Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Increasing Trend In Lending

The reasons for mortgages or loans are because of the high spending rate of the people in USA. According to the news agency USA TODAY there seems to be a reduction in the saving rate of the people. The cash flow, which is quite slow, is one of the reasons and increase in the spending habit of the people. Another reason is that people having been borrowing against their assets But the biggest reason for our poor savings rate is that people have been borrowing against assets “mainly their homes — to get their hands on spending money. The median price of a home rose 24.5% from 2001 through 2004. The real boom period was 2005: The median home price — half cost more, half cost less — soared to $206,600 from $184,100 in 2004.” Due to reasons and to tap the potential there has been an increase in the number of Lenders in the last few years.

The reasons of increase in the spending habit of the people is because of more gadgets and more luxury in order to get into more luxury people are using all their money into gadgets which ensures luxury. Increase in awareness and trying to ape the rich i.e. trying to get costlier clothing and accessories to ‘feel good’. The spending of the people is not in accordance with the income that they earn but is also eating into their savings. In a recent study it has been found that many people haven’t saved for their rainy day. There is very less or no emergency fund among people. The people who have retired have found that they have no fund to spend rest of their lives. The savings rate has drastically come down.

As said above to lay their hands on spending money, for emergencies, for building a house (without enough finance in hand) and for education that the there has been an increase in need to borrow money and hence increase in the lenders. Though reasons like building a house or education loan is quite understandable in nature and is also repayable within the fixed period of time. It is only the increase in the loan for emergencies and spending money that is worrying a lot of economist. This increase can only be tackled when the people learn to live within their income.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Examination of Online Banking in the United Kingdom

In the UK, many banks and building societies are attempting to capture a sizeable percentage of the online banking market share. And it seems that the UK consumers are benefiting from this competition most. Online banking in the UK is getting big; there is no doubt about it: 6.5 million consumers are online banking customers. And that figure is projected to rise every year--not because of bank closures--because of the ease that online banking offers. Everyone can say that it is easy and some people may still be dubious about that. But to anyone who is an online banking customer, they will know just how easy and simple it is.


Before choosing an online bank to open an account study carefully what services the bank allows you to do online. Also check the accessibility of talking to a live person. Make sure the banks internet site allow you send secure emails.


The UK, like any other country, has banks on every street corner. And these banks try to lure new customers in with big bright signs: "apply now and get a 6.9% APR rate on your card!" When you are on the Internet, these banks take the same approach. On their websites, there are banners that banks use for advertising space because they recognize that so many people are using online banking; and that they need to emphasize their competitive advantages to draw customers over the Internet.


Some major U.K. banks have opened independent online banks such as Abbey National with www.cahoot.com. There is also www.smile.co.uk the online bank of The Co-operative Bank.
Despite all of the advantages to online banking in the UK, not everything is perfect.
One in twenty consumers will fall victim to online fraud; and when they do, it will cost them big time. The UK's fraud cost last year was £58 million ($101 million), which is quite scary for consumers looking to join an online bank. To be honest, it is safer to use a brick-and-mortar bank; however, in order to keep this safety net, you must sacrifice convenience and flexibility.


If you decide to open an online banking account but are apprehensive about the security issues, you should spend a considerable amount of time selecting a unique and hard-to-crack password; and in addition to this, you should also use other values for your optional information that is hard to determine.


Other Online Internet Banking Security Tips:

- Make sure your operating systems OS and browsers is updated with the latest upgrades (patches).
- Use an anti-virus and anti-spyware programs update them and scan your pc at least once a week.
- Install a personal firewall and learn to use it
- Always close your browser window after online banking and delete cookies.
- Change your passwords once a month.
- Never reply to emails asking for you to update your password or give your password. The online banks will never ask for your password.
- Always type in the browser address bar the online banking url. Do not click on a link especially in an email as this may take you to a scammer’s page.
- Never bank online from an internet caf├ę.

Monday, March 29, 2010

An Analysis of Wells Fargo & Company (WFC)

Copyright 2006 Geoff Gannon

Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) is a huge Western and Midwestern bank that provides a diverse array of financial services to its more than 23 million customers. The company employs more than 150,000 people at its over 6,000 locations nationwide. Wells Fargo has about $500 billion in assets.

While the company continues to derive more than half its revenues from interest income (about $26 billion), its activities are not limited to collecting deposits and lending money. Wells Fargo engages in other businesses such as brokerage services, asset management, and investment banking. The company also makes venture capital investments.

Over the last ten years, Wells Fargo has averaged a 1.57% return on assets and an 18.19% return on equity.

Location

Wells Fargo is closely associated with California in the minds of most investors. The company now operates in 23 different states. However, the concentration in California remains.

Mortgage lending in California accounts for approximately 14% of Wells Fargo’s total loan portfolio. Commercial real estate loans in California account for another 5% of the company’s total loans. No other single state accounts for a similarly sized portion of total loans. In fact, neither mortgage lending nor commercial real estate lending in any other state accounts for more than 2% of Wells Fargo’s total loans.

Cross-Selling

Wells Fargo’s focus on cross-selling is well known. The company has a stated goal of doubling the number of products the average consumer and business customer has with Wells Fargo to eight products per customer (from the current four products per customer).

Cross-selling increases customer stickiness. It also helps increase profitability by decreasing expenses relative to revenues. The need for a large physical footprint is reduced – as is the need for a large number of bankers. Instead, the existing infrastructure is able to provide additional revenue from the same customers.

Wells Fargo’s Chairman & CEO, Richard Kovacevich, explains the importance of the company’s cross-selling in the “Vision & Values” section of the corporate website:

"Cross-selling — or what we call “needs-based” selling — is our most important strategy. Why? Because it is an “increasing returns” business model. It’s like the “network effect” of e-commerce. It multiplies opportunities geometrically. The more you sell customers the more you know about them. The more you know about them the easier it is to sell them more products. The more products customers have with you the better value they receive and the more loyal they are. The longer they stay with you the more opportunities you have to meet even more of their financial needs. The more you sell them the higher the profit because the added cost of selling another product to an existing customer is often only about ten percent of the cost of selling that same product to a new customer. This gives us—as an aggregator — a significant cost advantage over one product or one channel companies. Cross-selling re-invents how financial services are aggregated and sold to customers — just like other aggregators such as Wal-Mart (general merchandise), Home Depot (home improvement products) and Staples (office supplies)."

Mr. Kovacevich’s enthusiasm for the cross-selling model is well justified. It is difficult to quantify the importance of meeting all the varied needs of your customers, because you can not measure the opportunities you missed. However, it is obvious that reducing each customer’s interest in considering a competitor’s services will greatly increase long-term profitability for any company engaged in any line of business – not just for a bank.

Later, in the same website section, Mr. Kovacevich addresses the importance of customer stickiness:

"(Cross-selling) is our most important customer-related sales metric. We want to earn 100 percent of our customers’ business. The more products customers have with Wells Fargo the better deal they get, the more loyal they are, and the longer they stay with the company, improving retention. Eighty percent of our revenue growth comes from selling more products to existing customers."

This focus on retention is an important part of a long-term plan to maintain Wells Fargo’s above-average returns on assets and equity. Extraordinary profitability comes from differentiating your product or service from those of your competitors. Increasing customer stickiness and reducing “comparison shopping” is a key part of maintaining extraordinary profitability.

Some businesses are blessed with enviable economics because of their product’s natural prominence in the minds of their customers. Most businesses are obsessed with market share. But, how many really think about “mind share”? Obviously, a product like Coke (KO), Hershey (HSY), or Snickers is going to have a positive association in the minds of consumers.

For many people, these products will also have a prominent place in each customer’s mind (relative to other products and services on which money can be spent). A few other businesses have a healthy mind share without the positive association; GEICO is the most obvious example. The company’s brand conjures up nothing but the words “auto insurance”. Of course, that’s all the GEICO brand has to do.

So, what does all this have to do with Wells Fargo? Mind share isn’t just the result of exposure to advertising. In fact, in most cases, exposure to advertising can not duplicate the kind of results that a direct, differentiated experience creates. Entertainment properties are by far the leaders in mind share. People who saw and loved Star Wars remember the film. In fact, they don’t just remember the film, they actually file it away (or, more precisely, cross reference it) in countless ways within their mind.

The evidence for this particular example is abundant. There are countless references to Star Wars in other media. The name, the music, the opening text and countless other elements are immediately recognizable. Even the films Star Wars fans hated made more money than almost any other movies in the history of cinema – and this was decades after the original came out. So, obviously Star Wars has the kind of lasting mind share any business should aspire to if it hopes to continuously earn extraordinary profits.

Unfortunately, most businesses, however well run, can not attain this kind of mind share. The products and services they provide can never be as differentiated and memorable as a motion picture. Just as importantly, the positive associations will not be present, simply because the product or service is not inherently exciting, entertaining, or pleasant. This is clearly the case in financial services.

So, what can a financial services company do to improve its mind share? The most obvious tactic is simply to “wow” its customers. In fact, Wells Fargo’s CEO discusses this particular option in the “Vision and Values” section of the company’s website:

" We have to 'wow!' them. We know what that feels like because we’re all customers. We go to the cleaners, the grocery store, a restaurant or whatever, and we find a situation where we’re 'wowed!' We walk out and we say, those people really listened to me and helped me get what I need. All of us hear stories about customers, say, who pick a certain line at the supermarket because they know the person who bags the groceries connects with customers — smiles, greets regular customers by name, asks how their families are doing. When a personal banker helps a customer in one of our stores, or when a customer gets help from one of our phone bankers or does transactions on wellsfargo.com we want them to say, 'That was great. I can’t wait to tell someone.'"

