No, I’m not doing a part 3 of the “Dave” series, though I am tempted after today’s events.  One of the widows in our church insisted that her son contact me about a business deal he was entering into.  God especially looks out for widows, so I give them extra time.  Turned out to be a Nigerian-style scam emanating out of Malaysia.  Yuck.  Beware the too-good-to-be-true.  99% of the time it too good to be true.

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I had some data questions about part 1.  My data came from Bloomberg, and I used their “State of Domicile” field, and their “Industry Sector” field.

After part 1 of this series, I felt I would take this the opposite way, and go sector by sector, showing which states had the most of a given sector.  Here we go:

Basic Materials

When I think of Basic Materials, I think of resource extraction: timber, mining, agriculture, non-energy stuff.  I don’t think about steel, industrial gases. or chemicals, but those are in there.  You could classify them as industrial, but they are building blocks for something else.

So, when I see Pennsylvania, it is mainly two industrial gas companies (APD, ARG) a coatings company (PPG), and a steel company (X).  Minnesota — Mosaic, and Ecolab (Chemicals). Missouri — Monsanto.  Delaware — I don’t have to look, it is DuPont.  Ohio — Cliffs Natural Resources (Iron Ore and Coal), Sherwin Williams (Paint), and Lubrizol (specialty chemicals).  Arizona (FCX, SCCO) and Colorado (NEM) I would expect — out west there is more resource extraction.

Communications

Communications is a much more concentrated industry, with companies mostly in the most populated states, California (GOOG, CSCO, DIS, QCOM), New York (VZ, NWSA, TWX, GLW), and Texas (T).  One could argue whether Cisco or Qualcomm should be techs, industrials, or communications.  Same for Google — Communications, Technology, where do advertisers go?  Google is an advertising company with a unique platform.

Consumer Cyclicals

Think of retailers of goods that you don’t have to buy every month, and those that produce them.  This is a very spread-out sector geographically.  After the first two states, things are pretty even.  Arkansas has Wal-Mart.  Illinois has McDonalds and Walgreens.

Consumer Noncyclicals

This sector is more concentrated than consumer cyclicals.  Here’s a breakdown for the biggest states:

  • New York — Pfizer, Pepsico, and Philip Morris.
  • New Jersey — Johnson & Johnson and Merck
  • California — Visa and Amgen
  • Illinois — Abbott Labs and Kraft Foods
  • Ohio — Procter and Gamble

Now why Visa (and Mastercard) should be in this sector rather than Financials, I don’t know.  Same for drug companies, especially biotechs, why aren’t they thought of as technology companies?

When I look at the sorts of companies that are in each state for the consumer cyclicals and noncyclicals, there is little rhyme or reason to why they are where they are.  You could plunk them down anywhere there are sufficiently skilled populations, and the companies would probably work.  And, that said, almost every state has some of them.

Diversified

This classification should be eliminated.  There aren’t enough companies or market cap to justify it.  There are three largish New York companies: Leucadia, Icahn Enterprises, and Liberty Acquisition (a SPAC).  These are all financial buyers of assets, regardless of what sectors they buy in.  They are opportunistic, and should be classified as a type of financial company.  If Berkshire Hathaway is a financial company, and GE is an industrial, surely we can reclassify this small group of companies.

Energy

The most concentrated sector of all, and no surprise, given the development of the oil industry in Texas that Texas is huge and Oklahoma is large.  California is more of a surprise.  Everything else is dust on the scales.  Let’s see what the big three states have for big companies:

  • Texas — Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Schlumberger
  • California — Chevron, Occidental Petroleum
  • Oklahoma –Devon Energy, Chesapeake Energy, and Williams Companies

Both Chevron and Occidental Petroleum began in California, with some significant early discoveries there before they prospected in other areas.  Oklahoma has natural gas-oriented companies.  Schlumberger is interesting because they were founded abroad, had a lot of operations in the US in the early days, then centralized their US operations in New York City in the 70s, before moving them to Houston in 2005.

