One month on: the good, the bad and the ugly.

I’ve been surprisingly busy so far this summer, hence I haven’t been updating my summer goals as much as I would have liked.

Alas here is my second update:

On www.bullbearings.co.uk (The FTSE/AIM simulation) I’ve made three transactions since I last posted.

The first one was downright ugly, stupid and a gross overreaction. Basically what happened was that in one day Tullow saw a +5% dip in share price following the news that the ugandan government wasn’t sanctioning a license given to Tullow for one reason or another, with Tullow being so involved in the African continent it could have had big consequences, I sold off all my shareholdings in Tullow on the spot for a loss of £1,394.25, a gross overreaction as in the following weeks (while I was away) the share price recovered and surpassed the point at which I had originally purchased the stock.

Once I came back to Ireland (on the 20th) I had a think about it and thought about why I had such a reaction to one piece of bad news. It was an overreaction and I jumped back in and bought about 40k worth of Tullow at 1132p, five days later and it’s up to 1223p given me a paper gain of £2798. All is good again and following more positive news regarding new oil finds. I can’t see Tullow leaving my portfolio for a while in any case.

My second and third transactions (with the third enabling me to purchase some Tullow again) concern the Aegis Group, a london based company involved in in Media and market research. A few days after selling Tullow for the first time, I had imaginary money burning an imaginary hole in my imaginary pocket. I was eager to find something and so did a trawl of some investing forums and found Aegis Group  Plc, one single post (and some follow up research from myself) convinced me to lump on it.

Here’s the post from a very knowledgable poster who I have a lot of time for

Aegis Group is an international media and market research holding company, fifth in size of the advertising agencies, ahead of Havas, and behind the ‘Big Four’ advertising agencies, WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe and Interpublic Group.

The Company consists of two global marketing services segments, Aegis Media and Synovate. Aegis Media is one of the world’s leading independent media communications networks and provides media planning and buying, communications planning and digital advertising services through two principal media networks (Carat and Vizeum) as well as a leading outdoor unit (Posterscope) and a digital and interactive media network (Isobar). Synovate is a market research group, primarily focused on providing custom/ad hoc research services to companies globally.

Just less than 30% of the Aegis Group equity is controlled by Vincent Bollore, one of France’s richest men who is also Chairman of Havas, with a 33% controlling interest in that group. In my opinion, Havas will pitch for Aegis this year – combining the two companies so they can compete better with their much larger competitors.

Even if Havas does not attempt a takeover the company has booked a record amount of new business in the past 12 months, has recovered strongly from the recession and has the second highest exposure to digital media of all the agencies.

And I was in, I sold off 40000 of an original 74420 shares bought three weeks previously to enable me to buy Tullow for the second time. On the 40495 shares, I made a profit of £2,592 and currently my remaining shares are showing good profit of £4,647

So there we have it, my bullbearings portfolio is at a year high and everything is looking good. I’m ahead of the FTSE index and hopefully that is the way it will stay.

I’ll do a post on my investopedia NYSE fortunes in the coming days.

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What do Zappos, Quirky, ARK and Pokerstars have in common?

The answer…. not all that much except the fact that I envy at least one part of each of their business.

Zappos

Zappos.com is an online shoe and clothing retailer, it was acquired by amazon.com last year, valuing the business at around 1.2billion.

I first came across Zappos when reading about its founder, the inimitable Tony Hsieh, in Inc magazine. (Actually the original article can still be found on its website here).

I was instantly struck by the fact that this guy cares about one thing and one thing only (on the surface anyway) and thats customer service. He has made himself act in a certain way so that his employees will look up to him, feel comfortable around him and want to work for and with him.

Zappos wages are lower then the industry average per employee job spec, yet when there is an opening each position could be filled hundreds, if not thousands, of times over. Why is this? Well obviously it’s down to the fact that it is an awesome working environment.

Each would be employee undergoes an extensive training program and at anytime during this they can quit and get $2000 as a parting gift! But yet hardly anybody does it, They get below average pay and turn down the offer of a nice little lump sum to work for this e-tailer!

