Random Stock List 2/15/08

Here's this week's random stock list with closing prices as of Friday 2/15/08. More about the experiment here.

  1. Tyler Technologies, Inc. (TYL) $13.79
  2. Whole Foods Market, Inc. (WFMI) $39.12
  3. Dover Corp. (DOV) $42.04
  4. Nucor Corp. (NUE) $62.01
  5. Total System Services, Inc. (TSS) $22.11
  6. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. (MER) $51.64
  7. BioScrip Inc. (BIOS) $6.67
  8. FormFactor Inc. (FORM) $19.32
  9. XTO Energy, Inc. (XTO) $55.29
  10. Nordson Corp. (NDSN) $48.48


Funds of Funds -- The Good & Bad

Funds of funds are mutual funds that, instead of owning individual stocks, own other mutual funds. A couple of examples include Janus' Smart Portfolio Growth (JSPGX) and Vanguard Star (VGSTX). If you're thinking of buying a fund of funds, there are some things to consider.

The potential benefits of owning a fund of funds include

1. Diversification -- by buying one fund, you can automatically be exposed to bonds, various domestic stocks, and foreign stocks.

2. Access to funds that are closed to new investors -- often the most popular mutual funds aren't open to new investors. But if a fund of funds already owns the closed mutual fund, you can buy it through the fund of funds.

3. Lower initial and subsequent investments -- initial minimum investments of most mutual funds are usually $500 or greater. Most are usually greater than $1000. Subsequent investments are usually $50 or greater. With a fund of funds, you can own several mutual funds for a much lower initial investment. For example, let's say you'd like to invest in five mutual funds, whose minimum initial investments are $1000 each, and whose subsequent investment minimums are $50 each. To invest in all of them, you'll need $5,000 right away. To invest in all of them subsequently, you'll need $250. With a fund of funds that owns all five mutual funds, you'll only have to worry about the initial investment minimum and subsequent minimums for only one fund, which would most likely be lower, even though you'll own all five.

4. Easier to sell/keep track off -- With a fund of funds, you only have one position to worry about, which could be advantageous.

What to Watch Out For


You should of course avoid funds with loads and other transaction fees.

Funds of funds, unlike other mutual funds, have "hidden" fees. When looking at a fund of funds, you can typically see only the expense ratio and other fees of the fund itself--that is, the various expenses the fund charges you for its operation. What may not be readily apparent is that holders of funds of funds also incur the expenses of the funds in the fund of funds' portfolio.

For example, let's say the fund of funds holds five mutual funds. If you buy it, not only are you going to pay the fund of funds' fees, but you'll also pay the fees of each fund the fund of funds holds. The fund of funds is sort of like a middleman through which you're buying the other mutual funds.

Possibly a Higher Turnover Rate

Another thing to consider about funds of funds is that in theory they have higher turnover ratios than most funds. This is because they incorporate the turnovers of each fund they hold (when the other funds sell stocks and buy new ones), and also have their own, when they switch allocations of the funds they hold. A high turnover rate can be a bad thing because stocks may be sold before their price fully appreciates, and you incur a capital gains tax (hopefully long term) when mutual funds sell their assets at a gain.


For these reasons, if you have enough money, it is better to buy the funds individually than to have them in a fund of funds. By doing so, you avoid all the extra middleman fees from the fund of funds, and you have the added flexibility of choosing your own allocation of your fund holdings.

I myself hold a funds of funds, JSPGX mentioned earlier. I don't mind paying a little extra for diversification among stocks and bonds, and domestic and foreign stocks. I contribute around $50 a month. I wouldn't be able to do this if I held each individual fund separately. Moreover, some of the funds I have exposure to are closed to new investors, and for some of the funds I don't have the minimum initial investment.

I don't plan on keeping it forever, though. As soon as I have enough money to buy and regularly contribute to individual ETFs, I'll sell it and do that.

Index funds are probably a better alternative for most people. Their expense ratios are usually very low, as are their turnover rates. You won't beat the market with them, since it's the market whose performance they seek to replicate. But you won't underperform the market either.


What Happens to Altria & Honeywell Now?

As you may know, Altria (MO) and Honeywell (HON) are being dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average on February 19, 2008. They will be replaced with Chevron (CVX) and Bank of America (BAC).

Getting deleted from the DJIA may seem like a bad thing for the stocks, but Mark Hulbert over at MarketWatch.com says this isn't necessarily the case. He examined changes to the DJIA in 1999, when four companies were replaced in the index, and in 2004 when three were replaced.