Another option worth pursuing is widening the associations present in the customer’s mind. Financial services is a business where associations tend to be more conscious, categorized, and hierarchical than the associations formed in more heavily branded businesses. Put simply, the (potential) customer usually thinks of a “set” before thinking of an “element” within that set. Like many mental associations, the information can be returned in either direction. For example, the customer may normally think “banks” and then think “Wells Fargo”, but will also be able to return the word “bank” if prompted by the name “Wells Fargo”. This categorization is important, because it provides (limited) permission for Wells Fargo to expand its mind share horizontally (across service categories).

In other words, providing a diverse range of financial services doesn’t just make sense from the provider’s perspective, it also makes sense from the user’s perspective, because the user of financial services has already grouped deposits, borrowing, credit cards, insurance, brokerage services, asset management, etc. together in a very loose way within his mind. As a result of this mental network, one positive experience with Wells Fargo will greatly affect a customer’s desire to pay for an additional service, even if the two services are not really all that similar.

The three key elements here are: a broader definition of what Wells Fargo is (a place that does “money things”, not just a bank), a positive experience, and some sense of trust that the quality of service will be consistent. The last requirement is the easiest to meet, because it’s natural for a customer to assume that the positive experience was not a fluke, much the way a diner assumes the good meal he had at a particular restaurant was not caused by his picking the best offering from the menu. The diner usually assumes the overall quality of the restaurant’s various entrees is superior. Likewise, a good experience with one of Wells Fargo’s products or services will likely rub off on its other offerings.

Valuation

Shares of Wells Fargo currently yield just over 3%. The stock trades at a price-to-book ratio of just under 2.75 and a price-to-earnings ratio of less than 15.

Conclusion

Over the last 5, 10, 15, and 20 years shareholders of Wells Fargo & Company have fared better than the S&P 500. As of the end of last year, WFC’s total return over the last ten years was 17% vs. 9% for the S&P. Over the last 20 years, WFC outpaced the S&P 500 by an even wider margin: 21% vs. 12%.

Wells Fargo has a stellar reputation with investors. The company is the only U.S. bank to earn Moody’s highest credit rating. Wells Fargo also boasts a well-known major shareholder. The largest owner of the company’s common stock is Berkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffett’s holding company has a roughly 5.5% stake in Wells Fargo. Berkshire’s last reported purchase occurred during the first quarter of this year.

Wells Fargo has a stated goal of achieving double-digit growth in earnings and revenue while managing a return on assets over 1.75% and a return on equity over 20%. Those are both very ambitious goals. The company has achieved some of the highest returns on assets and equity of any major U.S. bank. However, Wells Fargo will probably need to increase the percentage of revenue it derives from fee businesses if it is to achieve these goals.

In the years ahead, the company may well become more of a diversified financial services business. In fact, that’s what I expect will happen. The company’s commitment to cross-selling is not some fad. Eventually, this commitment will change the way investors think about Wells Fargo. Soon, it may be considered much more than a bank.

Wells Fargo’s CEO makes the case that his company’s P/E is simply too low. Wells Fargo has a solid history of strong growth and profitability. So, why should it be valued similarly to most other banks? Shouldn’t it be awarded a multiple more in line with a growth company?

There’s actually some merit to this argument. Wells Fargo is unusually well positioned for a bank. Often, those banks that seem certain to earn very high returns on assets and equity for many years to come are poorly positioned for future growth. These banks are often smaller than their competitors and focused on a specific geographic niche. Any acquisitions would dilute the exceptional profitability of the bank’s niche.

Of course, there are also many consolidators in the banking industry. Unfortunately, many of these banks do not have a history of earning the kind of returns on assets and equity that Wells Fargo has achieved. Even more importantly, there is little differentiation between these titans of the banking industry and their national competitors. Therefore, their moats are highly suspect.

Wells Fargo is a different kind of bank. It has a history of extraordinary growth and profitability. There are two obvious opportunities for future growth: geographic expansion and cross-selling. Of these two opportunities, it's clear I’m more enamored with the latter. An eastward push is not necessary, and certainly not via an ill-advised acquisition.

There is a lot of value in the Wells Fargo franchise and there is plenty of room within that franchise for future growth. That’s one of the great advantages of the financial services industry. With the right model, limits to growth are almost non-existent. In other highly-profitable industries, there is often nowhere to reinvest new capital at a similar rate of return.

If Wells Fargo is a growth stock, it is a peculiar sort of growth stock. Maybe that is what attracted Buffett to the company in the first place. Here is a business with a strong franchise that can grow for many years to come. Perhaps most importantly, it is a growth business that frequently trades in the market at value like multiples, simply because it’s a bank.

At the current market price, Wells Fargo is the sort of investment you make once and forget. The valuation is not so cheap as to promise a good return if the business falters. But, the business is not so suspect as to require the margin of safety be provided by a low P/E ratio. Sometimes, near certain growth is the margin of safety.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Analysis of Valley National Bancorp (VLY)

Copyright 2006 Geoff Gannon

Valley National Bancorp (VLY) is a conservative bank with a strong position in northern New Jersey and a presence in Manhattan. The bank, founded in 1927, has about $12 billion in assets.

Valley has consistently earned extraordinary returns on assets and equity. Over the last twenty years, Valley has averaged a 1.74% return on assets and a 21.12% return on equity.

Valley’s worst two-year performance occurred in 1990 and 1991. During that period, Valley’s return on equity dropped as low as 14.54% and its ROA dropped as low as 1.29%. Even in Valley’s worst year (1991), the company still managed to roughly match the average long-term performance of most of its peers. In other words, Valley’s worst year was a close to typical year for many other banks.

It was at this low-point in 1991 that the board of directors decided not to increase the cash dividend. That was the only year in the last 37 that Valley did not increase its dividend.

The company has 79 consecutive years of profitable operations. That’s over 300 quarters (Valley has yet to post a quarterly loss). More importantly, Valley has a record of earning great returns on both assets and equity over long periods of time. So, what’s the company’s secret?

Location

Northern New Jersey is about the best place in the world to situate a bank. This isn’t hyperbole; if there’s a better location, I’ve yet to hear of it. As you know, American banks are unusually profitable. The market is large and highly fragmented. So, naturally the best place to situate a bank would be in the United States. But, why north Jersey in particular?

In a September 20th, 2001 interview with The Wall Street Transcript, Valley’s chairman, Gerald Lipkin, explained why northern New Jersey is such an attractive market:

"Northern New Jersey is the single most densely populated area on earth. There are more people per square mile in northern New Jersey than there are in India, China, Japan or anyplace else. We have the highest median family income in the United States in that area. So, we serve a very densely populated and affluent area, which is not dominated by any single industry."

Focus

Valley maintains a narrow focus both in terms of geography and services. The company’s offices are kept within one hour of the bank’s headquarters in Wayne, NJ. In the same interview, Mr. Lipkin explained why this geographic concentration is important: “We like to make it very convenient for our client base to meet with senior management as well as the other members of our staff."

Valley focuses on relationship banking. The company has residency requirements for its directors. The majority of directors are to live within 100 miles of the corporate headquarters. Furthermore, each board member is required to use Valley for both business and personal accounts. Theoretically, these two requirements ensure board members are familiar with the bank’s services and are best able to understand the needs of local businesses.

Discipline

Valley has a history of highly disciplined lending. Charge-offs are immaterial. Current reserves are adequate to cover many years of future charge-offs with little difficulty. The company’s asset quality ratios and loan to value ratios both indicate Valley has a more conservative approach to lending than many of its peers.

Undoubtedly, the local economy is helpful in this regard. Valley does not need to make questionable loans, because there is an abundance of opportunity in the local area. It is possible for the bank to remain fairly selective without forfeiting growth entirely. For instance, despite having $12 billion in assets, Valley only has about a 6% market share in northern New Jersey.

Management

Banking, like insurance, is a business where a particularly good or particularly poor management can greatly affect long-term results. The current Chairman, President, and CEO, Gerald Lipkin, has served for just over thirty years now. His record is unblemished.

Of course, the real responsibility for avoiding mistakes lies with others in the organization. There are few businesses where individual employees can do as much harm as they can within a bank. Valley’s past record and the level of experience of its top managers suggests investors should encounter very few unpleasant surprises resulting from human error.

Mr. Lipkin made his management philosophy quite clear with his concluding remarks in the aforementioned 2001 interview with The Wall Street Transcript:

"We never bet the ranch – we never put the bank in harms way on any single issue that could really harm it. Lending money is a risk taking business. So, obviously we at times have problems, situations with individual loans, but we try to avoid concentrations that could create major problems."



Valuation

Valley National Bancorp is a solid, well-run bank operating in a geographic area with excellent economics. The company’s physical footprint and its existing relationships give it a narrow moat in a highly profitable (and increasingly competitive) region.

Unfortunately, the company is trading at more than three times book. Three times book is a lot to pay for any bank. Valley’s future growth will likely be somewhat restrained by the company’s conservative approach. Therefore, dividends are going to make up a significant portion of an investor’s total returns.

Conclusion

Valley is a good bank. It has a real moat, albeit a narrow one. Competition is increasing within Valley’s territory. However, the company has been able to compete successfully with new entrants (who tend to take on far less profitable business).

