Picking Stocks for 2009. January 16, 2009

PICKING STOCKS FOR 2009. January 16, 2009.

I’m expecting 2009 to be a better time for investors. Not an easy time, as in the one-sided market of the late 1990s when everything one bought went up, but an easier time than 2008 – at least for those willing to engage in a little market-timing. And that’s although I expect rallies will only be bear market rallies within an ongoing bear market.

Why an easier time then?

Last year my newsletter’s market-timing strategy portfolio gained 9.2%, one of the very few advisory services that were up for the year in which the S&P 500 lost 38.5%, hundreds of mutual funds and hedge funds closed due to heavy losses, and even ‘best investor in the world’ Warren Buffett was down 31.8% for the year. But it wasn’t an easy year. The extreme volatility made for stress, and the need to stick with mutual funds and ETF’s due to the higher risk in individual stocks took some of the fun out of it.

The outlook is different in that regard for 2009. Of the many stocks that plunged severely last year, some plunged for good reason, while others sank in sympathy with the market, or were sold simply because mutual funds and hedge funds had to sell something in order to raise cash to meet their record level of redemptions.

I believe that has quite a number of stocks on the bargain table, which is a lot different than when 2008 began.

One I mentioned to you in my December 26 column was Zimmer Holdings, symbol ZMH. Zimmer is about as far away from the troubled financial, housing, and retail sectors as you can get. To remind you of what I said in December, the company designs and manufactures orthopedic implants, including joint, dental, and spinal replacements. I believe its 54% stock plunge last year was overdone, and recommended its purchase. It’s up about 2% since that Dec. 26 column. The encouraging thing about that is how well it held up even as the S&P 500 plunged back down 10% over the last two weeks.

In my newsletter this week we featured another individual stock, which may have appeal to those looking for income as well as those seeking potential capital gains.

It is Cedar Fair, symbol FUN. Cedar Fair operates popular regional theme parks, and water parks, in 13 states in the U.S. and one province of Canada.

The parks include Cedar Point in Ohio; Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City USA in California; Dorney Park/Wildwater Kingdom in Pennsylvania; Valleyfair in Minnesota; Worlds of Fun in Kansas, Michigan’s Adventure Park: Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto; Kings Dominion in Virginia; and Carowinds in North Carolina.

Cedar Fair is noted for exciting rides. Its Cedar Point Park in Ohio offers 65 rides and 16 roller coasters, including Top Thrill Dragster, one of the world’s tallest and fastest coasters.

In addition to thrill rides for the brave, the parks are family oriented with water slides and wave action pools, as well as attractions for smaller children themed around the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip characters.

While the recession is having an effect on attendance at theme parks, Cedar Fair’s regional attractions, each only a few hours from large population centers, are faring much better than the destination-vacation type theme parks. The company just reported a couple of days ago that attendance in its 4th quarter was 8% higher than the same quarter a year ago, and estimated average daily spending per guest declined only 1%.

The company’s aggressive annual expenditures for new rides and attractions have always been key to keeping visitors returning, and Cedar Fair has announced expenditures of $62 million for 2009 additions, including a huge new coaster at its King’s Island Park in Cincinnati. Company president Dick Kinzel says, “It is likely that many of the difficult market conditions we faced in 2008 will be present in 2009, and we will continue to focus on adding value to the guest experience through new shows, thrill rides, family attractions and special events. I believe we have an excellent overall entertainment package lined up for 2009 that will appeal to today’s budget-conscious consumers.”

Revenues have increased in each of the last ten years. Going forward the worsening recession will probably have a greater negative effect on attendance (and the bottom line). But I believe that with the stock having plunged 57% along with the rest of the market, the potential negatives have been pretty much already factored into the share price.

Cedar Fair may also have appeal for those looking for income. A limited partnership, Cedar Fair must pay out most of its earnings to investors in the form of dividends. The partnership has increased the dividend for 21 straight years. At the current depressed stock price the dividend yield is a robust 15.5%. Even if the company had to cut its dividend for the first time, the yield would probably remain at a high payout.

Meanwhile, according to FirstCall/Thompson Financial, of seven analysts surveyed, three had a ‘strong buy’, three a ‘buy’, and one a ‘hold’ rating on the stock.

