The Simplest Investments – Water I


As the world grows more complex the simplest investments can be the best.

Not much can be simpler than food, shelter and water.

On the subject of food… look towards local and non GMO.  There is a great movie “Genetic Roulette”.  It is still free for a few more days at www.geneticroulettemovie.com

Our sites will be looking increasingly at CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and local food investments in Ecuador and Smalltown USA.

Our sites have long looked at the benefits of investing in water.

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Part of a complex of Andean water sharing system above Cotacachi.

This is what I wrote at this site in 2001.

White ridges of wetness crash on sodden rock ripped by roaring currents that lash the creek bank and swell over its edge. Gushes of brown spray strain at greying wood. They sing a rushing song in harmony with the groaning bridge. Smells of damp leap through the willows. I feel this soggy touch and taste a pure, sweet cleansing that stings my lips. Just before I headed for the equator we had a long warm spell and torrents of rain. This melted the snow mass and turned our gentle creek into a lashing cascade. I stood on one of the small bridges that cross the creek and thought how blessed we are here with water. It falls on us, rushes down our creeks, bubbles up through the grass, springs from the hills and cascades from cracks in the rocks.

This is no mistake. Merri and I began looking for land with two goals, have altitude (to avoid air conditioning in summer and mosquitoes anytime) and have an abundance of water. We certainly attained both at Merrily Farms.

I have been writing for several years in my written World Reports that it makes sense to invest in water. When I was growing up in Portland we didn’t think it special to be able to drink sparkling clear Bull Run water fresh from the tap. Then I began to travel and was amused. The poor French, Mexicans and people in places where they could not drink water unless it was bottled! Ha ha, how strange I thought. How little did I know?

But where I really became aware of the growing water supply problem was when I returned to Florida. The diluted chlorine mixture coming from our tap in Naples was not only expensive but barely drinkable. And Merri’s Mom in Macon, Georgia was the first house after the chlorinization plant. The tap water would make your eyes burn!  I became concerned. Then when returning on a trip to visit my Mom in Portland I discovered that previously sweet pure water was chemically foul as well.

This was when I first became concerned.

We are too many. Too dirty.  Our water is too little.

So I started writing about investing in water. But where? There are a couple of big European public companies, Perrier, Generale des Euax, etc., but when I looked in the U.S. I couldn’t find anything. Checked a few of the small water bottlers and found most of them already owned by the Europeans. So how?

One way is to own land with water. That’s why Merri and I decided to go to the source and buy land with springs .
Each of our houses has its own gravity fed water supply from one of four separate springs. There are dozens of other springs on the land plus three rushing creeks.

But the granddaddy of them all is the “Indian Trough”. This is a huge spring where about three gallons a minute pours out of a large rock formation. It is a historic site because the natives here viewed it as sacred (when this land was their hunting lands). They gouged a trough in the rocks so they could drink from the spring face and their horses could water from the trough.

The water is said to be medicinal (one of our Shaman friends said it is especially good for urinary tract problems) and the locals have come here to collect it for generations. Mainly for their health, but one neighbor said his father was a famous moonshiner and only used this water to make his moonshine! The locals still come up to collect it and a dear friend whose brother was passing asked for some to take to the hospice. To drink this water was his brother’s dying wish.

We are blessed with this water and have built a wonderful Japanese Cedar Soaking Tub deep in the woods. The spring (which comes out at exactly 48 degree temperature year round) fills the 450 gallon tub (it can accommodate six people). A wood burning snorkel stove with heat exchangers is immersed in the water and heats it to the temperature desired (usually a little over 100 degrees). After the soak (and drinking lots of water while there) the tub is drained and filled again so no chemicals are needed.

This is one way I invest in water. But where else can we invest? This is a tricky question for me as I lack experience in the water industry.

Here are a few thoughts. Look at any industry that deals in water filtering or purification. Companies that build desalination plants would make sense and of course bottlers. There are several problems. One is pollution in the water. Another is not enough fresh water for drinking, cleaning and irrigation. Another problem is not enough of the right types of water in the right place.

This was good advice a decade ago and still is.

A September 26, 2012 USA TODAY article entitled “Nation’s water costs rushing higher” by Kevin McCoy, with Oliver St. John and Tom McGarrity contributing said:  While most Americans worry about gas and heating oil prices, water rates have surged in the past dozen years, according to a USA TODAY study of 100 municipalities. Prices at least doubled in more than a quarter of the locations and even tripled in a few.

Consumers could easily overlook the steady drip, drip, drip of water rate hikes, yet the cost of this necessity of life has outpaced the percentage increases of some of these other utilities, carving a larger slice of household budgets in the process.

