Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Meeting Your Goal:Real Estate Funds

Income investors are taking a look at real estate funds such as Invesco's.Half the fund is in equities,said Joe V. Rodriguez,Jr.,Head of Global Real Estate Securities and Portfolio Manager of Invesco Real Estate Fund.Our goal is to produce equity-like returns.It's been paying  a 4.5-5% dividend yield.
On the equity side,we really like Kilroy Realty Corp.It's on the West Coast office side.In fixed income,we like shorter duration higher quality bonds.We're also focused on things like commercial mortgage-backed securities,or CMBS.UK CMBS are yielding 2.5-4%.We're getting high yields.
In Japan,seismic-proof buildings with backup power are doing quite well.They're up over 20% in the past year.
In the US,we're gonna build a million units of single family this year.Both single family and apartments are doing well.We like Essex Property Trust,which is concentrated on the West Coast.It's well-positioned to grow rents.
Invesco Real Estate Fund(IARAX),Kilroy Realty Corp.(KRC),Essex Property Trust(ESS)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Asia This Day:Markets Rally On Cyprus Deal;World Trade Challenges

A tentative resolution of the Cyprus problem has been agreed,and the prospect of a bailout for the tiny yet significant nation has sent Asian shares higher in early Monday trading.India's Nifty Fifty index was up 0.86%,and the Sensex index rose 0.82%.US stock index futures were also higher,along with oil futures,while gold futures fell,as did Treasury bond  futures.
At a China development conference this weekend,World Trade Organisation Director General Pascal Lamy said the full globalisation of China's trade won't be without challenges.The new Chinese leadership under President Xi Jinping seems to be headed in the right direction on improving market access to China.I heard them saying we want to keep China opening its market,we want to keep internationalising the Chinese economy.
This will be challenging,however,as it faces resistance from domestic players who will not always welcome foreign competition.We want to grow our exports,but we also know we have to grow our imports.This obligates the domestic players to increase their quality and productivity.
Overall,this opening up has worked for China,but that doesn't mean it will happen in a painless way.What is painless is often inefficient,but what is efficient is sometimes painful.
The WTO's influence waned when the Doha Round of trade talks that began in 2001 floundered over the next 10 years.They failed to resolve a rift between developed and developing countries,but new WTO talks have begun.This time,instead of negotiating a big bundle of 20 topics,it is being done slice by slice,bit by bit.
The stumbling blocks in the old talks were US-China differences.No WTO Director General can push the US and China to agree on something if they don't agree,and this is what happened.
A very important negotiation is going on regarding customs standardisation,which would reduce the cost of cross-border trade.We have a problem moving the rule book forward so another layer of trade liberalisation happens,Mr.Lamy observed.
In other regional developments:
The HSBC flash China Purchasing Managers Index for March came in at 51.7,indicating a rebound in Chinese manufacturing.
Luxury retailer Tiffany saw a 13% increase in jewelry sales in the Asia Pacific region ex-Japan.
Goldman Sachs has raised its growth forecasts for the US and Japan.

Friday, March 22, 2013

After 17 Years, the Northeast Is About to Be Blanketed by a Swarm of Cicadas | Smart News

After 17 Years, the Northeast Is About to Be Blanketed by a Swarm of Cicadas | Smart News

A Match Made in Medicine:From Student to Resident

On March 15 at 9am,over 150 medical school students at the USC Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles received envelopes containing their residency assignments-the final phase of their medical training when they will be mentored into their chosen specialty.For Veronica Ramirez,the daughter of Mexican immigrants,Match Day,as the occasion is known, was a day of mixed emotions,but overall very exciting.
As she read her letter,the petite,slender brunette dissolved into a big smile,then hugged her parents,with a high five for her Dad.She had gotten her second choice assignment:USC+LAC Medical Center,a Los Angeles County hospital where she has worked before.
Ms.Ramirez will be joined by 45 of her classmates at USC+LAC.Others will report to 20 states plus the District of Columbia.
One of the things that drew the articulate student to Keck was its growing emphasis on primary care.A very small but very strong group of Keck students wanted to go into primary care.Emergency and internal medicine,a primary care specialty,were the most popular specialties for her class,with 28 students each.Unfortunately,the number of new residents nationwide is down this year,from 16,528 to 16,008,in a nation that needs more of them,not less-especially in primary care.
Ms.Ramirez saw a lot of uninsured and underinsured patients at the L.A. County hospital.Their serious,advanced illnesses could have been prevented with proper primary care,a fact which strongly motivates her to go into the field,she noted.The youngest of four children,her three brothers also attended college and were incredible role models for her.She is the first in her family to go into medicine.
Medical school students across the country gather to learn where they will spend their next 3+ years on this annual ritual of Match Day.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Asia This Day:Cyprus Bank Plan Rattles Markets;Australia's Deficit Balloons

