Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Observations and Sample of Recent Trades: 3/28/17 (SPHS, BBT, ELJ)

Trump's Time Magazine Interview

Time interviewed Donald about "truth and falsehoods" that was part of its recent cover story Trump Truth: The President With False Claims Faces Reality | Time.com


Trump Interview on Truth and Falsehoods | Time.com

Trump wanted to know what he said in the past was wrong. He then proceeded to give demonstrably false and misleading information in response to the interviewer's questions. Fact-checking Trump’s TIME interview on truths and falsehoods | PolitiFactAll of the untrue things Trump said in his Time interview about truth - The Washington Post

Maybe I did not understand TrumpCare. Donald stated throughout his campaign and earlier in his presidency that his plan would be “unbelievable,” “beautiful,” “terrific,” “less expensive and much better,” “insurance for everybody.”  Garbage just flows out of his mouth as if being pumped directly out of a landfill.   

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New Car Sales


New car sales may have peaked near prior recovery peaks. 


New cars are taking longer to sell than they have since 2009 - MarketWatch



Light Weight Vehicle Sales: Autos and Light Trucks-St. Louis Fed

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Consumer Debt:

There are cracks appearing in the consumer debt market. 

Bank Card Default Rate Hits 42 Month High in January.pdf

Just Released: Subprime Auto Debt Grows Despite Rising Delinquencies   Liberty Street Economics (NY FED)

Auto loan delinquency numbers from NY Fed - Business InsiderSome 6 million Americans are delinquent with auto loans and it’s going to get worse - MarketWatch

Overall, consumer credit delinquencies remain benign, though the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Composite Index has risen from .81 (May 2016) to .94 last month. The ten year high was at 5.51 in May 2009.

The preceding link also has information on the bank card default which was at 3.22. The low was hit at 2.49 in December 2015 and has been trending up. The high was hit at 9.15 in April 2010.

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U.S. Debt Ceiling Limit: Out of the Headlines and Apparently Forgotten


The federal government has to have a new debt limit. The Treasury is once again using extraordinary measures to pay the government's bills. What's the debt limit and why is Congress about to raise it again?


Is there going to be smooth sailing with no government shutdown or government default? That appears to be the current consensus assumption. The problems in securing an increase started with Newt Gingrich and the GOP back in 1994-1995 which resulted in government shutdowns. There were two debt ceiling conflagrations during the Obama Administration. The first was in 2011 and the last one in  2013. The government went into a partial shutdown in October 2013.


The GOP will generally act irresponsibly on debt ceiling increases when there is a Democrat in the White House. Fitch may be right that a crisis may be more unlikely this year since the GOP owns the debt limit increase and may consequently behave in a responsible manner. I doubt that will happen. If I am right, bad vibes will start to appear in the summer. My pessimism about such matters has been exacerbated by reading this book: It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism - Kindle edition by Thomas E. Mann, Norman J. Ornstein. So far, I am about half way through this book, and my disgust is at an elevated level.


Moody's: U.S. Debt Limit Not Doomsday Scenario...Yet | Fox Business


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Last week, I mentioned that I was done paring my stock allocation. That proved to be a premature statement. I sold into the rally today. My stock allocation remains significant, however. I have continued to purchase every day high quality investment grade bonds. I may take about 4 to 6 weeks before I get around to discussing today's bond buys and stock sells.  


I have added small positions to higher yielding REITs that have come down in price. 


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1. Intermediate Term Bond Ladder Basket Strategy

A. Bought 1 Ventas LP 3.5% Senior Unsecured Bond Maturing on 2/1/25:


Issuer: Ventas Limited Partnership, a wholly owned operating partnership of Ventas (VTR) 

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

YTM at Total Cost (97.484) = 3.873% ($1 Commission)


Company Website: Welcome | ventasreit


Ventas Reports 2016 Fourth Quarter and Full-Year Results

B. Bought 1 Ventas LP 3.25% Senior Unsecured Bond Maturing on 10/15/26:




FINRA Page= Bond Detail

YTM at Total Cost (95.074) = 3.871% ($2 commission) 


Ventas SEC Filings 

2016 Annual Report (senior notes listed on page 114)


C. Bought 2 Baltimore Gas & Electric 2.8% Senior Unsecured Maturing on 8/15/22



Issuer: BG&E is a wholly owned subsidiary of Exelon Corp. (EXC:NYSE)

Finra Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
Credit Ratings: 
Moody's at A3
S & P at A-
Fitch at A-
Fixed Income Investors - Investor Relations
Fitch Rates Baltimore G&Es Senior Notes 'A-'  

YTM at Total Cost (99.46) = 2.908%



Sourced From Page 279: 2016 Exelon Annual Report 

Exelon has lower credit ratings largely due to its ownership of Exelon Generation Company, LLC.   