The stock isn’t cheap today, but there is one wrinkle worth keeping in mind. Valley is more dependent upon interest rate spreads than most banks. If the yield curve was to become significantly steeper, Valley would reap outsized rewards.

The current dividend yield on a share of Valley National Bancorp is a little less than 3.5%. Considering the company’s limited growth prospects, this is an unattractive yield. If, during a period of general uncertainty within the banking industry, shares of VLY were to trade closer to two times book, investors would have an opportunity to make a long-term commitment in a quality bank.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

An Analysis Of The Journal Register Company (JRC)

Let me begin with some of the eye – catching metrics that might lead an investor to consider purchasing shares of the Journal Register Company (JRC). This newspaper company has a price – to – earnings ratio of 11.3, a price – to – sales ratio of 0.93, a 5 year average return on capital of 17.6%, and a five year average pre-tax profit margin of 27.4%.

Now, for the bad news. The Journal Register Company has an enterprise value – to – EBITDA ratio of 9.07 and an enterprise value – to – revenue ratio of 2.24. Obviously, this company is carrying a lot of debt. So, perhaps the multiples on the common stock price are deceptive.

Before I go any further, let me take a moment to point out the fact that, in the case of Journal Register, the shares you buy are literally common stock; that is, the security is common to all owners. This is a rarity in the publishing business, where families often maintain control of their newspapers via ownership of a class of stock with (much) greater voting rights.

So, how should an investor value the Journal Register Company? Should he use JRC’s market cap or its enterprise value? I have usually encouraged a full and careful consideration of all debt when making any investment. In the case of JRC, such debt makes up a large portion of the company’s enterprise value. Is it really best to lump the debt and equity together to determine the true price Journal Register is selling for?

I think it is.

There are situations in which the leverage inherent in a debt – heavy capital structure works to the benefit of the common stock holder. The most obvious example is a highly leveraged, growing company selling at a bargain price. The increase in earnings is amplified by the fixed debt, because the debt creates a sort of break even point, much like a traditional fixed cost. Just as greater production can give tremendous benefits to the owner of a large plant, or greater sales can give tremendous benefits to the owner of a large store, greater pre-tax earnings before interest charges can give tremendous benefits to the owners of common stock.

Does this scenario apply to Journal Register? Perhaps, but I don’t think so. Long – term, the economics of the newspaper business will likely be quite poor. Even for Journal Register’s properties, I am projecting a fall in circulation with no end in sight. Some may disagree with this assessment. However, I believe they are being overly optimistic. Past performance is only a good estimate of future performance insofar as the future resembles the past. I believe the future of newspaper publishing will be sufficiently different from the past to render any estimate of Journal Register’s future performance based solely on its past performance quite inaccurate. So, for the most part, the leverage inherent to Journal Register’s capital structure will likely be working against the long – term investor.

Economically, Journal Register’s assets are encumbered. The legal reality is immaterial to the shareholder. The company can not sell of its assets without either paying off its debt or maintaining control over sufficient free cash flow to meet its obligations. Today, money is cheap. It may not be so cheap in the future. Journal Register is insulated from interest rate changes on its current borrowings. However, the company can not guarantee that, if it were refinance its debt as it came due, interest charges would remain as low as they are today. This is true for every business, but it takes on greater importance in the case of the Journal Register Company, because of the company’s debt heavy capital structure, today’s historically low interest rates, and the likely future trend of newspaper circulation.

Together, these three factors form a kind of perfect storm. But, it is important that the facts be assessed calmly. There is no need for exaggeration. The Journal Register Company is not in any grave peril. There would be no risk of insolvency, if the company did not borrow further, and committed its substantial free cash flow to paying down its debt. A look to the recent past suggests the company is unlikely to follow such a conservative course. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

There may be value in future acquisitions. In fact, the current climate is perfect for making acquisitions that truly add value to the company. But, other companies with operations capable of regularly generating lots of free cash flow have sometimes found themselves in financial difficulties, because of an overly ambitious capital structure and reduced profitability within their chosen industry. I am not suggesting the Journal Register Company will find itself in such a position. If it is well – managed, there is no reason for Journal Register to face such peril. But, it is rarely wise to assume a company will be well – managed.

The problem with the Journal Register Company as an investment is not the risk created by its debt. It is easy to overstate that risk. The problem is the price. The Journal Register Company is not as cheap as it appears to be. Newspapers will not be going the way of the Dodo anytime soon, but they are already in decline. This decline will not be reversed.

Investors need to remember the importance of growth. Newspapers are not growing. There is no need to chase stocks with lofty multiples merely to acquire some short – lived hyper growth. But, there is a need to avoid companies that will not grow their earnings. There are many stocks trading at higher P/E ratios than JRC that are, in fact, better bargains.

Friday, March 26, 2010

An Analysis Of Lexmark

In 2005, Berkshire Hathaway bought about a million shares of Lexmark. I haven’t followed this story closely, but I assume the stock was purchased by Lou Simpson rather than Warren Buffett. I have only two reasons for believing this: the total purchase was small relative to Berkshire’s investable assets and the Lexmark purchase is typical of Simpson’s investment philosophy (or at least, what little I can glean about his investment philosophy from his past purchases). Regardless of who actually makes the purchases, a new Berkshire holding always draws a lot of commentary.

The commentary on Lexmark has been almost uniformly negative. Even many value investors have a very dim view of Lexmark at these prices. Now, I am not a contrarian investor. Psychology and sentiment do not enter into my considerations at all. I’ve bought stocks trading near five year lows, and I’ve bought stocks trading near five year highs. I just try to be rational. I’m not afraid to agree with the consensus, if it’s an accurate representation of reality. Here, it isn’t. The model of Lexmark that has emerged in my mind over the past few weeks bears little resemblance to the Lexmark I’ve seen described elsewhere.

Most of the negative comments about Lexmark have focused on the consumer segment. Yet, more than 75% of Lexmark’s profits come from the business segment. The business segment is Lexmark’s franchise. There, the company has managed to build a moat, not a very wide moat, but a moat nonetheless. Lexmark is the only focused, integrated printing company of any consequence. It understands its business customers’ needs, and provides specially tailored solutions that none of its competitors can offer. Worldwide, some very large companies use Lexmark’s products for some very specialized tasks. Among these are retailers, banks, and pharmacies. Lexmark has complete control of their product including the printing technology itself and the software used to manage its printers (i.e., to interface with the user’s computer). Businesses that care about getting these specialized tasks done right (and getting them done cheap) use Lexmark.

Even Lexmark’s competitors have to concede the fact that Lexmark knows printing better than anyone else. Lexmark is the only company that develops its own ink – jet, monochrome, and color laser technologies. It is a vertically integrated printer business like no other. The two competitors most often mentioned as threats to Lexmark are HP and Dell. While everyone will suffer from deep price cuts; I think it’s HP and Dell who should be scared.

Lexmark has the much stronger competitive position. For years to come, it will be launching the best printing products for high ink consumption tasks. Lexmark hasn’t been focused on competing directly with these companies in the consumer segment; that’s going to change because of the emerging photo printing market.

Lexmark isn’t interested in selling hardware. It’s interested in selling ink. Now that there is real demand emerging for high quality printing within the home, Lexmark is going to start going after the consumer market. Over the next few years, Lexmark will be selling more printers in this segment. A few years after that, the company will see strong recurring revenues from ink sales.

Generic ink cartridges are the biggest threat to the high margin printing business. However, I believe, of all the players in this industry, Lexmark will be the least affected. Its highest margin sales are its most insulated sales. Its lowest margin sales, in its least dominant businesses, are where generic ink will hurt the most.

There is also some concern that Dell could always move away from using Lexmark printers. Let them. From what I can see, sales to Dell will not be a particularly significant high free cash flow margin business. There’s no benefit to the Lexmark brand either. That brand is going to become stronger over the next decade, because the quality is already there. Lexmark simply hasn’t been that visible to consumers. The Dell deal doesn’t help build the Lexmark brand. Honestly, I wouldn’t be terribly troubled if Lexmark’s sales to Dell dropped to zero tomorrow. Such an occurrence would not materially affect my valuation of Lexmark.

As far as I can tell, Lexmark’s management is excellent. They understand the printer business better than anyone (they also happen to understand the science of printing better than anyone – CEO Paul Curlander has a PhD in electrical engineering from MIT). Lexmark’s management also sees highly profitable opportunities in printing long – term, despite a very competitive situation short – term. I agree with that assessment.

Within the printer business, there is a real danger of ferocious price competition. However, I do not believe there is a real danger of prolonged ferocious price competition. Lexmark is the company best positioned to weather the storm. It will generate tons of free cash flow, none of which has to be siphoned off to other lines of businesses, as it does at all of Lexmark’s competitors. Lexmark’s high free cash flow margin recurring revenue stream will supply it with more than enough ammunition to outlast its competitors. They may be deep pocketed, but eventually, they will have to answer to Wall Street. Long – term, they can’t compete with Lexmark. It will take them some time to realize that. But, Lexmark has the time.

That’s my assessment of Lexmark on qualitative grounds. How does the stock look quantitatively?

The stock is selling for about 15 times earnings and 10 times cash flow. Right now, a dollar of Lexmark’s stock buys you a dollar of sales. I think that’s a bargain. Not many companies of this caliber sell at a price – to – sales ratio of one.

