Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Recent Buy: Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI)

I would say that until about a year ago, I often pictured gaming as an activity dominated by millennial males spending their days and/or nights staring at the their television screen, remote control in hand, fully escaping reality. However, after further observation, I have come to the conclusion that gaming actually takes on different forms covering a wide range of demographics. 
I am not a gamer by any means and to be quite honest, the way in which some people choose to spend every waking moment of their day playing games can be quite concerning. Isn't there more to life? Nonetheless, instead of judging others for how they choose to spend their time here on earth, I realized that perhaps I should just consider investing in this phenomenon, and so that's exactly what I've done.
The Gaming Industry
According to a recent study conducted by PWC on global entertainment and media,  revenue within Global mobile games is forecast to reach US $15 billion by year 2018. Rising at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.6% Key markets for this growth are currently the U.S, China, and Japan. The rapid increase in the ownership of smartphone is playing a pivotal role when it comes to increasing access to mobile games globally.
New innovations and developments within the console game industry, is expected to renew and strengthen the customer interest in this area. Global console game revenue is expected to reach US $31.9 billion in 2018, a CAGR of 4.9%. Digital is also set to experience solid growth- it is estimated that by 2018, digital will account for 37% of global console game revenue. An increase of 23% in comparison to 2013. 
The Company: Activision Blizzard
The business of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI) includes but is not limited to-developing and publishing games worldwide for video game consoles, mobile phones, hand held devices, personal computers (PCs), and tablets. The products are developed and published through retail channels or digital downloads and downloadable content to a range of gamers. It also publishes online subscription-based games in the MMORPG category (Massively Multi-player Online Role-Playing Game) as well as real-time strategy and role-playing games.

Most popular games owned by Activision Blizzard include: Call of Duty, Destiny, Skylanders, Guitar Hero, World of WarCraft, Diablo, HearthStone, and StarCraft.
First Quarter 2015 Results
On May 6th, 2015 the company reported earnings for first quarter of year ending March 31st 2015. The company reported quite strong year over year increases in almost every metric including the following:
  • Comprehensive net revenue (GAAP) of $1.28 Billion V. $1.11 billion reported during first quarter 2014.
  • Net revenue from digital channels (GAAP) came in at $581 million- a record result, and represented 45% of the company's total revenue for first quarter 2015. During first quarter 2014, GAAP net revenue from digital channels represented 36% of company's total revenue.
  • GAAP Earnings per Share reached a record $0.53, a 32.5% increase from the $0.40 reported during first quarter 2014.
  • As reported by CEO Bobby Kotick, for the last 12 months ending March 31st, 2015, the company has reached a user base of over 150 million users around the world, hours played increased by 12 billion, and company recorded 25%+ growth within the Activision Blizzard gamers community.
  • Another great accomplishment for the quarter was being named as one of the 100 best companies to work for in 2015 by Fortune Magazine.
  • Revenue outlook for year 2015 was increased to $4.425 billion, and earnings per share to $1.20.

Reported highlights for most popular games and divisions:
  • Destiny & Hearth Stones- Heroes of WarCraft: 50 million registered players as of quarter ending March 31st, 2015. This specific division has added nearly $1 billion in non-GAAP revenue from time of inception.
  • World of WarCraft expected declines: The Company did acknowledge that as expected, subscription for World of WarCraft now has 7.1 million subscribers (a 6.57% decrease from the 7.6 million subscribers the game had at end of first quarter 2014). However, the game still remains the number 1 subscription based MMORPG in the world.
  • Call of Duty- Advanced Warfare: This remains the number one title since its launch (six months, at time of reporting). Skylander- also the #1 console franchise and title globally during first quarter of 2015, the number one kids console franchise title globally.

*In January of this year, Call of Duty Online opened Beta in China, the world's largest gaming market. The beta is being done in partnership with Tencent (OTC: OTCPK:TCEHY). This represents a huge opportunity as ATVI continues efforts to expand around the world. 
  • Blizzard Entertainment: During first quarter of 2015, this entity reached the largest player community in its history, up a double digit percentage year to date despite no major launches during the quarter.

