Top Stocks for 2014

The top stocks for 2014 are going to be those that have a strong track record of growth, a promising outlook for the future, and fair distribution of dividends among stockholders. One of the best ways to make sure your investments are not only sound, but also smart, is to know your market before buying a single share. The following tips will help you pick the right stocks on your own, and give you companies to use as starting points in researching different industries. The top stocks are going to be the ones that can weather another economic downturn, if and when it happens. For that reason, look to industries like pharmaceutical companies, personal entertainment powerhouses, and the growing technology sectors to find a stock that you feel good about investing in.

Picking the Right Stock

There is no magic formula for picking a great stock. Each potential investment needs to be considered carefully, from both your own financial standpoint and that of the company you’re thinking about investing in. Finding the right stock means taking a few steps to ensure you’re making sound judgments. First, find companies you really and truly believe in. Take an assessment of the things you spend money on, and make an inventory list of whose products you buy and which companies do you continue to regularly make an investment in? Compare these different companies by looking at annual financial statements and evaluating them closely: What are the company’s earnings? What dividends does it pay? Also look at the different prices per share of each company’s stock. Prices that reflect accurate value are usually safer investments, but if a company is being undervalued in the market, boom times could be just around the corner.
Here are four top stocks that you need to consider for your portfolio:

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX)

This company already has a good track record for excellent returns. Its focus is on products used in neurology, dermatology, and branded generics — industries that are generally experiencing continuous growth. The company markets its products worldwide, and innovative treatments mean profits. So for someone with an interest in investing in pharmaceutical companies, this one tops the list of investments to give serious consideration to.

Netflix (NFLX)

Although there were problems for the company when it pushed its focus to data streaming, its success over the past year has been great for investors. Its original programming is even getting the attention of national awards shows. Last year the stock rose by 150% in 2013 and more growth is expected through 2014. For someone who wants to invest in both technology and entertainment, Netflix has to be on the list of potential investments.

Mazor Robotics (MZOR)

The robotics industry has experienced lots of growth in recent years and is expecting lots more.The company has been recognized recently for some innovative breakthrough treatments in Parkinson’s Disease. The company is expecting more growth, and is currently seeking capital. Its offering of 2,400,000 shares in late 2013 could mean more innovations in the near future. A stock that combines technology and healthcare, this one is looking promising for 2014.

Sirius XM (SIRI)

No longer a start-up, Sirius XM has been around for years now and the company is seriously keeping its momentum going. The network continues to add big names to its lineup, and it already has a strong track record of growth that is expected to continue producing returns over at least the next two years. Projections are looking good for the company — and its stock.

Sometimes the best way to approach the stock market is to emulate the behavior of people with sound, proven investment strategies. Take Warren Buffett, for example. He picks companies he likes, and buys when the market is down. That way, he knows he can expect a return when the market picks back up.

A few warning signs to watch for include making sure large one-time expenses are not being claimed by the same company every year. This could be a sign of trouble within the company, and a careful evaluation of a potential pick‘s financial statements can reveal discrepancies that may give you a heads up on the health of a company.

It’s always a good idea to compare similar stocks, and analyze why certain companies are valued higher when what they do is similar to an under-performing company. Learning to see trends in the market is key to making good investments. The best way to learn how to do that is to really study the companies you’re buying into. It’s easy to lose sight of that important fact when you’re actually buying stock, but make sure you keep it in mind as you make investment decisions: What you’re actually buying is a share of that company. So make sure to only invest in companies you really believe in based on solid information and strong, detailed financial statements.

Best Investments for 2014

We are approaching five years of repercussion from the last financial crisis. The market is still showing a volatility that’s leaving the most seasoned investor gazing into crystal balls. We’re still waiting for the moment that tells us it’s safe to come out and play in a stable market.

Does that ever really happen though? Does the market ever forewarn us about a bad climate or a time to leap into the fray?

No, it doesn’t. If it did, we’d all be multimillionaires or we’d never lose a dime. The whole process is about paying attention and anticipating. It’s about research and it’s about faith. Investing is a stressful, rewarding, frustrating, exciting, defeating and prosperous endeavor that requires one thing more than any other. And that’s taking a chance.

