11.30.2012

Pitney Bowes: High Dividend. High Risk?




With A 13.6% Yield, Pitney Bowes Defines High-Risk
Above article has detailed analysis:


On Jan. 1 2011, PBI was trading at $24.18. today the stock is trading at $11.00. This is a 55% decline. In the revenue and EBIT numbers I do not see a reason for this dramatic decline. PBI is still profitable. At its current price, the stock offers a 13.64% yield. High-Risk, High-Reward defines PBI at the moment.
Comment: Not an exciting tech company but I'm going to bite on this and risk $ 1100. Targeting to buy in December. PBI

HP's "Project Tesla"


How a desperate HP suspended disbelief for Autonomy deal
Excerpt:


After two months of negotiations on what was known at HP as "Project Tesla," Apotheker sat down with Lynch at a hotel in Deauville on the Normandy coast - and shook hands on what would become an $11.1 billion deal.

The Autonomy takeover was indeed a bombshell - but not in the way that Apotheker had hoped. When it was announced in August 2011, HP's stock plummeted amid withering criticism of the price tag.

Within weeks, Apotheker was out of a job. Within months, Lynch and his new masters at HP were at war. Inside a year, Lynch had been forced out and HP was investigating allegations of major accounting irregularities at Autonomy. That culminated in HP saying last week it was writing off more than three-quarters of the value of Autonomy, and telling U.S. and UK regulators about alleged accounting fraud.

... While the price haggling was going on, a large due diligence team numbering in the hundreds, including internal HP staff from all relevant departments like finance, poured over Autonomy's books, examined contracts, and interviewed Autonomy's top executives, sources said. External experts involved in the process included accounting firm KPMG, law firms and bankers.

Due diligence was seen being straightforward as Autonomy had been filing its accounts publicly and they had been audited. One source said the month-long process was extensive and meticulous but nothing special.
Comment: Much more in the article about the due diligence process. Image source. And what was the end of Nikola Tesla? (Wiki article): "He died penniless and in debt "

11.29.2012

Save the Badger?



Fight Over Ferry Prompts Questions on Definition of Earmarks
Excerpt:


To its critics, the S.S. Badger is a relic and a menace, a coal-fired car ferry that dumps tons of raw coal ash into Lake Michigan each year as it plies its four-hour route between Manitowoc, Wis., and Ludington, Mich.

... Buried in a Coast Guard reauthorization bill now in final negotiations between the House and Senate is curious language saying a “qualified vessel” shall continue to operate for its entire lifetime, “without regard to any expiration dates” on the permit it operates on. Nowhere does the word “Badger” appear, nowhere is the expiration date of Dec. 19, 2012, noted.

... But the enumerated qualifications — including that it be nominated or on the list of National Historic Landmarks — apply to only one vessel, the S.S. Badger, a 60-year-old ship with a look torn from an old postcard and a permit to operate, coal ash and all, that expires next month. Republicans supposedly put an end to special-interest language slipped into bills to benefit projects or employers in their districts when they took control of the House last year.

... For those needing to traverse Lake Michigan and averse to a slog through Milwaukee, Greater Chicago and the industrial havens of North Indiana, the 410-foot Badger has presented a shortcut since 1953. Its owners glory in its antiquity, advertising it as not only the largest car ferry every to ply Lake Michigan but the only coal-fired steamship left in the United States. Its owners seem to revel in its endangered status. Their Web site includes a petition to “Save Our Ship” that acknowledges the coal-ash dumping and a status report on its quest for a new E.P.A. compliance permit. The Web site promises the ship will be back for the 2013 season once the great lake thaws.

