Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Next Round of Wall Street Survivor Starts Jan. 2, 2008

I have told you twice about the ABSOLUTELY FREE game of Wall Street Survivor. Have you signed up yet?

While you may sign up for the game at any time, the newest round starts this coming Wednesday, January 2nd! You can start making your initial stock selections starting after the markets close December 31st.

This newest round is divided into two separate categories:

A) Traders: If you make 50 or more trades during the contest you fall into the "Trader" category.
B) Investors: Is if you make 50 trades or less.

Grand Prize for each category is a trip valued at $14,000! 2nd place gets $2,000 and 3rd place receives $1,000. There are also weekly prizes and random daily prizes on trades made!

Get in the game already! The sooner you sign up, the better your chances! You're time to pre-register is running out!

See how you stack up against the competition, the S&P, or just have fun with imaginary money. What could be better than that? Oh yeah, it is EASY to use and ABSOLUTELY FREE.

And why is it you're still reading this blog and not getting ready for Wall Street Survivor?

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Portfolio Update

So, it has been awhile since I gave you an update on my stock picks. This post will focus on performance over the last month of this year. Starting next year I will try to bring you an update at least once a week (or two weeks).

First, my loser stocks. I start with this first because I would like to end on a high note. Right?

Ford (F): You know that F can stand for so many things. But let's agree just to say F is for failure. I don't know what I was thinking back in July when I picked this stock. And things started so well too. The stock peaked at $8.95 on November 2nd. Now the stock has plummeted and closed today at $6.70. And things don't look good going forward. Credit is getting harder to get in all credit arenas and the consumer spending outlook is gloomy at best. Not good news for Ford. I am selling the stock out of my portfolio with a loss of 23%.

DaVita (DVA): Ok, I was wrong here too. The stock has maintained it's 10% loss since it's announcement of their 3rd quarter earnings. The stock gained back a portion of it's loss recently only to see it slip away. It's time to cut my losses here also. I am going to take a loss at 9.75% since adding the stock to my portfolio.

For the most part, those two stocks have been the drag on my portfolio. Getting rid of them prior to the end of the year will help with taxes, if that is a consolation, especially in a "practice" portfolio.

As for my winners.

Transocean (RIG): With oil continuing to threaten exceeding $100 per barrell holding this stock has been a good move. It is up over 12% for the month of December and 25% since I added it to my portfolio. I don't see fundamentals changing in the oil markets and this deep driller is positioned to profit from it.

Barrick Gold (ABX): The stock is up over 5% this month. And the stock is up 24% since we added to our portfolio. ABX is the largest gold bullion producer in the world. The precious metal will continue to outperform as long as the greenback is under pressure.

For the most part, the rest of my stock picks have performed reasonably well. My portfolio was started at the end of July and the stock markets have seen a credit crunch and two 10% corrections in the meantime. The S&P has done nothing, literally, with a change of just 4 points during that time frame. A whopping .31% advance.

We are off to a great start. Let's see what the future holds.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The 5 Best of 2007

You cannot have a "Worst of" list without the "Best of" list to balance the scales. So, here you go.

5. Inflation. Ok, so inflation isn't necessarily the best thing to have the best of list. But can you really deny it? We have seen commodities such as oil, corn, and gold make major runs. Have you gone to the grocery this year? Talk about payment shock. The dollar just doesn't buy what it used to (and that is not even a depressed dollar joke).

4. Goldman Sachs. Even though shorting mortgages while actively promoting and selling mortgages at the same time is at best sleazy it did turn a buck quite nicely. They were the only major investment bank not to have major write downs due to mortgage related debt due to their "creativity" and hedging their bets. There is a reason they are considered the Rolls Royce of investment banking.

3. We're leaving this one blank. Yeah, 2007 hasn't been that great of year. Who has ever heard of a 4 Best List?

2. Google. The world is slowly being taken over by the behemoth. And it seems that everyone is cool with it. Want to know why? They do it right. Google and cool. Gmail...better than any other free email service. And the possibility that Google will enter into the cell phone market with killer apps...even better.