As investors, what we are constantly on the prowl for is take a chance on what? We monitor the markets, study the charts and keep an ear to the grapevine looking for that one kernel of knowledge that promises return on investment. Even then, we’re talking our chances.

So, in that vein, let’s go to the crystal ball and take a look at some potential near term investments that show a little promise. Of course, your due diligence in these matters needs to go beyond these words.

Commodities

Analysts believe that hard assets continue to be the best place to put your money. Morgan Stanley released a recent report on what price gains on which commodities can be expected for 2014.

Silver

Stalled mine production almost guarantees increased demand, especially as this commodity is essential in jewelry and electronics. Silver saw the end of 2012 at $30 an ounce. The projection for 2014 is expected to be $35, an increase of 16.67 percent.

Gold

Always dependable, gold finished out 2012 at $1,665 an ounce. Projections into 2014 are for a potential increase of 8.11 percent. Lowered demand may limit prices over the coming year, but no one doubts this commodity won’t continue to push higher.

Copper

Demand is expected to increase as the growth supply slows over the next half decade. Copper ended 2012 at $3.61 a pound. Projection for 2013 is an increase of 8.03 percent and 2014 rounding out at 3.05 percent.

Sugar

Higher than expected production from India and Brazil left a global surplus. In 2012, sugar ended 2012 at 19.2 cents a pound. The 2014 projection is forecast to reach 20 cents, up 4.17 percent.

Short Term Investments

It’s difficult to find financial experts that agree on most things. This year though they came together in favor of equities. Finding great short term investments is never an easy task and shouldn’t be executed before analyzing your current portfolio and getting sound financial advice.

Properties in London are selling well. Parties from varied locations like Asia, Russia and the Middle East are looking for flats and homes. They are also ready to rent long and short term for the opportunity to have a well situated, comfortable and spacious living environment. Foreign investments are not for everyone though.

Another set of great investments are probably less accessible to investors. That’s why they are excellent and promising in the short term. These include offshore accounts, wine, renewable energy and precious stones. You should do a lot of research beforehand with the ear of an expert at your disposal.

Growth Companies

Yelp

In 2012, the Internet company saw an astonishing 65 percent sales jump. During that year’s fourth quarter, businesses’ desire to advertise, pump up their pages and reply to reviews leaped another astonishing number, 68 percent. Analysts are predicting more good reviews for Yelp as it opens sites in more countries. By end of the current year, sales are expected to jump 54 percent and another 39 in 2014.

KEYW Holding

Cybersecurity will grow as a major concern to everything from national defense to your personal device. KEYW Holding sells cybersecurity products, analytical tools and spy gear to government and national security agencies. With the help of major acquisitions, company officers expect the company’s sales to double in 2015, reaching $500 million.

Trulia

Investors who missed the boat on the likes of Facebook are still anxious for the next Internet monster. Trulia is a website and mobile app that allows research of house listings as well as stats on those neighborhoods. While the site’s free to buyers, Trulia’s income is from subscriptions to realtors. That keeps it in front of advertising and the preferred platform for searches and one click calls from smartphones. In 2012, sales leaped 77 percent, subscribers were up 143 percent and visitors increased 192 percent.

Conclusion

Investing is always going to a question of faith even after doing your homework. Overall, the outlook for 2014 could find great returns for investors that are willing, as always, to take chances.

Best Savings Account for 2014

Whether you need to save money for a costly expense or for retirement, opening a personal savings account is a great way to meet financial goals. People should get in the habit of saving money to prepare for unexpected circumstances. Unforeseen setbacks such as loss of employment or long term illness can create financial burdens that are difficult to overcome. There are a variety of personal savings options from customers to choose from. Discover the different saving options available for customers to determine which plan is right for your financial needs.

