Tag Archive | "General Electric"

Multi Currency Investing Ahead


Multi currency investments fight inflation and can enhance wealth but require a long view .

There is a screech owl that lives in our barn and the way I watch him is sort of how I invest.

Can you see the owl?

To begin, an investing idea starts with a speck of thought…seeing the whole picture, but without many details.

Then it’s time to connect dots to see a closer picture.

Then we begin gathering information so the focus is closer…

until we can finally zoom in.

At this stage when we have zeroed in, we can act.

One big idea I have been tracking and investing in, is water. Now I am zeroing in on a new sub interest…water desalination.

An article sent by a reader entitled “Australia Turns to Desalination Amid Water Shortage” by Michael Sullivan first piqued my interest.

The article told how the Kwinana Desalination Plant, near Perth, produces 40 million gallons of drinking water per day from the Indian Ocean.

The article says:

Perth, with a population of about 1.7 million, is growing 3 percent a year — about 750 families a week move to the city, says Gary Crisp of the Western Australia Water Corp.

The Kwinana Desalination Plant south of the city opened two months ago. The facility, the first of its kind in Australia, covers just a few acres in an industrial park next to the ocean.

The water is sucked in through a pipe about 650 feet offshore in Cockburn Sound, at a rate of about 0.1 meters per second, says project manager Simon McKay.

That is slow enough to let the fish escape, but fast enough to provide nearly 40 million gallons of drinking water each day — roughly 20 percent of Perth’s daily consumption. That makes the plant the single largest source of water for the city.

McKay says it doesn’t take very long for the seawater to be ready for the tap — about a half-hour from the time it comes out of the ocean until it’s processed and distributed.

Desalination plants have been around in places like the Middle East for decades. But they’ve always been expensive to build and expensive to run. New technology has made them cheaper and more efficient, but they still consume a large amount of energy.

Environmentalists in Perth balked at the idea of using coal-fired plants to provide power for the one here, forcing the Water Corp. to find a non-polluting, renewable alternative. It found that alternative — wind energy — near the town of Cervantes, a three-hour drive north of Perth.

The Emu Downs Wind Farm houses 48 wind turbines, each as high as a 15-story building.

Kerry Roberts, the facility’s general manager, says Emu Downs is among the top 10 or 20 sites for this type of energy alternative in Australia.

“If you look at the combined output of the wind farm at maximum wind speeds — 24 to 28 miles per hour — you’re looking at an output of close to 80 megawatts,” Roberts explains. That’s enough power to run Perth’s desalination plant, 160 miles to the south.

This successful marriage of renewable technology and necessity has Crisp, of the Western Australia Water Corp., thinking big: “I predict that desalination will account for at least half of Perth’s water in the next 30 years.”

Other water-stressed seaside cities in Australia are taking a serious look at desalination, as traditional water sources dry up because of lack of rain. Sydney, on Australia’s southeast coast, is expected to commission a plant even larger than Perth’s in the next few months.

Nonetheless, the desalination boom extends far beyond Australia’s shores. McKay — the man in charge of getting Perth’s plant running — will soon be off to Muscat, Oman, to build another. His company’s order book is filling up quickly, he says, and he doesn’t expect that to change in his lifetime. Neither does Crisp.

“The world is going reverse osmosis,” he says, naming projects proposed from California to Spain.

Looking around, I found that one of the largest desalination plants is not far from where I lived (Naples) for years, Tampa Florida. The Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination facility is an integral part of the Tampa Bay region’s drinking water supply. This is claimed to be a drought-proof, alternative water supply that provides up to 25 million gallons per day of drinking water to the region.

There are large desalination projects underway in California as well. However a look at the top 50 desalination projects show that the majority of them are in the Middle East.

Desalination is a sector that is bound to grow. It is estimated that 2.8 billion people live in areas of high water stress and this number is expected to increase by 50% over the next 20 years.

Areas of greatest concern include India, China and the Middle East.

There are two forms of desalination, evaporation and reverse osmosis (salt water forced through a filter under high pressure). There are already over 10,000 desalination plants going, mostly in the Middle East.

There are huge expenditures underway for desalination and wastewater purification and a number of companies are cashing in on this fact.

General Electric may be in the lead. It purchased Ionics, which builds desalination plants and makes filter membranes.

The French company Veolia Environnement (VE) is a major desalination plant and membrane supplier. This company earns over a third of its revenue from water businesses. The Japanese chemical company Nitto Denko (6988.T) is a large membrane supplier as is Dow Chemical (DOW), DuPont (DD), and GE.

Desalination plant builders include Italian Impreglio (IPGOF), South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction (DOHIF), French Suez (SZEZY), German Siemens (SI), and Spanish construction companies Acciona (ACXIF) and Abengoa (ABGOF).

