Sunday, May 28, 2017

Observations and Sample of Recent Trades (PWCDF):

What to make of these viral racist rants? -

Racist rant inside Walmart goes viral - YouTube

Man yells at stranger for speaking Spanish - YouTube

2 dead in stabbing after intervening when man yelled anti-Muslim slurs at women, police say - CBS News

Symptoms of a disease.


Kushner and the Russians

Why on earth would Kushner want to communicate with the Russians using Russia's facilities in order to evade detection by U.S. intelligence?  Espionage or a cover up of past election interference trails would certainly be  two explanations.  

Why did he have to communicate with the Russian Ambassador, believed to be a Russian spymasterbefore the inauguration?  

Why not wait until after Trump became President and then invite the Russian Ambassador   to a secure location in the White House? 

Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin (MSN publication of WP article)

Michael Hayden: Jared Kushner back channel chat would be 'off the map' - CNN 

In early December 2016, the approximate time of the meeting with the Russian ambassador, Moscow arrested a Russian security expert and two high ranking officials who were involved in cyber operations. Timeline: Everything We Know About Russia and President Trump 

They were charged with providing information to the U.S:

Russians Charged With Treason Worked in Office Linked to Election Hacking - The New York Times ("Those arrested by the agency’s internal affairs bureau included Sergei Mikhailov, a deputy director of the Center for Information Security, the agency’s computer security arm, and Ruslan Stoyanov, a senior researcher at a prominent Russian computer security company, Kaspersky Lab.") 

Senator Graham (R-SC) angrily dismissed the WP article as suspicious and then attacked Comey for his "intervention" in the election. The GOP wanted Hillary to be indicted before the election. 

Graham assumed in his latest rant that the Russian communication was intercepted over an "open channel". There would be other ways to intercept a communication from the Russian embassy to Moscow, including, but not limited to, sometime after its arrival in Moscow. That assumption allowed Mr. Graham to erect a straw man argument. 

Graham did not explain why Russia would want the U.S. to know about Kushner's request, when they were hoping for much better relations after Trump won the election (he was their guy and Putin hated Hilary), nor did he explain the consistency of his argument with the silence emanating from the White House.  

Republican politicians like Graham and other GOP surrogates will increase their defense shield around Trump as more evidence accumulates and will also accelerate their attacks on Comey in the coming days and months since his testimony would support an obstruction of justice charge against Trump based on the news reports. 

If the WP story was untrue, as Graham was attempting to argue, why would two Administration officials defend the back channel approach shortly after the revelation? Homeland security chief Kelly defends Kushner’s alleged ‘back channel’ to the Russians: It’s ‘a good thing’ - The Washington Post; McMaster 'not concerned' following Kushner reports - POLITICOGeneral McMaster, Step Down—and Let Trump Be Trump - POLITICO Magazine 

To my knowledge, there has been no denial of the story from the White House or Kushner. 

If untrue, why not just deny it? 

If true, then the White House could admit and explain, or provide an alternative story like Kushner requested a back channel but not through Russian facilities which is the really bad part of the story. The approach so far is just attack everybody that is causing Trump trouble.   

Trump's Response (a non-denial denial-just attack the Free Press): 

So Donald is telling Trump Nation that the reporters from the Washington Post, New York Times, NBC, and CNN, all card carrying charter members of the Fake News Media according to the Donald,  possibly have no sources at all and are simply writing fiction about Donald, Kushner and the Russians. I can not believe that a President of the U.S. has made that claim once, let alone over and over again, as if repetition alone makes the allegation true.  

Donald, who has extremely strong authoritarian tendencies,  is of course the real Fake News creator. Accuse others of doing what he routinely does, something that the mind doctors call psychological projection. 

There is no publicly available evidence-yet-that proves that Kushner aided and abetted Russia's efforts to elect his father-in-law. There is a growing amount of smoke that is blowing in that direction, but the dots have not yet been linked with what I would characterize as evidence. 

The first three articles linked below offer a potentially interesting avenue for investigation which the FBI is apparently pursuing.