As always this is my opinion and there are no guarantees in investing, but I believe Cedar Fair is a good choice for 2009, for both income and potential capital gains.

Sy Harding publishes the financial website www.StreetSmartReport.com and a free daily Internet blog at www.SyHardingblog.com. In 1999 he authored Riding the Bear – How To Prosper In the Coming Bear Market. His new book is Beat the Market the Easy Way! – Proven Seasonal Strategies Double Market’s Performance!

Sy Harding
http://www.articlesbase.com/investing-articles/picking-stocks-for-2009-january-16-2009-725154.html

I have been working in retail( 2part time jobs) for the last 3 years, have received a letter from Inland Reven?

a letter from Inland Revenue, claiming that my employees didnt tax me enough for these 3 years and I owe them around £ 4200, which they intend to collect from my wages during next 12 months, but if they do this, I will have no money on living, whats the way out?

You need to go and talk to Inland Revenue at their local office. Maybe that way you can come to some sort of agreement. However, I feel that you will have to repay what you owe, whether your fault or the employers.

Taxes- Fundamentals and Basics

A Tax is an enforced contribution which helps the government in various services such schools, utilities, public health care units and laying of roads. Taxes, which are levied by various entities of government, are present in different forms. The most common among them are indirect and direct taxes. Direct taxes are those that are paid to government directly through income taxes which are paid yearly. Indirect taxes refer to those which come from purchase of goods from retail revenues. There are different rates of taxation fixed by the Federal government; but the counties and states can fix their own tax rates depending on the various public works that need to be done in the state.

The history of taxation takes us to prehistoric times. It’s known that the ancient Egyptians were the first to introduce a tax system .Livestock and goods were the modes of tax as currency was not widely used. Tax were given based on their type of work and individuals who were unable or refused to pay, were punished. References to taxes also date back to European history where every product from window to even bread was taxed. These taxes helped the soldiers in gaining victory in wars by affording the expenses spent to buy weapons.

Taxes are always paid in the form of percentage though there are many other methods followed. These percentages vary according to the entity that decides them. Indirect taxes reach the government more quickly as people pay the tax along with the purchase of the goods. The retailer, on calculating the amount of tax payable to state and federal government, pays them to appropriate office of revenue. Taxes related to real estates and other property is paid on yearly basis. Individuals and retailers who don’t pay taxes are viable for imprisonment and stiff fines by the government.

Taxes have proven to be an important part in the history of the world. There is almost no country in the world that doesn’t have a contention with their current tax system’s and when this controversy over tax system occurs ,the people protest saying that the tax rate is very high or question as to whether these taxes are utilized properly. As a matter of fact, it was the taxation of tea which lit the fuse for America in gaining independence. In addition to that, these taxation issues have served to be the most sorted topic for politicians. Whether or not taxes are helpful, large amount of things depend on these tax systems. It is this intricately structured tax system that helps the citizens to get the basic needs provided by the government.

Abhishek Agarwal
http://www.articlesbase.com/taxes-articles/taxes-fundamentals-and-basics-708552.html