Financials

Financial companies could exist anywhere, but when the talent pool gets large, more companies locate where there are talented people.  In finance, that means New York.  Let’s go through the big companies for the top 5:

  • New York — J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs (many companies — 110 in all)
  • California — Wells Fargo (and 58 more that add up to a little more than Wells Fargo’s Market cap)
  • Nebraska — Berkshire Hathaway (what, you were expecting First National of Nebraska?)
  • North Carolina — Bank of America, BB&T
  • Illinois — CME Group, Allstate, Equity Residential, Northern Trust, Aon (what a mix)

The banks dominate, but not the way they used to be, and New York is dominant, but not the way that it used to be.  Too many years of taking too much risk on too thin of a capital base caught up with them.  Now those that remain are the better capitalized companies with decent risk control, and those that got rescued by the government, leaving a legacy of moral hazard.

From some other research that I have done on my home state of Maryland, I can say that among small publicly traded companies, financials are everywhere — usually bitty banks or S&Ls.  This analysis cut of at $125 million of market cap, but there is a treasure trove of unknown financials that only DFA knows about.  (Okay, Hovde Capital, M3 Funds, and a few other specialists..)

Industrials

This is another very diversified sector, with only two states standing out: Connecticut (GE and United Technologies) and Illinois (Boeing, Caterpillar, Deere, and Illinois Tool Works).  Now, Boeing used to be headquartered in Washington State, but moved in 2001, to Illinois, who was the high bidder in tax incentives.  This reinforces to me the idea that most companies could have their headquarters almost anywhere there is a broad pool of talented people.  Probably not true for energy, technology, and biotech companies, but for others, quite possibly.

And, while not being as ubiquitous as financials, there are small industrial companies in out-of-the-way places scattered across the US.  Such was true with my Maryland research.

Technology

Information technology is dominated by California companies.  The big ones are Apple, Oracle, Intel, and Hewlett Packard.  There are 114 more with market caps over $125 million.  Washington State — Microsoft, nothing more.  New York — IBM, and little else.  California has a culture that tries new things, and developed a specialized culture for information technology, transcending the genius of just one bright firm.  Smaller companies needing talent in information technology flock there, because they can find it easily.

Utilities

Finally, the most democratic sector.  Since utilities serve people, and it is only recently that they began merging across state lines, they are still scattered across the country, in almost every state, roughly proportional to the size of the state populations.  No one state stands out here, so I won’t list companies.

Summary

Most publicly-traded companies are located where they are because of the historical accident of where they started.  After that, proximity to specialized talent and resources drive location.  Beyond that, companies tend to clump disproportionately in larger states.

More to come in part 3, after a break.

Full disclosure: long ALL, PEP, ORCL, CVX and COP

For what it is worth, I don’t encourage calling me “Dave.”  My wife, my pastor, and some close friends call me that.  I learned to love my given name when I became an adult — David is a wonderful name, and I am glad my parents gave me that name.  It is an informal age, with the benefits and problems thereof.

On with the scenarios:

4) I have had short jobs: helping a young man to decide whether to buy a house or not.  My counsel: not.  So far so good.  Helping an older lady figure a complex tax basis of stock her father left her inside a DRIP.  A pain but a finite process.

5) A friend my age (50s) who runs a successful business asked me for advice ten years ago.  My advice was don’t run with negative working capital; leave some margin for error.  It took him nine years to figure out that I was right, and the business suffered 3-4 near death experiences en route.  Now he is more profitable than ever, and was grateful for my advice.  As a shareholder, I am glad that he listened.

6) A younger friend (30s) who runs a successful small business who asks what he should do with his excess money.  I told him to put it in Vanguard’s Balanced Fund, or the STAR fund, if he really did not need it for his business.  But he is the sort that always wants to do the best, and feels mediocre results are laziness.  I have told him, focus on your business; it is what you are best at.  What you earn on spare cash balances, particularly in this low-return era, will not avail as much as you could by selling more, and providing good service.

7) A friend (50s) a few years older than me has been put to the test.  His employer has offered him a severance package if he leaves of a little more than one year’s income.  His pension, if taken today, will barely cover expenses, but is roughly equal to his salary.  He has no savings, and has helped put 3 of his 5 kids through college, with 2 to go.  I advise that he continues to work, and that he turn down the package, because it is unlikely that he could get work nearly as remunerative.  Risk: his company folds, and he loses the package.

8 ) A friend (50s) who has planned asks whether his plan is wise.  I told him that the asset allocator using DFA is pretty smart, and and the cost is reasonable.  Beating the S&P 500 over 9 years by 4%/year is hot stuff.  My only critique is that it is a 100% equities program, which is fine if you can live with that level of volatility.

