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I inherited a modest sum when I was in my early twenties, bought an apartment, invested what was left over, and then proceeded to work for 20 years as an attorney at law firms in New York City and Washington, DC. I saved aggressively because I thought I could get fired at any time, and invested... More
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  • Ventas REIT

    Ventas declared a dividend of .73 per share today. The company recently completed a spin off of it's nursing care facilities, which trade under ticker symbol CCP. CCP will pay dividends of .57 a share, which on a pre-split basis means that Ventas has just increased it's quarterly dividend from .79 a share to .8725 a share. It's the sort of robust dividend growth VTR is known for, and why I own a substantial position in the company's stock. The increase will boost our portfolio income by about $500 a year, which means I'll be putting that much more to work buying more shares of I don't know what.

    In fact, though, much of that extra $500 a year will go towards the month of Portuguese lessons my wife and I just signed up to take. It is two hours a day every day, and we plan to keep up that pace for about three months until we are as close to fluent in the language as we can get. It will take a few more dividend increases to pay for all of the language lessons I project we will need, but it's a step in the right direction.

    I came across an interesting graphic carved into a corner of an old building up in Principe Real. You wonder how many intricate carvings and inscriptions and old tiles are lurking in the dark or unobserved corners of the city. In the top of the photo is a nasty old lime that someone left sitting out. Limes show up in many mixed drinks in Lisbon, and mixed drinks show up many, many times in just as many places around the city.

    (click to enlarge)Phone

    Sep 03 10:55 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Month End Buys

    Today, I reinvested dividends into KMI and started a new position in TGH. Several accounts did not accumulate many dividends this past month, only containing a few hundred dollars. To save on commissions, I have been investing amounts under $1,000 into commission free ETFs offered by my brokers. In every case, I have been simply investing in passive, broad-based European equity index ETFs, mainly since the yields are somewhat higher than the S&P500. Nothing is better than waking up to a 300 point drop in the Dow Jones when you've got some investing to do that day.

    I am going to change up my investment approach, though, based in part on a very wise article I read on SeekingAlpha. Rather than investing once a month, I will now invest whenever I find that I have an extra $1,000 to deploy. This will run up my brokerage expenses, but will accomplish two goals. First, I will be able to take more frequent advantage of price declines. That means I should be able to grow our portfolio income that much more reliably, since I will hopefully be finding investment bargains more frequently. Second, and most important, I won't have to sit on my hands for weeks after receiving extra dividends, waiting for the end of the month, praying that prices will drop further or, at a minimum, not rally in the interim. I'm impatient, so waiting for month end to do my investing is not much fun. It also inspires me to commit the cardinal investment sin: to hope. Waiting leads to hoping, hoping leads to delusions, delusions lead to irrational investment behavior, which in turn leads to losses. If taking the waiting around part of investing out of the equation will make it less likely I'll indulge in prayers and hopes, then it's worth a little brokerage commission here and there to make that adjustment.

    As the global equity markets collapse, my shopping list is at the ready. As ever, I am keenly interested in businesses with stable, fee-based income, locked-in cost structures, and favorable tax characteristics. If I can find businesses fitting that description at a low price, with dividend growth of at least 7% a year and a yield of at least 7%, I'm going to be very happy. TGH fits that bill quite nicely, and I wish I had more of it. Fear of a massive China slowdown (or perhaps a Chinese financial crisis) will probably weigh heavily on the shipping sector for a long, long time. And yet, the strong will survive. TGH is the largest shipping container leasor in the world, and will probably still be around once the cycle turns over again in however long that might be. In the meanwhile, it will be rewarding shareholders with a juicy 11% yield and substantial dividend growth rates.

    Tags: TGH
    Sep 01 10:06 AM | Link | 8 Comments
  • Duck Ponds

    (click to enlarge)Bario

    Today we took a train ride out to Sintra, a town located about 45 minutes outside of Lisbon. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant near the train station, where I got into a conversation with one of the waiters who happened to be from Cuba. He's a Nats fan, and mentioned that a fitted Nats baseball cap will set you back 70 Euros in Portugal. This is due to various import taxes and shipping costs. So of course he was interested in whether I'd buy him a Nats cap and bring it with me next time I'm in Sintra. He almost seemed disappointed to learn that we don't have any immediate plans to be back in the USA to buy hats.

    After lunch we made our way by tuk tuk up to the castle Pena, which has 360 degree views. Up at the castle it was sunny, windy, and glorious. Surrounding the castle is an enormous park. It's filled with many different varieties of trees, ferns and seems very primordial. Until you look closely. Then you see that the entire park is manicured to wild perfection. The paths are all set with pavers - it's like cobble stone roads leading through a dense thicket of rubber trees and giant ferns. Boulders are precisely overgrown with mosses and sprout neat rows of brush. Gardeners and nature clearly work in harmony here, and by the looks of it, have been doing so for hundreds of years.

    One of the most interesting features, though, are the duck ponds. I've noticed something unusual in Portugal, vis-a-vis ducks. They live in caves. Man made caves. This is something you can see in almost any park with a pond. And the ducks themselves are somewhat prehistoric looking, with red faces and moderately enormous bodies (at least by North American duck standards). In Sintra's national park, there's a duck pond that tops them all. It's not just the cave-bear sized duck grotto on the side of the pond. It's the tower in the middle of the pond that serves as the duck's siege-engine-proof castle (complete with ramparts) that drew our attention.

    Now, I have to say that I generally have little interest in (or, indeed, regard for) billionaires past or present, but there is one positive thing I can say about them. They sometimes indulge whimsy and build things that otherwise just simply would never be built. Get a few indolent countesses together with the modern day equivalent of limitless wealth, and suddenly you've got ducks armed to the teeth, roosting and quacking behind the safety of stone crennelations one meter thick. You gotta love that. If so, Sintra could be the place for you.

    We came back to Lisbon, and noticed the sky was white. It's the first time I haven't seen blue skies over Lisbon in over a month. That is what I painted above.

    Aug 31 4:55 PM | Link | Comment!
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