Friday, July 31, 2015

July Review / August Preview, 2015

Investment Gremlin here to review how the second half of this year has started out.  It certainly was busy; getting a professional certification, traveling for a wedding, to Texas for work, and doing all the usual stuff at home with my wife, friends, and our new dog.  I did have the pleasure during my travels to try some new beers and have gotten my wife to start talking about financial matters.  We have started discussing banks we would like to use for savings, checking, and credit card accounts.

For the first two, clearly the highest interest and friendliest services are desired.  Concerning credit cards, I am not a person who thinks I should pay with cash for everything - screw that.  I prefer using a card, then paying it off, to access the maximum amount of benefit to us.  My wife is on-board with this, so now we just need to figure out what benefit scheme we want.  Applause for the minor victories.


Last month I brought in a total of $78.11 in dividends ($52.61 taxable , $25.50 Roth).  This is a increase from last year ($69.37 total) by 12.6%.  I had estimated $75 this past month, and I happily exceeded that.

I also received a $559.92 special dividend from the merger of Kraft and Heinz into KHC.  I am not counting this towards my regular dividend income because of the one time nature, but it is awesome.  This extra cash is helping me to fuel a large buy next month in my Roth.  Very, very exciting!

In terms of dividend increases, I realized four this month; Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM), Disney (DIS), Realty Income (O), and PepsiCo (PEP).  It should be noted that a strong US dollar hurt my CM payout, which is in Canadian dollars.  DIS increase was a unique surprise with a large pay increase and movement from annual to semi-annual dividends - makes me want a lot more of it.  One new announcement for a dividend increase was made; Kinder Morgan (KMI) increasing its payout by 2.08% / 1¢ per share quarterly!  I love getting raises...

As with prior months I continued my Loyal3 march towards Financial Independence.  I added 2 shares of Microsoft (MSFT) and slightly more than 4 of Coke Cola (KO).  KO now sits at a 'full' Loyal3 position, and I will not be adding to it, save for extreme price dips.


My only long term debt is my car, which shall continue.  I have already gotten ahead on my monthly payments, and I will continue pushing that direction. I have no tests left, just one wedding to attend.  So I will be doubling down on investing and saving for the remainder of the year.

Next month should produce around $67 in dividends, which is a 9% year-over-year increase.  I expect to realize one raise next month from KMI.  I expect to pick up more shares of either MSFT and complete its position in my Loyal3 account.  I also expect to add shares of Kellogg's (K), Hershey (HSY)*, WalMart (WMT)*, and or PEP in my Loyal3 account.  Asterisked stocks indicate positions that would be new.

Outside of investments, I will be traveling for both work and fun.  I hope to pop out a review of a local vineyard or brewery in my travels, so stay tuned for that.  Doing a few days of work near Buffalo, NY and possibly other locations.  I will also be spending just short of a week at the beach, which brings me to my favorite question do you prefer the beach or the mountains?  My answer is clearly both, but if I had to choose it'd probably be the beach.

Hope everyone has a great August!
- Dividend Gremlin.
- Long KHC, CM, DIS, O, PEP, KMI, MSFT, and K.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Make it a Double!

Investor Gremlin here.  Just a quick little update about one of my stocks, which I do not mention much.  That is partially because it is my only non-dividend position and also because it is a small position.  Nonetheless around 5 years ago I decided to purchase shares in Willamette Valley Vineyards (WVVI).  In that time the shares have more than doubled in value.  Today I am writing just to express how cool it is to pick a winning security and watch it double in value.  That being said on a long enough time line, I expect every position I have to pull its weight.  Just its cool that WVVI was the first one to that race.

Going forward none of my other positions will include non-dividend payers, but something about this tiny position just made me want to hold onto it.  Partly my love of their substance itself and partly because I would love to run and own one day.

- Gremlin
- Long WVVI (I'd take a bottle of wine each year in lieu of a dividend).

Monday, July 20, 2015

Career Growth!

Been busy Gremlin here.  Over the last few weeks I have been working on both career growth and was on the road a lot.  The career growth I am going through was preparation for a professional licensing test, and I figured it was important to take my time and study, which made my weeks a little more boring for a bit.  In that time I also decided in addition to foregoing video games and other entertainment, I would not write here.  Now that its over, we shall return to the regularly scheduled program.

For this post I will be talking about a little bit of everything: my career growth, minor investment activity / market trends, some travel, sports, and frothy beverages.  There is no reason I cannot enjoy all those things at the same time!  So let's get to it, shall we?

Career Growth:

One of the best ways to save faster for financial independence (FI) is to earn more from your day job.  Overall, that is a no-brainer.  A way to accomplish that can be through professional certifications.  In my industry typical professional certifications include Professional Engineer (PE), Professional Geologist (PG), Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), and many others.  Yes, mine is one of those, but I am waiting for the certificate to come in the mail before I post which one I got on my about me page.  The one I got was years in the making, literally with multiple years in the industry required on top of my degree and specific experience.  Once that was achieved, I applied to be able to take the exam.  Then last Friday I took and passed the exam.

