4 Dates to Circle in May

From earnings to a big streaming deal, here are things to watch for this month.

May 1, 2014 at 7:15PM

The first four months of 2014 have been bumpy for investors, especially for growth-stock investors who have seen many of last year's market darlings correct sharply in recent weeks. We can't look back at this point. It's time to look forward at what the new month will bring. Don't let the "sell in May and go away" worrywarts get you down this time of year. There are opportunities to be had.

From a major streaming deal going live that could change the landscape of online television to a struggling retailer posting an important quarter's performance, let's start looking ahead to some of the events that will unfold this month.

May 3
This is that one weekend when all eyes turn to Omaha. It's the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting at the CenturyLink Center. There will be hours of Q&A and great deals on products from Berkshire Hathaway companies. More importantly, there will be the opportunity to hear Warren Buffett speak.

The most successful investor of our time is now 83 years old, and his business partner, Charlie Munger, will also take the stage. Every Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting is a festive affair, but there's always the matter of how things will be once Buffett and Munger move on.

May 7
Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) revved up the typically ho-hum automotive market with its pricey Model S sedans that run on electricity. Drivers have been hesitant to give up gas-guzzlers, but Tesla's been making waves to tackle "range anxiety" by building out charging networks across the country, making plug-in vehicles cool along the way.

Tesla reports earnings next week. Analysts see another profitable quarter with a 25% uptick in sales. The real story will likely be Tesla's outlook. Is production continuing to ramp up? Is it still on track to begin rolling out its Model X by the end of this year? We'll know more on Wednesday.

May 21
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) has been trying to set its video streaming platform apart from the niche leader, but apparently Downton Abbey, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and a modest slate of original content hasn't been enough. That could change in three weeks when Amazon becomes the streaming home for a lot of the valuable HBO content. You won't find Game of Thrones there, but entire runs of The SopranosThe WireSix Feet Under, and other classics are a good start. Older seasons from current shows will also be made available.

The HBO content will begin streaming at no additional cost to Amazon Prime loyalty shoppers through Prime Instant Video starting May 21. It's going to be a game changer, and it may well trigger a spike in Amazon's new Fire TV set-top media player.

May 22
Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) was one of last year's hottest stocks, but it's been a big laggard in 2014. The stock has shed 35% of its value this year after soaring 237% in 2013. The stock was popular as a turnaround story last year, but now we're seeing how difficult it is to actually turn around. Sales, comps, and adjusted earnings and operating margins all declined during the holiday quarter, and there isn't a lot to get excited about as we gear up for its fiscal first quarter on the morning of May 22.

Analysts see another slight dip in sales and a larger decline in profitability. Best Buy is certainly holding up better than naysayers who predicted that it would follow Circuit City and Borders into the retail superstore obituaries, but it still needs to start taking steps in the right direction.

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Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Berkshire Hathaway, and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Berkshire Hathaway, and Tesla Motors. 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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