Saturday, 26 May 2012

June Budget 2012

I'm going to be keeping the same numbers as last month. However, last month I went over by a considerable amount; for a legitimate reason though (you'll see it in the budget review). I'll probably be able to stay on budget for June... but don't get your hopes up. I still have to get around to giving Rogers a call to lower my phone bill. I guess it's people like me (the ones who are too lazy to call in to get better deals) that pay people like me (the ones who are shareholders of the companies that provide service to the aforementioned lazy people).

-the Paperboy

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

SCENE Loyalty Program: Part II

My last post about the SCENE program talked the kind of awards that could be redeemed and attempted to put a dollar value on each prize to see which one was worth the most for the least amount for points. I also talked about the how we could earn points. Today let's go over the other options to accumulate points so that we can collect points quicker. You'll be able to see free movies in no time.

Along with earning points with the SCENE card on purchases such as movie tickets and concession snacks, Cineplex teamed up with Scotia Bank to offer both a SCENE debit and credit card. When I was younger, I learned the idea that credit cards were pure evil. Everything from television shows and adults gave me lessons on how the little piece of plastic would ultimately leave people drowning in debt. However, now I see that credit cards are a great tool (if properly used of course) and getting one with perks is a nice bonus to having the liquidity that a credit card offers.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Recent Market Plays: May 2012

The last week was horrible for the stock market and people point to the fear of Greece exiting the Eurozone. This resulted in stocks getting slaughtered... which was great news! I jumped on an opportunity to get in on Rogers earlier in the month and last week I made a couple more moves.

I increased my position in Weston and added another member of the Big Five to my portfolio; The Bank of Montreal. As I mentioned before, I ran out of cash with the Rogers move, so to fund the plays I had to sell an ETF (which I was planning to eventually do). The ETF didn't pay any dividends so as a result my yield should be higher for the next dividend progress report. The downside was that I had to sell it at a loss, but I considered the opportunity cost of sitting on an ETF that generated nothing when I could have BMO giving me 5% annually so I took the hit. I can also use the loss to offset future gains so it's not all bad.

Now I'm really strapped in terms of cash. I'll have to find more money somehow because I feel that some bargains may be headed our way if the economic outlook becomes bleak again. Worse comes to worse I can keep selling my ETFs at a loss to get better positions.

-the Paperboy

Thursday, 17 May 2012

SCENE Loyalty Program: Part I

A few posts ago, I talked a little bit about Cineplex (disclaimer: I hold a long position in the company). I also mentioned their loyalty program, SCENE. Today I would like to talk about the program from a consumer's perspective. 

The SCENE program allows moviegoers to collect points to redeem for not only movie tickets, but anything ranging from gift cards to music downloads. There are multiple ways to get points. 100 points are awarded when a movie is seen, up to 150 points are earned when a concession combo is purchased, and also obtained via DVD, Blu-ray and digital movie downloads.

Now that you amassed a large amount of points, what can you spend them on? Along with the free movies (at the cost of 1000 points), there are popcorn and movie snacks (starting at 1000 points),  DVD, Blu-ray and digital downloads (starting at 1500 points), free music (starting at 2000 points) and Bon Appétit e-Gift Cards (which come in 3 denominations; $25, $50, and $100 and costs 3125 points, 6250 points and 12500 points respectively). The Bon Appétit e-Gift Cards can be used at Swiss Chalet, Montana’s, Kelsey’s, Harvey’s and Milestones Grill + Bar, which is a nice variety.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Online Classifieds: Part I

I'm fairly new to the investing world, but when it comes to selling things through websites such as Craigslist or Kijiji, I know a thing or two. Selling things you don't use anymore is a great way to get some of that money back; just ask the university students that have to buy hundreds of dollars worth of textbooks every semester. It may seem a bit intimidating to meet up with a stranger but by setting up an advertisement online, you can go on with your day and wait for an e-mail from people who are interested. I started doing it 3 years ago but it wasn't to sell old items that I didn't use anymore, but to buy and sell retro video games which was is still a hobby of mine.

What can you sell? I've seen people put up anything from old skates to used kitchen appliances. These websites are essentially digital garage sales. There are two websites that I personally use - Craigslist and Kijiji (which is owned by eBay). Each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Cineplex Raises Dividends

Cineplex recently reported its best first quarter adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) result in company history. This was partly due to hit films such as The Hunger Games (which I enjoyed quite a bit) and Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.The Hunger Games had highest grossing first quarter weekend of all time and the third largest opening weekends of all time.

The company declared that it will raise the annual dividends from $1.29 to $1.35. This will be the 2nd increase since converting from an income trust to a corporation in 2011. Cineplex has the majority of the Canadian market and operates theatres under the names Cineplex Odeon, Galaxy, Famous Players, Colossus, Coliseum, SilverCity, Cinema City and Scotiabank Theatres.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

April Budget 2012 Review

Since school was out, I didn't spend as much money on transportation as usual. My house needed a new router so I pitched in my part. I didn't buy myself anything this month, except for deodorant, which I think is kind of necessary. Those two offset the overspending of Food & Entertainment (are you even surprised anymore?) which would have been a little less if I read my coupon for the fine print. My girlfriend finished her hospital placement so we went out to celebrate. It was a nice dinner with a great view which means it was pricey. That's okay though, how often do you finish school?

I forgot to take into consideration that my 6th year anniversary is coming up in May so most likely I'll be going over budget. For now I'll enjoy the $31.32 that I saved.

-the Paperboy

Monday, 7 May 2012

Rogers Communication Position

Today I picked up some shares of Rogers Communications. During the first quarter, the company announced the acquisition of Saskatchewan Communications Network (subject to CRTC approval) and an increase of 11% in dividends. However, Rogers has been effected by a highly competitive environment where it not only competes with the other "Big Three" telecoms, Telus and BCE, but new entrants like Wind are offering consumers lower prices. The industry is also "maturing" meaning that growth will be hard to find and will slow down dramatically.  

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Canadian Oil Sands Raises Dividends

At the end of April, Canadian Oil Sands Ltd announced that it will hike its dividends 17% from 30 cents to 35 cents. Sale volumes were low compared to the first quarter of 2011 mainly due to maintenance issues. The company also reported lower and lower net income compared to last year's first quarter.

Here's a quote from Marcel Coutu, President and Chief Executive Officer:

The increase in the dividend to $0.35 per share reflects confidence in our business fundamentals and the commitment to delivering excess cash to our investors," said Marcel Coutu, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Continued strength in oil prices and Syncrude's solid operating base generated strong revenues, resulting in a growing cash balance over the first quarter. Combined with our recent US$700 million debt issuance, we have the liquidity to fund our major capital projects over the next few years while maintaining a strong balance sheet and dividend.
From the highlights of the report, it seemed to me like the company wasn't having a good  quarter relative to last year. While increasing dividends is usually a boon for shareholders and I enjoy getting a raise when I sat around and did nothing, I'm bothered by the quote.