Routine

I recently started working on a new project with my company. It is, in many ways, much like my previous assignment – except one. It is a remote role. The job is based out corporate headquarters in Chicago, working for the office of the CIO, and I live in Virginia. Fortunately I do not have to travel on a regular basis. I can do 90% of my work from home. This means no commuting. No rush-hour traffic jams. No parking or transit fees. Zero, Zilch, Nada.

Rush Hour Traffic Tolls

But this leaves me with a dilemma. I’ve never really had a truly remote, virtual, job before. Yes, I have had work from home days, but they have always been limited to just one day per week. Never all five.

I started wondering about all sorts of things, like what to wear?

wfh-couch

Part of me is still “old school”. By that I mean, if you go to work, you actually get up, get ready (shave and dress appropriately) and “go to” work. As in leave the house.

But another part of me is tempted to just sleep late, roll out of bed whenever I feel like it, keep my PJ’s on, and live and work my daily life in slovenly, yet comfortable, luxury.

wfh

Sorry, I really can’t do that.

After all, I do have virtual meetings and video conferencing to do, but mostly because I am a creature of habit and believe in routines

Routines are good. 

They help build and foster discipline.  Not only in daily life but also in many other things such as investing.

This past week, we had our monthly investment club meeting.  It was a little different than usual because nearly a third of the people there were new members.  So we spent much of our time discussing things like what they, the new members were looking to get out of the meetup and investment experience and styles.

This led into a discussing about what goes into developing an investment routine?

Investment Routines start with:

         Setting goals and at least parameters for risk, and types of investments.

         Picking stocks which match these parameters and adding them to watch lists.

         How much time (daily, weekly) we spend watching the market.

         When to buy.

         When to sell.

Obviously we did not cover everything in its complete and varied entirety.  After all, volumes of books have been written on these very topics for decades.  But we did cover many of the common basics which help define routines.

So, What does my Investment Routine Look like?

For me this is what I look at and act upon with my investment routine:

  1. What is the overall market direction and direction of my investments and watch lists?
  2. Noteworthy news and events, and yes – certain chart patterns, that relate to #1 above or perhaps will generate new candidates to add to my watch list.
  3. Research new investment ideas.
  4. Review buy/sell triggers and alerts.
    1. For me sell triggers/alerts are usually set at 8% loss and about 20% gain.  Sometimes less depending on #1 above.
  5. For buys or adding to a position, that can be based on 1, 2 or 4.
    1. Yes I sometimes have alerts set on watched stocks if they go above or below a price point.
  6. The key to 4 and 5 is automation. 
    1. I automate buy/sell triggers and alerts.  It takes a lot of the emotion out of the decision making process.  After all who would feel good about taking more than a 10% loss on an investment or feel bad about gaining 20%?

How much time does all this take?

On a daily basis, I usually do not focus on research but rather overall direction and alerts.  This takes about 10 – 20 minutes.  Usually less.

On weekends, I spend more time on the 3 R’s of investing: Reviewing, Reading, and Research.  This usually occupies at least an hour or two or more of my time.

So once you have a routine, that’s it right?  

No.  Routines should be monitored just like stocks and the stock market.  Ask many of the same question you would about an investment.

         How well is it working? 

         Does it help you meet your goals? 

         Does it need “tweaking”? 

         Or does it need to change because of changes in your life, finances or even within the market?

The most important thing is to have a routine that you are comfortable with and meets your goals.  Routines go a long way towards keeping you focused.  Routines also allow you to be more efficient with your time and energy.  This will allow you to have more time and energy to spend on other important things, such as friends and family.

And writing blog posts . . .

Making Good Choices

Political Choices:

Well, there you have it.  Congratulations to the GOP, President Elect Trump and all their supporters.  They wanted change and they got it.

Not only have the republicans won the presidency but they also have control of both the house and senate.

A political trifecta.

Let’s hope the elected officials and their appointees make good choices for America and the world.

Investment Choices:

Switching to topics a little closer to this blog, my investment group held its monthly meeting the Monday before the elections.  Obviously the elections were the topic of discussion within our investment group as well as possible actions by the Fed.

If you look to the right, I have posted our groups stocks of interest for November.  My selections start about half way down with ACN .

