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Long a buy and hold investor, I now believe that buy and hold has to be re-evaluated in a world of ever increasing, instant information and huge gyrations in markets all over the world. A value investor at heart, I anchor my portfolio with conservative funds and blue chip dividend stocks, but... More
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  • Chinese Demand For Physical Gold Delivery Now Equals Total World Production!

    The following is an excerpt from a recent article at Money Morning!

    The chart below tells a story - a big story. In fact, I encourage you to forward this to anyone you know who is serious about their money.

    What I found here, with the help of Frank Holmes from U.S. Global and one of the smartest people on earth on the potent combination of Asian markets and commodities, is a chart that shows a truly astounding fact about gold.

    Let me walk you through it, and what it could mean to your money, your gold, and your financial future.

    china gold
    Courtesy U.S. Global Advisors - click to enlarge

    The grey backdrop is total world mining production. The blue vertical lines represent COMEX gold deliveries. And the big long vertical red lines? That's physical gold delivery on the Shanghai gold exchange.

    The takeaway? - Chinese demand for physical delivery all by itself is nearly equal to total worldwide gold production.

    That's not a misprint.....More

    Aug 28 1:17 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Graphene Will Change The World And Fortunes Will Be Made!

    In their paper, "The rise of Graphene" A.K. Geim and K.S. Novoselov, of the Manchester Centre for Mesoscience and Nanotechnology, University of Manchester point out, in understated terms, that "Graphene is a rapidly rising star on the horizon of materials science and condensed matter physics"!

    I say this is an understatement because it does not adequately describe the profound changes in modern society that graphene development promises to deliver.

    At this writing, hundreds of companies and labs around the world are in a frenzy of testing and development to bring the amazing properties of Graphene into the production of nanoscale computer chips, super strength (and super light weight) materials for Aeronautic, military and space applications, electronics, medicine, energy storage and so many other areas too numerous to mention here. Lux Research, in their report on advanced materials, lists the following:

    • Nano-enabled coatings
    • Wear- and corrosion-resistant coatings
    • Tribological and anti-fouling coatings
    • Superhydrophobic coatings
    • Ceramic nanoparticles
    • Carbon fiber composites
    • Composite processing and recycling technologies
    • High temperature thermoplastics
    • Carbon nanotubes
    • Graphene
    • Nanostructured catalysts/supports
    • Nanocrystalline metals
    • High performance metals alloys like AHSS, Al, Mg, and Ti
    • Metal matrix composites
    • Metal injection molding
    • Sheet magnesium
    • 3D printing
    • Smart materials and fluids
    • Self-healing materials
    • Metamaterials
    • Electrostatically-paintable composite automotive body panels
    • 3D Printing and additive manufacturing
    • Wind turbine composite blades and anti-icing coatings
    • Aerospace coatings and structural composites
    • Chrome-coating replacement
    • Oil & gas drill shafts, production tubulars, and risers
    • Electrostatic dissipation (NYSE:ESD) and electromagnetic interference (NYSEMKT:EMI)-shielding
    • Tribological coatings for internal combustion engines
    • Diesel oxidation catalysts
    • Polymer production from waste CO2
    • Filament wound CFRP pressure vessels
    • Zyvex Technologies
    • tripleO
    • MesoCoat
    • Materials Innovation Technologies
    • XG Sciences
    • Morris Technologies
    • Meridian Magnesium
    • Polymics
    • Nanogate Technologies
    • Diamon-Fusion International
    • Bayer MaterialScience
    • Posco
    • SGL Group
    • Toray

    Large companies at the forefront of graphene engineering include a who's who of the tech world. To date there has been a virtual space race to patent all of the properties of this "wonder material".

    Princeton University's Quentin Tannock, in an article entitled "Exploiting carbon flatland" points out how many of today's Universities now value the patent landscape as a scientific "sharing" of information for experimentation, and in particular, in the area of Graphene and Nano Engineering. He also laments how many researchers are unable to capitalize on their discoveries in the marketplace, without a partnership of some sort with private companies. Although Rice University and the University of Manchester have been at the forefront of Graphene experimentation, it is private industry that owns most of the patents in graphene development.