Concern over a Cypriot plan to tax bank depositors and its possible contagion effect in Europe caused Asian shares to drop precipitously in early Monday trading.The MSCI Asia Pacific index fell 1.47%,and the ripples extended to US stock market futures,which declined sharply as well.IMF President Christine Lagarde backs the measure as the cost of an EU bailout of Cyprus.The IMF is also considering kicking in some funding to the bailout,but the amount has yet to be determined,Ms.Lagarde said in Algeria.
The banks in Cyprus are closed today for the first day of Orthodox Lent,Clean Monday,but the government is also closing them Tuesday in an effort to squelch a run on the banks.
New Zealand is suffering its worst drought in 30 years,which may cost the nation up to 2 billion dollars.The entire North Island has been declared a drought zone,along with parts of the South Island.The drought will affect New Zealand's dairy exports,which amount to a quarter of the country's exports or 11 billion dollars.
It was raining over the North Island Monday,but not enough to alleviate the drought.
Australian treasurer Wayne Swan warned that the country faces a massive hit as the deficit grew another 4.6 billion dollars in the first four weeks of the year alone.It could swell to 26.8 billion in the first seven months of 2013.Nonetheless,,the government will not cut spending at the cost of growth.The Julia Gillard government faces elections in September,and opinion polls show her being distinctly unpopular.
Finland's Kimi Raikkonen won the Rolex 2013 Australian Grand Prix,the first race of the Formula One season,at Albert Park in Melbourne Sunday.The former World Champion was joined by Fernando Alonso of Spain and defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany on the podium.
Update:Cypriot banks will remain closed through at least Wednesday as the country's parliament prepares to vote on the deposit tax plan today,Tuesday.Reportedly 60% of the deposits belong to foreigners seeking a tax haven-mostly Russians and Ukrainians.Asian markets bounced back in early Tuesday trading on optimism the crisis will be short-lived.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

US Strategic and Cyber Commands:Facing the Range of Threats

General Robert Kehler,US Air Force,Commander,US Strategic Command,made a joint appearance with General Keith Alexander,US Army,Commander,US Cyber Command and Director,National Security Agency,before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on Tuesday.Uncertainty and complexity continue to dominate the national security landscape,General Kehler said,citing Iran's nuclear ambitions;North Korea's ballistic missile launch;civil war in Syria;with the fiscal uncertainty adding additional steep challenges.Our enemies and potential enemies are watching.
Our STRATCOM men and women wield an array of complimentary capabilities.While our heritage is nuclear,today's STRATCOM is far more diverse than ever before.I'm most concerned with the impact fiscal concerns are having on our people.Civilians are 60% of our staff.I believe they will cope with it in the near term;but they may eventually retire early.
Overall,the fiscal concern is like an avalanche.In the longer term,it will affect our sustainment needs.Our responsibilities have not changed,but the pathway we're on is posing growing risk.
For his part,General Alexander said we need cyber legislation.We can both protect civil liberties and privacy and protect our nation in cyber space.Cyber effects are growing.There have been over 140 attacks on Wall Street in the past six months.There was a destructive attack on Saudi Aramco last summer.
We are ahead of developing the teams that we need,our cyber cadre.It is an offensive team DOD would use to defend the nation if attacked in cyber space.We face two issues:1.Command and Control-how will the joint cyber centers work with Cyber Command;2.situational awareness-an attack on Wall Street will be seen by the private sector first.We have to see it in real time,building the operational picture we would share with the Combatant Commands,the FBI and others.This is a new area for many of our folks.
From my perspective,no one actor is to blame for our current lack of preparedness.The US government has made significant strides in the cyber realm.
On nuclear Command and Control,General Kehler added we are very concerned with a cyber-related attack on Command and Control and our nuclear weapons themselves.I am confident today that the Command and Control system and nuclear platforms themselves do not have such a vulnerability.We have looked at that.We need to do better at exercising and detecting such threats.We have a way to go there until we can put an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence.
I'm confident in the deployed weapons and the stockpile.Every year,I and my predecessors have been responsible for assessing the stockpile.
With regard to our ballistic missile defense,I am satisfied that our 30 interceptors can defend against a limited North Korean attack on the West Coast.We are not in an optimal position against Iran.I am cautiously confident we can defend the East Coast from an Iranian attack.It doesn't provide a complete defence against Iran.It would depend on the azimuth of the Iranian missile.
An additional interceptor site is being considered for East Coast defence.
When does the DOD step in to defend the nation from cyber attack,General Alexander asked.The distributed denial of service attacks on Wall Street are best addressed by the Internet service providers,or ISPs.What we're seeing with the banks today I am concerned we're going to see grow throughout the year.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Warren Buffett and Common Sense in Business