Here is what I wrote in the newsletter:

For this month I ran a FINVIZ scan for quality dividend paying stocks. 

Why?

IMHO, no matter who wins the election I see the following happening.

  • Interest Rates are going up.
  • Inflation is going up.
  • The National Debt is going up.
  • And, most likely, stocks will be going down.

Other things that could happen that would do nothing except add uncertainty and volatility?

  • The election could be contested.
  • The Democrats could sweep all 3 branches of government
  • The GOP could sweep all 3 branches of government

People could end up flocking to dividend paying stocks for safety.

We will see if these ideas, stocks of interest, pan out to be good choices or not.

And finally, a topic a little closer to home but valuable none the less in how to approach making good choices.

A New Cell Phone:

My second oldest daughter, the artist, is growing up.  She graduated high school with honors, got accepted to all three colleges she applied to – including one considered to be in the top echelon of art schools in the country, got her first paying job this summer and just this past week, got her very own cell phone – on her very own plan – with her very own money.

Even though she still has a lot to learn, it is these last two accomplishments that have me quite interested and proud.

OK, getting accepted to SVA was awesome, but these last two offer some real world practicality and experience when it comes to everyday survival.  As a parent, it is particularly gratifying to see your children grow in practical, real world, skills and decision making.

First, some background.

Many years ago, my wife and I got a bargain 3rd party flip 2-3g phone for the kids.  It was listed in my contacts as “kids phone”.   We used it to give our kids a phone so they could keep in contact with us, send us texts when they needed to be picked up, and, thank god it never happened, had a phone in case of emergencies.

Now that our budding artist is becoming more independent, and actually saving some serious money – for a teenager, she started to think about graduating from that old flip phone.  Seriously, many of her college mates didn’t even know or realize that anybody still had one of “those” phones.  So, yes, there was a bit of a social stigma attached to an 18 year old college student owning a non-smart flip phone.

Besides, she really wanted to be able to play Pokémon Go.

She started out researching all the different choices in smart phones.  She looked at all the different features, reviews, and prices.  She looked at different providers and plans.

At this point, she started asking us questions.  She asked what all the different terms and conditions meant and why we had chosen the phone we had.   She was particularly surprised that service providers not only charged for plans but also for phones.

Her first initial foray into service providers was “gee, $25 / month is a good rate”.   To which I replied that is just for the phone.  You have not even gotten to the page with all the different rate plans for voice and data charges.

“Oh, I thought that was for everything…”

Nope.

–          At this point she probably realized why we chose the simple 2g flip phone

And remember, that is for a two year plan.  You are basically financing the cost of the phone over 24 months.  If you continue, renew your plan afterwards, even keeping the same phone, you will most likely keep paying the same monthly fee.

“Ohhhh…”

You might want to look at refurbished or used phones.

“ewww, why?”

She didn’t actually say ewww, but her expression did.

Well, having been in the technology field for over 20 years I can tell you that “refurbished” really means somebody did not like the interface or could not figure out how to use it.  I would say over 90% of returned, refurbished items are perfectly good.  You might want to also check out some of the resale sites out there such as eBay for used and refurbished phones and compare the prices and balance that against what you would pay a national cell phone provider to “rent” your phone.

We also discussed data plans.  I told her we had a family data plan that was capped at 3 gigs per month.

“Is that enough?” she asked.

Well between 3 phones, we very rarely go over that because, as you know, everyone is very cognizant of using Wi-Fi instead of the cellular service.

We also discussed coverage maps and roaming charges.  Never, not once did I try to influence her towards a specific phone, service provider.  I wanted her to ask the questions, gather the information, and make a decision she felt was right for her.

To make the choice that was right for her.

She spent the next week or so researching cell phones, plans and prices on various sites and ultimately decided on a slightly older (n-1) generation smart phone which had all the performance and features she wanted.  The only thing left was finding one at a good price.  Which she did.

In the end, she got a smart phone, from eBay, for about a third of the price of a two year contract and a plan from a top national provider she felt comfortable with using and paying for.

The positive lessons of this story are:

–          Ask questions and others for their opinion.

o   There are three type of people in the world.