... Economics also comes into play. To Mr. Petri and Mr. Huizenga, it boils down to one word, “jobs,” 200 of them directly dependent on the ferry, 500 more indirectly benefiting from it, $14 million for Manitowoc annually, $21 million for Ludington. Niel Wright, a spokesman for Mr. Petri, said an activist E.P.A., hostile to coal, cannot be left to its devices without some backup plan in Congress. “For Ludington, this has been a way of life for almost 60 years now, and it is a huge part of the economy,” Mr. Huizenga said.
Comment: I personally hope it is saved. It's a great way across the lake. Official site



The Tax Policy Center 2013 tax calculator



The Tax Policy Center 2013 tax calculator
Excerpt:


The Tax Policy Center in Washington has posted calculators computing next year’s individual income taxes under four sets of assumptions
Comment: WSJ article

11.28.2012

Bernanke’s Reverse Robin Hood



Bernanke’s Easy Money Moves: The Crucial Reality
Excerpt:


Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has not kept short-term interest rates at record lows for the past four years just so companies with no need for cash can borrow great sums of it for next to nothing.

So it was understandable, and even predictable, that this week's move by Amazon.com (AMZN) to issue $3 billion worth of bonds due in three, five and ten years at trivial rates scaling from 0.65% to 2.5% would be greeted with complaints about the misapplication of monetary succor.

Here, after all, is a company so dominant and capital rich that, only 18 years after its founding, it can borrow billions at less than one percentage point more than the United States Treasury does — while retirees and other blameless paragons of thrift are deprived of safe income from their savings by the Fed's anchoring of rates near zero.
Comment: Of course it is also easy to borrow at record low interest rates to buy a home too!

Imagine a line of Pennies 2071 miles long






What Are Your Chances Of Winning Tonight's Enormous Powerball Jackpot?

Excerpt:


So what are your odds for winning tonight’s record $500 million Powerball jackpot? The Powerball website shows it to be about one in 175 million for matching all five numbers and the Powerball on a $2 ticket.
Comment: Don't quit your day job!


  • The diameter of a Penny is ¾ inch
  • The odds of winning the Powerball is 1 in 175,000,000
  • Imagine a line of pennies edge to edge
  • 175,000,000 pennies
  • That's a line 2071 miles long!
  • How far is 2071 miles
  • Grand Rapids MN to Key West Florida is 2058 miles.
  • That would be nearly 36 hours of non-stop driving! (you need to stop for gas and breaks!)
  • Imagine that road lined with pennies in single file
  • As you drive along you have one chance to stop and pick up a penny
  • The winning penny has an "X" marked on the back of it
  • That expresses the odds of winning the lottery!

11.27.2012

The financial firms behind the Autonomy deal



HP’s Autonomy Debacle: Whose Fault Is It Anyway?
Excerpt:


That’s $68.8 million in advisory fees to these eight firms – of which HP contributed $30.1 million. At the end of it, the deal was finalized at the inflated value of $11.2 billion for Autonomy, with an almost unanimous approval from the shareholders and boards on both sides.

As the Feds and the SEC dig into Autonomy’s reported numbers to verify whether it indeed was cooking its books, the big question that demands an answer is how did so many smart people missed this when it really mattered. There are a lot of ‘maybes’ involved in this entire drama: Maybe Autonomy did misrepresent its numbers intentionally. Maybe HP realized that there was an accounting issue AND that the technology business itself was not worth its initial estimate and so it decided to go in for a “big bath” write-off. Maybe Deloitte thought that the way Autonomy was reporting numbers was just a small aberration that everyone would overlook. And maybe the investment banks who advised really believed that the deal was being valued accurately.

The result – on a deal worth $11.2 billion, HP takes a $8.8 billion write-off. So what, Autonomy was/is worth $2.4 billion? That hardly looks right, especially taking into account the fact that HP paid a 58% premium to Autonomy’s share price at the time of the acquisition.

It makes you wonder what the auditor and investment banks were being paid for, doesn’t it?
Comment: Not unlike Arthur Andersen's auditing Enron!

11.26.2012

"Live and Let Die" at Autonomy





Long Before H-P Deal, Autonomy's Red Flags

Excerpt:


Mr. Lynch named Autonomy's conference rooms after references from James Bond movies—one of the big ones was called "GoldenEye"—and found ways to mention the spy in speeches or presentations.

He drove an Aston Martin, a quintessential Bond car. In another touch worthy of Ian Fleming, Autonomy stocked piranhas for a while in the office fish tank. At times, Autonomy's culture was combative as a Bond movie and at other times demeaning, former employees say.