9) My pastor came to me in 2007, asking whether he should still be in the money market fund for his defined contribution plan.  I had been waiting for this moment, because he was too cowardly in investing, but it was the wrong moment.  I told him to take the moderate allocation, because moderate and aggressive allocations do the same over time, but the moderate will let you sleep.  He came through 2008 like a trooper, with the losses, and bounced back in 2009.  The mix will do him well over the long run.

His case made me look over the denominational plan.  I concluded that the asset allocations were set one notch too high at each level… technically, the percentages allocated between risky and safe assets might be correct when thinking about lifespan, certainty of future earnings, but does not take into account the fear factor so well, i.e., people changing their strategy in the midst of panic, at the wrong moment.

So I let the pastors know that, and told them to shade their asset allocations to the conservative side last June.  It does not help that we are in a period of debt deflation, which will retard asset appreciation for some time.  It is harder for asset prices to rise, when the buying power from debt is diminishing.

And yet there are more who want my advice but haven’t sent me the documents yet… It reinforces to me that most don’t know what to do with excess money.

Perhaps that is a lesson — most people are technical specialists, and do their jobs well, but many are ill-adapted to managing their excess funds wisely.  Another reason to end Participant-directed defined contribution pension plans, and create trustee-directed plans, or even defined benefit plans.

Yes, this is a paternalistic view, and is at odds with my normal libertarian ways of thinking.  As policy goes, let people be free to have whatever savings/investment plan they like.  But if you care for those that you have some charge over, create a plan that takes the investing out of their hands.  Then make sure that it is prudently invested.

And in the end, remember, though it is almost always better to have more than less, invest in such a way that you, and those that rely on you will make it to your goal comfortably.  Just as valuable is the ability to sleep at night, and know that your plan has enough slack to enable you to take some hits, and come through fine.

I get requests from local friends fairly regularly for aid in understanding their finances.  While coming home from church recently, I mentioned to my wife that many were seeking my opinion in our congregation.  Her response was, “So what else is new?”  Then I began to list it, family by family, and the congregations that were seeking my opinion for their building/endowment funds, and/or borrowing needs.  As I went down the list, my wife’s responses were “Not them!”, and “Them too?!” and “No!”

What can I say? My wife is the best wife I have ever heard of, but even married to me, economics is a distant topic.  Her father was well-off, but humble, and I am well-off, and I try to be humble.  You can be the judge there.

I say to my friends asking advice, “Remember, I am your friend.  I will take no money, but I won’t hold your hand and guide you either.  I will give you very basic advice, and it is up to you to learn and implement it.”  I don’t want to be a financial planner, but I don’t want to leave friends in a lurch.

With that, the scenarios:

1) 90-year old widow, who lives with her daughter and son-in-law.  Another son-in-law, given to incaution, is advising putting everything into gold and silver.  What to do?

She has adequate assets to support her through the rest of her life.  Her husband was responsible.  I asked her if she needed more income, and she said no.  I told her, then relax, ignore the other son-in-law (I know him to a degree), but if you want to, invest 3-5% in precious metals.  She didn’t see the need, and I told her that was fine.  She asked me what I would do in her shoes, and I said that it was a very difficult environment to be investing in, and that we could not tell what the government might do in a crisis, so the best thing to do was to stay diversified, and invested in companies which would have continued demand.  But if you don’t need the money, don’t take the risk now.

2) 80-year old widow, assets in even better shape.  Her husband was a great guy; an inspiration to me in many ways.  He was a mutual fund collector, and left her a basket of 30+ funds, as well as two homes free and clear.  What to do?  I suggested that she harvest funds that had been doing particularly well and reinvest in funds that had lagged.  I suggested purging certain funds that were likely mismanaged.  I also suggested liquidating one property if she could get an acceptable bid.

3) 50-year old bachelor, never married.  Funds are from TIAA-CREF.  We decided on a 50-50 stock-bond mix three years ago.  Recently we rebalanced to add more equities.  He was disappointed that his portfolio had moved backward.  I said “Welcome to the club.”

I will continue with more in part two, but 2008 blew apart many people’s expectations over what their assets could deliver.  My stylized view of it stems from comments that I got at church.  In 1999, my friends were people into equities, as I was holding back.   In 2002, many said they were exiting equities, and moving to what they understood, residential real estate.  I was adding fresh cash to my positions, and paying off my mortgage. By 2006-2007, they began getting interested in stocks again.  By 2009, both stocks and residential real estate was tarnished, leaving bonds remaining.

