I was going to lead off with a sentence like “apologies for the lack of posting”, but as I recently read in an internet forum, this is the internet. Nobody really cares if you go off for a week, you’re not that special. On the other hand, as blog traffic experts know, slack off on posting good content on a regular basis, and watch your stats plunge deeper than Lady Gaga neckline.
Busy, busy, busy week… painting the inside of the well house a bright orange out at the hacienda (don’t ask me, that’s the Mrs. 101 color wheel at work), getting quotes on roof repairs and new siding (getting ready for those before/after pictures), making new raised beds in the garden, and generally leading the country squire life.
NOT SO GOOD EATS
A couple of food and grocery articles from around the web. First up, Forbes:
No Cheer for Cheerios – General Mills Shares Sink After 3Q Profit Slumps:
Higher commodity costs and Yoplait yogurt acquisition hurt General Mills‘ fiscal third-quarter profit, the company said today.
“Fiscal 2012 has represented a challenging operating environment, with the highest level of commodity inflation that we’ve seen in 30 years,” CEO Ken Powell says in a news release. The food retailer earned $391.5 million, or 55 cents adjusted earnings per share, a 0.2% drop from a year ago.
Its shares fell 0.7% in pre-market trading today to $38.50. For the year General Mills is down 4.1%, behind the broader market.
Further on down the food chain though (pun!), Market Watch reports that Conagra seems to be doing just fine:
Conagra Profits Rose 26% on Higher Prices, Margins
Conagra has seen its revenue grow over the past year, but like many consumer-product companies, its margins have been squeezed by increased costs for raw materials. The maker of Healthy Choice meals, Slim Jim meat snacks and Reddi-wip has raised prices and is working to lower operating costs enough to mitigate the rising input costs.
As some readers may know, I’m a big fan of food-related investments. But I’ve stayed away so far from the bigger names like Kraft, Kellogg and General Mills on the consumer end, and the likes of ADM and Bunge on the input side (not to mention Monsanto, those evil gene manipulators and liberty-infringers). One reason is lack of knowledge, I just haven’t gotten around to delving into them too deeply. The other part is that I’ve already latched onto some smaller, more nimble micro-cap players. Golden Enterprises and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in the portfolio, and Flowers Foods, on the watch list. Perhaps as time allows I may take another look at Kellogg and Kraft.
Now, what’s the difference between General Mills and Conagra? Don’t know, could be management, strategy, hedging, bond issues. Let’s say though, ceter paribus (a snooty lawyerly way of saying ‘all things being equal’), perhaps it’s the marketing budget. Everyone knows that General Mills stands for cereal and packaged food. A ready connection in the consumer mind, but one that needs reinforcing through constant ads. Healthy Choice, Slim Jim *and* Conagra? Not so much.
Meanwhile, Post Holdings (Grape Nuts, Raisin Bran, Shredded Wheat) is sucking mightily with all columns in negative territory, with abysmal ROE and ROA numbers.
We long ago stopped buying brand name cereals, switching instead buy generic store brand cereal. The kids can’t tell the difference. We’re atypical frugal types, though. It seems that as prices go up, more and more of the general population is making the switch to bargain brands.
We know that the Federal Government doesn’t include food and energy when computing inflation, but still… Rising commodity prices, and trillion-dollar-a-year budget deficits for at least the next 10 years. Both are cereal killers.
(I pun with no shame, head held high)
Mike and Molly continue with studio revamping (Part II). The neat thing is that they’re doing it with scrounged materials. Lack of discretionary funds will sharpen make-do abilities.
Dividend Ninja has a good pick in the Canadian energy space. And it pays a good dividend. And it’s making money. Read all about it here: Recent Buy: Husky Energy
I’m keeping my Krugerrands and Maple Leafs well-buried. Financial God: Should You Worry About Gold Confiscation?
JL Collins in NH with a cautionary tale: How I Lost Money In Real Estate Before It was Fashionable – Part 1: Impossibly Naive. The gray hairs of experience and lessons dearly bought… and I count myself in that group.
Ken Faulkenberry over @ AAAMP blog has a long list: 32 Investment Rules And Strategies to Make You A Better Investor” I like rule #12, among others: only invest in what you understand.
Over on the career front, Aloysa @ My Broken Coin has a neat post: Some Jobs Pay More Than You Think. Could you serve high tea to a newly-minted Facebook gazillionaire? We all have our number.
The Other Guy riffs on the Swiss Army knife of retirement plans on Average Joe’s Blog, with The Roth IRA – Playing Games With Tax Brackets
CARNIVALS AND ROUNDUPS
101 Centavos was included in the following carnivals and roundups. Much obliged.
Totally Money Blog Carnival #59, hosted by Sterling Effort
Carnival of Retirement #11 – Saving for Retirement, hosted by Frugal Toad
Carnival of Money Pros #3, hosted by Money Reasons
Financial Carnival For Young Adults – 4th Edition, hosted by 20s Finances
The DQYDJ Weekender, 3/11/12 Edition, hosted by the fine folks at Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Weekend Edition – Alberta Producers Losing 18 Billion per Year, over at Beating The Index. BTI is property of my friend Mich, the indefatigable oil and gas analyst.
That’s it for this week. Next up on the runway, a pictorial on building hugelkultur and other type raised garden beds. That is, if I can figure out how to load pictures on a blog post using the iPad. Either that, or a post on health and wellness.
What’s the reader take on cereals? Buying less with rising prices? Don’t care, just gotta have that Crap’n Crunch?