It can be argued that the company is not cheap. Five year MA P/E is 27.6, while current P/E stands at 19.8. However, when I look at valuation numbers I also take a look at a company's prospects for ongoing growth and expansion within their respective industry. I often find that a high valuation can be a signs of a company that is in the middle of an aggressive growth phase and numbers should justify themselves over time. 
Not only does ATVI have a portfolio of games that are leaders around the world, but is also looking to enter markets with massive potential, such as China, as mentioned. If the beta turns out successful, the company's ability to reach more customers can be immense. Same situation applies as they look to enter additional untapped markets.
As of the date of this post, the stock trades at $25.47 per share and pays an annual dividend of 0.90%, or $0.23 per share.
Final Thoughts
I started a small position in the stock about 3 weeks ago and is already up over 2%. As a long term investor, I plan to hold my shares indefinitely and keeping a close eye on the following:
  • Company continues to grow internationally and continues to maintain leadership status within the gaming industry (keeping an eye in developments within the China market and beyond).
  • Performance of leader games such as Call of Duty, and Guitar Hero (which recently made a revamped return), and new developments continue strong in terms of revenue growth and margins. In the case of World of WarCraft, I'd like to see what strategy(ies) the company implements to make up for the loss of subscribers.
  • Keeping a close eye on overall year over year metrics where it comes to income, revenue, margins, debt, growth, and ongoing plans to remain competitive within a competitive industry.

Thank you for reading.
Tell me, are you a fan of games? Which other stocks within the gaming industry do you feel are also worth a look?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Life, Career, and Money advise to the class of 2015 (and two book recommendations)

Today is the anniversary of attaining my bachelors degree. 

One May 15th, some time ago, I graduated college with a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a concentration in finance. As the first person in my family to obtain a four year degree, it was a very proud day, specially for my parents.

I entered the "real world" as a new graduate eager to embrace new opportunities and a new life at the tender age of 21. I was lucky enough to have a job offer prior to graduating and I will be forever thankful to that company, where I ended up working for six very awesome years. Looking back at the past several years since graduation, I cannot help but to feel blessed and grateful for all the opportunities that come my way and everything I've learned and continue to learn as life takes its natural course.

In honor of my undergraduate graduation, I decided to write this post targeted to all those people graduating this summer. This is also advise that can help anyone as I am a firm believer that is never too late for anything. 

...and here we go.

1. Dont get discouraged if you don't have a job offer straight out college: If you dont have a job offer lined up just yet, don't let that upset you and stay motivated. remember that we live in a time of thriving technology and the internet can be your best friend. There are so many resources online where you can sign up to do some freelance work while you take the time to apply for the job of your dreams. Here are some useful sites: Elance.com, UpWork.com, Tutor. com, and the list goes on. 

2. The First thing you should do once you join a company with benefits: Sign up for the 401(k) up to the company's match (if there is one). Otherwise set aside a ballpark of 5-7% of your salary or more if you can for retirement. Taking advantage of a company's match is paramount ("free money") and you will be surprised how that money compounds and grows over time. Before I knew anything about 401(k), I only allocated 1% of my salary to retirement. Thankfully my dad (and other more experienced co-workers) talked some sense in to me and I soon increased it up to my company's match at that time which was 7%. There was a time I even went 'wild' and increased it to 15%. Trust me on this. 

3. Stand out at work by doing good work AND tooting your own horn: The best way to stand out in a corporate setting is not only to work hard and do your job well but also to speak up and chat with your boss about your accomplishments from time to time. The idea of working in silence and hoping someone will notice, is a bit dated. So, make sure your boss knows they type of quality employee he/she has. However, as with everything, be very careful with coming across as arrogant. There are ways to brag about yourself without sounding annoying or it being a turn off.

4. Save, save, save, save and save some more: Did I mention save? Listen to me closely- you have your entire life to pay bills and worry about various living expenses. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of your tender youth by doing everything you can to save money. Although I did live on my own for one extra year after college graduation, I made sure to find the most frugal apartment I could find. I was able to move in to a house with a roommate in Albany, NY for $200 a month. I eventually moved in to a studio on my own for $640 per month. After about a year, the company I was working for was awesome enough to transfer me to an office closer to my family in New York City. And you know what I did? I moved back home.

As much as I was a bit skeptical about moving back in with my parents after 5 years of being on my own, it turned out to be one of the best financial decisions I ever made in my life. If you have the opportunity, the blessing, the privilege to live with your parents for some time after college graduation, do it. Save your money. You will have the rest of your life to live alone or with an spouse or whatever the case may be. Take advantage of the fact that you are young and "straight out of college" to seek shelter in your parents home and save a nice chunk of change. The purpose of these type of "sacrifices" is to save money so please don't go around splurging in extravagant shopping sprees or attending happy hour Monday-Friday. The point is to save. You will thank me later.

5. Split your paycheck in to three buckets: 

  • Immediate monthly expenses that are non-negotiable for you (this can include anything from required monthly bills (i.e: cell phone), to anything that makes you happy like a monthly gym or yoga class membership or anything that brings you joy. It might sound like a splurge but happiness is an 'essential' in my book).
  • Emergency fund/Savings.
  • Money for investing purposes. 

