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January, 2010


Your Life - In honor of Valentine's Day (2/14/10), first we have a link to an article that may help save your heart. People who follow all six of the rules in "Never Have a Heart Attack" have up to a 95% chance of avoiding a myocardial infarction, the leading cause of death in this country. And these rules are fairly straightforward and common sense: get and keep control of your cholesterol; manage blood pressure; do not smoke; maintain low blood sugar; exercise adequately; lose and keep off the extra weight.

Your Vehicle Use - Next we offer a link to a neat website that helps motorists save on the life of their vehicles and the costs of driving. In the "Drive Smarter Challenge" site, folks can learn practical, readily effected steps toward transportation efficiency. Here are a few: eliminate extra junk in the trunk (for the added pounds mean higher fuel expenditures); avoid "lead foot" syndrome (as driving aggressively is costly at both the pump and repair shop); make sure tires are properly inflated (since too little air there makes for more expensive trips); use vacation tools such as GPS devices and customized maps when going into unfamiliar territory (as getting lost and backtracking costs both time and fuel); and hold down the speed (because at much over 60 MPH most cars and trucks consume significantly more gasoline).

Your Grocery Bill - In "Save at the Supermarket" you will find an explanation of 10 tips guaranteed to keep costs down at checkout. For example: use a (mental or actual) calculator as you shop (as a running tally of how much those items are going to cost dampens the urge for impulse buys or stocking up on more than you really need); treat shopping as a vocation (to be done efficiently and cost effectively), not a vacation; avoid special displays of meat products, seafood, or cheeses (since markups there for essentially the same quality products can be 30-40% higher than in the regular bins or cases); go for the store brands when there is a choice (as they have average savings over non-store brands of 20-30%); and go for the cheapest basics and staples (i.e. little difference in quality exists between good pasta in a cooler, that must be kept cold, and good pasta on the room temperature shelf, in a simple box or plastic wrapper, yet the former can be 300-400% higher in price).

Your Medical and Dental Costs - At "Yellow Pages," readers can find better yet cheaper medical, dental, and other professional services available in their areas. This sounds too good to be true, but actually the free-to-users site not only gives business locations and phone numbers but also often does just what it claims via customer reviews. Some can be revealing. For instance, a dental provider near where I live in south Austin is described by more than one person as a rip-off with abundant hassles plus staff rudeness and lengthy delays in obtaining even basic dental care, while another, also close by, is described by several satisfied patients as exceptional, wonderful, professional, and reasonably priced. Guess which one I would go to if I were not already pleased with my current dentist!

Your Nest Egg - In "2010 Stock Selection: Is Free Cash Flow the Way to Go?," an article is presented that features several attractive low price to cash flow securities as well as a fruitful approach to stock selection. Other readers may disagree, but my favorite among the cited equities is Iteris, Inc. (ITI). This is a traffic sensor and management company with a recent per share price of $1.56, below its book value of $1.64. The trailing price to earnings ratio is just 5.78. Debt to equity is only 0.12. Return on equity is above average at 18.39%. The stock has positive operating cash flow and free cash flow. The current ratio is 2.88. These shares have had a price variation over the past 3 months from about $1.40 to around $1.60, but at these levels ITI appears to me to have good medium- to long-term potential, so I would be a buyer of more shares if the price falls in the next several weeks yet the stock retains its good value criteria.


Larry is not a professional. Don't take him seriously!

Actually, the investment article provided here is for general information only and should not be considered as professional advice, a solicitation to buy or sell any security, or the Word of God. Investors are encouraged to do their own research while considering their personal goals and circumstances, or consult their own professional financial advisors, before making investment decisions. Neither Larry nor LARVALBUG will be liable for any losses sustained by any visitor to this site.

(Disclosure statement: Larry and Val have holdings in some of the suggested assets but do not "make a market" in any of them and do not derive any direct benefit from recommending them, except perhaps for a bit of smug self-satisfaction.)

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