They say money cannot buy happiness…They are wrong.

A Story of Infertility, IVF, Money & Luckily In Our Case – A Baby

They say money can’t buy happiness. Not sure who “they” are – but I can tell you with 100% certainty – “they” are wrong. This is not a personal finance thread.  If you are here for stock advice – you can skip this one.

When I wake up tomorrow morning, my little girl Holland will be 3 years old, although her story starts long before that.

It was about, 9 years ago, my wife and I started trying to start a family.  I remember we had other friends starting families around the same time and I thought it would be super cool that our kids would grow up together.  One by one, they started popping out kids, while we kept “plugging away”.  Don’t get me wrong – this part was fun 😉

After about 4-5 years of trying, with no luck,  we began all the standard tests. Luckily we live in Canada, so the bloodwork, and “other” tests were free.  You know…the one’s where I had to to go into a dark little room with a magazine….

So although the tests were all covered by our provincial health plan-  what followed was not. We were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”.  This basically means everything looks good – but for whatever reason making babies doesn’t seem to be working for us. The first procedure was called IUI (Intrauterine Insemination).  If you want all the fun details of what this entails…look it up.  You don’t want to hear my details about what magazine choices they had in that room…..We ended up trying this at least twice (may have been 3 times…I honestly can’t remember).  I believe this procedure was about $800 or $900 per try.

After a few tries, again – with no luck- we were told the next option/best bet would be IVF(in vitro fertilization).  If you thought the IUI was expensive…hold on to your hat.  IVF costs between $7500-10,000 where I live.  In order to do IVF, you also are mandated to meet with a therapist as a couple first to discuss the obvious relationship stresses as well as the potential financial stress.  We agreed – even though talking about my feelings is definitely not something I was comfortable with. IVF is when they take my sperm, and my wifes egg, and actually inject the sperm into the egg, and then plant it inside of her….it’s actually a pretty unbelievable procedure.

We tried IVF, and it failed.  It was absolutely devastating, and on top of the pure shitiness of the situation, as a financial minded person, it’s also hard to not think about how I just wasted ten thousand dollars for “nothing”.

After some discussion, and saving, we decided we would try IVF one more time.  We even discussed adoption (in the case it didn’t work).  I still remember when we got the news that the IVF worked – I didn’t believe them.  I was super nervous, expecting the worst.  It wasn’t until I heard the heartbeat and saw the ultrasound that it started to become real.

Emergency C section aside – everything went fine during the pregnancy, and we were greeted by a beautiful (albeit massive) little girl.  She was just shy of 10 pounds and had the most amazing blue eyes (which she has kept to this day).

holland maas

I don’t really have a point to this story, except to say – Holland is living proof that money can buy happiness.  (Best $20,000 I ever spent).  We were fortunate enough to be in a position that we could afford to spend the money – but I know a lot of people are not.  I also know the stress this put on us, and can only imagine how hard it must be for some other couples.  Some  places I believe have IVF covered by insurance, or their country (we had a tax credit – although I think the credit has since been bumped from 20-50%).

For anyone struggling with infertility, I know – it sucks. It’s stressful, it’s expensive, and although we got lucky – I know that is not always the case.  If anyone out there ever needs to chat – or has any questions about the process – feel free to reach out to me.

One of the most fucked up parts of this story, is that about a year and a bit after we had our miracle, science, test tube baby….I got a message from my wife at work, telling me she was pregnant AGAIN!.  NO IVF, No IUI, just a good ol’ fashioned pregnancy.  We always thought we’d want a second child, but assumed we’d be waiting and eventually save up for IVF again and hope it worked.

*Cue the Seinfeld Reference*

ivf sperm seinfeld

Anyways, I guess the point of this post is just to say Happy 3rd Birthday Holland.  You are the best!

holland snow

This boring stock could be a great long term investment.

Intertape Polymer Group (ITP) is not a sexy stock.  Most people probably haven’t heard of them.  They are one of the largest companies in the “packaging” industry.  Most notably they make adhesive tapes used in shipping.  Their largest customer is a little company called Amazon- perhaps you’ve heard of them.

Since 2010, ITP has performed remarkably for shareholders, a stunning 24.66% average annual return.  Had you invested $10,000 in ITP in 2010, it would be worth almost $71,000 today!

