I am retired and take educated guesses on all things financial.

March 30, 2008

March 31, 2008: Smithfield Foods, "Too Many Piggies Go To Market"

Smithfield Foods went whole hog buying up meat assets over the past several years. Heralded at the time, these acquisitions have not been the home run many analysts thought. Then again, who could have foreseen grain prices, fuel prices and myriad other issues several years ago having such an impact on the meat industry - especially pork.

The USDA released data last week indicating that the US hog count is up 7% from a year ago, well above consensus expectations of 4.6%. This is why cash prices for hogs, the crown jewel of Smithfield Foods, remain very, very low. The combination of low hog prices and high feed and fuel costs are very negative for SFD.

To make matters worse, sows fertilized from December-February were up 5% from March of 2007, again well above consensus.

SFD has announced a 5% reduction in its sow herd, but the bad news is that it will take at least one year for these reductions to improve hog prices.

Analysts are divided on this stock. I view the problems with Smithfield Foods serious enough to caution investors away from this issue, for at least the next nine to twelve months. I don't think you will be late to any revival of Smithfield Foods' stock price in the meantime.

SFD is a hog producer and pork and beef processor. The pork segment produces a variety of fresh and smoked pork and packaged meat products in the United States and markets them nationwide and to a number of foreign countries. SFD operates over forty pork processing plants. Beef is a smaller component of the meat business for Smithfield Foods. Beef operations are centered in the US, including a cattle feeding operation. Hog production facilities encompass approximately 900,000 sows producing about 13.9 million hogs annually. SFD takes pride in using all parts of the hog. Everything but the squeal,it appears. Much of what is left after processing and rendering is turned into biofuels.

Trading at $25.96 per share with a 52-week low of $23.75 and high of $35.79, SFD maintains a hefty average daily share volume of 1,275,000 shares. There is no dividend and the P.E. is 18.7. Some reported mutual fund positions include Fidelity Low Priced Stock Fund, Lord Abbett Mid-Cap Value Fund, Vanguard Windsor II Fund and the Pacific Select Mid-Cap Value Portfolio. Tradewinds Global Investors LLC, Lazard Asset Management LLC and the ContiGroup Companies all own a sizable chunk of shares.

I held SFD in my Speculative Portfolio a while back, selling when fuel prices and the ethanol/grain price fiasco began to take hold. I do like the management of SFD. And I believe that this company will be a good purchase - many months from now.


March 26, 2008

March 26, 2008: Madison/Claymore Covered Call and Equity Strategy Fund, for later

The Madison/Claymore Covered Call and Equity Strategy CEF has been around since July of 2004 and has been somewhat of a stinker, earning the "coveted" 1 Star Rating from Morningstar. I have been screening a universe of potential investment funds that will provide solid income with a relatively conservative strategy. In spite of its pathetic Morningstar score, this CEF currently trades at an approximate 10.50% discount from its share price and may be a worthy candidate for the income oriented investor that needs a fund that will juice total returns once the market regains a bullish mode.

MCN is designed to allocate at least 80% of its total assets to an integrated investment strategy in which the Fund invests in a portfolio of equity securities and covered call options on a portion of the equity securities held in the portfolio. The Fund invests at least 65% of its investments in equity securities in large cap issues that meet the Fund Manager's selection criteria, which is discretionary.

This CEF is trading at/near its historic low compared to the 200 day moving average and charts well for a rise in price. The stock trades at $10.84 per share and averages daily volume of approximately 43,000 shares. The current distribution rate is a hefty 12.18%. Dividends have remained steady at 33 cents per quarter. MCN has an expense ratio of 1.25% of total assets.

Prime institutional shareholders include First Trust Portfolios, L.P. with over 6% of all shares outstanding. Others of note include UBS Securities, Farris Baker Watts Incorporated, Merrill Lynch, Wolverine Management and Van Kampen Asset Management

The portfolio itself, as of late February, had as its top holdings United Healthcare, American Eagle, Cisco, Bed Bath and Beyond, Williams Sonoma, Capital One Financial, Kohls, Wells Fargo, Yahoo and EBay. Out of favor today, but probably amongst the early beneficiaries in the first leg of a new bull market. Almost all of the portfolio is held in domestic securities, with 75% in large cap and 25% in mid-cap and ETF Indexes. Covered call options are written to the tune of about 7% of that total, which likely fluctuates.

This CEF at present is not a Fund I would throw cash into. MCN is a CEF I will be following, knowing that it is undervalued, produces a high and stable dividend, and should be an interesting opening act when the bulls decide to start their play.


