Archives for May 2013

May 2013 - Money Morning - Only the News You Can Profit From

A Simple Way For the Average Guy to Have His Own "Hedge Fund"

Setting aside the $2.13 trillion under management, there is a certain mystique attached to hedge funds and the people, like George Soros, Carl Icahn, and John Paulson, who manage them.

At one time, hedge fund managers were counted among the "Masters of the Universe." Most of the "rich lists" include no small portion of these types.

But all of these big money managers ultimately live or die on performance.

If their fund takes a dive, the manager might not even draw a paycheck. Meanwhile, the wildly successful managers are compensated far and above what the average Wall Street or London über-banker receives.

But this year, the hedge funds have collectively lagged behind the S&P 500 by about 10% according to Goldman Sachs. Analysts there credit this underwhelming performance to overly bear-ish fund managers who like to short stocks like Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), only to see the stocks head the other way.

Part of the allure of the hedge fund world is that they are usually open only to "accredited investors," certain high net worth individuals who meet the criteria, laid out in SEC Regulation D, rules 505 and 506, for investing in hedge funds [emphasis added].

Here are just a few of the criteria:

  • a bank, insurance company, registered investment company, business development company, or small business investment company;
  • a director, executive officer, or general partner of the company selling the securities;
  • a natural person who has individual net worth, or joint net worth with the person's spouse, that exceeds $1 million at the time of the purchase, excluding the value of the primary residence of such person;
  • a natural person with income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year; or
  • a trust with assets in excess of $5 million, not formed to acquire the securities offered, whose purchases a sophisticated person makes.

A Poor Man's Hedge Fund

As for the rest of us, who may not be "accredited investors?" We're on our own-but not completely.

There are certain ways to taste the rarified air of the hedge fund crowd.

There is an ETF, the Global X Guru Holdings Index ETF (NYSEArca:GURU). Global X's methodology involves scouring the numerous 13F forms that fund managers are required to file. The fund searches for the best performing holdings among the hedge funds – the managers' top picks – with the least turnover, and takes you along for the ride. It's been called the "poor man's hedge fund."

GURU has been around a little less than a year, and has beaten the S&P 500 by a respectable 18 percent.

It's not bad, but their track record is thin on time and the truth is there are ways to do even better…

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How 401(k) Fees Are Costing You 33% of Your Nest Egg

If you have a 401(k) chances are you're getting ripped off and you don't even know it.

With all of the associated 401(k) fees, the truth is you could be losing as much as 33% of your retirement nest egg to the financial advisors who run your plan.

Typically, these fees are completely buried in your 401(k) statement– and even if you do manage to find out how much they are, the fees won't seem like much at first glance.

But overtime, the fees can literally cost you a small fortune.

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How to Find the Best Undervalued Stocks to Buy Now

When looking for the best undervalued stocks to buy now, you can't just consider those that have lagged the broader market.  

Many companies that are down for the year in what has been a strong stock market have declined for solid reason and the near and intermediate-term outlook is still weak.

While there is a tendency for these undervalued stocks to eventually revert to the mean, you can increase your odds of a successful contrarian investment by selecting those that are also cheap on one important valuation measure.

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Will U.S. Shale Oil Boom Affect Global Markets?

The boom in shale oil production in the United States isn't expected to have much impact on global markets.

That's partly because demand among developing countries is expected to increase dramatically.

At the same time, the U.S. continues to move toward energy independence – and OPEC countries assume that by 2050 they won't sell a single barrel of oil to the United States, Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors told FOX Business.

Dr. Moors explains in the accompanying video where OPEC has now shifted its attention…

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Energy Stocks to Buy Now: Two of the Best "Pick and Shovel" Plays

If you could pick stocks to buy among the companies tied to the California Gold Rush, miners would not have been your best bets. 

The miners were not guaranteed to get rich. While some of them did in spectacular fashion, many went completely broke.

One subset of those who flocked to the region actually did very well for themselves. They were the ones who ventured out not to look for gold but to sell supplies. It may not have been as exciting as digging for gold, but the profits were sure and steady.

Merchants made a fine living and built fortunes selling axes, pans and other items to the masses of gold hunters flocking to the region.

Business was so good that one firm in New York took to the region to sell tents, bedding and denim pants to the miners.

Indeed, young Levi Strauss experienced quite a run of success in this endeavor…

The same profit distribution has been true over the years in the oil and gas industry to some degree. Much like the Gold Rush, there are risks associated with the search for oil and gas exploration and production.

Although they cannot always escape the economic cycle of the industry, the company that sell supplies are not exposed to as much high-cost and risk as the exploration companies are. That's why many of these suppliers have managed to stay in the black, while the exploration and production companies have struggled for profits.