D. Bought 2 Commonwealth Edison 3.15% First Mortgage Bonds-ROTH IRA




Issuer: Commonwealth Edison is a wholly owned subsidiary of Exelon (EXC)

FINRA Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
Credit Ratings: 
Moody's at A2
S & P at A-
Fitch at A
Fitch Upgrades Commonwealth Edison First Mortgage Bonds to A from A-  YTM at Total Cost (99.384) = 3.191%

E. Bought 1 AvalonBay 2.85% Senior Unsecured Bond Maturing on 3/15/23:




Issuer: Avalonbay Communities Inc (AVB:NYSE)-A REIT

AVB AvalonBay Communities Inc Page at Morningstar
Finra Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at A3
S & P at A-
Moody's upgrades AvalonBay to A3, outlook stable

YTM at Total Cost (97.712 ) = 3.273%


I previously discussed buying 1 AVP SU maturing in 2026: Item # 1.C. 

F. Bought 2 Boston Properties 3.125% Senior Unsecured Bond Maturing on 9/1/23:


Bought 1 in a Taxable Account ($1 commission)




Issuer: Wholly Owned Operating Partnership of Boston Properties (BXP)-A REIT 

Fully and Unconditionally Guaranteed by BXP 
BXP Boston Properties Page at Morningstar
Finra Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at Baa2
S & P at A-
Fitch at BBB+'
Fitch Rates Boston Properties' Senior Unsecured Notes Due 2026 'BBB+'; Outlook Stable 

YTM at Total Cost (99.088) = 3.283%


Bought 1 in a Roth IRA Account ($2 Commission): 




Boston Properties Website


2016 Boston Properties Annual Report


Earnings Report Q/E 12/31/16 

I previously discussed buying 1 BXP SU maturing in 2026: StockItem # 1.A. 


2. Small Cap Biotech Lottery Ticket Basket

A. Added 50 SPHS at $2.43 (commission free trade):

This brings me up to 150 shares. I recall discussing this stock somewhere, but do not remember where or when. 

Success or failure depends on one compound currently called PRX-302 (topsalysin): 

Sophiris Bio Reports Successful Results from Completed Phase 2a Study of Topsalysin in Localized ("The one-time administration of topsalysin was well tolerated with no serious adverse events and no new safety signals being reported. Topsalysin demonstrated an ability to ablate tumor cells in 50 percent of patients (9/18 patients) six months after treatment in a patient population with pre-identified, clinically significant prostate cancer. ... Two men experienced complete ablation of their targeted tumor with no evidence of any tumor remaining at 6 months .... Seven men experienced a partial response, defined as either a reduction in the maximum cancer core length or a reduction in Gleason pattern... Nine patients had no response to treatment.") 


The drug is injected directly into the prostate. 

The company used the price spurt to sell 7.475M shares and related warrants to buy .75 shares per warrant at $4 per share at a combined price of $4. 10-Q at page 14 

That offering sent the shares spiraling down. 

The next important event is the release of more tumor biopsies, sometime in the second half of this year, in the ongoing Phase IIb trial for prostrate cancer. 

"Topsalysin has also successfully completed a Phase 3 clinical study for the treatment of the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and is designed to be as efficacious as pharmaceuticals, less invasive than the surgical interventions, and without the sexual side effects seen with existing treatments." 

That was one of two necessary Phase 3 trials for that indication. 

The company stated in its 10-Q for the Q/E 9/30/16 that it is "currently not planning on pursuing a second Phase 3 trial in BPH, unless we secure a development partner to fund such new clinical trial or obtain other financing. There can be no assurance that such funding or a development partner will be available on acceptable terms or at all. For that reason, we cannot currently estimate when the clinical development required to seek the regulatory approvals needed to commercialize topsalysin for the treatment of the symptoms of BPH will be completed" (page 19). 

Subsequent to my purchase, SPHS reported results for the 2014 4th quarter: Sophiris Bio Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2016 Financial Results and Key Corporate.


