Saturday, April 30, 2016

On travel

This is the main article of my travel books. I use traveling to Rome where the cruise line starts as an illustration. It should apply to other travel planning. Most are just common sense. It may be repeated in Personal Impression.

Where to go

My cruise started in Rome, so I did not have a choice to choose cities. However, I would avoid the following countries or cities due to:
·         Political unrest or at war (most countries involved in the Middle East conflicts today for example).
·         Sanitary problems (such as India).
·         Pollution (such as Beijing).
·         Safety (many South American countries).
·         Some countries require visas and valid passports.

When to avoid

·         Summer in West Europe (as most are taking vacation and it is flocked with tourists).
·         Golden tourist weeks and Chinese New Year in China.
·         School holidays/vacations if you have a choice.
·         Winter in many colder countries such as the Baltic.
·         Hurricane season in Caribbean countries and tornado season in the tornado alley in the US.
·         Typhoon season (usually during summer) in Asia. 
·         Snow storm.
·         During conventions – check them out for the cities you want to travel to by googling “city name, month and year, convention”.

Make compromises

We cannot eliminate so many places and times to travel. Besides wars and natural disasters, we can reduce most problems by the following:
·         Talk to your doctor to have all the shots that help you in case of eating contaminated food.
·         Avoid street foods especially in emerging countries. Eat more fruits and food with disposal skins such as bananas. One old lady in Thailand selling street food uses the same bucket of water for the entire day.
·         Eat hot food (or cold food) supposed to be hot (or cold).
·         Do not drink tap water unless you know they are safe. For some cities, avoid water even for brushing teeth.
·         Check whether your planned trip is in season for any possible storm.
·         Avoid snowy regions unless there are good reasons such as skiing. Same for connecting flights.
·         Picking pockets is quite popular in Europe including St. Petersburg. When you carry a bag carelessly and/or a camera, you’re the target. Sometimes they work as a group. Do not talk to strangers especially beautiful girls. Gypsies are very skillful in picking pockets.
·         My friend told me some money was stolen from the hotel safe in South America.
·         Ransom for kidnapping is quite popular in South America.
·         They have devices to read your credit cards.
·         Many live on $2 per day in India. Stealing or cheating you $10 could be the entire expenditure for the whole week.
·         Be especially careful in non-tourist areas especially in high crime areas.
·         Do not be too friendly unless you trust your strangers.
·         More relaxed and less expensive during off seasons.
·         The legal-brand products are protected and enforced in Europe. Leave the imitators home and do not buy them in the street.
·         We used the tours in China. They are low priced due to promotions. They make the money from the commissions they make by taking you to shops and factories. Avoid buying these over-priced merchandises as much as possible.
·         Check the merchandise you are buying. They could replace them with defective items or expired medicines. 
·         Enjoy the over-priced shows they take you as they cannot make money on the tours alone.
·         In China, typically breakfasts are great especially in big cities. The more remote the place is, the worse is the food. However, the scenery is far better in remote locations. If I want to see concrete forest, I would visit New York City.
·         If you plan the tour yourself, try to have a local tour for some attractions that individuals cannot take full advantage of.
·         Thailand has a lot to offer. Japan is very expensive to stay. Hong Kong has lost its shopping paradise due to its high rents.
·         Vancouver and Toronto have the best Chinese food in term of quality, safety and price.
·         Do not over eat in cruises. The delicious foods are usually not healthy. Have a full breakfast if you have an excursion later. Cut down in greasy food. For example, have one scramble egg instead of two and one beacon strip instead of multiple stripes. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.
·         I missed many delicious (but not too healthy) meals many times. Try local offers.  Make reservations early on specialized restaurants on days at sea. Even at extra cost, most are usually great deals.
·         Tipping in the cruises is pretty compulsory. In Europe, tips may be included in the bill. Beer and wine could be cheaper than mineral water.