One former marketing employee was sent outside the Cambridge office to collect cigarette butts from the ground, according to two people familiar with the incident.
Comment: Sounds like a nice place to work! "Live and Let Die" at Autonomy



John Stumpf on housing crisis

Wells Fargo CEO: Why Americans are saving so much
Excerpt:


There are about 70 million homes in America. Fifty million have a mortgage on them. The average mortgage is $200,000, so you've got about a $10 trillion market. Today about 20% of those mortgages are underwater -- they owe more than what the home is worth. But we're starting to see values come back. I don't know that we'll ever be where we were or should be where we were in the last six, seven, eight years when it was just trading up. But housing is still, for two-thirds of Americans, the American dream. It's not for everyone to own a home. But I'm bullish on housing. I'm bullish on Americans' desire to own homes. It will be slow, but it's healing almost everywhere.
Comment: From December 3rd Forbes.

Frank "Not-Hurt"




The sweet life of Bakery Union officials
Excerpt:


Soon to be or newly jobless Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union members who work(ed) at Twinkie and Ding Dong maker Hostess Baking are contemplating a bleak Christmas that not even a trip to low cost, non union WalMart can alleviate. However the Bakery Workers' union's officials are quite comfortable
Comment: Out of touch union leaders!

11.25.2012

Flowers to pick up some Hostess Brands?



Flowers Foods Sizes Up Hostess
Excerpt:


The Thomasville, Ga., company is considered a likely bidder for some of the assets owned by Hostess, which last week was granted permission by a federal bankruptcy-court judge to begin liquidating. The end came after a contentious bankruptcy that began in January and culminated this month in a strike.

... Considered an efficient operator with a solid management team, Flowers started out as a bakery owned by the Flowers brothers in 1919, producing 30,000 loaves of bread a day. Over the years it has acquired numerous other makers of bread, rolls and snack cakes. But its presence is still largely concentrated in the Southern U.S. Based on that geographical concentration, Hostess is an attractive target, with its nationwide distribution of Twinkies, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs.

With $2.8 billion in revenue last year, Flowers is projecting sales to rise 7% to 9% in fiscal 2012 and earnings per share to increase 3.5% to 5%. Flowers reported a profit of $31.2 million in the third quarter ended Oct. 6, up from $31 million a year earlier. Sales rose 6.2% to $717.3 million. The stock is up 18% so far this year.

Flowers is unlikely to rehire Hostess employees as union workers, analysts said. It has been clear with investors that it isn't interested in assuming labor contracts, said BMO Capital Markets analyst Amit Sharma and other analysts. More than 90% of Flowers's workforce is nonunion, analysts estimate.

Flowers plants have been running under capacity after a recent expansion for a private-label customer proved overly ambitious, the company has said. That extra capacity could make an acquisition of some Hostess snack cakes even more attractive, analysts say. "If Flowers were to buy some Hostess snack cakes, it would help them utilize their excess production capacity," said BMO's Mr. Sharma.
Comment: Corporate site (image is screen grab). Stock quote FLO (image below)



Peet cemetery - West Marshland Township Wisconsin



Burnett Co.Cemeteries
Comment: Need to visit .... links
Google mapping
http://burnettwi.mapping-online.com/BurnettCoWi/
Burnett County


Peet Burying Place - Connecticut

Peet Burying Place
Excerpt:


This ground was used as a private burying-place by the Peet families many years, and in April, 1812, was purchased by the town, the deed stipulating that it should continue as a burying—place. It is a strange, wild-looking place, but because of its historical associations, has a charm and marvelous ness that should secure for it care and future preservation. At present, as a burying-place it has no appearance but that of desolation, but with a little attention it might be made a place of beauty and attraction.

