Younger People Not Owning Homes

Home Ownership is Fleeting

Millennials are less likely to claim home ownership by age 30 than baby boomers at the same age. A report by the Standford Center on Longevity that 48% of Baby Boomers owned homes by thirty versus 36% of Millennials.

A huge factor that plays into this figure is the number of unmarried Millennials – 55% of married Millennials own homes while only 19% of single Millennials do. The average age of marriage is rising – where in the 1950’s and 60’s the average age was 20, now the average age is 27.4 and rising according to the US Census Bureau historical marital status tables.

Other factors are increased housing costs, high student debt, and need for some workers to relocate.

Who Benefits?

The largest beneficiary, in my view, of lower home ownership is the landlord or corporation who rents out their home or apartment. As home ownership decreases, you’ll see the rise of more publicly traded REITS which take investor money, plop down new apartment units, and pay a share of the profits to their investors while driving away private investors through economy of scale price reductions. Private investors can employ a strategy involving buying, rehab/renovating, renting, and then refinancing to chain purchase multiple investment properties. As competition between private and public investors increases, the prices for properties goes up – further distancing potential first time home buyers. As long as there is a strong rental demand, the potential for cashflow means investors may buy in bulk.

Who Suffers?

Renters who pay more in rent than they otherwise would pay on a mortgage gain no principal ownership in their residence. While they may forgo having to fix home appliances and heating/plumbing they will gain nothing when they leave. Home owners with typical 30 year loans will have principal invested into their home and may be fortunate enough to have their house sell for more than it was purchased for. Historically house price appreciation is the norm, especially for homes in good locations. Depreciation of the house structure is usually offset by the appreciation of land value that the house sits on.

Renters are also at the whims of the landlord or property management company as to when their rents will go up. When I first started working my rent started at $880 in Atlanta and it went up to $1000 by the time I left 3 years later. This was not because they had improved the property – in fact the property slowly got worse. The reason they could increase rent is because demand was up – population growth and an influx of new younger workers means more people looking for rent. It is simply business.

What Should Younger People Do?

First off, everyone should choose what they want to do with their own lives. I can’t dictate that someone should study engineering rather than political science as much as I can force you to like the color orange more than brown. However, as this website aims to help people get a higher return on their money I would 100% encourage younger people to buy a home rather than rent one. I would ask them to take advantage of the historically low interest rates and get a low interest rate mortgage which limits how much the bank can increase interest rates. Pay a mortgage of equivalent value to what they’re paying in rent and look to save money and buy a rental property. Take advantage of the fact that your peers are renting and rent to them instead of from them.

 

 

Ally Financial

Ally Bank itself gives 2.1% interest rate on an online savings account, and 2.5% on annual CDs. Ally Financial Stocks pay out 68 cents per year on a $31.9 stock. Which is also 2.1%! What investing in the stock gives you, on the other hand, to increase your potential as interest rates start to rise. This isn’t a get rich quick stock, but with a 8.92 forward P/E ratio it’s a pretty good bargain that pays dividends. With Ally’s amazing interest rates for consumers, it’s only a matter of time before others start abandoning the brick and mortar banks which pay a measly 0.1% to 0.4% interest rate on their savings accounts. I bought Ally Financial and hold it as a nice dividend earning investment at $31.90 per share.

Ally Financial is divided into 5 areas:

  • Banking
  • Auto Finance
  • Home Loans
  • Invest – Self directed and managed investment products
  • Corporate Finance

ALLY 3 year chart

 

 

Google Search trend on term “ally savings bank” over time

Wallstreet Enters Single Family Housing Market… Again

Single family American home

 

REITS are Eating Homes

“The American dream no longer includes homeownership,” said Jordan Kavana, chief executive of Transcendent Investment Management LLC. Transcendent Investment Management is buying up rental homes, and expects Americans to transition into all being renters to drive profits for his and other similar companies.

This type of corporate incursion into housing was popular back in 2013 when houses were dirt cheap, but it’s starting to ramp up yet again. A few publicly traded companies involved in this type of business include Blackstone (BX), and American Homes 4 Rent (AMH). American Homes 4 Rent has been the largest player in the single family homes arena until Blackstone and Starwood properties merge their operations to join Blackstone’s existing single family division Invitation Homes (INVH). The merger will see Invitation Homes landlord almost 100,000 single family homes spread across the United States.

The Giants are Coming

These massive REITs may be part of some of your 401k mutual funds already, and are driving up prices for single families and potentially forcing them to buy more expensive homes. This is not unexpected due to the historically low interest rate the US still supports – and the benefits that come with scaling up operations. My problem with this is that by investing in these REITs you could be inadvertently encouraging Wall Street investors to drive up home prices around you putting the younger generation at more risk of lifelong homelessness (you get what I’m saying).

