I have deployed a good chunk of the idle cash balances (presently earning 2%) into slightly higher-yielding debentures which should mature within a 1-year time frame with little risk – the underlying companies have cash and/or liquidity to pay off the debt without too much difficulty and could withstand a 2008-style financial crisis. The transaction can also presumably be reversed without too much difficulty in case if I need to deploy the capital into a more efficient area.
Researching the public markets is like trying to find those proverbial needles in the haystack – each hour you pour into the haystack increases your chances of finding needles, but in no way are you ever guaranteed to finding them. Also, the way you sort through the hay might be more or less efficient than other haystack sorters, but your own output is proportional to the amount of time you put into the effort.
The markets also give you some hints on how many needles are in the haystack – right now everything appears to be “stable” and there are no world crises occurring of any significance, hence, the broader markets are likely to be closer to efficient pricing than when things were really rocking a couple years ago. I would suspect the number of needles (at least the ones made out of platinum) to be found are few. There are likely to be more silver needles and a lot of lead!
I have not had a lot of time over the past few weeks to efficiently sort through hay, hence, I have been a bit inactive and parking my portfolio into a very risk-averse position. The easiest way to lose capital is to force trades through without some sort of justification why you are getting sale prices on what you are buying. Companies like Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ) appear to be on sale, but I typically shy away from companies with such huge capitalizations, but you never know what you might get.