Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Beware of Oncoming Trains

  • Normally, the work flow in the office is such that I have time to jot down thoughts as the day progresses. This hasn't been the case the past couple of weeks.  I think normalcy will return shortly, as long as the light at the end of the tunnel isn't a train!
  • Meanwhile, the market liked what the Fed had to say and started ramping soon after the huddle broke.  It helps to lose a few of the more-hawkish members this year!  Also, we're at the monthly strength cycle where 401(k) money is dollar-cost averaged into mutual funds, which acts as buying pressure and can help keep things floating.  The sad news, is that February is the weakest of the seasonally strong months.  With the Fed out of the way for now, perhaps we'll see something that breaks us out of the channeling market.
  • I continue to hold low-beta positions and some cash.  Had my fingers ready on the wrong quick-flip on the Fed release.  I was hoping for the snap down after the announcement, and I'd have faded that by buying beta for a quick flip on a reversal.  Didn't happen, so I didn't do anything. 
  • Gold seemed to like the Fed's no action.
  • The Google (GOOG) released earnings today, and things looked good.  But what's up with the stock price afterhours?  Down a little.  It seems like a $10 move is a big deal, but if this was a $25 stock it'd be like a 50-cent move.  The stock doesn't seem like it's done much lately.  Nor has the market, that's true.  But this is one of the leaders, and like AAPL it seems to have run into a headwind.
  • OK, I've about had it with the American Idol tryouts.  Lets get to the competition.
  • Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is now officially a dictatorVenezuela's Congress on Wednesday granted President Hugo Chavez powers to rule by decree for 18 months as he tries to force through nationalizations key to his self-styled leftist revolution.  If you're feeling a sense of deja vous, maybe it's recollection of a history class on 1930's Germany.  I do feel for companies that have business investments in Venezuela, as Chavez seems likely to take control.
  • I'm sure Microsoft's Vista is a step up, but I don't feel the need to run out and upgrade the operating system.  I imagine whenever I do need a new PC, that's when I'll have Vista.  Until then, that gives Mr. Softee a chance to get all the bugs fixed.  Okay, not all of them.   Some, right?
  • I've got some squares for the Super Bowl!  Yah, I was out a few days a couple weeks ago and missed out on the Super Bowl pools.  But now I have some squares in one.  I'm good.
  • I think I like the Bears and the points.  Defense and a running game.  Plus points.  I like Manning and would like to see him win one, but the Bears might win this outright.  I'm not a fan of either team, so a high-scoring back and forth game would be fantastic.  Maybe some OT. 

Monday, January 29, 2007

More Back and Forth

  • Another fun day at the markets. The most frustrating position for those watching the daily ticks has to the buy and hold strategy.   The market really hasn't done anything since November but trade back and forth, while cash is "trucking along" at 5% annually.  Short-term trading has had hits and misses, but the dangers of being whipsawed in this channeling market have got to be increasing the blood pressures there.  Today, the market ramped up quickly and then sank on the fears that the Fed may continue their hawkish tone when they meet tomorrow.  Stay tuned!
  • On The Apprentice last night, Marissa reminded me of one of my coworkers.  I like to call him One Track Charlie.  He'll come up with an idea, and it'll be his only idea for months.  And if nobody takes his idea seriously, which is normally the case, then he just rides it, escalates it, schedules meetings, creates an email storm, etc.  He hasn't proposed big dancing chickens just yet, though.
  • Doesn't it seem like everyone likes the Bears plus the points in the Super Bowl?
  • My subscription ran out.  I was rarely reading it.  Decided that the subscription money could be better spent on .... uh, beer or something.
  • Myth: Google is a very volatile stock.  From Adam.
  • Work is driving me nuts I tell you.  Nuts.  Lots of balls up in the air.
  • The financial Super Bowl, Indy vs. Chicago.  From Kiplingers.
  • Going to a Farmers Market in January is a glass-half empty experience.  What kind of produce is available in January?  Not much.  Oranges.  "We got yer oranges here."  And not too many of those, due to the cold weather.  Some beyond-their-prime apples.  Squash.  Mushrooms.  
  • Hillary is going to raise so much cash, that all the other Democrats will be vying for the bottom spot on the ticket.  It's going to be Hillary, folks.
  • The Vixen is out with her Oscar picks!  ...everyone is asking who's gonna get Oscar. But we believe it's also important to note who SHOULD get the Oscar.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Quick Hits!

