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Nov
25
November 25 2013| Filed Under » 
The cash flow statement is one of the most revealing documents of a firm’s financial statements, but it is often overlooked. It shows the sources and uses of a firm’s cash as it moves both in and out. When analyzing a company’s cash flow statement, it is important to consider each of the various sections that contribute to the overall change in cash position. In many cases, a firm may have negative overall cash flow for a given quarter, but if the company can generate positive cash flow from its business operations, the negative overall cash flow is not necessarily a bad thing. Below we will cover cash flow from investing activities, one of three primary categories in the statement of cash flows. Read the rest of this entry »
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Nov
19
Posted on 19-11-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
November 19 2013| Filed Under » 
Investing in foreign stocks should be part of any investor’s portfolio. Not only does it diversify your holdings, it offers plenty of opportunities to profit from trends and developments outside your home country. Read the rest of this entry »
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Nov
14
Posted on 14-11-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
November 14 2013| Filed Under » 
A common-size financial statement is simply one that is created to display line items on a statement as a percentage of one selected or common figure. Creating common-size financial statements makes it easier to analyze a company over time and compare it with peers. Using common-size financial statements helps investors spot trends that a raw financial statement may not uncover. Read the rest of this entry »
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Oct
17
Posted on 17-10-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
October 17 2013| Filed Under » 
Each year for nearly half a century, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B) has provided an annual letter to shareholders that discusses the gains it has produced for holders of its common stock. In 2012, according to its letter, that gain was $24.1 billion. Some $1.3 billion of that gain was used torepurchase Berkshire shares, leaving a $22.8 billion “increase in net worth” that the company retained. Over nearly 50 years, the company’s shareholders’ equity, or book value, has grown almost 20% annually. Below, we discuss how analyzing shareholders’ or owners’ equity is among the most important exercises for investors and shareholders. Read the rest of this entry »
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Oct
16
Posted on 16-10-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

October 16 2013| Filed Under » 

Solvency ratios are primarily used to measure a company’s ability to meet its long-term obligations. In general, a solvency ratio measures the size of a company’s profitability and compares it to its obligations. By interpreting a solvency ratio, an analyst or investor can gain insight into how likely a company will be to continue meeting its debt obligations. A stronger or higher ratio indicates financial strength. In stark contrast, a lower ratio, or one on the weak side, could indicate financial struggles in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct
14
Posted on 14-10-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

October 14 2013| Filed Under » 

A company’s balance sheet provides a snapshot of the assets it owns, liabilities it is responsible for, and whatever might be left over when subtracting assets from liabilities that represents owners’ capital or shareholders’ equity. Combined, an analysis of a firm’s balance sheet indicates its financial strength, whether it can meet its obligations and how it grows owners’ capital. Below is a more detailed analysis of the asset side of the equation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct
04
Posted on 04-10-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

October 04 2013| Filed Under » 

The transportation sector refers to the general category of stocks relating to the transportation of goods or customers. The transportation sector is vast and comprises a wide range of individual industries, including major and regional airlines (also known collectively as air services), railroads, shipping firms, ocean freight haulers, trucking and firms more indirectly related to transportation such as supply chain management firms and other logistics providers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sep
02
Posted on 02-09-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

September 02 2013| Filed Under » 

In rather significant fashion, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently announced a change to the way it estimates gross domestic product (GDP). The change reflects the inclusion of research and development (R&D) as an investment or asset in the economy. The term amortization is an important concept to intangible assets (such as R&D or a trademark) and reflects the fact that intangible assets have value that must be monitored and adjusted for over time. Amortization helps take care of this, and we explain it in more detail below. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug
28
Posted on 28-08-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

August 28 2013| Filed Under » 

Most investors avoid trying to value financial firms due to their complicated nature. However, a number of straightforward valuation techniques and metrics can help them quickly decide whether digging deeper into valuation work will be worth the effort. These straightforward techniques and metrics also apply to insurance companies, though there are also a number of more specific industry valuation measures. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug
09
Posted on 09-08-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

August 09 2013| Filed Under » 

The main purpose of equity valuation is to estimate a value for a firm or security. A key assumption of any fundamental value technique is that the value of the security (in this case an equity or a stock) is driven by the fundamentals of the firm’s underlying business at the end of the day. There are three primary equity valuation models: the discounted cash flow (DCF), cost and comparable approaches. The comparable model is a relative valuation approach and is explained in more detail below. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug
08
Posted on 08-08-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

August 08 2013| Filed Under » 

Through an Initial Public Offering, or IPO, a company raises capital by issuing shares of stock, or equity in a public market. Generally, this refers to when a company issues stock for the first time. But as we will see below, there are ways a company can go public more than once. The IPO process is the locomotive of capitalism. This is because throughout history, the IPO has let the investing public own a small share in many companies that have grown large and hugely successful since they first went public.

