Friday, April 29, 2011

Working Again

Two falls ago, I decided to return to school and work towards my M.A. I have been a fortunate person in many ways, not the least of which being the fact that my wonderful wife was willing to continue working while I went to school. This isn't to say that I haven't worked at all; the company that I worked for previously has, on more than one occasion, hired me back as a temporary worker. Right now, even as I'm weeks from graduation, I'm sitting pretty with a temp job that may turn into a full-time position again in the near future.

And yet.

My degree will be in drama, which is different from a degree in performance (though I had aspirations towards actor training, there seems to not have been an MFA program in the country that would teach me).* My degree work has been primarily reading plays and writing about them, which I have enjoyed very much and has actually provided some training for potential jobs in the theatre world.

Part of my reasoning in going to grad school was to move on from my place of employment (which is by no means a bad place; it has been terrific to work for), but now that I'm working for them again with a much higher pay check than I'd likely get working to follow my dreams, I am again reluctant to take necessary next steps (such as looking for internships, other dramaturgical job openings, subsequent schooling to be a stronger candidate for a university teaching job, or my pet dream of owning and running a theatre). At the ripe old age of 28, I have turned into an old man, rubbing my hands together and immersed with concerns about compound interest and considerations about value versus growth.

And yet.

There's a piece of me that doesn't want to give up yet. I'm not sure which part of me is going to win.

*Boohoo, boohoo.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Value Stock Idea -- Uranium

With the recent nuclear disaster in Japan, the nuclear industry has been hit hard, and uranium companies have been hit particularly hard. What is interesting to note is that representatives for major world powers (the U.S. and China) have both stated that they still see nuclear power as being central to their countries' national power interests in the future. With this in mind, it stands to reason that, particularly in the long term, those businesses that have significant portions of their daily operations dependent upon uranium stand to see gains. With prices being low right now, uranium companies could stand to be a huge value play.

In particular, consider the following three investments.

CCJ: Cameco Corporation - Prior to the meltdown in mid-March, this stock was trading at right around $38 per share. There was a sudden, severe drop off, and the stock now trades close to $28. Have the fundamentals of the company changed in that time period? Certainly not, but the market appears to be sketched out concerning nuclear power, and this uranium producer feels the sudden pinch.

URA: Global X Uranium ETF - This exchange traded fund had the misfortune to be founded in mid-January, so it had a couple months at an average price around $21 before falling and now hovering just under $15. If you think that Cameco has the opportunity to grow, this fund helps to take away some of your risk while providing you exposure to an industry that could stand to make quick growth (21.76% of the fund is invested in Cameco stocks).

EXC: Exelon Corporation - If investing directly in a company that focuses exclusively on uranium production seems too focused, this utility that derives a good portion of its power from nuclear plants might be a good option. This stock is approximately 10 % off the price it held prior to the radiation leaks at Fukushima Daiichi, and if uranium prices have gone down as a response to the disaster, it stands to profit. Its current price to earnings (P/E) ratio is a very attractive 10.5, and the future P/E is also quite attractive at 13.37.

Disclaimer: I am not a financial professional by any stretch of the imagination. I also do not own any of these stocks, though I may make an investment within the next 72 hours.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pawn Stars

This show on A&E simply baffles me. That isn't to say that I don't find it interesting and even compelling, but I'm continually baffled by it. For the life of me, I can't figure out why people would go and sell their items for less than the item is worth, especially when there are so many opportunities to obtain a better return. Have these people never heard of Ebay?

It would be one thing if the owner were taking advantage of people, and the customers were selling their belongings with no idea of the worth. But every show, the pawn shop owner calls in an expert who gives a quote on what the item's value is, and then the owner lowballs the customer to, generally, somewhere around a 50% reduction in price. If memory serves, I believe I even saw him lowball a guy on a big chunk of gold that had likely been recovered from a shipwreck (pirates!), an item that many people would have paid much closer to its face value for.

But these baffling items I can take. What I couldn't take was on last night's show where a guy was trying to sell his 1986 Buick Regal that he had pimped out. The commentary suggested that the man had probably spent the better part of $10,000 on the paint job for the car and various other improvements. Nevertheless, the man was only hoping to get $2,000-$2,500 for it! While the car was certainly not meant to be an investment, and while there is certainly something to be said about spending money on things that you like and enjoy, what a huge cash drain! And for the man to simply acknowledge that it wasn't worth the money he had put into it was fascinating. That is a 75-80% loss on investment money (if not more; it wasn't clear if the original vehicle price was factored into that ten grand)!

As a comparison, particularly in the last year, many sound mutual funds have had amazing gains into the double digits as the economy slowly trudges out of the Great Recession. Some of the more modest gains I've been seeing in my research on mutual funds lately have had a 9% gain in the last year. If the car seller had put that ten grand into a mutual fund a year ago, he would now have $10,900 sitting the bank. When you consider that he only ended up selling the car for two grand, that's $8,900 that simply evaporated into thin air. Of course the flip side is that he could have invested in Citigroup before the crash, and now be left with pennies on the dollar (though I believe it's making progress towards improving its stock price in specific ways).

I suppose it just comes down to what you value. Me, I don't want to work forever, so I'm trying to get my retirement accounts squared away. How about you?

Disclaimer: I currently own shares of C, and I plan on owning more in the near future.
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