Dividend Champion Stocks – October 2014

Back in early October, around when I was creating the tables for this post, the market was in the middle of an extended slide that had begun in the beginning of September, and had taken the market down 10% with no bottom in sight:1-Fullscreen capture 10232014 53004 PM

Recall S&P 500 is large cap (TSP C Fund), W4500 is small cap (TSP S Fund), and EFA is international stocks (TSP I Fund).  Charts from Google Finance.

Not a very easy time to think about or write about buying stocks is it.  I had thought about just posting my charts up and saying something to the effect of “waiting for an end to the decline before I consider buying again.”  But I ran out of time (per usual) and left for vacation.  Well apparently the market liked being ignored by me, because when I got back, this is what I found:1-Fullscreen capture 10232014 53253 PM

Quite the turnaround, no?  Let’s take a look and see where this puts us for the year:1-Fullscreen capture 10232014 51714 PMUp to this point, the large caps are back up 5%, the small caps back to even, and the international stocks are still way under-performing at about 7.5% down.  None of this should come as a surprise…as the action on the first few days of the year suggested that the most probably outcome for this year would be a small gain or loss, and NOT a repeat of 2013.  Of course, there is still 2.5 months this year, and a lot can happen in that time.

Personally, I still have 1 Roth worth of purchases to make in this calendar year (while technically, you can contribute up till April 15th, it’s much simpler tax-wize if you keep it within the year), so I will be pointing out the stocks on the following charts that are on my radar to buy.  Recall, my current plan is to make purchases in $1,000 amounts, or $500 amounts on top of existing positions up to $1,000.  With $5,500 allowed per year, we could be looking at anywhere from 6 stocks to 7 or 8, depending on how many current position we increase.  As an aside, the IRS is raising the 401k limit next year to $18,000 from $17,500…the IRA limits remain the same.

Champions (25 or more years of annual dividend growth)

Picture1Recall purple stocks are ones we already own

You could pretty much consider every stock in this table to be a good long term buy, but for the immediate future we’re looking at buying:

  1. WAG (increase to existing)
  2. AFL
  3. CVX (increase to existing)
  4. XOM (increase to existing)
  5. MCD (increase to existing)

In the above cases, the stocks we already own, have gone down over the past months, meaning they are an even stronger buy than when we bought them initially.  That’s OK.  We’ll buy them cheaper now, and pick the others on this table up when prices are more advantageous.

Contenders (10-24 Years or more of annual dividend growth)

Picture2Stocks on our horizon to buy:

  1. CBRL
  2. COP (increase to existing)
  3. MSFT
  4. CAT

Challengers (5-9 Years or more of annual dividend growth)

Picture3Stocks we’re looking to buy:

  1. MAT

A few not in the above charts:

There are a few stocks we’re looking at that don’t make the above charts due to not enough dividend growth history.  They are:

  1. BP
  2. UL
  3. V

I know this post has been light on words an information, but with the time I have I figured the charts are better with few words than not at all.  I am thinking of moving to a quarterly update with more in-depth analysis for 2015, with more frequent posts about individual stocks (or two) or general market analysis.  We’ll see.  Stay tuned to see what we buy.

Ravens Game Day 6 Pack (Week 7) – Tröegs Perpetual IPA

Welcome to the Ravens Game Day 6 Pack series, where we will try to highlight some unique/different/fun beers available right now to try and enjoy while watching the Ravens.  Or Orioles, or Terps.  Why you’d want to watch anything else…I don’t know?

Previous weeks posts:

Week 1 – Troegs Hop Knife

Week 2 – Stone Enjoy by IPA (Follow Up)

Week 3 – Goose Island Sofie

Week 4 – Saucony Creek Kutztown Lager

Week 5 – BYE (I had a migraine…)

Week 6 – Schlafly Pumpkin Ale


The week one seasonal harvest ale from Tröegs was so good, when I saw this in the store I picked it up without hesitation.  Let’s take a look at the information provided by the brewery:

Download (PDF, 1.06MB)

The first question that comes to mind when I read that is “what is a hopback?”  Well here you go.  Basically, it’s a process where a separate tank with a “hop filter” is used to separate out smaller hops in the hot wort (the alternative and more popular/easier method being centrifugal separation).  So basically, it separates out the hop particles from the liquid, and ads more hop flavor while doing it?  HOPS FTW!

This IPA gets reviewed well, with a 91 on BeerAdvocate and a 98 on RateBeer.  But everyone seems to be in love with IPAs these days, and I’m a bit more picky.

