Thursday, October 2, 2008

Apple, Google & RIMM

Now, is this the bottom? Does it matter? I'm not jumping onto a sinking ship, but I definitely want to watch.

If, by some miracle, the economy is putting the doldrums behind, these three charts should see a spike up sometime. Or not.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Is this it?

Is this any semblance of a bottom? Probably not. Even though Congress had the sense not to fork over $700 billion of taxpayers' money to the same fools who got the credit markets into this mess ... it still sucks for everyone, the rich, the working man with 401(k) plans dried up.

Here's how bad things went the past few months, and with another "Black Monday," where my formerly favorite stocks are as of today.

POT 131
ISRG 251
MA 168
FSLR 180
MCD 60
IBM 114
PTR 96
DIS 29
FLS 81
AAPL 105
CHL 45
GOOG 381
GS 120
CEO 107
BIDU 231
NKE 65

Those are just some of them. They are in critical condition, but they'll survive.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What in the world ...

Several months ago, I just stopped. No more CNBC. No more drooling (or tweaking) over one stock, two stocks, 10 stocks. It just made no sense anymore, being awake at ungodly hours (Hawaii Standard Time) while the market teetered and tottered.

Guess what? Life has been life. Full of joy. Full of pain. Full of thankfulness. Full of regret. What I mean is, I've gotten to live without thinking twice, or even once, about this or that, about every freaking twist of this ridiculous market and economy.

Now that the Dow has plunged another 600 points, I can't say I regret not being a bull in a bearish market. It was worth it to be on the sideline. Things happen for a reason. Strange reasons sometimes. I think I'll stay out for quite awhile and just keep living. Enjoying.

Sooner or later, this market will turn around. The downturn won't go on forever. I hope I'll be ready then.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Believe what you see?

Is seeing believing? Apple stores were jam-packed with buyers of the new iPhone. I certainly wasn't one of them. For me, a free online game of Pac-Man is still blazing-hot and exciting.

For most of the tech-savvy world, though, the new iPhone is a must-have. So seeing is believing. Then again, once AAPL's earnings report came with a forecast of not-so-sensational expectations, the stock plummeted and opened on Tuesday at 146, down 16 or so. It wasn't that long ago when the stock was at 120. In May, AAPL was at 191. Which is the right price?

Both, probably. The market isn't someone I'd hang out with these days. Skittish. Fickle. Paranoid. At 146, AAPL was a steal, obviously, and has since returned to the 160s just one day after the panicked selloff. No iPhones necessary for me, but a few more shares of the stock might be the right order sometime soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dead cat bounce?

The market could not tank one more day. At least not today. Apple has held its ground at 171, not bad considering the rocket ride from 120 to 190 in the first half of this year. Google has stayed firm above 500. Neither are bargains at this point though.

Visa slipped below 67 yesterday and is hanging around 70 now. Is V a bargain below 70? Maybe. MasterCard is also rebounding nicely today. Until there is a revolution in the transaction-handling business, those two will continue to make out like bandits. It's like gas prices. No point in bitching about them. If you can't beat 'em, might want to join 'em.

The picking is slim. So many stocks that were on Cloud 9 six months or a year ago have been torched. Pain is everywhere. But the survivors stand out even more now. I still wonder which of the alternative energy stocks will win over the long haul. First Solar is clearly the frontrunner.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mr. Brown liked Visa then, but now?

Back in late April, my old pal Mr. Brown was severely bullish on Visa, though I was cautious. I warned about the eventual selloff that comes with any IPO (Google went from 120 to 80 in its first year) and preferred to wait. Well, Mr. Brown's bullish stance was proven right. V ran from 75 in April to 90 by early May.

Yowza. However, Visa has sold off some since. V has dipped three times, really, going to 75 in late May, running back to 88 before June, dipping to 77 and rising to 85 in June. Visa is currently at 72.

I'm more comfortable with the idea of buying MasterCard, but I can't argue against Visa. I'm not a fan of the whole concept of credit cards (and how they have most American consumers by the neck), but I am a fan of the way they churn gargantuan profits.

With Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae scaring the crap out of anyone with ties to financials, this may not be the best time to load up on shares of V. But at 72, this could also be a relative bargain.

Monday, July 14, 2008

No B.S. by Barron's

Back on February 24, I noted a Barron's story that feted oil companies that had interest in the Bakken Shale on the Canada-U.S. border. Not very big on this kind of stuff, I decided to start a mock folio to keep track.

Here we are, more than four months later, and four of the five stocks noted by Barrons are in the black since.