For the last ten years, Lexmark’s return on equity has not fallen below 20%. During the same period, the company’s return on assets never fell below 10%. The free cash flow margin has generally been in the 5 – 10% range.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lexmark’s ROE and free cash flow fall substantially in the next few years. However, long – term, I believe a return on equity of 15 – 20% and a free cash flow margin of 8 – 10% are sustainable. In fact, if I was forced to pick an exact ROE that Lexmark could sustain I would pick 20%. But, I would also caution you not to expect that for the next five years or so.

The important estimate is the 8 – 10% free cash flow margin. That’s the best way to value Lexmark. At one times sales, you have an 8 – 10% yield, if you think sales can be sustained. If you think sales can grow, you have to factor that into your analysis. At present, a discount rate of 8% seems appropriate.

I never do a discounted free cash flow analysis on this blog, because I feel the variables that go into are something you have to decide on for yourself. I don’t want to slap an exact figure on the value of a company, because I don’t want to suggest that kind of precision. But here, you can clearly see how I’d value Lexmark. I gave you what I think Lexmark’s free cash flow margin will be (8-10%), you know what Lexmark’s sales are ($5.4 billion), and I gave you the discount rate I thought was most appropriate (8%). The only necessary variable I haven’t provided is a sales growth estimate, and I’m not going to provide that, because I don’t want you to think it has anything to do with the next five years.

It doesn’t. I’m looking at this company well beyond that point, and I like what I see. Lexmark will strengthen its brand (with consumers), and people will still be printing. So, yes, I am projecting revenue growth for Lexmark; and yes, it is enough to suggest Lexmark is worth substantially more than $5.5 billion.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Analysis Of Journal Communications (JRN)

Journal Communications (JRN) is comprised of seven essentially separate businesses: The Milwaukee Sentinel, Community Newspapers, Television Stations, Radio Stations, Telecommunications, Printing Services, and Direct Marketing. The company’s five reportable segments do not exactly match these seven businesses; however, I believe an investor should analyze JRN on the basis of these seven businesses and their constituent properties, rather than as a single going concern with five reportable business segments. Additional reasons for this belief will be outlined below. For now, it is sufficient to say that if Journal Communications were to divide into seven separate public companies, the combined market value of those companies would be substantially greater than JRN’s current enterprise value. Simply put, the sum of the parts would be valued more highly than the whole.

Journal Communications has an enterprise value of just under $1 billion. Pre-tax owner’s earnings are probably around $125 million. So, JRN trades at eight times pre-tax owner’s earnings. That’s cheap.

Journal’s effective tax rate is 40%. That is an unusually high rate. Journal’s media properties would likely generate more after-tax income under different ownership. The difference would be material; but, for anyone other than a highly leveraged buyer, tax savings would not be a primary consideration. When evaluating Journal as a going concern, it is perfectly appropriate to treat the full 40% tax burden as a reality. These taxes reduce owner’s earnings by $50 million.

With after-tax owner’s earnings of $75 million and an enterprise value of $1 billion, Journal’s owner’s earnings yield is 7.5%. Remember, this is the after-tax yield. The pre-tax yield is 12.5%. When evaluating a company, it’s best to use the pre-tax yield for purposes of comparison. Last I checked, the 30 – year Treasury bond was yielding 4.63%. So, looking at JRN’s current earnings alone, the stock appears to offer a large margin of safety.

This is especially true if you consider the fact that earnings yields offer more protection against inflation than bond yields. They don’t offer perfect protection. But, with stocks, there is at least the possibility that nominal cash flows will increase along with inflation. The cash flows generated by bonds are fixed in nominal terms, and therefore offer no protection against inflation.

When evaluating a long-term investment, such as a stock, I do not use a discount rate of less than 8%. This reduces JRN’s margin of safety considerably. Instead of being the difference between 12.5% and 4.63%, Journal’s margin of safety is the difference between 12.5% and 8%. Is such a margin of safety sufficient? Maybe.

When evaluating a prospective investment, I first look at the risk of a catastrophic loss. What is the magnitude? And what is the probability? For my purposes, a catastrophic loss is defined as any permanent loss of principal. The risk that I’ve overvalued a business is always greater than my risk of catastrophic loss, because I insist upon a margin of safety. A catastrophic loss is one that wipes out the entire margin of safety.

I can make a bad investment without suffering a catastrophic loss. For instance, most mutual funds are bad investments, because they underperform alternatives. However, mutual funds do not usually carry a high risk of catastrophic loss. In fact, they generally have a low risk of catastrophic loss, because they are highly correlated to the overall market.

It’s easiest to understand this concept if you think of valuing companies as being a lot like writing insurance. Even if reality exceeds your expectations in nine out of every ten cases, a terrible misjudgment in the tenth case can cause you great harm. It isn’t just how many mistake you make. It’s also how big they are.

Some stocks, like Google (GOOG), trade at prices that allow for catastrophic losses of considerable magnitude. Other stocks, like Journal Communications, trade at prices that only allow for very small losses to principal. However, there is also the matter of probability. How likely is it that a Google shareholder will suffer a catastrophic loss? I don’t know. I’m not even willing to hazard a guess.

In the case of Journal Communications, I am willing to stick my neck out.

I believe an investment in JRN carries a very low risk to principal – considerably less than, say, an investment in the S&P 500. Why? Because Journal Communications is trading at a very modest owner’s earnings multiple. But, that isn’t the only reason. You shouldn’t look at Journal solely from a going concern perspective. JRN mainly consists of readily saleable properties. The assets backing shares JRN are quite substantial:

Publishing

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee’s only major daily and Sunday newspaper. The Sunday edition has the highest penetration rate (72%) of any Sunday newspaper in the top 50 U.S. markets. The daily edition has the third highest penetration rate (49%) of any daily newspaper in the top 50 U.S. markets. The paper has a daily circulation of 240,000 and a Sunday circulation of 425,000.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also operates three websites. JSOnline.com and OnWisconsin.com generate advertising revenue. PackerInsider.com is a subscription – based website.

Over the last three years, both daily circulation and Sunday circulation have decreased by about 1% annually. Full run advertising linage has also fallen by a similar amount; however, after accounting for increases in part run advertising and preprint pieces, it appears there has been no real decrease in total advertising.

The Journal Sentinel generates approximately $230 million in revenue. Advertising accounts for 80% of the Journal Sentinel’s revenue (the other 20% is circulation revenue). Advertising revenue is somewhat cyclical, and may currently be above “normal” levels.

It’s difficult to value the Journal Sentinel, because JRN places the Journal Sentinel and its community newspapers under one reportable segment. Even if the numbers for the Journal Sentinel were broken out, I would have still have some difficulty coming up with an exact figure, because I’m not an expert on newspapers.

Having said that, I can’t see how the Journal Sentinel could be worth less than $250 million or more than $500 million. If I had to put a dollar figure on the Journal Sentinel, it would probably be in the 250 – $300 million range. I’d like to think this is a conservative estimate, but I don’t know enough about newspapers to be sure. JRN’s failure to break out the numbers for the Journal Sentinel apart from the community newspapers complicates the issue. However, I am quite confident the Journal Sentinel is worth no less than $250 million.

It’s even more difficult to value JRN’s Journal Community Publishing Group. It consists of 43 community newspapers, 41 shoppers, and 9 niche publications (automotive, boating, etc.). The group generates about $100 million in revenue. I can’t value this group apart from the Journal Sentinel, because of the aforementioned lack of disclosure (combining the group with the Journal Sentinel for reporting purposes), my inability to find enough public information on community newspaper businesses, and other such factors.

The best I can do is offer an educated guess as to the combined value of JRN’s publishing business. My best guess is that, taken together, the Journal Sentinel and the community newspapers are probably worth somewhere between $300 million and $500 million.

Broadcasting

Journal Communications owns 38 radio stations. The most important of which are: WTMJ-AM Milwaukee, KMXZ-FM Tucson, KFDI-FM Wichita, and KTTS – FM Springfield (MO). All four of these stations are number one in their market. JRN’s radio stations generate about $80 million in revenue.

Journal Communications owns seven television stations. Almost all of these stations are ranked as one of the top three in their market. Three are NBC affiliates, three are ABC affiliates, and one is a Fox affiliate. JRN owns two stations in Milwaukee, two in Idaho, one in California, one in Michigan, and one in Nevada. Journal’s TV stations generate about $90 million in revenue.

Again, it’s too hard for me to value JRN’s TV stations and radio stations separately. Taken together, I believe they’re worth somewhere between $250 and $450 million.

Telecommunications

JRN owns a 3,800 mile network in the Great Lakes region. Norlight Telecommunications generates about $150 million in revenue. I’m very hesitant to make any attempts to value this division, because I don’t understand the telecom business well enough. Having said that, I don’t see how it could be worth much less than $350 million.

Miscellaneous

I don’t like the printing services and direct marketing business at all. I have no idea how to value them. They do have revenues though; so, they are probably worth something to someone. Revenues from these two businesses exceed $100 million, but they are not very profitable.

Real Estate

JRN owns a surprising amount of unencumbered real estate. For the most part, such properties are closely tied to one of JRN’s operating businesses. As long as JRN continues as a going concern, much of the real estate could not be sold. Just to give you some idea of the extent of these properties, it appears JRN owns a little less than two million square feet – much of which is in or around Milwaukee. I can not accurately value such real estate. As I said, much of it is closely tied to operating activities. However, buildings in urban areas can sometimes be converted to other uses.

It hardly matters though. Journal Communications is likely to remain a going concern for some time, and as long as it does, it is unlikely to dispose of such assets.