At the southwest corner stand two rocks, rising to the height of nearly twenty feet. They were once in one rock, but became separated, yet remained erect. Between these two upright stones is rock with two depressions, corresponding to the indentures made in the ground when one kneels upon it. Here in this place called the Altar, Samuel Peet prayed many times a day; and the legendary story is that his knees made the depressions in the rock. Hence, because of this devotedness in praying and the seclusion and strangeness of the place, he was called the Hermit, and these high rocks the Altar Place. The burying-place has three sides or is a triangle, and at every corner there is a large rock, and on the north side is a most charming brook that lends enchantment to the place.
Comment: Very cool place. My sister was able to navigate to this location and we visited it. This map link is the approximate location. Bing mapping

11.23.2012

Arcane union rules tanked Hostess

Harder to Digest than Twinkies
Excerpt:



  • No truck could carry both bread and snacks even when going to the same location
  • Drivers were not permitted to load their own trucks
  • Workers who loaded bread were not allowed to also load snacks
  • Bringing products from back rooms to shelves required another set of union employees
  • Multi-Employer pension obligations made Hostess liable for other, previously bankrupted, retirement plan contributions from employees that never worked for Hostess at all
Comment: Full article has much more

50 Pithy Investment Truths



50 Unfortunate Truths About Investing

Just one .... 49 more in the article:


Time-saving tip: Instead of trading penny stocks, just light your money on fire
Comment: One more: "The odds that at least one well-known company is insolvent and hiding behind fraudulent accounting are high" (think the HP Autonomy fiasco)

Minnesota: Open door for Democrats

One-Party Control Opens States to Partisan Rush
Excerpt:


In Minnesota, where a budget fight last year between a Republican-led Legislature and the Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, led to a shutdown of state government for two weeks, the governor seemed buoyed.

“We’ll trade gridlock for progress,” said Mr. Dayton, who added that his plans included increasing taxes on the richest Minnesotans and devoting more money to education. Still, Mr. Dayton, whose term is up in two years, sounded a note of caution even as he huddled with aides to strategize after the election results were in.

“I said to my staff, ‘The easier two years are over, and the harder two years are now beginning, because we have the added responsibility to lead,’ ” Mr. Dayton said. “And this is a responsibility I welcome, but given the challenges the state faces and our country faces these days, it’ll be a lot of hard work.”
Comment: Image source. Re: "Minnesota: Open door for Democrats" = for better or for worse?

My advice for Black Friday

11.22.2012

Did the BCTGM learn from the Hostess fiasco?



Locked-out American Crystal workers to reconsider firm's offer
Excerpt:


Forced into financial hardship by a 16-month-long lockout that halved their ranks, American Crystal Sugar workers plan to vote next week on a labor contract that's changed little from management's initial offering.

Many workers are eager for a steady paycheck as winter approaches, ending the seasonal factory or farming jobs they've relied on since the lockout started Aug. 1, 2011, said Gayln Olson, a sugar boiler and union leader. Workers plan to vote Dec. 1.

"People are giving up," said Jeannie Madsen, who worked in the Moorhead company's lab and is engaged to Olson. "People are losing everything. People just want their jobs back."

When workers first rejected the contract last year they numbered roughly 1,300, but about half have retired or quit as two dozen meetings between the union and American Crystal Sugar representatives went nowhere. The union has three times rejected the contract because of health care cuts and changes to the role seniority would play in promotions, among other concerns.

The decision to vote a fourth time came as pressure mounted within the ranks and after a Nov. 15 meeting between both sides. Olson said workers are struggling between fighting for their rights and meeting their families' basic needs.
Comment: Like maybe a job is better than no job!

Frank Chu Protests Peet



Who's Frank Chu
Excerpt:


Frank Chu (born 24 March 1960) is one of San Francisco's best-known eccentrics. His street protests against US Presidents, corporations, and a distinctive concept he calls the “12 Galaxies” have been held in San Francisco and nearby locales since at least 1995.
Comment: Make your own Frank Chu protest sign here. Below is my input:



11.21.2012

Business Plan: Import Twinkies from Egypt ... sell on Ebay



Despite US woes, Twinkies reign supreme on the Nile

Excerpt:


....in Egypt – and most other Arab countries – Twinkies are popular treats that sell themselves.

Twinkies and Ho Hos are so popular that the local producer, Edita, no longer bothers to advertise and the treats still bring in a sweet 47 percent of the company's profit. Edita markets to the Arab Gulf, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon and is expanding to other countries.