I recommend giving the article a read, but the point of it seems to be, look after your employees and they will look after your customer. (Another great thing about zappos is the autonomy that each employee is given, they can use their own common sense to make a customer happy, be it sending them flowers or whatever)

Quirky

Quirky.com is possibly the coolest business that I have come across over the past year. They call it social product development, I call it a great way to entice a community to get behind, develop, support and create a buzz about a new product. And I didnt mention that a new product happens every week or so!

Basically this is how it works. You submit your idea for a new product (Costs $100), then the community votes on which idea they think has the most promise, once one is selected the community makes suggestions for modifications to the product etc and finally the product is put up for sale through the website (And I think later on through other stores for the most successful ones) the original inventor of the product gets a cut and as a result can come out with a hefty sum of cash.

I think it’s a really unique business, and it’s well worth having a look around the website.

Ark

Acts of Random Kindness (Ark) is a not for profit movement (yes, a movement). It sells some pretty nice clothes (Tshirts, poloshirts, underwear) through it’s website, with the idea that every time you wear an Ark item of clothing you do at least one random act of kindness for a random member of the public. Some such acts of kindness would be  buying a beer for someone standing at the back of a long que at a music festival, or buying two packets of crisps in a vending machine and leaving one of them there for the next person to come along and find. Basically, its doing something that will brighten up some randomers day.

I think it’s a really nice idea, and would see no reason why anyone wouldn’t want to get involved in it.

After all, as a former teacher of mine used to say, it’s nice to be nice.

Pokerstars

And finally I come to Pokerstars, the worlds largest online poker room. Confused? Well I’m not adding this to my list because I think playing poker online is great, but more so because their customer service agents really are great. Shockingly so! This faceless online poker goliath has made responding to it’s customers a definite USP (especially given its stereotypical clientèle)

They now have a reputation for responding to absolutely any question, and this has created quite a buzz among poker forum frequenters,

Here is a random customer service representatives response to a question about global warming.

Sunday, March 7, 2010 6:55 AM
RE: Global Warming

Hello xxxxx,

Thank you for your email.

While there are the ‘Global Warming Believers’ and the Global Warming
Skeptics’ it is my personal belief that whether or not there is a direct
relationship between our activities and the earth warming up, can we really
afford to take the risk? It also makes Economic sense in the long run to be
Green and sustainable.

We have the technology and ability to be completely sustainable, let us just
hope that the laws are put in place to make sure that this happens soon.

Worst comes to the worst at least there will be PokerStars when we are
locked away hiding from the Sun.

Should you need any further assistance we are here 24 hours a day 7 days a
week at your disposal.

Best of luck at the tables and thank you for choosing PokerStars.

Regards,

Teymour
PokerStars Support Team

While not the most hilarious of responses, it does show the effort that these people put into responding to their customers. And with online poker rooms having notoriously poor customer relations, this type of thing will only serve to strengthen pokerstars position.

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Boards.ie post of the day, well worth a mention!

I spend a lot of time trawling around on boards.ie, I inevitably check out the post of the day. Something which is by no means an indication of a good post.

However I found todays post of the day to be ingenius!

It is the first post in a thread entitled “life”, posted in the cesspool that is after hours.

I’m completely sick of my life. I’m almost 20 and haven’t been able to score a better job than a cook at a local fast food joint. What makes it worse is that I live in a small town so business is pretty limited, and where I work is the only place that’ll hire people who didn’t do the Leaving. I’d get the hell out of this town if I could actually drive too, but I’ve failed every damn test I’ve ever taken. I’m socially awkward, even my only other co-worker ****ing hates my guts. I have repressed lust for one of my best friends too; she’s athletic, smart and a gorgeous girl. I love her. You know what it’s like; I’ve been friend zoned real hard. She’s my only real friend, besides this one kid, who I’m pretty sure is only hanging around me because he is mentally challenged. I guess he’s the only one that can tolerate me. And what makes this all worse is that I live in a pineapple under the sea.
Anyone got a worse life than me? I doubt it.

So boards.ie poster giggsy664 I salute you, for you are an intelligent person that has made me smile.

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My new phone. WOW!