  • Those who truly want to help and will willingly give their advice
  • Those who are egotistical enough and feel the need to give their advice.
  • And those who aren’t really helpful at all and don’t care and will not give their advice.

o   So a 2 out of 3 batting average for people willingly giving their advice and wanting to be helpful is pretty darn good.

–          Gather as much information as reasonably possible

o   Don’t over analyze.

–          Go through the process of balancing needs vs. wants vs. desires

–          And even though it did not come into play here, make a decision and move on.

o   Don’t second guess.

Many hours of worry, stress and angst can be avoided by doing ones due diligence, networking, research and information gathering to make an informed decision and hopefully good choices.

Competition

stock-trading-competition

My, or rather, our investment club has done quite well since our previous leader mysteriously disappeared and we were forced to “elect” a new leader.  In our case, co-leaders.

We have attracted new members, diversified our topics of discussion, and now have a monthly newsletter which recaps meeting agendas and topics of interest.  The club has a really good mix of growth investors, chartists, value investors and option players.  An interesting thing about this added diversity is that it has really expanded our “Stocks of Interest” section or our meetings and newsletters. 

Previously, any stock list provided was strictly a select list of IBD stocks Don, our previous group leader, picked himself.  In and of itself, IBD is not a bad investment strategy, but it is not the only one.  We now have a good mix of investment ideas and styles which really has added value to the group.

Prior to each monthly meeting, everyone sends in a hand full of stock suggestions as well as any topics of interest that they wish to discuss.  These get added to the newsletter which is distributed prior to each monthly meeting. 

Obviously, these stocks of interest are our monthly watch list but lately it has also turned into a bit of a competition to see who does best.  I call it the WSSG watch list which gets displayed right along with my own BWTB watch list on the side bar.

Last month we had a pretty good discussion comparing different stock screeners and how each of us use them to find potential investment opportunities.  Funny thing about that and our stocks of interest for this month is that it spawned some creative screens. 

For instance, looking for something different to do both my son and I looked for potential setups that we normally may not specifically look for.  He used FINVIZ to pick stocks setting up with potential bullish breakout patterns such as ascending triangles or inverse head and shoulders.  I, wanting to keep with an IBD flavor, looked for IBD momentum stocks with high sales and EPS that are reporting this month. 

All this has me wondering . . .

What other ideas and strategies do people use in investment groups as learning opportunities?

Invest Like A Ten Year Old

Every weekend I sit down with my IBD newspaper and read. It is the only time during the week that I get a chance to do any serious research.

As I was reading about the stocks listed on their earnings calendar, my youngest son comes up to look over my shoulder and see what I am doing.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m looking at companies that are reporting soon”

“What does that mean?”

“It means they tell everybody how they are doing, what they did well, what they didn’t and what they expect to do in the future. Kind of like your report cards in school.”

“Do they get graded too?”

“Yes, but not like A’s or B’s but rather buy or sell. Buy if they are doing well, sell if not”

“Cool. Let me see how many I know.”

I thought this would be interesting to find out. After all, how many companies, and which ones, does a 10 year old know about? The answer, I suspected, would be an interesting combination of marketing campaigns, experience and hearsay. Out of 54 stocks listed, he knew, or at least heard about, 13 of them.  I asked him what he knows about a couple of them like Intel and Johnson & Johnson; to which he answered they make the computers and mom buys some of their stuff.

Close enough.

Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch always said to invest in what you know. Doing proper research is key to “knowing” a company and why you want to invest in them. But “knowing” about a company from what you observe in everyday life is sometimes a perfectly good way to start making a watch list. Peter Lynch said he got some of his best ideas from watching and listening to what friends and family were raving about and buying – not the analysts or financial advisors.

Pretty good advice if you ask me.

So what does the 10 year list look like?

I’ve highlight the 10 year olds list below out of the entire IBD list but just in case the image does not transpose well, here are his selections in table format.

