Thursday, December 31, 2009

Performance of Stock Markets Around the World for 2009

Can you guess which stock market had the best performance around the world? Here is a selection of the 15 different stock markets of various countries, showing the return for the year 2009. The results may surprise you.

Sri Lanka stock exchange CSE 128%
Russia RTS 126%
Brazil’s Bovespa 83%
Bombay Stock Exchange BSE 81%
Shanghai Composite Index in China 80%
Philippine Stock Exchange Index 63%
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index 52%
Nasdaq composite index 44%
Toronto stock market TSX 30%
Standard & Poor's 500 Index 24%
Germany's Dax 23%
London's FTSE 100 index 22%
France's Cac 22%
Japan's Nikkei 19%
Dow Jones Industrial Average 19%


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Touch Screen Apple Computer Rumor

There is a rumor going around Silicon Valley and the rest of the world, that Apple (AAPL) is coming out with a touch screen computer. The "major product announcement" will be made in San Francisco on January 26, 2010. The stock was up over one percent today.

Groovle Wins Lawsuit Filed Against It by Google

Google (GOOG) filed a lawsuit against, a Canadian search engine company, claiming that the domain name Groovle is too close to Google. However, Groovle was victorious, willing the lawsuit. This is only the second of dozens of domain related lawsuits that Google has lost.

Water, Water Everywhere: Top Yielding Water Utility Stocks

Many years ago, I started investing in water utilities. I figured that any company that can sell something as abundant as water, must be in a pretty good business. As it turned out every water stock I invested in got taken over by another company, at a price per share much higher than what I paid for it. I still own a couple (see my disclosure below).

Water utilities may not pay a yield as high as electric utilities or gas utilities, but there are over a dozen water utility stocks with yields ranging from 1.7% to 4.7% that were turned up by Here are some examples.

American Water Works Company (AWK) is a $3.94 billion market cap water utility which yields 3.7%. The company provides water and wastewater services in 32 states and Ontario, Canada. The stock has a forward PE of 15.7.

Aqua America Inc. (WTR) has a market cap of $2.41 billion, and serves customers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, New York, Florida, Indiana, Virginia, Maine, Missouri, and South Carolina. The stock pays a yield of 3.3% and has a forward PE of 19.7.

To see the rest of the high yielding water stocks, which you can download, add to and sort, check out

Full disclosure: Author owns CWT and CTWS.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Angelina Jolie Year End Stock Index Update

Angelina Jolie Outperforms the Stock Market

Lots of negative press may appear in the tabloids about Angelina Jolie, but you can't keep a great actress down. Her stock index, which is made up of the stocks of companies that distribute her motion pictures, has significantly outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average this year. The stocks in her index include the following.

Components of the Angelina Jolie Stock Index:
Sony SNE - Girl, Interrupted
Viacom VIA-B - Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Beowulf
Time Warner TWX - George Wallace; Taking Lives; Alexander
News Corp. NWS-A - Mr. & Mrs. Smith; Life or Something Like It
General Electric GE - [Universal Pictures] The Bone Collector; The Good Shepherd; The Changeling
Disney DIS - Playing by Heart; Gone in 60 Seconds
Comcast CMCSA - Original Sin
DreamWorks Animation DWA - Shark Tale

This is a price-weighted index, similar to the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It includes dividends.

From January through today (12/28/09), the Angelina Jolie Index is up 22%, outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average which is up 16%.

If you like celebrity stock indexes, you should check out the Heidi Klum Stock Index, the Eva Longoria Stock Index, the Jessica Alba Stock Index, the Nicole Kidman Stock Index, the Freida Pinto Stock Index, and the Taylor Swift Stock Index.

Author owns TWX, DIS, and DWA.

By Fred Fuld for

Book Review: Career Comeback

I just finished reading Career Comeback: Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want by Lisa Johnson Mandell, and I really enjoyed it. I have an unusual perspective since I am a guy, and the target audience is women between their late thirties to early sixties who are looking for a job, starting their own business, or looking for a promotion.

The book features very extensive and detailed resources, including websites and recommended companies, interspersed with specific real life examples. She covers everything from networking online, to botoxing your resume, to creating an elevator pitch, to preparing for the interview. Her tips on finding a job are a must read. She even covers the differences between the baby boomers, the Gen Xers, and the Gen Yers, and how to bridge the gap.

The advice is interspersed with humor, quizzes, and fun facts. She writes the book in a page-turner style that makes you not want to put it down -- very unusual for a non-fiction book. The before and after resumes and makeovers are incredible.

The best thing about the book is that it has a lot of "meat". Readers who have read many of my other book reviews know that I love books with meat. Meat is very specific, very useful information and resources. For example, she lists 23 different web sites where you can set up your own blog for free, five sites for getting free website templates, and four places to get free business cards.

I highly recommend Career Comeback: Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want to any woman over 35 who is looking for a job. Men can get a lot of useful info from the book also, although they may want to skip the parts on exfoliating your skin and whether or not to wear a skirt. But the resume, interview, and networking advice is universal.

Want a job? Get Lisa Johnson Mandell's book.

Guest Article: Iraq Oil Output to Rival Saudi Arabia , if…

Can Iraq Escape the Resource Curse

BAGHDAD - What was once considered a pipe-dream could become reality: after decades of dictatorship, war and international sanctions, Iraq ’s massive oil reserves are set to be tapped proper and the country once known for two overflowing rivers could be crowned oil king.

If the seven oil projects awarded to foreign oil companies this weekend, and the three from an auction earlier this year, develop as planned, within eight years, Iraq will see its oil production capacity leap to more than 12 million barrels per day (bpd).

“We think it is a big victory for Iraq to be able to be a leader in the world,” Iraqi Oil Minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, said after the auction.

Saudi Arabia , the world’s largest producer at 8.18 million bpd, has a capacity of just over 11 million bpd today, after slower demand growth halted plans to expand to 12.5 million bpd by the end of this year.

Iraq – behind Saudi Arabia and Iran – has the world’s third largest proven oil reserves, with potentially more remaining to be found. Currently, however, its 115 billion barrels below ground pump at just 2.4 million bpd, with production hampered by political, structural and security problems that could moot the enthusiasm from this weekend’s auction.

Out of the 10 oil projects on offer during the two-day auction, seven were awarded to a dozen companies. Three fields up for grabs in a June 30 auction were awarded, with one deal already finalized. And there are more than 60 fields discovered but not yet developed. These include two that the ministry is negotiating directly with foreign companies outside of an auction process.

Currently, Iraq relies on oil revenue for 95 percent of its revenue. This will increase if the fields develop as planned. Only after, however, Iraq reimburses companies for their investment and pays them a relatively small fee per barrel of increased output.

But this is Iraq , where, aside from this weekend’s bidding round, it seems nothing goes according to schedule.

Since late 2006, a new oil law to replace current oil governance – an often vague and conflicting mix of the 2005 Constitution and laws left from previous eras – has been delayed by political squabbles. Laws reestablishing the national oil company, reorganizing the oil ministry and formalizing revenue redistribution, are also languishing.

Iraq ’s Kurds, who favor heavy decentralization, and nationalist Arabs, who want strong state control, have both questioned Shahristani’s oil deals. Some have called them illegal.

In press conferences and speeches before the auction, both Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Oil Minister Shahristani, reiterated the government’s pledge that the deals would remain valid – no matter what happens in the March 7 national election.

Legal cover has been as much of a concern to foreign oil companies as physical security. Three days before the first field was put on the block, five bombs killed more than 120 people. Iraq ’s northern export pipeline was offline for a week, during both October and November, due to sabotage.