1. Apple. They have the best Mac vs PC commercials. They have the best ipod commercials. Any song pitched on the ipod commercials become hits. Who hasn't found themselves going, "1,2,3,4 tell me that you love me more," in the last couple of months. And then there is the iphone which has been a phenomenon unto itself. Great year, great run, great profits.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The 5 Best of the Worst 2007

Well, just a few days away from the end of the year. When I started this blog in July, I was just trying to see if I could find a voice and hope that someone out there would enjoy it. I think I've done just that, although I admit, I don't post nearly as often as I did. It just took too much time. Maybe I will produce more for you in the near future.

Now with that out of the are the Financial Bullet's Worst of 2007

5) Robert Nardelli: What a year for Robert. He left Home Depot in shambles at the start of this year and received a nice $210 million golden parachute. And then later this year he was named Chyrstler CEO as the company was taken private.

4) Stan O'Neal: Clueless at best. Fraudulent at worst. Stan O'Neal lead Merrill Lynch into an overabundance of risk. The company posted a write-down of over $8.4 billion, he allegedly spoke to Bank of America about a possible merger without the board's permission, and was not liked by just about every individual at Merrill Lynch. And for all that, he was allowed to retire and collect $160 million on the way out the door.

3) Ben Bernanke: Sorry, at first I was impressed by Ben when he starting in this mess. But he has turned out to be a GIGANTIC WUSS. He has bent to every market urge and cry. The best medicine for this market would be discipline. Yet our current Fed boss is hesitant to put a good spanking to the market to shake out the froth.

2) Alan Greenspan: How can he not look at his hands and see blood? He has pointed the finger at everything he can possible point to. The fall of the Berlin Wall caused the sub-prime crisis? Well, he is right...but not because the wall fell. That was when Greenspan took the reins of the Fed. Remember, always remember, that it was Greenspan who called for more ARM products in 2004. It was Greenspan's Fed that dropped the rates to 1% and held them there for a long period of time. It was him.

1) Angelo Mozilo: Who else would you expect to be the Financial Bullet's Worst of 2007 poster child? More of my time this year has been spent on blasting Countrywide and their slimy CEO than any other this year. He is has been questioned for selling his stock before it fantastically tanked since August. His company is a shell (at least on the origination side) of what it once was, limiting itself to Fannie and Freddie loans only. It got ugly fast at the company. But this was the man who told all his staff, "We can't be to blame?" Well the commercials say, "No one can do what Countrywide can." No one helped run up the market and help tear it down quite like Countrywide has. And although some of the press recently has been focusing elsewhere, the stock still hovers under $10 and the company is still not out of the woods yet.

So that is it! 2007 has turned out to be a highly volatile year for everyone and 2008 has dark clouds darkening everything in the future. May you and yours have a great holiday season and good trading in the future!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Away from Finances For This One

The Mitchell Report.

I am a big baseball fan...just ask my wife. And the much awaited report hit this week and we all now have heard that Roger Clemens was listed as a user of performance enhancing drugs.


Is this surprising at all? The man has an amazing career, seems like he has hit the end, moves to a different team, and then starts the second half of an amazing career. The only difference between Bonds and Clemens is that Clemens switched teams and then he improved again. Dramatically. But we see this in sports. When a player and a team reach the end for each other. The player moves on an returns to their previous level. The thing is, normally those players are in the prime of their careers. Clemens had spent 13 seasons in Boston. He should have been on the back end of his career. But he regained form and won 3 Cy Young Awards.

Oh, more significant difference. Bonds is black and Clemens is white. And if you don't think that this is significant. You don't live in the real world.

Compare their career tracks. Go look at their respective stats. Here is Bonds. Here is Clemens.
Both of them start gaining speed in their careers after 1997. And continue their excellence until the last couple of years. That doesn't seem to match the typical career all.

So Bonds got wrapped up in BALCO stuff and is a complete jerk. But he has been vilified and say that the stats themselves speak to his steroid use.