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Aug
07
Posted on 07-08-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

August 07 2013| Filed Under » 

On the face of it, figuring out how a bank makes money is a pretty straightforward affair. A bank earns a spread on the money it lends out from the money it takes in as a deposit. The net interest margin (NIM), which most banks report quarterly, represents this spread, which is simply the difference between what it earns on loans versus what it pays out as interest on deposits. This, of course, gets much more complicated given the dizzying array of credit products and interest rates used to determine the rate eventually charged for loans. Below is an overview of how a bank determines the interest rate for consumers and business loans. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul
10
Posted on 10-07-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

July 10 2013| Filed Under » 

Back in 2008, Warren Buffett made a bet with Protégé Partners, a fund of funds hedge fund manager, that the S&P500 would beat a group of hedge fund managers selected by Protégé. The bet officially started on January 1, 2008, and runs for a decade, ending on December 31, 2017. The performance is being measured by netting out fees, costs and expenses that go into running the hedge funds. Buffett made the bet to prove his contention that hedge funds underperform due to the fact that “costs skyrocket when large annual fees, large performance fees and active trading costs are all added to the active investor’s equation.”

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Jun
18
Posted on 18-06-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
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Jun
07
Posted on 07-06-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

June 07 2013| Filed Under » 

An academic study, published several years after the peak of the dot-com bubble in March 2000, accurately described just how whacky internet valuations grew until the bubble burst. The study’s first sentence basically stated that valuations lost touch with reality. During the internet frenzy, there was mention of “new economy” stock references to new valuation zones that should be considered reasonable. At the time, valuation metrics included measures such as customers per click, measuring “eyeballs” or time spent visiting a website.

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Jun
04
Posted on 04-06-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

June 04 2013| Filed Under » ,

The father of value investing, Benjamin Graham once wrote that making money on investing should depend “on the amount of intelligent effort the investor is willing and able to bring to bear on his task” of security analysis. He defined the intelligent investor as an enterprising individual that has the time and energy to do his or her own investment research. In contrast to the intelligent investor is the defensive investor who would prefer to have another individual pick stocks, bonds and other financial assets on his or her behalf. Hiring a financial advisor is certainly one alternative, but most retail investors (and also many institutions) prefer to hire a manager through the purchase of amutual fund. Below is an overview of when it might be a good time to invest through the purchase of mutual funds.

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Jun
03
Posted on 03-06-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
June 03 2013| Filed Under » 
In any transaction between a buyer and seller, the initial price paid in exchange for a product or service will qualify as the cost basis. When it comes to securities and related financial assets, determining the initial cost basis for only one initial purchase is very straightforward. However, as is usually the case in investing, there can be subsequent purchases and sales as an investor makes decisions to implement specific trading strategies and maximize profit potential to impact an overall portfolio. Throw in a number of other issues that can impact cost basis, and the matter of calculating it accurately for personal records and tax purposes can get more complicated.
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May
14
Posted on 14-05-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

May 14 2013| Filed Under » 

The sell side and the buy side together make up both sides of Wall Street, a term that is meant to generally refer to the investment profession. The buy side is denoted by its lack of affiliation with investment banking and the raising of capital for firms; it is left to investment functions such as picking securities and more general financial planning functions.

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Apr
24

April 24 2013| Filed Under » 

To get ahead as a financial analyst, you must become very skilled at using past information to make a reasonably accurate prediction of the future. When it comes to analyzing a company, successful analysts spend considerable time trying to differentiate between accounting items that are likely to recur going forward from those that most likely will not. A key part of this analysis is to understand items that qualify as extraordinary items or nonrecurring items. A savvy analyst will separate these items from recurring ones, and will stand a much better chance at predicting the future than one who simply looks at the bottom-line earnings companies must report in their financial statements.