“The contract specifies very clearly the responsibilities of the companies and the security for the fields is the responsibility of the Iraqi government but if the oil companies require specific security for their personnel or their activities, that is their responsibility,” said Shahristani.

“We will make necessary precautions to deal with it,” said Torgeir Kydland, the senior vice president for Iraq at Statoil, the Norwegian firm which partnered with Russia ’s Lukoil to increase production at the West Qurna-Phase 2 project from nearly nothing now to 1.8 million bpd.

That additional crude, however, now needs somewhere to go. And throughout the value chain, there are missing links. Iraq needs to upgrade refineries, build more storage units, and create a larger capacity transport infrastructure. Following wars and sanctions, everything needs repair and modern technology.

Iraq cannot export much more than it does already; depending on which segment of the pipeline system, either repairs have not been made or an increase in oil flow risks all-out rupture.

“The amount of work required for the infrastructure to handle such a massive production and to transport it and to export it is huge,” said Shahristani. He said a pipeline and export master plan will be completed soon after assessing the needs of the fields awarded for development.

“There will be another port there and also a network of pipelines extended from the north of Iraq to the south and from the east to the west of Iraq to export oil from different areas,” he said. Such a move will diversify recipients, increase delivery to those already served, and allow it to separate the different qualities of crude instead of selling it as a concoction of one.

And when it makes significant gains in production, it will have to find its place within OPEC’s quota system, which Iraq – a founding member – has been excused from because capacity was cut by wars and sanctions. Shahristani said the 12 million bpd target will merely be Iraq ’s capacity, and that actual output will be based on market demands and aligned with OPEC. There is language in the contracts that compensates foreign companies if production is reduced, he said.

Iraq is considered by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And the influx of potentially hundreds of billion dollars of foreign investment into an as yet unproven government of struggling institutions is a volatile concoction producing in other developing yet resource-rich nations what has come to be known as the “resource curse.”

That is, when oil revenues aren’t used to benefit the citizens of the producing country but, rather, the elite. Investor companies are often enablers if not complicit, and their home nations approving.

The result is a populace lacking basic services and a polluted environment that soon turns into violence, destabilizing both oil operations and government. The resource curse in Iraq , however, is not inevitable. And although history is a bad indicator, in Iraq and in most oil producers, such a trend can be slowed and reversed.

“That’s why we’re glad it’s not coming on line all in one day,” said a senior U.S. official. The ministry’s Inspector General’s office is considered to be both progressive and aggressive.

The companies are expected to reach an initial agreement with the ministry by the end of the year.

“They will give us a work plan about the numbers of the fields to be developed, the expected costs, the invested money, and the number of the workers,” said Shahristani.

This is then followed by Cabinet approval and the final signing. Thirty days later the companies must pay the signature bonus, which is no less than $100 million, depending on the field. And it’s non-recoverable, as opposed to the first round where the much larger signing bonus was given as a loan.

This article was written by By Ben Lando for who focus on Fossil Fuels, Alternative Energy, Metals, Oil Prices and Geopolitics. To find out more visit their website at:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hugo Chavez Threatening Auto Manufactuers

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has told Toyota (TM), Ford (F), General Motors and Fiat (FIATY.PK) that the auto companies have to leave if they don't share more of their technology and produce the types of vehicles that he wants.

Twitter Buying Mixer Labs

Twitter just announced that they are buying Mixer Labs, the location tracker company. Mixer Labs was founded by two former employers of Google (GOOG). The merger will allow people to show where they are when they tweet.

Top Yielding China Stocks

Why do many investors like to invest in Chinese stocks? Maybe because China, which is one of the BRIC countries, is the largest country in the world by population, it has the second largest GDP by purchasing power parity, it is the second largest exporter in the world, and it is is the third largest importer in the world. Plus, approximately 91% of the population is literate. But since China has been and still is a communist country, investors still have some concerns.

One way to reduce the risk of investing in China is to look for stocks that pay dividends. Stocks with yields return your capital faster and can help reduce volatility. has just turned up fifteen China stocks that pay dividends. Unfortunately, many of them have very short track records (some as short as one year) and most pay their dividends annually. But you may be able to find a few gems.

PetroChina Co. Ltd. (PTR) has been paying dividends since the year 2000, and pays semi-annually (twice a year), most recently in May and September. This producer of oil and natural gas has a forward PE of 10 and pays a yield of 3.3%.

Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. Ltd. (YZC) has paid dividends since 1999, but only pays annually. The had a 5 for 1 slit last year. This coal mining company has a yield of 2.7%.

Another China company with a long term track record of paying dividends is China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (SNP), which has been paying since 2001. This oil, gas, and chemical company has a forward PE of 8 and yields 2.7%.

For a free Excel database of high yielding China stocks, which can be sorted and changed, go to Four of the stocks yield more than 3.5%. If you've been to the site before, you may need to clear out your cache if the High Yield China Stock database doesn't appear.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stock Market Christmas Poem

Stock Market Christmas Poem

T'was the night before Christmas
And all through the night
Not a single stock was trading
And everything seemed right

No Lehman, no WaMu
No Bear Stearns shares
Their stocks have stopped trading
And nobody cares

No special bonuses
No executive perk
For bad top executives
For their worthless work

We won't dwell on TARP funds
Or A. I. G.
Nor GM or Chrysler
Or other debris

Stop looking backwards
No more review
'Cause a new year is coming
We're starting anew

So thank you for reading
My blogs through the year
Best wishes be with you
And Holiday Cheer!

by Fred Fuld III at

11 Under 10: Low Share Price, Debt Free, Lots of Cash

It is amazing that there are still debt free stocks with lots of cash and good financials, especially stocks that trade for less than $10 per share. has just turned up eleven of these low priced debt free stocks with lots of cash per share and strong revenue growth. Most of them have market caps above $100 million, however, many are still very low cap stocks and should be considered very speculative.

SonicWALL, Inc. (SNWL), which closed at $7.77 on Wednesday, makes and markets network security, content security, and business continuity solutions. This debt free company has an incredible $3.46 in cash per share. The stock has a forward PE of 20, and a 4.4% revenue growth for the latest quarter. The market cap is $421 million.

Force Protection, Inc. (FRPT), at $5.61, has $1.74 per share in cash and no debt. This manufacturer of blast and ballistic protected vehicles had an amazing 69.0% increase in revenues for the latest quarter, with a forward PE of 11. The market cap is $392 million.

To see the rest of the low priced debt free stocks, go to

Author does not own any of the above.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guest Article: China Secures Gas Supply From Turkmenistan : Who’s the True Winner?

China Secures Gas Supply From Turkmenistan : Who’s the True Winner?

On December 14, 2009, an inauguration took place that deserves more attention than it received because it marks an economic power shift to the benefit of three Central Asian countries and China and to the detriment of Russia . The presidents of China - Hu Jintao , Turkmenistan - Gurlanguly Berdymukhamedov , Kazakhstan – Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Uzbekistan -Islam Karimov, inaugurated the Central Asia–China gas pipeline that links Turkmenistan ’s natural gas fields on the Caspian Sea to the Western Chinese border in the Xinjiang province.

This pipeline then connects with the West-East Gas Pipeline that crosses China and supplies cities as far as Shanghai and Hong Kong . 13 billion cubic meters (bcm) are supposed to transit through this pipeline in 2010, 30bcm by the end of 2011 and over 40bcm by 2013. Ultimately that pipeline could supply China with more than half of China ’s present day natural gas consumption.

Diversification of gas export routes seen as a regional security factor

Most commentators and officials have stirred clear from saying openly that Russia is losing ground in Central Asia because of political sensitivities. Despite years of recurrent official declarations that there are no spheres of influence – with the word “influence” being astutely replaced by the word “interest” - there is a delicate balance of powers in the region with historic, cultural and economic ties that cannot be ignored. There is also the need to accommodate the growing interest in the region of new players such China , the United States and the European Union. Russia sees the region as its natural backyard but many countries no longer consider Russia as the most rewarding partner or one that should always have the upper hand.

