The goal of this site is to inform and entertain as I wish to educate my readers about stock investing in a simple and easy to read manner. For those that are interested, I make all my purchases through CapitalOne Investing (formerly Sharebuilder) and pay a grandfathered commission rate of $2 per trade under a promotion Sharebuilder had for Costco members. Follow this site to get useful..
Been away on a family road trip for ten days across Arizona and haven’t been paying too much attention to the markets as of late which is why I have not made my July buy till now. Looking at my July stock considerations, I was really pining for some Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) after that stock was taken to the woodshed several weeks ago and has since rebounded nicely from its recent low. I still might pick some SBUX next week though if prices remain around $50. Instead, I went with another stock that was recently beaten down and has been a favorite hold of mine for a while. I always say that you can never predict when Mr. Market may throw a good sale your way. With that being said:
I have added to my taxable account 6 shares at $88.76 for a total investment of $532.56 in AbbVie Inc. (ABBV). With this recent purchase my taxable account holdings in ABBV now totals 142.9737 shares with a market value of $12,711.79. This was a commission free trade.
What do you think about my recent buy? I already know that many of you have picked up SBUX recently and wonder if ABBV will make your July buy list as well. Please let me know below.
All businesses want to achieve maximum sales to help grow the company and reap the rewards of its success. With the peaks and troughs in industry, this can be a challenging road whether you are a small business or larger corporation, so pulling a strategy together to increase sales is a great way to ride the highs and lows of consumer spending. Sometimes it’s not as easy as just slashing prices to attract buyers, as you have to consider your margins before making rash decisions. There is a host of ways that you can boost sales without comprising on your brand name or the quality of your products and services, so take a look at how it is achievable.
Use social media
Creating a buzz around your offering is the best way to draw attention to what you are selling, and whether you have a big marketing budget or a smaller pot, social media marketing can work well for both types of business. Well-known platforms offer affordable advertising solutions to help drive your message to relevant people plus you can hone into intelligent targeting methods to promote your brand and products to a specific audience.
Make it easy to take payment
If you have barriers to customer payments, they will likely feel frustrated when purchasing from you. Having sufficient options for the payment of goods such as cloud-based point of sale, mobile credit card readers and e-commerce payment platforms, will ensure every base is covered when selling your product or service. These options can be affordable too, and there is a selection of merchant services that can be customized to your business needs.
Hold a sale
As mentioned above, discounting products doesn’t always offer you the best rewards, especially if it affects your profit margins. But in some cases, it can highlight a launch or limited edition offering to drive initial interest. Getting the discount level right is essential to ensure you’re not losing money in this type of campaign but cutting prices in the right way can have enormous benefits for both small and large organizations.
Offer referral rewards
In today’s consumer climate, recommendation plays a huge part in how people buy goods and services. This referral is invaluable for businesses and encouraging it can have fantastic benefits for your company. Referral schemes don’t have to be complicated, and it could simply be money off for any new customers recommended to you. By providing a little incentive can give people a push to promote your company, plus most people love saving money so are open to rewards for their recommendation.
Learn about your competitors
Although you will want to differentiate yourself from your competitors, you will still need to learn about them to be able to do this. This invaluable insight will help to highlight the challenges they have in the market and give you an opportunity to fill any gaps they do not meet. Thinking of ways to outdo them in a professional way will help to fulfill any customer needs that they are failing to accommodate.
Upselling to existing clients
Many businesses focus on trying to attract new customers and fail to keep their current base engaged. By turning your efforts onto existing customers, you will not only keep their custom, but you can also use this as a chance to upsell to them. This upsell value helps to boost sales and enables you to invest in other methods for enticing new audiences to your products and services.
Utilize relevant marketing
Marketing can be useful for any business but using the best methods for your business is vital for attracting the right attention. Targeting techniques used in digital marketing can help to identify specific markets, and this gives you a better chance of reaching the people that would care most about your brand. If you’re looking to reach local people, using local radio, print adverts and social media can assist in spreading the word effectively.