It all started on a fine summers day. My Nokia N97 was once again having problems, this time the slider button which locks/unlocks the phone had fallen off, seemingly not enough glue was used to hold it together, the result of which was a phone which was not able to lock.

So I took a quick trip up to Santry to have a look at phones, I was planning on just getting mine fixed, it was my girlfriend who was the one really looking for a new phone (Her LG was having major problems for the umpteenth time and she had had enough of it).

We went into carphone warehouse, had a look at some phones and finally I went up to the counter and asked the sales staff what the craic was with getting this phone fixed, given that all it required was probably a piece of glue. He told me what a piece of shit the phone was and how his dad had gone through five (something that I could well imagine, would of been a quality phone if it just worked properly). He then told me how Carphone Warehouse (his employer) had a trade in value of €150 on the N97 and as such I can get a brand new phone for next to nothing. As I’m a bill pay customer on o2 and have an upgrade available, I was able to get the HTC desire for 20 quid! Bargaintown!

Now I don’t know a lot about phones, I know that the iphone is supposedly amazingly brilliant with lots of useful and not so useful apps available for it. I also know that I’m not touching another nokia smartphone with a rubber glove on the end of a bargepoll again unless I hear of huge improvements and the final piece of pertinent information that I know is that HTC are supposed to be really handy phones, and that HTC manufacturer the Nexus one for google. All in all it sounded like the HTC Desire (the top of the range HTC) was the phone that I wanted.

Done and done! I walked out of their with a new phone.

On first glance it was great. Nice and light, incredibly quick and great looking touchscreen. Then I started looking into the apps you can get for it and this is where I feel it started getting really good.

Having had a Nokia, I had use of the Ovi store, a terrible piece of infrastructure that never worked properly for me, and don’t even get me started on the Nokia player and Ovi suite which I installed on my desktop. In stark contrast the android market looks great. Obviously it doesn’t have the volume of apps that the iphone had but (and it’s a big but) as google operate android it means that apps, such as google goggles, appear on the android market place first, meaning that it is quite possibly the first place to get some of the sickest (in a good way) apps.

So here’s a run down on what I’ve downloaded so far, two days after I first got the phone.

Air Horn – an app that simulates an airhorn when you press the screen (mainly used to wake up friends etc)

Barcode Scanner – Really impressive little app which recognises barcodes allowing you to look up the product online and compare prices etc. Also, the android market has developed their own barcode (As you can see on the right), which allows you to scan a screen and it downloads the application automatically to the phone. Very handy.

Doubletwist – A music playing application, dubbed the android itunes. Allows to synch music with pc application. Does the job, the stock music player on the HTC wasn’t great.

English-Spanish Dictionary – pretty self explanatory, haven’t used it yet really.

Evernote – I love evernote, I have it on my pc and use it all the time, having it on my phone is just going to make everything so much easier, I can now take pictures and file them onto evernote, sync them with my pc and keep them their forever and ever. If you don’t know what evernote is, you should definitely check it out.

Fring – Global IM application, allowing you to login to all instant messaging accounts simultaneously, also allows for skype calling, an independent app of which is still not available for android.

Gmote – Very impressive remote app, which allows you to control your pc via the wifi network it is on, meaning that I can now lie in bed and play videos/music on my pc, and then turn the pc off without having to get up. Very cool in my opinion.

Google goggles – one of the google apps which I was referring to, ridiculous technology must have gone into it and if it works as it says it does it should be fantastic. I tested it on a book and it worked properly. I feel I should leave it to google to explain what it really does, so here is a link to the video.

Google Sky Map – another pretty useless, but cool none the less, app which shows you whats in the sky. Using GPS (presumably) you  can point it up to the sky, and find out exactly what is that star you are looking at. Or alternatively, if you are looking for Uranus, you can find it with a scan of the sky through your phone.

Next Train Ireland – Allows you to see realtime information on when the next train is arriving at any given station. Particularly handy for dart users.

Qik – Cool piece of technology that allows you to stream from your phone online, I have it linked to my twitter account (@lteeling) so that whenever I stream a link is sent on twitter to all my followers.

