January Home Sales Dip, American Railcar Industries Jumps Again

Disney ends as the best performer in the Dow, Tile Shop Holdings rallies 13% on earnings.

Feb 21, 2014 at 6:00PM

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Stocks finished off the shortened week of trading with a whimper on Friday, as mediocre housing data failed to either impress or depress investors. Existing home sales fell 5.1% in January from last January, though median home prices rose more than 10% in the same period. The sales slump was roughly in line with expectations, and the months ahead should give a better idea about whether weather played a role in the falling sales. An uninspired Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) fell 29 points, or 0.2%, to end at 16,103. 

The services sector was the second best-performing sector in the stock market today. Entertainment behemoth Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) finished as the Dow's top performer, adding 1.2%. With ABC, Disney, and ESPN all under its belt, the company makes more in TV distribution fees than any other company in the world. If "cord-cutting" -- the tendency of consumers to stop paying for cable in favor of online content – catches on, Disney's distribution fees will likely take a hit. This is why the forward-looking Disney has teamed closely with Netflix to distribute its content in the age of streaming. 

Shares of American Railcar Industries (NASDAQ:ARII), which makes, sells, and leases railcars, jumped 9.1% on Friday, just a day after the stock rallied more than 14% on the heels of a robust earnings report. The $1.3 billion American Railcar Industries is a direct beneficiary of the domestic energy boom, as demand for the transportation of oil and gas rises with energy production. The rail industry represents an interesting derivative play on America's energy renaissance, and American Railcar shareholders are sitting pretty right now; margins are rising, and the board approved a 60% dividend increase only two days ago. 

Lastly, shares of Tile Shop Holdings, (NASDAQ:TTS), a specialty tile retailer, surged 13.9% on Friday. Not surprisingly, this pop was also sparked by a strong earnings report. That all-important metric for any retailer, same-store sales, edged up more than 10% in the fourth quarter, and was up 12.4% in 2013 as a whole. Retailers can only boost revenue by opening more stores or increasing their sales at existing stores, so Tile Shop currently has half of that equation figured out. Incidentally, it has the other half figured out, too, growing its store base by 30% in 2013; now, all it needs to do is turn consistently profitable!

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John Divine has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.

The Motley Fool recommends Netflix, Tile Shop Holdings, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix, Tile Shop Holdings, and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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