March 24, 2008

March 25, 2008: In Your Face Yields

Not for the faint of heart, in the land of high yield there are some pickings worth taking a look at to juice up your portfolio return. Before the snipers of finance target me for a burst of incoming, I admit that these issues are highly speculative. Most are not secured by a lot of assets, if any. Some, like the Canadian Energy Trusts, face an uncertain taxable future. Many can be described in terms that stretch even an "R" rating.

In markets we are witnessing worldwide, I submit that many seemingly safe investment bets made during the present cycle have been, looking through the rear view mirror, highly speculative. Over the past year, I have invested in high yield for my speculative portfolio covering the dollar and other currency securities with satisfactory results.

Herein contains a short list of securities that may be worthy of consideration, especially if the dollar is near a bottom and the financial and real estate fiascos are no longer all hiding under a rock but being addressed responsibly. Investors like you and me want to put money to work and may be willing to place a modest wager on products such as those below to perform acceptably.

Penn West Energy Trust (PWE) $27.42 yield 15.4%. Canadian Energy Trust.

Enerplus (ERF) $40.95 yield 12.3%, Canadian Energy Trust.

Teppco Partners (TPP) $34.30 yield 8.10%. Master Limited Partnership.

Alpine Global Dynamic Dividend Fund (AGD) $18.55 yield 11.00%. Closed-End Fund.

Sirius 9.625% Unsecured Note 8/1/13 Cusip:82966UAK9 $82.00. A favorite of mine.

GMAC Smart Notes: 6.00% 2/15/10 Cusip:3704AOWR9 $80.27
4.25% 03/15/09 Cusip: 3704AOGS5 $87.90
Note: There are scores of Smart Notes available in $1000.00 increments. They are thinly traded, and the investor should plan on holding them to maturity. It is my experience that there are always a few notes priced out of sync with the market, providing a superior yield to other like securities. Although rated junk, I do not think that these notes, held by tens of thousands of GM employees, will be allowed to default. Be careful on the spread when ordering.

Embridge Energy Partners (EEP) $45.34 yield 8.5%. Master Limited Partnership.

Annaly Capital Management Perpetual 7.85% Preferred (ALY+A) $20.96 yield 9.4%.

This post is not intended to be the defining word on high yield. One can find exceptional yield with risk through the most perfunctory of searches. Digging for information to keep the odds of success in your favor to successfully play this game requires skill. And luck.


March 21, 2008

March 22, 2008: The Case Against Grain-Based Alternative Fuels. Alternative Energy Investors, Take Note.

This view likely reinforces the opinion of many investors. Ethanol and many other grain-based biofuels are an unmitigated folly as both a means of fuel and as an investment.

A fresh comprehensive study of ethanol and other grain biofuels done by an apparent supporter of the global warming supposition, Tim Searchinger of Princeton University, has appeared to shock the global warming community by accusing most biofuels, in certain terms, of actually being worse for the environment than standard fuels.

The ripple effects of the grain biofuels industry are mammoth. Searchinger comments, "The simplest explanation is that when we divert our (grains) to fuel, if people around the world are going to continue to eat the same amount that they're already eating, you have to replace that food somewhere else." The answer to this statement is that grain biofuel production is driving agriculture to expand in other parts of the world. "That's done in a significant part by burning down forests, plowing up grasslands and thus releasing a great deal of carbon dioxide. Right now, there's little doubt that making global warming worse."

Alex Farrell at the University of California, Berkeley, agrees. "I think this paper will have major implications for the use of biofuels around the world. If you care about greenhouse gasses then .... the biofuel industry is going in the wrong direction."

This is not just an academic matter. Federal law states that future biofuel sources will eventually need to be certified as benefiting the climate. If this latest study holds up to scrutiny, the biofuel industry that is plant-based would flunk that test.

This new study concludes that even vast efficiency improvements in ethanol production won't change the equation. As long as the starting material is grown on farmland, Searchinger says, biofuels will be bad for the planet. And, say I, bad for investors.

One solution would be to replace all farmland-based biofuel with other wastes. Animal byproducts, garbage, etc. appear to by a possible solution. Nova Biofuels comes to mind (NBF) as a play on this theme. As a practical matter, we cannot produce enough roadkill and trash to replace standard fuels. To paraphrase, would you want an animal or garbage rendering biofuel factory near your home?