Use your company data
To identify areas that are successful or need improvement, using your analytics can highlight potential elements of your business that are working or that could be changed. This could come in the form of identifying trends and patterns for seasonal promotions, product launches and discounted periods, and each helps to focus your efforts on the successes to push business growth.
There are tons of ways to promote your company for both small and larger business budgets. So try out some of these options to boost your company sales in the long term.
One of the biggest challenges that retail companies face in today’s market is growing their business so that they can boost sales and stay ahead of the competition. Finding stability and earning a profit is a challenge in itself, but what do you do once you’ve reached this stage and you want to grow and stay ahead of the competition? There are a few different ways how you can do this which can have a huge impact on your company not only in terms of profit but also brand reputation and awareness. Read on for a few ideas on how any retailer can grow their business and take it to the next level.
Open Another Store
One great option is to open another store in an area different from your current one. Having one store can seriously reduce the number of people that are exposed to your products each day, particularly if you are not in a busy area. Opening another store could change this and can also do wonders for brand awareness. However, if you haven’t already, it is also important that you offer customers the opportunity to buy online so that they can shop 24/7 and from the comfort of their own home.
Gift Cards, Reward Cards & Check Acceptance
Another way to grow your retail business is to encourage consumers to come to your store. You can do this by offering gift cards, which were the most popular items on wish lists in 2017 according to the National Retail Federation and a superb way to encourage people to come and spend in your store. Additionally, reward cards are an excellent tool for customer retention and customer retention is crucial to building sustained success. Finally, accepting checks is another important area for many consumers, and it is important that your check processing is lightning-quick to reduce deposit times.
As a retailer, you should never underestimate the power of visual merchandising as this is, essentially, your key salesperson. Every morning, think about the layout of the store as you enter the shop and think about how it could be improved. You should also consider seasonal displays and make regular changes to displays to entice people into your store from the outside and stay current.
Following on from this, it is also worth thinking about how you could create the right atmosphere in store so that people feel comfortable and will spend time browsing your products. In addition to the actual layout of the store, consider the decoration, temperature, smell, and music. These can all have a huge impact on how an individual feels and whether or not they make a purchase.
Once you have found stability in your particular market, you will want to take your company to the next level by showing that you are an authoritative source. You can do this by hosting regular in-store events related to your industry, and this is particularly effective if you are in a niche market. Consider hosting parties, screenings, workshops, talks or anything else that will get people through the door, allowing them to socialize with each other.
Although you have a physical store, it is also vital that you have a strong online presence. One of the best ways to grow a retail company is to up their online presence through internet marketing practices like search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click advertising (PPC). Additionally, you can use your social media channels to increase brand awareness and reputation by regularly posting updates on the store, your products, promotions and any interesting industry news. You should also engage with your audience online and help them with any questions that they might have.
Finally, you need to make sure that you have the right people representing your brand. You could have the best products available, but people will not want to come to your store if you have lazy and apathetic or rude staff. In addition to having friendly and helpful staff, it is also a good idea to utilize staff uniforms and name tags so that people can easily identify the employee they’ve spoken to in-store. Using name tags also adds a personal touch for each employee, making your brand more relatable.
Growing a retail business is a challenge, but the above are a few great ways to take the company to the next level once you have found some initial success. You should always build on what has found your success, but making a few adjustments to enhance the customer experience and also boosting your brand reputation/awareness will bring more people through the door while also encouraging existing customers to return.
The beginning of every month is exciting for all dividend income investors as we look back at the previous month and see how much passive dividend income our portfolios generated. No doubt, these are the best posts to write and read online as it only provides further proof that dividend investing can work over time and that anyone can create an ever growing passive income stream. Looking back at my June totals I see that my year over year progress is moving at a nice clip. Now that half of 2018 is in the books my annual dividend income picture is looking a lot clearer. With that being said, let’s take a look back at my June 2018 dividend income.