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Apr
23
Posted on 23-04-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
April 23 2013| Filed Under » 
More than five years have now passed since the housing bubble burst in spectacular fashion and fanned the flames of a financial crisis that rivaled only the Great Depression of the 1930s. This latest downturn has since become known as the Great Recession and it is now widely agreed that the United States officially went into recession in December 2007. The following year, some of the largest financial institutions, including a handful of the largest banks in the country, either failed or were forced into the hands of rivals at fire sale prices. The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, but the economy has yet to fully recover. In fact, many market pundits are concerned that the economy will double-dip back into recession.
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Apr
15
Posted on 15-04-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

April 15 2013

Many financial services firms try to help investors by sharing their opinions on a mutual fund. In a nutshell, they do a decent job of accurately rating a fund based on its past performance. The downside to this method is it isn’t a good guide to future performance. But can using other information really make better predictions on future fund performance? At the end of the day, there is some value to the approach that fund raters take to rating mutual funds. Investors should use this data as a starting point and combine it with some factors noted below for a more holistic approach to weeding out fund losers from the winners. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar
20
Posted on 20-03-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
Microsoft Excel can be an invaluable resource for investors wanting to dig into more detail on financial market data. There are literally hundreds of ways to use Excel to manipulate financial data and help it improve the investment process. In this tutorial, we will examine some of the more useful tools used in Excel for finance.

Next: Guide To Excel For Finance: Goal Seek »

