The Morning Call the Night before
Steve Cook on Disciplined Investing


Have You Seen This?


  • Make money by accessing all our Portfolios, the supporting research and Price Disciplines using our paid subscription blog, Strategic Stock Invetments. Our work is focused on making money for our Portfolios not as some academic exercise in Internet investing. Check our performance (audited)--our Dividend Growth Portfolio has beaten the S&P by 500 basis points per year for the last seven years but with a beta of only .62. (Mandatory Disclaimer: past performance is not a guarantee of future results.) We give you everything you need to duplicate our results, in particular, a strict price discipline for both Buying and Selling.

Have You Seen This?

I have to have my wife at the hospital tomorrow morning at 5am for an out patient procedure and will be there till 11-12.  So tonight is an abbreviated Morning Call.

The Market

    The indices (DJIA 11410, S&P 1193) had a calm day (for a change), finished the day basically flat and, therefore, remain in the lower quadrant of their recently re-set trading ranges (10725-12919, 1172-1372).  I view the lack of follow through from Tuesday’s decline (on seemingly bad news) as a positive.

    Volume has back to very low levels; breadth improved somewhat. The VIX was down again but remains relatively high (not good).

    GLD was up fractionally and remains the bright spot in our Portfolios.  It is close to being a bit overextended to the upside; so our Portfolios will likely make another trading sale, recognizing that the last one was clearly premature.

    Bottom line:  a little price stability like we experienced today is a welcomed respite from the volatility of the last 10 days.  But I am not sure it will continue.  I still think that there is a decent probability of at least a test of the recent lows; so I only want to Buy stocks on weakness.


    Today’s economic data was not that great--lousy mortgage purchase applications as well as unexpectedly hot headline and core PPI numbers.  However, the good news seems to have been that there was no new bad news out of the EU; so that gave investors a chance to take a breadth.

    The only other news was the media focus on Obama’s bus tour and His persistent stump speech that He has a new plan to create jobs and cut the budget deficit.  He still seems to be able to send a thrill down the media’s leg when He pontificates on His coming grand proposals.  If He does it, then no one will be happier than and me; and I will be the first to apologize for my skepticism.  BUT Obama has never done anything to reduce the budget (oh, I forgot His healthcare plan will reduce Medicare costs) and I don’t think that either He or the crowd that advices Him have a clue about how to create anything other than more government jobs.  In other words, the proof of the pudding is in the eating; and He has yet to put anything on the table.

    Bottom line: stocks are undervalued as calculated by our Model.  As yet, I see nothing in the US economic data that would cause me to question it.  However, the EU sovereign debt issue is still in a state of flux and could very well be worse than the current assumptions.  The question that I posed yesterday was, how much of that potential bad news is already in the price of stocks?  I gave no answer except that I want to be circumspect in my current reinvestment process.

      Company Highlights

Nu Skin Enterprises Inc develops, distributes and sells personal care and nutritional supplements under the Nu Skin and Pharmanex brands.  The company has earned a 20% return on equity while growing profits and dividends at an 8-9% pace over the last five years, though it is expected to increase to a 14-16% rate over the next five years.  Driving profits are:

(1) the introduction of new products tied to its ageLOC technology which claims to slow the skin’s aging process,

(2) geographic expansion in both Europe and Asia,

(3) an aggressive cost control program [margins rose from 12.5% to 13.5%],

The primary negative for NUS is its large international operation exposes it to currency risk.

NUS is rated B++ by Value Line, carries a 21% debt to equity ratio and its stock yields 1.5%. (NUS was purchased by the High Yield Portfolio when its stock yielded 4.7%)

  Statistical Summary

                 Stock        Dividend       Payout      # Increases   
                 Yield      Growth Rate     Ratio       Since 2001

NUS          1.5%            14%            22%             10
Ind Ave      2.1               10                27               NA  

                Debt/                       EPS Down       Net        Value Line
               Equity         ROE      Since 2001      Margin       Rating

NUS          21%           23%           3                16%           B++
Ind Ave      67              22             NA               6             NA


    Note: NUS stock made great progress off its March 2009 low, quickly surpassing the down trend off its July 2004 (not a misprint) high (red line) and the November 2008 trading high (green line).   The stock is in a long term up trend (straight blue lines) as well as an intermediate term up trend (purple lines).  The wiggly blue lines are Bollinger Bands.  The High Yield Portfolio owns a 50% position in NUS.  Additional shares would be Bought at $11; the lower boundary of its Sell Half Range is $46.


Posted 08-17-2011 10:05 PM by Steve Cook