Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thankfulness: Quotes on Gratitude and Thanksgiving

It's really easy to get bogged down in the filthy muck of everyday life. Believe me, I know. Plus, the holiday season can be an especially stressful time for anyone.

Sometimes we are so focused on being down and out that it takes a great deal of effort just to look up and smile. So as we get ready to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in America, I wanted to share some positive thoughts with you. 

Gratitude Thankfulness Thankful
Thankfulness, via Open Doors.

These 21 quotes on gratitude, sharing, and thankfulness are among the best I've found. They are gathered here for you. Enjoy the quotes and the lessons in their timeless wisdom.

"If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share." - W. Clement Stone

"I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite - only a sense of existence." - Henry David Thoreau

"To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do." - Victor Hugo

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” - Napoleon Hill

 "Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul." - Henry Ward Beecher

 "Gratitude is the sign of noble souls" - Aesop

"I believe that if you don’t derive a deep sense of purpose from what you do, if you don’t come radiantly alive several times a day, if you don’t feel deeply grateful at the tremendous good fortune that has been bestowed on you, then you are wasting your life. And life is too short to waste." - Srikumar Rao

"When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the lights, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself." - Tecumseh

"When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect towards others." - Dalai Lama

"Don't it always seem to go? That you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone." - Joni Mitchell

"Whatever we are waiting for - peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance - it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

"I'm grateful always for this moment, the now, no matter what form it takes." - Eckhart Tolle

"It is another's fault if he be ungrateful, but it is mine if I do not give. To find one thankful man, I will oblige a great many that are not so." - Seneca

"Never take anything for granted." - Benjamin Disraeli

"I'm grateful for the weird people out there... they're some of the most creative people!" - Channing Tatum

"It's Unbelievable. I still can't believe my life. Gratitude is a huge part of it, 100 percent. We give thanks and gratitude every day." - Rick Rubin

"Certainly the research shows that grateful people are more innovative thinkers." - Deborah Norville

"Be generous to those with less and not envious of those with more." - Jim Rohn

"List all the negative situations in your life. Think of at least one reason why you are grateful you are going through each experience. List the good situations in your life, or else you take them for granted." - James Altucher

"Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly." - Tony Robbins

"If you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, feel gratitude for the fact that you’ve been given complete control over your own mind. Then, ask for guidance in order that you may use this profound gift wisely in all your thoughts and actions." - Napoleon Hill

Thanks for reading and sharing. Enjoy your holiday, give thanks, and please extend a kind word or a friendly gesture to those who are alone during this holiday season. Have a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Related posts:

1. Marty Schwartz (Market Wizards) shares life lessons at Amherst College.   

2. Ray Dalio: Meditation is the secret of my success.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Google (GOOG) vs. Apple (AAPL) + "FANG" stocks

Google is a household name and one of the preeminent stocks in the minds of individual investors, but it isn't the biggest tech winner of this current bull market. So is the best performer America's favorite tech stock, Apple?

Here's a monthly performance chart of Google (GOOG) vs. widely-owned Apple (AAPL) and the rest of the so-called "FANG" stocks: Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), and Netflix (NFLX). Click to enlarge the chart and compare gains.

Google Apple Facebook Netflix Amazon stock chart FB AMZN GOOG NFLX AAPL

GOOG (shown in price bars) is up 320% from the March 2009 start of this bull market. Meanwhile, FB, which only IPO'd in 2012, is up 250%. AAPL (shown in light blue) is up 675%. AMZN (in green) is up 800%, while NFLX (in blue) leads the pack by a wide margin, up 1,860% since 2009.

Now that FANG stocks have replaced the .com bubble's "Four Horsemen" of tech (Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, and Dell), does that mean we just buy this new basket of tech leaders and hold on forever (or at least until retirement age)? 

Well, here are a few problems with that approach. So consider these points so you don't get burned.

1) The new tech leaders, like the "Four Horsemen" of old, are likely to stumble or be thrown from their perches at some point. Tech is at the leading edge of capitalism, and each company's fortunes can shift rapidly. Today's leading stock is often tomorrow's punch line. 

Remember IBM, DEC, Commodore, Yahoo, GeoCities, JDS Uniphase, or Research in Motion?  

2) Once a group of stocks is tied to an acronym, as with FANG stocks, it tends to indicate mass acceptance of an investing theme. Once something becomes that popular, you'll know that this is an idea being marketed and heavily sold to the public (and bandwagon hopping fund managers). Increased buying pressure may help fuel the advance of these stocks, but at some point in the not too distant future, who is left to buy them?

Prior leading stock themes/fads included the "Nifty Fifty" of the 1970s, the TMTs and "Four Horsemen" (and later, the "new four horsemen") of the '90s and early 2000s, and the BRICs or emerging market giants of the 2000s. These stocks were all eagerly snapped up in their heyday, but their peak to trough performance left many "buy and hold" stockholders burned. 

3) It is a good idea to buy stocks in an uptrend, especially in the earlier stages of an uptrend. We are now in the sixth year of this bull market. Right now, the leading big cap tech names are among a very small group of strong stocks leading the market higher. It's getting narrow and windy near the top of the mountain. 

Final point (note of caution): Holding popular stocks through mania peaks and ensuing downtrends, or worse, adding to losses and buying more in an effort to "average down" can be a recipe for disaster.  