"It is our top seller. Everybody buys it!" said Mohamed Sarwat, who works at the Mecca Market in Ismailia, Egypt, where Twinkies have pride of place behind the counter.
Comment: Edita website (image above). My idea has as much merit as The Bottle Deposit.

When was the last time you had a C-Note?



Why the Share of $100 Bills in Circulation Has Been Going Up for Over 40 Years

Excerpt:


The short answer is that a lot of money is spending a lot of time outside the United States.

The cognoscenti look at the share of $100 bills as something of a proxy for foreign demand for US currency. An overwhelming majority of the $100 bills come from the Federal Reserve Cash Office in New York City, which handles the bulk of foreign shipments of US currency. A typical shipment is a pallet containing 640,000 such bills, or $64 million, according to a recent Fed paper.

... And while there are plenty of reasons folks outside the US might want to hold dollars, the thinking is that most people are not using these $100 bills to buy milk and bananas. No, most economists seem to believe $100 bills are most often used as stores of value—almost something like mini-Treasury bills that don’t pay any interest. This is especially so in developing countries, where problems with unstable currencies and inflation often mean the purchasing power of local currency gradually—or not so gradually—erodes over time.
Comment: See How 100-Dollar Bill Changed in 150 Years . I had a C-note a couple of years ago. I mow my neighbor's yard and plow her driveway and several years ago she gave me a C-note. My typical wallet is one or 2 Twenties or less.

Answering "Bain Ate the Twinkie"


Who killed Hostess?
Excerpts:


The left is madly spinning (aka, lying about) the impending demise of Hostess, trying to blame the free enterprise system, and even Mitt Romney's former firm, Bain Capital. This is a lie. It was inside job of the left, with a prominent Democrat helping himself to consulting fees and a hundred thousand dollars a year sinecure for his son.

... While the unions and their media allies like to cite executive salaries and consulting fees paid to executives as outrageous, they are ignoring left winger Dick Gephardt cashing in for himself, and more outrageously, for his son, who was appointed to the Hostess Board and paid one hundred thousand dollars a year.

... Allowing the media and labor bosses to spin Hostess as the fault of Mitt Romney is simply ridiculous.
Comment: Bane Ate the Twinkie. I love the graphic (red boxed above).

11.20.2012

Dificid again

Last time .... July 2011

Comment: When the Vanco doesn't knock it out ... bring in the big guns. I start tomorrow. Twice a day for 10 days! Praying that this does it! Fidaxomicin (AKA Dificid) ... by Optimer (Stock = OPTR)

Keep Your E-Mails Secret



Trying to Keep Your E-Mails Secret When the C.I.A. Chief Couldn’t

 How to's ... a partial list:
  • Anonymous Web browsing
  • Choose the “off the record” feature on Google Talk
  • Encrypt your messages
  • Use a service like 10 Minute Mail allow users to open an e-mail address and send a message, and the address self-destructs 10 minutes later
It is hard to pull off one of these steps, let alone all of them all the time. It takes just one mistake — forgetting to use Tor, leaving your encryption keys where someone can find them, connecting to an airport Wi-Fi just once — to ruin you. “Robust tools for privacy and anonymity exist, but they are not integrated in a way that makes them easy to use,” Mr. Blaze warned. “We’ve all made the mistake of accidentally hitting ‘Reply All.’ Well, if you’re trying to hide your e-mails or account or I.P. address, there are a thousand other mistakes you can make.” In the end, Mr. Kaminsky noted, if the F.B.I. is after your e-mails, it will find a way to read them. In that case, any attempt to stand in its way may just lull you into a false sense of security.
Comment: I don't do any of these. My email is boring! Image source (PC Mag article on email)