6. Start investing in the stock market (I repeat, investing NOT trading): First of all, take your time to educate yourself. To be completely honest with you- you don't need a fancy financial adviser nor do you need to pay anyone any fees to do this for you. As I always preach, investing is something that anyone can learn. It is so simple yet so many people fear it because the people that want to charge you to invest your money, want you to find it difficult (so they can charge you). Education is power.

Pick some quality companies that you like and that you see being around for the next 10, 15, 20 years. Think about products or services that you know and love and come up with a watch list. Buy shares of your favorite companies and continue adding to your position as you feel comfortable. Trust me on this. I am not only saying this because I have a passion for investing but because I am speaking from experience. 

I started investing when I was 25 and wish I would have done it sooner. It is one of the best skills I've ever learned and put in to practice in my entire life. Also, remember that money you invest should be discretionary income (money you wont need for several years). The purpose of long term investing is to buy quality companies, collect your dividends (if they pay any), and let them run for as long as they remain competitive and successful within their respective industries. 

7. Dont buy property just yet: This may be up for debate but I do not recommend buying any property in your 20s, specially early or mid 20s. Your 20s can be a time of uncertainty and you dont know where life may take you. You dont want to be in a situation where you get an amazing opportunity far away and then you have to deal with the headaches of a mortgage and/or trying to find someone to rent your place (and wonder if they'll take care of it) or going through the burdens and time consuming process of selling your property. 

One of my favorite books "Think and Grow Rich" refers as a mortgage as a "Death Pledge" (that is what mortgage means in Latin). Scary, huh?!

Not saying that owning a home is a bad idea. Is a great idea once you are established in a career and have a pretty clear picture of how your life will look like (and can afford it!). You also dont want to be stuck in a job you hate simply to pay off a mortgage. Wait until you have more clarity about your life and your future. In the meantime, find an affordable apartment that maybe you can share with friends and SAVE your money. Or, just keep your parents company for a bit longer. 

I was one of those eager people in their mid twenties that wanted to buy an apartment as soon as possible. Most of the deals didn't go through for one reason or another and looking back,  I am so thankful things worked out that way! Thing eventually fell in to place in my late 20s, and that was the perfect time for me. 

8. Travel domestically and abroad as often as you possibly can: If you have the opportunity to travel either around the country or around the world do it but do it frugally and be smart about it. Don't ever charge trips  on your credit card unless you are doing it for the points or perks and already have the money set aside in a bank account to pay for it in full. Traveling will fill you up with soul-enriching experiences that will stay with you forever-- and this is the time to start. We have a whole world to explore. Get started early.

9. Dont quit a job you hate just yet: If you immediately find that you 'hate' your first job out of college and often find yourself thinking or saying 'I feel miserable', 'this job sucks', and the list goes on, don't quit just yet. Take advantage of that bi-weekly paycheck to continue fulfilling your savings goals (see #4). Save, save , save, save as much as you can from that steady salary. On your spare time (after work, weekends, etc) take the time to either work on something you are passionate about (that may eventually turn in  to a business) or, search for a job that you may enjoy more. 

Don't go crazy and quit at the first sight of feeling miserable. Think about why that may be the case and ponder on the idea that maybe you can find another job within the same company that can bring you more fulfillment. A job is a blessing no matter how you slice it but never settle. Keep searching until you find what fills your soul.

10. My two cents on Graduate school:  Graduate school is nothing to take lightly. It is not a game and it comes with a tremendous amount of sacrifice- aside from student loans and expenses, you'll spend a whole lot of time alone with zero social life. You'll also be living under a constant cloud of stress because of projects, exams, and everything else that comes with it.

It took me 4.5 years to finish my MBA degree considering I worked full time the entire time and took courses at night. I will be honest-- things were so difficult that numerous times I wondered if even wanted to finish the degree. I questioned the purpose of it constantly and every semester I didn't know if I wanted to go back. 

However, I was pursuing an MBA in Finance and as many of you know, finance is one of my great passions. Hence, the only thing that kept me going towards that finish line was my passion for the subject I was learning and accomplishing my goal of an MBA. I also picked up a second concentration along the way, entrepreneurship, which I enjoyed greatly. 

With that said, don't go to graduate school simply because you feel you have to. It is expensive, stressful, difficult, and the list goes on. Only go to graduate school if you have a clear picture (or mostly clear) or where you want that degree to take you and only if you have a passion about what you are learning. Otherwise, it is not worth it. I always advise people to intern for a job they want to do after grad school if they can (for free if you have to) and see if this is something you really see yourself doing for a long time. Why spend thousands of dollars only to find out is not the career you expected? think about it.

BONUS: Pick up these two books as soon as you can-- The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. You're welcome.