We have written often about Singapore-listed Hyflux (HYFL) which makes filter membranes used to purify water and builds desalination plants. Hyflux is building a 500,000-cubic-meter per day desalination plant in Algeria, which, when completed in 2011, will be the world’s largest. Hyflux is also building 40 water treatment plants in China, where it gets 81% of its revenue. This share is in our Green portfolio as is Japan’s Kurita Water Industries (6370.T) which builds desalination plants and sells other water purification equipment, getting all of its 205 billion yen [$2 billion] in revenue from water-related businesses.

Canadian H2O Innovation (HEO) makes filtration membranes for wastewater treatment. Austria’s Christ Water Technology (CRSWF) sells desalination and other water purification equipment. American Water (AWK), is in New Jersey and ran the desalination plant in Tampa, which is the largest in the U.S. Energy Recovery in San Leandro, Calif. has also sold shares to investors.

Desalination plants are expensive and create local opposition for several reasons.

First, they produce a waste of highly concentrated salt water that can destroy the surrounding ocean habitat. Second they require a lot of energy which if created by coal, creates air pollution.

The third concern, perhaps the biggest is concern for the organisms that are killed by the process of withdrawing seawater. Tiny fish larvae and plankton are killed in process.

Te nature of our existence is such that we cannot eliminate our foot print entirely. very solution to environmental problems seems to create others. Let’s hope that technology will help make desalination one of humanity’s solutions…not problems. Since desalination can produce fresh water where there is none, and water is one of the few items in daily life that has no substitute, I be looking to invest in companies that provide fresh water with minimal impact on the environment.

Once I find such a  company,  will have identified one of many filters we should use when we review value.  We look for shares of companies that have a product or service in a wave of the future…such as desalination.

Then there are still many questions to answer to determine if the share offers a good value or not.  The questions include:

#1: Are the shares traded in a good value market?
#2: Does the share trade at fair Price to Earnings and Price to Cash Flow ratios?
#3: Does the share pay a good value dividend?
#4: Do the shares have a good value relative to their previous price?
#5: Does the company have rising earnings?
#6: Has the share price been rising?
#7: Is the company’s management good.

My feeling is that desalination will grow especially, that which is provided by wind energy, which is often available at the ocean and in semiarid parts of the world.  Shares in companies that answer yes to the questions above  will be interesting places to invest.

Until next message, good global investing to you.

Gary

Learn more about economic safety this November. Join Merri, me, Steve, Kjetil Haugan or Thor Anderson of Vistazul and Peter Conradsen of Jyske Global Asset Management in Cotacachi Ecuador. We’ll review economic conditions, Ecuador real estate, my entire portfolio and investing and business ideas for the months ahead.

Nov 7-9 2008 International Investing and Business Made EZ Ecuador
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See the wonderful balconies in the Primavera condos at for sale at $46,000 in Cotacachi.

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Nov 10-11 Imbabura Real Estate tour
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Then travel to the coast. Enjoy the Vistazul swimming pool on Ecuador’s Pacific.

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November 12-15, 2008 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour; Quito Real Estate Tour
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See discounts for two or more of these courses and tours

Multi Currency Portfolio Review


Multi Currency portfolios are vital in today’s global and inflationary economy.

Yet its hard for Americans to invest multi currency portfolios abroad.  US authorities place such stringent regulations on banks that have US clients that many overseas banks no longer open accounts for Americans.

This is likely to get worse because a federal has now authorized the IRS to use John Doe summons to request information from overseas banks about U.S. taxpayers who may be using Swiss bank accounts to evade federal income taxes.  These summons are used to obtain information about possible tax fraud by people whose identities are unknown.  This is unprecedented.  How can a bank know if an account holder  has hidden an account from the IRS?

There are still easy ways to invest in multi currency portfolios.

The first is buying shares in a global company that earns outside the US.

General Electric for example has huge non dollar earnings. More than half itscome from abroad.  This is true of many US shares you can buy on a US  stock exchange.  IBM, for example derives 65 percent of its revenue from overseas.  Sch a share is a multi currency portfolio unto itself.

Another multi currency tactic is to buy a mutual fund that invests only in non dollar bonds or shares.

Take the Dodge & Cox International Stock (DODFX) Fund as an example.

This fund invests in a diversified portfolio of medium-to-large non-U.S. equities. This billion dollar no  load mutual fund had an average annual growth of over 24% per annum over the last five years. Investors can start with $2,500.

Overseas banks still provide extra privacy, asset protection and help investors access the greater currency experience in investing and lending that many non dollar bankers have.

Jyske Bank, Denmark’s second largest bank,  for example has registered a subsidiary (Jyske Global Asset Management or JGAM) with the American SEC so it conforms to US regulations.