Dividend income from my taxable account totaled $792.95 up from $597.51 an increase of 32.7% from June of last year.
Dividend income from my ROTH account totaled $178.06 up from $146.82 an increase of 21.3% from this time last year.
Dividend income from my IRA account totaled $5.78 down from $71.05 from this time last year. A decrease of -91.9%. No cause for concern here as payment schedules of CCP (now SBRA) and VTR have shifted from June.
Grand total for the month of June: $976.79 an increase of 19.8% from June 2017.
Year to date dividends: $2,843.02
Year to date dividends: $1,089.47
Year to date dividends: $451.48
The proof of our dividend investing strategy rests in these real results. After all, dividends don’t lie. It’s real cash being returned to investors. With patience and consistency these results and better can be achieved. I’m excited to see what the second half of 2018 will bring. All I know for certain is that the market will definitely be higher, lower or flat come New Year’s Eve! In other words, I’ll continue with my monthly buys and slowly build up my passive income stream share by individual share and let the experts worry about what might happen.
Are any of these dividend stocks in your portfolio too? How was your June dividend income? Please let me know below.
U.S. Money Reserve received recognition for winning the coveted 2018 AdSphere Awards in two “best of” categories. AdSphere monitors commercials on over 120 TV networks. The digital media that receives the most immediate responses from viewers is considered the best in the market because it is typically the most profitable. While AdSphere has only been in business for approximately six years, it provides one of the most unique services for the new direct-response television advertising industry.
Awards for Excellence in Marketing and Advertising
This is the second year in a row that U.S. Money Reserve has won the awards for infomercials and short form products. As a result, the company must have a wonderful advertising and marketing team. DRMetrix gave the award to U.S. Money Reserve for its excellent direct-response television infomercials. This precious metal company consistently creates advertising that reflects its brand of products, leading to higher responses from customers. The goal of infomercials on television is having viewers respond as quickly as possible to buy the products that were just advertised.
The competition for the awards from AdSphere is fierce in numerous different categories. There are several classifications of categories that are analyzed by AdSphere, including:
• 28.5-minute infomercials
• Lead generation
• Short-form products
In the awards program for AdSphere, nearly 70 companies or individuals were honored in 2018.
Why U.S. Money Reserve?
U.S. Money Reserve has thousands of customers who rely on the company’s products. Based in Austin, Texas, this precious metals company was established in 2001. U.S. Money Reserve wants to maintain a long-term customer base by providing excellent service to its clientèle. Most of its products are U.S. government-issued platinum, gold, and silver coins that are sold through infomercials and direct-mail advertising.
U.S. Money Reserve is a private distributor of precious metals that are made by several mints. While selling gold, silver and platinum coins that are created by mints in the United States is this company’s main focus, it also offers precious coins from other countries. In addition to having infomercials that win awards, this company sends flyers and other paper advertising through the mail. This type of advertising is also inserted into daily and weekly newspapers throughout the United States and in other countries. Customers can also listen to radio commercials that advertise the precious metal company’s products. However, some of this company’s clients prefer to visit its online store to look at photographs of products before making an order.
You need to engage your workforce from the start – from the very moment, you employ them to work for you. Consider your staff an investment, and work to increase their skills and technical ability. You need to provide tools for success and offer the chance to get involved with workshops, groups, and seminars. Make training and learning accessible and provide workplace flexibility when it’s required. Your team will feel far more motivated if they’re aware of how you value them and how instrumental they are in helping your company continue to be successful. Make a point of highlighting achievement and hard work, and offer rewards and incentives for those that continue to impress you.
Let Them Know They’re Valued
If your employees feel appreciated, then they’ll be far more willing to go the extra mile to see you and your business succeed. Encourage your staff to succeed and publicly congratulate them when they’ve gone above and beyond, and excelled. Stay on top of your staff payroll documentation and encourage them to use printable pay stubs to keep track of salary information, taxes paid, and overtime pay. Staff income needs to be competitive and reflect how demanding the job is – you need to ensure that your staff are paid reliably, on time, and correctly. If you’re struggling to do this, then consider using software to help you, or using the services of an expert.