And it's why some of the best energy stocks to buy now are the supporting players in the continued exploration process.

Here's What Really Happened in the Botched Facebook IPO

What really happened on May 18, 2012, with the botched IPO of Facebook Inc. (NasdaqGS: FB)?

Well, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) just released its version of events under the guise of Administrative Proceeding File No. 3-15339.

And "In the Matter of THE NASDAQ STOCK MARKET, LLC and NASDAQ EXECUTION SERVICES, LLC (Respondents)" the SEC slapped wrists and fined the fools $10 million for screwing up Facebook's IPO – the largest-ever fine imposed on an exchange.

Of course, it's good reading. But there's something missing.

It's called "the truth."

Water Resources Dry Up, Opportunities Arise

In a recent conversation about resources I had with Rick Rule, founder of Sprott Global Resource Investments, our talk kept coming back to water.

Let's just say, Rick likes water. Or rather, the prospects for water investments.

Rick's offices are in California, so he knows only too well the supply problems plaguing southwestern U.S. states.

To put things bluntly, water is necessary, in short supply, and getting more expensive.

Asia's Love Affair with Investing in Gold Continues

One megatrend continues on its path, unperturbed, with no end in sight: The East's huge push for investing in gold.

This was discussed in a recent Money Morning article on the "Love Trade" in gold by guest writer Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors.

Wall Street, never enamored with investing in gold in the first place, still leads the charge to sell the precious metal at every opportunity.

Meanwhile, Asians – led by India and China – pick up as much of the shiny metal as they can every time the price is pushed lower by Wall Street selling.

Just look at what happened when gold prices hit a two-year low in mid-April thanks to huge short sales in the futures market. This set off a buying frenzy in Asia for gold, according to the World Gold Council (WGC).

The WGC says Asian gold demand in the current second quarter is expected to hit a record high. The Council expects Indian gold imports to be between 350 and 400 tons in the quarter, up 200% from a year earlier and nearly half of 2012's total gold imports!

Its managing director, Marcus Grubb, said net imports of gold into China in April alone were around 160-170 tons. Demand has continued apace since then, so the WGC believes demand could reach 880 tons this in China.

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Eurozone Debt Crisis Exposes What EU Leaders Fear Most

European Union leaders have seemingly changed their tune lately on how best to deal with the long-running Eurozone debt crisis.

Increasingly, EU politicians have been sounding the theme that economic growth – not Eurozone austerity – is the answer, and that deadlines set for reductions in public spending needed to be loosened.

It started about a month ago, with none other than European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

"While I think this policy [of austerity] is fundamentally right, I think it has reached its limits," Barroso said. "A policy to be successful not only has to be properly designed, it has to have the minimum of political and social support."

Shortly afterward, French Prime Minister Pierre Moscovici chimed in, "We're witnessing the end of the dogma of austerity."

Meanwhile, the European Commission seemed to confirm the policy shift when it recently extended the deadlines for most of the troubled EU nations to fix their budget deficits.

News headlines throughout Europe trumpeted the "end of austerity."

But what the EU leaders have really done is buy themselves more time by stretching out the Eurozone austerity policies – which are mostly still in place – over a longer period of time.

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The Real Concern with the Smithfield-Shuanghui Merger

My first thoughts on Wednesday's announcement of a merger between Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. and Smithfield Foods Inc. (NSYE: SFD) selfishly went straight to my refrigerator: about the last thing that I want to eat is a Chinese meat product.

Just over the last few months, Chinese police made several arrests for "meat-related offences," including the large-scale marketing and selling of rodents as mutton.

In March, over 16,000 pig carcasses floated down the Huangpu River, in an incident authorities have yet to expose. And China is consistently plagued with avian flu and E.Coli outbreaks, and episodes of dangerous additives found in their food products.

Then I read Smithfield CEO Larry Pope's comments on the deal, which stress that the idea is to send American pork to China, not the opposite.

China consumes the most pork in the world, and the numbers continue to rise, while American pork consumption is decreasing.

Money Morning Global Investing Strategist Martin Hutchinson, a 30-year global merchant banker, explains the gist of the merger:

"China has much more respect for American food standards than it does for its own. And pork continues to grow in popularity throughout Asia. If this deal gets done, Shuanghui will be able to sell pork into China with the Smithfield brand. And that means they will be able to charge premium prices."

Also, Shuanghui promised there will be no closures or relocations of Smithfield's operations or management.

Turns out there is a concern related to the Smithfield-Shuanghui merger, but it's not about meat quality.

Instead, it's a matter of national security.

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