Sunday, May 08, 2011

Bed time Update...

First of, happy mother's day to the mother(s) who read this blog. I know at least one does. Not that I didn't already wish the appropriate ones already, but just in case.

So, after some deliberation, I decided on getting some Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK). I don't have much information about their drug patents and the extent of their R&D efforts but I saw that they give a very high dividend yield of 4.9% AND a high absolute yield of $0.52 which has been increasing for the last 10 years. The stock has spiked a little recently, going from ~37 to ~43 USD/share in the first quarter of this year but it's still way off it's 5 year peak of ~57 USD in 2007. The only downside of GSK is that the 2011 Q1 reported earnings dropped tremendously from +0.81 USD to -0.18 USD/share. I'm not sure what caused such a drastic drop but the history of strong consistent and healthy dividend payout was enough to convince me to chance some stock. I'll have to read their Q1 report in more depth.

However, it's time for bed and I will talk about the other stocks I am looking at - Lockheed Martin, ConAgra, Shell and PepsiCo another time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


So apparently, my credit card got hacked or something. I was charged with an online purchase from the Apple Store today. USD642.43 worth of stuff.

If this wasn't so scary, I'd be laughing at the irony. I don't own anything Apple. The only time I ever made a purchase in the Apple store was to get a pair of batteries for a friend. So blatantly obvious it was a fraudulent charge. I called the credit card company and informed them about it and they said they would cancel the charge, replace the card and investigate. So I'll check in with them next week to see what happened.

Apparently, this isn't new though. I had a friend whose debit card was used to make fraudulent Apple store charges (totalling ~USD300) as well. So please beware (this warning goes out to the 2 people who actually visit sometime).

Anyways, in other news, the funds finally transferred to my account so i managed to turn a 13 dollar profit today. Haha. I was reading up more in depth about stocks and decided that as a green horn, I should concentrate my efforts into ETFs. Since I used Fidelity, they have a selection of commission free ETF's that I started with. As a general rule, ETF's give you a wide basket of stocks/funds at a relatively cheap price. The drawback is the management cost of the fund but at 0.5% or lower, I find that acceptable for the rookie investor. I also tried to look out for equities that give out dividend. The importance of dividends will discussed in another post, but I'll say for now that an attractive dividend rate is one of my deciding factors when I choose these ETFs. The 3 I started out with are as follows:


I choose this ETF as it was quite a way's off the historic high in 2007 and was trending up. Although past performance does not indicate future results (as the very common caveat goes), in general, I believe that the US market is on an upswing. It might be fragile, but it's still a positive outlook nevertheless. Exports are growing as the USD falls, the unemployment rates seems to have stabilized and even fallen slightly and most importantly, business are starting to hire and spend again. This means that any stock that mirrors the market should, in general, trend upwards as well. Looking at the historic highs (75) and it's current price (52), I believe that the ETF can return to such levels of glory again. Also, they provide a dividend rate of 0.88% which is fairly good amongst it's peers offered by Fidelity.


I choose this ETF as it invests in the developed world outside of the US. I thought a little global exposure would help balance out the portfolio. The dividend rate lower than DVY at 0.65% but again the current price is ~75% of the historic 5 year high in 2007. Who knows if it will go up that high again but I think the little bit of diversity it gives me is good.


This is the simplest type of fund. It just copies the entire Russell 3000 composition so there's very little active management involved. Hence it is also the cheapest at 0.21% management fees. I think the Russell 30000 should be a good indicator of the market as it's much broader than the Dow Jones but still has a lot of 'heavy hitters'. The dividend rate isn't great at 0.36% but I think as the economy grows, so should the fund.

A final note here, I think I started with ETF's as they are not complicated, but in general, I think I will be moving to investing in individual stocks and cutting out the management fees. But as of now, with my green horns, I don't have the time to do adequate research on all the stuff I want to get.

With that note, I shall go to bed. I'm trying to wake up early to workout. We'll see how it goes...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First Step

Ok. So i started an account on Sunday and transferred some money into it. Apparently it takes FOREVER for the transfer to be authorized as I'm still sitting at $0.00 available spending money... This is aggravating. Since I have to wake up at 4:30 tomorrow morning, I'll just make a brief run through of what I'm gonna get initially.

1. Gonna ETF's. ETF (exchange traded funds) are like stocks but mirror indexes (S&P 500, Russell 1000, Chinese Precious Metals Industry, etc). I think by getting ETF's instead of individual stocks, you will diversify your risks and increase the span of your investments. This means that you will rise with the market and fall with the market so the potential for super gains is pretty small unless you invest in a specific sector ETF. Of course, there is a management fee since an ETF is a 'managed' basket of stocks so there is slightly less bang for the buck but I think that's a fair trade for a very beginner's step into investing.

The ones that I have my eye on are the Russell 1000 (IWF for growth) and the Dow Jones Select Dividend (DVY) since a guaranteed return (dividends) is always nice.

2. Apple. Although I don't own any Apple products, a lot of my friends do. They are a very successful company that has a strong legion of believers. Currently, the stock is heading towards a 5 year high that started since the 2009 recession. I believe it is a good time to get it because they should be announcing new iPhone models soon. Either a white one or the iPhone 5. They will probably want to set the bar again with their latest phone model since Android has pretty much caught up and now with the Windows and Nokia cooperation, that's another potential competitor with deep pockets.

It might be a little expensive based on historic rates, but I am thinking this is probably something I will buy and sell some of when the new iPhone comes out to lock in some profits. Succession of Steve Jobs is another potentially risky issue but I'm just looking at the short term (next 6 months) for now.