Turkmenistan is the big winner with this new pipeline as this new export route for its gas production frees it from the diktats of Gazprom: about 70% of its natural gas production used to exit the country through the Gazprom network. Turkmen President Berdymukhamedov stated, "The successful implementation of this project could become a prototype for all international energy partnerships,” adding that "this pipeline will have a positive impact across the entire region and beyond, and it will become a major contributing factor to security in Asia ." Other winners are Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan that will also be able to supply the pipeline with their own gas production, notably from the Karachaganak, Kashagan and Tengiz fields in Kazakhstan .

The Central Asia-China gas pipeline is a US$7.3bn project, 1,833 km long with 188 km going through Turkmenistan , 530 from Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan , and 1,115 km from Kazakhstan to China . The West-East Gas Pipeline crossing China is over 4,500 km long, making of the joint pipelines the longest in the world.

A new natural gas player: Turkmenistan

In 2008 the independent British auditing company Gaffney, Cline & Associates Ltd was tasked with assessing the volumes of Turkmen gas reserves in the Yoloton-Osman fields. Despite allegations that Turkmen officials - which included the heads of Turkmengas, Turkmenneft and Turkmenneftegazstroy - misled the auditors by providing inaccurate inflated data, it remains reasonable to believe that Turkmenistan holds the 4th or 5th largest natural gas reserves in the world in light of regularly announced gas discoveries in regions with already proven reserves. President Berdymukhamedov himself sacked the Turkmen officials entangled in this scandal in October 2009.

The problem for Turkmenistan until now was that its export routes were limited as over 70% of its gas exports transited through Gazprom’s pipelines. An explosion at a key pipeline in April 2009 resulted in bitter battles: Turkmenistan and Russia blaming each other as to the causes of the accident; Turkmenistan supposedly losing over $1 billion per month in revenues; Gazprom refusing to pay European market prices for Turkmen gas per a deal concluded when prices were higher; Turkmenistan announcing it would provide gas to Nabucco, the nemesis of Russian-sponsored South Stream pipeline; etc.

The recent report by Vedomosti that Gazprom plans to purchase "not more than" 10.5 bcm from Turkmenistan during 2010-2012 compared to the usual 50 billion bcm is the confirmation that Turkmenistan absolutely must diversify its export routes. The bringing online of this new pipeline could not have been timelier.

A crack in Gazprom’s Hegemony

Gazprom has for many years monopolized gas supplies from Central Asia . With growing interest from China and Europe to diversify their gas supplies, Gazprom engaged in a risky pre-empting game consisting of securing supply agreements, notably with Central Asian countries, to cut the grass under the feet of European countries that have been looking at alternative supply routes bypassing Russia . This has proven to be a costly and risky game, notably with Turkmenistan , as world market prices and demand dropped and the contracted prices were higher than the prices Russia could reasonably resell the gas for. The game played also includes undermining the Nabucco pipeline.

Nabucco, a natural gas pipeline bypassing Russia and endorsed by European countries and the United States, is the perfect example of the power struggle at play: by securing large gas volumes from Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, the financial viability of Nabucco comes into doubt as it is not clear that there would be enough gas available to supply both Nabucco and the South Stream pipeline supported by Gazprom. Turkmenistan , bitterly annoyed by Gazprom running away from its contractual obligations, announced in July 2009 its willingness to supply Nabucco. Azerbaijan had also conveyed its willingness to supply both pipelines, though is recently playing harder to get in light of the recent Turkey-Armenia rapprochement.

China’s steady approach to diversifying its suppliers for everything

China is very well aware that its economic growth and even domestic stability is conditioned upon securing supply chains through long-term agreements. One step at a time China is securing its supply of staple commodities, minerals and energy supplies. To further secure its position in the supply country, China offers loans and technical expertise in addition to gaining the management authority to run the local operations. China has become one of Africa’s top three trading partners and several countries, no matter how unsavoury and corrupt they may be, became important trading partners like Sudan, which exports a majority of its oil to China, while others guarantee China’s food supply. In November 2009, the China Metallurgical Group bought for US$3 billion a 30-year lease to exploit copper deposits in Afghanistan further demonstrating that no country, no matter how troubled it is, is off-limit.

Money helps shift the balance of power

As Cicero ’s saying goes “nervi bellorum pecuniae” (money is the sinews of war) and in the commercial wars that are being fought, China has huge financial reserves that it can put in the balance, notably through its state-run financial institutions such as the China Development Bank (CDB). The CDB played a critical role in financing the construction of the US$6.7bn Kazakh section, the largest and most expensive chunk of the pipeline. The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) acquired 50% of MangistauMunaiGas in April 2009 for US$2.6bn and the China Investment Corporation acquired about 11% of KazMunaiGas Exploration & Production in September 2009 for about US$939 million.

China has a financial advantage at a time of liquidity shortages: its ability to instruct it state-owned companies to work on specific projects and to coordinate the involvement of all possible Chinese players (finance providers, construction and management companies, etc.) enables China to strategically position itself at every level of the food chain. For instance in Central Asia, China acquired shares in companies that exploit gas fields (MangistauMunaiGas and KazMunaiGas E & P); China got the rights to exploit fields in Turkmenistan when other countries are still struggling to obtain such rights; China financed and helped in the construction of the pipelines running from the fields (CNPC, China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau and China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corporation); and China purchases the gas production.

China is at an advantage compared to its American or European competitors as the US has no state companies while Europe ’s few state companies are held to the same standards as private sector companies and cannot as easily be told what to do. Also, China ’s financial support has no string attached beyond a long-term commitment for guaranteed supply. The United States or members of the European Union often condition the granting of financing to the improvement of democracy and human rights which is seen by Central Asian countries as an intolerable mingling with domestic issues. Furthermore, China has a lot of state companies that the government can “instruct” to work on a project such as a pipeline. CNPC was the leading operator of the Central Asia-China pipeline project, working closely with each country towards its completion.

This conjunction of companies “ready-to-go” with guaranteed financing and full government endorsement and support gives China a competitive edge. However, moving away from Russia ’s arms into China ’s is not a love story but more a marriage of convenience. Concerns exist over China ’s growing influence and its lower environmental standards. Central Asian countries remain interested in American and European commercial involvement to see it have a balancing role. In addition US and European companies implement good business practices such as transparency, accountability, sanctity of contracts, rule of law, etc. that would greatly benefit Central Asia that is plagued by corruption.

One successful example of mutually beneficial regional collaboration

The fact that Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan managed to coordinate their efforts towards the common goal of building a pipeline that will serve them all is an achievement. China played an instrumental role as conductor in making it happen. President Hu Jintao himself underlined the benefits of mutual collaboration through a win-win situation, stating “in line with the principle of mutual complementarity, mutual benefit, equality and win-win cooperation, the four countries have actively carried out energy cooperation and achieved fruitful results.”

This said, regional cooperation is far from being a reality in Central Asia despite the well-recognized benefits of cross-border commercial activities. In the end, though Turkmenistan is definitely an important winner with this new pipeline, China can be seen as the ultimate winner by having not only secured a very valuable route for its gas supply, but also by having reinforced its image as a regional player that managed to get three Central Asian countries work towards a mutual beneficial goal, namely a new export route for their gas.

The additional bargaining power Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan gained from diversifying their energy export routes, thanks to the Chinese assistance, strengthens their political and economic independence and reinforces regional stability and security and that achievement deserves recognition.

