Friday, February 21, 2014

My Investing Methodology.

What is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about investing?

Well here is the secret: I approach investing as if I were buying a part of a company, which is exactly what everyone does when they invest but many don’t look at it the same way. How cool is it to say you are a “part owner” of Google, apple, Starbucks, McDonalds, Coca Cola, etc. etc. There is nothing more exciting for us investors (when it comes to stocks) than doing our research, finding undervalued yet high quality companies, putting some money on there and seeing it grow.

The idea for this post came from my experience this week at McDonalds (ticker: MCD). I may not share this much on the blog but I am a very healthy conscious person. About 80% of the time I try to make a conscious effort to eat nutritious foods and to work out whenever possible (or as consistently as possible). However, I am only human and from time to time I do get cravings for particular foods and this past Monday MCD was one of them.

 As I entered the newly renovated location by my school I could not help but smile at the modern set up. Despite the controversy about the lack of nutrition in their foods, which I can’t really disagree with; as an MBA student I have a tendency to look beyond the fa├žade of businesses and at what companies actually do in order to maintain sustainable competitive advantage in a world of never-ending competition.

I have to say that with about 73 years in operation (established in the 1940s) MCD sure knows the definition of that term inside and out. They may have had their ups and downs through the years but they are working hard to expand menu choices and provide more variety for a growing health-conscious population. They do this while maintaining their famous staples that have made them the company they are today and which people can never get enough of.

We can’t ignore the fact that they are facing competition from ‘up and coming’ health-focused fast food companies. However, the important thing is that MCD seems to be well aware of this and are making strides towards keeping up with changing times. There is no denying that a company like Mickey-D's is not going anywhere. At least not time soon; and probably not in our lifetime. It may not be healthy but it has a market and a big one.

I have owned shares of MCD on and off for the past 5 years and it has been quite a ride! There was a time about a year ago or so where they had a poor quarter and the stock price decreased significantly but my trust in the company as well as my trust in their sustainable business model made me hold on. Shortly thereafter the stock came back up and that’s just how its been on and off for as long as I have been investing in it. As the major stock geek I can be at times, I felt very excited to be a customer in a business where I’ve owned shares. I may not always own shares in this company but this is where I stand at this point in time.

 …And there’s more


As I made my way to the soda fountain I got even more excited (am a geek or what?!) when I noticed the flashing Coca Cola Logo. I was reminded that MCD’s top vendor for drinks is Coca Cola (ticker: KO)-- which is a company where I have also been a  happy shareholder since 2008, and then I smiled some more.

So there you have it! This is one of the reasons why I love stocks so much—I get to own small pieces of huge corporations. How amazing is that?! I also love this country for giving me the opportunity to build wealth via the wonderful world of investing!

If you are just starting out with investing but aren’t sure where to begin or where to buy first, think about those companies where you do business. Are you a happy customer? Would you invest there? Then, do your homework and make your decision! If you are a seasoned investor, think about your personal reasons for investing in companies. What drives you? What keeps you motivated in this sometimes unpredictable world of investing?

Have a great Weekend everyone!

If you already invest, what is your favorite thing about it (besides making money)?Disclaimer: I currently own shares of MCD and KO. Don’t invest or cease to invest solely on the information provided on this blog post.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Great Times at the Motley Fool Headquarters

Hey everyone! Hope this post finds you in good spirits! I wrote this post about a month ago but never finished editing it. I finally got around to it and here it is! (better late than never!)
So, last month I was invited to spend two and a half days at the Motley Fool headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia as part of their “Women Investing Foolishly” event. The experience was beyond phenomenal and I cannot emphasize enough how thankful I am for the opportunity I was given. I applied to the program after it was announced in one of the Market Foolery podcast shows back on October 24th, 2013 (I remember this clearly as it was the night before my birthday). I heard from a company representative about a month later for a phone interview and soon thereafter I found out I made the cut to go and spend some time at their headquarters. To say I was beyond excited would be an understatement!!

So on a very early and cold morning of January 2014 my wonderful father woke up bright and early and drove me to NYC Penn Station where I boarded an Amtrak train towards Alexandria, VA. My first time navigating the DC trains by myself; I somehow managed not to get lost and arrived with very high spirits to what I knew would be an unforgettable few days!

I joined 6 other wonderful girls from around the country to what felt like a boot camp of investment education. The classes were taught by different employees with different investing-related specialties within the company. The teachings were very educational as we covered pretty much everything from competitive advantage to Discounted Cash Flow valuation in less than three days!! 

I cannot find one word about my experience that would do it justice so I will leave it at the fact that I had such an incredible time. I got to learn so much more about a topic I am so passionate about and there is no better feeling!  Most of the girls invited where MBA students like myself and some undergraduate students. However, they even included a 12 year old in the mix which I felt was amazing. Don’t we all wish we had gotten started investing that young?!! But anyways, here are some highlights and photos of the event…

After an intense day of classes our first night in Alexandria also involved an event featuring Louann Lofton the author of the book “Why warren buffet invests like a girl and why you should, too”. If you haven’t read the book yet, you are missing out on a lot of great information so check it out!

Louann was super humble, friendly, and helpful (not to mention very beautiful). Loved meeting her!

Both of the CEOs (Tom & David Gardner) also made a very welcomed appearance at the event.

 They also had also had a panel which answered questions from the audience in regards to money, stocks, investing, how to get started, and everything in between!

On day two of the "boot camp", after another extensive day of classes, sitting through an actual stock pitch meeting (super cool!) and subsequently more classes involving discounted cash flow valuations we were then invited to a dinner with no other than one of the co-founders and CEO, Tom Gardner as well as several other outstanding “fools” (aka fool employees). Everyone was so amazing and I have no words for how cool Tom is and how humble! Could not part ways without taking a photo, of course, so here you have it:

Our cool ride to and from the dinner was the "Motley-Mobile" (I think I just made that up):

During our last day we played an investment game and had a chance to meet some additional employees one on one and ask tons of questions. We received a couple of amazing books as partying gifts (reviews coming soon!) and the satisfaction of having been part of the first women investing foolishly event. I will be forever grateful. Finally,  I could not leave Alexandria without meeting the hosts of my favorite podcast (Market Foolery). I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Hill and Jason Moser. Here’s a photo of Chris and I:

It was great putting a face to the voices and chat for a bit!  

In my mission of becoming the best investor I could possibly be this particular experience taught me a lot. Since the event ended, I have been trying to process everything that I learned with the purpose of putting it to practice in my own personal investments. I look forward to sharing what I learned with my readers in subsequent posts! As the say, best way to really understand something is to teach others so that is my mission. 

Happy Investing! And thank you for reading!
Tell me, have you ever heard of the Motley Fool? are you familiar with their services and articles? If not, I strongly recommend you check them out. SPECIALLY their daily market foolery podcast which is completely free and which I listen to on a daily basis! :)