Saturday, June 30, 2007

iPhone Flippers!

Is anyone actually planning on using their iPhone (not pictured) or just flipping them on EBAY?

  • A Dallas woman hopes to cash in on EBAY:  She showed up with over $16,000 and was hoping to buy all the iPhones at the store. Her plan was for a big payday by selling the iPhones on ebay.  The video from Fox News.  Good story, as the guy she paid got an extra $200 and got an iPhone anyways!
  • This guy was #25 in line and trying to sell his not-yet-purchased iPhone for $60,100.  “I am currently #25 in line at the APPLE STORE in CT and am going to buy an 8GB APPLE iphone. If payment is made tonight I gauranteed that I will ship it tomorrow morning!!! I will ship this as soon as payment is recieved FREE OVERNIGHT USPS."  Listing was removed.
  • Average price on EBAY is $800, but some for way more.  There was two iPhone that sold for a whopping $10,000 another for $3,000 and a few in the $2,000 price range. There was a large number of Apple iPhones sold for $1,200. But it seems like the more iPhones are selling for the price around $800 today as the supply and demand are being balanced out.
  • "I'm looking to double my money," says Alvaro Sanchez.
  • Maybe the flippers are in trouble as Apple seems to have managed supply-demand, noted here in iPhone failing to attract a premium on EBAY.
  • Alvinology with a screen-cap of the EBAY iPhone madness!
  • HyperSensory notes that as of 9am PDT, 8000 iPhones had been resold on EBAY.
  • Giolist wants to know why in "Blazes" would folks pay the premium on EBAY when there are still iPhones available in stores?
  • The Morning After, from Reuters notes some more altruistic goals such as reselling the iPhone to raise money for kids in Africa with AIDS.  But also notes that there are still iPhones in stores, then wonders if it's because of lower demand or if "Steve Jobs is a supply-chain genious."
  • John Murch says there are plenty left in stores, and to avoid overpaying on EBAY.
  • Yes, that is Jessica Alba.  I am starting a policy that when I mention Jessica Alba, I do not mention naked, nude, topless, smoking, honey, fantastic four, dark angel, etc., in a shameless attempt to get search engine hits.  I don't know if Jessica Alba has an iPhone and is trying to flip it on EBAY; or, if she waited in line for one.  Maybe she wants broadband and is waiting for 2008?  Why speculate?  Who knows for sure?  Jessica, what is your position on the iPhone?

Weekend (and Roselyn Sanchez!)

  • Hey you.  It's the weekend.  I know you're all iTired right about now as the iPhone release yesterday seemed to grab every headline and even push Paris Hilton off the front page for at least a few minutes.  The stock market didn't seem to know what direction to go in at the end of quarter, either.  So lets calm down and breathe deeply.  Lets divert our attention for at least a second to Maxim's #1 girl, Roselyn Sanchez. 
  • Tick-tock. 
  • Interesting stories out today on the iPhone.  From an investing angle we have Financial Sense talking about an investor's dilemma.  Kind of a "on the one hand" vs. "on the other hand" kind of article.  (Or point-counterpoint: "Jane, you ignorant slut!") I don't see a lot of interest in the iPhone from my friends and others around me just yet.  I think there's a wait and see attitude.  The stock nuts among them do think that this will launch Apple to the moon.  Just anecdotal stuff.
  • DK notes a serious threat to the iPhone already! 
  • We're heading on the down slope of 2007.  How'd you do in the first half?  I'm fairly risk averse at this point and thinking that a summer correction will give me a chance to get more aggressive and sprint towards the finish line.  May or may not work out that way.  But patience is an old friend of mine.  Continuing with lower beta holdings, cash, and a few mo-mo names.  Nothing much changing there for now.  I don't have my stats at the ready yet.
  • The Fly looks like he's cruising at about 30% YTD.  Whoa, Nellie.
  • The seasonal investing patter by Norm Fosback would have you in the market the two days prior to a market holiday.   In addition to being fully invested the last two days of the month and the first five of the following month.  (Otherwise, 100% cash).  Some crossover there the next two trading days.   We'll see how it plays out.  I suppose the thought is that the monthly money flow from 401(k) plans and the like help boost the market month-end and early month, while shorts may want to cover pre-holiday.  Something like that.  I  haven't backtested that idea, but Mark Hulbert keeps track.
  • Michelle succumbed to the beast and bought 2 iPhones.  But here's a nice note to that:  I’m #20 in line and plan to buy two IPhones. The second one will be auctioned off via a blind auction with all proceeds going to a recognized charity
  • Reading Adam Warner's Randoms from yesterday, just reminded me that I used to have the Tusk drum beat going through my mind constantly.  And now do again.  Gwen Stefani's "Wind it Up" removed it temporarily, so I might try that when I hit the weight room.  Adam links to an article by Howard Lindzon on APPL stock on the iPhone launch.   
  • Is Barry Ritholtz trying to shove Paris Hilton back to the front page with The Paris Hilton Trading System?  (Actually, BR links to David Linton's site which is a pay site.  David, this is the internet.  It's the only place where Marxism works.  Everything should be free to the people!)
  • I haven't played the Wii much the past couple of weeks.  It's one of those things that once you start at it, 4 hours go by in a blink.  I played a quick game of tennis on the Wii this morning and am inching up to the "Pro" rank.  A bit of fun, though.
  • Now, back to Roselyn Sanchez (naked, nude, topless, smoking, stripping, without a trace, rush hour, Rosalyn).  Roselyn is cast in Rush Hour 3.  She's from Puerto Rico.  She seems comfortable in her skin as you can see in the Maxim interview.  Interesting read on how she came to be where she is.  Not a big party girl, but maybe that is a bit refreshing these days.  As a friend says, "Clean as a box of Tide."

Friday, June 29, 2007

iTGIF: It's iPhone Friday!

The lines are long.  The anticipation high.  The flags are raised.  Foreign dignitaries have arrived.  Government officials are planning speeches.  The fireworks show is ready.  The band is playing.  The angels are blowing their trumpets and singing hallelujahs.  The strippers are on stage dropping their tops. 

It's iPhone Day.  And Apple (AAPL) is up only 2.5% as they unleash the greatest invention on mankind since the lap dance.