    Three Tech giants, IBM, Samsung and Sandisk, already have filed hundreds of patents for graphene discoveries. These three in fact hold the most patents in that order, and are at the forefront of graphene development in electronics and Semiconductors. For instance IBM holds graphene patents for such diverse applications as DNA Sequencing, graphene transistors, 3D, and graphene solar cells, just to name a few. Samsung's include: flexible screens, graphene/lithium batteries, moisture resistant electronics, and antidot spin valves.

    Other patent holders include (but are not limited to) : The U.S. Navy (high resolution films), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) (batteries), Head (tennis rackets), Kia and Hyundai (fuel cells), Saab (de-icing airplanes) Kimberly Clark (NYSE:KMB), Toyota (NYSE:TM) (lithium air batteries), Sony (NYSE:SNE) (drug delivery), Honda (NYSE:HMC) (gas sensors), Xerox (NYSE:XRX) (printing), Angston (lubricants), Polimeri (Thermal insulation), Foxconn (loudspeakers), AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) (3D), DOE (Tesla coils), and Bayer (Obtaining graphene from graphite by chemical means)

    There is also a global race for patents in the nanomedicine field. At Lake Forest Medical Research Centre, Dr. Ravi Singh is currently researching the use of Graphene nanotubes to target and destroy cancer tumors. This is only one of many possible medical uses for this wonder material.

    There is not enough room here to list all of the companies,the patent applications, or potential uses for graphene based materials, but you get the point. That is, the world is about to change and fortunes will be made!

    In January of this year, the European Commission made graphene research a priority, pledging $1 Billion Euros to research and development of graphene initiatives. A "graphene Flagship Consortium" headed by Nokia (NYSE:NOK) recently received a $1.35 Billion graphene research grant from the EU.

    From an investors perspective, many companies stand to benefit from their graphene patents and research. Because of their front runner positions on the patent landscape, I believe the best bets are: International Business Machines Nokia Sandisk (NASDAQ:SNDK) and Samsung. Both IBM and Samsung each hold over 100 patents in the graphene space and Nokia has been at the forefront of research since 2006.

    There are also many private companies racing to capitalize on the many qualities of the "wonder material". I suspect the IPO space will start filling up with these as early as next year. While we wait for that to happen I like companies positioned to supply top quality graphite which is most prized in the production of graphene. These would be akin to acquiring the "picks and shovels" suppliers of the Klondike gold rush.

    My top pick is Graftech International (NYSE:GTI) a Global graphite player based in the USA with over 125 years in the business. Graftech is a leading supplier of carbon and graphite products for industry and is well positioned to take advantage of it's economy of scale as it enters the graphene market. Since 2011, Graftech Stock, as shown in the chart, has been in decline, but not the company itself as it is poised to benefit most from the infant graphene market.

    GrafTech International Ltd Technical Analysis Chart | GTI | US3843131026 | 4-Traders

    Graftech is a leader in the field of graphite production, and will continue to be. The double bottom shown in the chart indicates a turn around in the stock price. We bought this stock last month.

    Grafoid, a privately held research and development company is quietly positioning itself as a liaison between the graphite mines, the scientific research groups, and graphene user companies. Although it is a private company at present, it is 40% owned by a small Canadian graphite miner, Focus Graphite, which trades on the Canadian Venture Exchange and recently announced the first "trade-marked" graphene called "MesoGraf".

    Privately held Angstron Materials (owned by Nanotek Instruments and based in Ohio, USA) is developing and producing nano graphene platelets (NGPs), and also provide pristine graphite and single layer graphene. (Look for an IPO as this company grows up)

    There are also many small labs and companies such as Anderlab Technologies of Mumbai India, which manufactures graphene and carbon nanotubes for research.

    Flinders Resources which is positioned to supply Europe with top quality graphite from its proven Woxna mine in Sweden, just made it's first shipment of raw material to Germany last week. It is also listed on the Canadian Venture Exchange, along with Northern Graphite, Zenyatta Ventures and Lomiko Metals, all of which show promise in the field.

    Early investing in new technologies is often a crap shoot, however, the big dogs of the tech world that are at the forefront of research and patent acquisition hold the most promise. They also have the most value regardless of the graphene craze.