This article was written by Philip H. de Leon for who focus on Fossil Fuels, Alternative Energy, Metals, Oil Prices and Geopolitics. To find out more visit their website at:

Stocks Going Ex Dividend the Second Week of January 2010

Buy some dividends for yourself for the new year. The stock trading technique called 'Buying Dividends' has generated a lot of interest from investors. This is the process of buying stocks before the ex dividend date and selling the stock shortly after the ex date at about the same price, yet still being entitled to the dividend. This technique generally works only in bull markets.

In order to be entitled to the dividend, you have to buy the stock before the ex-dividend date, and you can't sell the stock until after the ex date. The actual dividend may not be paid for another few weeks. has compiled a free downloadable and sortable Excel list of the stocks going ex dividend during the next week or two. came up with many dividend paying companies companies all with market caps over $500 million. Here are some examples showing the stock symbol, the ex-dividend date and the yield.

Saul Centers, Inc. (BFS) ex div date: 1/13/10 market cap: $550.6M yield: 4.7%

Corus Entertainment Inc. (CJR) ex div date: 1/13/10 market cap: $1.4B yield: 3.2%

Foot Locker, Inc. (FL) ex div date: 1/13/10 market cap: $1.6B yield: 5.9%

Other ex-dividend stocks can be found at (If you have been to the website before, and the latest link doesn't show up, you may have to empty your cache.) If you like dividend stocks, you should check out the high yield utility stocks and the Monthly Dividend Stocks at or For more details on dividend definitions, check out definitions of dividend dates. Don't forget to reconfirm the ex-dividend date with the company before implementing this technique.

Author doesn't own any of the above.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Ford Turning Cars into Wifi Hot Spots

Ford (F) which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, will make available a USB mobile broadband modem on many of its cars, beginning next year. Just last week, General Motors (MTLQQ.PK) announced that they would be offering wireless in some of their SUV's and trucks.

House Price Drop of Robert Rey, TV Doctor

Dr. Robert Rey, the plastic surgeon who appears on on E! Channel’s Dr. 90210, has reportedly dropped the price of his mansion in Beverly Hills from $5,295,000 to $4,395,000. This 6300 square foot house has 6 bedrooms and 7.5 baths.

Guest Article - Book Excerpt: Trading from your Gut

Keeping What’s Yours
by Curtis Faith
author of Trading from Your Gut: How to Use Right Brain Instinct & Left Brain Smarts to Become a Master Trader

The prime lesson or instinct for avoiding loss makes sense in more traditional circumstances. It takes effort to acquire any possessions: grain, cattle, sheep, shelter, and other items. We should safe- guard and protect possessions that require work to acquire. Novice traders naturally try to avoid losses, which is one of the main reasons they focus on high-percentage strategies. They want to have many more winning trades than losing trades, so they focus on anticipating the market and trying to predict its direction.

As I mentioned earlier, I am generally reluctant to comment on the market’s direction. Instead of trying to predict the markets, I focus on what it is doing now and what that means. The problem with prediction is that you can be very off with the timing. You can be right and still lose a lot of money because the market might take a long while to arrive at the same place. However, if you know what the market is doing right now and what it has done in the past, you can find times when the odds of the market moving a significant amount tip in your favor. Taking a trade is not the same as making a prediction. Master traders often take trades that they believe are more likely to result in a small loss than a gain based on their knowledge of past market movement. How much money they will make over time is the important factor, not how often they are correct.

A related problem new traders have is that they often look at losing trades as bad trades. This is related to their desire to predict. Their built-in circuitry equates losing with bad and winning with good. This evaluation is certainly correct over many trades and the long term, but it is an incorrect assumption in the short term. Master traders recognize that losing is a cost of doing business. They also recognize that the markets often reward behavior that is psychologically difficult for most traders to exhibit or manage. Trading strategies that are difficult to follow are usually significantly more profitably than those that are easy to follow.

Many new traders use easy-to-follow strategies, especially ones that seem obvious. Consequently, these strategies tend to work for only a brief period of time. Usually they stop working as soon as enough traders have started to follow them. Therefore, the desire to avoid losing trades can be a major disadvantage.

Master traders know that the percentage of their trades that make money is not as important as the amount of money they end up with. A few large winning trades can easily offset many smaller losses. Therefore, master traders often look for trading strategies that have many small losses and relatively few larger winners. The long-term, trend-following trading style we used as Turtles is one example of this type of trading strategy. In one year that I was up more than 200%, I had perhaps 10–12 winning trades and 45–50 losing trades. The winners were big (5%, 20%, 40%, or more) and the losing trades were all small (0.5% losses). If you were trying to predict the market, you would have been better off taking the opposite of my trades.

by Curtis Faith
author of Trading from Your Gut: How to Use Right Brain Instinct & Left Brain Smarts to Become a Master Trader

Reprinted with permission of the publicist and Copyright FT Press, an imprint of Pearson.

Google Suggestions for 'The Stock Market is'

Check-out what Google search suggestions have to say about the stock market.

$72 for a Taco at Taco Bell

A man in Sandusky, Ohio handed over $72 for one taco at a Taco Bell restaurant. The customer, who appeared drunk, refused to take back the money. Taco Bell is owned by Yum! Brands, Inc. (YUM), which trades on the New York Stock Exchange.

Guest Article: The Great Credit Bubble

The Great Credit Bubble
by Mark Gilbert,
Author of Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable

Where did the money come from? Where did it go? How was this allowed to happen? Who is to blame? These are the key questions surrounding the credit crunch that has engulfed the global financial system.

The answer, in part, is that there wasn't anywhere near as much money as there seemed to be. And because it didn't exist in the first place, the money hasn't gone anywhere. It was all an illusion, although the economic consequences of its disappearance turned out to be very real indeed.

As to how it was allowed to happen and who is to blame, in a sense the honest reply is that we all allowed it to happen, and we're all to blame, either as active accomplices or complicit bystanders. Society as a whole made a collective, unconscious decision to allow the banking system to grow unchecked because the tangible benefits that seemed to accrue from unbridled capitalism outweighed the intangible hazards that might accompany this dangerous test of capitalism's limits.

Consider an analogous bit of history. In nineteenth-century Britain, physicians finally began to understand human physiology, working out the body's geography by mapping veins and arteries, dissecting eyes and hearts, and manipulating bones and joints. The new knowledge promised to usher in a period of unprecedented medical advancement.

Religious beliefs and general distaste, however, meant that few people would send the corpses of deceased relatives to the gurneys of surgeons with eager scalpels. After all, how could a dismembered body pass through the gates of heaven? Surgeons instead dissected the bodies of executed criminals, who lost dominion over their body parts' destination upon conviction.

But -- even fueled by the era's commonplace executions -- supply was insufficient to meet demand. A shadowy secondary market in cadavers developed; those who died in a hospital and weren't quickly claimed by their loved ones moved from mortuaries to teaching hospitals, sold by undertakers and bought by physicians. Even those claimed by family and properly buried could be dug up and sold to satiate the needs of the anatomists.

The authorities -- both legal and medical -- turned a blind eye to the practice of grave robbing, while the general public remained ignorant about how doctors were getting smarter. For society as a whole, it was a win-win situation -- until a pair of entrepreneurs called William Burke and William Hare decided to circumvent the waiting time demanded by nature, started murdering for profit, and brought the whole grisly, underhanded process into the open.

A similar conspiracy of vested interests caused the credit crunch. Any banker, trader, investor, or economist asked to invent the perfect financial market environment for creating global wealth beyond the wildest dreams of avarice would have come up with a list of conditions similar to those that have prevailed for the past decade.