  • So lets short the crap out of RIMM and NOK.  Ah, just kidding.  I think.  No positions as of now.  But I "may" be thinking about it...
  • DK notes in Thanks iMuckdog that there may be a face we all know, but don't know, in line waiting for an iPhone.  It's not true!  But if it were, I'd be unloading them on EBAY and holding out for version 2.0 in 2008.
  • On CNBC this morning, somebody said something about some phone regarding the lack of broadband speed, "They'll get that worked out in the next phone release."  Hear that, line hoppers?  Hope you have another $600 ready in a few months down the road.  Apple is good at that, and folks do come back and buy the next version.  Remember the SNL skit where they were poking fun at the frequency of the release of the iPods?  About every 3 seconds on the skit, they said "Wait, here's a new version."
  • Which could be great news for AAPL.  Money flying out of consumers pockets for new phones!  Of course, if folks are frequently spending that much on new cell phones, it could have ramifications to the strip club industry.  Traffic to the VIP rooms could slow down, as consumers cut down on discretionary spending to buy new iPhones.  We can conclude that iPhones have a disinflationary effect on the economy.  Money that would be spent at Best Buy, Home Depot, Starbucks, and strip clubs will now be spent chasing the latest iPhone release instead.  Thus, the iPhone is really acting like a tax hike on consumers.  And Larry Kudlow, what does THAT do to the Laffer Curve?
  • Eh, stretching a bit but having fun with it.  It's friday, ya know.
  • There are other things going on today.  It's the end of the quarter.  It's the end of the month.  It's the start of 401(k) buy orders.  We're on the front end of a week with a holiday smack-dab in the middle of it.  So there will be folks front ending and back ending the holiday with a couple of days off. 
  • The FDA has recalled Veggie Booty snacks.  Hehehehe, "Booty."  OK, Salmonella isn't funny, Muck.
  • "With the first pick in the NBA draft, the Portland Trailblazers select Greg Oden, from Ohio State."  Is it just me, or does Oden look to be about 45 years old?
  • Working from the home office today!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

RIMM Job

  • Research in Motion (RIMM) reports earnings and a 3-1 stock split,and the stock is up 15% afterhours.  So the Blackberry is soaring on the eve of the release of the Apple iPhone?  And there have been people camping out (for days) waiting to buy the iPhone?  Just thinking out loud here. 
  • Lets do a comparison.  The Blackberry is Netscape, and the iPhone is Internet Explore.  Did you load up the boat on Netscape as IE entered the market?  How's that for a comparison?  OK, so IE didn't sell for $600 plus a monthly contract; neither did Netscape.
  • Now, I know I was a little hard on the iPhone in my Premature iCelebration entry.  I'm getting more anecdotal evidence from coworkers that they're not interested in the $600 thing that doesn't do broadband.  So how the iPhone does over the next 6-12 months should be interesting.  But the reality is that there is a lot of hype for the iPhone and people want the cool phone.  Plus, this is a gorilla entering the smartphone arena.  Apple will capture market share; and that's a chunk of the same market share that uses Blackberries and other smart phones.
  • So if a stock price represents how a stock will do in the future, how do you feel about the RIMM 15% advance on the night before the iPhone?  Maybe it truly is a "crack" berry. 

For some reason, I have the drum beat to the Fleetwood Mac song "Tusk" going through my head.  What's that all about?

The iFed Announcement

  • "In a first-of-its-kind promotional spot, the Federal Reserve has signed-up with Apple to release their Fed announcement via a phone call on the new Apple iPhone." Not really.  But since the government is bought and paid for by big corporations, why not?  OK, I'm not really that paranoid, and I'm not either.  Nor am I.
  • Waiting for Ben.  He is the leader of The Others.  Rate announcement in the on-deck circle.
  • I may "miss" the big announcement.  I'm going to a retirement shin-dig for a woman who has worked here for almost 173 years.  Sweet lady.  
  • I'm not gaming the rate announcement, anyways.  Everyone will be looking for a non-move and then the verbage afterwards.  Now the PCE deflator came in a little hot this morning, which Ben keeps his eyes on more than he does the pregnant women on the island.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dissin' (Megan) Fox

  • It always puzzles me when I hear that the Democrats do not want to debate on Fox.  Personally, I'd be on Fox in a heartbeat.
  • In a "What me, worry?" demeanor, the Fed is looking at the subprime woes being a small thing in the economy.  Well, except those going through it.  Hard-hearted and cruel? You could argue that. But the way that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his fellow members of the Federal Open Market Committee see things, they can't afford to mess up the rest of the U.S. economy in order to rescue the relatively small ranks of subprime borrowers. 
  • "You gotta harden your heart, swallow your tears..."
  • It was only a year ago that the Fed raised rates for the last time.  Since then, they haven't done anything.  Kind of an easy job.  How much does it pay?  Sure, there's the in-between jawboning.  But that's just some game that you folks do for grins and giggles, right?  Like Janet Yellen goes out and says, "Watch this, Ben!"  Talks up inflation, has a good laugh, and goes back to doing nothing.  Bunch-o-government workers!
  • So my thoughts on interest rates is status quo.  I don't think there is much inflation to worry about.  Higher energy prices have acted like a tax on consumers.  Higher interest rates and rising adjustable rate mortgages have increase monthly cash outflows and reduced discretionary spending.  I think a rate hike here would be dangerous and slow down an economy that doesn't need any slowing down here.  A rate cut?  I doubt it.  I think the Fed may be watching the tight labor market and wage pressures here, so I don't think they're in easing mode just yet.
  • Tonight's blog entry dedicated to the lovely Megan Fox (naked, nude, topless, Maxim, stripping, smoking, panties, oh my Lord).

Catch a Wave

  • Quite a reversal in the market today. Down early, only to catch a wave and be sittin' on top of the world.  We have the end of month and end of quarter stuff that could be coming into play.  The strong earners and leading stocks should continue to be strong into the close as mutual funds close their quarter and 401(k) money is dollar-cost averaged into funds.  That's the playbook, anyways.
  • Besides, we've had a little pullback of about 4% or so in the general market, and the market nudged support at 1490 and despite the head fake lower, bounced off it like a champ.  If it smells like a trading range, maybe it is.  But this was only one day.  Nice reversal, though.
  • Ben and the boys speak tomorrow.  Keep one hand on your mouse and the other on the keyboard at all times.
  • More horrible thoughts on housingForeclosures are going to stack up this year and next, adding to the dynamics of falling prices as inventory climbs and buyers thin out.  I have observed three real estate recessions; this one is shaping up to be the ugliest.  We won't really know the impact of all the risky-refinances until we do.  I still think as long as the economy is going strong and unemployment remains low, that folks will make their housing payments and live their lives.  If unemployment rises, then things will get ugly.
  • Warren Buffett out there raising money for Hillary Clinton (not pictured). 