In retail,your competition is always moving,said Berkshire Hathaway CEO and noted billionaire Warren Buffett,referring to JC Penney's current difficulties.
I do not care whether Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger's in the office or not.He's always got Berkshire on his mind.I only talk to him about once a week.
I feel very good about my three children.
Low interest rates could pose a problem for insurance companies down the road.When you roll over bonds,you're getting a lower rate.The profitability is going down because of that.They own a lot of bonds.
Of all my companies,I would keep GEICO because of sentimental reasons.It goes back early in my life.
Airlines have all the ingredients of a bad business.
People can buy a low cost index fund and participate in the future of America and they should forget about it for five years,and they should be fine.You can own index funds for a very low cost and get the same performance as people who charge you a whole lot more.
I think we live in the best country in the world and we will solve our problems.
Buffett represents American industry and American business,according to CNBC's Jim Cramer.The common sense in his annual letter is so much fun.
If Apple don't do anything with their cash,they are becoming the anti-Buffett.He'd rather buy a business than keep cash.He's a thoughtful man for many years.I like him.
Berkshire Hathaway(BRKb)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Asia This Day: Australia's Energy Assets;Japan's Economic Outlook

PetroChina is seeking 3.7 billion dollars of Australian energy deals.Overall,the state-owned oil and gas enterprise is looking to acquire 60 billion of overseas assets in the next 10 years.
Beach Energy Ltd is exploring an Australian shale gas field with Chevron.The company said the Cooper Basin region in the Australian outback will be a major onshore petroleum province.The gas in the basin could meet New South Wales needs for the fuel well into the future,plus be delivered into export markets through liquified natural gas facilities.
China's January-February industrial production was up 9.9 %,the weakest start to a year since 2009.The country is consolidating its 27 government ministries into 25.The ministry of railways,which employs 2 million people,will be split in two,between a policy arm and an executive arm.This is in line with railway ministries in other parts of the world.
In historical terms,the silver market is quiet,said Greg Smith,Director at Global Commodities Ltd in Adelaide,Australia.You're pretty close to more buyers than sellers.Solar panels are consuming it.
Silver is also used in electronics and medical applications.
I like sugar,coffee and soy meal.The inflationary impact of food could light the inflationary fire.
In Japan,the Nikkei was up at midday Monday on strong exports from the weaker yen and US employment figures.It was the eighth straight day of Nikkei gains.
Japan is doing the right thing,according to Mike Kurtz of Nomura Securities.The election on December 16 was a referendum on policy change.Kuroda-san,the Bank of Japan governor nominee,will reflate the economy.Japan could see a 30% upside over the next 12-18 months.
Hiruhiko Kuroda said he will consider continuing asset purchases.Buying derivatives is an option.
iShares Silver Trust(SLV),iShares Japan Index Fund(EWJ),Beach Energy Ltd(BPT:ASX),Chevron(CVX)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Who Sings on the Heineken James Bond Commercial

The song is called "Man Like That" and is sung by New Zealander Gin Wigmore,who will be 27 in June.The heavily tattooed artist was born Virginia Claire Wigmore.One of three children,she says she has been performing since around age 12.After a formative period in New Zealand,she found herself in Sydney,Australia,where she wrote an EP.This was followed by her first LP,"Holy Smoke,"which did quite well in New Zealand.
After briefly exploring the Southern US and its music scene,Wigmore headed to Santa Monica,California in the summer of 2011 to record her second LP,"Gravel and Wine."She's been touring Europe recently,especially Germany.She records for the Universal/Polydor label and much of her work is available on YouTube.
In 2010,Wigmore won Best Album and Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the New Zealand Music Awards.Her songs have been featured on TV in Grey's Anatomy,Teen Wolf and 666 Park Avenue,as well as the AMC FearFest and Weeds.
As a teenager,Wigmore had won the International Songwriting Competition in New York in 2004 for her song "Hallelujah,"inspired by her father's death from cancer.
The Heineken beer commercial features 007 actor Daniel Craig.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stock Market Signals-and what to do about them

