Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sun Life and Manulife Cut DRiP Fees

Last week, Sun Life Financial and Manulife Financial both announced that they were cutting fees on the dividend reinvestment and share purchase plan (DRiP/SPP). That is good news for Canadian DRiP investors, as these two companies used to have the highest fee structure in Canada -- so high that it was actually cheaper to use discount brokers to purchase shares.

The fees on dividend reinvestment and on additional purchases were completely eliminated, bringing these plans to par with Canadian banks that offer DRiP/SPPs.

Both companies also announced discounts on reinvested dividends (2% for SUnlife, 3% for Manulife).

These moves will the companies preserve (reinvestment discount) and raise additional capital at a relatively low cost (no fees on purchases). By now, this is a familiar song for investors in these days of the recession.

I have already made arrangements to add both companies to my DRiP portfolio. Only time will tell if these plans remain intact once the recession is over.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Reduced Harvest Energy... Too Soon

On Monday, I sold some 400 units of Harvest Energy Trust (Toronto: HTE-UN) at $6.70 within my RRSP account.

These were the units I purchased in early March, when I believed the market was pricing in a bigger cut to the distributions that I expected. Turned out I was wrong and the market was right, so the price kept going lower after I purchased. I decided to keep those units for a little while anyway, figuring they would trade within a range as long as the price of oil remained at $35-$45.

The price of oil rose quite a bit recently, and the price of Harvest followed. Since I was way overweight in that company, I decided to sell those additional units purchased in March, to take advantage of that rise (which I believe is temporary).

Turns out I pulled the trigger too early, because the price has kept climbing for the last two days, and will probably rise again today. So with hindsight it looks like I purchased too soon, and sold too soon.

I'm still turning a small profit on those units, but it would have been much larger had I waited three more days. However, since I still have a decent position in the company it doesn't hurt too much. I haven't lost any money, after all. And that was the point of not going for an all-out sale -- being able to participate if the stock kept going higher.

This freed up some cash that I'll be able to deploy elsewhere when the current bout of optimism falters and stumble. The market has just been distracted by the swine flu from the state of the economy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

PepsiCo Increases Dividends

PepsiCo, the maker of soft drinks, fruit juice, snacks and other foods, has announced an increase of its quarterly dividend from $0.425 to $0.45, a 5.9% raise.

I own some shares of Pepsi in my RRSP account, so that's good news for me. At the current prices, it might even be interesting to buy some more shares. This increase will bring the dividend ratio to 3.6%, which is on the high side comparing it to the 1.9% average of the last 5 years.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Net Worth Update

As of May 1st, my net worth was $76 057 (up 10% from $69 093). If I exclude house-related assets and liabilities, my net worth is $49 057 (up 11% from $44 188).

That's an amazing rebound of my net worth, bringing me back to par with my highest net worth reached last September (before the financial crisis that led to the current recession). About $2K of this was due to an increase in my house's value, but another $3.7K was due to the markets rebounding. The rest was debt reduction financed from my salary.

Assets ($140 259, up 4.4% from $134 358)
  • Bank Accounts $4 038 (up 6.6% from $3 789)
  • Emergency Funds $3 007 (up 0.6% from $2 990)
  • RRSP Accounts $32 751 (up 9% from $30 018)
  • Non-Registered Investments $12 290 (up 8.2% from $11 355)
  • Home $88 050 (up 2.3% from $86 100)

Liabilities ($64 202, down 1.6% from $65 265)

  • Credit Cards $3 034 (up 2% from $2 964)
  • Mortgage $61 050 (down 0.2% from $54 867+$6 328)
  • Line of Credit $0 (down 100% from $1 000)

My line of credit is now completely paid off, and the Heat Pump loan was combined with the mortgage (thus the two amounts added together). Spending remained reasonable, as showned by the fairly stable amount on my credit cards.

In May I will have some fairly large payments to be made for the house. The second half of this year's municipal taxes (about $1K), as well as another payment for the replaced windows (another $1K). We will also begin improving our back yard, so I expect more expenses there. So I expect lower liquidities at the end of the month, and possibly a lower net worth as well.