Listen To Them
Consider having an office hour at least once a week, in which time any member of your team can come to see you to discuss problems and issues relating to company policy, for example. To keep your employees happy and motivated, they need to know that you value their opinion and have a genuine interest in their welfare. Consider offering a health insurance scheme to ensure that you and your staff feel safe and secure should any accidents and unforeseen circumstances occur onsite and in the workplace. Never tolerate bullying and discrimination in the workplace, and reprimand or remove the perpetrators.
Provide Up-To-Date Tools And Services
If you’re using outdated technology and appliances, then you’ll be making your employee’s work harder than it needs to be. Always be on the ball and ready to embrace new technology and devices that promise to make your company run more smoothly. Subscribe to relevant magazines, newspapers, and online articles detailing changes in the industry and upcoming releases of products and services.
Increase Workplace Facilities
Workplace facilities are hugely important, and they need to be conducive to work and productivity. If you hire out an office space, then walk around it and make a note of places that need to be improved. List where needs urgent work needs to take place and where will need some attentive work in the future. If you’re unable to make huge improvements straight away, then make sure surfaces are kept clean and tidy; consider hiring a janitor to keep the place looking clean and smelling fresh. Add plants to the office to improve air quality and circulation, and provide complimentary tea and coffee in the staffroom.
Most people have big plans for their futures—a list of things that may not be possible at this exact present moment, but that they hope will come true in time. The possibilities are endless: having children, going back to school, retiring, traveling the world, buying a home, moving to a new city, adopting pets, making a career change, investing, owning a business and many more.
Debt Has Short- and Long-Term Consequences
Whatever your dream, having debt is the quickest way to derail its actualization. Here’s an example: Approximately 40 percent of older Americans have $5,000 or more in credit card debt. Nearly one-fifth (22 percent) carry more than $10,000 in credit card debt, which means many owe more than they have available in their checking accounts. In fact, more than one-third of older Americans have less than $1,000 in their checking accounts. It’s easy to see how this impacts retirement. Significant debt and limited savings ensure people have to work longer—and possibly more hours—just to manage day-to-day expenses.
Similarly, the cost of raising a child is perpetually on the rise. This is a very real expense parents must consider. As Time reports, the cost of raising a child to age 17 for a middle-class family is now around $233,610. The cost of raising a child in a lower income bracket is still $174,690 on average. For families with higher incomes, the average price tag hovers around $372,210. It’s already a tall order to come up with double-digit thousands of dollars per year to raise a child; doing so with debt is even more daunting.
In the best-case scenario, consumers have to balance debt with their future plans. In the worst-case scenario, debt delays or derails these plans altogether. The only way to make sure debt doesn’t kill your future is by addressing it proactively now, in the present.
Figure Out Your Game Plan
Unfortunately, debt doesn’t disappear if you close your eyes and wish hard enough. Eliminating it requires formulating a plan and committing to it. Here is a litany of possible strategies to consider:
Balance transfer: Are you struggling with high-interest credit cards? You may be able to transfer balances to a lower- or no-interest card with a different provider. This does cost a fee to initiate, so make sure you’ll be saving more in APR than you’ll be paying in fees before doing so.
Debt consolidation: Are you struggling to keep track of multiple debts? Some debtors take out a single personal loan to pay back multiple high-interest balances then focus instead on repaying this single loan in a process called consolidation. This option is typically only viable for consumers with good credit.
Debt settlement: Are you carrying more than $5,000 or $10,000 in credit card debt? There’s a chance you can reduce your principal balance, meaning you end up owing less than the original amount. Working with an organization like Freedom Debt Relief can help consumers come up with a plan to save up enough money to initiate negotiations with creditors.
