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What the Credence Clearwater Revival taught me about investing

I wanted to post early today with brilliant ideas on how to make money in today’s hot market.

But the market (and my portfolio) skyrocketed without any of my input, except my happy thoughts: “Go for it.”

I should rue that I don’t own more of those that went up strongest today — like TRVG, BABA, AAPL, EBAY and my favorite SQ.

But …

I keep thinking I have an amazing 61% paper gain in SQ because I love the company’s business. Yeah maybe!

I really suspect it’s because I call my wife SuzieQ and her email address in my iPhone is SQ. (Her real name is Susan.)

My love for my wife has now paid off in a new way — a stock.

I’ve invented a whole new stockpicking philosophy.

SuzieQ is a wonderful song The Credence Clearwater Revival made popular before you were born (around 1968).  This is them before Jeff Bezos invented barbers.

SuzieQ

You can listen to my favorite song SQ here. 

The key to successful investing is to find a style that works for you, finehone and stick with it.

We spent the weekend in a wonderful place — New Orleans. That’s us before we got on the float to take us to the party, the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Emmet and Toni Stephenson.

float2

Emmet and Toni start companies. They have about a dozen successful ones under their belt, including Danaher and StarTek. They give their gains to some great charities they’ve started, in cancer and disaster management, amongst others.

Emmet’s “key” to success? The calibre of the people who worked with them to start the companies. Emmet and Toni have a real knack picking good people.

Emmet tells me that there was one book that made a huge early impression on him:

reminiscences

Emmet emailed me today:

The book was originally published in 1923. It’s a great study in market psychology, and human mistakes playing the market. Livermore made and lost multiple fortunes and eventually committed suicide, but studying his investing history is beneficial because it is about what both to do and not to do.

Buy yours here. I just did.

A friend Ed Jones, who was also at the party, invests in only dividend-paying companies with constantly increasing dividends. Half his portfolio, he tells me, is now capital gains. His portfolio reads like the blue chip of blue chips He subscribes to Value Line, Morningstar (especially newsletters Dividend Investor and Stock Investor), Standard & Poors, Barrons, etc. He does not touch companies like AMZN, FLX, TSLA, CRM and SQ. They don’t pay dividends. But he’s not hurting. Trust me.

My new “friend” Charlie Rose’s big secret

CharlieRose

I met Charlie at the New Orleans event. I asked him the secret of his enormous energy. He’s 75, six months older than I am. He’s on TV morning, noon, and night, 24/7… How does he do it?

His answer: “I’m a world class napper.”

He explains, “I cover my eyes, put my hands on my chest, empty my brain and fall asleep. I can feel totally refreshed with a 20 minute nap.

Me, too.

My own variation on Charlie Rose’ napping technique is to cross my hands on my chest and focus on removing the feeling between the top hand and the one below. Once the top hand begins to “float”, I’m asleep. Takes less than a minute.

Amazon buys Whole Foods

I love it. Jeff Bezos got himself a great  bargain. Look how Whole Foods is still much cheaper than what it was a few years ago.

WFM5Years

My simple thoughts on Jeff buying Whole Foods:

+ Food and grocery retail is too big to ignore.

+ Amazon has failed at food, so far. But he has a big appetite for failure (more than I do).

+ Bezos is one of the most creative people on the planet. From people who’ve worked there, his philosophy is “Try it. Do it..” He invented cloud computing. He became the largest cloud computing company on the planet because he needed a way to make his Amazon web sites never crash. When he had the server, network and software redundancy, he said to his people “There’s a business here. Find it for me. Bingo AWS — Amazon Web Services — launched six months later. It was as revolutionary as inventing the light bulb. I say that deliberately.

+ Whole Foods doesn’t use much technology. Susan and I shop there. But we also shop at FreshDirect.com which does a better of aping Amazon online, for now.

I don’t think Bezos knows yet where Whole Foods will lead him. He’s looking for ideas. He’s going to have fun. He has an infectious laugh.

Here’s Harry guessing: Whole Foods does a huge business in selling the foods it cooks/prepares itself. Whole Foods at Time Warner Center has an approx 5500 square foot kitchen just to serve the store. But the tiramisu that I buy there regularly comes frozen from somewhere else. There’s a huge central Whole Foods kitchen. Sort of like another variation of AWS.

The New York Times has done several pieces in the last several days. Among them:

+ Amazon’s Move Signals End of Line for Many Cashiers. Click here. 

