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

April 24, 2010

April 25, 2010: American Century Launches Strategic Inflation Opportunities Fund

Many seasoned investors have come to the conclusion that all "good" things will come to an end regarding low interest rates and government-stimulated schemes. It is surmised that the end game will be inflation and a depressed dollar coupled with higher taxes to claw out of the massive debt.

Of course, the exact path will be muddy, and to some extent unpredictable. Thus, bets must be placed on a variety of securities, currencies and commodities while still grasping for some yield.

On April 30th, American Century Investments will launch what may be a very comfortable no-load fund to address the above - the Strategic Inflation Opportunities Fund. This investment vehicle will be managed by both fixed income and quantitative equity experts from American Century's stable of respected professionals, including senior portfolio managers Robert Gahagan, William Martin, Scott Wittman, Federica Garcia, John Lovito and Brian Howell.

Fifty percent of the fund will invest in US fixed income securities, including inflation-indexed securities issued by corporations and the US government. Twenty-five percent of the fund will be invested in commodity-related investments such as commodity-linked notes and stocks of companies engaged in the commodity oriented businesses. And, twenty-five percent of the portfolio will be invested in non-US dollar investments such as currency instruments, foreign government or corporate high quality debt and inflation-indexed securities.

The benchmark will be achieving a total return of three percentage points above the Barclays Capital 1-3 Month Treasury Bill Index.

With some excellent leadership aboard, this new fund may be worthwhile to explore as an addition to your portfolio. As with all new fund launches, make sure to be patient and look under the hood for the asset roster. And, of course, the "hidden" costs of ownership.

I believe a managed fund with the stated goal of being mindful of inflation in many forms may well perform in a superior way to an index-based entity. Flexibility counts.

April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010: A Tasty Stock Is J&J Snack Foods

If you are a vegan or into organic locally-grown foodstuffs, leave the room now.

Anyone with a taste for Cinnabon Cinna Pretzel, Funnel Cake, Mrs. GoodCookie,Texas Twist,Slush Puppie, Minute Maid Juice Bars, Luigi's Italian Ices? How about a nice super-stuffed PretzelFil or an Arctic Blast?

J&J Snack Foods (JJSF) is a nationwide purveyor of tasty treats and snacks. The distributor of all the above and more (a Mary B's Biscuit, perhaps?), J&J has done a commendable job successfully marketing quality snack food. The company also has Whole Fruit and California Natural within it's stable of tummy satisfying treats.

Of interest to shareholders, the company will announce its results and projections in a conference call April 23rd. Last quarter (January 2010), the company handily beat street expectations, earning $0.38/ share vs. the $0.27 prediction average.

JJSF trades at $43.30/share, with a 52 week range of $32.10/44.90. It sports a 1% yield and has a market cap of approximately $797m. The company has show steady growth both internally and through strategic acquisitions. J&J Snack Foods has no debt.

President and Chairman Gerald Shreiber proudly states that JJSF was "born of ashes and dust by destiny, and represents all of what is right in this country. This tiny eight employee company that was purchased out of bankruptcy in 1971 found niches, gathered special people and products and mixed them together carefully, with the passion and pride that is the essence of the American Dream. We are and will remain conservative with our discipline and liberal with our thinking."

You have to root for a President that is so proud of his company.

And while I do not recommend an "overweight" position, JJSF itself may be a wholesome addition to your portfolio.

The author has no position in JJSF at this time.

April 04, 2010

April 5, 2010: Hyundai Forges Ahead

Hyundai Automotive Group posted record sales in March, 15.4% over March 2009. The Sonata, Hyundai's excellent mid-sized sedan, came in third place after the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

During the current economic downdraft, two primary events have occurred to propel Hyundai forward. The quality, style, fit and finish of Hyundai vehicles have been widely judged to be very good to excellent, and the price point has been thousands less than comparable vehicles.

Some analysts have attributed Hyundai's performance to generous discounts on vehicles, higher sales to rental-car operators and accepting buyers with higher credit default risks than competitors. Recent sales, though, may have dispelled those notions, as the discounts are less than most competitors and sales to rental-car operators have flattened. In short, buyers coming into Hyundai showrooms like the quality and love the price for the product they see. Kia, intertwined with Hyundai, attracts a lower-end buyer, yet the quality is still better than expected, and several Kia vehicles have received good reviews.

This week, Hyundai announced a new hybrid 2011 Sonata to be unleashed in late November with a better-than-Toyota battery that can run fully on electricity at speeds up to up to 62 m.p.h., ideally suited for commuters. It is said to be more efficient than the Prius. Also coming shortly, a 4 cylinder 274-horse Sonata with a price point of under $25g.Lately, several international brokerage houses have mentioned Hyundai in glowing terms.

Investors wanting to jump onto the Hyundai bandwagon may want to investigate Hyundai Motor Company on the OTC Pink Sheets, symbols HYMTF or HYMLF.The adventuresome may want to look into the stock on the Korean exchange (011760). The Hyundai name is a part of many Korean heavy industry components, so know what you are looking at before you invest. Trading on the pink sheets can be flaccid and pricey.

With Hyundai making major inroads into the US and world auto markets, exploring ways to latch onto this company may be well worth your effort. When Toyota and Honda are concerned about Hyundai's steady progress taking world market share of automotive product, that is a good sign.