Naturally, I won't get a salary bump right away, however I will now be able to demand a better salary no matter where I work.  It is not my intent to leave my current job, but it would be nice to receive some extra benefits for upping my skill set to improve the company's marketability.  Regardless of what the future holds, I know at this point I have taken a strong step up the proverbial ladder and it should help build FI!

Investment Activity / The Market:

The market has been awesomely volatile of late.  Naturally people point to the larger situations that have come and gone, domestically and overseas.  It is always interesting hearing the distress from coworkers, friends, the talking heads on TV + radio, and the experts forecasting what will happen.  The answer to all of them is, no one knows; and all we can expect is this to be long term noise, which will open the door for people like me and other long term investors.

This is excellent timing as I've just received a generous special dividend from Kraft Heinz (was KRFT, now KHC).  That money was received in my Roth and will spur another large buy shortly.  Right now I am debating between several stocks I really like - UNP, NSC, CSX, TROW, BEN, ETN, and NOC mainly.  None of those are 5% yielders, but the plan is to get (oddly) lower yields first with high growth in my Roth, so in 5 to 10 years time I can turn around and add high yielders and sit on a retirement monster. 

In addition, Chubb Corp (CB) recently announced that ACE Insurance (ACE) was buying them for approximately $120+ per share; I will receive $62+ and 0.6015 shares of ACE per share of CB.  In a way this is sad, because I liked CB's future prospects.  On the other hand I will gain likely 2 positions for 1 - the new cash will spur another buy when the deal completes and I will have approximately 7 shares of ACE.  Currently, the plan is to sit on the shares and continue collecting CB's dividends.  Once the deal completes there will be a grace period to decide if ACE, despite its foreign with-holdings, is right for my Roth.  As of right now, I am leading towards dropping it, but we shall see.

Lastly, I have hit 25 shares of Coke (KO) in my Loyal3 account.  That value is slightly over $1000, and so long as it stays above that threshold I am done with it.  It feels extra nice to tick another Loyal3 position off my list, but if the price drops I will not be afraid to capitalize!


Recently I've attended one wedding in the city of Harrisburg, PA.  I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised with the nice little downtown area on the water, and Appalachian Brewing company there.

Then immediately after that wedding, I traveled to Texas.  I am currently involved in a contract that involves testing of indoor filtering machines to make sure they are working right, which means there are a lot of stops in a lot of places for each trip.  This one started in Dallas, then wound its way down through Austin, San Antonio*, Laredo*, McAllen, and Brownsville*.  The asterisked locations indicated places that were just passed through.  My perception was that Texas seemed like an alright place, and sadly I did not have enough time to really see anything.  Dallas and Austin in particular seemed cool, along with the coast by Brownsville.  Alas, these places will just have to get added to the list at this time...


Summertime for me is usually when I careless about seeing any sports and more about playing them, I'm just not a big golf or baseball fan.  However, this year we have the Women's World Cup and the Gold Cup in soccer.  It was really cool to watch the US Women win the whole thing again in such dominate fashion (at least once pool play was over).  At one point I almost felt bad for Japan during the final game, and really bad for England who I thought should have taken on the USA.  England did dominate Japan in that game, but they just had one lapse that lead to their collapse.  (Plus it would have been cool to beat the Brits again the day after July 4th...)

With the women's team winning, perhaps its time to see the men's step up and take the Gold Cup this year.  2 semis left, and 1 final, it would shock me if the games were not exciting.  Mexico's win over Costa Rica last night was very exciting to watch, though Costa Rica got hosed badly at the end falling due to 1 bad call.  Really though Mexico could have won 3-1, if strikers could just shoot on frame...


As much as I'd love to say I've tried a ton of new beers of late, that would simply be a lie.  However, my travels did allow me to get a few sips on some new flavors.  Specifically these were at Appalachian Brewing in Harrisburg, PA and Glasstown Brewing in Millville, NJ. 

Appalachian had a few excellent beers.  My favorites here were their IPAs, Belgian, Pale Ale, and Scottish Ale.  Appalachian showed they clearly excelled in both hoppy and malty styles.  The newer Glasstown surprised me with an excellent variety.  Though I did not try the stout, I was told it was one of the best people have had in a while.  Their Pale Ale and Red Ale were both fantastic.  In general both were very reasonably priced and provided nice if completely different atmospheres.

Moving forward on my beer posts I've decided to add some variety and spice it up in the future.  Posts will review my favorite beers within certain categories.  These could include by state,  country, style, and in depth reviews of local crafters.  I will also cover some wine in this, as that frequently gets paired with dinner in my house depending on the meal of course.

Thanks for reading, sorry it was long.
- Gremlin
- Long UNP, CB, KHC, KO