And that is all ladies and gents. Thank you for reading. If I can help at least one person with these tips, that would be awesome. These are based on life experience and it is my pleasure to share with all of you.

Have a great day and cheers to profits!


Monday, May 11, 2015

Penny stocks can leave you penny less: Facts and Thoughts on this topic

Before I begin, just want to say that I respect everyone's opinion and investing strategies. Hence, if you are a fan of penny stocks, feel free to skip this. The post is a combination of researched facts as well as my own personal opinion on the topic. My hope for this post is that it serves as an educational and informational tool for people looking to educate themselves on this topic. Enjoy!

Hello everyone!

Hope everyone is having a great Monday so far. As always, work has been super busy but no complaints. Actually feeling very fortunate and grateful.

Today's post is dedicated to all the people that have asked me about penny stocks over the years. I actually cannot believe it took me this long to write this. I had to search all of my posts for the last 3+ years since the inception of this blog to make sure I didn't cover this yet. And surprisingly, I have not.

Just recently I have gotten emails and messages from people asking me what I think about penny stocks and whether I would recommend them, even asking me for ticker symbol recommendations. The short answer for anyone and everyone wondering whether this is a good idea, here is the bottom line:

Stay away from penny stocks. Run if you have to.
 Your hard earned money deserves better. 

Its probably very possible to write a whole book on this subject. However, I will leave you with the top five facts I feel are most important for you to remember:

1. Penny stocks are generally referred to securities that trade for $5 or less- often times (or, all of the time) is a company you've never heard of before or have no clue what they do. 

2. As noted by the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission); The stocks trade very infrequently meaning that it may be difficult to find someone to purchase the stocks from you once you attain them, which means you may very well be stuck with worthless shares.

3. Penny stocks are considered speculative investments. They have no law requirement to disburse all of their financial (or any) information and they are not regulated to the extent that legit, established securities are. For instance, established/legit companies that are publicly traded, are required by law to provide information to the SEC year after year. This includes- quarterly reports (10Q), annual reports (10K), management and compensation information (proxy statements), change in management, shifts in company strategy, pretty much their every move. The extensive disclosure of information lets investors know all the information they may need to make an educated decision on whether or not the investment would be profitable.

Penny stocks do not have these type of requirements. 

4. Based on the above, it is highly possible that you may loose all your money  and guess what, because there is no much regulation, no one will care. As clearly noted in the SEC website:

"Investors in penny stocks should be prepared for the possibility that they may loose their whole investment (or an amount greater than their investment if they purchase penny stocks on margin)".

5. While it may be true that some people get lucky and actually make a good amount of money in penny stocks, these stories are rare. Remember that there are a lot of scam artists out there- if you have ever heard of the phrase "pump and dump" that's where it comes from. Experienced people in this area can easily 'hype up' a random ticker symbol and when everyone is in, they will go ahead and sell, and leave you penny less. 

My recommendation

You work hard for your money. You want your money to work hard for you. Whether you are a fairly new investor just learning and just getting started, or an experienced well-seasoned investor, I always recommend focusing on companies that are well-established within their respective industries and that have a clear and specific competitive advantage. 

If you want your portfolio to have a bit more 'edge' or more 'risk' with a possible high potential; go for companies that actually follow the SEC guidelines and that are regulated. Even if they have not yet 'proven' themselves, at least you'll have the peace of mind that every move they make will be completely public and transparent for you because they are regulated. You wont have to worry about waking up tomorrow and finding out the 'penny stock' that was supposed to make you wealthy, ran away with your money and your dreams. You also don't want your money just sitting there in the 'red' while you blindly sit and wonder what will happen next. Who wants to be in that kind of situation?! I like to sleep well at night. 

And that is all my friends. Wishing everyone a fantastic week!

TELL ME, What are YOUR thoughts on this topic? Would love to hear your opinion. If you know of anyone that has become wealthy trading penny stocks, share that as well!

Cheers to profits,


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Google V. Facebook Battle: Thoughts On Google's Earnings And Reasons Why I Will Remain A Shareholder

The first stock I ever purchased in my life (right in the middle of the financial crisis, I may add) was Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) I still remember the day back in the summer of 2008 and my excitement to finally be a part-owner of such an incredible company.
The main reasons why I bought Google were, and still remain-- its strong brand, its severely strong leadership status within its industry, an incredibly large market share within the industry of search engines (62.3% worldwide as of February 2015). The word itself was used so much it became a verb.
When I started my position in Google, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) was not yet a publicly traded company and not really going full force in to the advertising industry, at least not as much as it is today.
However, I am well aware that times are changing and I am not surprised that in recent quarters (including this past one) Google has been announcing a slowing in advertising revenue. I am completely aware of the competition that is out there and is something I am not necessarily worried about. Before I go in to the reasons why, here are some of the highlights that caught my attention during the Google earnings call this past Thursday 4/23/15:

  • First quarter 2015 revenue came in at $17.3 billion, a 12% year over year increase in comparison to same quarter last year. (As per CFO, excluding changes in foreign currency exchange, growth would have been 17% year over year).
  • Total advertising revenue came in at $15.5 billion, a 11% year over year increase in comparison to first quarter 2014. However, a 5% decrease in comparison to last quarter (fourth quarter 2014).
  • "Other revenues" (non-ad related) came in a bit over $1.7 billion, a nice 23% year over year increase in comparison to fourth quarter 2014 (a 2% decrease in comparison to last quarter earnings).

Google also announced that their aggregate cost per click (the average price they charge advertisiers for online ads) decreased by 7% year over year. CFO Patrick Pichette, attributed this in part to YouTube's 'skippable' ads which return a lesser revenue (YouTube currently allows users to skip advertisement after approximately 4 seconds).
If this were not an option, CFO indicated cost per click would actually be growing. It has been indicated Google is in the process of launching paid ad-free subscriptions for YouTube. However, this has yet to be implemented. 

Why I know Facebook is a major threat in Advertising

Although I am not yet a shareholder of Facebook, I do understand their business model when it comes to advertising and their incredible advantage. Facebook's benefit is that they have the real time information of billions of people (1.4 billion active users worldwide as of first quarter of 2015). Not only do they have people's names but they have their gender, their relationship status, their "likes" (things they are interested in) and an ongoing amount of information that members willingly disclose.
Major companies looking to save in advertising dollars and looking to make their ads more strategic and specific, can easy tell Facebook what kind of people they are looking to target and Facebook can provide the specified audience immediately. I see this as the new face of advertising in the coming years and beyond and is something Google cannot yet compete with.
Google: At the forefront of innovation
Now, why doesn't it necessarily worry me that Facebook is eating away at Google's advertising dollars? It should come to no surprise that long gone are the days in which Google focused solely on advertising as source of revenue. It is true that they remain profitable for the most part due to advertising and that they are still the leader. In fact, during their last annual deport ending December 31st, 2014; Google did announce that 89% of their revenue came from advertising dollars.
However, it is also true they have been diversifying away from that for quite some time now. We've heard about their successful Android and YouTube acquisitions which happened in 2005 and 2006 respectively, in addition to their innovative creation of tools used all over the world such as Gmail and Google Chrome. Below is also a list of some pretty cool stuff that are still in the development phase:
  • Driverless cars
  • Google Glass
  • The use of Android operating system to automate your entire home
  • Android-powered smart watches
  • Partnerships with pharma companies to create pills that could diagnose and treat medical illnesses
  • "Project Loon"-initiatives to bring internet access to the entire world (sometimes we forget there are still billions of people in this world living without this privilege)

This excerpt in their most recent annual report for year ending 12/31/14 is a perfect example of how Google sees their business and the world:
"Many companies get comfortable doing what they have always done, making a few incremental changes. This incrementalism leads to irrelevance over time, especially in technology...people thought we were crazy when we acquired YouTube and Android, and when we launched Chrome...We won't become complacent, relying solely on small tweaks as the years wear on...we will not shy away from high-risk, high-reward projects because we believe they are the key to our long-term success. We won't stop asking "What if?" and then working hard to find the answer."
Final Takeaway:
As subsequent quarters come and go, my plan is to keep an eye on what exactly is happening to advertising dollars and cost per click. I want to see that they are doing something about the slowing ad revenue and the role of new developments in supplementing said revenue.
As a huge fan of dividend paying stocks, I have to say this is one of the very few companies in my portfolio that doesn't pay dividends and I am okay with it. I feel that the company has been doing a fairly good job when it comes to strategic acquisitions and remaining innovative. 
If you are not yet a shareholder of Google I'll recommend you do some research and consider starting a position during a pull back. Decide for yourself if this is a company you'll see around for generations to come. My personal opinion is that they will be and I'm excited to be part of the journey.
Tell me, are you a Google shareholder? Do you think the company can remain profitable even if Facebook ends up taking away a significant market share in the advertising space?
Disclaimer: Please do not invest or cease to invest solely based on the information in this post. Please do your own research for any security you may be considering adding to your portfolio.

Disclosure: currently LONG on GOOG/GOOGL

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The earnings I'm looking forward to this week (and why)

As I prepared myself for the upcoming work week making notes of earnings announcements coming up I realize I have a pretty busy week ahead of me. I also decided to share with you guys quickly which earnings I'll be keeping my eyes on and why.