WLL | then 59 | now 102 | +72%
EOG | then 100 | now 119 | +18%
BEXP | then 7.13 | now 16.04 | +125%
CLR | then 25 | now 81 | +225%
MRO | then 51 | now 45 | -11%

Overall, on a weighted basis, this quintet of oil stocks are up a nice 86%. Amazing. Meanwhile, here in Hawaii, I paid $4.31 for a gallon of regular unleaded. That's the cheapest I found in urban Honolulu, aside from Costco.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Iron-y for Marvel

How cool is it that one of my favorite brands -- one of my reasons for living when I was a kid -- is rocking the free world today. Yep, Marvel Comics is now Marvel Enterprises and Stan Lee is king. The stock was interesting several years ago in the teens. In fact, there was a time when Stan Lee's status within the company was at stake (how wrong and evil that would've been). That's when I first realized they even existed as a publicly-traded company. But the issues worked out. Marvel's evolution into producing its own films worked out. The run from 24 in mid-March to 33 today is amazing. All because of today's bullish forecast by the company, as well as Iron Man, the $100-million superstar this weekend.

I can fret, and so can my lifelong friends who also grew up hooked on Marvel Comics ... but didn't go long MVL. But there will be a pullback sooner or later. No sense buying at these levels, up 37% in two months.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

CROX revisited

I wrote awhile back about the background of Crocs' board, how several of them were at Flextronics when the stock (FLEX) went from 11 to 40 in just three years. Then, after they left, the stock plummeted back down to 11.

When CROX ran from 40 (where I got my first shares) to 75, I thought the run wasn't over. Even as insiders were selling shares left and right, I was blinded by optimism. I was wrong. The stock has cratered. A nightmare for longs who have held their shares all the way to the top and all the way to the bottom. What a nightmare. I had a big profit, lost it (bought at the top, even) and finished with a loss when I got out just under 40. At this point, I'm just glad I got out when I did.

DNDN revisited

Why post this chart? Just to remind myself (and maybe you) that fairy tales do not come true. You either have the goods or you don't.

You could try and believe otherwise, but most times, you'll lose your freaking shirt. Dendreon was a nightmare for me and whole lot of other people who lost money. I didn't lose a ton compared to them, but we all hurt the same. Too many games in the world of the FDA and too many other places -- better places -- to invest your hard-earned cash.

HOKU revisited

All doubters and believers are saying and thinking whatever they want, but until that plant is done in Pocatello, Idaho, nobody's right.

You're either a believer or not. In or out. There's no gray area unless you're playing options, straddling, whatever.

Marvel's Iron Mania

Old friend of mine, Peter, is thinking about grabbing MVL shares on the cusp of "Iron Man," which opens on Friday.

Reminds me of AOL, when "You've Got Mail" opened. I bought in that week and sold after the film was released for a nice profit. Does it happen here with Iron Man? Tough call. MVL has already soared. My guess is that it sells off before the weekend. Too much profit to be taken.

Visa now?

I think not. When the lockup period ends, insiders will bail and the stock will plummet.

Nothing wrong or unnatural about that. Google was $125 early, then slipped to $85 before climbing up that magnificent mountain. I still think MasterCard is the better stock for now, but a dip on Visa is going to be highly tempting.

XMSR revisited

I wrote a few months back about my friend Kyle, who has an unhealthy obsession with XM Satellite Radio. He got in fairly cheap -- at around $10, I think.

Looks like XMSR is just spinning its wheels, even with good news. I don't agree with Kyle about the potential of satellite radio, but if he makes a decent profit, who cares?

Yahoo revisited

I got rid of my YHOO shares a few months ago, unexcited but satisfied to escape with a small profit.

What a dud.

#1 Potash

The worlds wants to eat meat. To get meat, they need to grow corn and soybeans. To do that, they go to Potash and the other remarkable companies that produce fertilizer that can make plants grow on Mars.

Maybe not on Mars. But that's in the pipeline. Maybe not.

#2 Intuitive Surgical

Volatile, yes. But still in a league of their own.

No real competition, not yet, for ISRG.

#3 MasterCard

Sure, Visa is new and exciting ... and also validates what MA has done all along.

MasterCard still rules.

#4 First Solar

The King of Solar.

The gold rush doesn't really compare, does it?

#5 McDonald's

MCD is on a roll. Menu improvements. Renewed vigor. Global expansion. Inroads in China.

I don't see anyone really stopping or slowing Mickey D.

#6 International Business Machines

IBM en fuego? Who woulda thunk it a year ago?

Forget Yahoo and Excite and all those other hot new techs from the late 1990s. IBM still rules.

#7 PetroChina

This is a double bottom?

Like CNOOC, I don't see PTR floundering for much longer, not with Big Brother's protection.