Buffett called Clinton "the person to run the country." He has not donated to any other candidate, according to public records, although he has said he would also support Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in a similar event.

Clinton finished by asking Buffett, "Why are you a Democrat?"

Buffett said he thought Democrats would do a better job in evening out the field for those who had drawn the unlucky tickets in life.

  • They were handing out "tickets?" 
  • More on the Apple iPhone from Barrons.  Kind of what I thought.  I don’t think should be all that surprising. The phone has received so much scrutiny that it wasn’t all that likely that the reviewers would find anything surprising. Some general themes: The battery life was good enough to last a day or two between charges. The screen didn’t scratch easily. It is thin, light weight, durable and beautiful. AT&T’s EDGE service is slow, and one of the biggest drawbacks. The virtual keyboard got mixed reviews, and still seems like it might not be the best choice for heavy e-mail users.  And check out the column for links to reviews....
  • I had some unlucky bet tickets down in Las Vegas last weekend, Warren.  Hey, it wasn't my fault for picking the wrong teams.  Probably some Bush-Cheney big-fat-rich-CEO lackey fix in on the games. 

Premature iCelebration?

  • Apple's iPhone will launch friday, and the reviews are (mostly) positive. Here's a review from WSJ that calls the iPhone "a beautiful, breakthrough device."
  • I'll point out the flaws, because we all know it has a cool interface.  We know it plays music.  And hopefully, we know that because it's not Microsoft, we won't have to reboot the thing a few times a week.  But drawbacks?  Also from the WSJ above, "the quality of voice calls was good but not great," and "took issue with the 'excruciatingly slow' data network."
  • So my thoughts are that I'm sure it's great with music, and perhaps has a new wizbang interface for voicemail and your calendar.  But will browsing the web be a fun experience?  I'm not going to shill for other brands or even ridicule Apple.  But aren't there other phones out there that provide the same or similar features at a better price and maybe even better overall performance?
  • Again, I'm a power user and need power and speed.  Maybe my view is a little different.  If all I wanted was to make calls, get voicemail, play songs, and tap out an occassional text message, maybe the iPhone would do it.  But I can do all that now plus a whole lot more, at a higher speed.
  • Talked with a young coworker, who is a prime demographic for Apple.  He said he'd love one, but he doesn't want to spend $600 and $60 a month for service.  That's where the rubber will meet the road.  Other than the surge of early adopters, will there be lines for the thing in a month or two?  It's a big price tag compared to other phones that are now being discounted to counter the iPhone.
  • Eventually, Apple will tap into higher speed networks and version 2.0 will have "lessons learned" built in.  That's when I'll take a closer look.  But my "cellphone soul" is currently owned by ATT on a 2-year contract that won't expire until 2009!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Las Vegas: Wrapped

  • Took a quick snap of The Shark Tank at the Golden Nugget with the camera phone. The tube going through the middle is the last part of a waterslide.
  • I have to default to the standard line that "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." 
  • Plane flight was delayed for a couple of hours and I came home really late monday night.  Crashed into the sack and when the alarm went off this morning, I slept right through it.  Came in a little late, and trying to find my bearings.  Fortunately, the work at the Fun Factory has been like a splash of cold water on my face and has me focused resolving issues.   I came in and had 176 emails waiting.  I was only gone for a weekend plus one workday, folks.  Amazing.
  • It's  amazing how when one travels, how easy it is to get unplugged from the news.  Flying back last night I noticed a lot of haze over the mountains, not realizing that there was a horrible fire up around Lake Tahoe.  Been receiving some emails from friends up there who have been evacuated and are telling me about homes and lives destroyed.  Thoughts and prayers are with all of you up there.
  • The market... The action yesterday and today continues to look weak.  I continue to feel that the market is vulnerable for a correction a little larger than what we've seen in recent months.  Something to raise the level of fear a smidge.  I remain positioned as last week, with lots of cash, low beta stock holdings and a dwindling number of mo-mo stocks.  
  • Looks like the "Summer Panic of 2007" catalyst may be hedge funds and/or subprimes. 
  • Ah, Vegas... sigh.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Las Vegas: Fremont Street

Fremont Street is an interesting place. You have the hustle and
bustle of tourists, combined with homeless folks hanging out downtown.
There is quite the police presence, as they meander around the crowd
on their police bikes.

One memory I will have of this trip is the derelict who approached a
bike cop at an intersection. This guy had wild hair, a scraggly
beard, and his clothes looked like he had been sleeping in a dirt
field. He had a beer in each hand and a bottle of whiskey in his back
pocket. He staggered up to the bike cop, barely maintaining balance
and asked, 'Hey officer, can I borrow your bike?' and laughed. The
cop didn't respond and when the light turned green, sped away on the
bike.

The Tarheels didn't work out for me, but the Angels on the run line
did. Played craps to a standstill, as the sevens seemed evenly spaced
out. Slots were a little more brutal.

--
muckdog
http://thelearningcurve.blogspot.com

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Las Vegas: Swimming with the sharks

The pool... I am at the Golden Nugget in old Las Vegas. They have the
nice pool with the shark tank. Not James 'rev shark' Deporre, but
real sharks. I meet this guy from Missouri who tells me he is getting
married tonight. So I hang out with the clan of 40 in the party.
There are buckets of beer poolside, and a few trips down the water
slide that goes through the shark tank.

He says he works as a salesman for a beer company. And if he is ever
caught drinking a beer other than the company beer, he would be fired
on the spot. Needless to say, he was throwing caution to the wind and
sucking down beers from a competing company.

Everyone plays the rebel in their own way.

So a few buckets of beers... My buds show. We are losing with the
Tarheels in the college world series... A buffet at the Golden
Nugget... Time to hit the streets.

--
muckdog
http://thelearningcurve.blogspot.com

Las Vegas: The College World Series

So.