Traditionally most REITs focused on multifamily apartment buildings, we shall see how this foray into single family housing impacts the US economy for years to come. For millennials, this does not bode well for their home ownership prospects. I would prefer to be an owner of my own residential property than invest in these types of REITs, and if anything I would stick to multi-family apartment focus REITs as they should yield better returns. For more information on REITs and how to make money on real estate, check out my real estate page.

Activision Blizzard (ATVI) is a Good Buy

What’s Going On?

Activision Blizzard came out with their Q1 2018 earning reports exceeding estimates by over 10%. Despite Fortnite and PUBG claiming much gaming market share over that same period, it appears it hasn’t pushed people into abandoning their World of Warcraft subscriptions or uninstalling Call of Duty.

I’ve been a long time holder of this company, and do not plan on selling anytime soon. Even though the dividend rate is on the low side (34 cents this past quarter), their revenue climbed over 13% for the same quarter last year.

Potential trades:

Write (Sell) put option for June 22 at $70.5 dollars per share at $2.00 per option. As long as ATVI does not go below $68.5 by June 22, 2018 you will be better off for it. If the price goes below that point then you will be forced to buy shares at that price, which I still think is a good thing long term. Otherwise, I’d put this stock on a watchlist and buy long if the shares go under $69. With the volatile stock market of the past few months this will probably happen and give you a nice discount on a great company.

Current trading price of ATVI: $71.66

Other Thoughts

While EA Games is also a profitable company which looks good on paper, as a gamer myself I’d have to say that EA has thrown many gamers under the bus with their pay as you go, or pay for item strategy. It’s hard to imagine the frustration seeing items for sale in a game after you’ve already paid between $60 to $80 for a AAA game. EA Games helped create the in-game content purchase model, which unfortunately has spilt to other developers.

What the F is Wrong with Ford?


Ford is entering dangerously cheap territory. P/E ratio of 6, dividend ratio of over 5%, and healthy return on equity. Either someone knows something the financials are not telling us, or people are worried they can’t catch up to newer car companies and their technologies. I’ve got an idea for Ford, buy back some shares while your stock price is so cheap. I think the news of releasing the Bronco and Ranger again in the US is a great one, and there is positive news out of China of Ford starting to make EV there through a 50/50 joint venture with Zotye Auto (Chinese company), in addition to it’s existing joint venture Changan Ford. That being said, Ford’s China market is still much lower than GM’s.

I am long Ford with a few Call options expiring in June @ 11.87 / share. I still think Ford will be a better investment at the current price of 11.36 (Jan. 29, 2018) than Tesla at 341.50. Tesla has extreme leadership but I think they have over-promised at this point and due for a correction. I am also long GM which has a favorable P/E ratio of 9.44 and dividend of 3.48%. Tesla currently has no dividend and is not a profitable company.

Invest in What You Understand

I’ve talked to a lot of co-workers and relatives who have invested heavily in businesses they simply don’t understand. This is a mistake.

You don’t have to know everything there is to know about a company to invest in it, but you should have a general understanding of their products and market. Warren Buffet famously invested in Coca-Cola since 1987 and currently owns around 10% of Coke stocks. He loved this company because of its iconic name, and well known product. He found a company he knew and understood and was able to make sizable returns on his investment. Coke stocks went up from $2.45 per share in 1988 to it’s current price of $47.38, paying good dividends along the way. Walmart, Best Buy, and Kroger are all publicly listed companies that any average Joe can understand.

Walmart 5 year return: 72.5%

Best Buy 5 year return: 490.8%

Kroger 5 year return: 132.7%

If you’re a gamer you know names like Activision Blizzard, responsible for games such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, etc. which all have their own cult following. If you bought this company 5 years ago and held it you would return 555% on your investment. Walmart and Kroger are included as examples of companies that have stiff price competition and do not have an “economic moat” such as a company like Activision Blizzard. Best Buy has been a go-to place for electronics and has been well positioned to capture what I call the Apple Tech revolution, not having to deal with rivals that have gone under such as Circuit City and Ultimate Electronics.

Now companies that you don’t understand, stay away from! For example, “exploratory mining companies”, small no-name drug companies, and Greek shipping companies are all stock investor pitfalls that usually end up going bankrupt. This is why for all of my serious investments I make sure the company has at least a 400 million market capitalization. You can certainly play with penny stocks, but I’d never suggest putting any amount you can’t lose into them. It’s my same advise with gambling at a casino.