Like those of Burke and Hare, these good times have ended with an almighty bang, not a whimper, wiping out the nest eggs of millions of workers by destroying stock market values around the world, undermining ordinary savers' confidence in the safety of the banking system, and exposing deep fault lines in the philosophy of capitalism. The financial community, through a deadly combination of greed and hubris, fouled its own sandpit. The era of munificent money-making conditions -- regulation and oversight so gentle as to be almost invisible, ever-faster data and information flows, freely available credit at super-low interest rates, unprecedented access to investors all around the world, and oil-enriched buyers of any investment yielding north of zero -- is over.

The global financial authorities -- the elected politicians who decree the legal framework within which finance operates; the unelected central banks charged with tending the economy, the regulators responsible for creating and enforcing safety rules; the money managers entrusted with nurturing the future incomes of widows, orphans, and hordes of other savers; and the people paying themselves millions of dollars to run the investment banks -- all looked the other way. They operated under the belief that the monetary benefits accruing to society from incessant, unprecedented, and essentially unregulated growth in the securities industry more than outweighed any of the attendant risks.

In the U.S., the rising economic tide was seen to lift all boats, underlining the political triumph of capitalism over socialism and communism. In Europe, increased prosperity helped cement the decades-old dream of a common currency, binding nations closely enough to nullify the nagging conflicts that gave rise to two world wars, with the U.K. playing a supporting role as the unofficial treasurer to its continental, euro-embracing neighbors, even as it clung stubbornly on to its own currency. And across swathes of Asia, globalization and growing international trade helped fund the transition from agrarian to manufacturing economies, with governments offering compensatory affluence to avert discussions about democracy and voting systems, thereby blunting the risk of social unrest.

The list of credit crunch perpetrators is long. Realtors appraised houses at fictitious levels. Lenders granted mortgages to people who couldn't pay. Aspiring homeowners bought properties that they couldn't afford, taking on debt burdens they couldn't support. Frankenstein bankers cobbled together nasty parts of different markets, creating instruments they couldn't value or control. Credit rating companies stamped their highest seals of approval on nearly anything and everything that crossed their desks. Traders invented prices they couldn't justify. Investors bought securities they didn't understand. And there are thousands and thousands of fleas on the financial dog; armies of lawyers and accountants earned their livings during the past decade by scrutinizing deals or by getting paid to rubberstamp transactions.

The people in the world of high finance aren't stupid. For at least a decade, the finest graduates of universities all over the globe have been drawn to Wall Street and its counterparts in the world's biggest cities. Little wonder, then, that market regulators struggled to either find or retain talented staff, when the rewards for jumping the fence and becoming a poacher rather than a gamekeeper were so rich. Investment banks and hedge funds became employment black holes, sucking in talent to the detriment of arguably more productive, clearly less lucrative disciplines, such as engineering and science.

The credit crunch wasn't caused so much by a confederacy of dunces as by a silent conspiracy of the well rewarded. And most of the participants aren't fraudsters (albeit with some notable exceptions), nor are they evil or malicious. But everyone involved collectively suspended disbelief, a mass self-induced myopia to the possibility that anything could go wrong, because the financial rewards for playing along were so compelling.

Excerpted from Complicit by Mark Gilbert, with permission of Bloomberg Press (January 2010).

Author Bio
Mark Gilbert, author of Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable, is bureau chief for Bloomberg News in London, has been with Bloomberg News since 1991 and has written a regular column on global financial issues since 1998. He spent more than eighteen months warning about the impending credit crisis, later helping readers disentangle its consequences. He frequently appears as a commentator on Bloomberg Television.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hockey Stocks

Did you know that there are four times as many Canadians as there are Americans in the National Hockey League? Hockey is the most watched major sport in Canada and the least watched major sport in the U.S.

We are right in the middle of hockey season, which started in the first week of October and will end next April. Although there are no pure plays, there are several companies that are connected to hockey teams and equipment.

Here are some hockey stocks that might be worth taking a swing at:

The Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League and the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League are owned by a company called Comcast-Spectacor, of which 63% is owned by Comcast (CMCSA). They also own the Wachovia Center and the Wachovia Spectrum sports arena where hockey is played. Comcast has a forward price earnings ratio of 14 and a yield of 2.2%.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the ‘Original Six’ members of the NHL, is owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., 14 percent of which is owned by Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD). Maple Leaf Sports also owns the Air Canada Centre sports arena, where hockey is played. Toronto-Dominion has a forward P/E of 9, and a yield of 3.8%.

The New York Rangers are owned by the Madison Square Garden Limited Partnership, which is owned by Cablevision (CVC). They also own the Madison Square Garden sports and entertainment arena and the Hartford Wolf Pack, a minor-league professional hockey team. Cablevision has a forward P/E of 16.5 and a yield of 1.5%.

The Hockey Company, also known as CCM, is the ice hockey equipment licensee and supplier to the NHL until the year 2014. CCM is owned by Reebok which is owned by Adidas AG (ADDYY.PK), the German based sportswear and sporting goods company.

Bauer is the leading manufacturer of hockey equipment and skates, It is owned by Canstar which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nike, Inc. (NKE), and now uses the Nike Bauer brand. Nike has a forward P/E of 16. The stock has a yield of 1.7%.

Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. (DKS) sells hockey equipment along with numerous types of other sporting goods, so hockey is obviously a very small part of their business. Dick’s has a forward P/E of 19.

Sport Chalet Inc. (SPCHB) also sells hockey equipment along with other types of sporting goods including snowboarding, mountaineering, and SCUBA equipment. The company recently generated negative earnings. This is a very low cap stock that should be considered very speculative.

If you like sports related stocks, you should check out basketball stocks, tennis stocks, racecar motorsports stocks, and horse racing stocks.

Author does not own any of the above.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Wish They Had This Camp When I Was a Kid

If you want your kids to be successful in business, you may want to send them to Camp Millionaire, where they learn about such things as real estate, how to invest in the stock market, and budgeting. This Allentown, Pennsylvania camp offers all kinds of money related games to help kids learn about finance. It is available to kids ages 10 to 14.

Warren Buffett is Related to President Barack Obama

According to, famous investing billionaire Warren Buffett and President Barack Obama are distant cousins. They are both connected to Mareen Duvall of Maryland in the 1650's. Duvall, who was an indentured servant born in France, was Buffett's sixth great-grandfather and Obama's ninth great-grandfather.

By the way, if you like Buffett, you should check out the Buffett Books and Buffett Gifts.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Stocks Going Ex Dividend the First Week of January 2010

Maybe your New Year's resolution should be to buy some dividends. The stock trading technique called 'Buying Dividends' has generated a lot of interest from investors. This is the process of buying stocks before the ex dividend date and selling the stock shortly after the ex date at about the same price, yet still being entitled to the dividend. This technique generally works only in bull markets.

When you buy dividends, there are many stocks in many different sectors to choose from. In order to be entitled to the dividend, you have to buy the stock before the ex-dividend date, and you can't sell the stock until after the ex date. The actual dividend may not be paid for another few weeks. WallStreetNewsNetwork has compiled a free downloadable and sortable Excel list of the stocks going ex dividend during the next week or two. came up with many dividend paying companies companies all with market caps over $500 million. Here are some examples showing the stock symbol, the ex-dividend date and the yield.

Brandywine Realty Trust (BDN) ex div date: 1/4/10 market cap: $1.4B yield: 5.6%

WD-40 Company (WDFC) ex div date: 1/6/10 market cap: $521.6M yield: 3.1%

Universal Corporation (UVV) ex div date: 1/7/10 market cap: $1.1B yield: 4.1%

Other ex-dividend stocks can be found at (If you have been to the website before, and the latest link doesn't show up, you may have to empty your cache.) If you like dividend stocks, you should check out the high yield utility stocks and the Monthly Dividend Stocks at or For more details on dividend definitions, check out definitions of dividend dates. Don't forget to reconfirm the ex-dividend date with the company before implementing this technique.

