Friday, May 31, 2013

Divergence in employment growth numbers

A few months ago I highlighted how looking at the employment data on a year over year basis provides a different perspective on the numbers.  Today I'd like to bring up a divergence between the private and public data.

yoy employment data and divergence them

The green and blue lines are the ADP and government year over year employment growth data, left scale and the red jagged line is the difference between their growth rates, right scale.  What's noticeable is the divergence between them.  While it would be better to show just the absolute difference between them regardless of sign, I'm not enough of a FRED graph Meister to figure that out right now.   Right now the >0.35% difference between them is the largest on record for this data series.

Is this divergence truly exceptional? It may have been greater in the past and only later revisions tightened up the spread.

I'm not making a prediction as to which is wrong, merely it's likely the spread will narrow in the future.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hugh Hendry watch - Turning Japanese

I'm a bit late in this, but here's the most recent report from Hugh Hendry's Eclectica fund.

It's a quick read so I won't excerpt from it except for one trading tidbit:  In 2008 he purchased a 10 year one touch call on the Nikkei with a 40,000 strike price !!!

Q1 Review 2013 Hendry by

ht: Mark H @fundmyfund

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Addition by subtraction -- Not all dividends are created equal

The current low bond yield, low growth environment has fostered a growing interest in high dividend yield paying stock. I myself have a separate account offering focused on this very area of the equity markets.  A number of ETF's have popped up as well over the last few years to accommodate this demand.

Some of these ETF's may not be the best designed and can show the downside of simplistic indexing. An excellent example of this is Pitney Bowes' recent dividend slashing.

For those of you unfamiliar with the company, they derive a vast majority of their revenue from helping companies snail mail packages and letters.  (Pitney Bowes presentation dated 02/12/13, page 6)  Since you are reading this post online I don't think much discussion is needed to expound upon the disruptive capabilities of the internet. The revenue chart below shows how they have fared.  I do imply anything nefarious with the company mind you, just they are stuck in a market segment that will most likely continue to experience challenges in the future.

They recently cut their dividend after several years of consistent dividend increases. The stock has not done well in the past few years.

When this company popped up on my screens for possible purchase it didn't take long for me to reject it.

As you can see from this chart from, revenue growth has been declining for years, even though dividends have been rising.

Pitney Bowes data - source:

Unfortunately there were a few dividend focused etf's which were sucked into buying the very high yield provided by the stock. Thanks to the site we can see which etf's hold the stock

Etf's holding PBI - source
Note: 20% of the free float of PBI is held in ETF's and the vast majority of the top ten etf holders were dividend focused.

Pitney Bowes shows just because a company has a high yield and a growing dividend you shouldn't just blindly purchase it.  Always do you homework and look at their long term history and prospects. A very high yield can be a sign of distress instead of opportunity.

Disclosure: Do not and never have held Pitney Bowes stock in my dividend focused separate accounts  or anywhere else.