#8 Disney

Are Disney's theme cruises still hot?

#9 Flowserve

Yes. Pipe and valves. Sexy.

Wish I'd gotten some at 77 when I had the chance. Both the first time and the second time.

#10 Apple

The imminent doom predicted by Apple naysayers ... just history now.

There is no greater brand in America. Steve Jobs could announce a line of Apple furniture and the Appleholics would gobble it all up. It's manic, cultish and ... cool.

#11 China Mobile

I sure didn't like the way the stock tanked in recent months, but I think there's no way to dislodge CHL as the monster of all cellphone companies.

In the U.S., we rely on computers for our Internet needs. In China, it's all about net access on cellphones. The best is yet to come.

#12 Nintendo

Still lovin' NTDOY.PK.

#13 Google

Time to move Google back into the Top 10. Maybe Top 5.

Sure it looked gloomy for GOOG longs when the stock got close to 400. But did you really doubt them? I didn't think so.

#14 Research in Motion

Just a matter of time before the magic of a CrackBerry becomes part of China.

Not cheap here. Worth watching.

#15 Goldman Sachs

Teflon. That's GS. The rest of the forest could burn down, but Goldman Sachs stands untouched.

Goldman Sachs is bulletproof.

#16 Focus Media

Someone has to become the advertising king in China. Right?

Or maybe it just isn't going to happen. After all. FMCN is about small-scale advertising. Where's the growth? Where are the profits in a quickly rising economy?


Oil and China. Joined at the brain.

Pattern of lower lows and lower highs ended recently. I still think Big Brother won't let CNOOC lose.

#18 Amazon

The stock that folks love or hate.

In Bezos you trust.

#19 Foster Wheeler

I like FWLT, but it ain't perfect. Once a year, a poor quarter followed (as the CEO says) by incredible strength.

Any takers here?

#20 Baidu

Holy roller, Batman. BIDU is on a tear.

I can't see buying shares here. The next bargain sale will come sooner or later.

#21 Nike

Nike and China. I can't avoid looking at those two together. Lovebirds!

#22 Microsoft

Frankly, I don't see keeping MSFT at #22 without a compelling reason.

Why would anyone rather own shares of MSFT than GOOG? Or even AAPL? I want to hear the argument.

#23 China Life Insurance

This was one helluva sucky suck stock from October to March. I proclaimed then and still do that life insurance in China will be fine. I didn't know LFC would dive from 105 to below 50 in that span of six months. Holy crap!

For now, the stock has seen a reprieve and has bounced from 55 to 67. Is the end over? Probably. Can LFC thrive?

My answer to that is another question: How many people live in China?

#24 Suntech Power

I've always believed that Suntech Power would ride a wave of alternative energy solutions in power-hungry China. So far, however, STP has proven to be nothing more than a short-term trading vehicle.

What will it take for China to put two feet in and commit fully to alt energy? Hard to say. It's not like there's going to be a public outcry in the Middle Kingdom for wise energy policy, not even with rampant air pollution. China seems more concerned, and rightfully so, with human rights issues.

It's all too choppy for me. But I keep watching STP.

#25 Chipotle Mexican Grill

A review of my Top 25 stocks. It's been awhile and the market has been happy. Recession? What recession? I can't pretend to understand a bit of it. But it's always interesting to look at the chart anyway.

If anyone doubts that the U.S. economy is in a recession, this chart says otherwise. I don't know Chipotle Mexican Grill from Chili's, but it doesn't matter. That gap down in the past week is very not good for longs.

Barron's was right

You could hate Barron's. I know I have. But they were right about the oil companies that have their toes in the Bakken Shale near the Canadian border. Since Barron's ran its story a few months back, four of the five stocks are up significantly.

then: 59
now: 77
+ 30%

then: 100
now: 135

then: 7.13
now: 9.22

then: 25
now: 45

then: 51
now: 46

The numbers don't lie.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Brew Review: Grape Pale Ale

Grape Pale Ale (Samuel Adams)
Appearance (0 to 4 stars): 3.5
Aroma: faint. 3.5
Flavor: subdued, slightly sweet. 3.5
Texture: smooth, 4.0
Drinkability: excellent, 3.5

Overall score: 18.0

Cost: $8.99 (sale) at Foodland for "LongShot" 6-pack

On the label: This is a very creative spin on a pale ale, As Lili describes it. "It's like you are drinking a pale ale after biting into a fresh green seedless grape." This delicate brew is light-bodied with unique sweet, yet dry flavors from the grapes. What a combination...