1. Apple (4/27/2015 @ 5:00 pm E.T)

This has to be the company i'm most excited about to hear how they performed this past quarter. According to their investors relations website they'll make us wait until after market closes (5:00 PM E.T) to announce earnings. The torture! Really looking forward to this. I have a feeling the earnings wont be as "exciting" as the last one considering the hype of Iphone 6 sales has died down by now and the new developments such as the brand new iwatch or new MacBooks just recently came out. However, as the rest of the world, I am looking forward to what they have to say in regards to volume orders and sales of these new and "hot" items as well as any new strategic plans for their lesser-revenue items such as the Ipad, etc. This is will a fun way to start (or end) my Monday. 

2. Coach, COH (4/28/15 @ 8:30 am E.T)

Quarter and annual earnings announcements during the past 2-3 years have been a bit of a roller coaster. I'll be specially interested in three things: How the Stewart Weitzman acquisition is doing, the performance of the new collections launched last year, current status of their ongoing plan to transform the company to a lifestyle brand- are we seeing a significant improvement in sales and profit? Reflection in EPS, top and bottom line performance. Keeping an optimistic outlook on coach.

3. Mastercard, MA (4/29/15 @ 9:00 am E.T)

To be quite honest, whether they come up with a amazing or not so amazing quarter is not something I am worried about. This is one of those companies in my portfolio that I consider a core holding and one that's not going anywhere. One of my favorites without a doubt. Lets see what they have to say.

4. Visa, V (4/30/15 @ 5:00 pm E.T)

Another core holding in my portfolio and another favorite. See above.

5. Colgate, CL (4/30/15 @ 11: 00 am E.T)

This is another 'staple' in my portfolio. A consumer goods company that has never let me down with consistent earnings and returns on investments. Not really worried about anything they may have to say this week. I have a feeling they'll bring up foreign exchange issues affecting the bottom line, as the majority of companies with a heavy international presence have announced during these earnings season. However, those kind of issues have nothing to do with the internal performance of the company itself so Im not really putting much worry or emphasis on that. Lets see what they have to say.

BONUS: The final two stocks in my watch list also announce this week:

1. Skyworks Solutions, SWKS (4/30/15 @ 5:00 pm E.T)- Top and bottom line results, strategic plans to remain competitive and relevant, and status of contracts with their main clients.

2. Gilead Sciences, GILD (4/3/15 @ 1:30 pm P.T) - Would like to find out what they plan to do about the high cost of their drugs considering there has been some issues with certain insurance companies refusing to pay for the hepatitis C drugs due to their incredibly high cost for patients. Also, keeping an eye on the performance of their incredibly successful Hep-C and HIV drugs as well as any new developments they may want to share.

And that is all friends.

If you own any of these companies (including the ones on my watch list) would love to hear what YOU will be keeping an eye on. Email me or comment below.

thanks for reading and cheers to profits!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Wall Street Journal Review: How I read it, why I like it, and a personal story

Hello my dear followers!

Hope everyone is having a great Saturday so far. The weather here in New York City is a bit chilly but is nice and sunny outside. After the nightmare winter we had, we'll take any sun we can get.

So anyways, writing this post is a bit bittersweet considering my Wall Street Journal subscription is expiring this coming week. So, so sad. However, by the end of this post you should get a sense of why I may just continue my subscription.

A little bit of a personal background

I was a business/finance major in undergrad and a finance major in graduate school. As you can imagine, reading the WSJ was a recommendation from professors all throughout my entire higher educational 'career'. Professors didn't really force us to read the paper but encouraged us to use it as a complement and source of real-time examples to what we were learning in class. 

Considering this "encouragement" from my dear professors, I tried many times to get in to the paper. We had the luxury of getting discounted subscriptions. My school library even had access to the online version for free. However, for some reason I could never really get in to it. I remember back in undergrad the piles and piles of papers that would build up in my college dorm. I eventually felt guilty and called customer service to cancel my subscription. I explained I was a poor college student and could no longer afford their super cheap rate (now that I think about it, I'm  kinda' embarrassed about that). All I remember is the customer service rep being super nice and understanding. He cancelled it right away (thanks, stranger).

I cant tell you if all the information was too overwhelming or perhaps I just had more "important" things to do (homework, projects and/or cramming for quizzes and exams). In graduate school I was also working full time so add a full time job to all of the above. Who had time to read the paper?

The turning point

So, when did things change? As my passion for finance and investing grew (something that seems to be intensifying as time goes by) I decided I needed a source not only for investment ideas but to keep a close eye on the developments of stocks in my portfolio. 