Save money

·         Again, travel in off season would save you a lot of money.
·         In Rome, order the entrance tickets to Vatican Museum on-line to avoid the long line especially during tourist season.
·         If you have not, try to avoid the crowd by going in the afternoon.
·         Most attractions in Rome are within walking distance. Get a good map and plan your walking trip. Take the bus if you’re tired especially in the hot summer days. Two days and three nights is fine for most. One extra day would be more relaxing. Try
·         Avoid eating right in the attraction or places you see a lot of your fellow tourists. Just around the corner or you could find a lot of local folks and they could be the best eating places.
·         If you really want good food at good prices, use the internet for research.
·         Most hotels in Rome have breakfasts included. If not, include the breakfast cost for comparison.
·         Try to find a hotel close to the train station or subway station.
·         Hotels usually provide free maps. Ask them for assistance in planning your trip.
·         The train service in Rome is excellent. It is very simple to use the machine to buy tickets. Some ladies assisted us. Avoid them as they’re trying to get as much tips from you as possible. There is no free lunch.
·         Use the internet to find the cost and the train schedule.  Most trains to the same location have both an express train and a slower train. Depending on when will the express train arrive, a slower train could be faster.
·         We use the train to go to the seaport where we board our cruise ship. It is about an hour ride if my memory serves me right.
·         We took a cab from our hotel to the train station. We could walk over there easily even with luggages.
·         From the internet, we booked a shuttle from the airport to our hotel. It is cheap and there are many other options. They stopped every hotel during our ride. We’re not in a hurry so the free city tour was worth it.
·         The online travel agency gave us a big discount for ordering excursions. We took the package of three ports. It turned out they were very decent and good value.
·         We also had onboard credit. You cannot use the credit to book excursions before the cruise (that is why it is called ‘onboard’).
·         Using the onboard credit, we booked another excursion. The excursions seem to be more expensive if booked on board and some popular excursions were sold out.
·         The difference between Caribbean cruises and European cruises is you need to take the excursions in Europe as they have so much to see. Do not save the money by touring yourself.
·         The cruise lines make their money in excursions and drinks.
·         There is always a main show in every cruise. Some folks may see it two times. Try to arrive early for this show.
·         You should plan at least one day (3 days for us in Rome) before the cruise.
·         Rome, Barcelona and Copenhagen that I have visited have a lot to offer. Actually I have been to Rome three times. The ruins are still ruins, but I found something new every time. A special pass for transportation and museums was offered in Copenhagen and it was worth every penny.
·         We paid Euro in Europe and exchanged some local currency in Copenhagen. I prefer to use credit card as seldom as possible. Remember the password for your credit card. The best rate is exchanging local currency in a local bank if you have time.
·         We stopped in Munich for a few hours. We took the escort service for sightseeing. You just tip them (not compulsory) at the end of the service. Use the internet to book this service that is available in many cities. Our ladies were knowledgeable and friendly.
·         On our way back, we stayed in Dublin for three days. It has a lot to offer too. If we have time, we should visit outside Dublin. Book the air to include stop over. Later add-on would cost you a fortune.
·         Some may want to understand the places before they go. Internet is your best friend. I try to avoid doing the same for the cruise as it would take out some surprises. The social director uses the same jokes for all cruises. Just me.
·         Pack as lightly as possible. Do not really require a suite for the formal nights in cruises. Just a tie, long pants and a jacket will do for men.


For more of my reasoning, check out the book described next. It has 800 pages (6*9) for $9.99. It could be the best $10 you ever spend.

The above is an abstract from my book "Complete the Art of Investing" which is available from Amazon.

I challenged to have the best-performed article in Seeking Alpha history, an investing site, for recommending 5 or more stocks in one year after the publish date. The concepts for that article are discussed in this book.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Introducing Technical Analysis

The basics

Technical analysis (a.k.a. charting) is easier to learn than expected. It represents the trend of the market (a stock or a group of stocks) graphically. If more investors are in the market, a stock or a group of stocks, its trend is up until it changes. We divide the trends into short-term, intermediate-term and long-term.

The chartists usually do not consider fundamentals as they believe they have already been priced in the stock price and some fundamentals are not available to the public. To illustrate, a new drug has been discovered, the stock price of the company jumps initially by insiders and the informed. Its fundamental metrics do not show right away but many are buying to boost up the stock price.

The volume is a confirmation. When the stock moves up or down by 10% with a low volume, the trend is not confirmed.

The trend of the stock price is not straight line in most cases. Hence a trend line is usually drawn to indicate the direction of the stock. Many believe the stocks fluctuate in certain range (i.e. channels) and the chart draws the upper value (the resistance line) and the lower value (the support line).

When the price passes the channel, it is called a breakout. Darvas, one of the oldest and successful chartists, profited from the breakouts of the resistance line and believed the stock is close to the support line of the new channel. Hence it has a long way up.

If it is so simple, there will be no poor folks

It works most of the time, but do not bet all your money on it. For chartists, 51% is great (same for playing Black Jack). Some trends reverse very fast such as the bio drug stocks in 2015. You need to hedge your bets such as placing stop orders. Most do not want to spend their lives in watching the trend from a big screen. Most novices use too many technical indicators and lose to the professionals.

Simple Moving Average

The basic technical indicator is SMA-N. It is the average of the last N trade sessions. When N is 20 (or SMA-20), we classify it as short-term. Similarly, SMA-50 is intermediate-term and SMA-200 is long-term. I prefer 50, 100 and 250. This trend duration is important. For example, you do not want to place long-term bets using SMA-50 uptrend. There are many modifications to SMA that I do not find them better such as giving more weights to recent data. includes this information without charting.

Defining the trend periods is arbitrary. I use SMA-350 to detect market plunges and SMA-100 for stocks. 

