April, 2004: 30
Disclaimer - IMPORTANT - Read this first!
Investor's Journal is a diary focused strictly on investments and personal finance issues, primarily from a contrarian and retiree point of view. Follow along with an average guy's failures and successes as he learns, by trial and error, the fine art of value investing.

4/30/04-In recent weeks the major market averages have taken a significant hit, most now trading below their 50-week trend lines. Both our nest egg as a whole and the Essential Value Portfolio (EVP) have been modestly down in this period as well.

As of the close of business today, the nest egg's net asset value stood at $645,000, still up $7300 (1.1%) for the year (that is, since 12/31/03). In the same interval the S & P 500 Index is down .5%. During this time too, beyond our normal expenses, (averaging $2500 a month over our usual income), I've purchased a nice car for cash. If those excess expenses over income, a drag on portfolio performance, were included, the nest egg's 2004 total return thus far would be +4.5%, or 5% better than the S & P 500.

Meanwhile, thus far in 2004 the EVP is up 6.7%. Since its 8/18/03 inception $53,970 has been invested in that portfolio. As of the close of business 4/30/04, the EVP cash reserves were $11,666 and the market value of the portfolio equities was $48,458, for a combined sum of $60,124 and a total return since inception of +11.4%. (The S & P 500 since 8/18/03 is up 10.7%.)

Rather than following a separate, accelerating target for the ESP, I've decided to keep things simple and just assure that its current total remains at about 10% of the overall nest egg's net asset value, as is currently the case.

An interesting recent new purchase for the retirement nest egg as a whole was Isramco, Inc. (ISRL), $6.74, which has a price to book value of just 0.61, a P/E of only 7, and a debt to equity ratio of 0.0, based on free online information available for the company as of 4/30/04. There is no current dividend. ISRL's recent ratios make it a traditional Benjamin Graham value asset.

Other equities of special current interest include: ALD, MRK, SBC, RD, BP, CVX, SC, ED, and MGEE. All appear to have above average financial strength plus superior dividends. I see them as alternatives to bonds (risky in a rising interest rate environment), providing good income plus hedges against inflation.

Disclaimer and Disclosure Statement
Much as I'd love it to be otherwise, I receive no payment of any kind for disseminating investment information unless, by some fluke, millions of folks, on the strength of these entries, start buying shares of stock I own, a possibility only slightly less likely than our being destroyed by a large meteorite. Do not follow any suggestions made in Investor's Journal as if I were a professional.

Neither I nor Investor's Journal will be responsible for losses by anyone who obtained ideas from this site.

This diary is intended for personal interest and general information only. You are advised to do your own research (as well as to consult highly compensated professionals) before spending money on anything.

I know of no reason anyone should take my financial musings seriously. At best I am a dedicated amateur providing a bit of investment-related insight and entertainment, at worst an amusing diversion.

My wife, Fran, and I may at times own shares of some of the assets mentioned here. But neither of us receive any benefit from reference to them, unless you count the mutual misery when we get it wrong, or the opportunity to gloat when we get it right.

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