It will be increasingly more difficult to type as the day goes on.
Lets just thank our friends at Corona for that.

I have UNC in the college world series game. But remind me to tell
you about the afternoon at the pool...

--
muckdog
http://thelearningcurve.blogspot.com

Las Vegas: Airplane!

On the flight to Las Vegas, I sat next to a couple from Little Rock.
They were vacationing in Sacramento and on they're way back home. I
had to ask them what does one do when vacationing in Sacramento?
Visit family was reason number one. But they had the chance to visit
Old Sacramento and the Railroad museum. The Crocker Art Museum was
closed when they went. And they used Sac as a home base when making
jaunts to San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and Reno. Nice to meet you, Randy
and Sheri.

It is amazing that in just an ninety-minute journey, that I learned
about their family, where they grew up, what they do and what
entertains them. Randy is afraid of flying, and this was only his
second plane flight. Every bump of turbulence was met straight on
with a stern look of concern. Or maybe that was nausea! He normally
takes long road trips and grew up in a family that loves cross-country
RV excursions.

Sheri works as a dental assistant and doesn't mind knocking back a few
drinks. She told me about her gambling trip to the Thunder Valley
Indian casino. She has no kids of her own, but as this is Randy's
second marriage, she has two adult step kids. She smiled at me as she
said, 'Theyre out of the house.' That look had almost the opposite
expressions compared to Randy's over the flight turbulence.

So here I am, Sin City.

Some friends arriving shortly. Blogging from the pda phone, so
forgive typos and such....

--
muckdog
http://thelearningcurve.blogspot.com

Las Vegas: The Airport

Leaving for Vegas!

Got cash. Got big dreams. I will own the craps tables. I have a
feeling that the 7's will be a no show this weekend, baby!

Checking in here in Sacramento on the way to Las Vegas. I just made
it through the security checkpoint. Of course, I am always pulled
aside to have my bag checked. Don't know why. I have to budget an
extra 15 minutes to plan for that hassle.

The guy sitting to me is your typical overweight white guy. And he is
eating a Cinnabon thing. Which is kind of half grossing me out and
half reminding me that I didn't eat anything out the door this
morning.

Folks are piling in line an hour ahead of time. Securing a bin spot
is the next Prime Directive of travel...

I forgot to pick up a Barrons on my way in. But I have offloaded some
stuff on to my smrt phone to read. Plus, ther is always the Sky Mall
magazine. Which may be more cheery than Alan Abelson anyways.

--
muckdog
http://thelearningcurve.blogspot.com

Friday, June 22, 2007

TGIF Randoms!

  • Where to cast the blame for today's market sell-off? Sub-prime worries?  Hedge fund worries?  "The playbook" says the week after options expiration is supposed to be weak?  The summer solstice was yesterday, and traders are depressed that the days are now getting shorter?
  • Adam Warner with the day we have all been waiting for...  Black(stone) Friday.
  • Kevin Stecyk has been busy with his camera at Specious Argument.  When I first saw "Tobey Kai," my thoughts went to porn star Kobe Tai.  But maybe that's just how my mind works.  How easily sidetracked am I?  Nice photo shoots, KS!
  • Hey, is that the SP500 breaking the 50dma?
  • Russell Rebalancing from Barry Ritholtz.
  • The Trading Goddess has a different view on Russell Rebalancing.  Ahem.
  • Cablevision will have up to 500 HD channels?  But American Idol is only on one of them, and that's the one America will be watching...
  • TV networks and others concerned about online video priracy.  Geez, isn't this the same debate over and over and over again every few years with only the type of technology changing?
  • Maybe the most important thing from Bonddad in Weekend Weimar.
  • Now when I mention Kobe Tai, I don't even need to bother with the search engine stuff of nude, naked, topless, porn, anal, etc., right?  Because when one searches for Kobe Tai, doesn't Google automatically include those other key words?
  • Heading to Las Vegas for a few. 

Blackstone (and Ana Ivanovic!)

  • Good Lord. I'm watching CNBC this morning and it's a Blackstone World.  It's like nothing else is going on in the market.  Even if it's an important event, do we need the "Four minutes until trading.."  and "Three minutes and forty-seven seconds until trading..." countdown?  Or the "the spread is narrowing which means trading should begin soon" to "Ooops, now the spread is widening again, which means trading could be delayed."
  • I turned it off.  Didn't wait.  I don't own any Blackstone.  I'm certainly not trading any on IPO day. 
  • ANYWAYS....  We're heading into month-end and quarter-end, which could provide some support for leading stocks.  But keep an eye on interest rates.  They're moving up for whatever nonsensical reason, and that's putting pressure on stocks.  Consumers are cutting back on spending due to higher energy prices. Notice Starbucks numbers.  (Combined with Best Buy and Home Depot and and and...)  So in addition to paying more at the pump, folks with adjustable loans are paying more in interest.  That'll sock discretionary spending even more.  Again, not inflationary...  If you have less money to spend at Starbucks, Best Buy and Home Depot, they don't have a lot of pricing power.
  • The TV show "24" is contemplating a female President for next season.  Why not Ana Ivanovic?  Of course, if I mention Ana Ivanovic (naked, nude, topless, up skirt, smoking, tennis)...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Nukular Powah Plants!


President Bush pushing for the real alternative energy choice today: Nuclear energy. It's about time. Even most of the environmentalists are on board with this one. Sure, there will be the hangers-on to the misinformation and scare tactics about the "dangers" of nuclear energy. And there are issues to deal with, because no power source is "perfect." But if we're serious about reducing CO2 emissions and getting off of fossil fuels, this is the best way to go about it right now. Until the next thing comes along.

"Excellent."
clipped from money.cnn.com

ATHENS, Alabama (Reuters) -- President Bush Thursday said U.S. utilities could build up to 30 new nuclear power plants and could start construction by 2010 in order to keep up with growing electricity demand without spurring more global warming.

"It's time for the country to start building nuclear power plants again," Bush said at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant near Huntsville, Alabama, which is operated by the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority.

