Wow 2011 was a long year. Up until May I was deployed to Kuwait where I spent 2 years. I took leave in February to Thailand, it was my third visit to that wonderful country. If my early retirement doesn't turn out as planned, I would consider living in Thailand, it's awesome there! Then May finally came and I got to come back home. I took all my leaves to Thailand so at that point I hadn't been on U.S. soil in two longggg years. But returning home was awesome, I have so much perspective on how great our country is. The kind of thing you can only appreciate after being gone so long, and stuck in a terrible part of the world. The Middle East is horrible, I'm in no hurry to go back.
Americans have no idea how spoiled we are. Seriously no idea. It disgusts me sometimes.
Upon returning to the states I spent 10 days with my family and I bought a car. Paid for it with cash. I loaded up my new wheels and drove to North Carolina where I'm now stationed. I found out N.C. is dang hot in the summer, almost as hot as Kuwait.
I had a fantastic year of investing. Dividend growth investing has worked like a charm so far. Much better than mutual funds and indexing. Until rates start to increase I'll stay as far away from bonds as I can. The 10 year treasury currently pays under 2%, what a joke. I'd like to diversify into bonds, but it would be de-worse-ify at this point.
I had some great picks last year. It makes me happy and sad at the same time. It's nice to get some price appreciation (it's not my goal), but it's sad to see prices skyrocket because I want to buy more.
A lot of my picks have gone up substantially and I wouldn't buy them right now. ABT (20.04%), CVX (24.43%), EIFZF (28.04%), INTC (24.74%), LTC (22.84%), PM (22.27%). Some have gone down. BWP is down 6.30% and I took a small loss (2.6%) when I sold CIZN. Overall it's pretty amazing that 19/20 stocks in my portfolio are up. I don't claim to be a genius though, the DOW is over 12,000.
The best luck of 2011 was HGIC getting bought out. Before news of the deal, HGIC was getting murdered. I think my position was down 20-25%.
My biggest regret of the year is missing out on MCD. It was in the $75-80 range when I wanted to buy it, but didn't have funds at the time. Now it's around $100. I also missed WMT under 50, whoops.
Looking ahead Philip Morris Intl. is my favorite stock. I can tell you first hand people smoke Marlboros in Thailand and Kuwait. I should have paid more attention when I was in Qatar, but I think I saw them there too. In fact when I was smoking an off brand cigarette in Thailand a waitress looked at me funny and asked why I wasn't smoking Marlboro. It's a status symbol around the world, they can charge a premium price (even in poor countries like Thailand). I foresee PM becoming a dividend monster. I want to make it my largest holding and will be buying more on dips. So far I got in at 62 and 66, I might have to revise my acceptable entry price because the stock has taken off. Oh and they increased the dividend by 20% last year and have been destroying earnings estimates lately.