Now you may be asking, “I knew Circuit City and their products, but those lost money!”. You’re right! Besides knowing the business you also have to do some research on the company’s cash flow and growth. Those are outside the scope of this article, as the “secret sauce” for successful investors is largely dependant on their cash flow figures in comparison with this stocks outstanding and stock price.

Is Freelancer full of Scammers?

Freelancer.com is advertised as a place to have content written for you, or software developed, etc. You can have someone write articles on your topic of choice, or even have bids for mobile apps you have ideas for.

I recently joined Freelancer and hired someone to write something for me.  I paid them about 20 USD to do a financial analysis piece on Kroger’s stock price after it had crashed 30.6% after two sets of bad news on July 15th and 16th. On the 15th Kroger’s management came out with some low expectations due to price cuts and competition from other grocery stores. On the 16th Kroger was hit with news that Amazon was buying Whole Foods. You can imagine the implications this move will have for the entire industry if it parallels the book market or retail sales market in the US. Take Borders and Sears as prime examples, Borders was bankrupted by Amazon and Sears is closing stores around the country in a death spiral towards bankruptcy. Basically what I wanted written is a current evaluation of Kroger as of it’s price drop and a valuation of the company as it stands now. What I got instead was a bunch of words which looked like they were written in a foreign language and freshly presented after a Google Translation!

Below are a few bits from this “native English speaker from England”:

  • The supermarket chain has direct subsidiaries, convenience stores, Jewellery stores, and online retails platform for their customers
  • The prices of groceries have broken the 60 years longest streak by a decline for straight 17 months
  • The discounts offering at Kroger are highly competitive of all its rivals which make it most favorable

In short, the entire article was a piece of trash. I’d rather have a Nigerian prince write my articles for me. A waste of $20, and proof that Freelancers are not who they say they are. This particular Freelancer had over 60 five-star reviews, most likely fake users.

Another story I have, one which thankfully didn’t cost me money, was when I put out a bid for a mobile game app. About 50 bids came back in with various quoted prices. When I contacted some of these bidders, they switched their price from around $300 to $5,000. When I said I’ll think about it, they come back with the standard line “What is your budget”? With swindlers like these I would not trust them to develop an app exclusively for me and not steal it for themselves afterwards. Again, if you think you can outsource work cheaply and turn a profit it’s probably time to look somewhere else besides Freelancer.com.

If anyone using Freelancer has had a good experience with content writing or having apps developed, let me know. For now I’ll avoid them like the plague and maintain thehighestreturn.com as a single author source for information. Once I have more time I’ll do my own mobile apps as well.

 

Trump Stocks VS Hillary Stocks

At this point it’s safe to say that unless something extraordinary happens either we will get a Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton presidency. While I could spend volumes discussing the economic implications of either win, at this point its more important to figure out what companies will benefit or lose from each presidency so you can take a gamble or get out before its too late.

Coal/Oil

Its safe to say that fossil fuel companies would continue to get hammered under a Clinton presidency. If Clinton is anything like Obama, we should see a few more coal stocks go bankrupt like Peabody Energy (Formerly PBU) and Arch Coal (Formerly ACI). Surviving coal companies include Cloud Peak Energy (NYSE:CLD), Westmoreland Coal Company (NASDAQ:WLB), and Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. (NASDAQ:ARLP). Oil companies face regulatory difficulties under a Clinton presidency, but most should be able to survive as oil maintains current price levels. The coal industry in my opinion is a bad investment at this time due to the very cheap price of steel and the lower demand from China and the United States.

Defense

One area that will most likely benefit from a Trump presidency is the defense manufacturing companies. Companies which would produce items for the military and navy include General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), BAE Systems PLC (LON: BA), and and array of other companies. You can also invest in Mutual Funds iShares Dow Jones US Aerospace & Def (ITA) or Fidelity® Select Defense & Aerospace Portfolio (FSDAX). Over the past year ITA has returned 18% and FSDAX has yielded 14%.

Healthcare

While I’m tempted to say the healthcare industry would continue well under a Democratic president, I can’t say for sure given the very cutthroat price increases which have made them a popular industry to attack from both Democrats and Republicans. If the Democrats end up further building up Obamacare it’s quite likely the pharmaceutical industry will be volatile. The TPP agreement pushed by Obama and Clinton will make people in 3rd world countries have to pay more for medicine, which may end up furthering profits in this sector. Time will tell. I’m not going to put any recommendations here.