Bush said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will likely get 20 applications from utilities to build up to 30 new reactors and said construction could begin by the end of the decade. No new licenses have been filed at the NRC since 1973.

 blog it

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Market Thoughts

  • You know, I've been expecting a correction for awhile and this summer seemed like the "right" time as we entered the post-Sell in May month near the bull market highs.  Yesterday, I noted the negative divergences in the market as it retested the previous highs, and have noted in the past week about the extremely positive sentiment.  Not that any of this matters from day to day, and not to say "I CALLED IT" because I really haven't, and if you make enough calls from day to day you'll be right a lot and wrong a lot.  This is just one day and in the past year every sell-off has been limited and every dip has been bought.
  • But sometimes when a correction does happen, we look back on the chart and notice the negative divergences and look back at sentiment and notice it was very bullish, and chide ourselves saying, "IT WAS OBVIOUS!"  It's never obvious when you're going through it.  Emotions run high.  Voices all around are saying different things.  "Inflation is high" vs. "Inflation is low."  You get the idea.
  • Today was just one day.  Not a good day.  I remain with low-beta holdings and cash, and will be quick to book gains in the mo-mo stocks should we stutter tomorrow.  No sense seeing those volatile things lead the way down, and I can re-establish positions later.
  • Running blind-folded with the bulls from Todd Harrison.
  • The Fly on Wall Street says that he "loves the market here," and "The fundamentals are robust and the future is bright."  Oh, he also has some hard comments for the bears, rated AO by the video game industry.
  • Herb Greenberg on the Bear Stearns Blowout.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Natalie Portman Resigns!

  • I was a little shocked to see the tuesday headline that Natalie Portman was stepping down as US budget chief. I thought she did great in Star Wars as Queen Padme Amidala and as Sam in Garden State.  I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a smoother transition to US budget chief and also a little concerned about the imbalance between spending and revenues in Washington DC.  Yet, I have to give kudos to Natalie for serving her country.  She will be missed.
  • Asian stock markets continue to ripAsian markets were trading higher on Wednesday, with Japan's Nikkei 225 index up on gains in automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co., while the Hong Kong benchmark hit a record high led by gains in shares of China-incorporated firms.  Indexes in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia also set intraday records.  International investing has been on a tear.  You game for buying here?
  • As I type, the top stories on the CBS Marketwatch site are all about foreign markets.  Asia (as noted above).   Should folks stay long Russia?  Then Europe en vogue which contains links to sub-articles on other country markets.  Finaly, Investing Green features China.  Just saying, that's all.
  • Best Buy took a hit today after their earnings came in weaker than expected.  You know, I remember just a few years ago when there were long lines and long waits at Best Buy.  I went to two stores over the past weekend, and both were relatively empty.  Just a couple of examples, but considering Father's Day was the next day I figured maybe there'd be some lines.  I asked the cashier at the last one and she said it's been slow there for awhile.  My thoughts are that higher gas prices are nipping into discretionary spending...
  • Presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton picks her campaign song in a commercial featuring her and husband Bill Clinton.  Set in a diner, she flips through a song machine selections while Bill wonders if he can order onion rings.  The screen fades to black as in the Sopranos finale.  In a bizarre twist, it is revealed that Hillary has chosen Celine Dion's theme song from the Titanic as her 2008 campaign song.
  • G'night!


In Edit: Say, anyone else see the negative divergences on the SP500 as we retest the previous highs here?

The 8th Wonder of the World

...is compound interest. Not Maria Sharapova.  She's as high as 9th on some of the lists I've seen.

I thought it worthy to share the secret to becoming get rich:  Saving.

That's it.  Don't spill the beans!  If just you and I know, we'll be the only ones!

Interesting refresher by the Motley Fools.  It's something we already know, but doesn't hurt to remind us.  It also makes me feel sorry for the kids coming out of high school without this simple and amazing truth.  They are turned loose to the financial companies who are anxious to load the kids up with credit cards, mortgages, and car payments.  If we could teach kids personal finance in school, maybe it'd help them down the road as they buy homes, have families, save for their kids' college, and plan for retirement.

It also makes me realize the opportunity at hand regarding "private accounts" for Social Security.  I know those are fightin' words for the politically opinionated among us.  But the simple truth is that funding an account month after month, year after year, would produce some pretty dramatic results over a  lifetime.

Let's see how a $3,000 investment will grow over time at the market's historic average annual rate of 10%. (That average, of course, could move higher or lower over time.)

  • Year 1: $3,000
  • Year 2: $3,300
  • Year 10: $7,074
  • Year 15: $11,392
  • Year 20: $18,348
  • Year 25: $29,549
  • Year 30: $47,589

That's just one $3000 investment.  Imagine socking away the maximums in the retirement vehicles offered, like a 401(k) and Roth IRA, year after year.  This is also just 30 years.  If you started at 18, you'd have 50 years to compound before you turned 68.  Thank goodness for spreadsheets.  Lets look:

  • Year 35:  $76,642
  • Year 40:  $123,433
  • Year 45:  $198,791
  • Year 50:  $320,154

The Fools conclude: 

So get yourself in gear. It really is important to start investing, and to do so in earnest beginning in your early years.

Can't Fight That Consolidating Feeling Anymore

  • The stock market has that consolidating feeling this week, no? After the emotional roller coaster the past two weeks where we sold off quickly and then just as quickly rallied back up to the top of the bull market, I think we're all feeling a little woozy.
  • Hat tip to REO Speedwagon (not pictured) for the blog title idea.
  • I mentioned "the playbook" the other day saying that the week after options expiration week tends to be weak.  Bernie Schaeffer chimes in

Our historical research reveals that the week following options expiration hasn't been as reliable in terms of gains. Just 7 of 17 weeks (41.25%) have ended with a positive finish in the SPX. Given that this 18-month period encompasses a rather steady bull market, 41% positive weekly returns is actually quite low. Looking at all non-expiration weeks over the period, 29 of 56 have closed positive. Combining this with expiration weeks (13 of 18), we effectively have seen 56% of positive weeks overall. Take out the "week after expiration" data, and we have 61% positive.