“I don’t know how they expect people to keep paying more for water with the cost of gas and day care and everything else going up,” complains Jacquelyn Moncrief, 60, a Philadelphia homeowner who says the price hikes would force her to make food-or-water decisions.

The trend toward higher bills is being driven by:

— The cost of paying off the debt on bonds municipalities issue to fund expensive repairs or upgrades on aging water systems.

— Increases in the cost of electricity, chemicals and fuel used to supply and treat water.

The costs continue to rise even though residential water usage dropped sharply nationwide in the past three decades amid conservation efforts.

U.S. water systems will need as much as $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements by 2035 to keep up with drinking water needs, according to a survey of industry experts released in June.

The bond debt needed to fund those projects’ work will be passed on to consumers, including the many Americans struggling with the economic fallout of the great recession.

A virtually irreplaceable resource that Americans rely on for health and daily living “could potentially get more and more expensive,” says John Chevrette, who heads the management consulting arm of Black & Veatch, the firm that conducted the industry survey.

He predicts rate increases of 5% to 15% every few years, saying the cost of water “could take a larger and more significant bite out of otherwise disposable income.”

A 2010 report by the Water Research Foundation, a non-profit organization that studies drinking water issues, concluded that residential usage per customer dropped more than 380 gallons annually in the last 30 years, a changing era when conservation became more prevalent. Compounded over time, the report says the trend implies that a customer would have used 11,673 fewer gallons in 2008 than an identical customer in 1978, a 13.2% decline.

As a result, many water agencies have been forced to raise rates.

“When we explain that part of the reason you’re paying more is because you’re using less, that doesn’t go over real well with a lot of people,” says Joseph Clare, the Philadelphia Water Department’s deputy commissioner for finance and
administration.

The 2012 drought that continues to hold roughly half the nation in its grip has also had an impact on some water rates.

These charts from this USA Today article shows how much water rates have risen.

USA Today Photo

(Click on photos to enlarge)

These increases seem high but…

USA Today Photo

other cities have had higher rises and…

USA Today Photo

these areas had the worst water rate increases!

Now that so much of the world has been suffering droughts… this idea grows in value.

I invest in water in numerous ways.

First, I buy land with water in Smalltown USA and Ecuador.

Good water was a main prerequisite when we searched for our Smalltown USA farm.

gary-scott-farm

Little Horse Creek on our farm.

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Mossy creek on our farm.

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A sacred spring called the Indian Trough is a historical site on our farm and along with dozens of other springs  is our source of water… for drinking.

Merrily farms water

Water flowing from the sacred Indian Trough Spring.

The spring feeds our deep woods Ofuru, our pond and helps fill the creek.

Merrily farms water

Merrily Farms Ofuru… we soak at 107 degrees.

Merrily farms water

Our pond at Merrily Farms.

In this series we’ll look at water rights in Ecuador, water shares, how readers have been using Bio Wash on crops to reduce the impact of  dry conditions.

Gary

Go to Part Two of the “Investing in Water” Report – Click Here

Value Investing Webinar

Old Accord Creates New Profits – Multi Currency Investments.

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Learn how to improve the safety of your savings and investments by selecting good value and diversified investments in a multi-currency portfolio.

Few decisions are as important to your wealth as the value of the markets and currencies you invest in.  This has been our area of expertise since the 1970s and we have worked with and advised some of the largest currency traders in the world.

Gain Protection First – Against the Dollar’s Purchasing Power Loss.  In 1913 the The Federal Reserve Act created the Federal Reserve Bank to protect the purchasing power of the US dollar, which has since lost about 94% of its purchasing power.  Here is its price compared with gold since 1900.

priced in gold

Dollar chart from pricedingold.com (1)

The Fed has let the dollar lose most of its strength plus has allowed interest rates to fall so low, that safe investments cannot keep pace with the drop in purchasing power.

multi-currency-chart

Chart from Grandfather Economic Report (2)

Many investors have forgotten about the risk of a falling dollar because the greenback has been strong for the past five years.  This temporary dollar strength came after the great recession of 2009 just as there was temporary dollar strength after the great recession of the 1980s.  Then about six years after the recession, an agreement was made by major governments to weaken the dollar.

There was a severe global economic recession affecting much of the developed world in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  The United States and Japan exited the recession relatively early, but high unemployment would continue to affect Europe and the UK through to at least 1985.  As a consequence between 1980 and 1985, the US dollar had appreciated by about 50% against the Japanese yen, Deutsche mark, French franc and British pound, the currencies of the next four biggest economies at the time. Then the governments reached an agreement and exchange rate values of the dollar versus the yen declined by 51% from 1985 to 1987.