3. Continued to Pare Stock Allocation


A. Sold 50 of 171+BBT:


Position Snapshot Before Pare: 


Sold 50 Shares at $47.24-Highest Cost Lot Bought at a total cost of $35.37 on 9/23/15:   




Profit Snapshot: +$586.45



Quote: BB&T Corp. (BBT)

I discussed that purchase here:

Item # 3. Bought 50 BBT at $35.23-Satellite Taxable Account: Update For Regional Bank Basket As Of 9/23/15 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha


Some of the remaining lots were acquired in exchange for my National Penn shares. BB&T closes National Penn acquisition

I discussed buying 50 shares, which I still own, here:

Item # 3. Added 50 BBT at $32.35-Satellite Taxable: Update For Regional Bank Basket Strategy As Of 2/20/16 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha

BB&T - Dividends and Stock Splits


BBT Analyst Estimates

When I sold this highest cost lot, the consensus E.P.S. estimate for 2016 was $2.95 and $3.45 next year. The P/E on the 2018 estimate at a $47.24 price is 13.69. While that sounds reasonable and may happen, I have my doubts that this bank can generate that kind of Y-O-Y earnings growth. There are a lot of optimistic assumptions baked into that 2018 E.P.S. estimate including a meaningful net interest margin expansion, less regulations and probably a lower tax rate.

I doubt that GOP will be able to deliver on material changes in Dodd-Frank. Whatever rules are repealed, I suspect that they will involve small community banks. I am not seeing conditions yet favorable NIM expansion. Instead, the yield curve is flattening as the FED raises short term rates and intermediate term rates start to trend back down. As to a meaningful corporate tax cut, I will believe it when I see it.   

4. Continued to Pare Potentially Long Duration Exchange Traded Bonds


A. Sold 50 ELJ at $24.93-Roth IRA




Profit Snapshot: $61.48



Quote: Entergy Louisiana First Mortgage Bonds 5.25% Series due July 1 2052  (ELJ:NYSE) 

I discussed this purchase here. 


Par value is $25. The issuer has the option to redeem on or after July 1, 2017. If not redeemed early at the issuer's discretion, the bond matures on 7/1/2052.  


Definitive Prospectus Supplement


5. Short Term Bond/CD Ladder Basket Strategy:


A. Bought 2 Merchants Bank .65% CDs Maturing on 5/2/2017:


B. Bought 2 Bank of Baroda .95% CDs Maturing on 6/27/17:


Bank of Baroda - India's International Bank
Bank of Baroda Financials (59.24% owned by the State of India, line 17 (i))

Recently, this bank has been providing the highest short term CD rates among participating banks that offer CDs at Schwab and Fidelity. This CD is issued by Bank of Baroda, USA.

This is what this CD looks like on my account page which identifies the issuer:



C. Bought 2 Bank of Baroda .8% CDs Maturing on 5/30/17:


In the cluster list shown below, there is listed 1 Bank of Baroda .65% CD maturing on the same day, 5/30/17 or .2% less than the one bought on 3/17/17.  I had bought the .65% CD on 2/24/17:


The intervening event between those two purchases was the FED hiking the FF range by .25% to .75% to 1%.  Banks respond more slowly to increasing their short term deposit rates after a FED rate hike. Many banks have not yet responded in their CD offerings.

Disclaimer: I 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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Observations and Sample of Recent Trades: 3/25/17 (SGZA, FFBC)/Trumpcare Kaput

Trumpcare Kaput:  

A reporter asked Senator Pat Roberts (R.Kan.) whether he supported scrapping the essential health care benefits required in Obamacare policies. 

Senator Roberts responded: "I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms." While he later apologized, his answer tells everyone what he really thinks. 


In the final version of Trumpcare, the GOP was going to scrap the minimum essential insurance requirements that include maternity and prenatal care, emergency room visits, hospitalization, lab services, prescription drugs, mental health and addiction services and pediatric services. What Are 'Essential Benefits' in GOP Health Care Bill Debate? - NBC News; Why maternity & mental health coverage may decide the House GOP bill's fate - CNNLate G.O.P. Proposal Could Mean Plans That Cover Aromatherapy but Not Chemotherapy - The New York TimesObamacare 101: 4 things you need to know about 'essential health' benefits - LA Times


A photograph of the meeting where Trump agreed to eliminate the essential insurance requirements highlights the GOP's tone death on women's issues:




The removal of those items from all insurance policies would have caused the premiums to rise for those who want coverage for all essential services. Young single people would opt out of the insurance pool for maternity and prenatal care, pediatric services, wellness/preventative exams, mental health and addiction services and prescription drugs with limited exceptions. Older folks would drop coverage for maternity care and pediatric services. As the insurance pool shrinks leaving people who need those types of services, their premium costs would increase compared to Obamacare for policies that include them.

That is how risks are managed by insurance companies. To keep premiums down, there needs to be a large pool of people who are not currently utilizing any of those services. The GOP has no clue about such matters. While the CBO estimated that 24 million would lose insurance coverage, the actual number of uninsured persons would include those who can not afford to pay the resulting high premiums for one or more essential services and are consequently uninsured when they need the service.