    Disclosure: I am long GTI, OTCQX:FCSMF, OTCPK:FLNXF. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

    Tags: AAPL, AMD, GTI, HMC, IBM, KMB, NOK, SNDK, SNE, TM, XRX, EMI, ESD, commodities
    Jul 15 7:55 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Target Dated Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) Gaining In Popularity

    Target date funds or Retirefunds, are gaining in popularity among young professionals who have a date already in mind for their retirement, or at least a "year" targeted for retiring.

    Essentially, the fund manager(s) use the current age of the investor in relation to their expected retirement date to determine the type of investment(s) that should be in the portfolio from year to year. The younger the investor, the more risk can be assumed in accumulating retirefunds for the future. Of course, as the date approaches, those assets are rolled over into what should be more risk free assets. That is referred to as the "glide path" of these funds.

    The idea is not new as it has been practiced in varying forms by retirement funds and managers over the years. What is different now is the actual date of your retirement (or the year at least) is required knowledge to assure you are placed in the right portfolio for your risk tolerance, which is pre-determined by the fund manager(s). Management fees are usually quite high and even though diversification is a hedge against risk, it is not a guarantee.

    Unless you have many millions of dollars to invest, you won't have a particular fund managed to mirror your exact date, but you should chose a fund with the closest date to your actual retirement so as to gain maximum benefit.

    Among many providers of Retirefunds, Manulife Financial uses this method for their target date funds. They also offer target date fund options managed by Franklin Templeton Investments, Fidelity Investments and BlackRock. These managers have all advanced their target date funds in recent years. In fact, target date funds now represent the second largest allocation of retirement dollars in the United States and Canada after large-cap funds, within individual 401k plans. (RRSPs in Canada) As with any investment plan, their are some risks. A growing risk for these and other retirement funds, is the current bond market.

    One the best sources of information for these ETFs is at the ETF Data Base or where you will find a definitive list of funds and their costs. For instance you can buy the S & P 2030 target date ETF for a cost (ER) of only .38% ER Costs of these type of ETFs range from .29% to .65% with an average of .38%

    Such a low ER is a large selling feature for these funds. Here is a list of such funds and their ERs. Target dated ETF "Index" funds, are popular for this type of investment as they combine the benefits of Indexing, dollar cost averaging and low cost of service.

    As these Retirefunds get closer to the retirement date of the owner, it has been normal over the years to move that money from stocks into bonds as they have traditionally been considered "safe" investments. For the past 30 years bonds "have" been a safe investment! However, this may have lulled many investors into believing that will always be the case but alas, all good things must come to an end, and many economists now see dark clouds over the bond markets.

    Interest rates have been near zero in the western world since the financial crisis of 2008 due to quantitative easing first initiated by the United States Federal Reserve Bank (FED) followed by other Western Central Banks in the European Union and Japan. The problem for average investors is that, as interest rates begin to rise again (as they inevitably do) bond rates will dive, driving bonds lower and lower. Some fund managers seem more aware of this creeping monster than others do. Some will stick with this seemingly tried and true method of "winding down" your risk. It may well be that bonds in the medium term may actually up your risk. Some managers are switching this part of the portfolio to large cap stocks that pay dividends, real estate trusts and gold and silver.

    Investopedia describes target date funds in this way:

    A mutual fund in the hybrid category that automatically resets the asset mix (stocks, bonds, cash equivalents) in its portfolio according to a selected time frame that is appropriate for a particular investor. A target-date fund is similar to a life-cycle fund except that a target-date fund is structured to address some date in the future, such as retirement.

    Though many people believe a target date Retirefund is right for them, opposing views do exist such as in this recent article in Forbes.

    When selecting Retirefunds for your portfolio, you should also be cognizant of the fact you are selecting the "management" of these funds. Fund allocations differ from manager to manager and you should do some homework in finding the right asset allocations for your comfort level. I like to be comfortable with the management teams approach and I am wary of an future calamity in the bond market.

    Here are more sites where you can begin your research into Retirefunds.

    T Rowe Price
    The Fund Library
    CNN Money
    ETF Data Base

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Jul 05 11:16 AM | Link | Comment!
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