SEO News for the Website Ceo: Optimize or be Crushed

Search engine optimization and website marketing are mainstream. The leaders and the followers have optimized their websites. Only the late adopters are left. If you don’t promote your website through search engine optimization soon – you’ll be crushed by the competition. Websites without search engine optimization will quickly die. SEO is mainstream marketing. It is no longer an afterthought. If you are a late adopter and haven’t optimized your website for search engine results or search engine marketing, your competition will quickly surpass you in Internet search engine results. This will lead to the demise of your website. Even if your product is primarily bricks and mortar – your competition will be gaining a Herculean advantage. The Internet online audience is over 70% of the population. This audience takes advantage of Internet marketing strategies. According to Stores magazine, 90% of shoppers research a product on the Internet before buying – either on a regular basis (43.3%) or occasionally (47.3%). Only 9.5% never use the Internet for comparison-shopping. eMarketer reported in January 2008 that 88% of online users are driven to a website because of search engine results. (Study by Deloitte Development and Harrison Group “The State of the Media Democracy Second Edition.”) Google gets an estimated 350 million searches per day. Yes, per day. (That’s what everyone does all day!) Yahoo “only” gets around 300 million. (Online Media, Marketing & Advertising May 2008.) If your website is not optimized, you will be crushed by the competition. The early adopters and the leaders are now focusing on mobile marketing – which is still in its infancy. Mobile marketing requires the search engine optimization techniques that are being used today in web site promotion. Google is well into their research on search engine optimization for mobile marketing. If you don’t apply meaningful search engine optimization techniques to your website now, you will be far behind the next generation of website promotion – if you exist at all. Web site optimization is paying off. Ecommerce sales growth has been around 25% whereas overall retail sales growth has been a slow 6%. Logically following, Internet advertising is growing by 15%, whereas television advertising is only growing by 5%. (Magazine and radio advertising growth is 4% and 2% respectively.) The average person spends almost the same amount of time online as they do watching television – 8 to 20 hours a week – and only one to three hours a week are dedicated to reading the newspaper. Search engine optimization, web site optimization, and search engine marketing go hand in hand. A well-planned Internet marketing strategy will include both. However, the fact that the majority of internet users will choose a website from a natural search engine result – as opposed to the paid advertisements that are typically aligned on the right – is evidence that search engine optimization is the dominating factor for website success. Case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of search engine optimization over several business metrics abound. The returns on SEO investment are unique to each website, but can be seen in increased web site visitors, in responses to Internet marketing campaigns, customer loyalty, and even brand recognition. Evaluating your website’s promotional mix will demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of search engine optimization. Promotional budgets are wisely being reconstructed to earmark funds for this necessary expenditure in today’s Internet dominated world. Web site visitors are search engine savvy. Broad search terms (horizontal) are giving way to more specific search terms (vertical), and search engines are restructuring to follow these trends. Implementing a search engine optimization plan for your website is necessary for any website marketing strategy. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no longer new – it is NOW. Your competitors know this and have adopted this website marketing strategy. If your website promotions don’t include web site optimization, the internet marketing skills of your competitors will put them at the top of the search engine results page instead of you, and you will be buried by their followers. Website marketing REQUIRES search engine optimization. If you’re not optimized now – your competitors will have you crushed. It’s not too late to dig yourself out of your grave.

Lina Smith

Is Now Really be a Good Time to Start a Franchise Business in Australia?

With most of the developed economies either in, or heading for a recession, can now really be a good time to start a franchise business in Australia?

Firstly, recession in Australia is not by any means a certainty and even if it does happen, it seems that it will be less severe and have a faster recovery than most other economies. But still, bad times are bad times, is it wise to start a business in less than ideal conditions?

The answer to that is unique to each person that asks the question, but generally speaking, if most of the other factors influencing your decision are still positive then you shouldn’t let a weak economy dissuade you from taking the plunge.

Of course there are some cautions. Go through your business plan again (the real one, not the one you did for the banks!) and analyse how well you will fare with reduced revenues. Quite possibly it may simply mean a slightly longer period before you hit break-even.

If your funding isn’t already in place, you might find it harder to secure a business loan, at least for the next few months until the banks have sorted through some of their woes and a sense of stability returns to the financial markets again.

There are plenty of factors that will work in your favour if you go ahead with your business start-up plan.

Firstly, talented people should be much more available and for less expensive wages than at any time during recent years. If you are looking for partners, there will now be a pool of people just like you who are looking for an opportunity, people who realise how fragile a career in the corporate world can be and are looking at ways to take more control of their future. Some up these may have received a retrenchment package or be cashed-up through prudent savings. Not many potential investors are going to trust the financial markets or fund managers any time soon and this ought to make investing in a franchise a much more attractive proposition.

It will be easier to negotiate a lease and get the rental significantly cheaper than it was just a few months ago. Office renovation and shop-fitting expenses will be cheaper, as will perhaps any new or second-hand equipment that may be required for the new business. Consider using the services of a “virtual office” which can handle everything from answering telephone enquiries to secretarial services to basic book-keeping. Most of the time your clients won’t even realise they are not talking to one of your employees and you may find that the level of professionalism they bring to your business helpful in the start-up phase.

