Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Idle Chatter On The Market -- UNP, Specifically -- July 11, 2017

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I started investing in 1984 or thereabouts. One of my fondest investments was BNSF (BNI at the time). I have no idea how well I did or how badly I did. But it seemed like a great investment for a number of reasons and I loved investing in BNSF/BNI. Then Warren Buffett bought BNI.

Some years later I started investing in UNP as a replacement for BNI. UNP is another holding that I "enjoy" having in my portfolio. I don't know if it's a great holding or not, but it seems to be doing okay.

I bought more shares yesterday. I see the Dow dropped about a 100 points this morning (sort of a "flash crash") before it recovered a bit. I was curious how UNP did. Currently it is off 0.36%. A third of a percent. 4 cents on a $100 stock.

Out of curiosity I looked at the UNP share price over the past  year. This is quite remarkable:
  • recent low, November 1, 2016, just before the election when all the polls showed Hillary winning, one could have bought UNP at $87
  • by November 16, 2016, just after Donald Trump elected president, UNP at $100
  • since then the high, I believe, has been about $113 -- that's 13% greater than $100
So, we'll see.

I'll never see the money. My investments all go into portfolios that will be passed on to the daughters and granddaughters. I don't know if I will hold UNP "forever." I may sell it tomorrow. I doubt I will buy more simply because I am "over-weighted" in UNP now, as they say on Wall Street.

I sort of like regional monopolies with huge moats.

Flathead Lake

It's going to take awhile to readjust to living in an urban area again after returning from a week at Lakeside, Montana. I had not been to Flathead Lake for twenty years. It's possible I had been there more recently but I do not recall.

It was a sort of mini-family reunion at the lakeside home our father/mother built back in 1979 during a recession, if not nationally, at least regionally. There is a very limited amount of land available for development on the lake. Dad got "in" early, and he has one of the best lots on the lake. The only ones better are the lots that actually extend to the lake. "Our" house is on a lot that has a small, community grassy area in front of it, and then the lake. The view of the Mission Mountains and the Swan Range is incredible.  

There were eight of us out there, all adults, but extending across several generations, from 30-year-old millenials to 65-year-old baby boomers like me.

We subscribed to "vacation" internet. CenturyLink provides internet service on a seasonal basis. We had internet/wi-fi but no television. Looking back, it is interesting that not one person of the eight ever even mentioned television. I take that back: one day we did manage to lift the 8-ton 1950's style television on to the back of the pickup trick to take out to the dump. As far as I know, the set had not been plugged in for years.

Only three of us had laptop computers -- only the men had laptop computers. We were on them for a short time in the morning, and then a very, very short time in the late evening. I was probably on the computer the most, simply because of the blog.

The women, five of them, did not have a laptop among them. One of them did not even have a smart phone or any other mobile device. The others each had a smart phone except for one who had a wi-fi only iPod.

It was incredibly peaceful not having television.

I have a maximum of ten years left of enjoying Flathead Lake. My plans are to go out there at least three times a year -- this year it will only be twice.

If I did not have the responsibility of the granddaughters, I would move out there "permanently." It would be my primary home, but I would spend a significant amount of time in Texas, especially during the winter. It's very possible five years from now when two of the three granddaughters are either in college or high school, and there's only Sophia, I may start extending my stays on the lake.

It's unnerving how addicted I am to the television (when it's available) and how little I miss it when it's not available.


  1. It's amazing how one (Me) will see a TV on and sit down to watch it. Must be a Pavlov's dog kinda thing. But like you if it's not on, I dont miss it. I am about ready to cancel our Dish network for good since our new "Smart" TV connects to 6 or 7 other networks ie: Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, etc.
    Moved to Montana 6 years ago and have not regretted it for a minute.
    Have not gotten over to Flathead for the fishing yet, but before I die...

    1. My son-in-law has done the same thing --- cutting the cable. I would; my wife won't let me.

      With regard to Montana, you are channeling my dream...

  2. A thought or two on your observation that "I'll never see the money. My investments all go into portfolios that will be passed on to the daughters and granddaughters. "

    It took me a long time (I'm now 75) to realize that once a person has more income (and/or net worth) then they will need to enjoy life (and provide for contingencies) for the rest of their days, the excess is really not theirs! One is simply the 'babysitter' of some one else's future wealth!

    What really happens is that we worry, fuss, and try to make the best possible investment decisions, all for the benefit of our heirs, a charity or two, or the government! In the mean time, the ultimate beneficiaries of one's efforts just have to relax and watch the "deluded owner" strive to improve their lot.

    Once I accepted this reality, it became a lot easier to make major gifts to heirs and watch them learn how to invest and worry....

    But what do I know??? Bupkis!

    1. That is interesting. I saw that phenomenon in my dad and now myself. My dad was incredibly generous with "gifting" and I have started to do the same thing. I would rather my heirs see their inheritance at an age when they could really use it, not when they, too, are past their prime.