Author doesn't own any of the above.


Carl Icahn Books

Billionaire investor and former corporate raider, Carl Icahn has been very outspoken and a popular business news celebrity. However, very few books hav been written about him.

Probably the most thorough Icahn biography is King Icahn: The Biography of a Renegade Capitalist by Mark Stevens.

There is also Becoming Rich: The Wealth-Building Secrets of the World's Master Investors Buffett, Icahn, Soros by Mark Tier.

The Titans of Takeover by Robert Slater, profiles Carl Icahn, Saul Steinberg,T. Boone Pickens, and Ted Turner.

The book about corporate raiders, The Vulture Investors, Revised and Updated by Hilary Rosenberg includes Carl Icahn along with several other financiers.

In addition, there is Masters of the Universe: Winning Strategies of America's Greatest Deal Makers which writes a little about Icahn.

Finally, there is Wall Street People: True Stories of Today's Masters and Moguls by Charles D. Ellis.

Seven More Banks Bite the Dust

Up until a couple years ago, if you heard that seven banks were taken over by the FDIC, you would think the world was coming to an end, or at least heading into a major depression. Now, the American public doesn't even pay much attention. For example, 45 banks collapsed during the summer. Where was the news?

Now, just today, government closed two California banks, First Federal Bank of California, based in Santa Monica, and Imperial Capital Bank of La Jolla. In addition, the FDIC shut banks in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Illinois. This is a total of 140 banks so far this year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

High Yield Telecom Stocks are Calling

By now, everyone knows that land lines are decreasing, cell phone usage is increasing, and more and more households are now using cell phones as their primary if not their only phone. The phone companies aren't standing still; they are pushing plenty of other services besides the usual telecommunications.

Since investors are constantly being bombarded by the "death of regular telephone services," a lot of downward pressure has been exerted on telecom stocks, maybe a bit more than necessary. This drop in stock prices has caused the yields to go up, creating some interesting income opportunities. has turned up a dozen of these stocks yielding more than 5%.

As an example, Iowa Telecommunications Services (IWA), which serves customers in rural Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri, pays an outstanding yield of 9.6%. The company's operating cash flow of $86 million is more than enough to cover its $53 million in dividend payouts. The market cap is $556 million.

Another high paying telecom stock is Centurytel, Inc. (CTL), with a 7.8% payout. This Louisiana based company pays $833 million in dividends, easily covered by the $1.15 billion in operating cash flow. The market cap is $10.46 billion.

To see the rest of the high paying telecommunications companies, check out the free Excel database of top yielding telecom stocks at

Author does not own any of the above.


One More Chance to Get a One Character Domain Name

In the last couple months, several very short domain names have come on the market. A couple months ago, there was an auction of one letter domains, and then last month, another auction of two character domain names.

Now you have one last chance. is offering six more one character dot biz domain names:

The auction ends at 12 noon on Thursday, December 17, so don't wait, place your bids now.

By the way, there are very few publicly traded companies that own one letter domain names.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

High Yields and Smooth Sailing with Shipping Stocks

If you are an income investor and you are predicting a global recovery, for some diversification from electric and gas utility stocks, you might want to step on board some shipping stocks. There are two types of shippers, the liquid shippers which transport crude oil, petroleum products, and liquefied natural gas, and the dry bulk shippers, which transport iron ore, coal, grain, minerals, fertilizers, and other non-liquid items.

The shipping stocks generate some fairly high dividends. Eighteen yield over 3.5%. For example, Teekay LNG Partners (TGP) is a liquid shipper that yields 9.2%. Horizon Lines, Inc. (HRZ) is a dry bulk shipper with an 8.2% yield. Another high yield dry bulk shipper is Safe Bulkers, Inc. (SB) paying 7.1%.

For a free Excel database of over 20 high dividend shipping stocks, go to A few of these stocks yield more than 10%, but I think those yields are probably unsustainable.

Author does not own any of the above.


Boone Books

T. Boone Pickens made his billions from oil, but is now pushing two other forms of energy with a lower carbon emissions, natural gas and wind power. In addition, he is an author. If you are looking for last minute gifts for your friends or yourself, consider The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future and Boone Pickens: The Luckiest Guy in the World, both written by Pickens.

Guest Article: Africa’s Increasing Importance in Energy Security Affairs

China’s completion of an historic natural gas pipeline with Kazakhstan bypassing Russia this week tightens the Asian behemoth’s grip on energy resources needed to fuel a burgeoning economy, a desire also forcing it on a quest for oil and gas wealth in other corners of the globe.

China is not alone in this scramble for energy security. Hungry for oil and gas, world powers like Russia and the United States are also relying on different strategies to grab resource treasures but their efforts have raised questions about conflicts down the road.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration describes China as the second largest energy consumer behind the United States . Taking advantage of the world’s financial crisis, the Asian powerhouse has tapped currency reserves to invest in both Russia and Central Asia , helping to construct power plants and other domestic infrastructure in return for long-term oil and gas supplies, said Ben Montalbano, a senior research analyst at the Washington-based Energy Policy Research Foundation.

Lacking energy reserves, China has been “working hard to lock in” investments in Africa, Central Asia and Venezuela , Montalbano told The country has also sought natural gas to satisfy increasing consumption and built many liquefied natural gas receiving terminals over the last year, he added.

“Cut off from African natural resources . . . China ’s growth stops,” warned Peter Pham, director of the Africa Project at the New York-based National Committee on American Foreign Policy and an associate professor at James Madison University in Harrisonburg , Virginia .

This intensive bid for energy, however, has caused friction with the world community. Under an investment strategy in Africa, China “wins over very easily governing elites but doesn’t necessarily win over the populace,” Pham charged.

Chinese state-owned companies tend not to invest in exploration but prefer to offer “inducements,” he said. China’s offer of multibillion-dollar credit facilities to Angola was pivotal for the African nation to get “off the hook” from negotiating with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to meet “serious reform and certain conditions” before the organizations granted such facilities, he argued. China then bought stakes from the Angolan state oil company, he said.

China, moreover, has helped the Khartoum government to evade United Nations sanctions by assisting in the building of at least three weapons factories in Sudan , he said.

Not to be outdone, Russia has returned to Africa in “considerable force” pursuing natural resources in part to recover its “great power status,” said Pham. Russian firms are trying to “lock in partnerships” with resource producers to form, for example, the “stream of a natural gas OPEC,” he said.

Russia holds the world's largest natural gas reserves and the eighth largest oil reserves, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Next year, its federal budget will be nearly 50 percent derived from oil and gas exports, emphasizing a reliance on gas exports to “feed the budget,” Montalbano of the Energy Policy Research Foundation
told To some extent, China and Russia have worked together in the oil and gas domain. Earlier this year, China announced a $25-billion loan to Russian firms in return for a 20-year supply of crude oil.

Russia is not the “behemoth of financial reserves” it was two years ago and has a “fairly weak” banking system and industry, Montalbano maintained. While the country is discussing certain projects with Iran and potentially with Iraq , it is mainly concerned with opening up huge Arctic gas fields because its existing fields are declining, he noted.

Russia and other northern countries have increasingly turned to the melting Arctic but the region is “still up for delineation,” said Boyko Nitzov, director of the Eurasia Energy Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington . “The Arctic is still fairly off limits for large-scale production of oil and gas” and difficult to access especially during the winter, Nitzov explained.