Clemens has long been rumored (quietly) about performance enhancing drugs and his stats would seem to me that they were increasing.

The casual argument for Clemens was his "work ethic" was fantastic and that was why he was able to stay on top. To me, work ethic is a great thing...but it won't stop you from cheating. You can cheat AND have great work ethic. I don't see that the two are separate from each other.

If Clemens plays again, which I think he won't, it would be interesting to watch the fans reaction to him. Would they throw syringes at the field? Hold up fakes asses with pimples on them? Or would they support him. I hope they would throw him under the bus. That is where he belongs.

I don't think it would ever come close to the scrutiny that Bonds has faced. Which is unfair. McGwire hasn't received the scrutiny he deserves either. He hasn't made good on any promise he made during his congressional testimony. He said that he was going to be a spokesperson to sway kids away from these drugs. Has he done it. No one has heard from him since his testimony. He lied to the fans and he made empty promises to congress. What a fake.

I believe that Bonds and Clemens have cheated. And honestly, I don't care. I love the game but ultimately it is entertainment. We, as fans, pay to see these individuals compete. It has been entertaining. They can take away records or put asterisks by their names. It does not accomplish anything important. Records are meant to be broken, right?

I remember a football coach at my school who said, "If you cheat. You suck." I think that is about the best you can say for the whole steroid issue.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What the Fed Is Trying

It has become obvious, even to the Fed, that interest rate cuts alone are not going to right the ship. So they have come up with a plan for an "auction facility". They are going to auction off $20 billion, twice in the next couple of weeks, and more in January. The total amount is reported to be $64 billion (domestically). But that number can change determining on market conditions.

I will hand it to them...they are getting a good portion of the world to go along and offer money and using different collateral than normally allowed (specifically the Bank of England). It has come a time in our history where these moves will need to be a global effort. As we have seen in the last few months, an issue here can have a huge impact overseas.

These auctions are meant to help open up liquidity, where interest rates have failed in that attempt. If this works, and it might. The rate cuts may be at an end. I think the amount of money involved in these auctions will ultimately be significantly higher. But an alternative had to be determined. An inflation report today didn't have good news. It's on the way up. You cannot continue to cut rates in the face of inflation.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wall Street Survivor Update

I have written that Wall Street Survivor is a FREE GAME that you can make REAL money by just making a portfolio of stocks and seeing how well you stack up against the competition.

Well, this sessions game ends this Friday. I got into the game a bit late, basically right at the start of the most recent correction we have seen. Good times. I also totally misread some of the rules and timing of a short trade and totally messed up my game.

But I have rebounded! Earlier, after my gigantic shorting mistake, I bought some stocks and stopped trading all the time. I have gone from being in the 6,000 to being in the top 2000 by just holding my current picks. I haven't won anything, nor do I expect to, this session.

However, I am gearing up for the next round which starts Jan 2, 2008 and runs through market close April 25, 2008. And this next round the prize categories are different and in my opinion much better to my strategies. Check them out. The game now has been broken down into two separate categories, traders and investors. If you make more than 50 trades in the span of the next game, you're a trader. Less than 50, an investor. I am going for the investor tag. I am currently researching stocks that I think are going to outperform the market in that time frame.

Get in the game already. You can test your wits and see just where you stack up.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Bailout

Ok, here is what I really think of this bailout.

A) It's great for the individual homeowner that may benefit from this. I have heard numbers from Bush (1.2 million) to analyst expectations ranging from 250,000 to 750,000.

B) There will be totally solvent homeowners trying to milk this gift. Why should someone financially capable/responsible not get the same benefit as those who are not?

C) Why would mutual funds, hedge funds, and foreign investors ever again believe in the investment their putting money towards when the United States government can step in and simply state, "You know, you thought you were going to get this much interest paid to you on this/these loans. Well, think again. You get this (which is less) and you're going to like it."

Points A&B, in and of themselves are good and expected. Point C, however, is where this all gets really expensive.