World cup footmob – An app to help me keep track of the World cup, updates scores, tells me when matchs are on, who is playing who etc.

As well as these apps which I’ve downloaded, there are also pre-installed apps for facebook and twitter which do the job great. Also the obligatory map software which allows for gps navigation. And all the other stuff you are likely to find on a phone, Camera/Radio/E-mail/Weather etc.

I could very well be leaving out some of the capabilities of this phone, but needless to say I am delighted, nay, I’m in love with this phone.

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Productive summer… well not yet anyway.

I havenn’t really gotten anywhere with the summer goals.

Truth is despite the fact that I have no job for the summer I seem to be really busy.

I went to the Ireland vs Australia ODI (cricket) up the road from me last thursday. That was fuppin excellent. Blue skies lots of sun and a few swifties. Ireland did incredibly well, and in all truth should have won the match, (bitta cricket talk next, skip over if this kind of thing bores you) unfortunately the two best irish born batsmen are now playing for engerland. If they were playing against the ozzies I think ireland would have been hard pressed to lost the match! We really need a middle order.

I spent last weekend in London with my college class, one last hurrah until most people enter into the real world and I do a masters. (Quite surprised that out of my whole year only three of us are going onto do a masters straight away) 

So that was Saturday until Monday evening, Tuesday morning, my results came out and did a little bit of celebrating after that. Then Wednesday I went down to Galway to visit my Gran who I see nowhere near regularly enough. Came back up to Dublin yesterday and now i have my first free day in what seems like ages. 

I went to the bank, played computer games and now watching the football. Very productive…. I am going to go for a run later, my mate breff told me about this horrible sounding way to kill yourself. 3 pushups six situps and 9 squats, easy right? Wrong! You’ve to do that for 10mins without stopping and count how many sets you can do…. Sounds like torture but i’ll give it a go.

So before I do that, I’m going to watch this footie match (C’mon Brazil), then do some spanish and guitar.

Here’s a quick run down on how my goals have been going so far.

I have been checking on my portfolio everyday, but have yet to put any real effort into the whole deal, and as it stands my portfolio is now making a loss. (I’ll make a larger post on this in the next few days).

With regards to my gaining positive weight goal, I have been making a very poor attempt at this. The gym which I will be using (in the rugby club where I play) is currently under refurbishment, it was due to open on the 16th but as it stands it is still locked up and still “being done up”. So as I’ve no gym (weightlifting was a large part of the plan) I’ve been doing the odd bit of HIIT, it’s tiding me over, but mneh, I really want to get back in the gym.

My guitar and spanish learning goals haven’t taken off, mainly due to me not being around,or being busy.

Hmm maybe i’m just making excuses…

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Day 2 – And we’re off!

So this is the section of my summer goals where I look at getting involved with trading.

As it stands i’ve very little knowledge of trading or any companies other then through college projects and what I pick up through reading blogs and forums.

I’m using two online market simulators. www.bullbearings.co.uk for the FTSE and AIM markets and www.investopedia.com for Wall Street. With both these simulators, you are given $/£100,000 of “play money” to trade with. The goal is simply to make capital gains as  obviously dividends aren’t taking into account (I don’t think they are anyway, I could be wrong)

Due to my lack of knowledge no doubt i’ll make some ridiculous decisions with regards to trading amounts and even stock picks, but none the less to help with the learning process i’ll try to justify everything that I’m doing. And any comments would be hugely appreciated.

With regards to the trades i’m making, at the start i’m just going to do straight trades, no option trading etc. Maybe i’ll do a bit of short selling but I think for the moment that will be the gist of it. Obviously I won’t be updating this portion of the blog everyday, but rest assured I will be keeping an eye on how my stocks are performing.

So here’s a run down of the story to date.

The first pick was Tullow Oil on the FTSE

During the past year, I did a very extensive strategic management project on Tullow Oil. It’s very apparent that the company has seen huge growth since day 1, from it’s routes in Ghana, it had various stages of organic growth, leading it to becoming one of the largest independent oil and gas producers in the world.