Closing then, with three final notes:

a) The low interest rate policy is definitely hurting seniors, and I believe all investors.  We all become worse capital allocators when there is no safe place to put excess funds.  It tempts people to stupid decisions.  If Bernanke wants to do us a favor, let him resign, and put John Taylor or Raghuram Rajan in his place.  Tempting people to dumb investment decisions hurts the economy in the long run, it does not help us.

It may help the banks have a risk-free arb on short government bonds, but that’s not what we should want either.  If they are sound, they should be lending. Raise short rates, and let the banks have a harder time, and give investors a place to put money while they look for better opportunities.

b) Average people, and sadly, many professionals, are hopeless trend-followers.  They have no sense of looking through the windshield, rather they ask what has worked, and do that.  Mimicry can be a help in much of life, e.g., finding where to buy good furniture cheaply, but is harmful with investing where figuratively the devil takes the hindmost.

c) People get caught on eras, and have a hard time letting go of them.  The 70s biased many against inflation, and toward residential real estate. The residential real estate lesson got reinforced in the ’00s.  The equity markets seemed magical from 1975 to 2007, and asset allocators increased their allocations to equities in response.  Now you hear of “bonds only” asset allocations, just as the amount of juice available in most of the bond market is limited.

People got used to refinancing their mortgage every few years, and enjoying the extra cash flow.  The modern era reveals the hidden assumptions on that: that property values would never fall.

The point: markets aren’t magic.  They can only deliver what the real economy does.  Stocks only do well over the long run if profits do well. Valuations come and go.  Bonds make money off the stated interest (coupon) rate less default losses.  Valuations come and go.  Real estate is worth the stream of services that the land and improvements can deliver.  Valuations come and go.

Now, you can play the “come and go” if you are smart, but with the “come and go,” for every winner there is a loser.  But asset allocators need to be more humble in their assumptions for financial planning and not assume that they can earn more than 2% over the 10-year Treasury, or over expected growth in nominal GDP.  The share of income that goes to profits and interest also tends to mean-revert over time, so humility is needed when:

  • Illustrating an investment plan for a family
  • Setting the discount rate for a defined benefit pension plan
  • Setting the spending rate on an endowment
  • or even, setting assumptions for the Social Security trust funds.

For public companies in the US, what is the breakdown by state and then by sector, as measured by market capitalization:

Quite a graph.  Some states are like the US Average Sector mix, and some are very different. This set of two graphs will tell the story:

Sector Compositions by State -- Same & Different

These are broad generalizations, but why are do some states have a set of publicly traded companies like or unlike the national average?

  • Larger states tend to have larger cities, which nurture more diverse business ecosystems.
  • States with notable educational institutions tend to produce more diverse business ecosystems.
  • Some state cultures are more entrepreneurial, and tend to produce more diverse business ecosystems.
  • Some states, because of the natural resources that they were endowed with, tend to have more companies in the area of the resources involved.  That seems to be especially true when it comes to the energy sector, which explains Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Texas.
  • Much can be blamed on historical accident.  Why should Delaware have DuPont, except that that is where the founder lived and worked.
  • Or, why should Nebraska be so big in financials?  Who could have expected 40 years ago that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway would prosper so much, and that Warren would not move the business to a larger city?  But Buffett believed that it was an advantage to be away from Wall Street; it aids in independence of thought.
  • That retailing marvel, Dillard’s Wal-Mart, is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, because the founder started it there.  Again, he could have moved, but the initial genius of Wal-Mart was focusing on under-served rural areas, without attracting competition from larger retailers.  Then when their purchasing power exceeded that of the legacy retailers, they competed against them directly in the major cities.
  • To toss out one more, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is based in Vermont, far from where coffee is grown, but that is where the company started, and the culture of the state that they initially served, Vermont,  helped shape the company that it became.
  • The utility industry is space-limited, and is mostly regulated by the states, at least in terms of delivery to local clients.  Thus a state like New Mexico has PNM Resources, which mostly provides electricity and natural gas in New Mexico and Texas.  Similarly, North Dakota has MDU Resources which serves North Dakota, and parts of South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.  Same for South Dakota, with Northwestern Corp, and Black Hills Corp.
  • Then there are network effects, sometimes aided by regulation.  Nevada has the lion’s share of the gambling industry.  Regulation allowed for it, but once it got started, it became a destination for it, fixing it the minds of those that like to gamble.  Even as gambling regulations have declined in many states, it would be very difficult to dislodge Nevada’s first mover advantage.  The same logic applies to Wall Street, though New York State has a diverse economy.

