Tax Equivalent Yield Calculator

How do you know if a corporate bond fund is a better investment than a treasury bond, or a municipal bond?

The answer depends on your income, your federal and state tax rates, and your state’s tax laws. We have built this tax equivalent yield calculator to help you quickly determine which type of fixed income investment will provide you with the highest after-tax return. [continue reading…]


Happy New Year!

With a new year comes new IRS rules. Here’s what has changed for 2019 in regards to how much you can contribute to your IRA, 401k, and Roth IRA – Along with various income restrictions to be eligible.


2019 ira 401k roth ira limits

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Lately I have been writing much more for Seeking Alpha while I build up our “This Day in History” archive here on Begin to Invest. (Haven’t seen what we are working on? Here’s today’s post – October 29th – This Day in Stock Market History)


My latest posts are on the topics of international REITs, an asset class that I think has a lot of potential for higher returns in the future, and a post on TransDigm, a much loved stock with an incredible long term record, and why I think the good times for investors may be numbered.

More details, and links to these two articles below: [continue reading…]



Uncovering any type of value has been tough in this market.

Stocks are trading at their highest multiples in years after nearly a decade of rising stock prices. Even with the 2008 financial crisis, the S&P 500 has had just 1 negative year in the last 15 – a feat that has happened only once before in history (1982-1999 is the only other 15+ year period with only 1 negative year). The CAPE ratio is at a level above 30, a level which has never produced positive 10-year returns. The S&P 500’s dividend yield is now below the 10-year treasury, something that last occurred a decade ago.

Historically, at times when stock markets have been so expensive, bonds have offered yields to help reward patient investors unwilling to invest in an expensive stock market. Before 2008, 10-year treasury bonds yielded 4.5%. Prior to 2000, that same bond yielded over 6.5%! But today, bonds are offering generational low interest rates that even in today’s low inflation environment yield real returns around 0%.

But getting out of your comfort zone may prove worthwhile. Below we will look at a publicly traded third party trust that holds high yielding bonds in a specific company. However the trust is valued 38% less than the market value of the bonds that are within the trust.

We will then explore the ways to hedge our investment to eliminate credit risk in its underlying holdings. For large investors this is easy to do, but small investors need another option. We will use the findings of a 2011 academic paper to construct a put option position to completely hedge our position, theoretically leaving us with a 6.8% net annual yield and hopefully a one time 38% gain – completely independent of the general stock market’s return.

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As the search for investments continues, here’s a few companies that were on my radar this week:

Quick synopsis first, with links to the articles and more details below:

  • Synchrony Financial (Ticker: SYF) – The stock was down 10%+ on news that Walmart’s credit card would soon go through Capital One instead of Synchrony. What does this mean for the company, and is there value in the company’s portfolio besides Walmart?


  • Yelp (Ticker: Yelp) – My wife is an avid Yelp user. In an attempt to channel my inner Peter Lynch, I wanted to take a look at the company that helps us choose where to eat each and every week. I started to look into Yelp’s numbers and something jumped out. Despite being much younger than Facebook, Twitter, and the other social media sites, Yelp has done a great job monetizing its user base. Can it continue and what is Yelp worth?


  • Strattec (Ticker: STRT) – Shares of this $100 million company has done nothing but fall for three years, but the company’s balance sheet may be showing signs of life. (This was also nominated for Editors Choice for the day!)


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On the eve of a day that could be one for the record books, let’s take a look at how one of the world’s most famous companies can see its value go down by $120 billion in just hours.

Facebook, one of the largest companies in the world, is currently down 20% in trading tonight:



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Generally, increasing assets are a sign that the company is growing, but everyone can relate to the fact that there is much more behind the scenes than just looking at the assets. The goal is to determine how the asset growth of a company is financed.

To do so all we need is the last few years of a company’s balance sheet and the most basic financial statement equation:


Assets = Liabilities + Equity


The assets of a company are what the company owns. Typical examples of assets are; equipment to make a product, buildings owned, raw materials to create a product, inventory of the product to sell and cash in the bank.

Think of your household. Your car, your home, your furniture, TVs, Computers, bank accounts etc.


Generally, increasing assets are a sign that the company is growing, but everyone can relate to the fact that there is much more behind the scenes than just looking at the assets. Back to our household example:


Imagine watching a neighbor pull a sparkling brand new BMW into their driveway, getting out dressed in his fancy Italian suit, talking on the latest smartphone, and coming over to ask if you can watch his house for 2 weeks while he travels to sail in the Caribbean. You may think he is making it big, right? Maybe he got a big bonus from work, or a promotion…


That may very well be the case, or he may be racking up debt (liabilities) to finance these assets.