FBI Russia investigation looking at Kushner role - CNN
 ("Federal investigators have been taking a closer look at the Trump campaign's data analytics operation, which was supervised by Kushner, officials say, and are examining whether Russian operatives used people associated with the campaign -- wittingly or unwittingly -- to try to help Russia's own data targeting.")

Note that the preceding article does not state there was cooperation but only that the FBI is investigating that possibility.  

Russia's US Social Media Hacking: Inside the Information War |

Did Russians Target Democratic Voters, With Kushner’s Help? Newsweek

Jared Kushner now a focus in Russia investigation - The Washington Post

Exclusive: Trump son-in-law had undisclosed contacts with Russian envoy - sources | Reuters ("FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump, said the current U.S. law enforcement official.") 

Russian bank directly linked to Putin helped finance a Trump hotel

Kushner needs to be compelled to testify publicly under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Will the republicans allow that to happen?  

Senate Intelligence Committee requests Trump campaign documents - The Washington Post  (why is that happening now?)

Russian Once Tied to Trump Aide Seeks Immunity to Cooperate With Congress - The New York Times

It is anyone's guess on how long the Stock Jocks will ignore the growing risks of political instability fanned and fueled by a man clearly unfit to be President, though admittedly that opinion is not shared by the $62.9+M adults who voted for him. 2016 National Popular Vote Final

So far, stock investors have only managed to look the other way and to yawn on occasion.


Trump: It is All About ME, ME, ME:

According to Donald, he hit a home run on his first foreign trip as President. 

Watch President Trump push a prime minister aside - CNN

I could just hear those still functioning brain cells saying like "Get out of my way loser, you are in MY PHOTO OP".  

Then there was the Macron handshake. Trump, Macron handshake turns into showdown - CBS News (or what Maureen Dowd called  “I’ll-rip-your-shoulder-out-and-show-you-who’s-boss” handshake) 

Macron later compared Trump to Putin and the Turkish President Erdogan: Trump handshake 'not innocent' - Macron 

Trump certainly has far more admiration for Putin and Erdogan than for the leaders of western Democracies. 

Trump in Brussels: 'The Germans Are Bad, Very Bad' - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Trump meant to say that the Germans were mean to the U.S. in selling their automobiles here.

Trump complained to the Belgian PM about his difficulty in getting permits to build golf courses.

Merkel: Europeans not completely rely on the U.S. - CNN "The times when we could completely rely on others are, to an extent, over. I experienced that in the last a few days, and therefore I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands." In order words, do not trust Trump)

He also talked about how much he paid for his shoes. Boorish.

I was wondering how many Presidents before Donald had their portrait painted before they become President.

Trump makes legendary artist do portrait his way - NY Daily News

Trump among Kinstler’s celebrity portraits | Easton Courier

But how many lived in a home modeled on the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles? Just one I would say. 

God's gift to women? In his mind, that is certainly the case. Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005 Original - YouTube


Jeff Sessions:

Sessions will ask for Supreme Court review, after 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (Based in Richmond Virginia) upholds Trump travel ban - CBS News

Jeff Sessions "amazed" that "island" judge could block travel ban - CBS News (referring to a judge based in Hawaii)

Jeff Sessions Issues Harsh New Sentencing Guidelines for Justice Department Prosecutors | National News | US News (will need to build more federal prisons)

Jeff Sessions says he's 'surprised' Americans aren't embracing his anti-marijuana stance - Washington Times


Republicans Rally Around one of Their Own-Greg Gianforte Wins Of Course in the Montana Special Election:

Greg Gianforte: Fox News team witnesses GOP House candidate 'body slam' reporter | Fox News

Voters weigh in after Montana House candidate allegedly assaults reporter - Videos - CBS News (video contains interview with Fox news reporter Alicia Acuna who witnessed the attack).

Gianforte's version was that the reporter basically attacked him: 

Greg Gianforte Blames ‘Liberal Journalist’ 

Jacobs: Gianforte statement worse than assault

No republican politician asked Gianforte to quit the race, nor has any republican politician said he should step down if he wins and is later convicted of assaulting a reporter for asking a question. 

Needless to say, Gianforte's conduct would have resulted in an immediate dismissal in any other occupation other than a republican running for office which has far different standards for fitness and acceptable conduct.    

