General | - Part 3

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Weekly Ramblings of an Australian Stock Trader - incorporating
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Category — General

Google’s Next Big Project…Cyber Security.

Google’s Next Big Project…Cyber SecurityLast week Google [NASDAQ: GOOG] became a US$1,000 stock. Its market cap punched through US$335 billion. It’s now on track to surpass Exxon Mobile [NYSE: XOM] and Apple [NASDAQ: AAPL] as the world’s biggest company.

Their balance sheet is healthy, revenues are as strong as ever and they’ve got more cash than they know what to do with. Last week Larry Page was talking about the billions Google spend on research. He said, ‘I think [shareholders] should actually be asking me to make more significant investments. I wish I knew how to do that.

In other words, the billions spent on research is chicken feed and he thinks they need to spend more. More on moon-shot projects like ‘Google Loon’. More on humanity-based projects like ‘Calico’.

With all these non-core business-based projects I get the feeling Google is starting to reposition the entire business.

The Evolution of a Giant
I don’t wish to evoke thoughts of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, but I’m curious about Google’s big picture plan. I have my own idea which I’ve mentioned before. To remind you, I think Google will eventually be as powerful as any G20 nation state.

That’s to say one day you might find yourself living in the Republic of Google – a place where laws and rules are reflective of the modern world. It would be a place where technology, science and the arts meet to accelerate humankind. And where human rights like freedom of expression are a foundation of society. [Read more →]

October 25, 2013   Comments Off

How to Tell if This Rally Will Last – Watch Small-Cap Stocks…

How to Tell if This Rally Will Last – Watch Small-Cap Stocks…As we wrote to you last week, when the market begins to lift off, typically small-cap stocks lead the way.

That’s because those attracted to small-cap stocks are usually those investors who are prepared to take more risks and are looking for the biggest bang for their buck.

By the time other investors feel the market is safe enough to enter, small-caps have already risen many multiples. The more conservative investors then tend to go for what they consider safer stocks – blue-chip stocks.

And that’s fine. But it’s not where you’ll find much excitement or innovation. For that you need to follow the small-cap sector. That’s why this morning we’re writing to you from the 4th Annual Microcap Investment Conference at the Sofitel in Melbourne’s CBD…

So, why are we here?

Well, we wanted to get an idea how others feel about the market and the outlook for stocks. Closeted away in our Albert Park office for 10-plus hours a day, we could lose touch with what’s really going on in the wide world.

It’ll be great to see the CEO’s and MD’s talk about their businesses and the opportunities they see in the market. And just as importantly, we’re keen to tune it to what other investors and analysts think about the current market.

If these folks are representative of the folks we hear about on TV and read about in the papers, we doubt that more than one in a hundred will be as bullish on the market as your editor. If that’s true, it’s fine by us. [Read more →]

October 24, 2013   Comments Off

Why Most Stocks Lose Money.

Why Most Stocks Lose MoneySince the deal in Washington the markets have celebrated. The stock market indexes have climbed higher than when the shutdown began. Optimism has paid off again in 2013.

It has to be said that for most of the past three decades or so, optimism has paid off,‘ bank analyst William Vincent opined in a recent column for SNL Financial titled ‘Where Are the Bears?

But has it really?

Vincent’s column looked at the lopsided consensus on a number of big stocks as a warning. (Apple, for instance, has 43 buys against just three sells.) In that column, he also rolled out the bullish refrain by citing the returns of various stock market indices. The Dow is up 358% since 1984. The Nasdaq, though it remains below its 2000 peak, is still up 2,765%. The indices deceive.

If you really track the mortality of companies,‘ says Carlo Cannell, ‘you’d conclude the market does not have the upward bias everyone thinks it does. The market is actually a well-tended garden.

Cannell is one of those rare birds, an investor who has consistently made money on the short side betting against companies. (The quote comes from The Art of Value Investing, a collection of quotes from some very good investors, edited by Whitney Tilson and John Heins. Like a bag of chips and a jar of salsa, it’s not a book you consume in one go. It’s good for dipping.)