The stock has come down from it’s previous highs due to a couple slower than expected quarters, and some acquisitions taking longer than expected to produce results.  The company also took on some debt to finance the acquisitions and plant upgrades.  Today ITP is trading at $17.00 which is down $5.84 from its 52 high!  The third quarter results were released earlier this month, and things looked pretty good.  Here are some highlights(reported in $USD:

  • Quarterly revenue increased 14.6% to $279.1 million
  • Quarterly IPG Net Earnings decreased $7.2 million to $12.0 million
  • Quarterly IPG Adjusted Net Earnings increased $4.9 million to $20.3 million
  • Quarterly adjusted EBITDA increased 15.9% to $37.6 million

This stock tends to perform well near the end of the year (Black Friday, Christmas,) so don’t be surprised to see a nice pop after a big 4th quarter.

Income oriented investors should look at ITP as well, as the stock is currently yielding 4.36% and has increased it’s dividend from $0.08 to $0.14 since 2014. It’s worth noting that the dividend is paid in $USD as well.  The dividend looks safe, as the payout ratio is only about 50%. Once ITP starts seeing some extra cashflow from the recent acquisitions and plant improvements, it wouldn’t surprise me if another dividend hike was in the future as well.

Today the stock is trading at a reasonable 10.9 X Earnings, pays a solid and growing dividend, and trading at a nice discount to it’s 52 week high.  I know there are a lot of bargains out there right now, but if you are patient, and are bullish on the whole E-Commerce/online shopping thing – Intertape Polymer could be a great long term play for both growth and income.

Cheers!

“The Chan Man”

For “Old Fashioned Week” I decided I wanetd to try and create my own version of the classic drink.  I needed some inspiration….

I’ve always looked up to my older cousin. He is now a Canadian Diplomat and an all around amazing guy (even though he once traded me a worthless Pat Falloon hockey card for my Paul Kariya rookie card).
I have since forgiven him, and decided to make a drink in his honor.

I wanted to make a drink that resembled him as close as possible so here it goes:

2 Oz DIPLOMATico Rhum
.25 oz Pure Canadian Maple Sugar
A few drops of Manitoba Made Law Abiding Aromatic Bitters
Topped with an orange twist

Stirred on ice, and strained into an old fashioned glass over a large ice ball. Finished with an orange twist.

My cousin is also known for always wearing formal clothing, ties, suits, etc -even to non formal events…so I decided to stage one photo for him as well:

hockey cards cocktail paul kariya pat falloon rookie cards

Western Forest – Earnings Update & Thoughts

Western Forest Products Stock Update

Yesterday, Western Forest released their 3rd quarter results.

So far, the market seems to be reacting to Western Forest negatively,  the stock is down over 3% as of writing this.  Personally, I thought the earnings report was fine, and mostly as expected, I am still long on this stock.  You can view the FULL earnings release HERE.

Below are highlights & my thoughts.

3rd Quarter Highlights:

• Delivered third quarter adjusted EBITDA of $32.3 million and net income of $15.1 million
• Achieved Company record quarterly average realized lumber price of $1,124 per thousand board feet
• Increased internal saw log consumption to 82% from 76% in the third quarter of last year
• Accelerated capital invested to $20.7 million, including $5.9 million at our Arlington facility
• Entered into a new $250 million credit facility that includes an additional $100 million accordion feature
• Returned $8.8 million to shareholders via the Company’s recently increased quarterly dividend
• Completed $10.4 million of share repurchases, cancelling 4.6 million common shares

Year to date, EBITDA is up 10% from the same time last year.  Year to date net income is also up around 15%.

Western Forest knows that the current drop in share price (due to US trade relations & seasonal weakness/lower lumber prices) wont last forever. They have taken this opportunity to buy back over $10 million in share repurchases. Even with a dividend increase earlier this year, the dividend is easily covered by earnings and the company has no debt.  The stock has dropped 2.55% since earnings were released, I expect mostly due to decreased demand and the uncertainty with US trade relations.  I am still long on this stock, and think management should continue to buy back shares. I recently added to my position. You can read more about that purchase HERE

As of writing, Western Forest is trading at $1.91 per share.  This represents a discount of over 35% from its 52 week high.  On earnings, the stock looks cheap as well – currently trading at just 9.8x.

Summary:

As long as you are patient, you can sit back and enjoy a safe 4.59% yield while you wait for the stock price to come back up.