Valuation

So, what is JRN worth? It’s hard to say. The current enterprise value is around $1 billion, which is clearly too low. My most conservative estimates for the publishing, broadcasting, and telecom businesses alone add up to $900 million. I think those are very conservative estimates. Using more reasonable estimates, I can not arrive at a value of less than $1.25 billion for JRN’s constituent parts. This is true whether I perform an intrinsic value analysis on the entire company, or apply some sort of earnings, sales, or EBITDA multiple to each business separately.

Journal Communications is probably worth somewhere between $1.25 billion and $2 billion. I’m quite pessimistic about the newspaper business; therefore, I would lean towards the $1.25 billion figure (which assumes slightly declining revenues). Any sort of revenue growth would dramatically change the valuation. If such growth will occur, JRN is extremely undervalued at these levels. However, I’m not sure there will be any growth at all.

Journal Communications voting structure will probably discourage the best course of action: breaking up the company. JRN should spin off the community newspapers, the TV stations, the radio stations, and the telecom business. The printing services and direct marketing businesses should also be disposed of in some way. These are really very different businesses. There are few good reasons for keeping them together, and many good reasons for separating them.

Newspapers, radio, and TV all face different challenges. They need different managers who have complete control over capital allocation and who are compensated based on the performance of their business, not on the performance of a hodge-podge of various media properties. Breaking JRN up will make it easier to manage and will make it easier for current owners to dispose of their shares at more favorable prices should they wish to.

If these businesses traded as five or six different public companies, it is very unlikely their combined market cap would be less than $1 billion. It may not even be necessary for them to be publicly traded. There might be buyers for such properties, if JRN’s properties were separated into common sense collections.

But, none of this is likely to happen. Employees control JRN (they maintain control through the ownership of shares with disproportionate voting rights). No one interested in shaking things up will take a stake in this company, because he would be unable to impose his will. I can’t imagine management ever embarking on such a sweeping venture without some prodding from the outside.

JRN has almost no downside. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to have a lot of upside either. There is a real danger investors will see their returns wither away as the time it takes to realize the value in Journal Communications proves costly. Time is the enemy of the investor who buys this kind of business at this kind of price.

Objectively, I have to admit JRN is undervalued. But, I’m not sure it’s grossly undervalued – and I am sure there are better long term investments.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

American Express Blue Cards: Which Blue Is For You?

Times certainly have changed for American Express. Gone are the days where the American Express card was simply a charge card that had to be paid off in full every month. Yes, the old workhorse – the green card – is still available and popular too. However, American Express decided to take MasterCard and VISA on directly by offering its own line of credit cards. These “blue” cards have been such a hit with consumers that the admired financial giant is now offering four different blue cards from which consumers can choose. Each American Express blue card is different, so let’s take a look at just what makes each one so special.

American Express Sky Blue, The Ultimate Travel Rewards Card

Sky Blue – If you are tired of all those rewards cards that promise you a weekend in Las Vegas, but can only deliver you an overnight stay in Providence, then the Sky Blue card should appeal to you. Touted by American Express as putting an end to travel reward card restrictions, Sky Blue goes where no other American Express blue card has gone before it. With absolutely no black out dates and no travel restrictions, the Sky Blue card allows for card holders to travel where they want, when they want. But, it even gets better: 0% introductory APR and no annual fee; discounts on airline tickets, hotel stays, and car rentals. You even get free coverage on rental car insurance and travel accident insurance with Sky Blue.

Blue Cash For Cold, Hard Cash

Blue Cash – If it is cold, hard cash that you want, then there isn’t a card that matches the American Express Blue Cash card. This is no 1% or 2% cash back card; the Blue Cash card is one that really works for card holders as it gives back 5% cash on just about everything you buy. Save 5% on gas. Save 5% on drugstore visits, on the bills you pay, and on so much more. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about redeeming your points as every year American Express will give you your earnings back to you in the form of a big fat credit to your account!

The Original Blue: The American Express Blue Card

Blue – The American Express Blue card was the card that got the whole blue movement rolling. Although it isn’t as power packed with the features found in Sky Blue or Blue Cash, the Blue card is still a worthy choice. If you select “Blue” you get 0% APR for up to 15 months, 4.99% APR on balance transfers for the life of the loan, and you will earn points toward the American Express free rewards program. Yes, there is no annual fee with the Blue card either!

Jet Blue: The Airline And The Card

Jet Blue – Named for the airline it represents, the American Express Jet Blue card allows card holders to accumulate points toward free Jet Blue Airways flights. Using the card the very first time nets users a cool 5,000 points right off the bat. You can also get double points at many places where you like to shop or eat.

As you have read, the competition for credit card carrying customers is heating up. With an American Express Blue Card you can receive benefits not available to customers of competing card companies. What are you waiting for? Put an American Express Blue Card in your wallet today and reap all of the rewards!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

American Dream Down Payment Initiative

It is no secret that one of the things that keep the middle class going in our country is home ownership. One program is making the dream come true for more and more people.

American Dream Down Payment Initiative

On December 16th, 2003, the American Dream Down Payment Initiative was signed into law. After years of debating and rewriting, the initiative finally became a practical, useful program for Americans.

The American Dream Down Payment Initiative authorizes up to $200 million annually to be spent between the years 2004 and 2007. The funds are provided to state and local institutions to fund programs that help increase home ownership in the United States. Alas, this is one of the positive ways the government uses our tax dollars!

The American Dream Down Payment Initiative was passed with the aim to help increase home ownership in the United States. This initiative is aimed primarily at low income families and minorities, groups that have had traditionally low rates of home ownership. The initiative seeks to help first time homeowners to overcome the two primary problems faced when buying a home: down payment costs and closing costs. The American Dream Down Payment Initiative can be used to help with down payment costs, closing costs, and rehabilitation assistance to any who fall eligible under the initiative. The amount of assistance provided cannot exceed $10,000 or 6 percent of the value of the home, whichever is greater.

HUD is the facilitator of the program on the federal level. Per its guidelines, the program is available to first time homebuyers purchasing single family housing properties. A first time buyer is a person who has not owned a home in the previous three years, an odd definition if you think about it. Those falling with the definition can use the funds in the purchase of up to four person family housing, condominium unit, cooperative unit, or manufactured housing.

The American Dream Down Payment Initiative is a nice little government program helping first time buyers realize the American Dream of homeownership. It ends in 2007, so make sure to take advantage of it while you can.

Monday, March 22, 2010

America Turning Into A Nation Of Hamburger Flippers

While Wall Street and Washington debate the technical definitions of a recession, the fine print of the US Census Bureau reports reveals a startling statistic: US employment figures incorporate a huge proportion of what can best be called casual, temporary and seasonal jobs. We all know that the old-fashioned manufacturing jobs have gone to China. But many of those trying to pick the market bottom today are unaware of the fact that the ranks of store-front clerks, restaurant workers, yoga teachers and delivery personnel--to name just a few categories—have all served to boost the employment data in recent months and years.

Then, of course, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made their own contribution to the US employment data. At least 150,000 working-age, non-military men and women are doing their bit in the conflict zones; so they don’t figure in the compilation of jobless Americans. And, at home, defense orders have required arms and war-related equipment manufacturers to hire new workers since 2003. “If we decide to bring our troops back today, the economic crisis will deepen, almost immediately,” one Wall Street analyst conceded on condition of anonymity. “Very few of those returning will find any decent jobs.”

In actual fact, American economists right across the political spectrum are unable to recognize the fact that the global economy is nowhere as robust as was being commonly proclaimed just a few short months ago. A closer look at the engines supposedly driving global demand, namely China and India, will show that the statistical information derived from repeated government announcements concerning GDP performance was extremely shallow, even misleading. Very briefly, in the case of China, foreign investors failed to take into account the impact of loose credit and inflated real estate values; in the case of India, western analysts have proven themselves incapable of either estimating the potentially devastating influence of one bad harvest or the phenomenal role black money plays in the day to day lives of ordinary citizens. [The term “black money” is used to describe an amazingly broad range of tax avoidance schemes and criminal activities; certain knowledgeable observers point out that the sheer size of India’s underground economy exceeds 50% of India’s GDP].

In an appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live yesterday, Donald Trump emphasized that the US is in a recession today, and that the true extent of the problems relating to housing and credit cards was still to unfold in coming months. Mr. Trump laughed off Washington claims that “the structural foundations of the economy are strong”, and for very good reason. Because that claim is largely unsubstantiated: perhaps for fear of political repercussions, nobody in authority is willing to detail those structural foundations on the record.

There are simply too many powerful underlying factors playing a role in shaping America’s future: oil prices, debt default, global demand, commodity prices, foreign exchange rates, international trade and, lest we forget, the war on terror. Whether any or all of those factors can be construed as “structural foundations” is best left for the academicians.

But, theory apart, there are two compelling realities to contend with right away. Firstly, neither President Bush nor any of the presidential hopefuls have produced a thoroughly researched position paper addressing the complexity of the situation. Secondly, all those rosy predictions of increasing demand (for virtually everything) from the developing world are coming back to haunt forecasters. In other words, a deteriorating situation is being compounded by ignorance, or intellectual dishonesty, or both.

As far as the employment statistics are concerned, the change of seasons will help perpetuate the “all’s well with the world” illusion. As spring sets in, the job matrix will again expand—deck chair and patio salesmen, gardening and swimming pool assistants, bar tenders, life guards and gym instructors. Not to mention the apparently ever-expanding world of hamburgers, pizzas, tacos, donuts and coffee cups.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Always Compare Prices

If you are anything like me, you have to abide by a strict budget in order to see all of your bills taken care of each month. Most months there aren't extra dollars laying around to be spent freely on anything you want. Sure, you might splurge on an occasional coffee or two, but for the most part the money you earn goes right to keeping you living each month. I have discovered a small but significant way to help curb my expenses and allow for a small amount of 'fun money' each month. Compare prices. It sounds simple and obvious, but my spending habits changed drastically once I began to always compare prices.