Cannell’s analogy of a well-tended garden is perfect. The makers of the index weed out the losers. By doing so, they make the returns on stocks look greater than they appear.

Most stocks lose money,‘ is the way John Del Vecchio and Tom Jacobs start off their new book,What’s Behind the Numbers? The authors want to help prevent you from getting snookered in the market. They start by making sure you understand Cannell’s point. [Read more →]

October 24, 2013   Comments Off

Could Google’s Share Price Signal a Real Economic Recovery?

Could Google’s Share Price Signal a Real Economic Recovery?How do you fancy paying US$1,011 for just one share?

If that’s your bag you may want to think about having a flutter on Google [NASDAQ: GOOG]. It closed at that price on Friday in the US. It was up 13.8% for the day.

Of course, at US$1,011 Google has a long way to go before it catches up with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway [NYSE: BRK/A], which ended the day on Friday at US$175,400 per share.

But Google’s whopping share price is only part of the story. The most important part is the reasonbehind Google’s big price rise on Friday – it could mean the phoney economic recovery is stronger than we think…

Let’s make one thing clear. We’re still copping flak from folks who think we don’t get what’s going on in the big economic picture.

Well, we’ll say it again: we do get it. That’s why we call it a phoney recovery. But we also get it that regardless of what’s happening on the macro-economic and political front, stocks are still going up.

Just look at Google. Just look at the S&P/ASX 200. This year they are up 44.5% and 13.9% respectively.

You’ve got to ask yourself, do you want to sit and gloat and say things are a mess and not make money? Or do you want to acknowledge things are a mess and give yourself a chance to make a lot of cash on stocks?

You know our answer. What’s yours? [

October 23, 2013   Comments Off

Why a Higher Aussie Dollar is The Boost Aussie Stocks Are Waiting For.

Why a Higher Aussie Dollar is The Boost Aussie Stocks Are Waiting ForIt seems so long ago.

And yet it wasn’t.

It was only about two months ago that it was falling.

Most people said it would go even lower.

But since then things have turned. And now, maybe there’s a chance it will go higher again.

And if it does it could be the extra boost that Aussie stocks have waited for…

What is the ‘it’ we’re talking about?

It’s the Aussie dollar of course.

The Aussie dollar stayed above or near par with the US dollar from late 2010 through until the end of May this year.

It stayed high not because anyone expressed any particular confidence in the Aussie dollar, but because Australia had higher interest rates than the US. [Read more →]

October 22, 2013   Comments Off

Now What’s Stopping You from Investing in the Stock Market?

Now What’s Stopping You from Investing in the Stock Market?After weeks of drama, what do you know, everything seems to have worked out just fine…in terms of the impact on stock markets anyway.

As for the longer term impact on the US and world economies, well, who knows. As the phrase ‘longer term’ implies, it may not be for a long time before the full impact becomes apparent.

Thinking about the long term is fine. That’s why we recommend owning gold. Gold is your long term insurance policy against the ultimate destruction of the paper-based monetary system.

But as we’ve explained in recent weeks, don’t forget the short term. And right now the short term outlook tells us not to miss out on this opportunity to buy stocks as the torrent of money continues to flow into the market…

We’ve taken and we continue to take a lot of stick for our stand on the stock market.

From the start of this mess we’ve told you not to panic. We told you not to sell your stocks.

In fact we told you to buy stocks.

Why? Because we knew that what happened overnight would happen. That politicians on either side of the aisle wouldn’t have the guts to go through with their threats if that meant the US government defaulting on its obligation to pay bond holders.

So yes, we’ll say it; we told you so… [Read more →]

October 21, 2013   Comments Off

Are You Scared of Investing and Making Money?

Are You Scared of Investing and Making Money?Too many investors fear the wrong thing in investing.

