Adventures in Foreign Investing   no comments

Posted at 2:07 am in Uncategorized

So I have made an investment in a Chinese real estate company which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Xinyuan Real Estate (NYSE:XIN) is a small-cap real estate company focused on developing apartment complex communities for middle-class residents of “second-tier” Chinese cities. Some of these cities include Hefei, Jinan, Souzhou, and Chengdu. The company also has a US-based development arm which currently has three projects including their most recent construction based out of New York City.

Why have I bought this stock?

The answer is simple — it is legitimately one of the best values I have seen for the money.

First of all, the company is paying dividends regularly each quarter. This is a good sign for holding long-term. Second, the company has been fully audited not only by the SEC but by several independent firms which validate all of its balance and income statements.

Finally, the company has shown consistent net income growth over the past five fiscal years:

chart

XIN Income Statement, FY 2008-2012
Source: Google Finance

Meanwhile, its debt-to assets ratio has consistently been sliding downwards. The company also has a very respectable sum of cash on hand per share. Take note: Xinyuan is the only small real estate developer in China with cash in excess of debt.

chart (1)

XIN Balance Sheet, FY 2008-2012
Source: Google Finance

 

Perhaps the most riveting fact of all is that its PE ratio remains a paltry 2.6 at time of this post. An NYU study of Real Estate Development PE ratios puts the average at 35.17.

Some might state that the company is a sham, the numbers are cooked up, and the buildings are merely computer-generated. Thankfully, a well-to-do member of the popular website Seeking Alpha recently visited one of the recent communities built by Xinyuan.

From the article:

Xinyuan Colorful Garden was completed in April 2009 with 967 apartments holding a total floor area of 80,474 square meters. 607 apartments were sold at 12/31/08, 942 were sold by 12/31/09, and 964 were sold by 12/31/10. The company estimated that it earned a gross margin of 18.7% over the life of the project.

As per PRC regulation, for-lease buildings intended for shops were built. They are all occupied and seem to be doing good business:

As per PRC regulation, for-lease buildings intended for shops were built. They are all occupied and seem to be doing good business.

Source: John Sheehy. 

The apartments seem to be well-constructed and currently occupied by residents.

Source: John Sheehy.

Source: John Sheehy.

Source: John Sheehy.

Source: John Sheehy.

The article also provides several photos of Xinyuan International City Garden, a 2,436-apartment project that was completed in December 2011, and is completely sold out today. In fact, they have converted the sales center into a fitness center. The complex is beautifully landscaped:

apts4

Source: John Sheehy

Let’s get back to brass tacks here. I believe XIN is severely undervalued at its current stock price of (at time of this post) 4.58. By my own estimation formula, I put this stock at a book value price of  $9.90 [(total assets - total debt) / # of shares]. Should the company continue to experience growth, I predict an even greater price.

XIN continues to attract institutional investors, most recently a $108.6 million deal with TPG Capital in September. It will be only a matter of time before the continued success of this company is picked up by more heavy hitters. The question is not a matter of whether the price will rise, but when?

By the way –
Information is provided “as is” and solely for informational purposes, not for trading purposes or advice.

Written by reidthomas.net on February 5th, 2014

Breakfasts Around the World   no comments

Posted at 3:23 am in Travel Wishlist

Waking up early, I started to look for ideas to cook a good breakfast today. I stumbled upon this great article listing 50 breakfasts from 50 countries around the world.

One of my favorites is the Polish breakfast:

Poland1

It consists of scrambled eggs covered with slices of custom-made kielbasa and joined by two potato pancakes. That sounds right down my alley.

Written by reidthomas.net on July 11th, 2013

Youngblood Brass Band   no comments

Posted at 12:46 am in Uncategorized

I just wanted to call your attention to my latest find, the Youngblood Brass Band. This is a really great group, using all acoustic instruments. Check out their percussionists… instead of having a drumset player, they have a 3-man drumline. That trombone player is something else!!

Written by reidthomas.net on June 23rd, 2013

THANKS MICROSOFT   no comments

Posted at 10:49 pm in Uncategorized

i eat babies

So Microsoft is getting rid of most DRM requirements for the XBox One. A smart business decision, as preorders are now beginning to shift. Lap it up, sheeple. Unfortunately, the shoddy TV integration, weak game lineup, senseless Kinect integration, and $100 price premium over the PS4 still remains. Furthermore, early reports are saying that the PS4 controller is superior in just about every way. Can you guess what console I’ll be picking up this November?