One of the biggest areas that I benefited from learning to compare prices is in grocery shopping each week. Rather than just running off to whatever store is closest or more convenient to me, I began to really search the ads and flyers to determine which stores would give me the best deals on the items I needed. I began each week by making a list of all of the grocery items I needed and then I only allowed myself to compare prices for those things. I didn't let myself just go to the store and fill my cart with whatever caught my eye. No, I had a list and I took time to carefully compare prices. It was amazing the money I saved by purchasing items at stores with the lowest prices.

Learning to compare prices benefited me in other ways than just my grocery bill. Take going to the movie theature for an example. I took time to compare prices of the different show times and I began to see movies only in the afternoon when the prices were more reasonable. While this only saves me a few dollars each time I visit the theature, it adds up when you compare prices for all the movies you see in a full year.

I'll admit it, I love coffee. One month I decided to compare prices of buying a coffee at a local coffee shop with making my own cup of coffee at home. Not surprisingly, I can save a lot of money by just making my own coffee. I found that I can even let myself purchase some of the best beans that are sold and I still come up with money to spare when I compare prices with local coffee shops.

It is small changes like going to an afternoon movie or brewing my own cup of coffee that have really changed my budget. I had no idea the amount of money that could be saved simply by learning to always compare prices.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Using A Simple Interest Calculator-Finding The True Price Of Money

Copyright 2006 Stellar Force The True Price Of Money Everything costs something, even money. The price of money is the interest paid. In the case of your “idle” funds (savings account, money market, CDs, savings bonds, etc.), you want to be paid for someone else using them. When you borrow money (mortgages, car loans, credit cards, etc.) the bank wants be paid for your privilege of using their money. It is important that you know the interest rate you get or pay for money. If you know what that true interest rate is, it is easy to make a comparison with other loan or savings sources. The False Price Of Money The problem is that you don’t always know the true interest rate. Banks and other financial institutions will often quote rates that are not the true interest rate. Their motive is to make their offering more attractive than it really is. Following are a few of their deceptive practices: 1. Points on a real estate loan. Points are, in reality, a form of interest. The interest rate quoted for the loan does not take into account the points. If you refinance or sell your home after just a few years, the points will make a significant increase in the real interest rate price of the loan. 2. A very low teaser rate for a fixed time. A local car dealer offers low interest and low payments. However, after 3 months the interest rate and the payment amount triples. The real interest rate can exceed credit card rates. 3. Credit card companies offer 0% interest for 6 months to 12 months for transferring your debt to them. At the end of that 0% period or if you are late on a payment (or even another creditor’s payment), the interest rate goes to their maximum rate of 25%+. 4. The worst offenders of all, are the payday or check cashing companies. They don’t state an interest rate, just a dollar amount. Their true interest rates can be as high as 500% annualized. Those are higher rates than the Mafia loan sharks charged in the 1930s. 5. When advertising rates for a savings account or a CD, banks will often quote an annualized rate. If the funds are not in the savings vehicle for more than a year, then the real rate you will receive will be less due to compounding. It should also be noted that if you withdraw funds from a CD before maturity, the bank will charge you an interest penalty, which will lower your rate of return. In order to protect yourself from unscrupulous practices, you need to use a simple interest calculator to find the true interest rate on every loan or savings transaction. When you know the true interest rate, you can easily make a comparison with alternative sources to find the best deal. Using A Simple Interest Calculator Financial calculators are available online. They make it easy to input your data to calculate what interest rates you are paying or receiving. There are 3 kinds of calculators that you need: 1. A loan payment calculator. When you enter the required inputs of principle, term of loan, and interest rate, you will get a monthly payment. This is a good quick check to determine if the interest rate is correct. (Be sure to subtract all up front fees, such as points, from the principle .) 2. An interest rate calculator. This is similar to the above. However, you must input the monthly payment. The output will give you the true interest rate for the loan. 3. Compound interest calculator. When you enter the savings rate and the frequency of compounding (monthly, quarterly, etc.), the calculator will return the annual interest rate. Conclusion With these tools available you will know what the true interest rates are. You will be able to compare rates in order to make the best decisions for your financial future.

Alternatives To Filing Bankruptcy?

There is just no easy way to get out of debt, you have to face up to the consequences. A bankruptcy is not always the answer, as the effects are long lasting. There are four ways to handle debts that are out of control, listed in best to worst in regards to the effect it will have on your credit:

If your credit isn't in terrible shape, can you reduce your other expenses, even if it means making hard choices or just change your lifestyle to fit your income? Some ways to do this:

Alternatives:

Selling the second car
Pulling equity out of your home
Applying for a non secured signature loan
Obtaining a loan from a relative
Selling your home and paying off your debts with the proceeds and then renting
Cashing out your 401K/retirement benefits
Selling family heirlooms, jewelry, etc…

Filing Bankruptcy - Final Solution
If your credit is already gone or one of the above isn't an option, go through Consumer Credit Counseling Services. Check your yellow pages for the local number. In this way you're paying off your debts as if you were in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but you don't file a bankruptcy.

If CCCS won't take you, you may want to consider bankruptcy. Filing a Chapter 13 takes longer, but your credit is in a little better standing than if you file a Chapter 7. In Chapter 13 you are given up to 5 years to pay off your debts. The disadvantage is that you're in bankruptcy for up to 5 years plus your credit report shows your bankruptcy for 7 more years after you have finished paying off your debts.

If you are so far in debt that you can never repay it, then the best solution may be a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 is the least desirable credit wise, but you are typically out of bankruptcy in 6 months and you don't have to repay any debt.

Disadvantages of Filing Bankruptcy
The disadvantage is that this shows on your credit report for 10 years from the date of filing your bankruptcy, and creditors are starting to tighten their credit requirements, and you may have a tough time getting future financing. Depending upon how complicated your financial situation is, you may want to consult a lawyer before proceeding.

There is no magic solution. Don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

Friday, March 19, 2010

What Does A Living Will Declare?

And who needs a living will? Basically, a living will is a form of expression of independence. We are, after all, free to decide, in life and in death. The expression living will is sometimes used to refer to a document in which you write down what you want to happen if you become ill and cannot communicate your wishes about treatment. It is quite common, for example, for people to write a living will saying that they do not want to be kept alive on artificial life supports if they have no hope of recovery. The term advance directive is also frequently used to refer to such a document. Some people also use the phrase proxy directive to describe a document that combines a Power of Attorney and a living will. Living Will Declaration A living will is a declaration that you desire to die a natural death. You do not want extraordinary medical treatment or artificial nutrition or hydration used to keep you alive if there is no reasonable hope of recovery. A living will gives your doctor permission to withhold or withdraw life support systems under certain conditions. Through advances in medical technology, some patients who formerly would have died can now be kept alive by artificial means. Sometimes a patient may desire such treatment because it is a temporary measure potentially leading to the restoration of health. At other times, such treatment may be undesirable because it may only prolong the process of dying rather than restore the patient to an acceptable quality of life. In any case, each person is seen, under the law, as having the personal right to decide whether to institute, continue or terminate such treatment. As long as a patient is mentally competent, he or she can be consulted about desired treatment. When a patient has lost the capacity to communicate, however, the situation is different. The living will is used when a person in question is no longer able to communicate their will, thus, the will which was written earlier will be used. Although New York has no statute on the question, there are state and federal court decisions that have established the right of an incompetent or comatose patient to have his or her wishes respected, as long as those wishes are known. New York law requires clear and convincing evidence of what the patient would want. Of all the various acceptable forms of evidence, a health care declaration (called a Living Will) can be the best. It simply documents a person's wishes concerning treatment when those wishes can no longer be personally communicated. Even in New York, such a document is recognized if it is clear, specific and unequivocal. You should realize that if you do not express your views, treatment to maintain your life, by whatever means available, will probably be provided once you are no longer able to communicate, even if family members object. Therefore, if there are conditions under which you would not want treatment, it is important that you communicate your wishes while you are able to do so. In addition, because it is important that your wishes be documented in the most effective way possible, it is recommended that you consult your attorney in regard to the preparation of a health care declaration. Should I Discuss my Living Will with Anyone? It is always recommended that your living will be discussed with your family members, your doctor and your lawyer. The living will needs to be signed, and witnessed. Find out more information on Living Wills, as this is a sure way of ensuring your wishes when you are not in the state to communicate them!