H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act, incorporating manager's amendments 4, 5, 24, and 25 | Congressional Budget Office

Why would someone want to add for example maternity and pediatric services? The family is going to have a baby and are thinking ahead about insurance coverage for the child. They would have to pay a lot more under those circumstances than if the cost risk was spread out over the entire insured pool. Most health plans excluded maternity coverage prior to Obamacare: How Obamacare changed maternity coverage. Insurance companies were probably lobbying hard to get the a la carte menu since it would improve their pricing and margins.

Buying a home insurance policy when you house is burning is not going to be favorably priced. And, if the insurance companies are not allowed to price those risks appropriately under the GOP's a la carte system, then they will just pull out.

As I stated several times earlier, I did not believe the GOP would be able to repeal and replace Obamacare. They did manage with their proposals to energize their opponents who probably gained a million plus converts.

I do not anticipate smooth sailing on tax cuts either.

At least that subject is a more natural one for republicans than trying to deal with healthcare which ended up with a 17% approval rating. National (US) Poll - March 23, 2017 - U.S. Voters Oppose GOP Health | Quinnipiac University Connecticut

The problem with the GOP's current approach is their desire to include a border tax to pay for a corporate tax cut. In effect, the GOP would be increasing the taxes for lower and middle income voters with a 20% tax applied to imported goods, while giving most corporations a major tax break. Importers will be screaming bloody murder.  I personally view such a plan to enrich corporations and their shareholders and to tax the less well off as a GOP Death Wish. It is an easy issue to understand for those white blue collar workers.

Next up, the GOP has to increase the debt limit without attaching poison pills to their authorization. Debt limit looks like a real struggle after AHCA debacle - MarketWatch

Federal Debt and the Statutory Limit, March 2017 | Congressional Budget Office

See my 3/1/17 post (scroll to "Will the GOP Shut Down the Government Again?")

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Bar Harbor (BHB) split its shares 3 for 2. I received an additional 75 shares last Wednesday: 





This split brings me up to 225 shares with an average cost of $16.69 per share: 





This is the second 3 for 2 stock split that I received since I first bought shares on 2/7/2012. Item # 2: Bought 50 BHB at $30 (2/10/12 Post) That 50 share lot has turned into 112.5 shares now has an average cost per share of $13.4


I sold 100 shares in 2016 held in another account: 



2016 BHB 100 Shares + $ 936.36
I last discussed a pre-split purchase here: 

I was rewarded when BHB made an offer to acquire Lake Sunapee Bank that I owned at the time of the offer and later sold in three separate transactions last year realizing a total gain of $850.87. This is a snapshot of the largest of the three: 



2016 LSBG 100 Shares +$627.02

Stocks, Bonds & Politics: REGIONAL BANK BASKET STRATEGY GATEWAY POST

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I am continuing to gradually pare my stock allocation. I am at the end of that process since I can not find anything left that I want to sell. It will be discussing some of those dispositions, which have already taken place, over the next several weeks.  


I am just about done, hopefully, buying short and intermediate term bonds and CDs. It may take two more months to discuss all of those trades here.  


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1.  Intermediate Term Bond Ladder Basket Strategy

I received $3K in proceeds from a maturing three month treasury bill in March and used the proceeds to buy the bonds discussed in A, B, and C below: 

A. Bought 1 WFC 3% Senior Unsecured Bond Maturing on 2/29/25


Issuer:  Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC:NYSE)
WFC Page at Morningstar
Finra Page: Bond Detail
Credit Ratings: 
Moody's at A2
S & P at A
Fitch at AA-
YTM at Total Cost (97.266 ) = 3.395%



B. Bought 1 Morgan Stanley 2.625% Senior Unsecured Bond Maturing on 11/17/21


Issuer: Morgan Stanley (MS:NYSE)
MS Page at Morningstar
Finra Page:  Bond Detail
Credit Ratings: 
Moody's at A3
S & P at BBB+

YTM at Total Cost (99.044) = 2.844%

2016 Annual Report 


C. Added 1 Anheuser Busch InBev 2.625% Senior Unsecured Maturing on 1/17/23:

I previously bought this bond in a taxable account. This last purchase was in a Roth IRA account. 