Summary: This "home brew" was concocted by Lili Hess of Hawaii. It brings me great pleasure to see a fellow Hawaii islander win the big prize (one of two winners) in Samuel Adams' LongShot contest. The box, which has become a norm for the company's special brews, stood out in the liquor section, and once I saw faces on the box, I was intrigued. (Good marketing tactic.)

Interestingly enough, Lili is also a Samuel Adams employee. Bottom line: her creation is masterful. Takes a woman to really do something this inventive. Grapes and beer? Amazing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yeah, credit cards are evil ... and profitable

Frontline all over the credit-card industry tonight. No way for the credit monsters to win unless you're long. Wish I'd bought MasterCard awhile back. Even with Mr. Bear feasting, MA is rising toward its highs again. I've said it before: No sense in fighting a losing fight. I hate credit cards as much as anyone. I refuse to use them. I refuse to buy into a system that "rewards" me with 18- or 35-percent interest just so to increase my credit rating. It's stupid, but it's America.

Can't beat 'em? Join 'em.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Market just pissing it all away

No surprise here. No news still would've moved the Dow Jones and Nasdaq down, but the Fed bailout of Bear Stearns ... the road is so crooked, nobody can see straight. CNBC says two days ago, Bear Stearns insisted that there were no liquidity problems. And yet, today, they accept a bailout and the market goes haywire, down 2%. Nasdaq is down 61 points.

The very thing that annoys me to no end — people borrowing and spending beyond their limits — is what has put our economy under enormous, severe pressure on several fronts. Many of us can't pay for our homes anymore. Many of us are in major credit debt. China basically owns our ass. And that gets worse with the dollar falling off a cliff. Even the Japanese have us by the nuggets now that the dollar is worth only ¥99.

Is anything in the green today? Barely.

• Blue Nile is up a fraction, but at 40, it has been destroyed since hitting a high of 100 last year
• Ninetowns Internet (NINE) is up 2.3% to 2.23, but is down from its all-time high of 7.20
• China Medical is up fractionally to 40
• Dick's Sporting Goods is up 2.5% to 26.66
• Gamestop is up 2.4% to 48.31
• Boeing is up 1.3% to 75.17
• Healthways is up almost 1% to 32.73

But those are far and few in between. The vast majority of the market is deep in a red sea. Commodities had been steady until today's selloff. Gold hit $1,009 per ounce. IShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up a bit to 204.86. Global silver supply will dry up within a decade, supposedly. That reminds me of the talk that phosphorus supply will evaporate within 50 years, and will hit the fertilizer sector in a bad way. It's only fitting that "liquid gold" may become a source of phosphorus some day. Quite gross, but in the realm of possibility.

So now what?

The Fed pours cash in and the trickle-down-effect is real. Real temporary. Can this latest trick by Uncle Sam really keep the stock market from sliding off a cliff again? We'll see soon enough. Friday is usually sayonara time for traders, especially in a bear market. If the market ends up big on huge volume today, I'll be surprised.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Respect the Mag-maaa

Preposterous. Ridiculous. Ludicrous. There are all kinds of words to describe the carnage done to some of the world's best publicly traded companies. But the reality is, like the last homeowners who try to stand in the way of a lava flow, logic has nothing to do with it. You either get out and save yourself, or stay put and get steamrolled by tons of fiery magma.

Simple as that. Simplicity is rarely easy to execute, of course.

Even Potash can't escape the storm. Not cheap, though, even now.

What do you do with good stocks gone bad? Best to wait it out.

This is real strength here. Impressive, but not a reason to dive in.

All the solars fell off a roof, including the best of breed. Not cheap. Not yet.

Mickey D cuts against the grain. Not cheap anymore.

This chart defies the rest of the market.

Interesting that PetroChina dropped while its cousin CNOOC gained.

Not a thing wrong with Disney. Just caught in the tide.

Flowserve takes another hit, but still not cheap.

PhotobucketApple looks cheap, but who dares to enter?

China Mobile? Now this looks cheap. I just don't trust it.

This is beyond cheap. I don't have the guts (or lunacy) to go near, though.

Like Apple, RIMM is another stock that gets pillaged and plundered en masse by the big boys.

Goldman Sachs is tempting below 165. But I'll just watch for now.

When will China bounce back?

Not cheap at all.

Amazon has a tendency to stay below the sand before blooming just a few times a year.

The CEO said the company will do a repeat of last year. In other words, FWLT is entering the strength of its fiscal year.

China still spooky, but I'm watching.

Nike is cheap again.

Value is here, but can MSFT really grow?

I just have a strong belief that life insurance in China will win.

Like FSLR, STP got beaten to a pulp.

Well-run company, but subject to any economic slowdown. I'm real close to dropping Chipotle out of my Top 25.