Hulbert found that the four companies deleted in 1999, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (GT), Sears Roebuck, Union Carbide, and Chevron (Chevron is now being added back) have since gained 27% on average. That's not a very good return over nine years (Good Year, for example, is still below what it was in 1999 although it's substantially off its 2003 lows), but the four stocks replacing them in the DJIA, Home Depot (HD), Intel (INTC), Microsoft (MSFT), and SBC Communications--renamed AT&T (T), have since averaged a loss of 40%.

The three stocks replaced in 2004, Eastman Kodak (EK), International Paper (IP), and AT&T (different from the AT&T above), lost 2% on average while their replacements, AIG (AIG), Pfizer (PFE), and Verizon (VZ) on average lost 23%.

While this in no way tells us which direction Altria and Honeywell will go after they're replaced, it shows that being taken out of the DJIA isn't necessarily a bad thing for a stock's price.


Altria, which sells tobacco products (including the well known Marlboro brand) and holds around 30% of brewer SABMiller, is a company in transition. At the end of March of this year it will spin off its international business, Philip Morris International. As a result its stock price will to around $22, and shareholders will be given a 1 to 1 stake in Philip Morris International, whose stock price will be around $50. That is, suppose you have 100 shares of Altria. After the spin off, you'll have 100 shares of Altria and 100 shares of PMI. The dividend rate will stay the same after the spin off, but PMI will pay $1.84 a share while PMUSA will pay $1.16 a share. PMUSA will have a payout ratio of 75% while PMI will payout 65%. More on the spin off here.

Immediately after the spin off, the value of your holdings should be what they were when Altria was one company. After that, however, it's unclear what will happen. Will investors abandon the domestic for the international company, which has higher growth prospects and a bigger dividend, or will they favor the domestic company, which, because it'll be less leveraged, would likely initiate an aggressive share buyback program? Or will they hold both?

What could make Altria's stock rise

PMI's joint venture with China Tobacco gives it exposure to the world's largest cigarette market, China, which smokes about one third of the world's cigarettes. PMI's market share in Western Europe is around 40%; in South America it's around 60%. PMI should be immune to tobacco litigation in the US.

PMUSA just launched Marlboro Moist, a smokeless tobacco product. The Marlboro brand name and a lower price than its competitors should help PMUSA gain market share in this growing market. In the domestic cigarette market, PMUSA has 50% market share.

Some Potential Problems

There is the perpetual threat of lawsuits domestically. Also, it seems new smoking bans and tobacco taxes are always in the works. Internationally, tobacco will probably be regulated more stringently as well.

In the US and Western Europe smoking is said to be declining (for some reason, though, I see many more people smoking, especially those in their 20s and 30s). Corresponding with this decline there are declines in cigarette sales, which are falling around 2-3% a year.

Although PMUSA and PMI will operate in different markets, they may pose problems for each other in that there will be two companies controlling the same brands.


Honeywell is a conglomerate operating in four segments, aerospace products, products for process controls and various sensing and security instruments, specialty materials, and transportation products.

Honeywell recently bought Maxon Corp, which makes various products for industrial businesses, for around $185 million. Maxon has about $100 million a year in sales. Honeywell has also bought UOP (supplies catalysts to oil and natural gas companies). This has resulted in an operating margin boost for its specialty materials unit.

Good things at Honeywell

Its recent quarterly report was pretty good, with total sales growing by 12% from the previous quarter. Income grew by 26%, and Honeywell's operating margin grew by 1.4%.

Honeywell will supply Airbus with mechanical systems for Airbus' A-350 jet. This could be worth as much as $15 billion over the next 20 years. Strong demand is supposed to continue in the commercial aerospace industry, and Honeywell is the market leader.

Cash flow is going up while debt is staying the same. Moreover, in 2007, Honeywell bought back around $4 billion worth of its shares, and it plans to raise its dividend by 10% for 2008.

Some Bad things at Honeywell

Over the past few years, Honeywell has taken over $4 billion in charges for restructuring. Productivity hasn't yet risen enough to make this worthwhile. Demand in the specialty materials market seems to be slowing. Honeywell's transportation unit's operating margin fell by 1.5% despite sales increasing by 5.9%.


Simply Investing Blog Carnival

Welcome to the February 11, 2008 edition of Simply Investing Blog Carnival. There were many more great submissions this time around, and it was hard to choose the best ones.

Editor's Top Three:

presents 10 Reasons to Be Critical of the Federal Reserve posted at Currency Trading.net.

Dorian Wales presents The Personal Financier: Be the Turtle - Why Timing the Market is Impossible posted at Personal Financier.

Deb presents What Does The Yahoo/Microsoft Debate Mean For The Rest Of Us? posted at Marketvise, breaking down the pros and cons of Microsoft's recent bid for Yahoo.