The Future is Apple



Windows Users Jumping Ship to Apple: Survey

Excerpt:
Anti-virus company Avast conducted a survey of Windows-based PC users the day before Windows 8 was released. The results were devastating for Microsoft (MSFT) and non-Apple PC makers. They were excellent, meanwhile, for Apple (AAPL). ...
  • The survey covered 135,000 Windows users split across three versions of the operating system: Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.
  • Only a very small percentage of users--9%--said they were going to accelerate a purchase of a new computer because of Windows 8.
  • Overall, 16% of those surveyed said they planned to buy a new computer 
  • Of these folks, a staggering 42% said they plan to buy an Apple product--either a Mac or an iPad.
  • Most of the Apple buyers (30% of the total buyers) planned to buy an iPad, suggesting that some of these planned purchases are motivated by the desire to buy a tablet. (Maybe Microsoft can save some of these with strong sales of the Surface.)
  • The rest of the switchers, 12%, planned to buy a Mac.
Comment: My company will be skipping Windows 8. Image source.

The Truth About Retail Jobs



Black Friday and the Truth About Retail Jobs
Excerpt:


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical retail salesperson earned $20,990 in 2011. The typical cashier earned less — just $18,500. Both are well below the official government poverty threshold of $22,113 for a family of four. Too many retail workers are struggling to support families on these wages. In fact, nearly one in five retail workers at our largest chains is the sole breadwinner in his or her household.

The industry employed more than 15 million Americans this year and is projected to be one of the fastest growing areas of employment over the next decade. While retail bounced back gradually after the Great Recession, the sector's profitability reached a 10-year-high in the first half of 2012. And the holiday forecast is optimistic, predicting a 4.1 percent gain in sales over 2011.

While the retail sector has recovered, retail employees are no better off. They are working harder than ever, and getting less in return. Retail workers' productivity has increased by an average of 0.8% each year since 2008, yet their compensation on average declined. In this sense employees financed the recovery of retail firms by means of increased workloads and forfeited wages.
Comment: Image source - Career Information to become a Cashier. Main article argues that retailers should pay more and provides the justification for that. I don't see that happening. Retail is often the entry level job for high school students.

HP - "value destruction through acquisition"



How Jim Chanos Spotted the HP Scandal

Excerpt:
Although some investors believed that HP was cheap enough to be considered a "value stock" because its price-to-earnings ratio was relatively low compared to competitors, Chanos said that HP appeared to be masking the true costs of its basic R&D costs with spending through acquisitions. If those costs were expensed as operating costs rather than capitalized as acquisitions, then revenues and cash flow at HP were basically flat, Chanos said.

Chanos said that the attempt to grow through acquisitions-HP had done $37 billion in acquisitions over the last four to five years-had not paid off for HP and that its core businesses were struggling. The personal computing market, in particular, was under assault from mobile technology, with people increasingly abandoning laptops for tablets. The company was engaged in "value destruction through acquisition," Chanos said.
Comment: List of HP acquisitions. Today's HP news is the Autonomy deal. A previous failing (in my view) acquisition was the Palm deal.

Following a series of mergers and acquisitions, HP represents a combination of Apollo, DEC, Compaq, 3Com and Palm
Comment: The stock, HPQ, pays a nice dividend but if your losing money you can't pay that dividend for long. HPQ and BAC are a drag on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (both being components)

Rebooting the world's oldest original digital computer

Get Adobe Flash player

Two-tonne Witch computer gets a reboot

More: The world's oldest original working digital computer

11.19.2012

As the Twinkie Turns


Twinkie's last stand: It's up to a mediator

Excerpt:


Twinkie the Kid’s ride into the sunset hit a hurdle Monday when Hostess Brands, unions and lenders agreed to mediation to try to save the company, and its spongy, yellow cake, from liquidation.

The decision staves off, for a couple of days at least, Hostess’ plans to shut down its 33 factories and lay off 18,500 workers after an acrimonious labor dispute that could lead to the end of the 82-year-old company and its well-known brands such as Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Sno-Balls and Wonder bread.

During the hearing, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain urged the parties to come to an agreement through mediation rather than through a public, and costly, hearing. The court called a short recess while the lawyer for the baker's union phoned his client to see if the union would agree to a mediation process tomorrow.

After the recess, the sides agreed to a mediation session Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET to try to work things out. If they can't resolve it, and come to an understanding of the underlying motives behind the worker strike that the company said crippled its business, the bankruptcy hearing will resume Wednesday at 11 a.m ET.