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Mar
13
Posted on 13-03-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
March 13, 2013 | Filed Under » 
Glassdoor.com, a website that uses social media to enable professionals to discuss professions and top employers, recently came out with a ranking of the best places to work in 2013. Not surprisingly, not many financial services firms were on the list; the only one to break the top 50 was Northwestern Mutual, based in Milwaukee Wisconsin, which came in at number 41.
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Feb
14
Posted on 14-02-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
February 14 2013| Filed Under » 
As with any for-profit business enterprise, the mutual fund industry charges fees for the services it offers. In their most basic form, these services consist of managing a pool of commingled assets in accordance with an investment strategy. That strategy may include outperforming an index over time. In fact, this strategy is the lifeblood of the actively managed fund component of the industry.
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Feb
07
Posted on 07-02-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
February 07, 2013 | Filed Under » 
Tickers in this Article » AGGTIPHYSVCITBLV
In a recent memo to clients, Oaktree Capital Management Chairman Howard Marks observed that, in many cases, the yields (coupon rate divided by the current market price) on bonds are hovering around their lowest levels “in our nation’s history.” That may cause many investors to consider why they are invested in bonds at all. But there are still many valid reasons why fixed income investing is an essential part of an overall asset allocation program.
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Jan
15
Posted on 15-01-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
January 15, 2013 | Filed Under » 
Back in November when it released its fourth quarter results, computer giantHewlett-Packard announced that it would be taking an $8.8 billion charge to write down a botched acquisition of U.K.-based Autonomy Corporation plc. The write-off, which was described as a non-cash charge for the impairment of the Autonomy purchase, included goodwill and intangible asset charges.
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Jan
08
Posted on 08-01-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
January 08, 2013 | Filed Under » 
College students and recentgraduates have plenty of things to worry about. Finding employment is a key concern, as is securing a financial future. Below are five key pieces of advice they should consider following.
Read the rest of this entry »
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Dec
18
Posted on 18-12-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
December 18, 2012 | Filed Under » 
Starting a family is one of the most exciting and important decisions a couple is going to make together. Properly raising children can be a rewarding and challenging experience, and setting a financial plan regarding how to handle the added expense and save for the kids’ future is an important component of a journey that will run two decades, or more. By recent estimates, it can cost at least $300,000 to raise a single child and put him or her through college. Below is a discussion of how this individual amount is calculated, as well as some of the more important financial considerations.
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Dec
13
Posted on 13-12-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
December 13 2012| Filed Under » 
Economic study and thought has been around for centuries, and when it comes to studying the economy, growth and jobs are two primary factors that economists must consider. There is clearly a relationship between the two, and many economists have framed the discussion by trying to study the relationship between economic growth and unemployment levels. Economist Arthur Okun first started tackling the discussion in the 1960s, and his research on the subject has since become known as Okun’s law. Below is a more detailed overview of Okun’s Law, why it is important and how it stood the test of time since first being published.
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Dec
05
Posted on 05-12-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
December 05, 2012 | Filed Under » 
For the past decade, the Heritage Foundation, which considers itself “Washington’s number one think tank,” in partnership with the Wall Street Journal, has published its annual Index of Economic Freedom. The index draws its inspiration from economist Adam Smith and references his book “The Wealth of Nations” to try and measure his theories concerning “liberty, prosperity and economic freedom.” Below are the top five countries from its influential 2012 ranking.
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Dec
04
Posted on 04-12-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
December 04, 2012 | Filed Under » 
Individuals seeking employment in the financial services industry have a wide array of job choices and employers to choose from. Many firms in the industry qualify as either a broker-dealer or big bank. Below is an overview of what each one has to offer to employees and the different opportunities available with each.
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Dec
04
Posted on 04-12-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
December 04, 2012 | Filed Under » 
Tickers in this Article » FBKO
After more than a year of speculation on when and if it was going to happen, social media giantFacebook (Nasdaq:FB) issued shares to the public back in May. The initial public offering (IPO) price was $38 and raised an estimated $16 billion for company insiders and other earlier investors. The stock briefly traded above $40 per share, but has fallen steadily since. Warren Buffett advised against buying into the stock at its IPO price and appears to have been proven right so far. Below are three key reasons why he did not invest.
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Dec
03
Posted on 03-12-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
December 03, 2012 | Filed Under » 
In the classic investment book “The Intelligent Investor,” Benjamin Graham, who is considered the father of value investing, defines two types of investors. The first he describes as defensive, or an individual who prefers to invest in passive investments, such as index funds, or would simply rather hire an outside money manager to handle his or her financial affairs. The second class consists of enterprising investors, or those willing to take the “intelligent effort” to ferret out potentially profitable investment opportunities. This type of individual would surely benefit from knowing how to recommend a stock.
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Nov
06
Posted on 06-11-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
Millions of American workers are facing a tough financial dilemma when it comes to planning for retirement. Modern medical technology is allowing people to live longer and healthier lives, but the savings necessary to sustain them through their declining years is being depleted in many ways. Many workers have therefore decided to extend their careers and work into their 70s, or even 80s, in the hopes of enjoying a more financially secure retirement. In many cases, this is a very smart move. Although this idea may not seem very appealing at first, the following comparison shows that working a few extra years can make a substantial difference in how you are able to live after your working days have ended.
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Oct
10
Posted on 10-10-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
A company’s statement of profit and loss, also known as its income statement, has its drawbacks. For the most part, the statement accurately reflects a company’s past profitability, andearnings growth is one of the primary determinants of a firm’s share price performance, but it remains a subjective measure that is open to manipulation. In particular, companies have a fair amount of latitude on the timing and impact of quarterly and annual charges and other expenses.
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Aug
02
Posted on 02-08-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
August 02, 2012 | Filed Under » ,
A number of academic and other studies have reported that companies that pay a steady and ample dividend have historically outperformed the stock market. A dividend is believed to instill a disciplined management style to the company leaders and keep them from foolishly pursuing acquisitions or other activities that might destroy shareholder value. The technology industry hasn’t historically embraced dividend payments, choosing instead to acquire rivals or even store billions of excess liquidity on their balance sheets. Currently, the average dividend yield for the industry is rather paltry at 1.6% and below the current market average of 2.2%. Below are five tech stocks that have above-average yield and also look appealing as investment candidates.
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Aug
01
Posted on 01-08-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
August 01, 2012 | Filed Under » , ,

Every year, consumers across the globe increasingly embrace credit card and related digital transactions over the use of cash. This trend is expected to continue in developed markets and is really taking off in emerging ones, including Asia. There are a number of ways for investors to play this growth. They may be less familiar with Global Payments (NYSE:GPN) as an investment candidate, but the company is worth getting to know.
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Aug
01
Posted on 01-08-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
August 01, 2012 | Filed Under » ,

International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT) used to dominate the market for selling slot machines and related gaming machines. A couple of smaller, more nimble competitors have steadily eaten into its lead, but IGT still remains the largest player in the industry. A couple of favorable tailwinds are emerging in the domestic gambling space, and could help IGT boost its growth to levels not seen for several years now.
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Jul
27
Posted on 27-07-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
July 27, 2012 | Filed Under » ,

Casino operator Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) reported second quarter results on Wednesday after the market close that disappointed investors. The stock quickly fell to its lows over the past year. As a result, it could represent a solid buying opportunity.
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Jul
26
Posted on 26-07-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
July 26, 2012 | Filed Under »

