SpaceX Successful!

What a great week for progress! Right on the heels of China’s first extra-vehicular activity in space, the privately run SpaceX has made history!

SpaceX’s Falcon 1 became the first privately built liquid rocket to orbit the Earth tonight, following in the footsteps of SpaceShipOne which became the first privately built crewed spaceship to fly suborbitally in October 2004. One other thing they both have in common? All the people who said it was impossible.

Wired:Space Visionaries Prove Naysayers Wrong— Again

Shenzhou 7 Has Launched

Shenzhou 7 launch
China has launched its 3rd manned space flight. As someone who grew up very disappointed in NASA’s failure to live up to the previous generations sky-high expectations, I absolutely love seeing this kind of news. While China is still doing things that the US and USSR did almost 50 years ago, they are making quite a bit of progress. Last year, they sent up a lunar probe (appropriately named Chang’e), and now Shenzhou 7 will include the first extra-vehicular travel of any of non-US/USSR mission. They’ll make it to the moon sooner than people expect. That’s good. China can do more to help kick-start the US space program than advocacy group could.

Here’s a speech by president Hu.

Here’s an interview with the astronauts.

Name Ambiguity

I’ve written before about the crazy English names people in Taiwan often go by. This year, though, there’s something entirely new for me.

I’ve had students before who often changed their English name, one of whom even went so far as to take a new one every month. However, I hadn’t ever had a student with an ambiguous name until recently.

He told me his name was Sinbad. But then he wrote Simba on his tape. I updated my records. The next week, he gave me his homework book. It said Sinbad. I changed his name back. Then he wrote Simba on his test book. This was odd enough that I pulled him aside after class and asked him what the heck his name was.

He said he wasn’t that picky. Maybe I should see if he answers to Sinclair.

Presenting Annualized Returns

It’s already time consuming to calculate annualized returns, but presenting them has taken me far more time than I can afford to spend. Creating HTML tables and populating them with my investment data just sucks. It’s not so bad when presenting the results of a single sale. An update of my entire portfolio, is a different matter.

So, starting now, I’ll be relying on the charts generated by Stockalicious. Here’s one that compares my portfolio performance over the last year to that of the NASDAQ and the SP500.

A rough year
As Investor Blogger pointed out, I’ve been “treading water”. It’s true. The Toshuo Portfolio has fallen by about 3% over the last year. The market as a whole, though, has suffered far worse. Over the same time period, the SP500 and NASDAQ each fell by over 20%.

Yeah, I've crushed the market!

The two-year chart is much more dramatic– 60% growth for the Toshuo Port while the market indexes were in the negative.

In the future, I plan to use Stockalicious to do portfolio recaps. It saves quite a bit of time, and takes care off all the error-prone calculations for us.

Calculating Annualized Returns

Tracking how well your investments do is important. Without a clear idea of what kind of returns you’re getting, you’ll have no idea of whether you’re crushing the market or fettering your money away to those who are. As a long term investor, it isn’t necessary to panic about losing against the market on occasion. If I’m losing year after year, though, then it might be time to abandon active investing in favor of an index fund which will at least guarantee you’ll match the market (minus a modest management fee).

For a one-off investment, it’s easy to calculate annualized returns. Annualized growth of capital (or anything for that matter) is

((Current Value / Initial Value) ^ (1/years passed)) -1

For example, if you’ve doubled your money and it took three years, then your annualized return was 2 to the one-third power minus one, or just under 26%. This same formula is useful for calculating revenue and earnings growth of individual companies.

For an entire stock portfolio on the other hand, it isn’t possible to use such a simple process. As soon as you start adding money, which investors should be doing regularly, it becomes necessary to calculate a Net Asset Value before and after the addition of funds and dilute your asset growth calculation accordingly. It’s a messy messy process and the easiest way to deal with it is probably using the XIRR function on a Google spreadsheet.