At some point early last year, I realized my local library had editions of the Wall Street Journal. As I found myself with more time after grad school ended, I began reading those papers. Some of the editions were a week old (or sometimes older) at times but I didn't really mind. The information was clear, solid, super informational and worth my precious time. I am a voracious reader so I read a lot of books, magazines, and in the past, other newspapers. I have to be honest, I couldn't find a source that compared to the information I was getting from the WSJ. 

I soon got tired of being cheap reading the outdated library versions of the paper and decided to pay for my subscription. 

Billionaire Tory Burch reading the paper (I really like this ad campaign)

How I read the paper & my experience with the paid subscription 

So, I paid for the "bundle" which includes getting a paper delivery, Ipad version, and computer access. If you've seen the WSJ you know it has multiple sessions. I have to be honest in that I often skip a few of the sessions due to time. Here is how I organize my reading-- in this exact order:

1. Business & Technology
2. Money & Investing
3. Personal Journal <-- a growing favorite. Awesome lifestyle articles here. 
4. Briefly browse through the rest of the sessions (Front paper, Greater New York, World News, etc.)

The weekend edition comes with a "weekend investor" sessions which is also a favorite.

Paper version

I live in a community within a borough of New York City that is not very easy to find. However, the paper version comes every single morning (Mon-Saturday) without fail. I don't know who delivers the paper to my front door since I've never met him/her but I'd like to shake that persons hand. Even during a nasty snow storm we had earlier this year, the paper still showed up. I bragged about it on certain social media outlets:

The Ipad version 

This has been my motivator to hit the gym. When I have no time to read the actual paper I tell myself I'll catch up at the gym. I completely zone out with my headphones on and simply read away while I  complete the jogging speed walking session of my workout. I highly recommend this! The IPAD version is well organized and you can seamlessly switch from section to section of the paper with one touch of the screen. As soon as you open the WSJ app it prompts you to "today's paper" and you can choose to read that or look at older versions if you missed something. Whatever company/ticker symbol is being mentioned within an article, comes with real time quotes which I think is pretty cool. There is also a real time session where you can check out news as its happenings. You have to be connected to WiFi for this but is truly great. I'd say the Ipad version is my favorite out of the three. 

Computer Version

I rarely every used the computer edition but is nice to have this option, specially working in finance, and its come in handy when I have to look up some information quickly. 

Final Takeaways/What I enjoy about the paper

What I really like about the newspaper is that it keeps me informed about everything that is happening in the world of finance, investing, and companies in general. There are not many resources out there that not only provide this information but make it engaging and entertaining to read. I actually look forward to the paper each day and always feel like I'll be learning something new. With that said, I am strongly considering continuing my subscription. It helps feed my passion and love for investing. 

Even seeing the paper while on vacation brought joy to my heart:

Speaking of vacation, you can suspend and re-start your paper subscription for whichever time period you prefer as necessary. 

And that is all! I tried to make this post as comprehensive as possible but if you have any other questions please let me know. Note: this is not a sponsored post. I paid for my own subscription of the WSJ and opinions are my own. 

Tell me, what is your experience with this newspaper? If you don't read it yet, what sources do your rely on for financial news and information?

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Closer Look: The Etsy IPO

Hello everyone!

Hope you've all been having a great Monday so far. Today I want to introduce a new series on the blog entitled "A Closer Look". My goal will be to examine various companies from upcoming IPOs to stocks on my watch list. 

What better way to Kickoff this series than with the infamous Etsy, which is expected to make its debut as a publicly traded company this coming Thursday under ticker symbol, ETSY.

In the case for IPOs I will take it upon myself to review the S-1 filling, so you don't have to, and I'll fill you in on what I find. 

Note: S-1 filling or "prospectus" is a document all companies looking to become public must file with the SEC (Security Exchange Commission). In a nutshell,  It has all the information a prospective investor would want to know about the company before it becomes public. 

Without further 'ado, here is what I found:

I. The Business:
  • Founded in Brooklyn, NY in June 2005  by Rob Calin and Chris McGuire as a marketplace for handmade goods, crafts, and supplies.
  • Company is a certified B-Corporation- it has rigorous social and environmental standards for the products sold within the marketplace.
  • What differentiates Etsy from other popular online retailers is that it has been able to cultivate a niche of unique and creative entrepreneurs that sell their hand made crafts to customers around the world looking for those same unique products they cannot find else where. The company has created a strong and growing ecosystem that has made a lot of money for a lot of people. And that brings us to our next topic.