Runners Up:

Leon Gettler presents The market talks to the Fed posted at Sox First, saying, "The market has told Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve that they are clueless. The Fed's one-two punch, cutting rates by half a percentage point, will not do the trick. The aim of the Fed is make it easier for business with better credit and cheaper money. But it’s not going to work., the US is heading into recession."

Mr Credit Card presents Balance Transfer Credit Cards Video Tutorial and Guide posted at Ask Mr Credit Card.

LIVING OFF DIVIDENDS presents Friday's Rant: Its the Government, Stupid! posted at LIVING OFF DIVIDENDS, saying, "The Fed is ruining our economy!" He also presents Why The Government Wants A Weaker Dollar posted at LIVING OFF DIVIDENDS, saying, "The Federal Reserve is going to weaken the dollar considerably, lower interest rates and flood the market with easy money. Make sure you know why and what to expect, since it will impact you investments."

The Investor
presents How to harvest wheat and mine gold using ETCs posted at Monevator.com, saying, "By buying commodities you can therefore diversify your portfolio over the long-term so it’s less dependent on the returns from shares. You might also hope to trade commodities, if you think you can buy when they’re priced low and sell when they’re high."

Big Cajun Man
presents Employee Stock Purchase Plans posted at Canadian Personal Finance Blog, saying, "Is it good to be an Stock Purchase plan at your place of work?"

FIRE Getters presents Our 7 Mutual Fund Investing Mistakes! posted at FIRE Finance.

Mark Runta
presents Perspective Makes A Big Difference posted at Smart Investing & Money Management, saying, "Perspective should play a key role when you consider the current economic landscape and options."

Mark Riffey presents Tiger Woods and the “upcoming” economic recession and A competitor went out of business. What do you do first? posted at Business is Personal.

Raag Vamdatt presents Your Personal Net Worth -– Importance and Calculation :: RaagVamdatt.com :: Financial Planning demystified posted at RaagVamdatt.com - Financial Planning demystified, explaining how to find your net worth and defining and providing examples of assets and liabilities.

Raymond presents Which Online High Yield Savings Account Offers The Best Interest Rate?, Top 6 Reasons And Considerations Why Your Home Isn?t Selling, And Ways You Can Improve, and How To Choose The Best Online Discount Brokerage Firm posted at Money Blue Book.

Abdulrasool Sumar presents 15 Year Mortgage or the 30 Year Mortgage? posted at Mortgage Loan Calculator, saying, "This is in response to a superb article written by Dan Green @ www.themortgagereports.com Yes it is true that most people want to fully pay off their homes, so that they do not have to worry about the mortgage payment each month. Most people also realize that if you select the 30 year mortgage, you will be paying a heck of a lot of interest, adding up to $200,000 - $500,000 depending on the size of your mortgage loan. And who blames them? Heck, I would love to pay off my home in as little as 5 years and save all the money I would pay in interest, but that is hard to do!"

Tyler McKinna
presents Check Out This Recession Proof Stock posted at Dividend Money, saying, "A great pipeline stock that is perfect for your portfolio in a down market...and it just announced a dividend increase!"

Craig S. Higdon presents Create Personal Wealth Beyond Your Small Business, In Three Parts posted at Investment Property Insider.

Jose DeJesus MD presents Jumbo Mortgage - Stimulus Package may Save You Money posted at Physician Entrepreneur.

vld2czech presents StockWeb: Amazing Ukrainian stock index PFTS. posted at StockWeb, saying, "The second world best performing stock market in 2007 has still growth potential for 2008."

Tony John
presents Tenant Quality Affects Property Value posted at TonyJohnInvesting.com.

Sam Carrara presents Product Life Cycle- Overview posted at Sam Carrara's Marketing Education.

cfgoulart presents How to Earn 10% on Your Money posted at Making Money Resources, saying, "Legit way to truly make 10% or more on your investment."


Robert Phillips presents Lessons Learned from the G-Men posted at CYBERCA$HOLOGY.

Personal Finance Claims presents Stop Being Fleeced By Your Bank, File Your Claim Today posted at Personal Finance Claims.

Stephen Dean presents Stop Assuming So Much posted at Stephen Dean's Copywriting And Internet Advertising Blog - Copywriter, saying, "In advertising, business, and life in general, your assumptions can cost money. Always test them"

Investing Angel presents How To Avoid A Stock Scam posted at Stock Tips, saying, "There are a lot of pundits out there that offer investing tips for a fee. While some of these investing services may be well worth the money, others are scams are certainly close to a scam," and Understanding Margin Trading posted at Stock Tips, saying, "Almost all stock brokers offer margin trading, which is essentially borrowing money from them to purchase more stocks. Investors do not understand margin trading or whether or not it is good for them. Deciding whether or not to borrow on margin is a business decision like any other."

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Simply Investing Blog Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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