Not only is an increasingly informed scientific community voting (reluctantly) against alternative grain biofuels in their present form. Companies such as Pacific Ethanol, based in Sacramento, California, illustrate the coming fiasco of plant-based biofuel efforts. Profit margins are vanishing, new ethanol plants are being second-guessed or cancelled and many existing facilities are struggling.

Investment analyst Eitan Bernstein who follows Pacific Ethanol and other producers, said demand may be increasing but not quickly enough to justify new facilities. Larger producers such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland "all say they have their antennae up," states Neil Hart, economics professor emeritus at Iowa State University.

The spike in corn prices which has made the price of ethanol even less competitive with fossil fuels and has been a disaster which has only been partially relieved by increasing government subsidies. Our Congress, of course, cannot subsidize the biofuel crops such as corn elsewhere in the world whose price spikes have caused riots and near starvation to the poor in Latin America.

"We now have $6.00 corn and $2.00 ethanol", says Rick Eastman who built one of the first big ethanol plants and is now a consultant for Pacific Ethanol.

I'll bet Bill Gates never thought of the unintended harm from the cool $84m he dropped into Pacific Ethanol during construction of their first ethanol plant in Madera, CA in 2006. Another liberal feel-good program gone haywire? Big surprise.

The only way for grain biofuels to make money is through government subsidies by the wealthy, liberal-leaning nations around the globe. And the higher cost of grain because of its use as a subsidized fuel will push those least able to afford the progressive global warming agenda powering the biofuel engine further into the economic hell which will justifiably spawn more starvation and anti-American angst.

Let's face facts. Ethanol is 20% less efficient than gasoline. It takes 450 pounds of corn, for instance, to produce the ethanol to fill a seventeen gallon fuel tank.
That's enough corn to feed one person for a year or more. And it takes more than one gallon of fossil fuel - coal, oil and natural gas- to produce one gallon of ethanol. Corn and other biofuel grains must be grown, fertilized, harvested and piped (problematic) or trucked (still considered a risky ride for truckers) to ethanol producers - all of which are fuel intensive activities.

Ethanol would not survive in the free market. That is why Congress enacted ethanol subsidies of between $1.05-$1.38/gallon. One more tax on the U.S. consumer. Incredibly, we charge a 54 cent tariff against Brazilian ethanol made from sugar cane - a much more efficient bio-feed for fuel. Perhaps burning away chunks of the Amazon rain forest to plant the sugar cane for ethanol may have played a hand in this.

Grain-based ethanol mania has driven up the price of livestock, poultry and dairy products. Your breakfast cereal, too.

"The grain-based ethanol hoax is a sterling example of a program economists refer to as narrow, well-defined benefits versus widely dispersed costs. It pays the ethanol lobby to organize and collect money to grease the palms of politicians willing to do their bidding because there's a large benefit for them - higher wages and profits. The millions of fuel consumers, who fund the benefits through higher fuel costs and food prices, as well as taxes, are relatively uniformed and have little clout." - Dr. Walter Williams, distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University.

Eventually, the grain-based ethanol charade will have to come to a conclusion. My bet is that non-grain biofuels will benefit. But so will coal, oil and natural gas companies presently on the global warming hit list. As P.T. Barnum said,"You can't fool all the people all the time."

Thanks to sources such as NPR, and for contributing to this post.


March 19, 2008

March 20, 2008: So This Market Is Going To Do What?

Picture: Bozo gives you his learned advice.

I have seen way too many talking heads and the usual "experts" trying to game this market to the consternation of individual investors. The media explosion of outlets for the expert analysis (guess) has never been so pronounced. My advice - view it as entertainment and expect to receive little but confusion for your time spent watching and listening. I will grant the internet and especially:
accolades for bringing new investment products to our attention, along with interesting opinions that are so labeled.

The study of history is important.

It helps investors to place their security bets in perspective within a diversified portfolio.

Investors studying history know what happened to governments that staked their survival on impregnable castles when - surprise - the cannon was invented. Or what happened to European civilization when the black plague arrived. Or what happened to inland canals (the original American growth industry) when the railroads multiplied. These type of history lessons teach you how surprising surprises can be. They remind you that change is coming - unannounced.

History calls your attention to what is possible, including things you should allow for in your investment plans. And history arms you with concrete examples that refute the ideas that other people accept as gospel.

But, history is not a road map to the future. Nothing in history (or economics) suggests that it is. In fact, history is riddled more with surprise and change than with repetition.