DIY approach: Handling debt repayment yourself may be your best bet, but consumers beware: Only a combination of savvy budgeting, steady or increased income and constant vigilance will make this strategy a success. Putting every extra penny toward debt repayment will speed up the process, but you’ll also have to hold yourself accountable every step of the way.
Planning for Financial Security
As you work to eliminate your debt, you should also work on your overall financial literacy. This will help you make saving and investment decisions that pay off in the future. Don’t let debt kill your financial future; get a plan now and start making moves toward making your dreams come true.
Here we are with another installment of my “stock considerations” for the upcoming month. With the first week of trading upon us in July, it is time, once again, to lay out a plan for my potential stock pick(s) for the month. As many of you already know, I make sure to purchase at least one stock every single month no matter where we are in a business or macro economic cycle. The goal of every long term dividend growth investor is to remain consistent with their buys and try not to attempt to time the market and wait for the “best” possible time to invest. Time in the market is our single greatest asset that allows for faster compounding and “smoothing” out those inevitable peaks and valleys of stock prices we all experience in the near term. With that being said, let’s take a look at my July 2018 stock considerations.
Looking forward towards July, I’m finding that, believe it or not, I have less potential stock buys to choose from than in previous months. The quarter ended on a strong note as we have seen the health REITs bounce back from their 2018 lows, utilities and even the much maligned staples have bounced. You are all familiar with these names as Ventas, Inc. (VTR), Welltower Inc. (WELL), HCP, Inc. (HCP), LTC Properties, Inc. (LTC), Dominion Energy, Inc. (D), The Southern Company (SO), Consolidated Edison, Inc. (ED), Kimberly-Clark Corporation (KMB), PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP), The Kraft Heinz Company (KHC), The Clorox Company (CLX), Philip Morris International Inc. (PM) and more have come back in earnest. Of course, there are still a few duds out there that have been left behind this rally and are seemingly stuck in neutral or even reverse for the time being. Stocks like General Electric Company (GE), General Mills, Inc. (GIS), Johnson Controls International plc (JCI) and Cardinal Health, Inc. (CAH) come to mind right off the bat.
Barring some unforeseen market drop or other individual stock decline my list of potential buys will seem quite small for July as I will be looking to add to my Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) first. We the recent C-Suite shakeups at the company coupled with less than exciting news about upcoming store closures and a new health concern being raised about the sugar and calorie content of formerly popular Frappuccino drinks have each contributed to a perfect storm to punish the stock and give us an SBUX sporting much better prices, values and yields not to mention a more than healthy dividend growth rate too. As long as SBUX remains around $50+/- it will be my go to pick for July.
Finally, I’ll be looking to add to a couple of my health REITs that are starting to show some signs of life. These potential buys will allow me to average down my cost basis while continuing to enjoy some generous yield. It’s been a while since I added to any of my current REIT holdings and HCP, Inc. (HCP) is starting to look OK to me once again. Seeing HCP under a $30 price could potentially trigger a buy. Also, in the health REIT space I am looking to add to my Sabra Health Care REIT, Inc. (SBRA). The stock has climbed a lot from its lows of 2018 as this skilled nursing REIT play still demonstrates a difficult business environment. Of course, that generous yield, which highlights some of the risk with the stock, can justify the risk/reward scenario.
What do you think about my potential stock picks for the month of July? Are any of the names mentioned above making your buy list this month? Please let me know below.
Over the past few years, the midstream space has witnessed a lot of changes. About a year after the oil price collapse in 2014, oil production in the US began to decline. As both volumes and commodity prices went down, midstream companies that had pursued growth at all costs, levered up the balance sheet in pursuit of that growth, and those companies that added significant commodity price exposure in their agreements with producers, found themselves in a very precarious financial situation. Not a small number of midstream companies eventually cut their distributions/dividends in order to shore up the balance sheet and fund growth obligations.
