield Properties and half of Newmont Mining than gamble on Facebook. Which would you rather own?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stock Selection Process

Here is the general process I use to evaluate a stock.

1. Are their products/services in a growing or stable industry?
-for me this would exclude companies such as newspapers, tobacco etc. Basically, I look for companies that I think will still be around in 50 years.

2. Do they have a competitive advantage or are there large barriers to entry?
-for example companies like TRP and CNR have huge barriers to entry. Other than the billions of dollars that would be required to build the infrastructure it would takes year and years to get the proper approvals.

3. Do they have a history of returning value to shareholders?
-for example, JNJ has raised their dividend for the last 44 years. MMM has paid a dividend since 1916. A history of share buy backs would also be a plus.

4. Are they trading at a reasonable price?
- I use my fair value calculation when appropriate.

To calculate fair value I use a modified discounted cash flow model. Basically, I calculate the present value of the future dividend income and the present value of the future estimated EPS (multiplied by the PE ratio that I think the company SHOULD be trading at) and the sum of those two numbers is the fair value

My stock selection process has evolved over the years and I find it effective to select companies for my particular investing style. However, for other strategies or investing styles my selection process would be very ineffective. I’d also just like to note that the formula I use to calculate fair market value is not valid for all types of companies. For example, it’s not effective for many REIT’s or resource companies as their share prices are generally based on NAV, FFO, or reserves which are not included in my formula.