Todd Durrant’s Random Thoughts
Follow the efforts of a creative, crazed entrepreneur.

Let’s Get More Random Now

OK, in the spirit of this blog’s title, I’m going to get a little more random in this update. Let’s kick it off with music again.

DEPECHE MODE is Back…Again

One of the bands I’ve loved since my youth is Depeche Mode, though I admit that my admiration for their music has greatly diminished over the years. Other than “Ultra” and a few tracks from the last album, “Playing the Angel”, I pretty much stick to their material up to the epic “Violator” album. But I still watch what they do, just to see if I’m pleasantly surprised or disappointed.

They’ve released the video for the first single from their upcoming album. It’s called “Wrong”. I thought I’d point it out today because I saw another friend who writes a blog called “Synthpop Video of the Day” decided to post an old Depeche Mode video rather than the new one. He just didn’t like “Wong”. BUT, I do! The song writing is witty, edgy, and fits right in with everything that is classic about Depeche Mode. The vocals are dramatic and the music has those quirky synths that I love. As for the video…it is definitely creepy, but in a good way. I  enjoyed it from the first time I watched it. The only weakness is the ending, which resolves (or doesn’t) too simply. I wanted something a little more clever or odd to happen as a conclusion. After all, this car just drove backwards through the city with only minor bumps into things which WERE more interesting (the shopping cart was the best), so why end with the car simply getting hit by a truck? Anyway, here it is, “Wrong” by Depeche Mode:

OK, that was just wrong.

WATCHING THE MARKET TODAY

As of the moment I’m writing this blog, my little Firefox plug-in that scrolls stock market information across my computer screen is mostly green.  It’s becoming redder by the moment, but the DOW is slightly positive.  Of course, that could chance dramatically at any moment.  But the key question here is this– why is Todd even watching?   Honestly, I never watched the stock market and never really cared much until the end of summer 2008 when it was obviously in a tail spin.  Since I have my own business which has never been much of a money maker, I’ve never had any retirement to speak of.  I haven’t had money to invest.   I still don’t…not really.  But I could not resist the temptation in October when stock looked so darn cheap.   There were so many people complaining about how much they were losing, but I didn’t listen so much to them.  I was listening to the experts who were saying that this is the time to buy!

You see, the stock market tends to get the opposite response to “discount prices” that retail stores get.  If the price of store products drops 40% or more, people go running INTO the store.  When the stock market takes the same turn, people run away screaming and pull everything out.   So, I decided to take the retail store approach and dive in for some bargain shopping.

You should know that I’m talking about very small amounts here.  I found an online, do-it-yourself kind of broker which would allow me to invest any amount at any time that I want, and I created an account.  I’m using Sharebuilder now, and have been quite pleased with the ease and affordability there.  If any of you decide to use them, I wouldn’t mind you using me as a reference so I get little bonuses for passing along the info (though that’s not my point here).   What I want to mention is my first moves and how they turned out, being the complete stock novice that I am.

My first choice was to by NCC (National City Corp) stock because the market was crashing due to the bank credit / mortgage crisis.  This is the institute to whom I pay my mortage, so I looked into them.   Though their stock value had taken a huge dive, they claimed not to be involved with sub-prime lending, so I thought, “it will rebound, and my $40 could easily double!”    Well, I was wrong.  Just over a month ago, after their stock had continued to lose value, they merged with much larger PCN group and my stock was converted.    My original $40 is down to about $15 in value now– only a fraction of a share of PCN.

My second choice at the time was to by GM stock.  This was a huge American institution, and their stock was the price of a fast food combo meal!  I didn’t think they could possibly go away.   I only went in for about $30.  You can guess how that worked out.  The stock value dropped to the price of a “happy meal” and I really started to believe that GM would indeed go away…I still do.  Once the US government decided to give GM a 30 Billion dollar loan and asked them to “come back later” at the first of the year, I bailed out because the stock bounced back up a bit.  That was my first and only “sell” move so far.  I’m out of GM, and yes, I do think they will die.

While talking of the auto industry, let me point out that I own a Ford Escort.  It’s a car I’ve never liked, but despite strange mechanical problems when we first bought it used many years ago, it is still running.  I’ll drive it until it explodes into a ball of flames (hopefully not while I’m in it).  After all, it is paid for, and I hate the idea of taking on another car payment in today’s economy.   Well, I did buy Ford stock, $10 at a time.  And I’m still doing it– tomorrow my next $10 purchase will go through.  Why on earth would I do this?   Only because Ford is the only of the “big 3” US automakers that did NOT accept a government handout.   OK, maybe they will still go bankrupt and my stock value will drop to zero from the whopping $1.90 price it currently maintains, but they are not taking taxpayer money just so they can hold on a few more months.   Heck, last month they even OPENED another facility to start building their more fuel efficient engines, rather than closing down plants like GM.   They must know something we don’t if they are turning down government bailouts and pushing foward despite quarterly losses.

All in all, my stock buying so far has not been great.  The market has only become worse since I started, but I have my few dollars spread around, mostly in ETF’s (exchange traded funds).  Right now the only overall gainers I own are Amazon.com (their sales have been strong and their Kindle 2 is getting a lot of attention), and Energy Solutions (I guess anybody into nuclear energy support is a bit up since Obama took office), and Thermo-Fischer (a technology company I know because they have a plant in my county).

But hey, I’m bargain shopping, right?  So I really don’t expect to see any gains yet.  I’m buying while it is dirt cheap, and am expecting that over the coming years these few dollars I’m currently throwing into the market will start to grow.   On the other hand, it could all come crashing completely down, in which case we’re all in the same boat anyway, so who cares?

That’s all I have time for today.  Thanks for reading!

-Todd

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5 Responses to “Let’s Get More Random Now”

  1. My personal take on the market is that even the experts can’t predict which stocks will rise or fall, so why should I expect to do any better? I’ve invested in five broadly diversified ETFs with very low expense ratios (and lost big like everyone else!).

    • I agree with you on the ETFs. That is definitely the way to go– bet on a broader market, industry, etc. without picking single stocks. I only do the single stocks for my “risky” experiments, but go with ETFs for long term growth. I even read today that a couple of large investment companies are switching from mutual funds to ETFs because of the lower fees and safer record. I’m not sure why more people don’t use them. The ones where I have most invested (and that’s still small amounts) are SPY (fortune 500 index spreader), VTI (total stock market spreader), DIG (because I think fuel can only go back up, at least in the short term), AGG (bonds), and MOO (agricultural spreader, because people always need to eat).

      -Todd

  2. I bought 125 shares of Sirius XM a few weeks ago, when it was at 7 cents. It’s now doubled! 🙂 But since I only bought 125 shares at 7 cents each, it’s only just worth what I paid plus the commission so far. Hopefully in the long term…

    • Hmm, Sirius XM eh? Well, I’d be a bit careful with that one. There’s a reason it was at 7 cents per share. I don’t see much future for subscription radio. They’ll have to adapt their model to keep up with either HD Radio or even the upcoming / new portable wifi radios (listening to streamed music for free from the internet anywhere). Then again, what do I know? I haven’t done so wonderfully on my stocks so far…but I am getting in on the bottom end for sure. Sirius could take a really big bounce. I’m kind of playing that game with Aviza Technology who is in the basement right now.

      -Todd

      • Well, it’s now in the .30s, apparently thanks to a deal with Apple to stream music to the iPhone.

        I usually have bad luck when I invest in individual stocks, so I only invest small amounts. It looks like I might actually be getting lucky with this one. 🙂


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