Thus, technical analysts, chartists, wave theory mongers and the like should be generally avoided. There are no truly authoritative theories to prove any of these type of investment practices. If there were, the theory would have to be correct 100%of the time. Thus, these prognosticators, when correct, are lucky, not especially learned. Of course, there are the excuses for failure from these folks. If a bull or bear market continues longer, it is an "extension". It may be called the first "downward" or "upward" move of the ensuing bull or bear market period, although they never tell us in advance to expect an extension,inversion or other irregularity.A stock will receive the usual "but,for" treatment to explain technical or cyclical errors.

An analyst will almost always find a way to explain market action in terms of a theory, no matter how far fetched the explanation might be to someone who examines it closely. Even if the analyst is correct, it would still be after the fact, explaining only the past. The above alchemists never can warn you reliably of something to come.

As with any sect, these individuals have a bagful of logical tricks to explain to us "amateurs" what are contradictions.If you study these explanations closely, you may find some humor in them, as I have.

It is your money. Do your homework. Listen and enjoy media for entertainment. Importantly,do your own homework, keeping a diversified portfolio under your control using the best products available. And speculate only with cash you can afford to live without.

March 18, 2008

March 19, 2008: Claymore Sector Rotation ETF: Out of shape

I own the Claymore/Zacks Sector Rotation ETF. I bought it because the concept of rotating in and out of sectors determined by professionals running an index that was respected as a part of my portfolio was appealing. Looking at their current portfolio and judging the ETF's overall performance, I am disappointed and will sell it to reinvest in other securities.

Granted, XRO has not been in existence for a long period of time (9/21/2006)and may still prove that their concept makes it worthwhile to invest in. Perhaps I was expecting too much of XRO, given current market conditions. But it has been a laggard in my portfolio and I have come to the realization that sector rotation happens too quickly for a fund such as XRO following an index (the Zacks Sector Rotation Index in this case) and causes this ETF to be too little and too late to the sector rotation party.

XRO is a popular ETF. It has over $113m in managed assets and trades very close to asset value. It holds approximately one hundred securities, has an expense ratio of 60% and trades upwards of 55,000 shares per day. Currently tie ETF trades at $27.09/share paying a miserly .69% dividend. Share price has ranged from $26.46-$33.13 over the past year.

The top current holdings are Gilead Sciences (2.19%), Union Pacific (2.10), CVS Corporation (2.04%), McDonalds (1.99%), Hewlett Packard (1.98%), Thermo Electron (1.96%), Deere (1.88%), Emerson Electric (1.85%) and DaimlerChrysler AG (1.83%). Reviewing other securities in their portfolio roster leaves me less than impressed.

Sector-wise, approximately 27% is in Tech, 21% in Medical, 13% Industrial Products, and 13% in Retail.The remainder is divided into Consumer Discretionary, Aerospace, Autos, Business Services, Multi-Sector Conglomerates and Transportation. Looking at the March 17 roster of top ten securities and those listed as of December 31st, they read almost the same. Having over 95% in domestic equities with little or no sector exposure in commodities for months, failing to include effectively researched financials now at what may well be a bottom, for example,indicates to me that their rotation equates to turning a battleship in a canal. Recession, inflation, currency valuations, foreign influences, ETC. on sectors? The "sector rotation" is stuck in the mud.

Granted, this ETF did beat the S&P in 2007 and is performing at a par with many other Funds. One could make the observation that I am too tough on XRO. My view is that if a security has a mission to be a professionally indexed rotation fund, then this ETF has been too slow, too stodgy, too often to warrant my investment cash. I expected better and am willing to accept more aggressive sector maneuvers to get it.

Claymore does have some interesting products. Perhaps their Country Rotation Fund (CRO) will hit a sweet spot and be a worthwhile addition to a diversified portfolio.


March 16, 2008

March 16, 2008: Grin and "Bear" It with PowerShares' Preferred Financial Portfolio

Amid carnage and declining interest rates, angst and panic may well be a dominant emotion as we head through the week and for some time beyond. If one can "Bear" it, I recommend taking a strong look at PowerShares' Preferred Financial Portfolio (PGF) which delivers a solid 7% yield and has performed well during the past few months as financials have tested the will of the most speculative of investors.

I like the portfolio of this fund and after the expected sell off of financials, I would give PGF a look. A strong look.

Trading at $21.25 going into Monday, the fund has remained around that share price for months. Providing a monthly dividend, PGF has a market cap of $198m and lately has averaged about 111,000 shares per day in volume.

For those who place financials at the "Stearn" of investment ideas, hear me out.