The sides will probably come to an agreement on Tuesday, John Pottow, a bankruptcy law professor at the University of Michigan, told TODAY. The biggest sign, he said, is that the Teamsters were on board.

"The Teamsters aren't pussycats," said Pottow. "If they're saying 'this is as good as it gets,' that's a pretty strong signal to me."
Comment: The following article may be premature but still interesting

Who Killed Hostess?

The list:

  1. The Bakers Union at the Negotiating Table with a Picket Sign
  2. Management at the Executive Suite with a Checkbook (the counter-narrative )
  3. The Free Market at the Grocery Store with Competition: Hostess's sales last year — $2.5 billion — were down about 11% from 2008 and down 28% from 2004
  4. The Sugar Lobby in the Halls of Congress with Tariffs (this one has an interesting angle!
  5. Rich People on Giant Yachts with Their Armies of Servants
Comment: It's probably a combination of 1,2,3,4. I don't know anyone who buys the junk food from Hostess





GLD: The Gold ETF



Under the Hood: How GLD Works
Excerpt:


The SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) is by far the largest and most popular commodity ETF in the world. The physically-backed gold fund has more than $74 billion in total assets and sees more than eight million shares trade on a daily basis. Not only is it the most popular commodity ETF, but it is also the second largest ETF in the world, and even briefly held the first place slot in 2011. But for all of the recognition and press this fund gets, few actually know how the fund holds its physical gold, which may be some of the reasons that controversy has emerged surrounding this product.
Comment: GLD on Yahoo Finance. Pays no dividend. (I don't have any but find the concept intriguing. Article explains how it all works. Below charts illustrate how GLD tracks the price of gold.




11.18.2012

Eliminate the debt ceiling?


Geithner: Eliminate the debt ceiling
Excerpt:


Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says he believes the U.S. debt ceiling should be eliminated in a new interview with Bloomberg's Al Hunt.

"Do you agree with Alan Greenspan that we ought to just eliminate the debt ceiling?" Hunt asks Geitner.

"Oh, absolutely," he replies.
Comment: Image source. The American Thinker continues: "Don't you think it's a good idea that the executive branch should be forced to ask permission before they spend our children's money?". Without the debt ceiling there would be no conversations and debate about the national debt!

"Fruit Salad" and braggadocio



The I's Have It - An epidemic of egomania strikes America's civilian and military leadership.

Excerpt:


It used to be that if you were big, you'd never tell people how big you were because that would be kind of classless, and small. In fact it would be a proof of smallness.

So don't be showy. The big are modest.

Ha.

There is the issue—small but indicative of something larger—of how members of the U.S. military present themselves, and the awe they consciously encourage in the public and among the political class. The other day on his Daily Beast blog, Andrew Sullivan posted a letter from a reader noting the way officers are now given and relentlessly wear on their dress uniforms ribbons, markers and awards for pretty much everything they do—what used to be called fruit salad. Mr. Sullivan posted two pictures we echo here, one of Gen. David Petraeus and one of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. This is the Eisenhower of D-Day, of the long slog through Europe in World War II. He didn't seem to see the need to dress himself up and tell you what he'd done. Maybe he thought you knew. He didn't wear all the honors to which he was entitled, though he could have used them to dazzle the masses if that had been what he was interested in.

Top brass sure is brassier than it used to be. And you have to wonder what that's about. Where did the old culture of modesty go? Ulysses S. Grant wore four stars on his shoulder and nothing else on his uniform. And that was a fellow who'd earned a few medals.
Comment: Peggy Noonan in top form. Image source. Contrast Dwight Eisenhower in 1947



11.17.2012

Grupo Bimbo to buy Hostess whole or in parts?



The Twinkie: Will it return as a Mexican expat?

Excerpt:
The brands “most likely will be purchased by a competitor that will bolt the additional sales to a more efficient delivery system,” David Pauker, a food industry restructuring specialist, tells Reuters. “The company itself won't survive.”