On a semi-related note, thanks to Microsoft, Skype has expanded its advertising to include video with sound during calls. Just the other day I was having a chat with one of my old buddies when a bombastic Ram Truck took over the audio stream. I have no desire to own a truck, and only own a car out of necessity. TH-THANKS MICROSOFT. We’re just one step closer to giving into the Google overlords. G+ Hangouts is ad-free, features a higher fidelity video stream, and costs nothing for group videoconferencing. Caveat emptor – no matter what software you end up using, just know that big brother is watching (Hi FBI).

 

Written by reidthomas.net on June 20th, 2013

Stuff…   no comments

Posted at 11:37 pm in Uncategorized

Written by reidthomas.net on April 15th, 2013

Side By Side: American School Lunch vs. Korean School Lunch   no comments

Posted at 11:05 pm in Uncategorized

I have to be honest. I think American students eat like prisoners.  All too often, students have looked down at a tray of brown meat with a brown starch and brown vegetables. Let’s just allow the pictures to speak for themselves. A change is due.

Typical American School Lunch

Typical American School Lunch

Korean School Lunch

Typical Korean School Lunch

 

Written by reidthomas.net on April 15th, 2013

TF2 Oculus Rift Demo   no comments

Posted at 11:03 am in Uncategorized

A few questions –

  1. What was the FOV used in this demo?
  2. Can I interchangeably choose between mouselook and mouseaim?
  3. Does WASD input feel good? There must be some kind of key to “reset” W to the direction currently being looked at.
  4. How long is the input lag?
  5. When can I buy one?

Written by reidthomas.net on April 5th, 2013

Litecoins Compared to Bitcoins   no comments

Posted at 12:56 pm in Uncategorized

If Bitcoins are silver, are Litecoins gold? After doing my own research, I’ve discovered the answer to be well, kind of. Litecoin is being hailed as a competitor to Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency. Many Bitcoin investors have a negative view of Litecoins and see them as a threat. Let’s take a look at the LTC/USD Chart for the past three months:

3 Month LTC/USD Chart

Note the sudden April spike which correlates to the spike in Bitcoin.

Here is a breakdown of the difference between Bitcoins and Litecoins:

  • Bitcoins use a SHA-256 algorithm, while Litecoins use the scrypt algorithm:
    Litecoins were originally designed to make it difficult to use GPUs to mine the coins. However, some very clever people were able to get around this. Nevertheless, it reduces the likelyhood that ASIC mining will be the driving factor behind Litecoin’s economy.
  • Litecoin transactions are, in theory, faster than Bitcoin transactions:
    Both Bitcoins and Litecoins are propagated through the P2P network using blockchains. The Litecoin blocks are smaller and more frequent. This means that a transaction takes place much faster than Bitcoins (which sometimes take in excess of an hour to transfer without paying a fee).
  • Bitcoins has an actual economy, Litecoins have nearly none:
    Discounting gambling and grey market goods, Litecoin has very few adopters yet. This may change with time, but Bitcoin is still the premier cryptocurrency for transactions.
  • In the course of mining, 4 times as many Litecoins will be Produced than Bitcoins
    There will be 84,000,000 total Litecoins mined, compared to 21,000,000 Bitcoins. These numbers are highly insignificant, as both have a smallest unit of 10^-8 (0.00000001) coins.
  • The prices of Bitcoins and Litecoins are intertwined
    With the April 2013 boom of Bitcoins, the price of Litecoins has increased from $0.50 to a peak of nearly $6.00, stabilizing at over $4.50 as of today. Compare that to the Bitcoin surge which is currently holding at over $130.

Do you currently invest in Litecoins or Bitcoins? If so, please share your views!

Written by reidthomas.net on April 4th, 2013

Pay As You Weigh   no comments

Posted at 6:07 pm in Uncategorized

In an interesting pricing approach, Samoan Air has unveiled a new “Pay as you weigh” system to airfares. This is in contrast to some airlines in the past which have required morbidly obese passengers to buy two tickets instead of one. (I have never had the misfortune of sitting next to a person whose fat rolled over into my seat, but I’ve heard horror stories from others).