PGF is tied to the Wachovia Hybrid and Preferred Securities Financial Index. 80% of assets are invested in preferred securities of financial institutions.The fund rarely holds the securities of over thirty financial institutions. As I mentioned back in early January, 2008, the PGF portfolio is about as good as I can fathom given the present situation.The top ten preferred holdings are Royal Bank of Scotland (7,25% yield),ING Pref. Stock (7.38%), MetLife (6.50%), HSBC Holdings (6.20%), ING Groep (6.38%), Wachovia Corp. Pref. (6.00%), Barclays Bank Pref.(7.75%), Goldman Sachs (6.20%), Merrill Lynch (6.38%) and Aegon (7.25%). These securities comprise about 46% of the portfolio. No, there is no "BS". Securities in the Fund are rated according to Moody's approximately 34% AA, 48% A, 17% Baa and 1% oops.

I would not advocate buying this Fund Monday morning. I would tuck this little gem into your portfolio candidates for purchase when you feel it is time to take the plunge. I have already taken it and have been even plus receiving dividend checks for a couple of months.

Franklin Roosevelt's " The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" is a good quote today. So is W.C. Fields' "Never give a sucker an even break."

"However beautiful the strategy, you must occasionally look at the results." - Winston Churchill


March 07, 2008

March 7, 2008: I see ICICI as being attractive. Soon.

I was a shareholder of the large private Indian bank, ICICI (IBN) a few years ago and enjoyed the stock as it ascended from nothing to something. Then I sold it. Having missed the move from the $30s to the mid-$70s, I am now revisiting the security for potential purchase. I do not relish trying to catch a falling knife (the chart of ICICI speaks for itself) However, going swiftly below its 200-day moving average with price earnings down to about 26 (still a bit too high)puts this $26b and growing bank back on my radar screen.

ICICI Bank offers numerous and diverse products and services in the areas of commercial banking to retail and corporate customers in India and nineteen foreign countries. A branch opened in New York City last week. ICICI offers treasury and investment banking and other products like life insurance and asset management. Other operations for retail customers consist of lending and deposits, private banking, distribution of third-party investment products and other fee-based products and services. IBN also issues unsecured redeemable bonds. The commercial division provides standard services that create diverse revenue streams. To keep the socialist government less contentious, ICICI has willingly located into rural and inner urban areas of India, providing micro loans and banking service access for some of the poorest of India's citizens - not really profitable but politically astute. Moving another direction, ICICI acquired a successful private bank, Sangli Bank Limited in 2007 and over the past few ears has expanded internationally. I expect the international moves to pay off handsomely for the large Indian immigrant communities overseas and as a gateway for international corporate access to the dynamic Indian economy.

Trading at $45.38 per share, IBN has been hit hard by Indian real estate market woes and the temporary stalling of growth hurting many banks in a recessionary climate. Some are calling the Indian, Russian and Chinese stock markets a bubble that is likely to burst. I will not quarrel with the notion that these markets have come too far too soon, but the growth potential for Democratic India versus Putinism in The Russian Federation and Communism in China, is more compelling in my view.IBN will participate in this growth and also will likely increase its exposure, profits and credibility overseas.

Although IBN's growth rate places it amongst the best of banks, it does have major issues with efficiency and management effectiveness regarding return on assets. There is some risk that the present management may not be competent to take ICICI to the next level.I disagree.There are signs that management is learning from past errors and moving forward with shareholder interests in mind.Once the stock stabilizes in the $38 per share area that I suspect may be close to a bottom, it is likely that IBN will again join my portfolio.

This bank is in too lucrative a region, has too many good aspects to its story (especially moving ahead internationally) and has a lack of any real creative competition from other Indian banks to not rise up from the current smackdown.


March 04, 2008

March 4, 2008: Northrup Grumman: In Defense

The big fight over the next few weeks will be the USAF decision to award a potential $35b contract to a consortium of companies led by Northrup-Grumman (NOC) and Airbus to build the next generation of vital air refueling tanker aircraft. Tanker aircraft allow our airborne assets to be utilized worldwide. Tanker aircraft also take the politics out of landing rights - unfortunately, they do not take the politics out of Washington. There is an outcry from the usual political suspects - especially in Washington State and Kansas, that appear to view the military as a jobs program instead of procurement of defense assets of the highest quality at the best price. Granted that the "best price" at times becomes a cost overrun embarrassment, in this case, the decision by the Air Force was both prudent and in keeping with their military procurement guidelines. The fact the Boeing (the loser) tried to juice contracts to the USAF on this program and others over the years was not taken into consideration - but should have been, which would have made the decision even more decisive.In an obvious slap at the politicians,Pentagon acquisition officer John Young said that the Air Force followed the bidding rules carefully and there was no obvious reason to protest the contract." An independent team of Pentagon civilian and military experts tracked every step of the process". The NOC-Airbus consortium proposal was judged to be a superior acquisition in almost every respect. The fact that Boeing tried to use the 767 instead of the 777 fuselage in their proposal was viewed as a poor choice, as the USAF was interested in quantity of fuel to be transported, not just a small measure of fuel efficiency from the smaller aircraft.