Food producers ConAgra and Flowers Food, the American company behind Nature Valley granola, have expressed interest and so has Little Debbie baker McKee Foods.

But another possible bidder hints at the future of Twinkies and maybe the US bakery business as a whole: Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest bread baking firm, which already owns parts of Sara Lee, Entenmann’s and Thomas English Muffins.

Bimbo has already sniffed around the bankruptcy proceedings that have haunted Hostess for a decade, in a bid to further expand its North American portfolio and pad its $4 billion net worth. Bimbo reportedly put in a low-ball bid of $580 million a few years ago, Forbes reports, and may be rewarded for that move since the Hostess kit-and-kaboodle may fetch more like $135 million today.
Comment: I hope NOT ConAgra because I have CAG stock! The Grupo Bimbo ADR is GRBMF.


"Chris" Christie Plausible deniability on Twinkies

Question: Did he buy the last Twinkie today? The shelves are empty!

The Abbott AbbVie split


Abbott Labs to Split Into 2 Companies
Excerpt:


Barring any regulatory surprises, Abbott Laboratories (ABT) will officially separate into two companies Jan. 1, 2013, entering a new era shying away from mega-mergers.

The suburban Chicago drug and medical product giant is splitting into a medical products business that will be called AbbVie, and trade under a new ticker symbol, ABBV, while the other company will retain the Abbott name and largely be focused on medical products including devices, diagnostics and nutritional products.
Comment: Hopefully unlocks stock holder value.

Twinkies Madness



Mara Schiavocampo: I bought a 'lifetime supply' of Twinkies
Excerpt:


In just a few days, a box of 100 Twinkies will arrive at my house. Given that I eat one Twinkie — maybe two — each year, these should last at least 50 years. That's the point. I'm stocking up on a lifetime supply of Twinkies.
Comment: Head over to Ebay and do a search. I mean these people are nuts! Kathee heading out to the grocery store (our local Lunds) ... I asked to visually scan for Twinkies and other Hostess Brands. Looking over this list I don't think we buy any of them ... perhaps Butternut bread at times. Kathee (I think she is lying!) said she has never eaten a Twinkie! (so a lifetime supply for Kathee would be an eternity!)

Carbon Copy Oops!


Oops! Taliban Reveal Identities of Their Mailing List Members
Excerpt:


In a Dilbert-esque faux pax, a Taliban spokesperson sent out a routine email last week with one notable difference.He publicly CC'd the names of everyone on his mailing list.

The names were disclosed in an email by Qari Yousuf Ahmedi, an official Taliban spokesperson, on Saturday. The email was a press release he received from the account of Zabihullah Mujahid, another Taliban spokesperson. Ahmedi then forwarded Mujahid's email to the full Taliban mailing list, but rather than using the BCC function, or blind carbon copy which keeps email addresses private, Ahmedi made the addresses public.

"Taliban have included all 4 of my email addresses on the leaked distribution list," tweeted journalist Mustafa Kazemi, a prolific Kabul-based tweeter with more than 9,500 followers. "Quite reassuring to my safety."

The list, made up of more than 400 recipients, consists mostly of journalists, but also includes an address appearing to belong to a provincial governor, an Afghan legislator, several academics and activists, an l Afghan consultative committee, and a representative of Gulbuddein Hekmatar, an Afghan warlord whose outlawed group Hezb-i-Islami is believed to be behind several attacks against coalition troops.
Comment: Image source. Meanwhile does anyone under the age of 30 know what carbon paper even is? I suppose if one were on the Taliban cc list it might qualify him for the TSA no-fly list!

Bane ate the Twinkie


Union: 'Bain-style' killing of Twinkie
Excerpt:


“What’s happening with Hostess Brands is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America, as Bain-style Wall Street vultures make themselves rich by making America poor,” Trumka said in a public statement. “Crony capitalism and consistently poor management drove Hostess into the ground, but its workers are paying the price.”
Comment: Bane is the bad guy from Batman (too stupid for my taste) .... Bain is the Romney "evil machine". While the AFL-CIO head truly made this claim ... it has as much nutritional value as a ho-hos