In recent years the company, under the stewardship of Aidan Heavey, has looked to focus primarily on the huge Jubilee field off the coast of Ghana. It seems apparant that this is one of the largest fields in the world, and has the potential for even more rapid growth. Everything about Tullow screams success. It has a exploration success rate, far above the industry average, it’s employee productivity is one of the highest in the FTSE top 100 and all of its KPI’s are sound.

It may be contended that some of Tullow’s success has been based on luck, they have always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and have yet to have anything major go wrong in the companies history.

Luck may change, Tullow’s oil reserves are dwindling in parts, with the companies production levels due to drop next year, but I don’t see the success of the company changing any time soon. I think the main volatility when it comes to Tullow is the price of oil. However at $77 I think it’s a far way off from being at a low level….

For the moment I’ll be holding onto Tullow. I bought 3,575 shares at 1,113p (roughly £40k worth) and these have seen a rise to 1,162p meaning that i’m already showing profit.

This is good as it is offsetting the initial loss I’ve made on BskyB

I purchased £20k worth of the shares at 717p yesterday after an eventful day which saw the share price rise by about 17% (I think) on the basis of News Corp proposing a cash offer for BskyB at a premium of approximately 22%. There is some talk that regulators might not approve the deal, however given that News Corp already own 40% of the company a lot of what i’ve read is that it will ultimately go through.

My shares in BskyB took a hit after the inevitable profit takers (I’m presuming) and the share is currently trading at 705p, I purchases at 717p representing a loss of £332 with the market still open. I think i’ll be holding onto BskyB until the deal goes through, hopefully leaving me with a tidy profit.

Below you can see a screenshot of my bullbearings account

Over the other side of the pond I also have two shares in play.

Coinstar inc (CSTR), based on the recommendation of twitterer, blogger and all round nice guy @fiscalstudent – Coinstar is the crowd behind the change counting machines, they also hold 80% of dvd rentals redbox, who are expanding rapidly. Fiscalstudent got out a few weeks back, showing 80% on his investment as can be seen from his blog post here. I thought it was still worth a look see and early doors suggest I may have been correct. Trading over 2.5% higher then my purchase price, this largely seems to be on the back of extending its revenue sharing license agreement with redbox.

Harris & Harris Group (TINY) are a publicily traded venture capital company that specialises in early stage nanotechnology and biotech companies. Founded way back in 1981 it has concentrated its investments primarily in nanotech since 2002. I came across this crowd while reading an investment thread on forum where a poster gave some very good reasoning behind why this was one of his stock picks.

TINY’s maturing portfolio provides it with many opportunities from which it must produce just a few significant winners to significantly boost its net asset value (NAV). In the future, IPOs or profitable acquisitions will significantly drive up TINY’s NAV and thus their share price. I expect that when the credit markets open up fully again and the US and international economies recover, the number of clean energy, biotech and nanotech IPOs will subtantially increase.

Obviously it’s a high risk share, but none the less i’m happy to have come across it. Another posted also said how it had showed up on gurufocus.com

It has shown a 5% increase since I got on it.

So as can be seen, I’ve started off nicely, beginners luck…..

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Summer Goals

It’s the middle of June and by my reckoning I have around two and a half months before I start a Msc in International Business at Smurfit.

So I’ve decided as I have no job for the summer, and no real inclination or desire to get one (not that I would at this stage in any case), that I should have some definable goals for the end of the summer. There’s nothing worse then getting to the end of summer, looking back on it and thinking “jaysus, I really did absolutely nothing over the summer!”

So here are my goals:

  1. Do 5 hours a week of Rosetta Stone spainish
  2. Spend four hours a week, reading up and learning about the stock market and picking stock
  3. Be able to play a few songs on the guitar by the end of the summer
  4. Put on 8-12kg of positive weight by the end of the summer

Spanish, whats that about?

As a throwback from the celtic tiger, the world is great, lets buy property and sell it off in the future for x5 of what we bought it for days, my parents have a lovely little apartment in Spain.

I’m heading out to it with a few friends in the middle of July and as such would love to be able to know cupla focal while i’m over there. Obviously, this leaves me with less then a month, so mneh, this summer goal isn’t really aimed solely at mid July, but more just for life in general.