This is a tax neutral opportunity. American account holders must report income and earnings just as they would a US account. W9s must also submit if account holders invest in US shares, funds or bonds.

Yet beyond the tax man, investors have their assets away from prying eyes and held in a legal system that offers asset protection.  Banking may be safer as well. Denmark is ranked by Moodys as one of the safest nations in which to bank.

JGAM’s service offers risk profiled portfolios ranging from low risk (LR) to speculative (SP) and with or without US dollar investments included..  JGAM managers use a top down global economic analysis that looks at markets and financial conditions around the world and recommend asset class allocations for each risk level.  Then they select individual shares/mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETF) for these allocations.
In all there are 17 portfolios opportunities each month.  Investors, based on their risk profiles, choose what percentage they want in fixed income, equities, alternatives (commodities metals etc) and cash.

Here for example are JGAM’s latest multi currency portfolio asset allocation breakdowns.

Low Risk Multi Currency Portfolio:  Fixed Income 70%,  Equities 20%,  Alternatives 5%,  Cash 5%.

Medium Risk Multi Currency Portfolio: Fixed Income, 40%,  Equities 50%,  Alternatives 5%, Cash 5%.

High Risk Multi Currency Portfolio:  Fixed Income  10%, Equities 80%,  Alternatives 5%,  Cash 5%.

Speculative Multi Currency Portfolio:  Fixed Income  20%, Equities 60%,  Alternatives 10%,  Cash 10%.

Let’s look at the low risk (LR) portfolio in more detail.

Normally Jyske would recommend that 80% to 100% of low risk portfolios are in fixed income.  Due to global inflation the managers are currently suggesting a tactical shift to underweight bonds, and overweight alternatives (commodities) and cash.

Then the JGAM managers offer a list of good value shares, bonds, funds and ETFs  that investors can choose.

Each equity is ranked as low medium or high risk to help the account holder to further refine their asset allocation.

You can see the low risk portfolio list here.

A similar process is used for bonds denominated in eleven currencies, US dollars, euro, British pounds,  Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar, Russian ruble, Brazilan real, Hungarian forint, Turkish lira, Icelandic kroner and South African rand.

This system allows investors to have multi currency portfolios that are custom fit to their circumstances and needs.

Now comes the interesting part about banking abroad….multi currency borrowing as well as investing.

For many investors, a multi currency portfolio is enough.  However some want added leverage and Jyske’s system allows multi currency borrowing.

Jyske will accept the portfolio as collateral and lend to leverage the investments at the following interest rates, depending on the amount borrowed:

US$                                  4.125%  to 4.875%
Swiss franc                       4.250%      5.000%
Japanese yen                   2.500%      3.250%
Singapore $                      3.000%      3.750%

Jyske’s current loan recommendation is to borrow 50% Swiss francs, 30% US$ and 20%  Japanese yen. At the median interest rate this creates an average loan rate of 3.58%.   Such loans can have a magical impact on performance even with low risk portfolios.

Say that a low risk portfolio of $100,000 yields 5%.  If $100,000 is borrowed, the portfolio now has $200,000 and at 5% earns $10,000 a year.  Interest costs are $3,580, so the return on the $100,000 is bumped up to $6,420 or 6.42% instead of 5%.

If $200,000 is borrowed the $300,000 portfolio yielding 5% earns $15,000 a year with loan costs of only $7,160. That means the $100,000 now earns $7,840 or 7.84% double the yield without leverage.

When markets are rising such leverage can create spectacular profits in some of the riskier portfolios. In 2007, a Green Portfolio consisting of five environmentally oriented equities, that I created with Jyske’s help, using two times leverage, rose 266.23% in one year!

Plus in many instances a borrowed currency can lose value versus the invested assets so there is an extra forex profit.

Yet forex returns can result in losses as well.   The leverage creates added risk and volatility. That same green portfolio that rose so fast, also dropped 100% in just a month during 2007 before rising again 150% in the next three months. Plus there are extra fees to think about when borrowing so always check with your banker first.  Consider the added risk carefully and never leverage more than you can afford to lose.

You can get more information on Jyske Bank from Thomas Fischer, Senior Vice President at fischer@jgam.com

A rising global population and growing global economy creates stress on world resources and encourages inflation. The same demographic stresses also put downwards pressure on the US dollar and this creates even more inflation.

Fortunately the same technology that helps create these pressures also allows us to survive and prosper from inflation through multi currency investing.

Gary

P.S. Join me with JGAM at our next two International Investing and Business Made EZ Courses.

multi-currency-meeting-in-autumn

Enjoy the leaf change this October and International Investing and Business Made EZ North Carolina

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Or enjoy our hotel in Ecuador in November and International Investing and Business Made EZ Ecuador

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