  • (Hat tip to Adam Warner for the Bernie linkage.)
  • We're picking up speed through June and cruising to the official end of Spring and start of Summer.  The next play in the playbook is the end of month 401(k) stuff, end of quarter stuff, and then the July 4th holiday stuff.  More as we close in... 
  • Yesterday's volume was extremely light.  Almost as if we've hit the summer doldrums already.  I remain conservatively positioned for the summer, with low beta holdings, cash, and trading a few mo-mo names.  Nothing much has changed in the strategy. I don't anticipate being more aggressive until later in the summer or fall.  I still believe we're going to see a correction this summer.
  • Home starts fell for the first time in 4 months.  Home starts in the U.S. fell for the first time in four months in May as interest rates rose, suggesting the worst housing recession in 16 years will persist.  Before housing recovers, inventories need to come down.
  • Yahoo stock has struggled, and CEO Terry Semel has been replaced with co-founder JerryYang.  Mr Yang's return to the forefront of Yahoo! revived speculation the company might be poised for more drastic changes, including partnerships with media and technology rivals, or even a merger. For some great "Yippee!" and "Bah!" comments on Yahoo, see Barron's Tech Trader column.
  • Dr. Jeff with some random musings...
  • Of course, with Fantastic Four doing well at the box office this past weekend, today's post IS AGAIN dedicated to Jessica Alba (nude, naked, topless, stripping, smoking, dancing, bikini, Honey, Dark Angel).  Saving the planet is a tough job, but I thank you for the hard work, dedication, and form-fitting outfits.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Everyone Bullish?

TheStreet.com bull-bear survey shows that only 18% of folks are bearish. I don't know the track record of their survey, but interesting to note the optimism about the market. That's one thing that has been lacking for much of the rally. So much skepticism and disbelief has existed. Are the bears capitulating?
clipped from www.thestreet.com

Who Else but Bulls in Poll?


Bullishness is back at the 60% level in TheStreet.com RealMoney Barometer survey.
The bulls hit that mark this week as they took 511 of the 847 votes. The bears got 150 votes, or only 18%. Neutral came in at 22% (186 votes

Once again in the sectors it was energy equipment and services tapped as most likely to rise.

Homebuilders was tabbed as most likely to fall.

 blog it

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Night Before Monday

...and all through the house...

Asian stocks rallying on their monday and the reason du jour is because of last week's tame US inflation numbers.

We're in the week after options expiration, which according to the playbook might be a little weak since options week was strong. The mood and sentiment on stocks is very bullish, with last week's Investor's Intelligence numbers showing the highest number of bulls in a very long time.
clipped from www.smh.com.au

Asian stocks rose to record highs on Monday led by exporters
such as Canon after tame US consumer price data soothed worries
about inflation in Asia's top export market.

Japan's Nikkei average rose to its highest level in more than
three months while the MSCI index of Asian stocks outside of Japan
hit a record high.

 blog it

Is Paying Taxes Pleasurable?

Here's an interesting article saying that we like to pay taxes and that it has the same effect on us as sex.

(I don't know about you, but after I pay my taxes I always fall asleep.)

For a different view, check out Absurd "Study" Presented as Fact.
clipped from deseretnews.com
Using brain-scanning technology, researchers have found an unlikely force at play in the minds of people paying taxes: Pleasure.
In their experiment, taxing people for a charitable cause activated the brain's reward centers — the same areas that respond to such sources of delight as food and sex.
The experiment helps explain the curious willingness of people to pay taxes, which has long puzzled economists. Given the low risks of getting audited, economic theories predict much greater rates of tax evasion than actually occur.
The competing view, known as "warm glow" altruism, holds that people give mostly for the ego-stroking feeling that their personal act of charity made someone else feel better.
Besides bringing new information to scientific debates, the researchers said the findings may help point the way to improving taxation systems.
 blog it

Friday, June 15, 2007

Low Inflation Encore

The consumer price index rose 0.7% in May, the Labor Department said Friday, up from April's 0.4% rise and the highest gain since September 2005. Yet the core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, advanced just 0.1%, down from the previous month's 0.2% increase.

Overall consumer inflation was up 2.7% from a year ago. The core CPI, in contrast, was up just 2.2% compared to a year ago, down 0.1 percentage point from April and the slowest annual increase since March 2006. Over the past three months, the core CPI has grown at a 1.6% annualized rate.

The figures suggest the Federal Reserve will hold the federal funds rate unchanged at 5.25% for an eighth-straight time when it meets later this month and maintain its anti-inflation bias.

The Fed's preferred inflation gauge, the core personal consumption expenditures price index, has also trended down in recent months and was running at a 2% annual clip through April.

  • Many people *think* that all prices are going up.  But while some things are going up, other things are going down.

Energy prices last month increased by 5.4%, according to Friday's report. Gasoline prices jumped 10.5%. Natural gas prices fell 0.9%, while electricity prices rose 0.1%. Food prices increased 0.3%. Airline fares fell 0.6% and new vehicle prices declined 0.2%. Medical care prices increased 0.3%. Prescription drug prices fell 0.1%.

  • Stocks were skittish last week on the *fear* of inflation and that the Fed might raise rates.  Yesterday's PPI and today's CPI may have put the fear on hold for now.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Bulls are Back in Town

Nothing like a little Thin Lizzy along with a nice PPI to fuel the bulls!

While the PPI isn't the number the Fed is watching, it is just another indication that there really isn't much year over year inflation out there. Notice the 1.6% core inflation at the wholesale level year over year.

CPI tomorrow!
clipped from www.marketwatch.com

The core producer price index, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.2%, the first increase in three months.

"There is no hard evidence that higher energy costs are being passed along to other finished manufacturing goods," wrote Stephen Gallagher, economist for Societe Generale.
core inflation at the wholesale level is up a moderate 1.6% in the past 12 months.

One bright spot in the report was the continued deceleration in price increases for core intermediate goods, a closely watched indicator of inflationary pressures in the production pipeline. In the past year, the core intermediate PPI is up just 2.9%, the lowest in more than three years.
 blog it

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

More Randoms (and Jessica Alba!)