I don't like stocks now,said Dennis Gartman,editor of the well-known newsletter "The Gartman Letter."I wouldn't be surprised to see 10% to the downside.After triple digit moves four out of five days,I'm on the sidelines and glad to be there.
I want to own bonds and gold.It'll be price action that brings me back in.For a while,it's a risk off environment.
What really bothers me is,the bond market is doing really well.It's up,telling you that risk is being taken off the table.The bond market is the smartest of the markets,and it's going up.The worst of the liquidation of gold may have passed.I'm holding gold in yens,and may add some in euros.
Christian Thwaites,President and CEO of Sentinel Asset Management does like some stocks.Large cap equities are still very low-priced and an attractive value,such as General Dynamics,Caterpillar,Church and Dwight.He also likes Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers.
Thomas Lee,Managing Director and US Equity Strategist at JP Morgan,said we still think we're in a secular bull market.We got a caution signal the week before last,but this is a tactical,short term call.Hedge funds are basically all in.We want to be dip buyers in areas such as materials,industrials and consumer discretionary.
General Dynamics(GD),Caterpillar(CAT),Church and Dwight(CHD),Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers(RBA)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Asia This Day:China Reins In Property Market;National Party Congress Convenes

The Shanghai property index was down 8.53% in early Monday trading,with some shares dropping as much as 10% on news of new government restrictions on the sector.It was the worst decline in five years.
The property market has really taken off,according to Jing Ullrich,Chairman of JP Morgan Global Markets China,triggering government concern about social inequality and the middle class.I think buyers may slink to the sidelines again.
Property is the one area the middle class can stash their wealth.The rising income of the middle class has stoked prices.
Property prices are hardly affordable for newcomers.There may be declines for the next three months,but in the long term,urbanisation and income growth are still very positive for the property sector.There may be a great deal of volatility in the next month or two as the new measures are applied.
This year should be a better year for the stock market than 2012.In the near term,Hong Kong shares should hold up better than the mainland,being supported by international investors,but the mainland shares are cheaper.People need to think about China concept stocks such as those of  multinational firms doing business in China.They could make double digit gains.
The National Party Congress in Beijing will be attended by 3,000 delegates over the next 10 days.Xi Jinping will be formally named President.There should be social services and urbanisation developments.Big ministries may be reshuffled.There may be financial services reform to create more of a level playing field between State-Owned Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises,and to make the financial services industry globally competitive.
About 280 million migrant workers live in Chinese cities without social benefits.Only those born in cities have medical care.Migrant workers do not have benefits.They are second class citizens.
The Indian Nifty Fifty and Sensex indexes were both down in early Monday trading.There was a lot of pressure on auto stocks from poor February sales.Asia shares generally were down on the new Chinese property market restricitons.
Australian company profits declined,led by mining and manufacturing,as commodity prices fell.
iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund(FXI)

Friday, March 1, 2013

MedImmune and Progenics Combat Deadly Bacteria

MedImmune,the biotech division of British pharma titan AstraZeneca,has signed an in-licensing agreement with Progenics Pharmaceuticals,Inc for Progenics' Clostridium difficile late stage preclinical program.Clostridium infections are the leading cause of hospital acquired infections in the US,resulting in 20,000 deaths and 1 billion dollars in health care costs annually.
Clostridium causes severe diarrhea and significantly lengthens hospital stays,leading to poorer outcomes.MedImmune will assess the efficacy and treatment of the disease with monoclonal antibodies that target toxins which mediate it.
MedImmune Senior Vice President and Infectious Disease iMed Head Steve Projan said the program fits strategically within our infectious disease portfolio and adds to our existing programs that aim to prevent and treat serious bacterial infections,particularly among high risk patients.Progenics CEO Mark R. Baker added that Progenics is pleased to have this potential candidate in MedImmune's hands,where it has the potential to improve human health.
About 500,000 cases of Clostridium are diagnosed in the US annually,mostly affecting hospital patients.Up to 28% of cases are community-acquired through contaminated soil,water,pets,cattle and foods.The bacteria not only damage the gut lining;but prevent the regrowth of normal,healthy bacteria in the gut as well. Progenics' antibodies are highly potent against most strains found in the US and Asia,and potent against hypervirulent strains,which are largely responsible for the disease's growth rate,preliminary findings suggest.
MedImmune,based in Gaithersburg,Maryland,employs about 3500 people worldwide.Progenics is a biotech firm located in Tarrytown,New York.