Custodial Savings Accounts

Custodial savings accounts are ideal for parents interested in saving money for their children. Many parents open custodial accounts shortly after their child is born. The money saved in a custodial account can later be used to pay for education or an expensive item such as an automobile. The custodian will have access to the account to manage funds and will be responsible for distributing the funds to the minor when they reach legal age. Opening a custodial account only requires a minimum deposit of $25. Custodians can link the custodial account to their checking account, which makes it easier for transferring money. Account holders are allowed to withdraw money a few times a month without being charged a fee. Custodial savings account have a small monthly fee, but those fees can usually be waived if the account holder meets certain conditions such as maintaining a monthly balance or making automatic transfers from a checking account.

Regular Savings Account

savings account 2014Regular savings accounts are great for people new to banking or for someone who just needs a basic savings account. An advantage of a regular savings account is the low minimum opening deposit of just $25. Customers can link their savings account to their checking account to allow for convenient money transfers. Linking accounts also provides customers with overdraft protection in the event their account reaches a negative balance. Customers are usually allowed to withdraw money from the account a few times a month without paying a fee. A small monthly fee is charged for regular savings accounts, but that fee is usually waived if the customer maintains a minimum balance or sets up a monthly automatic transfer.

Personal Money Market Savings Accounts

Money market savings accounts are an excellent option for customers looking to incur interest on their money as their balance grows. The interest rate increases when the balance increases to the next rate tier. A tiered interest savings rate is even available for low balances. A money market savings account can be linked to your checking account to make it easier to transfer money. Customers who link their accounts are eligible for overdraft protection in the event their checking account reaches a negative balance. Money market savings accounts can be opened with a small deposit of only $25. A small monthly fee is associated with money market savings accounts, but the fee is usually waived if the customer maintains a minimum balance or links with another account. Many banks allow the customer to make unlimited withdraws, deposits, and transfer with these kind of accounts.

High Yield Savings Accounts

High yield savings accounts with premium interest rates. These accounts give customers access to their accounts and even lets them write checks from their savings account. These savings accounts can be linked to their checking account to make it easy to make transfers. Linking accounts also provides overdraft protection in the event that their checking account balance reaches a negative amount. Unlike regular and money market accounts, high yield savings accounts usually require a high minimum opening deposit. A small monthly fee is charged for these types of accounts, but the fee is usually waived if the customer maintains a minimum balance. An advantage of having a high yield savings account is secure online access. Customers can access their accounts from a personal computer or mobile banking application.

It’s important for people to create a savings plan to prepare for unexpected circumstances. The loss of a job or expensive hospital bills can create financial burdens that are difficult to overcome. Parents can begin saving for their children by opening a custodial savings account. Parents will have authority over the accounts and be responsible for distrusting funds to their children when they become of age. Regular savings accounts are ideal for people new to banking or just needing a basic account. A personal money market savings account is great for people looking on incur interest on their money as their balances increase. High yield savings accounts offer customers premium interest rates so their money can grow at a faster rate.

Best Checking Account for 2014

Finding the right checking account can be a challenge. There are so many different options with so many different features, and so many different deals at so many different banks. It can quickly start to make one’s head spin. We’ve made it easier by narrowing down four of the best checking accounts for 2014. Whether you’re interested in internet checking accounts, interest-bearing checking or just basic checking, we have a recommendation on this comprehensive list. Here’s a guide to the best 4 checking accounts for 2014:

Ally Bank Checking Account

Ally’s Interest Checking Account has no monthly fees, no ATM fees and no fees for closing the account early. In addition, there is no charge for providing paper statements or replacing a lost or stolen debit card. There are overdraft fees of $9 per transaction, but it seriously beats other accounts that charge up to $35 when you go over. If a check needs to be canceled, the stop payment fee is only $15. The account is free, and it does pay some interest. Any ATM can be used and mobile apps are available. One downside: there is no grace period before they start charging overdraft fees. While the lack of a physical branch to visit may be a turn-off for some people, this online bank can offer some pretty deep discounts.

Citibank Checking

best checking account 2014Citibank’s basic checking offers convenience, rewards and no monthly service fees — as long as you make one direct deposit and pay one bill each month. If you don’t have any direct deposits coming in, this is not going to be the right account for you. Most people do have at least one direct deposit that could be routed to their checking account, though. If you’re able and willing to do that, this is an excellent basic checking account. With the Citibank debit card, you can get online access, phone access and ATM access. There are 1,000 branch locations around the U.S. and you can get access to ATMs for free at 29,000 locations. This is a good, but very basic checking account. Another option through this bank is the Citibank Account, a better choice if you keep a balance of at least $15,000.