3. Google. Apple and Google. 2 titans clashing out. Google actually is taking quite a tumble in 2011. I think with the China issues and a new CEO, people are not very sure what the direction of the company is (or can be, in the case of China). However, I believe that Google is trying to diversify itself into different markets and that should provide the avenue of growth. It's a pricey stock but I believe it should only get better in a few years.

Non-investment note:
I recently got a calorie counter for my phone and man, do you get more conscientious when you are tracking, in real-time, the stuff you eat. Hopefully, this will help me keep my calorie count low enough to get into shape by June.


Ok. It's been about a year since the last post. I was contemplating letting this blog die but recent events have led me to think that I will be once again resuming writing. However, it will not really be of the personal story type of blog anymore.

I just opened an investment account with Fidelity and I think I will try to use this space to sound my arguments and research into buying/selling shares. If anyone wants to contribute, feel free to comment.

I think I shall also start using this space to track the progress of the P90X workout.

And finally, I might be using it to reinforce some self-taught language lessons too.

Wish me luck.

Monday, July 19, 2010




Sunday, July 18, 2010

Best Damn Dog Show Ever...

I wish we all had a dog like Francis.

And on a more somber note, I am still oscillating between 206-210 lbs nowadays. I think that means I have to re-think my diet. Have to be more conscious of what I eat and more conscientious on how much I eat...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

May Jap Trip Part 2 - Daytrip to Kyoto

We did a day trip to Kyoto. It was an interesting way to travel. We went there via midnight (1130pm) bus (kinda like a greyhound) to save some cash. It was about 90 USD to go by bus and 145 USD to go by Shinkanse. It was interesting as it was a 6+ hour bus ride and I got to see the highway oases of Japan.

It looks like they have a supermart inside this particular one. We stopped twice. Once at around midnight and then again at 5+ am. This was the stop close to Kyoto.

Our ticket home. Cos I wasn't going to take TWO 6+ hour bus rides in the same day...

The first order of business was to find something to eat. Luckily there was this 24/7 store opposite the station. Gyudon, somen and tonjiru. Breakfast of champions.

Our first stop was Kiyomizudera (清水寺). It's a long hike up the hill from the bus stop. The temple is up in the hills.

It's in the middle of the forest. Very scenic.

That's the main 'wishing stream' of the temple. Allegedly (I say allegedly because we got this info from grade school kids), the streams are (from left to right) - health, romance and smarts. The metal cups used to get the water are sterilized with a UV machine. Modern technology in a temple, who woulda thunk.

えんむすぶ means to connect a relationship. It's for match making. It was interesting to read all the wishes that people left at the shrine. Some were even in English.

This is from a shrine in the central part of town. I can't remember the name but It's called Yasaka Jinja (八坂神社) and was within walking distance of Kiyomizudera. Which was why we stopped by as it wasn't really on a list of 'to-see' places.

We then went to Nijo Jo (二条城). This is probably the most famous tourist spot in Kyoto. It used to be the Shogun's (将軍) castle. There used to be an outer building and an inner building but through the years, only the actual Shogun's residence has remained. They said that the floors created to prevent ninja assassinations and that the Shogun would have his guards hide in hidden wall panels during meetings with his subordinates. Very cloak and dagger stuff.

The garden was very pretty. And it had a moat. 2 moats actually. One for the outer walls and another one for the inner walls.

This is Shijo Dori (四条通). It's the 'downtown' of Kyoto. It's not too big. But they had a Takashimaya.

I had mini kaiseki (会席/懐石) meal. It was pretty reasonable. Like 30 USD for lunch. I liked the dessert.

After lunch, we went to the World Heritage Site of Kinkaku Ji (金閣寺). The temple has a gold exterior. Whether it's gold foil or something else, I couldn't tell and my japanese isn't good enough to ask.

I found it interesting that the entrance ticket was kinda like a seal. Like those old qiang shi movies. Haha.

For dinner, we went back to the river and Shijo Dori. Apparently, this is the 'Lover's Lane' of Kyoto. And if you see single ladies, you can try your luck. Too bad I didn't get that info till I got back to Tokyo.

Ducks in the canal(?)/drain.

We walked along this street to find a place to eat. It's just by the river (to the right) and quite 'old town' style. The ambiance was nice but the food was expensive. We were considering eating ramen after dinner but had to rush for the train.

Kyoto Tower (Tokyo Tower's lesser known cousin) at night.

Shinkansen! I really can't tell you much more than that other than the leg space was not designed for sleeping. I slept most of the 2+ hour return trip.

Next part will be the Return to Tokyo!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

May Jap Trip Part 1 - Adventures in Toyko

So finally, I have had some time to clean up and organize my photos. So here we go. Photo trip recollections starto!

My gracious host, my cuz Shaun, came to pick me up from the airport. He's gonna be rich and famous cos he's a lawyer in training.

My room. An actual tatami room. Woah. Note the lack of pillows. :(

A funky washer/dryer setup. The dryer wasn't very powerful nor efficient, but when it's squeezed above the kitchen sink, what can you expect.

How the rich-to-be roll and eat. Fine dining = fries in Tokyo.

I prefer the takoyakis. Takoyakis, how can you not like them?!

This is the before Takoyaki shot.

So this was the first time I've spent some time in Toyko and I was introduced to the nighttime food of champions, the Izakaya (居酒屋). It's kinda like a bar, but with better food. I find japanese draft beer (生ビール) to be weaker than bottled/can beer and weaker than american draft beers. You have a huge selection of stuff to eat but we mostly concentrated on yakitori, kawa and some softbone meatball whose name I forgot. Good eats.

Next part will be my 1 day trip to Kyoto!