Using your Thinking Cap in How to Save Money

When you explore your options you can see how to save money. Using your thinking cap will help you develop new ideas, which opens the door to solutions. You will see how to save money by examining your budget, spending habits, and then analyzing your situation. To help you get started let us together consider your budget and expenses. Budget - How much do you make each week or month? What is your total net pay after taxes? Are you on social security, SSI, or welfare? How much money do you receive each month or week? Add up your total. Expenses: Gasoline Travel Medical expenses Heating Lights Groceries Accessories Household items Cable Phone Internet Entertainment Dining out Insurance, includes house, car, health insurance, life insurance, etc This is a short list. Perhaps you have other expenses to review. Write them down so that you can see how to save money. Breaking down the list: Gasoline - how much each week do you spend on fuel for your car? Use your thinking cap. Can you see carpooling? Can you see walking to get milk or bread rather than driving in town? Use your taking cap and think along the same line when considering travel time. Medical expenses - Can you take out healthcare insurance that will help you save money on medical expenses? Can you start exercising, eating healthier and cutting back on items that causes your body harm to save money? Heating - Do you need to turn the heat up to 80 degrees? Can you use blankets or warmer cloths to cut back on expenses on heating? Lights - Do you leave the lights on day and night? Do you leave unused electrical appliances hooked up all the time? Can you turn the lights off and use a night light? Can you unhook items you are not using? Groceries - Do you buy name brand products? Did you know that generic products have the same ingredients most of the time, yet the products are cheaper? Did you know that you could save a fortune by using coupons? Did you know you could save a fortune by preparing a new meal from leftovers? Accessories - What accessories do you buy? Do you need every accessory that you purchase? Can you save money by using coupons for some of the items? Household items - Did you know that you could learn how to save money by considering household items? Sure, you cannot use banana leaves as a substitute for toilet paper, but you sure can save money by buying sale items, using coupons, or buying cheaper brands. What about house cleaners, did you know that vinegar is cheap? Did you know it would clean damn near anything in your home better than most name brand household cleaners? Keep going, using your thinking cap and continue comparing your budget verses spending to see ways in how to save money.

Alternatives To Bankruptcy

Many people want to file bankruptcy the moment they realize they are in over their heads, and they feel like there is nothing they can do to get out of debt. Bankruptcy however, should be used as an absolute last resort- after all other options have been thoroughly researched and exhausted.

Before making the decision to file bankruptcy, consider each of the following alternatives:

• Refinancing
• Debt Consolidation
• Debt Settlement
• Debt Negotiation

If after you’ve considered each bankruptcy alternative, you still find that your personal debts are greater than the money you have available to make payments each month, you may have no choice other than bankruptcy.

Refinancing

If you are a home owner and have not refinanced your home in the last year, it may be possible for you to obtain additional money from the equity you have in your home, and use it to pay off your other debt. This will eliminate the monthly payments on each of your credit cards or loans that you have used your refinance to pay off, and allow you to make a single, more affordable monthly payment. If you are able to use refinancing of your home to manage your debt, make sure that you do not run right out and get another credit card or car loan, because before you know it you will be right back where you were before the refinance!

Debt Consolidation

Many individuals are able to consolidate all of their monthly credit card and loan payments together by taking out a debt consolidation loan. Typically, a consolidation loan will require some form of collateral to secure it. Unfortunately, you do need to have fairly good credit in order to obtain a debt consolidation loan, but this is a viable option for someone who finds themselves in over their head before the payments start becoming late.

Debt Settlement

Sometimes you can settle your debt out of court. While it is possible to get a debt settlement on your own, it is advisable that you find a reputable company to help you negotiate with your creditors to reduce the amount of money that is owed. Typically, creditors are willing to accept less than the money that is owed to them if they believe you are going to be filing bankruptcy. They realize that a settlement is going to give them more money on the balance owed than the bankruptcy will, and it is in their favor to work with you in this situation. In order to settle your debts, you should have money on hand to immediately pay your creditors and get them to close the account, and report it as “paid as agreed” to your credit report. If you’ve just received a fairly large tax return for example, you could consider attempting to settle your debt with each creditor by offering them less than the total amount owed to close out the account.

Debt Negotiation

Negotiating your debt can be helpful, although it doesn’t eliminate your debt. Call each of your creditors and discuss with them that you are having financial difficulties. Explain you are considering bankruptcy, but before you take that leap you would like to see if you can negotiate your debt with each of your creditors to obtain payment arrangements that work better with your financial situation. Some credit card companies will lower the interest rate and stop late fees and finance charges from occurring, and it really helps you start paying down on the balances. The trouble with credit cards is that once you get behind, the interest and finance charges each month are as much as or more than your minimum monthly payments, so you are paying every month and never reducing your balance. With lower interest rates, and creditors who stop the finance charges and late fees temporarily, you can start chipping away at the actual balance, and hopefully pay off a few accounts during the negotiation period.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alternative Energy Investments

The following is an excerpt from the book Black Gold
by George Orwel
Published by Wiley; June 2006;$27.95US/$35.99CAN; 0-471-79268-3
Copyright © 2006 George Orwel


The oil market is not the only one looking up. Alternative fuel stocks are also attracting many investors. Because oil and gas are expensive, Americans are looking for cheaper nonfossil fuel and that demand is boosting the alternative fuel stocks as well. This is especially good for anyone who cares for the environment -- the greens. If you consider yourself an environmentalist or a preservationist, this is perfect for you, for you are now able to support efforts to preserve the environment while at the same time profiting from those efforts. It's a win-win situation. Consider this: Pacific Ethanol Inc., a small ethanol-producing company started in 2003 by Bill Jones, the former secretary of state for the state of California, has trebled its stock price on NASDAQ to about $30 a share within a year of going public in March of 2005. Like many other similar renewable fuel start-ups, millions of dollars in private equity money are being thrown at Pacific Ethanol like the world is coming to an end. Billionaire Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, is one of those investing in renewable fuel stocks. Gates' investment company, Cascade Investment, has agreed to pump $84 million in Pacific Ethanol.

The U.S. government has recognized alternative fuel as the fuel for the future and has included a number of tax incentives in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the energy law signed in the summer of 2005, to spur growth in the alternative fuel sector. If you haven't already, you should give alternative stocks a try as it will make you feel morally stronger. It's been nearly three decades since efforts to promote alternative fuel floundered after the 1973 oil crisis, but it's making a comeback. Still, alternative fuel remains a small industry, with small cap companies dominating. Since 2005, 15 of the 36 companies in the WilderHill Clean Energy index have made huge profits. That includes hydroelectric power and wind energy, solar energy, and fuel cells.

Some of the most successful companies in the renewable fuel sector are huge conglomerates, like General Electric and Germany's Siemens, and also big oil companies, like BP, that are hedging their bets. Investing in these companies offers a chance to own a clean energy stock. Here's some information about GE worth knowing: It made close to $2 billion in sales from production of wind-powered turbines in 2005, treble what it made from that business unit in 2002. However, that's only 1 percent of GE's revenues.

There's a lot of hope that alternative fuel technologies developed by some of the smaller companies will become commercially viable and help support the sector. As a result, stocks for these companies are expected to soar. WilderHill Clean Energy Index gained 26 percent in the past 12 months alone, compared with 50 percent for oil. That's not bad, considering this is not an established sector in the United States.

Moreover, since continued oil supply is uncertain, a lot more consumers are going to turn to coal, which is abundantly available in the United States, China, and India. Coal used to be frowned upon because of its dirt, but technology has improved enough to make it just as clean as other fuels. Shrewd investors could buy shares in U.S. coal producers, including the two biggest, Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Coal Inc., both based in St. Louis, Missouri. Coal companies have profited from the current oil boom.

Investing in coal doesn't mean that Big Oil isn't safe anymore. It only means that you are on much firmer ground when you have a diversified portfolio. If you look at both types of stocks, the difference isn't large. Exxon Mobil, for instance, returned 36 percent to its shareholders in market appreciation and dividends in 2005 and BP returned 21 percent. Peabody Energy stockholders, meanwhile, did far better in the same time period. They more than doubled their money, and Peabody shares have risen more than three and a half times since the company's initial public offering in 2001. Arch Coal stock returned 65 percent in 2005 as well.

Coal producers have benefited from increased demand from power plants and steelmakers in the United States, China, and India. Massey Energy Co. of Richmond, Virginia, for instance, said its average selling price for coal used in steel-making jumped 38 percent in 2005. Consol Energy, Inc. of Pittsburgh, the third largest U.S. producer, plans a $500 million mine expansion to keep up with orders.

Soaring prices for natural gas have given coal demand another lift. Many electric power plants have switched from gas to coal, which costs about half as much. In the spring of 2006, Duke Energy Corp. closed on a deal purchasing Cinergy Corp. for about $9 billion, in large part because of Cinergy's coal-fired plants.

Back to oil, we've also seen that the market has been good to minnows as well. In fact, some smaller oil companies also have outperformed the giants. For instance, Apache Corp. of Houston produced a 12-month total return of 51 percent for its stockholders, helped by increased first-quarter selling prices of 51 percent for crude oil and 11 percent for natural gas. Apache recently bought property from Shell, BP, and Exxon Mobil and its profit rose tremendously in 2005. Oil transport companies have not been left behind. Overseas Shipholding Group of New York made an acquisition in 2005 that made it the world's second-largest oil tanker company. The bigger fleet, combined with higher tanker rates, boosted the company's 2005 earnings by about 40 percent. The world's biggest owner of oil tankers, Teekay Shipping Corp. of Vancouver, Canada, capitalized on high energy prices in yet another way. In the fall of 2005, Teekay raised $132 million through the public sale of a 20 percent interest in Teekay LNG Partners LP, whose ships carry liquefied natural gas and crude oil.

Is it too late to buy energy stocks, large or small? BlackRock, Inc., which manages $391 billion, doesn't seem to think so. It reported to the SEC in late summer of 2005 that after $870 million in purchases, it owned stakes in Peabody, Arch, Consol, and Massey ranging from 3.3 to 8.8 percent. The money manager also has a 4.7 percent stake in Newfield Exploration Co., an oil-and-gas company that returned 49 percent to its shareholders in 2005.