Trend is your best friend

Most use TA for trending for short durations. Investors can also use TA to time the entry and exit points for better potential profits. Value investors usually are patient and they do bottom fishing and they search for ‘oversold’ condition using RSI(14).  Again high volume is a confirmation.

Many sites provide charting free of charge such as Yahoo!Finance. provides a lot of technical indicators without charting such as SMA% and RSI(14). It also provides screen searching for stocks that meet your technical analysis criteria.

TA patterns

There are many TA patterns such as Bollinger Bands and MACD. The patterns are based on the stock prices and many times they prove correct predictions especially on stocks with high volumes and high market caps.

Sites for TA

There are many free sites for charts with explanation of the technical indicators. Popular ones include, and Yahoo!Finance. Fidelity includes some unique features such as P/E. 


For more of my reasoning, check out the book described next. It has 800 pages (6*9) for $9.99. It could be the best $10 you ever spend.

The above is an abstract from my book "Complete the Art of Investing" which is available from Amazon.

I challenged to have the best-performed article in Seeking Alpha history, an investing site, for recommending 5 or more stocks in one year after the publish date. The concepts for that article are discussed in this book.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

News today

* "Sell in May..." could be a self-fulfilled prophecy - do not fight the herd. I prefer Sell in April 1 and come back in Oct. 15 to avoid the herd. I prefer April 1 over April 15, the day we have to give our hard-earned money to Uncle Sam.

* Election year is the second best year after the year before it.Statistics never lie. Of course, all markets are different. Today's market is quite risky and inflated by FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) stocks and that could be the reason the pick losers did not do good if they do not have FANG.

* FB could be the only major successful IPO in 2012 among many losers from my recent memory. As a group they're not doing good in 2015. You should lose money if you bet on them evenly on the first day of their IPO last year.

* When we buy a stock, we're riding on the risk of the management's bet . VRX is most likely not a fraud but a wrong bet by the management.

* The Apple flu is still spreading the Wall Street.

Trade Apple with fundamentals. They do have even better fundamentals after yesterday's plunge. In general and by my rough estimate, Apple's P/E is about 10 while most high tech companies trade at around 20 (while the S&P is at 15 historically). So, it is value. However, we should not judge a stock by P/E alone.

I wrote on Xiaomi a year or two ago when no one knew the company or spelled it correctly (me too). Xiaomi cannot land in the US and EU markets for a while. There are too many hurdles. The biggest one is facing Apple's lawyers as their screen design is quite similar to Apple. Apple is the first one in smart phone and they've a lot of patents from the first generation that the greedy lawyers of Apple will challenge. Apple is not in the same market as Xiaomi in price but Xiaomi has features similar to Apple for half of the price.

Rotten Apple?

I have two recommendations for Apple in the last 5 years. My point is trade the stock on fundamentals and being contrary to the institution investors is risky but could be very profitable.

1. Buy Apple at $54 in June, 2014 (forgot the year) when I published my book Scoring Stocks. Used IBM as an example and replaced it with Apple due to better score. It is the only stock recommended in the book.

2. Sell April at $132 in Feb., 2015 in the following blog.

Some challenged me why I did not recommend Apple when it was pennies. Apple did not have fundamentals at that time and I do not recommend penny stocks.

Today Apple at $94.85 with an expected yield (E/P) of 10% looks great fundamentally. Let me review its performance in 6 months.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Recent recommendations are quite good

I'm making recommendations and hopefully most will be good; as in life there is nothing guarantee. Check out the following.
1. Dump solar companies about 3 years ago in my books and blog.
2. Dump Buffett (yes, managing $362 B is one reason) about 5 years ago in my books and blog.
3. Buy Apple in June, 2013 (or 14 from my memory) at $52 in my book Scoring Stock and dump it in 2/2015 in the following blog.
4. Buy OIL in my posts in SA Seeking Alpha's Wall Street Breakfast and my blog.


For more of my reasoning, check out the book described next. It has 800 pages (6*9) for $9.99. It could be the best $10 you ever spend.

The above is an abstract from my book "Complete the Art of Investing" which is available from Amazon.

I challenged to have the best-performed article in Seeking Alpha history, an investing site, for recommending 5 or more stocks in one year after the publish date. The concepts for that article are discussed in this book.

Another solar company goes bankrupt

I have warned many times in my books (Complete The Art of Investing from several years ago that we do not have any future in solar energy.
1. Cannot compete with China's low prices. Fixed the problem by banning them.
2. Cannot compete with better technology from EU.
3. Solar is now not cost effective (actually not even before the low oil price). It only works with subsidies.
When one big company died after a huge government financial assistance (our tax money), there will not be another one.
"Buy at dips" of a bankrupting company is the same as throwing your money to the ocean.