Now the world is again in the same place.  The recession is over.  Europe is a bit behind in recovery and the dollar is 50% higher than before the recession and there is no reason for the greenback to be  strong.

The agreement in 1985 was called the Plaza Accord.   Over just two years the greenback dropped nearly 50% versus other major currencies.  The next accord will generate great profits for those who know what to do while it ruins the purchasing power of dollar back investments.

The strong US dollar and low interest rates have created one of the biggest stock and multi currency breakout opportunities in history.  Learn how to create a plan to profit from multi currency shifts ahead.

One reason for the potential gains is that stock markets and currency values are cyclical.  Due to low interest rates created by the 2009 economic downturn, the US and a few other equity markets have risen to some of their highest prices, ever.  These markets offer very poor value now.  The steep valuation creates incredible profit potential but also hides some enormous risks.  Learn how to develop an investing strategy based of earnings, cash flows, dividends and book values to increase potential for profit and reduce the risks.

Next Extra Profit Created by Value Breakouts

Over the history of US equity markets, the  price of overall markets have risen about 9.1 percent, respectively, compounded annually.  Yet over more than a hundred years of stock market activity,  a majority of the profits have come from just a very few dramatic breakouts.

Equity markets are ruled in the short term by emotions that create unpredictable ups and downs.  Numerous fears of defaults, worries of double dip recessions, high unemployment, concerns about fiscal cliffs, hold investors back.  Yet global population growth and advances in production and prosperity are relentless economic fundamentals that increase value.

When fear holds back a a fundamentally rising value, rising profit potential grows.  Values increase as prices stagnate.  Then markets break free and rocket upwards creating wealth, prosperity and growth.

Learn how to use value as a guide for spotting these breakouts that create fortunes.

Sign up for our current Value Investing Seminar and learn the latest breakout possibilities in global equities, currencies, real estate and commodities.

For example the seminar shows the potential for a breakout of the Singapore dollar.

singapore dollar chart

US dollar rising against Singapore www.finance.yahoo.com chart

The US dollar has been rising without valid economic reasons versus the Singapore dollar since the middle of 2011.  The rise has been especially strong since mid 2014.  This currency distortion creates extra value opportunity because the fundamentals for the Singapore dollar are strong and fundamentals for the US dollar weak.  This is exactly the type of breakout position we look for and share in this seminar.

Here are the currency fundamentals:

US GDP Growth last year: 2.2%

Singapore GDP Growth last year: 2.9%

US current account balance for last year:  -$758 billion or -2.5% of GDP

Singapore current account balance for last year: +$49 billion or +21.2% of GDP

US Budget Balance as % of GDP for last year:  -2.6%

Singapore Budget Balance as % of GDP for last year was a low: -0.7%

US Unemployment: 5%

Singapore Unemployment: 2.0%

US$ Interest Rate 10 year bonds:  2.19%

Singapore $ Interest Rate 10 year bonds: 2.57%

These are economic signs of a currency’s strength.  They show a classic indicator that it is a good time to borrow US dollars and invest in Singapore dollars.

Where to Invest

The seminar reviews many ways to diversify currencies for investors large and small.

For example almost anyone can invest in the Currency Shares Singapore Dollar Trust (FXSG)  managed by Guggenheim Partners.

Guggenheim manages a stable of currency ETFs under the Currency Shares brand.

These ETFs are traded on the New York Stock Exchange so even small investors can diversify in other currencies.

One of the ETFs is the CurrencyShares Singapore Dollar Trust (FXSG).  The investment seeks to reflect the price of the Singapore Dollar.  This provides a low cost, simple, cost-effective means of gaining investment benefits similar to those of holding Singapore Dollars.

Find out which breakouts are likely to take place next.

Merri and I have been able to help readers have better lives, less stress and to make fortunes during up and down markets for over 30 years.  The simple reason for this is that we aim for the really big profits earned at the start of a breakout.

In 2016 I want to kick off the year with you and share why I have confidence and enthusiasm about the breakouts that are near.

Here is a partial syllabus of this online seminar:

International & Value Investing Outside the Box.  This session shows how to take advantage of unusual currency breakouts.

Here is an example.  At our October 2012 seminar we told delegates that the Japanese yen was too strong and was likely to weaken early in the next year. In the next six months, the US dollar rose 13% against the yen.  On December 12, 2012 one USA dollar would buy 82 yen.

finance.yahoo  chart

Delegates who acted and sold the yen short picked up an extra 13% forex profit in nine months.

There is a second way they could have earned.  They could have borrowed Japanese yen at a low interest rate (2.5%) and invested the borrowed yen into a Dow Jones Industrial ETF for this six month period.