Buying a franchise as distinct from creating your own unique business, adds a level of safety that should not be underestimated. Franchises that have been around for a while have already weathered economic downturns in the past and have proven strategies in place to see it through this one as well. If the franchise is relatively new, the creative minds and determined personalities who founded the business are probably still at the helm and you can be sure they are not about to let their business fail.

All the usual advantages of a franchise apply. Franchisors have the buying power to negotiate the best prices on raw materials or ingredients while franchisees have a good knowledge of their customers and their neighbourhood and stand to profit from the trust and familiarity of the franchised brand.

When choosing a franchise don’t underestimate the newer arrivals in the market. Although their brand may not have the instant recognition of the market leaders, often their artwork, advertising and business models are as equally professional. People are naturally curious about a new brand and if it looks interesting and their logos and catch-phrases have appeal, they are likely to give it a try.

Do the same yourself. First test each franchise you are considering as a customer, evaluate the product and make an assessment from this perspective. Next talk to as many franchisees as possible. You should be able to arrange this through the franchisor. Add to this your feelings about the branding and the business concept. Although more caution is warranted with a new brand, you may find it a much easier franchise to buy into compared to a more expensive established one and if it grows quickly, being one of the pioneers should bring greater rewards. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If the franchisor feels that you are the right person you may be able to get a substantial discount, or a deferred payment scheme of some sort. Explore these alternatives openly an honestly with the franchise sales team. An eagerness to negotiate doesn’t mean you you are coming from a position of weakness, if done professionally it could demonstrate that you have a mind for business and that could work in your favour.

Look at what is happening in other states. Does a new car wash franchise in Perth seem to be taking off? Are there any in Sydney, yet? Or does that new juice bar franchise that started and grew quickly in Melbourne have similar take-up rates in Adelaide? How well would it be accepted in Brisbane or the Gold Coast? If it is the retail sector that you are interested in look around your local shopping centres. Which businesses are doing well? Which ones are under-represented? Does this represent a niche that could be successfully filled by your new business?

Remember, when things are going well, people assume they will keep going well, when there is a recession, people fear the worst and wonder if it will ever end. Now may well be the best time to put the contrarian principles into action and become established during times of economic weakness, get the bugs ironed out and be well positioned to benefit from the good times just over that next hump.

Michael Tunstill
http://www.articlesbase.com/business-articles/is-now-really-be-a-good-time-to-start-a-franchise-business-in-australia-715200.html