The bottom line is this: The world needs a lot of energy, but supply is getting tighter; an "├╝berspike" in oil prices is in the making and the potential rewards for the savvy energy investor are huge.

Copyright © 2006 George Orwel

George Orwel is an Oil Analyst and Senior Writer for both the Oil Daily and Petroleum Intelligence Weekly. Previously, he covered the oil market for six years as a staff reporter for Dow Jones Newswires. Orwel has appeared on key media outlets, including CNN, BBC, and NPR, and contributed articles to the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor, as well as other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

All The Truth Around E Currency

You keep on listening about this profit pulling business that requires no marketing or selling, merely an hour a day (at the most) and no special skill.

Yeah right!

At least that's the 1st perspective it gives any person that has been in the internet for some time.

But Let's get more into detail about E Currency Exchange.

How about being able to provide the flow of capital for "Internet Money" thus it may be applied as a backup or "real cash"?

You can generate as much as 1.5% to 4% in daily interests for you investment for suppling E-Currency Exchange. My interest peaked. Anybody can yield coumponded interest for a starting investment starting from 50 dollars.

Based on your personal story, it could be a little hard to believe that You and I can start with $50 and turn them into $400 in as little as 45 days. I'm 21 years old and it isn't something I'm used to hearing. You're really setting up your cashflow to function. I can now say it happens. And it requires no special skill. After all, your cash is the one doing all the hard work.

There is a tough part, of course. It's a somewhat complex business to know at first. In fact it can become overwhelming in case you don't perfectly know what in God's name you're doing. Start an account here, a second one there, find some stuff here purchase some stuff there. You could go kookie tackling how to learn it by yourself.

I was lucky enough to get it the easygoing way. If anyone guides you bit by bit, with a visual simulacrum of how he manipulates the system Every-Step-Of-the-Way,

"do this, Start this account, and then Open up this other account, put your money here, move it here, and watch how it boosts"

After anyone guides you by the hand like that and prepares you, it just becomes very simple. What is required is that you view the first video, then follow the instructions. Watch the next one, then do what you just saw. Watch the next video and... well you get the point.

An amazing detail about E-Currencies is that every person on the planet doing this system does the same thing to generate an income. We all do the same thing, so it's something reproducible. If you're headed at this direction, if you're interested in learning just about everything on E Currency, I have to advice you invest in the shortest path and learn the proven formula instead of tackling to figuring out without any help.

Educate yourself, read as much as you can about it, if you can afford it, buy a course, if not, read in investment forums and learn this system from the people that are already making money from it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why You Should Consider Trading Futures

One of the least understood financial markets is the one for futures. That is in part a function of the fact that for many years it has been referred to as “commodity futures”, which has no doubt turned many would-be traders away, folks who don’t have any interest in things like Pork Bellies and Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice (to include a few from the popular Trading Places film). The other factor is the perceived complexity of the futures market. The fact of the matter, though, is that futures trading is incredibly diverse and not as difficult to do as many think. Sure, for decades futures trading focused on the commodity markets. That’s a simple function of how they developed. Now, however, the focal point has shifted considerably. Yes, one can certainly trade agricultural good, energy products, and metals. These days, though, there is more action in things like interest rates, currencies, stock indices, and even stocks themselves. What’s more, technological developments have made the futures market much more accessible to the individual trader. It is now possible for even lightly capitalized traders to operate effectively in the futures market, something difficult to do in years gone by. That has opened up a whole array of new opportunities for the individual to pursue their trading goals. Consider this. Nowadays just about anyone can trade things like Gold and Crude Oil. These markets have made enormous runs in recent years. One could also take positions in the US Dollar at a time when it has shown persistent weakness, or in US Interest Rates as they were steadily increased. As for futures being complicated - not really. Are they different than trading stocks? Sure. They are leveraged instruments. That means they present some very exciting opportunities for traders who use them in the context of well developed risk management strategies (which all traders should have anyway, regardless of market). Futures prices move just like those in any other market. The same analytic techniques used to trade stocks or forex or any other market can be applied to futures. Their prices are, after all, based on those of the markets underlying them. That is why they are referred to as derivative instruments – they derive their value from other markets. Stock index futures track stock indices. Currency futures prices move with foreign exchange rates. Single stock futures follow the prices of the stocks they represent. Naturally, this derivative nature does mean some differences in the actual trading of futures as opposed to the markets underlying them. The concepts involved, however, are easily understood. It is possible for one with a basic understanding of trading and the markets to grasp them quickly and be operating effectively in the futures markets within only a short period of time. If you haven’t already done so - and if you’ve read this far it’s a fair bet that you haven’t - take the time to look at the futures market. They could very well provide you with the opportunity to make excellent strides in your profitability and risk management.

All About Revenue and Receivables

In most businesses, what drives the balance sheet are sales and expenses. In other words, they cause the assets and liabilities in a business.

One of the more complicated accounting items are the accounts receivable.

As a hypothetical situation, imagine a business that offers all its customers a 30-day credit period, which is fairly common in transactions between businesses, (not transactions between a business and individual consumers).

An accounts receivable asset shows how much money customers who bought products on credit still owe the business. It's a promise of case that the business will receive.

Basically, accounts receivable is the amount of uncollected sales revenue at the end of the accounting period. Cash does not increase until the business actually collects this money from its business customers.

However, the amount of money in accounts receivable is included in the total sales revenue for that same period. The business did make the sales, even if it hasn't acquired all the money from the sales yet. Sales revenue, then isn't equal to the amount of cash that the business accumulated.

To get actual cash flow, the accountant must subtract the amount of credit sales not collected from the sales revenue in cash. Then add in the amount of cash that was collected for the credit sales that were made in the preceding reporting period. If the amount of credit sales a business made during the reporting period is greater than what was collected from customers, then the accounts receivable account increased over the period and the business has to subtract from net income that difference.

If the amount they collected during the reporting period is greater than the credit sales made, then the accounts receivable decreased over the reporting period, and the accountant needs to add to net income that difference between the receivables at the beginning of the reporting period and the receivables at the end of the same period.

Monday, March 15, 2010

All About Personal Accounting

If you have a checking account, of course you balance it periodically to account for any differences between what's in your statement and what you wrote down for checks and deposits.

Many people do it once a month when their statement is mailed to them, but with the advent of online banking, you can do it daily if you're the sort whose banking tends to get away from them.

You balance your checkbook to note any charges in your checking account that you haven't recorded in your checkbook. Some of these can include ATM fees, overdraft fees, special transaction fees or low balance fees, if you're required to keep a minimum balance in your account.

You also balance your checkbook to record any credits that you haven't noted previously. They might include automatic deposits, or refunds or other electronic deposits. Your checking account might be an interest-bearing account and you want to record any interest that it's earned.

You also need to discover if you've made any errors in your recordkeeping or if the bank has made any errors.

Another form of accounting that we all dread is the filing of annual federal income tax returns. Many people use a CPA to do their returns; others do it themselves. Most forms include the following items:

Income:
Any money you've earned from working or owning assets, unless there are specific exemptions from income tax.

Personal Exemptions:
This is a certain amount of income that is excused from tax.

Standard Deduction:
Some personal expenditures or business expenses can be deducted from your income to reduce the taxable amount of income. These expenses include items such as interest paid on your home mortgage, charitable contributions and property taxes.

Taxable Income:
This is the balance of income that's subject to taxes after personal exemptions and deductions are factored in.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

All about mortgage loan!!!

As the number of people undertaking loans to meet their personal expenses has risen significantly, a lot of people are undertaking mortgages in order to secure the loans. Mortgage can be best defined as the method of making use of personal property and giving it out as security in lieu of the payment of the debt undertaken by an individual.

Mortgage is a term which has its origins from the French word, lit pledge which hints at a legal component used for procurement of a loan. Mortgages are generally given out on personal property, such as home. Most of the loans secured through the mode of mortgages are secured by mortgaging the real estate property i.e. the home of an individual.

In some other cases, where the loan is to be procured for extremely professional purposes, lending companies even accept other personal properties, such as car, land or even ships to be mortgaged.

Mortgage loans are undertaken by the masses mostly when they want to make a new investment in the sphere of real estate, property and land.
Before giving out any part of the personal property on mortgage, it is advisable for an individual to be well-versed with all the intricacies and legal formalities which are involved in the process of securing loans through mortgage.

There are several types of mortgages available which can be undertaken by a person to secure his much-needed loan. One of the kinds of mortgage which can be undertaken by a person is mortgage by legal charge. In this situation, a person can mortgage his personal property in lieu of a loan, while retaining the authority to be the legal owner of his mortgaged private possessions. However, this also allows the creditor (financial institution) to access the right to exercise the power of their security and sell/lease the house, if the debtor fails to repay the loan in pre-determined time.

A financial institution or the lending company which gives out the loan to an individual generally resists taking chances and gets the financial deal registered in public records so as to remain on the safer side. Also, the lending institutes insist that the property proposed by the debtor is not already given out for some other form of loan and is free from all legal hassles.

There are two types of documents included in the mortgage loan. These include mortgage deed and deed of trust. The deed of trust can be described as a legal deed by the borrower to a trustee which is given out at the time of securing the loan. The deed of trust follows no standard and varies from deal to deal. Most of the mortgages are referred as legal deed of trusts officially.

The other way of mortgage is mortgage by demise. In this scenario, the creditor i.e. the lender company becomes the official owner of the property, in case the debtor dies within the repayment period i.e. if the debtor dies before being able to repay the entire loan, the lender company becomes legally entitled to sell the land to recover its costs.