I did French for the leaving cert, and although by no means fluent, I could certainly survive in France without the need for a translator.  I am not as proficient at speaking Irish, however having a gaelgoir for a girlfriend is having some positive effects and I do think i’m slowly picking up more vocab. (Don’t get me wrong here, we don’t spend our time together trying to converse in Irish, generally just when we’re outside of Ireland or in that Underground Irish speakers bar beside stephens green).

Being fluent in a foreign language, not only helps on a social level, but certainly on a professional/working life level too. With Spanish being the most widely spoken language in the world, I certainly see no harm in being proficient in, at the very least, what people are saying about you when they think you don’t understand a word of it.

So Spanish it is, I came across *ahem* a copy of language learning program Rosetta Stone and am currently winding my way through it, slowly but surely.

The Stock Market Ay? Sell high, buy low… I mean buy low, sell high…

I’m amazed by the people I see who own shares and when you ask them why they bought them etc It is almost inevitably “well my mate down the pub works there and says it’s great” or “it’s a mahoosive business of course it’s going to make loads of money!”

Having done a module in corporate finance during my undergraduate course, I know that there are several ways to value business’ and pick stocks. At the moment I could tell you the names of them but would have no idea which is the best, how to properly apply them and most importantly if they can actually be applied to get the desired results.  Mo money!

So here’s the plan with this one.

I’ve signed up to two stock market simulator websites. Investipedia for Wall Street and BullBearings for the London Stock Exchange. So how does one learn the stock market I hear you say. Basically this is going to involve reading up on and learning the various stock appraisal techniques, trawling through internet forums and then picking some stocks to see if I can make some  imaginary money for myself over the summer. I will be posting screenshots from my accounts on both these games in order to keep a track of progress I have made and justify my decisions on dropping and picking stocks.

Learn guitar? That is so cliché!

I know, I know. It absolutely is cliché, but that’s only because it is really cool….

Seriously though, two summers ago, I came back from America with a desire to learn the guitar. My girlfriend, Éilis, after many firecamp sing songs also wanted to play. So she bought me a guitar for my birthday with the aim to learn. It never went too far, we got a few lessons off friends, know a few chords, and i’m pretty sure I can kind of play “Sweet child o’ mine” although it could well be some totally different song i’m playing….

So this time round i’m not going the teacher/student route, i’m looking online. I’m going to get lessons via youtube and other free mediums and try and pick it up that way.  Simples….

Positive weight? Wha?

I have played rugby since I was four when I tagged around with my older brothers under six team. Well I didn’t so much play, more just stood on the side line and ran around in circles when I got bored. Since then, I’ve continued my not-so-meteoric rise through the ranks. Right the way through the under age sides in Clontarf, where I played with possibly the worst age group to grace the club in quite some time (winless in a few seasons anyway, of course it didn’t help that the side below us were graced with the like’s of Cian Healy, and Paul’O’Donoghue). From there I played with my school, Belvedere College, where I drifted from B’s to C’s. Claim to fame during this period where I ousted current Connacht outhalf Ian Keatley from his outhalf position on the A’s for one match in first year, only to be unceremoniously dropped straight after when the coaches realised that I wasn’t actually any good.

After my school days I went back to Clontarf, playing one season with the under 20’s before finally happily setting on the J4 senior side. Although it’s the second lowest level, we do play in Section A, and come across some very talented players who could easily have played at a higher level.

So anyway, in an effort to improve my ability on the rugby pitch, I’m going to be hitting the gym, and trying to put on a bit of weight onto this skeleton. At the moment I’m 5ft 11 and weigh 69kgs or just under 11 stone. Ideally I’d like to be 12 stone by September. But essentially I’m just going to train hard, and eat as much good stuff as I can.

Unfortunately at the moment the gym in the rugby club is closed as it’s being done up so currently I’m just concentrating on doing HIIT to get fit again after a hiatus from activity for the period of my exams.

I’ll go further in depth about my training in a future blog post, but for now that about raps it up.

That’s all folks….

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