Bank of America Checking

The Tiered Interest Checking account has no monthly maintenance fee if you meet balance qualifications. If you don’t, this one costs $25 per month. For this reason, this account is only worthwhile if you do meet that criteria, which includes maintaining a daily average balance of at least $5,000, maintaining a combined deposits balance of $10,000 or more in linked accounts, or having a $15,000 or more outstanding balance on a Bank of America installment loan or line of credit. If you meet those qualifications, there is no fee for checks. There is also no charge a standard-sized safe deposit box, overdraft protection, online, mobile and text banking. The associated debit card comes with a zero-liability guarantee. Most banks don’t offer that kind of guarantee, which is why debit cards sometimes carry more risks than credit cards. For someone who’s ever had to deal with liability issues after losing or having a debit card lost or stolen, this one might provide just the right amount of reassurance.

Regions Checking

The LifeGreen eAccess Account is Regions’ newest offering. It has some great features that include online banking with bill pay options, mobile banking, and access to 2,100 ATMs. There is no additional charge for the Regions Visa check card or their banking apps. Installment loan discounts are offered if the accountholder auto-debits payments from your Regions account. It also offers a relationship rate on select CDs. This account is not free, though: it costs $8 per month. Because of the limited number of areas that this bank services, it may not be a good option for everyone. But for someone who lives in an area that has a Regions bank, this account offers everything a person could want from a checking account. And even with the fee of $8 per month, it is still a huge discount when compared the $25 or more some other banks charge for accounts that don’t meet minimum qualifications.

A Brief Recap

For someone with a small monthly account balance, Citibank checking is probably the way to go. The three other accounts require a high monthly balance in order to avoid the account fees. The Regions LifeGreen eAccess account is great for someone who already has an installment loan through Regions Bank or who is interested in buying CDs. Ally Checking is an excellent choice for someone who is comfortable with internet banking, as long as they aren’t bothered by the fact that there are no bank branches to visit. The Bank of America account is the best choice for someone who is interested in perks like the free deposit box and the zero-liability guarantee.

Finding the right checking account can save a lot of time and money. The best checking account in 2014 provide a combination of service, perks and online features, along with physical rewards like no-cost deposit boxes. For anyone looking to open a new account in 2014, there are some great options available.

Where to Invest in 2014

Investing has been an interesting topic in recent years. After the collapse of the market in 2008/2009, there was much skepticism and fear around the entire subject of investing. In fact, many people pulled their money from the markets altogether (which no doubt was a major contributing factor to the market collapse). However, the past couple years the stock market has roared back to what it once was. The housing marketing thankfully hasn’t returned to its pre-bubble state, but it is on the rise as well. So with lots of potential out there, where would it be smart to invest your money in 2014?

Before I write anything else though, one quick disclaimer. I’m not a financial expert or professional adviser, and anything I say is purely my opinion. Always consult an expert and weigh your options carefully before investing.

The Stock Market

The stock market has roared back from its major dip in the past few years. In fact, the last few years have been incredibly strong for it overall. If you have any money in the market right now, you’re no doubt thrilled with the results from the past year.

So what about in 2014? My personal prediction on this is that the stock market will continue to rise. Its gains may not be as dramatic as the past two years, but they will no doubt still be big. I’m personally very confident in the stock market for the next few years.

In my opinion, the biggest opportunity right now in the stock market is in buying value stocks (stocks that are trading for a low amount compared to what they’re worth). There is an entire science to this, but when done right it can be very lucrative in times of economic growth.

The Bond Market

It is no secret that the bond market is getting closer and closer to blowing up. When everyone jumped ship from the stock market, many landed in the bond market, and it was consequently pretty successful for a while. However, it is now at the point where the real estate market was at in 2008 – close to bursting.