+ Whole Foods Deal Shows Amazon’s Prodigious Tolerance for Risk. This piece began:

Joke all you want about drone-delivered kale and arugula. Amazon’s $13.4 billion bet to take on the $800 billion grocery business in the United States by acquiring Whole Foods fits perfectly into the retailer’s business model.

Unlike almost any other chief executive, Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has built his company by embracing risk, ignoring obvious moves and imagining what customers want next – even before they know it.

Key to that strategy is his approach to failure. While other companies dread making colossal mistakes, Mr. Bezos seems just not to care. Losing millions of dollars for some reason doesn’t sting. Only success counts. That breeds a fiercely experimental culture that is disrupting entertainment, technology and, especially, retail.

Mr. Bezos is one of the few chief executives who joke about how much money they’ve lost.

“I’ve made billions of dollars of failures,” Mr. Bezos said at a 2014 conference, adding that it would be like “a root canal with no anesthesia” if he listed them.

You can read that piece here.

Public WiFi and hotel WiFi are often slow and unreliable. 

We stayed at a lovely hotel in New Orleans, where I paid extra for higher speed Internet. This is what I got. Totally awful.

WindsorCourtFastSpeedTest

I returned to New York. Here’s what I just got at home in New York on Verizon FiOS:

InternetSpeedFiOS

My download is twelve times faster and my upload is eighteen times faster.

Frankly I don’t think anyone should have less than fifty up and fifty down. I could not write this column with the miserable speed at the hotel — which incidentally is much faster than what a lot of folks get on DSL.

Some places in the hotel service was even weaker. My solution was to use the Personal HotSpot on my Verizon iPhone, which works in a remarkable number of places, like cars and taxis.

Health care is a mess. Items:

+ Before I got on Medicare, my 3 minute procedure to take wax out of my ear cost $70. Now it costs $650. Of course Medicare and AARP don’t pay all of that, which is the reason it keeps going up as my doctor creates new charges and tries to game the system. It’s an idiotic time and money-wasting game.

+ Meantime, my eye drops which used to cost $$32, now cost $34.54. They aren’t covered by my AARP prescription program, despite being doctor prescribed.

The whole thing ranks of what might happen in a loony bin.

This letter appeared in a recent New York Times. Makes sense to me:

To the Editor:

Americans will consider single-payer health care when proponents start thinking like marketers.

People don’t “buy” features; they buy benefits. Single-payer emphasizes a feature. Now the conversation is about the complexities of public financing, spiraling down into a discussion of taxes. Now you’re playing defense.

In contrast, start with “Medicare for all,” and you’re talking about benefits. Republican and Democratic Medicare recipients are with you. You’ve got a cohort of fans who happen to be the most likely voters.

Medicare for all eliminates lifetime limits, pre-existing conditions and private insurers’ interference in decisions about your medical care. It leverages the purchasing power of 325 million Americans to buy health care services at lower prices.

Medicare is privately delivered health care. Private doctors and hospitals simply bill a single government body instead of myriad insurance companies. Benefits for you, benefits for your doctor. You have more choice, because every provider is “in network.”

“Medicare for all” eliminates the middlemen: the profit-driven insurance bureaucracies that contribute nothing to our country’s health except higher costs.

– Joanne Currie, Pittsburgh

This week’s cover is brilliant

NewYorkerCover

Favorite cartoons from this issue:

WeareLost

BigMother

inactivewear

HarryNewton

Harry Newton, who got canceled out of tennis today. Now it’s pouring. So no bicycling. I have to go downstairs and attack the machines. What a horrible thought.

  • TomFromVa

    Hi Harry – I am not sure why you think Medicare is great. It seems like your own example shows the problem. When I struck out on my own at age 64 I stayed on my old employer’s insurance. It cost about $12,000. So I figured I would get a “raise” the next year by not having to pay for it. Silly me – if you are so imprudent as to still be earning money you get hit with big IRMAA charges – so my rate was still $12,000, but now for something I had already paid for all my life, and the coverage sucks. All the stuff that the old insurance used to pay for isnt covered, and my doctor accepts me grudgingly for about 1 minute per visit. I went to a new dermatologist and she looked me up and down for about 20 seconds and said “you’re fine” – this after having had 5 “sunspots” removed a couple years earlier.

    And this is with the Ponzi-style financing that Medicare relies on now. Now throw in all the active workers, pre-existing conditions, pregnancies, kids, all manner of new syndromes, no caps; and I dont see how you keep cost under control.