As expected, Gianforte won a decisive victory and commentators noted that his unprovoked physical assault on a news reporter had no measurable impact on the race which is what I expected as noted earlier: 

Gianforte wins Montana's House seat, apologizes to reporter - CBS News ("based on CBS News estimates as the vote was coming in, there didn't appear to be a large difference between the early/mail vote and Election Day vote overall. And turnout was comparable to that of a midterm election.")

Anecdotal evidence consisting of interviews with Montana republicans who voted on election day showed they thought the reporter had it coming or did not believe the news media reports about what had happened, notwithstanding the audio recording of the attack and eye witness accounts including one from a Fox station. Facts do not matter to them and never will. 

It is not surprising that most republicans would disbelieve accurate factual information coming from the news media. The GOP has been successful in persuading tens of millions to distrust and ignore the free press so that their alternate reality and reality creations are accepted without question by the masses. Just get your "facts" from Sean Hannity, Russ Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Fox and Friends.  

{Ann figured out what caused the Near Depression. I can understand her appeal in Trump's America since she put it so succinctly and was not burdened by facts. This is what Ann had to say: "Instead of looking at "outdated criteria," such as the mortgage applicant's credit history, banks were encouraged to consider nontraditional measures of credit-worthiness, such as having a good jump shot or having a missing child named "Caylee."  Ann Coulter - September 24, 2008 - THEY GAVE YOUR MORTGAGE TO A LESS QUALIFIED MINORITY. Now poor Caylee later turned up dead-Death of Caylee Anthony

If Greg Gianforte had attacked someone other than a "liberal" reporter, like a 90 year nun in a wheelchair who asked Greg about the CBO score on Trumpcare, Paul Ryan and other republicans may have been able to muster a response more serious than calling Gianforte's behavior unacceptable while adding "we all make mistakes" to take the sting away from "unacceptable". 

After all, as Donald has said, the U.S. press is the "Enemy of the People". Trump again calls media 'enemy of the people'.  So he is encouraging attacks on that enemy, meaning anyone who reports on what he does not want anyone to know, facts that contradict his incessant reality creations, and the real implications of his policies rather than those that are made up.  

Republicans rebuke but stand by Montana GOP candidate charged with assault - The Washington Post

My thought on the matter is that Gianforte needs to find one of those liberal reporters, (or better yet, a "feminist liberal" reporter) the day before the next election, beat him or her into a pulp so that their mamma can not recognize them, and then his margin of victory would likely increase after showing that he can deal with those uppity reporters better than Trump.

Three republican newspapers in Montana pulled their endorsement. One of them, the Billings Gazette, said sorry, sort of, for ignoring Gianforte's past interactions with reporters which apparently fell short of a physical assault. You have to actually beat up a reporter before a Montana newspaper starts to contemplate the possibility that a republican may be unfit for office.  That is the new normal in Trump's America.    

I would add that Gianforte refused to publicly answer whether he would have voted for Trumpcare, saying he needed more time to know more facts, but he privately praised the legislation to donors.

G.O.P. House Candidate in Montana Is Caught on Tape Praising Health Bill - The New York Times  

He apparently never answered the question posed by Jacobs which was just fine with Montana voters who could care less. 

After winning decisively, Gianforte issued an apology to the reporter. Boys will be boys after all. Gianforte: 'I made a mistake, I'm sorry' One of his supporters yelled back that he made no mistake.  

Texas governor jokes about shooting reporters - CBS News


From the Nixon Playbook?

Comey's Tell-All Testimony Runs Risk of White House Roadblocks - Bloomberg {the return of the executive privilege claim coming used by Nixon to impede the investigation of his crimes? United States v. Nixon (full text) :: 418 U.S. 683 (1974)}

FBI declines to provide requested materials to House Oversight, Chaffetz issues new June 8 deadline - CNN 


Letter Written by Three Republican EPA administrators: Trump is putting us on a dangerous path - The Washington Post (Trump "has chosen ignorance over knowledge", well of course he has; why learn anything when you have twitter)


1.  Short Term Bond/CD Ladder Basket Strategy: 

A. Bought 1 UST .875% Maturing on 1/15/18

YTM at Total Cost (99.9060) = 1.006%

I currently own 2 bonds.