They even have an example fare calculator to show exactly what you would pay.

The airline is not an international carrier — domestic only. Their fleet consists of small prop planes that are very sensitive to changes in flight weight. This has nothing to do with convenience, or even discrimination against overweight passengers — it has to do with ensuring profits for the airlines. A 200-pound Samoan costs less to move than a 300-pound Samoan.

Typical Samoan breakfast, for one

Typical Samoan breakfast, for one

Of all places, it’d have to be Samoa… not that I’m against it spreading to other nations. This is a matter of practicality, not discrimination. Pay for what you use and no more. Perfectly fair.

Written by reidthomas.net on April 3rd, 2013

Travel Wishlist, Part Deux   no comments

Posted at 4:51 am in Travel Wishlist

Our next stop is a jump down to Continental Europe, skipping Britain (we’ll come back later), and heading down into the heart Europe to visit paradise Switzerland.

Map of Switzerland and surrounding countries

Map of Switzerland and surrounding countries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Switzerland is awesome. Located in the heart of Western Europe, between Austria, Italy, France, and Germany, Switzerland is a melting pot of all European cultures. In fact, there are four clearly defined regions for all four official languages. The majority of citizens speak German, but a significant portion (~20%) speak French, with a small population (5%) speaking Italian.

But who cares about that, let’s just get on with 5 awesome reasons why I’d want to live here:

1. Direct Democracy

Swiss Parliament

Swiss Parliament in Action.

Swiss Citizens have a very cool system for legislation. Uniquely, any citizen may challenge any law at any time. Voting occurs about four times each year, which include referendums which are directly voted upon by citizens. Some cantons have compulsory voting, which may or may not be a good thing in one’s view, but either way, it is a refreshing approach to governance that allows a degree of uncommon transparency in our modern times.

2. German/French/Italian Food

Wurstsalat

Wurstsalat, a Sausage Salad

The basis of many Swiss dishes consist of potatoes and cheese. Not a bad start. Popular dishes include:

  • Fondue — the Most famous of Swiss quisine
  • Älplermagronen — Macaroni and Cheese of the Gods
  • Rösti — Fried potato hash

And after eating all that cheese and potato, you’re going to need some fiber. Good thing Switzerland is the birthplace of Muesli (known as Birchermüesli).

Did I mention that Switzerland is the #2 ranked country in Michelin Stars per capita? Time to make some dinner reservations…

3. Traditional Swiss Architecture

Swiss Homes on the River

A Taste of Traditional Swiss Architecture

The above image is Bern during the daytime. I’m a bit of a sucker for this traditional European style of architecture. Who could resist this kind of environment?

4. Lowest Crime Rate in the World

Every single Swiss citizen learns proper firearm training and is required to keep a rifle in their home under lock and key. Think a burglar is going to break into a citizen’s home at night?

5. Excellent Climate

Climate data for Bern (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2.8
(37)
4.7
(40.5)
9.5
(49.1)
13.4
(56.1)
18.2
(64.8)
21.6
(70.9)
24.3
(75.7)
23.7
(74.7)
19.1
(66.4)
13.8
(56.8)
7.3
(45.1)
3.5
(38.3)
13.5
(56.3)
Daily mean °C (°F) −0.4
(31.3)
0.7
(33.3)
4.7
(40.5)
8.1
(46.6)
12.7
(54.9)
16.0
(60.8)
18.3
(64.9)
17.7
(63.9)
13.7
(56.7)
9.3
(48.7)
3.7
(38.7)
0.6
(33.1)
8.8
(47.8)
Average low °C (°F) −3.6
(25.5)
−3.1
(26.4)
0.2
(32.4)
3.0
(37.4)
7.4
(45.3)
10.5
(50.9)
12.5
(54.5)
12.3
(54.1)
8.9
(48)
5.4
(41.7)
0.4
(32.7)
−2.3
(27.9)
4.3
(39.7)

It’s only a matter of time before the heat rays come and strike us down again in Texas. I’m a cold-natured person, and these numbers make Switzerland sound like my kind of place to live. 

Written by reidthomas.net on April 2nd, 2013