I’m writing this from a hotel, so I’ll spare you the plastic cup picture.  Needless to say, the appearance is pretty much like most pilsners you’ve ever had.  Golden in color, clear, with a modest white head made up of homogenous, small to medium size bubbles.  Nothing to get excited about in terms of appearance.  However…

Even while pouring, you can’t help but smell the hops.  There’s no way you’ll mistake this for a pilsner for long.  I get mostly pine and floral, with a lot of sweetness in the aroma, though many others include citrus and random tropical aromas in there as well.  It smells good.  Too good to sit around and analyze the smell of…image

The taste adds two things to the aroma in my mind: citrus flavor and bitterness.  A lot of bitterness.  I’m getting less of the floral hops and more of the pine and citrus.  I’m getting a bit of metallic flavor.  I’m tasting bitter up front, and in the aftertaste. Behind everything is a subtle grainy base similar to what you would get with a pilsner, but with a bit more sweetness mixed in.  The overall flavor is lighter in every way than I expected, and I don’t see that as a bad thing.  I wouldn’t be ready for a stronger presentation with this much hop flavor and bitterness (though undoubtedly, many would love it).

I am enjoying this, and I am in general enjoying IPAs more and more as I try to understand and appreciate their unique flavors.  That said, this would have been past the “too funky” line for me a year ago for sure.  It’s saving grace for me is the lack of “funk build-up.”  I’m sure they are right when they (they being the brewer) recommend this with spicy food, as the flavor can certainly hold up too it.  Still, I don’t want to drink any beverage that is so strong it dulls my taste buds to everything else, leaving me tasting only that.  This doesn’t.  I should mention that I am drinking this very cold, counter to the recommendation of 55 degrees.  I’m sure there are more hop flavors at that temperature, and I’m sure commenters on reddit would ridicule me to no end for drinking it this cold, but whatever, wouldn’t be the first time.  Maybe I’ll let one warm up a while.  Maybe.

It’s hard for me to say exactly why, but I enjoyed the Hop Knife a bit more.  Surprisingly, it gets the exact same ratings as this on on both sites, a 91 and a 98.  Weird.

So there you have it.  I’m a day late, but not a beer short.  If you like IPAs, I’m pretty sure you’ll be a fan of this.  And it comes in cans, which adds +1 to the ratings for just being awesome.


Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale Review

You can see from the 2014 Pumpkin Season Intro post that we’ve got a wide selection of pumpkin brews for this year.  In order to review a decent amount of them, we’ll be doing several different post formats, including full reviews, Throwdowns, and Thirsty Thought posts.

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery Pumpkin Ale

The bottle advertises this as “America’s Original,” and I can attest to the fact that this has been available for as long as I can remember (while most other brands have only started seeing widespread availability in the last 5 years).  Having said that, I don’t think I remember ever having anything else by Buffalo Bill’s, or can I remember hearing anyone talk about it either…not a good sign.  To make matters worse, the reivews on this one aren’t good, coming in at a 33 and a 68 on RateBeer and BeerAdvocate (quite a difference, no?).  But mass reviews aren’t everything, and this wouldn’t be the first time I thought something was worthy of a better score than the reviewing public did.  Let’s see for ourselves what the “Original Pumpkin Ale” is all about.

1-DSC_0193From the Brewer:

An amber style ale, originally brewed by George Washington, brewed with fresh roasted pumpkins, malted barley. Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are added. Bottled form is brewed under contract by Portland Brewing Co.

Appearance – 3

This looks like a typical pumpkin ale.  Color is deep orange-brown.  Carbonation looks to be on the light side, as almost no head was present even immediately following the pour.  A very small amount of small bubbles rises from the bottom of the glass.  Tilting the glass leaves a wall of foam, which slowly recedes down with no lacing left behind.2-DSC_0196

Aroma – 3.5

The first thing I notice is a good pumpkin smell.  The second is a dark molasses sweetness.  This is backed by lighter quantities of spice, which are honestly hard to identify for me, though I’d say they swing closer to the nutmeg and clove end than the Cinnamon end.  This does have the savory feel that I enjoy in Pumpkin Ales (I enjoy the sweet ones too), but that doesn’t always carry over to the taste.  So far- nothing to fault this beer, or justify it’s low ratings.

1-DSC_0191Taste – 4

The taste clears things up a bit for me. The flavors listed above are there, but not in the intensity that they should be.  I can’t help but think of this a too watery, both in flavor and in palate.  The pumpkin flavor, molasses sweetness, and spice blend are honestly not that far off- I don’t have issue with the flavors that are there…there just aren’t enough of them.

Palate – 1

This is where this beer really falls short for me.  It’s just too watery.  Combine that with very low carbonation, and this just reminds too much of flat soda…not good.  There’s something about drinking a beer with zero head and very low carb…it just doesn’t feel like your drinking a beer.  A few people recommended this as a “sessionable” pumpkin ale, probably due to the lightness of flavor, but I disagree.  I want my pumpkin ales to pack a flavor punch, not to provide refreshment in large quantities- a big reason why I don’t prefer them until cooler weather hits.

Overall -

It may have been the original, but it is far from the best.  In fact, it falls to the bottom of the (mental) list of pumpkin beers I’ve had.  This one is widely available in stores, but I’d recommend giving it a pass…there are soo many other options out there.  As an aside, the 2.3 score equates to a 46 out of 100, which puts it right between the two scores on RB and BA.

Score (Out of 5) – 2.3