  • Hey, what a Fantastic Finish in the market today. Amazing how the market zags instead of zigs.  I was thinking with the open and meandering mid-day, we were going to see some quick profit taking into the close.  Instead, the bulls put on quite a show to finish things off.     Hello, random walk...
  • Jessica Alba was born in 1981 in Pomona, CA.
  • More info on the Apple iPhone from Barrons.  Says that the buyer will have to have an iTunes account for the thing to work, and the $500-600 price must include a 2-yr contract that could run up to $100 a month; or nearly $3000 for the 2-yr life of the phone.
  • From Crossing Wall Street, today was the market's best day in nearly a year.
  • How movie theaters make money.  They're in the snacks business!   “Owners joke about being in the candy business. If you didn’t have concessions at a movie theater, there would be no movie theater. We have movies just to get people in to buy popcorn and candy, where we make our money.”
  • The Paycheck Guy is retiring.  Today is his last day.  I thought he had retired earlier, but apparantly he moved on to something else, somewhere else.
  • The movie Into the Blue with Jessica Alba was watchable.  Well, she WAS in a bikini for a lot of the movie.  That helped. 
  • KLo says the economy is moving faster than most realize.
  • Closing comments by the Fly, with a special message to the bears...
  • Howard Lindzon says it's time to jump into Facebook.  You know, I did.  And LinkedIn, too.  I searched for college and high school friends, and found not a single one.  Then I looked for former coworkers, and while some of the companies had folks registered, they were all very young.  I doubt many over 35 even know what these "social networks" are.
  • Today's market close is dedicated to the Invisible Woman Jessica Alba (swimsuit, bikini, spandex, nude, naked, topless, panties, smoking, stripping) for her role in Fantastic Four.  Hat tip to Adam Warner for the idea in the comments.

Randoms (and Apple iPhone)

  • So the question about the market is what will happen in the final hour? Do you trust it?  We're up a bit but seem to meandering around the days' lows so far.
  • Apple down a bit in a "sell the pre-news" reaction to the 6/29 iPhone launch.  WHAT?  I know, they're just coming out with a new $500-600 phone (plus monthly subscription fees) that promises to (GASP!) make phone calls AND play music.  Sure, there are a bazillion other smartphones out there that do that and even even include high-speed internet.  Some are free or under $100.  But none of them include the greasy-finger fun navigation system of the iPhone.
  • Can you imagine fingering the iPhone after eating a handful of Doritos or Cheese Puffs?  Say, there is an investment idea here somewhere in those moist handwipes.  Maybe create an iPhone case that includes a refillable pocket for handwipes, and call it the "iHandwipe."
  • Everyone will want an iPhone, right?  Even the subprime borrower who can no longer afford the house payments will get one!  (But will he get it for no money down with negatively amortized credit card?)
  • Few states require high school grads to take finance classesThe bad news is that only 17 states require students take an economics class to graduate from high school and only seven states require a personal-finance course, according to a survey released Wednesday by the National Council on Economic Education.   So there you go.  Then we wonder why so many people have financial problems through life.
  • Cucumber-flavored soda sold in Japan.  Not with real cucumbers, mind you.  But artificial cucumber flavor.  Don't ask me who wins the Nobel Peace Prize for inventing artificial cucumber flavor.  "We wanted a flavor that makes people think of keeping cool in the summer heat," Takemoto said. "We thought the cucumber was just perfect."  Then why not "swimming pool flavored soda?"  Riddle me that, Batman.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Stocks, Dodgers, Alyssa Milano

  • Alyssa Milano is looking for a big stick ...on the Dodgers.  She seems a little concerned about the lack of firepower on the bums.  I think she's right.  And I think she writes a pretty good fan blog.   Good job, Lyssa.  And keep those one-liners from your brother coming.
  • Somebody sure took a big stick to the stock market today.  In the bull leg up, all the dips were bought.  Every sign of weakness was reason to buy.  Every sign of strength was reason to buy.  Every comment by the Fed was bullish for stocks.  Anyone selling was a fool.  But something changed last week, and we're seeing it carry through this week.  Today the market rallied off of the early lows, but all that was taken out late in the day as we closed at the lows.
  • The 10-yr Treasury is at a five-year high.  Greenspan stated concerns about inflation in China, as inflation hit 3.4%.
  • We just came from a world of .6% GDP and 2.6% CPI.  The fear is that we're running hot and inflation is perking up.  We'll get inflation numbers later in the week, and those could be market movers.
  • Kiplinger says stocks are going to keep going up.
  • Foreclosures jump 90% from 2006"Such strong activity in the midst of the typical spring buying season could foreshadow even higher foreclosure levels later in the year," said Saccacio. "Certainly not every community nationwide is seeing an increase in foreclosures, but foreclosed properties are becoming more commonplace and adding to the downward pressure on home prices in many areas."  It certainly won't add to the upward pressure on home prices! 
  • Got Milk... Money?  From Fox News, citing the skyrocketing prices of milk.  Move over pains at the pump, milk prices are hitting record highs and still climbing, and on the way up hitting consumers in the pocketbook.  "It's cheaper to cook breakfast for children. Cereal and milk could cost $10," said Food Mart manager Tracy Duke. Last week the Alabama store had milk for $4.39 a gallon.  OK, focus on the part of the excerpt where "it's cheaper to cook breakfast..."  Because, that is what folks will do.  Think "Let them eat pancakes."  Or, eggs.  Whatever.   If it costs $10 for cereal and milk, people will make other choices.  Try apple juice on the cereal (it's quite good, actually).  As folks switch from milk and cereal to other things, milk supplies will increase and prices will go down. 
  • And if they don't?  Screw 'em.  Cows are bad for the environment anyways!
  • I remain in low beta holdings with plenty of cash on the sidelines.  Nothing has really changed there.  Dumped some mo-mo names on the lift mid-day. 
  • So, growing up in SoCal, I spent many a day watching the Dodgers.  My dad was a huge baseball fan.  I can't help but think of him whenever I see a game.  And he was big on leaving early to avoid the traffic.  It'd be a sprint to the car in the 8th inning!  He'd want to hurry so we could listen to the last couple innings while driving away.
  • My answer to Alyssa Milano on what the Dodgers need?  A better farm system.  I just don't think revamping the team every year is a solid solution.  Lets go old school.  Recruit and retain players.  Build fan loyalty and player recognition.  I don't even know if that's possible these days with guys out there chasing dollars instead of wins.  But certainly something to try.  Better than missing the playoffs or getting knocked out in the first post-season series year after year. 
  • What the Dodgers are doing now is like Rome hiring foreign soldiers to fight their wars.  Not a lot of brand loyalty when your butt is on the line.  We see these guys who seem to be more interest in cashing paychecks.  And next year they'll be on somebody else's army.  Er, team.

