Friday, May 14, 2010

Your ETR Insider

Early To Rise Insider
From The Desk of Laura Rodini Volume 1  |  Issue 13   |  May 14, 2010

Dear ETR Insider,

Viva Las Vegas! Jason and I just got back, and we have lots to share with you:

Jason Las Vegas Sign

Like I said in last week's Insider, we got to meet Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos. Tony has a book coming out next month titled Delivering Happiness, two words that pretty much sum up Tony's approach to business.

Zappos is famous for going above and beyond with excellent customer service. Their phone reps will spend hours with a single customer, and their delivery team strives to get their packages into customers' hands as quickly as possible - sometimes the same day the order is placed!

Many of Zappos' customers will attest that receiving their shoes earlier than expected really is like getting "happiness in a box."

They have also promoted themselves as giving just as much attention to their employees as they do their customers. And while we were there it certainly looked like they were doing a good job. There were hand painted murals in the conference rooms, streamers lining the halls, a free employee cafeteria, and lots of social activities. (We were just in time for their Bald and the Beautiful head shaving contest, which benefitted a local charity.) Every person we met on our tour greeted us with a big smile. No wonder Zappos has been named one of the best Fortune 500 companies to work for.

So how did Tony Hsieh make all of this happen at the young age of 35? Jason will have his full interview with Tony in an upcoming issue of Early to Rise. You won't want to miss it.

| Viva Las Money Show |

While we were in town, we checked out the Money Show over at Caesar's Palace. About 6,000 investors had made the trip to hear Frank Holmes, Mark Hulbert, and many others give their take on the markets.

But the people Jason and I were most impressed with were the attendees themselves - a crowd with a real "can-do" attitude. Gone are the days of simply buying a stock and holding it for 10 years. To be a successful investor these days, you have to be up on the news and do your homework.

"I lost $57K in a month and a half on an options trading program," Abraham S. told us - and he vowed never to get taken in again. An insurance broker by profession, he worried that Obamacare would throw his industry into turmoil. So he decided it was time to start an additional income stream. He became a registered CTA (Commodity Trading Advisor), and trades commodities for himself and his friends.

"But I don't want to get up at 4:00 a.m. and watch computer screens all day," Abraham said. "I want to have fun." (That was a common refrain we heard throughout the entire conference.)

Laura & Abraham
Abraham and Me

Many people lost a lot of money in the markets over the last 2 years - and though some of them have made it all back, everyone seems to have a different idea about how they should be investing now.

"Before the financial crisis, people had brokers," Claudia S. told us. "But now they're here to do it themselves. That's because the only people they trust now are themselves."

Al S. said that the most important piece of advice he could give to another investor was to be cautious. "The only way to make money is to control your emotions," he told us.

That's not easy to do, admits independent watchdog Mark Hulbert. He gave a presentation that covered the best performing and worst perfoming financial newsletters during the economic crisis.

"But," he pointed out, "there's no statistical guarantee that any of the top performing newsletters will continue to beat the market."

In fact, he thinks that individual investors may be better off just buying an index fund - even though "few people have the intestinal fortitude to stick with an index fund during a bear market."

That was an interesting thing for Hulbert to say. After all, his own newsletter is all about monitoring past performance.

I do think independent watchdogs like Hulbert provide a valuable service to individual investors. Sure, no one has a crystal ball to know who will be on top from year to year. But by monitoring stock picking track records, Hulbert can help investors see past the big personalities and follow recommendations that have the best odds for success.

Our editors haven't been around long enough yet to be Hulbert's watch list. But when they are, we know they will go right to the top.

Just this past week Ted Peroulakis took 100% gains in Euro puts in his Options Power Trader portfolio. That's the 5th time this year!

Rusty McDougal is sitting on 6 doublers (100 percent winners) in his Resource Windfall Speculator. These were resource companies Rusty recommended in the past 16 months alone.

Out of over 100 total recommendations in Steve's Bond Trader portfolio, he has had only two losing recommendations, and small ones at that.

Andy Gordon's Sound Profits open portfolio has 15 winners out of 19 open positions, with an excellent average return of 20%. So you can see why I'm proud.

In this month's just-published Sound Profits issue, which was just mailed to our subscribers,   Andy Gordon uncovers a Russian telecom company that's about to take off. It's already a big name in its industry, and it just bought Russia's biggest seller of fixed-line voice, high-speed Internet, and pay-TV services. This single move alone will give our company an extra $2 billion worth of sales this year and places it light years ahead of the competition.  For all of the details, click here.

| Viva Free Markets |

The Money Show is not just a vehicle for promoting financial newsletters and other such products and services. A surprising number of small and well-known companies send their PR people to talk up their stocks as attractive investments.

For example, Jason and I headed to a panel on Brazilian companies, with representatives from Petrobras (an energy company), Vale (a mining company), and Banco de Santander (a global banking giant).

At first, it was pretty much what we expected. The PR people went through their slideshows on corporate cash flow and profitability, and encouraged people in the audience to invest in their companies. One rep mentioned that they try to make investor relations "fun" by sponsoring photo contests on their website.

"Well, what I'd really think would be fun, "a white-haired man shouted from the back of the room, "would be for you to tell me why I lost $10,000 on my investment since the beginning of the year!"

Poor guy. We hear these comments all of the time. People buy quality stocks and then worry when they go down, even a little.

By the tone of his voice, $10,000 seemed like a sizeable chunk of his overall portfolio, which is never a good idea to put into one company in the first place.

At Investor's Daily Edge we have a four-part approach to investing that lets us sleep well at night.

1) Invest only in quality companies, often which pay dividends

2) Use 25% trailing stops to protect your investment. This lets you make an unlimited upside while providing protection against a serious downside

3) Buy & hold doesn't work anymore – and we have a strategy that lets us ride big trends and recommend "taking profits" before the run is over  

4) Don't allocate more than 5% of your portfolio to speculation.

For more information on Sound Profits, click here. It could be one of the smartest investment decisions you make this year.

| Viva In-N-Out Burger |

One more thing before I sign off this week…

I wouldn't say that I'm a "foodie." I like good food that's not too expensive - be it fish or fowl. Or cheeseburgers.

Based on that, Tony Hsieh recommended that we check out the local In-N-Out Burger.

I'd heard good things about the In-N-Out chain before, but living on the East Coast, I had never been to one. Tony said not only do they have great burgers, he believes they represent one of the best models for corporate success: They "stick to what they know" by offering only a few menu items, they do an excellent job of making them, and they provide great customer service.

The best marketing I've tasted in years

West Coast, I'm jealous. Send me your thoughts on In-N-Out Burger, or your other favorite places to eat! I love hearing from you.

Until next week,

Laura Sig

Laura Rodini
COO, Early to Rise

PS: Last week Ted Pedroulakis recommended that his "Breakfast Cub" subscribers buy puts on the Euro. The result? A 100% gain in just two days. Now Ted is eyeing other opportunities. To find out more about the Breakfast Club, click here.

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