SEO News for the Website Ceo: Optimize or be Crushed

Search engine optimization and website marketing are mainstream. The leaders and the followers have optimized their websites. Only the late adopters are left. If you don’t promote your website through search engine optimization soon – you’ll be crushed by the competition. Websites without search engine optimization will quickly die. SEO is mainstream marketing. It is no longer an afterthought. If you are a late adopter and haven’t optimized your website for search engine results or search engine marketing, your competition will quickly surpass you in Internet search engine results. This will lead to the demise of your website. Even if your product is primarily bricks and mortar – your competition will be gaining a Herculean advantage. The Internet online audience is over 70% of the population. This audience takes advantage of Internet marketing strategies. According to Stores magazine, 90% of shoppers research a product on the Internet before buying – either on a regular basis (43.3%) or occasionally (47.3%). Only 9.5% never use the Internet for comparison-shopping. eMarketer reported in January 2008 that 88% of online users are driven to a website because of search engine results. (Study by Deloitte Development and Harrison Group “The State of the Media Democracy Second Edition.”) Google gets an estimated 350 million searches per day. Yes, per day. (That’s what everyone does all day!) Yahoo “only” gets around 300 million. (Online Media, Marketing & Advertising May 2008.) If your website is not optimized, you will be crushed by the competition. The early adopters and the leaders are now focusing on mobile marketing – which is still in its infancy. Mobile marketing requires the search engine optimization techniques that are being used today in web site promotion. Google is well into their research on search engine optimization for mobile marketing. If you don’t apply meaningful search engine optimization techniques to your website now, you will be far behind the next generation of website promotion – if you exist at all. Web site optimization is paying off. Ecommerce sales growth has been around 25% whereas overall retail sales growth has been a slow 6%. Logically following, Internet advertising is growing by 15%, whereas television advertising is only growing by 5%. (Magazine and radio advertising growth is 4% and 2% respectively.) The average person spends almost the same amount of time online as they do watching television – 8 to 20 hours a week – and only one to three hours a week are dedicated to reading the newspaper. Search engine optimization, web site optimization, and search engine marketing go hand in hand. A well-planned Internet marketing strategy will include both. However, the fact that the majority of internet users will choose a website from a natural search engine result – as opposed to the paid advertisements that are typically aligned on the right – is evidence that search engine optimization is the dominating factor for website success. Case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of search engine optimization over several business metrics abound. The returns on SEO investment are unique to each website, but can be seen in increased web site visitors, in responses to Internet marketing campaigns, customer loyalty, and even brand recognition. Evaluating your website’s promotional mix will demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of search engine optimization. Promotional budgets are wisely being reconstructed to earmark funds for this necessary expenditure in today’s Internet dominated world. Web site visitors are search engine savvy. Broad search terms (horizontal) are giving way to more specific search terms (vertical), and search engines are restructuring to follow these trends. Implementing a search engine optimization plan for your website is necessary for any website marketing strategy. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no longer new – it is NOW. Your competitors know this and have adopted this website marketing strategy. If your website promotions don’t include web site optimization, the internet marketing skills of your competitors will put them at the top of the search engine results page instead of you, and you will be buried by their followers. Website marketing REQUIRES search engine optimization. If you’re not optimized now – your competitors will have you crushed. It’s not too late to dig yourself out of your grave.

Lina Smith

Big 3 Irish Banks to Survive as Separate Entities

There is something common about Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and Anglo Irish Bank ? All these banks are struggling with their balance sheets and revenues. In such a scenario, you would find that some element of external assistance is welcome. A 10 Billion Pounds making a bailout plan is something all these banks were waiting for!

Anglo Irish Bank is one of the biggest banks, that is seemingly poised to be taken over by one of the other two banks.

Couple of months before, the Government had planned for a fiscal revival. As on date, you would find that the Government has somewhat been pushed back on the agenda.

The 10 Billion Pound was seemed to a good enough amount to rescue the fortunes of the banks. But what really happened over time is ? This amount has not been good enough for these banks to survive!

The stocks of all these banks were supposed to hit a new high. But quite the converse happened this time around. The stocks of all these banks hit an all-time low on some of the subsequent days.

There have been a lot of plans laid by the Government trying to finalize the lending norms for the financial institutions.

Anglo Irish Bank is poised to have a change at the top. The change is expected to come through Richie Boucher, the head of retail financial services for Bank of Ireland. He is been seen as a guy who could take over the role of Chief Executive Officer of the AIB.
What is one big problem for the Anglo Irish Bank? Well ? For most struggling banks now, assets is something they need. The story is not any different for the AIB with it requiring 2.6 Billion Pounds.

The Bank of Ireland seems to require an injection of 3.4 Billion Pounds and the AIB may require an injection of about 3.9 Billion Pounds.

EBS and Irish Nationwide is seemed to be set for a merger. This merger would bring together two societies and needless to say, a financial turnaround is on the cards for sure.

It has also emerged that distressed Irish banks will have to pay the Government a premium of 10pc per annum to avail of the new ?10bn rescue fund.

It is widely believed that the stakes in AIB is pretty low this time, with seen erosion in the capital some days ago. This possibly has also resulted in having a fix on the sale value of AIB.

The announcement coming from the government could have resulted in some kind of cheer with the banks. In fact, the 11th hour news from the government seems to have bought in more gloom for these banks.

It remains to be seen how the bailout money would be spent on the banks. In fact, ask most financial experts and this is one question that they fail to answer. It remains a suspense, which can only be revealed with time.

Mallabraca, a private US Equity firm, for now does not seem to show any interest in the Anglo Irish Bank.

Gen Wright
http://www.articlesbase.com/credit-articles/big-3-irish-banks-to-survive-as-separate-entities-694615.html