In this example $100,000 was invested and used as collateral to borrow $100,000 worth of Japanese yen at 2.50%.   The rate was 82 yen per dollar so to get $100,000, 8,200,000 yen was borrowed.

The $200,000 was invested in a Dow Jones Industrial ETF… a mutual fund traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

The ETF rose, along with the Dow, 12.85%.

The Dow as shown in this chart rose over 12% from January to July 2013.

yahoo finance chart

The loan cost per year is $2,500 (2.5% on $100,000).    The $200,000 portfolio rose $25,700 (12.85% of $200,000).  In other words, the $100,000 originally invested grew $23,200 in six months.

That is the positive carry without the forex profit.  Plus there is a forex gain as well.

By July a dollar would buy 100 yen!

To pay off the 8,200,000 loan would have cost $82,000 at the rate of 100 yen per dollar adding another $18,000 of profit.

The portfolio is worth $223,200 less $82,000 loan payoff or $141,200. That translates into a total six month profit of 41.2%.

How to spot value from cycles.  Stocks rise from the cycle of war, productivity and demographics. Cycles create recurring profits. Economies and stock markets cycle up and down around every 15 years as shown in this graph.

stock-Charts

The effect of war cycles on the US Stock Market since 1906.

Bull and bear cycles are based on cycles of human interaction, war, technology and productivity.  Economic downturns create war.

Here is the war stock cycle.  Military struggles (like the Civil War, WWI, WWII and the Cold War: WWIII) super charge inventiveness that creates new forms of productivity…the steam engine, the internal combustion engine,  production line processes, jet engines, TV, farming techniques, plastics, telephone, computer and lastly during the Cold War, the internet.  The military technology shifts to domestic use.  A boom is created that leads to excess.  Excess leads to correction. Correction creates an economic downturn and again to war.

Learn how the Cyber War (WWIV) may change the way we live and act and how this will affect currencies and investments.

Details in the seminar include:

* How to easily buy global currencies, shares and bonds.

* Trading down and the benefits of investing in real estate in Small Town USA.  We will share why this breakout value is special and why we have been recommending good value real estate in this area since 2009.

* What’s up with gold and silver?  One session looks at my current position on gold and silver and asset protection.  We review the state of the precious metal markets and potential problems ahead for US dollars.  Learn how low interest rates eliminate  opportunity costs of diversification in precious metals and foreign currencies.

* How to improve safety and increase profit with leverage and staying power.  The seminar reveals Warren Buffett’s value investing strategy from research published at Yale University’s website.  This research shows that the stocks Buffet chooses are safe (with low beta and low volatility), cheap (value stocks with low price-to-book ratios), and high quality (stocks of companies that are profitable, stable, growing, and with high payout ratios), but his big, extra profits come from leverage and staying power.  At times Buffet’s portfolio, as all value portfolios, has fallen, but he has been willing and able to wait long periods for the value to reveal itself and prices to recover.

keppler asset management chart

This chart based on a 45 year portfolio study shows that holding a diversified good value portfolio (based on a  good value strategy) for 13 month’s time, increases the probability of outperformance to 70%.  However those who can hold the portfolio for five years gain a 88% probability of beating the bellwether in the market and after ten years the probability increases to 97.5%.

Time is your friend when you use a good value strategy.  The longer you can hold onto a well balanced good value portfolio, the better the odds of outstanding success.

Learn how much leverage to use.  Leverage is like medicine, the key is dose.  Buffett leverages his portfolio at a ratio of approximately 1.6 to 1.  This rate of expansion by the way is called the “Golden Ratio”.  It is a mathematical formula that controls the growth of most natural things; trees, the shape of leaves, the spiral of shells, as well as the way economies and societies grow.

We’ll sum the strategy, how to leverage cheap, safe, quality stocks and for what period of time based on your circumstances.

Learn to plan in a way so you never run out of money.  The seminar also has a session on the importance of having and sticking to a plan.  See how success is dependent on conviction, wherewithal, and skill to operate with leverage and significant risk.  Learn a three point strategy based on my 50 (almost) years of investing experience combined with wisdom gained from some of the world’s best investment managers and economic mathematical scientists.

Enjoy investing more with slow, worry free, good value investing.  Stress, worry and fear are three of an investor’s worst enemies.  These are major foundations of the Behavior Gap, a trait exhibited by most investors, that causes them to underperform any market they choose.  The behavior gap is created by natural human responses to fear.  The losses created by this gap grow when investors trade short term under stress.

Learn how to put meaning into your investing by creating profitable strategies that combine good value investments with unique, personal goals.