However, there are were also many midstream companies with management teams who were disciplined capital allocators, adept in avoiding agreements that would introduce additional volatility from direct commodity exposure, and ultimately made all the right decisions for their business and shareholders. It’s my personal view that an investor needs to learn about, and get comfortable with, a management team before investing in their company’s shares. For that reason, I started a podcast called Investing with the Buyside, which aims to provide corporate access to all investors.
Before starting the IwtB Podcast, my job was to perform equity research for a large mutual fund company based out of Denver. My sector focus was energy, utilities, and a few industrial subsectors. My decision to leave the buyside and start the IwtB Podcast was primarily because I believe all investors should have the opportunity to hear management talk about their business, industry outlook, capital allocation philosophy, as well as hear management’s perspective on the value of their stock.
Another, more minor, reason I wanted to leave the buyside was that many of the companies and some of the subsectors I covered appeared significantly undervalued – midstream being one of them. There are a lot of trading restrictions for someone working for a large money management firm and if there was ever a good time to leave the industry and try something new, it was then.
Since starting the IwtB Podcast, I’ve had some extremely informative and helpful conversations with management teams of companies that pay really juicy dividends. For example, my first management team interview was with Pat Sanchez, COO of Sanchez Midstream Partners (SNMP). At the time of writing this, SNMP has a ~15% distribution yield and is expected to have coverage greater than 1.2x this year (coverage is the inverse of a payout ratio). Another interesting dividend story is Summit Midstream Partners (SMLP), which has a ~14% distribution yield. The IwtB Podcast had SMLP’s Founder and CEO, Steve Newby, on the program a few weeks back and he was quite emphatic on his commitment to and the stability of the dividend.
This brings us back to the question posed in the title of this blog. Is the midstream sector a source of stable dividends? Or, will there be more distribution cuts in the future? It’s hard to say whether a management team will ultimately cut their dividend/distribution. There are innumerable factors to consider when making an investment in any company, let alone a company that has at least some exposure to commodity prices. But what I can say is that investors are flying blind if they don’t have the opportunity to hear management talk about all of considerations that go into making capital allocation decisions.
Disclosure: the author is long SNMP and SMLP at the time of writing.
The last time I made two buy tranches in any one month was back in February of this year. I guess seeing the market continue on its volatile trajectory prompted me to make additional buys before June officially expires. On another note, my broker Sharebuilder, formerly ING, formerly CapitalOne Investing, has been acquired by E-Trade and before the assets are moved over later this year it was announced that all dividend reinvestment will be suspended along with ShareBuilder Investment Plans in July. Starting next month my portfolio, for the first time, will be generating actual cash instead of automatic dividend reinvestment. I can live with that for a month or two till the transition is made but it will definitely have some impact on my compounding returns. Oh well, not the worst thing in the world. One thing that I am not happy about is losing my ShareBuilder Investment Plan commission rate of $2 a trade. This was a legacy commission rate given to all Costco/Sharebuilder members and was a great way nibble on positions at minimal cost. The plan going forward will be to maintain status quo and be transitioned to E-Trade. Whether or not I will remain with them remains to be seen. Of course, any broker suggestions would be welcome in the comments section. With that being said, let’s take a look at my second round of June buys:
I have added to my taxable account 9 shares at $53.62 for a total investment of $482.58 in Cardinal Health, Inc. (CAH). With this recent purchase my taxable account holdings in CAH now totals 51.7437 shares with a market value of $2,760.01.
I have added to my taxable account 5 shares at $99.89 for a total investment of $499.45 in Kimberly-Clark Corporation (KMB). With this recent purchase my taxable account holdings in KMB now totals 57.2068 shares with a market value of $5,942.64. I also hold 7.5504 shares with a market value of $784.34 in my ROTH account.
I’m sure these two recent buys will be more popular that my last buy of GIS. What do you think about my recent buys? Are CAH or KMB on your radar too? Please let me know below.