You may never find out which option applies to your neighbor, but thankfully the SEC requires publicly traded companies to be a little more transparent with their financials than your neighbors. [continue reading…]

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As the search for new investment ideas continues, I’ve been thumbing through a lot of annual reports.

A couple companies that were at the top of my list to check out; Zillow (Ticker Z or ZG) and Santander Consumer USA (Ticker: SC). What makes these two names interesting? [continue reading…]


Thorton O’Glove – Talks at Google thumbnail

Mr. O’Glove is the author of one of my favorite fundamental analysis investing books: Quality of Earnings

This talk only begins to touch on the topics covered in his book. If you find any of his talking points interesting, read the book for much more details and insights.

He is known for is in depth analysis of company financial statements. He was the author of the ‘Quality of Earnings Report’, a newsletter focused on identifying financial discrepancies, primarily for institutional investors. He published the Quality of Earnings book in the mid 80s. It may be old, but it is still one of the most useful for education investors on reading a company’s financial statement.

I can’t say I agree with everything he says in this talk (specifically that Buffett should break up Berkshire Hathaway, inflation comments, deficit speak, etc.), but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t provide a ton of value in his talk. [continue reading…]


Another earnings season upon us, this week kicks off with more than 100 companies announcing earnings. Here are a few of the results to be announced this week that I’ll be looking at carefully: [continue reading…]



Exciting news! In addition to getting our ‘This Day in Stock Market History’ posts on Facebook and Twitter, it is now available as an Amazon flash briefing skill also. Here’s an example of what to expect: [continue reading…]


Ben Graham stock screen

A New Year for the stock markets – That means it is time to run our Ben Graham Value Screens again and see what companies have made the cut this quarter! [continue reading…]


Update: This is an old post featuring the 2018 limits. Need to know the 2019 limits for IRA, Roth IRA, and 401k contributions? See the 2019 post, here.

Good news on the retirement front this year! For the first time in 6 years contribution limits for some retirement accounts are going up! What has changed for 2018 when it comes to your 401(k), IRA, ROTH IRA, and more? Here’s the quick rundown for most savers:

2018 IRA 401K contribution limits

For more details: [continue reading…]


Another year in the books! Here are some of the highlights:

S&P 500 Index Performance in 2017

U.S. stocks outperformed much of the developed world in 2017. I believe it is the 15th best year  in the index’s history when including dividends.

S&P 500 performance (not including dividends) – 17.74%

S&P 500 performance (Including Dividends Re-Invested)- 21.83%

Range of the S&P 500 during the year: Low: 2,245.13, High: 2,694.97


S&P 500 chart in 2017

Top 5 performers in the S&P 500 for 2017:

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I have been enjoying having a little more time to look at individual stocks and securities lately. Writing about them helps me think a little bit clearer, and go into more detail. Here is another article I wrote for Seeking Alpha on a couple of preferred shares from DowDuPont (Ticker: DWDP) that are unique: [continue reading…]


Dividend growth investing as been an immensely popular topic over the last couple years. And almost no other stock is in more dividend growth portfolios than Coca-Cola.

For 55 straight years Coca-Cola has raised its dividend, many are expecting #56 to be announced in a few months.

But the world is changing…is Coca-Cola keeping up? [continue reading…]



How can you tell if stocks are expensive?

Of course there is a thousand different ratios, indicators and indexes that attempt to measure the value in today’s stock market. Today we are going to look at one of the most popular ratios in particular, Shiller’s PE10 ratio, also known as CAPE ratio. What information can we get from looking at 100+ years of history between stock returns, treasury yields and CAPE ratio readings? [continue reading…]



What stocks do Warren Buffett, Carl Ichan, George Soros and other billionaires own? Here is a great infographic I saw on WalletHub:


How can you find this information in the future, or for other investors? Read below. [continue reading…]


Regional bank stocks have been hit hardest by the flattening of the yield curve lately. As a result of traders fear that bank earnings may fall, the KBW Regional Bank Index has underperformed the S&P 500 by more than 18% so far this year.

At what seems like the worst possible time to invest in small banks, why look now?

Here’s were I think there is some value, and one bank in particular that is set up to weather the storm:

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Big news this week as the U.S. yield curve has been flattening rapidly. Why should you care?

Here Bloomberg takes a look at the spread (or difference in interest rates) between 3 month treasury bills and 10 year treasury notes. Notice how inverted spreads (where short term treasuries yield more than long term treasuries) have often been a sign of an imminent recession:

Chart from Bloomberg article found here

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