B. Bought 3 Compass Bank .75%  CDs Maturing on 6/5/17:

A. Bought 2 Public Service Electric & Gas 2.25% First Mortgage Bond Maturing on 9/15/26:

Bought 1 in a Taxable Account ($1 Commission): 

Issuer: Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PEG)
PEG Public Service Enterprise Group Inc Page at Morningstar 
Finra Page: Bond Detail  (prospectus not linked)
Credit Ratings: 
Moody's at  Aa3 Moody's 
S & P at A 

YTM at Total Cost (94.387) = 2.939%
Current Yield = 2.38%


Public Service Enterprise Group 2016 Annual Report

B. Bought 1 Public Service E & G FM Maturing in 2026 in a Roth IRA Account ($2 Commission):

See Discussion in "A" above. 

YTM at Total Cost (94.668) = 2.904%
Current Yield = 2.38%

C. Bought 2 AT &T 3.4% Senior Unsecured Bonds Maturing on 5/15/25:

Issuer: AT&T Inc. (T)

AT&T Page at Morningstar
FINRA Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at Baa1
Moody's assigns Baa1 to AT&T's new notes; ratings remain on review for downgrade
S & P at BBB+
Fitch at A- (negative credit watch)
Fitch Rates AT&T's Sr. Unsecured Note Offering 'A-'; Remains on Rating Watch Negative | Reuters
YTM at Total Cost (97.683) =  3.786%
Current Yield = 3.48%

AT&T 2017 First Quarter Report

AT&T 2016 Annual Report
AT &T SEC Filings
T Analyst Estimates

D. Bought 2 Old Republic 3.875% Senior Unsecured Bonds Maturing on 8/26/26:

Issuer: Old Republic International Corp.  (ORI)

Old Republic International Page at Morningstar
FINRA Page: Bond Detail (prospectus not linked)
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at Baa2
Moody's upgrades Old Republic's debt ratings; stable outlook
S & P at BBB+

YTM at Total Cost (99.944) = 3.882%

Current Yield = 3.88%

2017 First Quarter Earnings Report

ORI Analyst Estimates
Old Republic SEC Filings
ORI 2016 Annual Report (debt is discussed starting at page 87)

I also own 50 common shares, bought at $17.86, and discussed that purchase here.

E. Bought 2 Dominion 2.75% Senior Unsecured Bonds Maturing on 9/15/22:

Issuer: Dominion Resources Inc. (Virginia) (D) (now called Dominion Energy)

Dominion Resources Page at Morningstar
Finra Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at Baa2
Moody's Affirms Dominion Resources' ratings on Questar Acquisition Announcement
S & P at BBB
Fitch at BBB+
Fitch Rates Dominion Resources Senior Notes 'BBB+

YTM at Total Cost (99.752) = 2.8%

Current Yield = 2.76%

Dominion's 2017 First Quarter Report

Dominion 2016 Annual Report
Dominion SEC Filings
D Analyst Estimates

Earlier in May, Dominion sold a 2.579% subordinated note maturing in 2020.

F. Paired Trade: Bought 1 Dominion 2.75% Senior Unsecured Bond and Sold 1 2% UST Maturing in 2026- A ROTH IRA ACCOUNT:

For the Dominion Bond, see previous discussion. This trade occurred several days after the first one discussed above.

YTM at Total Cost (99.257)  = 2.901%

Current Yield = 2.77%

G. Added 1 Ventas Realty 3.5% Senior Unsecured Bond Maturing on 2/1/25:

Issuer:  Operating Partnership of Ventas Inc. (VTR)-A REIT

Fully Guaranteed by VTR
VTR Page at Morningstar
FINRA Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at Baa1
Moody's affirms Ventas's Baa1 senior debt rating; stable outlook
S & P at BBB+
Credit Ratings | ventasreit

YTM at Total Cost (99.073) =  3.628%

Current Yield: 3.53%

"Ventas, Inc., an S&P 500 company, is a leading real estate investment trust. Its diverse portfolio of approximately 1,300 assets in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom consists of seniors housing communities, medical office buildings, life science and innovation centers, inpatient rehabilitation and long-term acute care facilities, general acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. Through its Lillibridge subsidiary, Ventas provides management, leasing, marketing, facility development and advisory services to highly rated hospitals and health systems throughout the United States."