The bond market is approaching a bubble just like anything else does. Thankfully, due to the nature of bonds it isn’t like people are going to lose millions of dollars like they did in the stock market collapse. However, the gains seen from the bond market (which are already low) may disappear.

I personally won’t be investing in the bond market for awhile, and I recommend you consider doing the same.

Real Estate

The real estate market took a serious beating during the financial crisis. However, that time has passed, and it has recovered already to an extent. The past year or so, the real estate markets in most areas have been steadily heating up, with more demand and higher prices than seen since 2008.

This is a trend that I think will continue. I personally believe that real estate is a very strong investment to have for 2014, and is in general a good investment to make. The recent collapse made people forget how much the housing market grows on average (hint: it’s huge). Real estate has always been a sound investment, and I think it will continue to be.

Commodities

After the financial crisis, prices for commodities like gold and silver skyrocketed as people wanted to have something tangible in their hands instead of stock in a company that may or may not continue to operate in the near future. We’ve already seen them decline recently, and that will likely continue. The reality is that such investments are hedges against the stock market, and as the stock market rises they will fall. I wouldn’t be buying (or selling) any commodities in 2014. However, if they get low enough in price they may be worth considering in late 2014 or 2015.

So those are some different investment options, and what I think about them for the coming year. There are a lot of possibilities out there. Hopefully I’ve helped you answer the question of where to invest in 2014. If not, there are plenty more resources out there that you can find.

Economic Predictions for 2014

The economy has been the subject of much debate in the past half decade. The recent financial collapse in almost all markets and industries caused massive amounts of panic. Consumers locked their money away, and politicians tried desperately to find solutions.

In all reality, that collapse was simply a part of our capitalistic system. Sometimes things have to go bad before they can get better. And in no case is this true than with our economy. A collapse like that clears out the riff raff, and sets the ship straight. While many suffered through hard times after 2008, things are on the upswing.

So I thought I would throw together a list of my own economic predictions for 2014. But first, a should be obvious disclaimer: While I am a small business owner and economics student, I am no expert on the subject. This post is purely my own opinions on what is going to happen and should be treated as thus.

Employment

The employment level has stayed relatively high over the past five years. In fact, it has hardly moved at all. I think that this will continue to be the case. I don’t see us reaching full employment in 2014, it is simply too far away at this point and the focal point of our economy is no longer on achieving full employment.

With that said, I think that we will continue to see it decline slowly. This is obviously a positive trend that we’ve seen, and I think that it will continue in that way. This is in part because of the number of people who have been starting businesses, which I think is just an awesome thing overall.

Housing Market

The housing market collapse was inevitable with how high prices had gotten. And while prices stayed very low for a long time there, they’ve recently been making a comeback. I don’t think we’ll ever see 2007 levels again (for the sake of our economy I sure hope we don’t), but I do think that a steady growth in the real estate market will be seen this year. Nothing crazy, but substantial none the less. Hopefully it will be enough to get some of those struggling on their underwater mortgages out of trouble.

Interest Rates

Interest rates have been absurdly low for years now. While they won’t be shooting up anytime soon, I do think that we are unfortunately going to see a small increase coming up soon. We’ll first see a rise in the long term loan rates. Slowly, but surely they will rise. We may not quite yet see a rise in short term loan interest rates, but it come quickly in 2015.

Stock Market

The stock market has been on an absolute tear recently. In fact, as of this writing (September 2013) the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up over 15% year to date. That is pretty fantastic for a stock market gain this year.

I expect that in 2014 we will see more of the same. It may not be quite as high of growth, but it will no doubt be growth. Slow and steady wins the race, and write now the stock market is winning big.

So those are my economic predictions for the year 2014. Do you have any that you’d like to add and/or want to comment? Send me an email and we can talk about it!

Best Credit Card for 2014

The qualities of the best credit card in 2014 are going to be multiple. Granted, there are plenty of cards available from the lending industry split apart by individual benefits so that they can make one card a little bit distinct from other credit cards. However, the best credit card will have multiple benefits included in its package, ranging from no annual fee to reward points earned to reward bonuses to discounts with affiliated business partners or coupons. (more…)