The fact is, NOC will be building the plane in Alabama and will create 25,000 jobs in the United States during the production of this aircraft. Companies such as EADS North America, General Electric Aviation, Sargent Fletcher, Honeywell, Parker, AAR Cargo Systems, Telephonics, Knight Aerospace and others in the US will benefit.

Although this is a big win for NOC, I believe that Northrup Grumman, currently priced at $80.25 per share (with a 52 week range of $71.31-$86.21) is a $100.00 stock based upon its many other facets. With a market cap of $27.1b, this company is a well-respected producer in command and control systems, large scale intelligence information systems, missile defense systems, advanced radar systems, civilian government and public safety information systems,conventional and nuclear powered naval ships (like the recently launched "New York" made of steel from the Word Trade Center), satellites for a wide variety of missions, system sustainment, logistics support and training, high energy laser systems, health information systems and unmanned aerial vehicles. NOC is one of the very best defense contractors and is on the leading edge of military systems to protect our country and our friends worldwide.

It is my view that regardless of what party wins the White House, aero defense will command a top priority as adversaries such as China and fanatic minions with access to ever more compact and powerful weapons and WMDs ramp up for power politics not too far into this century. NOC will reward our country and its shareholders with steady profits, earned from a job well done.


March 01, 2008

March 3, 2008: Securities With Rich Dividends: Why Not?

Many investors are trying to game the fickle markets here and abroad. My guess is that most trying to do so are losing money. Sure, money "pros" have eclectic strategies that in most cases are too complex for the average investor to implement (let alone keep track of). If only these investment gurus would alert investors when it was time to jettison their previously recommended portfolio potpourri and scurry to the next brilliant get rich plan. Alas, investors find that just when the best laid investment plan is implemented, something goes wrong to spoil it.

I admit to gaming the market myself, but I have learned over thirty-five years to temper my ego and speculative inclinations by going in the direction of reasonably safe higher yield investments with meaningful international exposure that will pay you to wait for a better investment climate, receive excellent cash flow with the likelihood of modest capital gains and avoid paying to see a psychiatrist for depression and anxiety disorders.

This article is too brief to give the reader a comprehensive roster of good higher yield investments.For starters, here are a few that you can investigate.

I like Master Limited Partnerships such as Kinder Morgen Energy Partners(KMP)6.06%, Enbridge Energy Partners (EEM)7.60% and Teppco(TPP)7.36%.

Two CEF's are in my portfolio. Calamos Global Total Return Fund (CGO) 8.34% and the Alpine Global Dynamic Dividend Fund (AGD) 10.59%.

For the speculator, short maturity GMAC Smart Notes are worth exploring. There are so many, I find that several are regularly priced overcompensating risk. Recently, issues of note for the speculator were the 3/15/09 at 8/09%, the 7/15/09 at 8.12% and the 1/15/2010 at 10.05%. Watch the spread. Plan to held these notes to maturity and do not buy more than three years out.

ETF's will play a role for the dividend oriented investor. I admit to a bias for financials in the belief that they will most certainly bounce back and give the investor a nice capital gain in addition to their current higher yield. Investors may want to consider PowerShares Sovereign Debt ETF(PCY) 5.91%, PowerShares Financial Preferred Portfolio ETF (PGF) 6.68%,IShares S&P Global Financial Sector ETF (IXG)3.97% and IShares Mortgage REIT (REM) 9.54%.

One commercial REIT I like for yield is Monmouth Realty Investment Company (MNRTA) 8.61%.

The Standard and Poors' High Yield roster usually displays approximately fifty stocks for yield. However, I generally do not place much faith in them to continue their generous payouts. Many companies have current high yields for a reason, which may be contrary to the investor's interest. Buyer beware.

Seasoned investors may take issue with one or more of my investment ideas. The intent of this piece is to encourage investors not to chase securities in a world market jarred by whipsawed action, and to be satisfied with hitting singles in the investment game when at present swinging wildly at high fast balls gets the lion's share of hype. Doing your homework to uncover worthwhile high yield securities is worth the effort.