They fear something that’s good for them.

Something that could make them a lot of money.

When we tell you what it is you probably won’t believe us, but it’s true.

They actually fear making money.

We’ll explain what we mean…

Since stocks began to soar last November we’ve heard a constant stream of the same message – ‘Don’t buy stocks, the market is about to crash.’

We won’t argue with the reasons behind the message.

In fact we agree with it almost entirely. Stocks will fall…at some point. But it has been almost a year since the rally started.

And despite a few bumps (including one or two big bumps) the Australian stock market is 19.8% higher than it was last November. [Read more →]

October 18, 2013   Comments Off

Why the Stock Market Could Triple by 2017.

Why the Stock Market Could Triple by 2017From 2007 to late 2008 it would be fair to say we were bearish on the markets. That means we thought there was a chance stocks would fall.

Although if we’re honest, they fell much further than we expected.

From late 2008 to late 2009 we were bullish. From that point on until early 2012 we were largely neutral to bearish again.

Since early to mid-2012 we’ve had pretty much one thing on our mind – a raging bull market for stocks. And while many seem to think the bull market glory days are over, we’re in no mood to agree.

In fact, despite the volatility and the bearish market atmosphere, we still say that stocks are heading in one direction over the next 18 months, and that’s up…

That’s not to say there won’t be some bumps along the way.

There’s still a chance that the US government will default on its obligation to pay interest and principal on its bonds.

While a default would be good in the long run, in the short term it would have a big impact on the markets. Remember that US government bonds affect the prices of all securities worldwide.

That’s because investors see US government bonds as a risk-free investment. Every other investment such as bonds, stocks, and mortgages has its price in some way determined by the US bond price. [Read more →]

October 17, 2013   Comments Off

The Most Qualified Federal Reserve Chairman Since Arthur Burns.

The Most Qualified Federal Reserve Chairman Since Arthur BurnsThere’s plenty of gushing about the Janet Yellen appointment as Federal Reserve Chairman. Yale economist Robert Shiller says she’s ‘a real mensch‘.

Greg Mankiw from Harvard says President Obama made a great decision in choosing her. ‘Reports of Janet Yellen’s forthcoming nomination will be greeted well by market agents,‘ says David Kotok. ‘It should be.

However it was this endorsement which most caught my attention. ‘Yellen is quite simply more qualified for the job than any of her predecessors,‘ claims Justin Wolfers with the University of Michigan. ‘She’s an imaginative and technically adept economist possessed of a brilliant and precise mind.‘ Wolfers continues, ‘Tonight, I feel reassured that my daughter’s economic future is in good hands.

First we should take pity on any man who honestly believes a Fed Chair has the power to make a child’s economic future bright. But he does make a living teaching economics and public policy, so delusions like this aren’t that unusual for someone in that profession. However, the ‘simply more qualified‘ quote has been used before and may shed light on a bleak future. [Read more →]

October 17, 2013   Comments Off

Portfolio Diversification: Don’t Fall For This Deadly Investing Mistake.

Portfolio Diversification: Don’t Fall For This Deadly Investing MistakeWhat’s the first thing you hear when you begin investing?

Our bet is it’s the same as one of the first things we heard as an investor.

At first glance it seems to be good advice. But when you look at it closely, it turns out it could be the worst advice investors ever take.

What are we talking about?

We’re talking about diversification – or as we prefer to call it, investment suicide…

One of the biggest fibs put around by mainstream investing pros is that investors should have balanced and diversified portfolios. They spin that yarn not because it’s the best advice, but because it suits them.

The more diversified your portfolio the less attention you need to pay to your investments.

That suits most of the financial services industry because it means they can cream off a few percentage points every year without having to do much work…and without having to talk to you.

They’re the same folks who, contrary to all the evidence before them, still tell you ‘buy and hold’ is still a winning formula for stock investing, when in reality it’s the worst form of investing. [Read more →]

October 16, 2013   Comments Off