November 29, 2017

Never a dull moment… Wednesday was another interesting day in the markets. The S&P 500 was about unchanged and Toronto was down 0.4%. But there were certainly some stocks with bigger moves.

FedEx was up 3.4%. Costco was up 2.2%. Wells Fargo and Bank of America were each up over 2%.

Visa was down 3.1% and Constellation Software was down 3.1% and Amazon was down 2.7%.

Toll Brothers was up 1.2% and has finally gotten back over the $50 level for the first time since it briefly got that high in a needle peak back in 2005. With new home construction in the U.S. at the highest level since the financial crisis and with home prices rising, and given general optimism, Toll Brothers could certainly continue to rise. Still, with over 10% of my portfolio in this company, I decided to trim my position modestly today.


ATTENTION budding stock analysts:

If there is anyone living close to St. Albert who is interested in learning more about value investing analysis and perhaps even doing some analysis for InvestorsFriend, I would be interested in hearing from you at You would need to have relevant financial / accounting education and ideally already have some knowledge of investment analysis. Unfortunately, I need to restrict this to someone living nearby.


On November 26 I emailed an article about the valuation of the S&P 500 to those on the list for my free newsletter. Today, I sent my thoughts about Bitcoin. If you did not receive those click the “Free Newsletter” menu item at the top of this page and enter your email address on the list. The system will indicate if your email is already on the list.


I was checking fees to transfer money from Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars today. I have no plans to transfer money but was just interested in the fees. Here is what I found:

TD Direct would charge me 1.54% to transfer $10,000 Canadian. So about $154.

Alternatively, I could use the Norbert Gambit buying 782 DLR.u at the $12.78 ask price for Canadian $9,994 and then having that journaled to the U.S. side of my account and selling at the $9.94 bid. This would yield U.S. $7,773. That would actually be (strangely enough) only $2 less than the wholesale exchange rate that Yahoo was showing at that time. There would be a $10 fee to buy the DLR.u and a $43 fee for selling the DLR early before the settlement date. And the $43 might be in U.S. dollars. So, it would appear that the cost here would be just under $70 or 70 basis points and considerably cheaper than just doing the regular transfer described above,

Another option (not applicable to registered accounts) would be to go through a currency exchange firm. I used Knightsbridge foreign exchange inc. recently to make a payment in Australian dollars.  For $10,000 Canadian going to U.S. dollars, Knightsbridge quoted me a rate that worked out to a fee of $47 U.S. or about Canadian $61 so 61 basis points. I would have to wire the money to Knightsbridge which would cost me $30 and a trip to the bank branch. So this would be cheaper than straight TD online transfer but is a lot more inconvenient.

It appears to me that the Norbert Gambit with DLR.u and DLR is very cost effective. The precise cost could vary depending on the bid/ask spread on these units but in general this looks like a good approach. Due to trade fees this probably only makes sense for transfers of more than about $5000.

The Knightsbridge approach might be best when transferring money that is not in an investment account and so where DLR can not be used. Also I will use Knightsbridge again when making any large payments in Australian dollars.