Disclaimer and Summary

Now, remember the limitations here.  Private companies are equally important in the US, and so is the non-profit sector.  The reason that I work with the publicly traded companies, is that the data is readily available, and there is an easy summary statistic that is a proxy of the long-term value of the firm, equity market capitalization.  Maybe I should have used enterprise value, but I think that would have given undue weight to financials.

There are other ways to define value to society, each with its own set of flaws and data dirtiness problems.  This is just one simple way of trying to show the diversity of business in the US, segmented by sector and state.

One final note: I had to have a size cutoff in my study.  I used companies that had a market cap greater than $125 million on 2 September 2010.

More to come in Part 2.

UPDATE — Thanks to stevensaysyes for finding an error in my chart.  The corrected version is up now.  Mix up between the alphabetical order on state names versus address codes.

Does it matter who controls the businesses of the country?  Does it matter who regulates the businesses of the economy?  Should these people be smart or dumb?

One cost of the meddling that the Fed and Treasury have done through the bailouts is that dumb people are left in place.  People who mismanaged their firms still manage them, and regulators that misregulated are still in their jobs.  Both are rescued by taxpayer largess, but it reveals another hidden cost of bailouts — they make us less competitive/effective as a nation, because we do not let  firms fail, and we don’t fire regulators that were negligent, including the Fed.

The optimal outcome would be for bright managers to buy failed firms out of bankruptcy, and for failed regulators to be replaced with new ones that have a chance of doing things differently.  Aside from that, if you never fire regulators for failure, you will never motivate them to do what is right.

And this is true of most meddling by the Fed or the Treasury, picking favorites, not letting bad firms or regulators fail.  This extends to QE.  If you need lower rates in order to survive, you probably don’t deserve to.  All a lower rate structure does, if the government or Fed is forcing it, is encourage investment in lower yielding investments, because they can be financed cheaply for now.  This is an aspect of the liquidity trap, and the Fed is deepening it with their policies.

Remember, there is no evidence that QE works.  It has not helped Japan; it may have harmed Japan.

What I have found interesting over the last week are the number of discordant voices that are not in favor of QE or fiscal stimulus.  Here are some examples:

  • Consider what John Taylor and Richard Berner have to say in this article.
  • Listen to what Trichet has to say about government debt.  He says that the failure to cut debt has led to Japan’s malaise.
  • David Goldman questions QE here, suggesting that the US will fare worse with that strategy than Japan.
  • Or consider Raghuram Rajan, who in this article argues that low rates encourage speculation in risky assets, which may not result in growth in the long run, which is similar to the arguments of Fed dissenter Thomas Hoenig, who is also cited in the article, and me .  The difference that I have with Hoenig is that the economy is not strong here, and he thinks things are pretty good.  Hoenig thinks that low rates are hindering growth because banks sit back and make risk-free profits lending to the Treasury, and I agree with that.  It would be more stimulative of private sector lending to raise Fed funds to 1.5%, because then banks could not make money in Treasuries without taking a lot of interest rate risk.  They would have to go out and make real loans, or shrink their balance sheets.  Either would be good.
  • For an odd pro-QE view, Thomas Palley argues something complex, suggesting that Fed funds should be raised to promote saving and restrain speculation, while QE should be used to depress mortgage rates and state general obligation bonds.  I disagree, because we have too many houses, and state governments are too large now, having grown fat on the rising revenues generated by the credit bubble.  But do you see how when the QE genie is let out of the bottle, every special interest lines up to plead for the investment?  Bad enough that we have fiscal policy playing favorites for indebted homeowners at the expense of renters and those who own free and clear, but to make it a permanent part of monetary policy is foolish; it just creates a glut of homes, with marginal borrowers.

But consider Japan, which has not given up on QE, not because it works, but because they can’t think of an alternative.  It’s not as if there is a lot of demand for loans in Japan, but the Bank of Japan boosts a loan program anyway in the political season.