Issuer:  Anheuser-Busch InBev S.A. ADR (BUD:NYSE)
BUD Page at Morningstar
FINRA PAGE: Bond Detail
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at A3
S & P at A- 
FITCH at BBB+
YTM at Total Cost (98.476 ) = 2.91%


D. Bought 1 Lexington Realty 4.4% Senior Unsecured Bond Maturing on 6/15/24


Issuer Lexington Realty Trust (LXP)
LXP Page at Morningstar (not rated)
FINRA Page: Bond Detail
Credit Ratings: 
Moody's at Baa2  
S & P at BBB-
Fitch at BBB

YTM at Total Cost (98.591 ) = 4.63%

LXP Analyst Estimates
Welcome to lxp.com | lxp.com

I have bought and sold the common stock and currently own 100 shares in Roth IRA accounts plus reinvested dividends.  In my Vanguard Roth IRA account, I still own 50 LXP shares bought  at $7.6 in July 2016.

Item # 1. Sold 100 LXP at 150 in Vanguard Roth IRA Account:Update For Equity REIT Basket Strategy As Of 6/24/16 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha

I  sold out of my LXP positions held in two taxable accounts account last year: Item # 2. Sold 250 LXP on Ex-Dividend Date-Taxable Accounts: Update For Equity REIT Basket Strategy As Of 4/6/16 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha (profit snapshots= $224.65).  
I had previously sold higher cost lots:
I discussed selling 100 shares in the Fidelity Roth IRA at $11.15 here, realizing a gain of $271.9. 
The LXP common stock position is part of REIT Common and Preferred Stock Basket Strategy which I started to build in the 2013 summer. Trading snapshots can be found at the end of that post. 
LXP Trading Profits To Date = $675.94
It has been difficult to generate a total return in excess of the dividend yield. To do so, I have to buy low and sell the pops: LXP Interactive Stock Chart
LXP has disposed of several properties that apparently contributed to the straight line rent number which is non-cash revenue included in the FFO calculation but excluded from funds available for distribution ("FAD"). Note that the FAD number was $57.415M for the Q/E 12/31/15 up from $52.238M in the Q/E 12/31/15. The straight line rent adjustment, which deducts non-cash revenues from LXP's adjusted FFO, was $2.051M last quarter compared to $12.46M in the 2015 4th quarter. The quality of the cash flow went up, as the adjusted FFO declined Y-O-Y. A number of authors at SA do not understand this point.  
LXP's 2016 Annual Report (debt is discussed starting at page 93)
2. Continued to Pare Potentially Long Duration Exchange Traded Bonds:

A. SOLD 40 SGZA at $24.83:




Profit Snapshot: $51.29


I discussed this purchase here. This lot was bought at $23.5, with the total cost at $23.525 per share.


Quote: Selective Insurance Group Inc. 5.875% Senior Notes due 2043 (SGZA:NYSE)


Prospectus (optional call on or after 2/8/18)


Moody's rates Selective Insurance Group's shelf (provisional senior at (P)Baa2); outlook stable


I still own 50 shares of SGZA bought in a Roth IRA at $24.1 that I discussed here.


I also still own 50 shares in a taxable account that were bought using a commission free trade at $23.53 (12/29/16). I discussed that purchase here.  The yield at that all-in price is about 6.242%.


I will buy this bond when it dips in price. The first price plunge occurred shortly after the bond's IPO in 2013. SGZA Stock Chart The price fell quickly from the $25 per share offering price to about $19.5 due to the interest rate spike that year which started in early May and ended on 12/31/13.


My first purchase was during the interest rate spike in 2013: Item # 3 Bought 50 SGZA at $20.6 (10/19/13 Post) I did not hold onto those shares for long, selling that lot for a $140.58 gain in May 2014.


The second plunge in price occurred during the interest rate spike that started last summer and ended in December 2016. The ten year treasury yield has now worked its way back up to the apex hit during last year's spike. The question now is whether the current spike in that yield has ended at or near the 2.6% level again or is merely pausing for another leg up.


I bought SGZA several times during that price decline using commission free trades in taxable accounts or the $1 commission payable to IB for the trade discussed above.


3. Continued to Pare Stock Allocations:


A. Sold 84+ FFBC at $28.1 (used commission free trade):


Profit Snapshot: +$1,129.21




Quote: First Financial Bancorp (Ohio) (FFBC:NASDAQ)


Stocks, Bonds & Politics: REGIONAL BANK BASKET STRATEGY GATEWAY POST (snapshots of gains/losses = +$36,089.34)


The 2018 E.P.S. consensus estimate was $1.72 when I sold this lot. That translates into a forward P/E of 16.34 at a $28.1 market price. The 2017 estimate was $1.54 which translates into a 18.25 P/E.


I view both P/E ratios to be expensive for this bank or any other bank stock that would be on my monitor list.


4. Short Term Bond/CD Ladder Basket Strategy:


A. Bought 2 WFC 1.5% CDs (monthly interest) Maturing on 10/1/18:




Disclaimer: I 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.