Ventas  Portfolio

2017 First Quarter Report

VTR Analyst Estimates
Ventas SEC Filings
Ventas 2016 Annual Report (debt discussed starting at page 114)

My prior 1 bond purchase was at 97.484 and was discussed in  Item #1.A (3/28/17 Post).

3. Trading Strategy for Specific Securities:

A. Bought Back 100 PWCDF at $22.14-Used Commission Free Trade:

Closing Price Day of Purchase (5/10/17): $22.14 -$.42 or -1.86% PWCDF Historical Prices

I previously sold a 100 share lot in the same account after capturing the first quarter dividend:

Item # 4.A. Sold 100 PWCDF at $23.51Stocks, Bonds & Politics 3/20/17 (profit snapshot=+$237)-Bought 100 PWCDF at $21.05: Update For Portfolio Positioning And Management As Of 7/9/16 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha

Prior POW:TO/PWCDF Trades:

Item # 1. Sold 400 POW:TO at C$31.05: Update For Portfolio Positioning And Management As Of 4/29/16 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha (USD Profit = $360.45)
Trading Profits to Date: $946.09

I have discussed the complex organizational charts in the prior posts. I have included here two snapshots showing first the organizational chart of Power Corporation of America and then the chart for the publicly traded Power Financial:

Power Corporation Organizational Chart:

Power Financial: Power Corporation owns a 65.6% interest

Several of the companies included in the prior snapshot are publicly traded:

Power Financial Corp.  (Canada: Toronto)

Great-West Lifeco Inc. Stock Quote (Canada: Toronto)
IGM Financial Inc. (Canada: Toronto)
Groupe Bruxelles Lambert S.A.  (Belgium: Brussels)
Pargesa Holding S.A.  (Switzerland: SWX)
Imerys (France: Paris)(this company has been in the news, along with JNJ recently, as a manufacturer of talc used in baby powder)

2017 First Quarter Power Corporation of Canada Earnings:

"At March 31, 2017, Power Corporation held a 65.6% economic interest in Power Financial. Power Financial's contribution to Power Corporation's adjusted net earnings was $329 million for the quarter, compared with $313 million in 2016."

Power Financial Corporation | Home

The earnings reports will contain some noise, such as a write-down somewhere down in the long food chain shown in the organizational charts or a large capital gain realized by an indirect subsidiary.

Investments Owned Directly: Unrealized Gain at C$443M

Power Corporation of Canada | May 12, 2017 - Power Corporation Reports First Quarter Financial Results and Dividend Increase of 7% - Press Releases

The 7% increase in the quarterly dividend brings the penny rate up to C$.3585 per share. 

The yield will vary depending on the CAD/USD exchange rate. 

If the CAD/USD was at 1, then C$.3585 would equal USD$.3585 which would result in a 6.477% yield at a total cost per share of U.S.$22.14. 

However at the current rate of .7436, the USD value is reduced to U.S.$.267 which results in a 4.82% yield.  

Given the weakness in the CAD/USD since crude oil started to crater during the 2014 summer, the USD priced ordinary shares have underperformed the shares priced in CADs.  

DisclaimerI am not a financial advisor but simply an individual investor who has been managing my own money since I was a teenager. In this post, I am acting solely as a financial journalist focusing on my own investments. The information contained in this post is not intended to be a complete description or summary of all available data relevant to making an investment decision. Instead, I am merely expressing some of the reasons underlying the purchase or sell of securities. Nothing in this post is intended to constitute investment or legal advice or a recommendation to buy or to sell. All investors need to perform their own due diligence before making any financial decision which requires at a minimum reading original source material available at the SEC and elsewhere. A failure to perform due diligence only increases what I call "error creep". Stocks, Bonds & Politics: ERROR CREEP and the INVESTING PROCESS Each investor needs to assess a potential investment taking into account their personal risk tolerances, goals and situational risks. I can only make that kind of assessment for myself and family members.