For American oil companies, an over-reliance on the Middle East for energy needs has shifted its attention to Africa, a major energy supplier over the last several years edging out the Persian Gulf in energy imports to the United States , Pham explained. U.S. firms tend to forge production-sharing agreements or explore resource development, but lack
carte blanche in their pursuit of oil riches in places like Africa due to U.S. government sanctions and public pressure, he said. This puts the United States at “a slight disadvantage” relative to Russia and China , he added.

Competition for energy assets will probably not lead to open conflict but rather to increasing political tension, predicted Africa expert Pham. Leading African organizations, Europe and the United States never recognized Guinea ’s military coup last year, which led to a subsequent massacre of opposition members. Yet China signed a deal with the military junta, risking a perception as a “rogue operator in the single-minded pursuit of resources,” he warned.

Although Russia and China , meanwhile, have both benefited from joint oil and gas investments, making conflict doubtful in the foreseeable future, “10, 20 years down the road, who knows,” Montalbano added.

This article was written by Fawzia Sheikh of who focus on Fossil Fuels, Alternative Energy, Metals, Oil Prices and Geopolitics. To find out more visit their website at:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

High Monthly Income From Canadian Oil Royalty Trusts

Canadian Oil Royalty Trusts have been known for their high income, their monthly distributions, and possible tax sheltering of their dividends. However, the pool of the trusts with the high yield is shrinking, due to takeovers and termination of payouts for some trusts. These Canadian Income Trusts, also known as Canadian Oil Income Trusts or Canadian Royalty Trusts generally pay a very high income. The trusts pass through all their earnings and deductions from oil and gas wells to the trust holders, similar to real estate investment trusts. There is no taxation at the corporate level since they are structured as trusts. Also, a portion of the dividends may be non-taxable due to depletion and depreciation deductions.

You should be aware that the Canadian government came out with a plan to tax all Canadian trusts at the corporate level beginning in the year 2011. However, the average yield from some of the Canadian trusts is still higher than the U.S. royalty trusts. recently came out with an updated free database list of Canadian Oil Royalty Trusts. Below is a list of some of the Canadian Royalty Trusts that are traded on United States stock exchanges.

Remember that very high yields may not be sustainable.

Pengrowth Energy (PGH) has been paying distributions since 1988 in Canada and 2002 in the United States. The stock has a P/E of 14, with a yield of 8.5%.

Provident Energy Trust (PVX), has been paying monthly dividends since October 2002, and pays a yield of 10.2%.

To get a free Excel database list of all the US-traded Canadian Income Trusts, which you can download and sort, go to

Author does not own any of the above. Please note: these high yields are subject to change and elimination.


Tiger Woods Makes Physics Book a Best Seller

First, Tiger Woods is involved in an accident which many news sources have speculated that there is some connection to his marriage falling apart. Then bookies started offering speculation on the future of Wood's marriage and his supposed mistresses. Now a book that was found on the SUV floor has now become a bestseller. The book, Get a Grip on Physics by John Gribbin, is an introductory guide to physics, designed for all ages.

Real Estate of the Week: Spinning House

How would you like to live in a house where every morning, you would wake up to a different view? A family in Sydney, Australia has built a house that rotates. It can spin completely around in 30 minutes. The cost of construction was $641,000. The house even has its own website.

Kindergarten Prep Courses for 3 Year Olds

Some parents take education very, very seriously. If you want to make sure that your 3 year old son or daughter gets into a top New York City kindergarten, you may want to spend the $1,000 to have your child learn to sit still and maintain eye contact, in order to pass the interview and requirements for getting into the high quality school.

Guest Article: The Untapped Energy Riches of Uzbekistan

While many Western investors remain fixated on somehow acquiring a slice of Turkmenistan ’s natural gas riches, despite a recent scandal over the country’s actual reserves, there is another country further east whose energy and mineralogical reserves have been overlooked – Uzbekistan .

While a number of factors are responsible for this oversight, including relative geographical isolation (Uzbekistan, along with Liechtenstein, is one of the world’s doubly landlocked nations, requiring crossing two other nations to gain access to the oceans), which currently limits energy exports available for the global market, there are a number of pluses that the country has for investors willing to “think outside the box.”

With a population of 27 million, Uzbekistan is Central Asia 's most populous and dominant power. A conservative fiscal policy since 1991, including inconvertibility of the national currency, the som, has shielded its citizens from the hyperinflation that ravaged other former Soviet republics, but the policy previously diminished potential foreign investment.

Since the global recession that began a year ago, however, Uzbekistan’s fiscal conservatism, previously dismissed by the foreign investment community, has looked more and more like a pragmatic policy that isolated the country from the worst aspects of the recession in stark contrast to other post-Soviet states that fervently embraced free market capitalism like Lithuania, whose economy contracted 18.1% this year and is expected to shrink further by 3.9% in 2010. In a move certain to be welcomed by foreign investor Uzbekistan is slowly moving towards making its currency convertible but whenever it happens, for the present the country offers a fiscal stability unmatched by many of its more free-market neighbors.

And now, the good news about the country’s resources. In 2006 Uzbekistan 's natural gas reserves were estimated at 1.798 trillion cubic meters (tcm). During the Soviet era Uzbekistan was the USSR ’s third-largest producer of natural gas, accounting for more than 10% of the Soviet Union’s production, trailing only Russia and Turkmenistan . In 1992, the country’s first year of independence, Uzbekistan produced 42.8 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas. Uzbekistan currently produces 60 bcm of natural gas annually, an amount nearly equal to Turkmenistan 's production. Uzbekistan ’s reserves are primarily concentrated in Qashqadaryo province and near Bukhara in the country’s south-central region. During the 1970s Uzbekistan ’s largest natural gas deposit at Boyangora-Gadzhak was discovered in Surkhandaryia province north of the Afghan border.

Unlike its energy-rich neighbors to the West, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan , nearly 80 percent of Uzbekistan 's production, about 48.4 bcm, is currently reserved for domestic use at heavily subsidized rates. Of the remaining 12 bcm of natural gas that Uzbekistan exports, more than half currently goes to Russia , with the remainder to neighboring Central Asian states.

Under Uzbekistan ’s fiercely patriotic President Islam Karimov relations with Europe’s favorite bĂȘte noire, Russia ’s state-owned gas firm Gazprom, have been subject to fierce negotiations to win an equitable price for the country’s exports. Like other former Soviet republics, the Uzbek government chafed under Gazprom's "buy cheap, sell dear" policies and in early December 2008 scored a significant negotiating success by getting an agreement that in 2009 Gazprom would pay $305 per thousand cubic meters (tcm). To put the accomplishment in perspective, Uzbekistan ’s state gas company Uzbekneftegaz sold gas to Gazprom for $130 per tcm in the first half of 2008, which then rose to $160 in the second half of 2008.

Those betting on the eventual pacification of Afghanistan and the subsequent pipelines that would crisscross the country to deliver Central Asian gas to the massive Pakistani and Indian markets would also do well to take note of Uzbekistan ’s persistent, low key policies over more than a decade attempting to bring peace to its hapless southern neighbor. The initiatives put forward by Uzbek President Islom Karimov during the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008 take on heightened importance as one of the few foreign policy ideas offering some hope to quelling Afghanistan ’s three decades of turmoil. The text of Karimov’s address is at

Nearly completely overshadowed by the Bush administration’s relentless efforts to have Georgia and Ukraine join the alliance, Karimov proposed that the UN’s Afghanistan "6 plus 2" assembly, established in 1999, be revived by expanding it into a "6 plus 3" ensemble by including NATO because of its anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan among the "six" members Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, China and Iran and the "two," the United States and Russia.