Direct-selling firm Tupperware (NYSE:TUP) counts Europe as a major market, but saw its reported sales crimped by a stronger U.S. dollar. Overall, though, its business model continues to pay dividends and should continue doing so for loyal shareholders.
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Jul
18
Posted on 18-07-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
July 18, 2012 | Filed Under » , ,

P.J. O’Rourke once famously quipped that giving money and power to the government was like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenager. Politicians and other American leaders frequently get a bad rap from business-minded individuals, but there have been quite a few that have managed to balance common sense with fiscal prudence. Below are some of the noteworthy pieces of financial advice from American leaders and other high-profile individuals throughout history.
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Jul
17
Posted on 17-07-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
July 17, 2012 | Filed Under » , ,

Money center financial titans Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) were among the first banks to report second quarter earnings results. Wells continued to be a standout, due in good part to minimal investment banking and international market exposures. Its current valuation also suggests there is minimal downside to owning the stock, as well as some additional, albeit modest, upside potential in the coming few years.
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Jul
17
Posted on 17-07-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

Money center financial titans Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) were among the first banks to report second quarter earnings results. JP Morgan’s results weren’t much of a surprise given it disclosed a huge trading loss prior to the end of the quarter. However, its ability to absorb the loss was surprising, and the bank has largely seen a recovery in its profitability from the depths of the credit crisis. Based off of negative sentiment, the stock could still rally.
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Jul
12
July 12, 2012 | Filed Under » , ,

The Greek economy recently reported a total gross domestic product of US$308 billion. Growth trends over the past three years haven’t been encouraging and have been accelerating into negative territory. Overall though, Greece is not one of the larger economies in the world. However, worries that it may default on its sovereign debt could have dire consequences for the rest of Europe and world. Below are five things U.S. consumers and businesses need to watch out for in the coming months.
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Jul
10
Posted on 10-07-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan

According to Morningstar, over the past year, the average mutual fund return in the European stock category has been negative and hovering around 17.70%. The category was much stronger over the last three years and has returned close to 7.99% annually. However, over the past five years, which includes the credit crisis, the return dips back into the negative territory with an average annual loss of more than 7%.
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Jul
10
Posted on 10-07-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
July 10, 2012 | Filed Under » ,

Charitable organizations survive primarily from the donations they receive from organizations and individuals. For most charities, the holidays, and especially in December during the Christmas holiday, are among the most active from a donation perspective. This leaves roughly eleven months to get creative and find other ways to make money, aside from simply relying on the generosity of others. Below are five important avenues for charities to bring in money and make their donated dollars stretch further.

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Jul
09
Posted on 09-07-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
July 09, 2012 | Filed Under » , ,

Xyratex (Nasdaq:XRTX)is a key supplier to manufacturers of data storage drives and devices. Its hard drive products and solutions are used in the final products of the leading players in the storage industry. In fact, 91% of its sales are to only six customers, and they are the largest in the industry. As such, Xyratex serves as a bellwether for overall industry trends.
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Jul
09
Posted on 09-07-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
July 09, 2012 | Filed Under » , ,

Technology firm Dell Inc. (Nasdaq:DELL) recently announced a material move into the software space in the industry and will acquire Quest Software Inc. (Nasdaq:QSFT) for around $2.4 billion. The move is a good one for Dell, but investors may have another of more appealing options to consider.
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Jul
04
Posted on 04-07-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
July 04, 2012 | Filed Under » , , ,

John C. Bogle, the founder of investment management firm Vanguard, has estimated that the investment industry collectively shaves around 3% from stock returns each year. This stems primarily from the fees it charges for managing assets for individuals and institutions. Bogle has also openly questioned the value of actively managed funds over index funds. Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are another low-cost way to invest primarily in passive, indexed strategies. Not surprisingly, Vanguard was founded on low-cost index funds and has moved into ETFs, as have most other well-known firms in the industry.
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Jun
29
Posted on 29-06-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by ryan
June 29, 2012 | Filed Under » , , ,

Slower economic growth is causing companies to get more creative in finding ways to grow value for shareholders. Some are looking to acquire market share or spin off divisions that have less appealing growth potential. Others are looking to overseas expansion and exposure to faster growing emerging markets. Fewer are looking to merge with archrivals, but it could represent a unique and compelling way to cut costs and combine resources committed to pursuing the same mission. Below are three pairs of rivals that operate in very similar businesses but are struggling to grow on their own. To revive their fortunes, they might want to swallow their pride and merge their operations.
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