Randoms

  • Sacramento Landing keeps track of the housing market here in, uh.... Sacramento. Check out the grim details.  Crikey.
  • Wallstrip on Gamestop.   I went there last week and picked up a game for the Wii.  Seems like games are the same price everywhere; although they do have used games and also older games in a discount bin.  They had just stocked 2 Wiis.  As I was there, one guy came in and bought one and GME fielded about 5 calls asking if they had any Wiis in stock. 
  • Irwin Kellner over at CBS Marketwatch pens a column Why the Fed could raise rates as early as this month.
Most of the data available for the quarter to date suggest that the economy is growing faster now than it did in the first quarter. The rate of inflation has picked up as well.
 
This should assuage those whose primary focus is profits and dividends. Faster growth combined with higher prices generally boosts revenues and thus leads to better earnings.
 
At the same time, however, it has put the kibosh on the notion that an interest rate reduction is just around the corner. Indeed, there is every reason to think that the opposite is in store.
  • C'mon, Irwin.  You think they'll raise rates so soon after a .6% GDP and a CPI number of 2.6%?  With gas prices up near highs, and acting like a tax hike on consumers?  I don't think the Fed is that trigger happy.  In Absense of Inflation a couple of days ago, I noted that not everything is going up in price and that consumers have other options out there.  Nobody is forced to pay for expensive oranges or high-priced milk. There are other options at the grocery stores.  What about technology, Irwin?  Nobody ever mentions the things that have dropped in price...
  • Can one "pen a column" on the internet?  Hmm. How about "taps out a column?"  Or "keys a column?"
  • Folks seem a little disappointed over The Sopranos finale.  You know what?  I've never watched even one episode.  LOL.  But that show has been big water cooler talk.  I wonder if HBO is losing subscriptions now that the series is over...?  The Sopranos creator defends the finale.  Hey, I think it sets up a movie deal down the road....
  • Referrals... So I mention Japan's Miss Universe Riyo Mori yesterday, and it sure didn't take long for the Riyo Mori nude search monsters to start pinging The Learning Curve.  LMAO.  Should've included swimsuit in that list of words.  She joins the nude and naked search frenzy with Maria Sharapova, Erin Burnett, and Carrie Ann Inaba.  Haven't seen the nude keyword used with Abby Joseph Cohen (not pictured), though.

America's Got Talent

  • America's Got Talent is the new Gong Show. I had never watched it until last night.  Not quite as goofy as the Gong Show, as it at least pretends to take itself more seriously. 
  • And today's contestant is...  Texas Instruments!  Looks like the panel has quickly pressed their red "X" buttons on TXN.  Piers Morgan says, "Extremely pathetic loser."  The Hoff Man says, "Can't sing or dance, but keep on trying and come back next year."  Sharon Osborne notes the "disappointing guidance" from TXN going forward that seems to be affecting the entire tech sector today.  She then tears off her fake eyelashes and struts off backstage, swearing "I'm done with this!"
  • Don't we usually notice some sort of tech slowdown over the summer months?  I recall (ahem) Jim Cramer saying one time that you don't want to own tech stocks over the summer.  Maybe he's right on that one.  At least that's the way it looks so far this year, Jimmy.
  • Jerry Springer has a blog at the America's Got Talent webpage.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Jim Cramer Fatigue?


I happened to catch today's 500th show of Mad Money by Jim Cramer. It was a bunch of clips from previous shows and Cramer talking about them. It also featured a call from Regis Philbin who asked Jim for a take on Time Warner and EMC.

Hat tip to Barry Ritholtz.
clipped from www.mediabistro.com
Jim Cramer's ratings must be causing some alarm in Engelwood Cliffs.

He fell below 200,000 total viewers at 6pm in May -- averaging 175,000 for the month, a 29 percent drop from his 247,000 average in May 2006. (In March, he averaged 255,000, and in April, he averaged 205,000.)

In the 25-54 demo, the declines may be more ominous. Here's the trend from January to May: 87,000, 72,000, 88,000, 59,000, 50,000. His May demo delivery of 50,000 is his worst in many months, and down 50 percent from last May's average of 100,000...
 blog it

Apple's Safari for Windows

Giving this a go. I don't think this will be much of an impact on Microsoft's IE. But the impact to a third-party browser like Firefox could be huge . (In Edit: It's fast!).
clipped from www.nytimes.com

SAN FRANCISCO, June 11 — Apple said today that it would make its Safari Web browser available for Windows-based PCs, opening a new front in its rivalry with Microsoft.

A test version of the program will be available beginning today for downloading from Apple’s Web site.

With his usual showmanship, Mr. Jobs said Safari would have twice the performance of Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer. He also expressed confidence that Apple would be able to increase its market share against the dominant software firm, pointing to the fact that there have been a half a billion downloads of Apple’s iTunes software, most of them by Windows users.

 blog it

Randoms (and Riyo Mori!)

  • Japanese Miss Universe, Riyo Mori was sure she was going to win Miss Universe. 
  • Kiplinger's has a column up called "21 stocks to make you rich."  My thoughts?  I ignore those kinds of articles.  First, you never know the motive of the folks recommending the stocks.  Do they own them?  Have the stocks been on a run?  And 21 stocks is a big number.  Heck, why not 500 stocks to make you rich, and dollar-cost average into the SP500 for a life time?  That ought to work, too.  I suppose folks are looking for a quick fix, but I doubt that these kinds of articles will work magic.
  • At These Levels links to a video on the bond move...
  • Big Ben is staying long the agricultural stocks.  Alternative fuels are the craze right now. I wonder if the energy put into creating alternative fuels is actually creating more greenhouse gasses than if we just burned fossil fuels?  Eh, don't ask questions, Muck.
  • Bob Barker's swan song and other randoms from Adam.
  • A few posts ago I mentioned Israel as an emerging market with a link to the First Israeli fund (ISL).  Some more on it from Howard, including the link to the WallStrip video.
  • 30 teams, only one Daunte Culpepperer.  LOL.
  • Two arrested for harrassing dolphin.  And this IS NOT another link to a Daunte Culpepper story!
  • Normally, when I mention a woman like Riyo Mori I'd throw in something to get search engine hits such as nude, naked, topless, panties, miss universe, miss japan, smoking, stripping, and cheerleader.  But I'm not going to do that this time.