Learn how to span the behavior gap.  Behavior gaps are among the biggest reasons why so many investors fail.  Human evolution makes fear the second most powerful motivator.  (Greed is the third.)  Fear creates investment losses due to behavior gaps.  Fear motivates us more strongly than desire.  By nature investors are risk adverse, when they should embrace risk.  Purpose is the most powerful motivator,  stronger than fear and greed.  One powerful way to overcome the behavior gap is to invest with a purpose.

Combine your needs and capabilities with the secrets and the math of our good value model portfolio.

Share ideas about my good value portfolio.  My personal investment portfolio comes from a continual analysis of international stock markets and a comparison of their value based on current book to price, cash flow to price, earnings to price, average dividend yield, return on equity and cash flow return.

Markets included in this portfolio are:

• Norway
• Australia
• Hong Kong
• Japan
• Singapore
• United Kingdom
• Taiwan
• South Korea
• China

These markets have been chosen based on four pillars of valuation.

• Absolute Valuation
• Relative Valuation
• Current versus Historic Valuation
• Current Relative versus Relative Historic Valuation   xxxxxx

The seminar also reveals how to use Country ETFs to easily construct a diversified, risk-controlled, equally weighted representative country portfolios in all of these good value countries.

To achieve this goal my portfolio consists of Country Index ETFs that track an index of shares in a specific country.  These country ETFs provide diversification into a basket of equities in the good value countries.  The expense ratios for most ETFs are lower than those of the average mutual fund as well so such ETFs provide diversification and cost efficiency.

This is an easy, simple and effective approach to zeroing in on value because little management and guesswork is required.  You are investing in a diversified portfolio of good value indices.  A BUY rating for an index does NOT imply that any stock in that country is an attractive investment, so you do not have to pick and choose shares.  You can invest in the index which is like investing in all the shares in the index.  All you have to do is invest in an ETF that in turn invests passively in all the shares of the index.

The seminar also discloses the results of a $80,000 share purchase cost test that found the least expensive way to invest in good value.  The keys to this portfolio are good value, low cost, minimal fuss and bother.  Plus a great savings of time.  Trading is minimal, usually not more than one or two shares are bought or sold in a year.  I wanted to find the very least expensive way to create and hold this portfolio so I performed a test.

The Test for Low Cost Trading

Research put every part of this portfolio in place, except knowing the best, easiest and least expensive way to buy.  A search for an optimal way to buy and hold boiled down to two methods.  One tactic to test was to use a unique online broker that appeared to offer the lowest cost deal.  The other approach was to use a community bank in Smalltown USA.  The small town bank that I use looks after my 401K trust account and their service is first class.  The benefit of small banks is that they still treat us as a human beings (instead of a number) and when we need, it’s easy to go right to the top to answer a question or get a problem resolved.  There are no call centers and the bank and the person looking after my account is just around the corner.

I created a test to see which offered the least expensive service.

Working with my banker in Smalltown USA,  I created two accounts, one at the online broker and the other at the bank. I placed $40,000 in each.

I set up the order for the country ETFs online, while my trust manager set up orders for the identical amounts of the same shares in his system.  Then we got on the phone, coordinated our timing and on a count of three each pushed the button “BUY”.

I share the results of this test in the seminar.  The savings you can gain on any purchase of country ETFs has the potential to be more than the cost of the seminar.

I have good news about the cost of the seminar as well.   For almost three decades the seminar fee has been $799.   Now because we have conducted the Value Investing Seminar online, you can save  thousands.  With the webinar, you save the cost of travel and accommodations, plus due to the fact that we don’t have to hire an expensive seminar room, we have dropped the fee from $799 to $297.  You save $502 on the fee alone plus eliminate the cost of travel and accommodations.

Enroll in the current Online Value Investing Seminar for only $297.

You can sign up for all three of the seminars that we’ll conduct this year and save even more.  As markets change we update the Value Investing Seminar, every four months, October, February, May.  Then we conduct the seminar in person in July or August.   The seminar available now has just been updated from our October 2015 seminar.

We have a special program for those who would like to join two, or all three of the seminars.

Two online Value Investing Seminars seminars: $397.  You receive the updated October 2015 seminar now and the February 2016 seminar online.

All online Value Investing Seminars in 2016 $447.  You receive the updated October 2015 seminar now and the February and May 2016 seminar online.

Gary

(1) Dollar chart from pricedingold.com

(2) Grandfather Economic Report

(3)  www.finance.yahoo.com currency charts

 

Go to Part Two of the “Investing in Water” Report – Click Here

USA Today “Nation’s water costs rushing higher”

 


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