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Monday, November 16, 2015

It doesn't pay to sell Amazon short (AMZN)

People have been doubting Amazon (AMZN) and predicting its demise since the .com bubble. 

I was reminded of this fact after sharing our recent post, "Amazon dominates as its rivals plunge", on social media last Friday. Just the mention of Amazon and its stock price was enough to elicit the usual chorus of "Amazon is doomed, just you wait and see" remarks.   

Later that weekend, I happened to stumble upon this early tirade against Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos (hat tip: Pessimists Archive). When I saw this Google News entry from August 2000, I had to take a screenshot for posterity.

While some of's early critics were proved right about the trajectory of AMZN's stock price during the 2000 - 2002 bear market (it sank like a stone, along with nearly every other dot com bubble high-flyer), they ended up being very wrong about:

a) the company's survival 

b) its astounding growth and success 

c) Jeff Bezos' vision for the company and 

d) its stock price over the longer term (multiple market cycles)

And guess what? I'm wrong too because, knowing what I know now, I never took a position in Amazon's stock. Maybe I'll wise up and buy AMZN after the next bear market ends. Live and learn, gang. Live and learn.

It just doesn't pay to sell a proven winner like Amazon short.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Amazon dominates as retail rivals plunge

Amazon (AMZN) continues to shine as retail stocks plunge. Whether they are traditional mall retailers in the US or e-tailers based in China, many names in the retail industry are under selling pressure.

One of the strongest US large cap stocks, AMZN pulled out of the recent market correction and shot up to new highs above $650. Here's an updated weekly chart of this dominant online retailer, which recently came full circle with the opening of its first physical book store. Amazon AMZN stock chart price

Meanwhile, traditional brick and mortar retailers like Macy's (M), Fossil (FOSL), and Wal-Mart (WMT) are sinking fast. Even Nordstrom (JWN), a high-end department store with a well-integrated online presence is fading fast in this market. The weakness may spread to other high end retail names like Tiffany and Co. (TIF) and Sotheby's (BID), a trend we highlighted last month in our "Retail and Leisure Stocks Slide" post.

The recent downturn in retail is also hitting online sellers in US and China. 

Take a look at the recent breakdown in VIPS, one of the leading stocks of the past 3 years. From late 2012 to its 2015 high of $30, VIPS registered a 3,000% gain. Today it's down over 25% and down 5% YTD. The uptrend has been broken. A series of lower lows (downtrend) is now in place, as VIPS trades below its weekly moving averages.


We're seeing a generational shift to increased online shopping and away from "stuff" sold at big box and mall stores. Millennial shoppers still frequent physical stores, but they (and, increasingly, older shoppers) also tend to use stores as a showroom for goods purchased online. The seamless retail experience that younger shoppers demand is currently not available at most major retailers. 

From Accenture's report on Millennials: 

"...Unfortunately, our research shows that retailers are currently under-delivering when it comes to the demands of Millennials. When Accenture evaluated more than 60 global retailers to understand how seamlessly they deliver the customer experience, we found that most of them had big holes in their approaches.

We have identified six dimensions as contributing to a seamless retail experience. Today, most retailers are making headway on only two: providing a consistent cross-channel experience and offering personalized interactions. The other four—connected shopping, integrated merchandising, flexible fulfillment options, and the capabilities and enriched services that help make the overall shopping experience better, faster and more memorable—remain works in progress."

It's a trend analysts are calling the "Amazon effect".

We touched on some of these trends last month in our Wal-Mart vs. Amazon post. The bottom line here is that AMZN remains the strong stock while WMT suffers its biggest drop since the 2000 bear market.

You can also go farther back to our fall 2013 post on Amazon, the "21st century Sears" (the stock has climbed 100% since then). Between its dominant position in online retail and the now well-recognized growth of its AWS business, some key investors have been happy to hold on and stick with a winner. 

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Facebook vs. Twitter: FB stock outperforms TWTR (Chart)

Facebook's stock (FB) continues to outperform its beleaguered social media rival, Twitter (TWTR). 

While Twitter plays mass market catch-up with hearts, Facebook is delivering for its users and giving Wall Street the growth numbers it demands. FB is up 33% year-to-date, while TWTR is down 18% YTD. 

From its 2013 IPO week, TWTR has returned -33%. Over the same period, FB shares climbed more than 110%. Click the comparison chart below to enlarge.

FB TWTR Facebook Twitter stock price performance gains chart

1 year ago, we looked at Twitter's stock price performance and concluded that FB had clearly outshined TWTR. As the chart above makes clear, 2015 has been a repeat of 2014. Facebook's shares continue to climb while Twitter struggles to reclaim the $30 level. 

This should come as no real surprise to those of you following Finance Trends on Twitter. I've harped on this theme of FB outperforming TWTR for over a year now. Here are a few examples (sorry in advance).

While I love Twitter as an online service and use it every day, Facebook is the stock chart that is moving in the right direction (up and to the right). The direction of the stock price is what matters in trading, not our opinions. As speculators, we have to respect what is, not our wishes for what could be.

I wised up and stopped shorting FB (via puts) sometime in 2013. Later, I briefly traded FB on the long side (perhaps I should've re-entered and held longer). If TWTR shows signs of a change in trend and attracts renewed buying interest, I will look to buy the stock. For now, it remains a pass, at best.

Disclosure: No current position in FB or TWTR. This may change at any time in the future.

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