January 4, 2012

I hope you had a good holiday (Christmas, Hanukkah, Saturnalia, Bodhi Day, the Winter Solstice, Eid Al-Adha, etc.) and have a great New Year. As I get older it is amazing to see how fast a year can go by. This year was no different with the passing of really good people; Steve Jobs and not so good Kim Jong-il.  Computer applications like “Angry Birds” have been downloaded 500 million times and it is estimated to have over 1 million hours played on it a day. I’m told it is fun and addicting.  If you decide to download the Angry Birds let me know what you think.  We live in an interesting and rapidly changing time.

The investing market is also no different. People with well thought out ideas and investment plans sometimes worked out (i.e. buying utilities cheaply that paid big dividends) while other ideas may not have worked out so well (i.e. purchasing stock in gold mining companies), with the utilities up about 13% as a group, and some of the mining companies down 30% to 50%. I should comment that the mining companies are now discounted to the point that the spread between the price of gold $1500.00+-/ounce vs. the cost to mine around $600/ounce may make them attractive. I’m pleased we bought the utilities and glad we didn’t buy the mining companies. The economy is slowly digging its way back to health; however the pace is very slow and has had setbacks. If the Euro situation can be fixed, I think the markets will be elated. Per my last letter, I think we will continue to climb the “wall of worry” but we will climb. When the EU has its event (I still have no idea how it will look) the markets will drop and we will have “creative destruction.” I had children either working or going to school in Asia so I thought a business trip to see what all was going on over there was in order. I really had my eyes opened as to how big and vibrant it is. Singapore is growing and is a great place to invest. Vietnam is 5 to 10 years behind and moving forward fast. It also has a lot of investing potential. India is so complicated I don’t have the time or space to describe it. Needless to say I believe there are lots of places to make money besides here. We will continue to do our homework and try to stay on top of the things that affect all our accounts.

I wanted to mention a few little housekeeping items before ending. Enclosed is our “Privacy Notice” as you should be aware we only give your information to those who need it to transact our business or who you direct us to. We do not sell or give any of your information to anyone. We have also rehired a consulting company to help us be better advisors. They will be sending you a questionnaire where you can tell us exactly what we are doing well and not so well. We will continue to work to improve. Yes, I’m still looking for the no risk, liquid, high dividend paying, and capital appreciating, perfect investment and will buy some for you when I find it. I thank you for the continued trust you place with us.

Yours truly,

 Willis

Willis Ashby, CFP®

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