Investors were not able to come out of the gates today as we began a new trading week with the averages all dipping lower. There weren’t many big market themes emerging, but stories around a few big names were worth noting.
On the earnings side, we saw shares of Lowe’s (LOW) move higher despite a bit of a cautious outlook from management. On the flipside, shares of retailer J.C. Penney (JCP) ended lower following their results.
Wall Street downgrades moved a couple of names in the red as well, including shares of Hershey Co. (HSY) and Eaton Vance (EV). The financial space definitely showed a bit of weakness here today, with shares of JP Morgan (JPM), Citigroup (C), and Morgan Stanley (MS) all trading lower. Even though we’re not at all bullish on the financial sector, it’s still an area that investors must pay attention to as global economic rumblings continue to make their way through the markets.
In a big story today, shares of IBM Corp (IBM) were on the rise early after Warren Buffett disclosed in a CNBC appearance that he now owns 5.5% of the company (note: the stock did close fairly unchanged by the close). As he put it, he was overly impressed with how the company has been executing on its long-term strategy and its ability to do massive share buybacks. We know one thing for sure — IBM’s paltry 1.6% dividend yield couldn’t have been a factor in Mr. Buffett’s investment. While I agree that IBM has been good of late when it comes to beating earnings, without a stronger yield to support the stock, we prefer to look for better-yielding opportunities.The Ability to Think at Crunch Time
Being a New York Jets fan, it’s been a rollercoaster ride watching our young quarterback Mark Sanchez try to prove he has the goods to lead the team to a long-awaited Super Bowl title. Sometimes Sanchez looks good and sometimes he looks terrible. Yesterday fell into the latter category.
Sanchez made a head-scratching decision to call a timeout last night at an inopportune time, and in doing so left the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady (who owns three Super Bowl rings) more than enough time to march down the field and retake the lead before halftime. When a TV reporter asked Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan about the timeout fiasco, his reply was that it was “the stupidest play in NFL history” — ouch! Needless to say the sentiment was not very good in the Jets locker room, and the Patriots dominated the second half of the football game.
Sanchez’s poor decision-making process reminds me of similar errors investors sometimes make. After you’ve been investing for a few years, you should no longer be making the same mistakes you did as an investing “rookie.” All too often, investors repeat the same errors and set themselves back financially, when they should’ve known better.
The difference between those who have wealth already and those who are not quite there (through no fault but their own) can be as simple as an attention to detail. Easy things like paying bills on time, avoiding late fees, re-checking your portfolio on a regular basis, sticking to a budget, etc., can mean the difference between having a good financial year or a bad one.
Most people only see the end result of a particular process. They fail to recognize all the intangibles needed to reach that mark. As a parent, I like to stress to my kids the concept of financial accountability. The “Bank of Dad” won’t remain open forever, and they’ll need to know the rules of finance in order to make the right decisions in their future lives.
In sports, a coach wants their players to make the best decisions possible in those crucial moments of the game. At some point soon, the Jets will have to decide whether Mark Sanchez will ever be the quarterback they need to help guide the team to its championship aspirations. We as investors (and for some of us, parents) should focus on the same factors. Are we consistently making the right decisions in our financial lives? If not, what are we missing?
The difference between the haves and have-nots begins and ends with the ability to make those simple decisions. For people that are good with money, making the right decision is almost automatic. They don’t even need to think about it much. For others that seem to always botch things up in their financial lives, those right decisions always seem very difficult to make.
If you fall into the latter category, make it a point to fix your financial errors quickly, and eliminate them from your wealth-building playbook forever.Spending Increases, Savings Plummet
Speaking of bad financial decisions, it looks like many consumers in the U.S. could be veering off the road the wealth. According to recent government data, consumers saved just 3.6% of their income in September — the lowest amount since December of 2007. The reasons behind this trend are mixed. Many people are trying to clean up their balance sheets and may simply forgo savings temporarily. The cost of many daily necessities has also gone up (despite the government’s claims about a lack of inflation).
In recent years, we’ve seen that savings level reach as high as 7.1%, so hopefully this number will begin to correct soon. But the reality of the situation is that income levels are growing at a sluggish rate. That trend is at the root of why some economists are doubtful about the sustainability of an economic recovery.
If you are going to successfully build wealth, eliminating debt (especially high interest loans like credit cards) is a necessary element. Financial accountability means focusing a bit more on budgeting your spending data. Prioritize your expenses to first account for the main fixed costs (rent, mortgage, food, insurance, etc.) before doing any extra spending (clothes, dinner, movies, etc.). This practice makes a ton of sense, and I think also will teach you some self-discipline.
We believe that many of our readers have a good handle on these factors, but we all know people close to us that have the appearances (home, cars, clothes, etc.) of financial success, but how much equity they actually have is often another story altogether.
If you stick to the “slow and steady” route of building wealth, you’ll be able to buy whatever you desire with money from the income-producing assets you own — instead of piling debt on top of more debt.Moves Will Come
As we continue to monitor the markets and look for new investment ideas, we are content with the names that are remain on our Best Dividend Stocks List. As much as we would like to recommend more names, making moves simply for the sake of making moves provides little value to our readers.
In learned in my many years as a day trader that surviving in the financial markets wasn’t about being constantly active, but rather about picking the spots when the metrics lined up in my favor. Playing the cards you have is all you can do — and forcing what isn’t there will only cost you in the long run!
I hope everyone had a chance to check out our Dividend.com Premium members-only weekend articles, including new features that highlight some of the biggest winners and losers from the week that was, such as analyst upgrades/downgrades and earnings/story stocks. These articles are a great way to catch up on the week that was in the markets. We also have a rundown of how various Dividend ETFs performed on the week.
Thanks for reading everybody. I’ll see you tomorrow!
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