Gold / Silver

If you’re a gold or silver investor, then the past year has been very kind to you. Especially if you’re into gold and silver mining stocks. Helca Mining company (NYSE:HL) surged 215% YTD and almost 200% in the past year, from under $2 to $6. Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:ABX), Goldcorp Inc. (NYSE:GG), and Silver Wheaton Corp. (NYSE:SLW) are all big players in this market. This is one of my favorite industries to make huge profits from moderate changes in base precious metal prices. It’s hard for me to say which candidate will cause these to go up further, it’s more dependant on the Federal Reserve interest rate policy and inflation. However based on the campaign talk It seems like a Clinton presidency would be better for precious metals. It’s always a good idea to have these as part of your portfolio to some degree.

Real Estate

Donald Trump made most of his money off of real estate – it’s always good to include this in your mix of assets. As the world population expands real estate will most likely continue to climb regardless of who makes president. A recession could certainly hit prices, but only temporarily.

Conclusion

I’d get out of coal, first of all. I’d put money into defense stocks as they should outperform the market under either presidency. I’d allocate some money into precious metal if only for an insurance policy on the dollar. I’d get some cash out of this frothy market and wait for the market to tumble before the election before strategically investing in under-priced high return on equity stocks.

Beware of Overpriced Stocks

Today Netflix crashed 13% after lower than expected subscribers were reported for the second quarter. It now trades at $85.63 after falling $13.13. If you had invested in this stock just yesterday you would have lost over 13%. The first thing I do when I see stock headlines like this is pull up the stock and look at it’s P/E ratio. This is currently at an outstanding 266! That’s more than 20 times that of Apple, meaning people have much higher expectations of growth with this stock.

That being said, 266 is better than a P/E of 0 (sometimes denoted ‘-‘), which means that the company does not turn a profit at all. One big example of such a company is Tesla. People are so adamant that Tesla will be the wave of the future that they’ve heavily invested in this stock, which means that Tesla will probably have a high beta. When fluctuations happen you will see these high beta stocks swing much more violently than stable low risk stocks such as Proctor and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, and utilities. That being said, certain events can still cause ‘stable’ companies to flop or gain/lose an incredible amount of value – buyouts, disasters, shortages are some of these types of events.

In my opinion, I would not consider buying any company with a P/E ratio higher than 100, and would discourage investing in an unprofitable company. If I had to use a stock screener to automatically buy stocks I suppose I would filter by P/E ratio between 10 and 22 with a dividend of between 1 and 3.5% and a return on equity of at least 10%. Return on equity means how much percentage profit each stock generates. For example Apple has in the first quarter had a return on average equity of over 30%, meaning if each dollar of stock generated 30 cents in profits. Not bad! A low return on equity means the profitability of the company based on its equity is low, so more money put into the company might not yield much profit so the incentive for price growth or dividend payouts is probably lower.

 

The Stock Market Vs a Chess Game

The stock market is in some ways much like a chess game – prices of stocks usually are priced based on future expectations. In other words the folks at multi-billion dollar hedge funds have done the math, and have tried to play a long ways into the future. This can be said about the price of stocks, and the price of stock derivatives. The biggest reason why the stock market has been falling in recent weeks is due to the expectation that the Federal Reserve is going to raise interest rates – a low jobless claim rate cause stocks to sink faster because it increases the chances that the Federal Reserve will in fact raise rates to stave off inflation. By doing so, stocks are no longer as good of an investment relatively speaking compared to cash – stocks have risk and cash has little risk, so to increase interest rates means you can get more return for a no risk investment.

However, since the stock market looks to the future there is a very real possibility that stocks will have taken into account a Federal Reserve interest rate increase before the increase happens – and if the increase is lower than expected you should see the stock market start to jump back up due to its factoring error.

That being said, investors should still reassess the forward price earnings ratios of their stocks to make sure they aren’t holding on to something that is too expensive. Speculators will still hold onto company stocks which they see as having lots of potential even though they are priced very high. You can see that in companies like Tesla, where a company that doesn’t have a P/E ratio because it isn’t profitable yet still boasts a good stock price. On the other hand, a company like AFLAC has a very low P/E ratio of 10 because I suppose investors don’t see AFLAC coming up with the new invention of the century. Apple is priced at a moderately cheap price of around 15, as investors are weary that Apple may have had its day in the sun and won’t come out with any new revolutionary products since legend Steve Jobs has left.

My suggestion then is to sell off your expensive stocks and as the market drops incrementally buy back in as prices because attractive. As an insurance policy against the Federal Reserve deciding not to raise interest rates I suggest buying some precious metal company stock, and companies that will do well under higher interest rates include banks such as Bank of America. I want you to be the one who yells Checkmate before your portfolio yells it to you!

Please make sure to read my disclaimer below before taking any action.