Noting that that it is impossible to solve Afghanistan's problems without the direct involvement of neighboring countries, which have felt the destructive impact of the Afghan crisis for more than 30 years, as Afghanistan's problems are now of global nature, Karimov told his audience in Bucharest that their resolution must also be global, with the participation of members of the international coalition that comprise NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Karimov concluded by noting that the current situation in Afghanistan precludes a purely military solution and that while it is possible to continue increasing the foreign military presence there, without a clear model of national reconciliation it will be impossible to end the conflict.

Needless to say, one of the benefits of peace and the aforementioned pipelines for Uzbekistan would be that it could export its surplus gas through Afghanistan to southern Asian markets for a higher price than it receives at home or Gazprom’s miserly accountants. Acting on Tashkent’s belief that economic assistance is of greater utility than military operations, Uzbekistan has become involved in a host of reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, including railways, power generation, mining, agriculture, irrigation, education and the exchange of specialists as well as providing its neighbor with construction materials, metals, fertilizer, food and other goods. Uzbek companies and engineers have built 11 bridges in the Mazar-e-Sharif-Kabul area and are finishing the construction of a 275-mile high-voltage line capable of transmitting 150 megawatts from Termez to Kabul across some of the world’s most mountainous terrain, which when it becomes fully operational next month, will provide power and light not only to the capital but the country’s five northern provinces.

For now, Uzbekistan remains largely a transit country rather than a net energy exporter in its own right. But the fiercely independent nationalist policy that Tashkent has followed since 1991 indicates that any company whose policies most benefit the country will have an inside track, and as the old saying goes, “fortune favors the bold.” Chinese, Malaysian, Russian and South Korean companies have already begun investing in Uzbekistan ’s energy infrastructure – what do they seemingly know that American and European companies do not?

This article was written by John C.K. Daly for - Who offer free information and analysis on Energy and Commodities. The site has sections devoted to Fossil Fuels, Alternative Energy, Metals, Oil prices and Geopolitics. To find out more visit their website at:

Top States By Jobs Created & Saved from the Recovery Act

1. CALIFORNIA 110,185.36 12.2%
2. NEW YORK 40,620.04 8.9%
3. WASHINGTON 34,517.13 9.3%
4. FLORIDA 29,320.78 11%
5. N. CAROLINA 28,073.32 10.9%
6. GEORGIA 24,681.1 10.1%
7. ILLINOIS 24,447.55 10.6%
8. NEW JERSEY 24,108.81 9.8%
9. MICHIGAN 22,513.86 15.3%
10. TEXAS 19,571.84 8.2%

Source: U.S. Government.

Does CEO Age Have an Effect on Stock Performance?

There may be an interesting correlation that warrants further study, the inverse relationship between the age of the CEO and the performance of the stock price. If you look at some of the major technology stocks, you will find that the higher the performance, the lower the age of the CEO. As a matter of fact, for tech stocks that have had returns of 55% or greater year-to-date, the average CEO age is 50. For stocks with lower returns, 55 is the average age.

As an example, Amazon's (AMZN) CEO, Jeff Bezos, is only 45 and his stock is up 147%. eBay's (EBAY) new CEO, John J. Donahoe, is 49 (according to Wikipedia), and the stock is up 55%. Yet if you examine IBM's (IBM) Sam Palmisano, who is 57, the stock is up a lot but doesn't beat the 55% threshold, returning only 51%. And Carol A. Bartz, who at age 60 is the CEO of Yahoo (YHOO), had a return of only 22%.

The following chart compares the CEO ages of Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), eBay (EBAY), IBM (IBM), Microsoft (MSFT), Hewlett Packard (HPQ), and Yahoo (YHOO).

If you like interesting correlations, check out the article on the Revenues per Employee Ratio.

Author owns AMZN, AAPL, EBAY, MSFT, and YHOO.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stocks Going Ex Dividend the Last Week of December

A great way of ending the year, with lots of stocks going ex dividend. The stock trading technique called 'Buying Dividends' has generated a lot of interest from investors. This is the process of buying stocks before the ex dividend date and selling the stock shortly after the ex date at about the same price, yet still being entitled to the dividend. This technique generally works only in bull markets.

When you buy dividends, there are many stocks in many different sectors to choose from. In order to be entitled to the dividend, you have to buy the stock before the ex-dividend date, and you can't sell the stock until after the ex date. The actual dividend may not be paid for another few weeks. WallStreetNewsNetwork has compiled a free downloadable and sortable Excel list of the stocks going ex dividend during the next week or two. came up with many dividend paying companies companies all with market caps over $500 million. Here are a couple examples showing the stock symbol, the ex-dividend date and the yield.

Nucor Corporation (NUE) ex div date: 12/29/09 market cap: $13.6B yield: 3.5%

Redwood Trust, Inc. (RWT) ex div date: 12/29/09 market cap: $1.1B yield: 6.9%

SYSCO Corporation (SYY) ex div date: 12/29/09 market cap: $16.7B yield: 3.6%

The rest of the ex-dividend stocks can be found at (If you have been to the website before, and the latest link doesn't show up, you may have to empty your cache.) If you like dividend stocks, you should check out the high yield utility stocks and the Monthly Dividend Stocks at or For more details on dividend definitions, check out definitions of dividend dates. Don't forget to reconfirm the ex-dividend date with the company before implementing this technique.

Author doesn't own any of the above.


Bikini Coffee Bars

Just a few days ago, I wrote about how coffee may reduce the risk of getting prostate cancer. Now I've just discovered that there are bikini coffee bars. During the winter, you wouldn't normally think of bikinis, but a drive-through coffee shop in Corpus Christi, Texas has a bikini coffee shop called Mocha Girls that just opened up, and business has been booming. Customers get an eyeful along with their cup of coffee. Watch out Starbucks (SBUX) and Peet's (PEET).

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

CalPERS Lost 49% in Real Estate

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest public pension fund in the United States, recently reported that their real estate investments lost 48.7% for the year ended June 30.Real estate represents 6.9% of CalPERS assets. The pension blamed it on capital markets, the macro-economy downturn, non-stabilized assets, and higher amounts of leverage.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Skinniest House For Sale $900k

Do you like weird real estate? A house in West London, England that is only 66 inches wide is up for sale for $897,000. It has two bedrooms and is considered to be one of the skinniest houses in Great Britain. When you look at the picture of the thin house, look closely, it is the narrow black strip in the middle of the photo.

Top Books for Holiday Gifts

Time to buy books for your friends, relatives, and yourself.

Top Selling Stock Market Books

Jim Cramer's Getting Back to Even

The Investor's Manifesto: Preparing for Prosperity, Armageddon, and Everything in Between

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition)

Top Selling Books About Bonds

The Predators' Ball: The Inside Story of Drexel Burnham and the Rise of the Junk Bond Raiders

Bonds Now!: Making Money in the New Fixed Income Landscape

The Bond Book: Everything Investors Need to Know About Treasuries, Municipals, GNMAs, Corporates, Zeros, Bond Funds, Money Market Funds, and More

Top Selling Book on Mutual Funds

Common Sense on Mutual Funds: Fully Updated 10th Anniversary Edition

Top Selling Book on Options

Option Volatility & Pricing: Advanced Trading Strategies and Techniques

Top Selling Real Estate Books

The Real Book of Real Estate: Real Experts. Real Stories. Real Life.

And Then the Roof Caved In: How Wall Street's Greed and Stupidity Brought Capitalism to Its Knees

Now for the books that have nothing to do with investing.

Top Mystery and Thriller Books

The Lost Symbol Dan Brown

Under the Dome: A Novel Stephen King

I, Alex Cross James Patterson

Top Non-Fiction Books

Going Rogue: An American Life Sarah Palin

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan Greg Mortenson

What books will end up in your stocking?