Company Symbol
Bank of America BAC
Netflix NFLX
Yahoo YHOO
Hasbro HAS
Microsoft MSFT
Johnson & Johnson JNJ
Ebay EBAY
Intel INTC
AT&T T
Starbucks SBUX
Domino’s Pizza DPZ
PayPal PYPL
American Airlines AAL

10 year old reporting list

I find it interesting that IBM’s brand name and marketing campaign is lost on him but not Intel’s.  Likewise, he checked Hasbro but not Mattel.  He checked Starbucks but not Dunkin Brands.  (maybe he just did not associate them with Dunkin Donuts – but then again, we do buy Starbucks once in a while but almost never Dunkin).  He knows AT&T even though we are on Verizon but does not know GM or GE.

Again, this is by no means a recommendation but rather an interesting place to start doing research, with brands and companies you know in everyday life.

Wishing Upon A Star

Star Light Star – oh wait . . .

Last week I, and lots of other internet chatter board members, noticed a potentially strong reversal signal setting up in the markets.

star patterns

A star pattern can be a strong reversal signal – if (just like with breakouts) there is a strong follow-through.

I bet short sellers were drooling at the thought of a market reversal.

Too bad their wishes didn’t come true.

star 3

That follow-through never happened.

So the markets remain in an uptrend, and by the way, in over-bought territory with yet another potentially disappointing earnings season soon to begin.

So of course the markets are going to continue going up. Right?

Who know’s?

Janet Yellen and the Fed did everything in their power to support the current rally by reversing their expected hawkish view.

I’m reminded of that famous quote from Forrest Gump.

Fed speak and the market is like opening a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.

I’m not going to try to predict the market. But I will try to follow trends and to keep an eye open for confirmed reversals and buying / selling opportunities.

I have already written about MSFT and others in my previous posts. Another one that I am waiting for confirmation is SWHC. It is currently under pressure by activists and downgrades yet continues to show growth and demand due to politics and policy fears. It showed a good pop last Friday, but as of this morning, no follow-through due to downgrades which are pushing it back down.

If it holds the 50dma then that might be a good buying opportunity.

With watching for opportunities in mind, here is my latest and greatest screen generated watch list for April.

Ticker Name
AYI Acuity Brands, Inc.
GOOGL Alphabet Inc.
MO Altria Group Inc.
AMGN Amgen Inc.
AHS AMN Healthcare Services Inc.
AOS AO Smith Corp.
ARW Arrow Electronics, Inc.
AVB Avalonbay Communities Inc.
AVGO Broadcom Limited
CDNS Cadence Design Systems Inc.
CVCO Cavco Industries, Inc.
CTXS Citrix Systems, Inc.
CCOI Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc.
COR CoreSite Realty Corporation
CRTO Criteo SA
CSGS CSG Systems International Inc.
CUBE CubeSmart
DHR Danaher Corp.
PLAY Dave & Buster’s Entertainment, Inc.
EFX Equifax Inc.
ELS Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc.
FB Facebook, Inc.
FEIC FEI Company
FIVE Five Below, Inc.
FBHS Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc.
GK G&K Services Inc.
G Genpact Limited
ROCK Gibraltar Industries, Inc.
GILD Gilead Sciences Inc.
GGG Graco Inc.
GVA Granite Construction Incorporated
INGR Ingredion Incorporated
INXN Interxion Holding NV
ISRG Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
MKTX MarketAxess Holdings Inc.
MMC Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.
MAA Mid-America Apartment Communities Inc.
MORN Morningstar Inc.
NVR NVR, Inc.
OFS OFS Capital Corporation
ORLY O’Reilly Automotive Inc.
PAYX Paychex, Inc.
PNW Pinnacle West Capital Corporation
POOL Pool Corp.
POWR PowerSecure International, Inc.
PBH Prestige Brands Holdings, Inc.
PRMW Primo Water Corporation
PSA Public Storage
ROIC Retail Opportunity Investments Corp.
RYAAY Ryanair Holdings plc
LUV Southwest Airlines Co.
SYK Stryker Corporation
SKT Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc.
SHW The Sherwin-Williams Company
THO Thor Industries Inc.
UFPI Universal Forest Products Inc.
VRSK Verisk Analytics, Inc.
VZ Verizon Communications Inc.
VMC Vulcan Materials Company
WEB Web.com Group, Inc.

Until next time,

Be good, Do Well, Have Fun, and stop wishing, start following, and most importantly – wait for that all important follow-through.