The outcome from this is, when it comes time that a company tries to sell debt (mortgages, credit cards, car loans, etc) on the open market any company that invests in those loans will require a larger risk premium than they have in the past. Why? If they can't earn what they expect now, why should they trust that they are going to get what they think later? Therefore, the cost of doing business just got more expensive. And who will ultimately feel the pain from that? You got it. You and me.

A plan such as this may sound necessary but you have to realize that any plan to fix this is going to have real effects. It will have real costs associated going forward. And who knows...what if the housing market isn't appreciably better 5 years from now? Then what? This plan would be seen as a bandage over a fatal wound.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Customizable Gift Cards

Want to do something cool when giving the gift of a boring gift card.? Give your loved one a gift card with your ugly mug on it. Ok, you can put that cute picture of your kids, or dog. Whatever you want. It is accepted anywhere where Visa is accepted in denominations of $10 up to $250.

I think this is really cool. Check it out.

Gift Card Lab - Create Photo Gift Cards Online

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The New Bailout Plan

So, they have a new shiny bailout plan for banks and homeowners to avoid a major surge (more than we currently are seeing) wave of foreclosures. Is it good? I think it is positive.

I even think that it is morally correct. By making this law for ARM loans that have adjustment periods of three years or less to keep rates the same for an extended period, it saves thousands of homeowners. It will save them money, stress, and time. I do not think that the rates need to be extended more than 5 years going forward, I think 7 years is excessive.

I also like Gov. Arnold California law that the rates will stay the same for 5 years and only if the owner sells in that time period would there be any kind of trigger for interest that should have accrued. I think that is extremely fair.

I have said it multiple times, this country has to start looking at a home as a place to live instead of an ATM machine and investment. By making a homeowner stay in there current home for an additional 5 years changes the mindset of many individuals. We have to see how this all pans out.

Just be aware, there is a cost to do this. And it will be passed through in different ways...higher rates on other loans, lower interest paid on CD (even lower than now), and more miscellaneous fees to your everyday accounts. It stinks, but this was going to happen no matter what the bailout plan was going to be or will ultimately be. We are still the ones that will pay for all of this.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


First, I want to apologize for my last post. It was short and pretty much uninformative. I wasted your time. I was going to take it down all together but I have decided that I will keep it up and hope for your forgiveness.

I am going to try to blog when I actually have something to say rather than trying to force a post just for the sake of posting.

Second, let me give you some updates regarding my picks. I'm not going to give a run down, just some highlights. DaVita (DVA) has started to come back from it's low established after their earning disappointment. The stock ended November down 2.88%, but it did put up an impressive performance at the end of the month, as did much of the market. Jim Jubak, who suggested the stock, has sold DVA out of his portfolio over at MSN. I have decided to hold onto the stock. Being that DaVita is such a major player in the dialysis market and our country has "a little bit of a weight problem", I think that it is still a stock to stick with for the time being.

Transocean (RIG) has been an out-performer for some time now. This month alone the stock surged forward a little over 19%. I have run this blog as an all or nothing type of picking site, meaning that I don't say how many pretend stocks I hold. That also means that I do not add or sell portions out of a position. Which is too bad in this situation. I think RIG is good going forward, but I see oil prices starting to recede a bit. With OPEC rumored to be raising production the commodity has been under pressure. But the other issue is that there has been a lot of hot money trading in oil and gold. If oil holds under $90 for a few days, falling under $80 per barrel is a real possibility. If I could sell part of my position now, I would.

My real position in iShares MSCI Brazilian Index EFT (EZW) has been extremely volatile. It has lost 16% in a day and regained it back the next. It is just wild to watch. I expected some ups and downs but man. I do not have a large position in the EFT so I willing to let it ride. If I had a much bigger position I would not be nearly as comfortable watching it. With that said, the EFT showed a loss for November of just under 2%.

The market has been just as crazy as EZW. I think the roller coaster ride may continue. And if the Fed decides to show a backbone, which is becoming increasing unlikely, the markets will take an absolute beating. But Helicopter Ben will deliver the goods to the bankers calling for help. He shown that he will if they cry just loud enough.