II. How the company makes money (& Strategic Plans going forward):

As per the S-1 filling, Etsy breaks down their sources of revenue in three ways:

1. Marketplace Revenue
  • Sellers pay Etsy a fee for each transaction that is made (Ie: when someone buys their product).
  • Sellers also pay a listing fee for each item they sell

2. Seller Service Revenue:

  • Sellers have the option to pay for certain seller-assistance services that Etsy offers within its platform: Services can include anything from basic classes to prominent placement in search results (promoted listings) to payment processing services via direct checkout and purchases of shipping labels.
  • As per the S-1: during the year ended 12/31/2014; 46.1% of Etsy sellers used at least one of their seller services.
  • Seller services came in at $42.8M (34.2%) of revenue in 2013, which represented a 169.9% increase over 2012 and $82.5% (42.2%) of revenue in 2014, a 92.7% increase over 2013.

3. "Other" which include:
  • Fees collected from third party payment processors
  • Wholesale offerings (launched in August 2014): in this space, over 6500 local boutiques and three national retail chains (whole foods, Nordstrom, West Elm) make partnership deals with the sellers in order to diversify product offering and offer unique products within stores. Etsy charges wholesalers a fee for said collaboration.

Strategic plans to sustain and grow revenue and profit streams:

1. Make Etsy an everyday experience
2. Build local marketplaces, globally
3. Offer high impact seller services
4. Expand the "Etsy Economy" by continuing to connect sellers and skilled partners, continue focus on wholesale offerings and strategic partnerships
5. Invest in marketing (pilot testing in United Kingdom already showed favorable results in this area)

III. Financials

Company is still unprofitable. 
  • As of December 31st, 2014; Etsy had a total of 54 million members including 1.4 million active sellers and 19.8 million active buyers.
  • More than 11% of current active sellers have been using the platform for over 4 years
  • Gross Merchandise Sales (GMS) for 2014 came in at $1.93 billion, This represented an increase of 43.3% in comparison to 2013. Out of said sales 36.1% came from purchases made via online devices and 30.9% came from Etsy sellers & buyers abroad.
  • As a company, Etsy made $195.6 million in 2014, an increase of 56.4% in comparison to 2013.
  • Net Losses were  $15.2 million, $0.8 million and $2.4 million for 2014, 2013, and 2012 respectively.
  • Adjusted EBITDA came in at $23.1 million for 2014 V. $16.9 million in 2013.
  • Company reported a deficit of $32.4 million as of 12/31/2014.
Prospectus also emphasizes that operating expenses are expected to increase as the company hires new people, improves technology and makes further investments in the maintenance and growth of the company. Furthermore, as a newly publicly traded company is expected to incur additional legal, accounting cosrs and further expenses.

IV. Risks & Competition

There are so many risks listed in the S-1 that it would take me 24 hours to list them all. Whoever wrote that really wanted to cover all bases.  However, the top risks are listed are as follows:
  • The company has a history of operating loses, they claim it is "unknown" whether they'll be profitable and leave this up to the investors discretion. Note that this appears to be a standard listed risk for a lot of IPOs.
  • Possible fluctuations in quarterly operating results as a result of factors that may be out of the company's control
  • Staying true to the company's values and focus on long term sustainability may negatively influence short or medium term financial performance.
  • Competition: The company openly accepts the fact that they operate in a fiercely competitive environment. Etsy sellers have no binding contracts and are free to use other venues to sell their merchandise-- marketplaces such as Amazon, Baidu, Ebay.
  • Etsy also competes with companies that sell software and services to small businesses (sellers do not necessarily have to use Etsy seller services)

V. My Two Cents

Firs of all, if you have been reading my blog for some time now, you know I never invest in IPOs. I like to take my time and see how a company operates once it becomes publicly traded. Once I feel a company has 'proven itself' -- which can take anywhere from a couple of quarters to a couple of years, then I may consider buying. I have zero remorse about "missing the boat" on any IPOs and I love being able to sleep at night.

With that said, and after reviewing the S-1, I really feel this company may have the grounds to become even more wildly successful. Despite the competition from "big names", I feel that if the company was going to fail because of said competition, it would have failed already as it has been in operation for nearly a decade with the same exact competitors around it.

I feel the key word for this company is uniqueness, they have done a phenomenal job creating a true ecosystem of buyers and sellers of unique products and have been able to capitalize on that in a significant way. The company found a way to specialize and has created a niche and strong  'bond' within its growing number of buyers and sellers which may be difficult to disintegrate.

It looks like the company has very specific plans (see strategic plans above) in terms of what they plan to do with the IPO funds and I like where they are going with this. With that said, I'll be adding Etsy to my watchlist. Join me in seeing what happens in the next quarters and years going forward.

Tell me, is this a company you would consider investing in? why or why not? Do you know anyone that sells on their platform?

Thanks for reading and cheers to profits!