It makes me think that both Japan and the US have a comeuppance coming.  One cannot borrow forever without a bad result occurring, whether that be default, inflation, or high taxes.  But, in the short run, that game can go on with the politically connected disproportionately benefiting.  Though not on QE, this article from the Washington Post highlights the huge increase in Federal spending, and mentions in passing the huge benefits to DC, Virginia, and Maryland.  Yes, the benefits flow unequally, and it wasn’t as if the mid-Atlantic region was in bad shape.  Those near the capital benefit overmuch, and the hinterlands pay.

Summary

I stand by my thesis, which I hope to flesh out for stimulus spending in coming days.  QE does not benefit the US economy in the long run because it:

  • Creates dependency on the Federal Reserve to continue the financing.
  • Subsidizes governments and industries that need to shrink, and focus on core demand, not further expansion of mission.
  • Drives up the costs of funding long-term liabilities
  • Drives down the marginal efficiency of capital as the government and central bank does more of the investing, and invests in low ROE, or even negative ROE ventures.
  • Only looks at the present, and at politics, leading to decisions that benefit those connected
  • Tempts investors to take non-economic risks, where they will lose more than if they had stayed in cash.
  • Makes average people less certain about the future, which makes them more conservative in spending.
  • Undermines confidence in the fairness of government, and the value of a central bank.
  • It helps leave foolish men in charge of governments and bureaucracies that should have failed.

New Buys:

  • 5/19/2010      Petrobras
  • 7/9/2010        Goldman Sachs Group Inc
  • 8/31/2010      American Electric Power
  • 8/31/2010      Corn Products International
  • 8/31/2010      Zhongpin
  • 8/31/2010      PC Connection
  • 8/31/2010      Stancorp Financial

New Sales:

  • 8/31/2010      Goldman Sachs Group Inc
  • 8/31/2010      Dominion Energy
  • 8/31/2010      PPL Inc.
  • 8/31/2010      Sempra Power
  • 8/31/2010      Safeway Inc.

Rebalancing Buys:

  • 5/19/2010      Ensco International Inc
  • 6/1/2010        Noble Corporation
  • 6/29/2010      Computer Sciences Corp
  • 6/30/2010      Industrias Bachoco
  • 6/30/2010      Northrop Grumman
  • 6/8/2010        Safeway Inc
  • 7/6/2010        National Presto
  • 8/12/2010      Constellation Energy Group

Rebalancing Sales:

  • 8/2/2010        Noble Corporation

Thoughts

1)  I try not to trade too much.  For those that are new to my writings, rebalancing buys and sells are meant to bring the positions back to target weight after they have moved 20% away from the target weight.  As it is, for three months, I have not made a lot of trades.

2) I reduced utility exposure, it seems to have gotten relatively expensive amid the yield craze.  I have added cheap, well-financed names in a number of areas.

3) Assurant and National Western are double weights.  The rest of the portfolio is equal-weighted aside from that.  Note that National Western is quite illiquid.  Do not place market orders to buy or sell.

4) I flipped my momentum factor from small negative to moderate positive.  I have concluded that in a touchy macro environment like this, it is wise to consider return momentum.

5) I still don’t trust the financial sector aside from insurers here.

6) I had some runners-up in my analyses: AXS EDS TRH DFG

7 ) Some thoughts on the 8/31 buys:

  • PC Connection is a net-net, illiquid, but makes money.  Unusual to have a company that trades for less than its net assets, and makes money.  THIS IS ILLIQUID.  NO MARKET ORDERS.
  • Stancorp Financial is a well-run insurer trading at a discount.  Issues: Commercial mortgage exposure high, and disability may prove problematic during recessionary conditions.
  • American Electric Power was cheaper than the utilities it replaced.
  • Zhongpin sells pork in China.  Seems cheap, and has a decent amount of growth potential.  The financials look clean, but I am still reviewing it.
  • Corn Products seems cheap, and its products are needed globally.

8 ) I have roughly 11% in cash.  If I find a really good idea, I might bring that down to 8%.  At present, my stocks are nearer to the high end of their rebalancing bands, so I am more likely to be doing a little selling than buying of my existing stocks in the short-run.

9)  Here was the last update.  Comments welcome.

Full disclosure (here is the whole portfolio): COP SBS DIIBF IBA VLO NTE SAFT RGA ESV ALL PRE PEP GPC LNT AIZ ADM CVX NE ORCL NWLI CB CSC NOC NPK SCG TOT SENEA CEG PBR AEP HOGS PCCC SFG CPO