  • The market? A rather listless friday.  The big battle is wondering if the sideways action in the market since November is either some sort of topping action or consolidation for the next run.  Convincing arguments on both sides abound.  Market internals were fair, but fridays tend to be profit taking day against the weekly trend. 
  • We're approaching month end, which is normally a positive catalyst for the markets as 401(k) money gets dollar cost averaged into mutual funds.  February is usually the weakest month in the "strong month cycle" between Fall through Spring.
  • Usually as you eat peanuts in the shell, there is a well-defined seem in the shell that makes it easy to crack open.  Other times, there is no seem and as you squeeze the peanut shell, the shell explodes in your hands.  I hate it when that happens.
  • Fox subpoenas YouTube over "24" episodes.  You know, for awhile you could find anything on YouTube.  Eventually, it'll be watered down to where it's just another boring internet site.  With porn.
  • Ford loses $12.7 billion in 2006, and I'm wondering when the IRS asks Ford whether they're running a business or a hobby.  Aren't businesses supposed to exist to make a profit and not just perpetual tax losses year after year?
  • Big Apple subway map on a condom wrapper?  Believe it or not, condoms wrapped in a subway map or other city theme -- think picture of a big apple -- are what New York City officials are considering. Health officials think people would be more likely to use one of the 1.5 million free condoms the city issues monthly if they come in a snazzy wrapper, rather than plain.  Hey, how about a snazzy slogan on those condoms with the subway map:  "Where do you get off?"
  • It's been a long week here at the Fun Factory.  We're working on multiple projects and staff are trying to bend time to get things done, Hiro.  I am so looking forward to a couple days away.  I'm also contemplating my future and if I want to move around to somewhere else.  Maybe for more money.  Change of scenery.  Different challenges. 

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bearish Engulfing Tecates

  • Holy reversal, Batman! Bearish engulfing pattern, right? The market staging a disappointing turnaround from yesterday's rally.  Make no mistake about it, this market has been a tough cookie since November.  Trying a few short term trades that are hit and miss.  (Like the market at large, I suppose).
  • I went to the Sacramento Kings game last night.  I don't go very often. but it is fun here and there.  And with the Mighty Milwaukee Bucks in town last night, why not?  How often does one get to see 133 pound, 5' 5" Earl Boykins light up a team for 36 ponts?  Now that was fun.  He's fun to watch zip in and zip out amongst the giants on the court.
  • $9.75 for a 24 ounce Tecate beer at Arco Arena in Sacramento.  Hello, profit margin!  I know the Kings players don't play for free, and that somebody has to pay for Ron Artest and Mike Bibby.  And the fans do seem willing to line up in large numbers for $9.75 Tecates.  But holy smokes.  Oh, on the plus side, they do throw in the lime for free.  For those who want to fruit their beer.
  • Microsoft up big afterhours.  Of course, we knew they'd say giddy things about Vista, right?  The stock hasn't rallied in anticipation of bad news afterall.  What happens tomorrow?  Sell the news?  Panic buying?  Another 30-plus point move in the opposite direction of the previous day?
  • Uh oh, Norway vs. Apple over iTunes.  "They must make iTunes music compatible with other players than the iPod by the end of September, or we will take them to court," the ombudsman, Bjoern Erik Thon, told Reuters.  "ITunes is imposing unreasonable and unbalanced restrictions that are not in accordance with Norwegian law."  How many people live in Norway?  Could Apple just pull the product from Norway and tell 'em, "Good luck with the Zune, dudes."  Looks like a lot of Europe is allied with Norway here, though.  Hey, does that make Apple part of the Axis of Evil?
  • All I've read from Op-Eds and liberal blogs says that everything Bush mentioned in the State of the Union is dead.  I was hoping for some movement on energy independence.  After all, it seems as if every President the last 30 years has given lip service to the subject, but nothing ever happens.  We just continue to import more and more crude from unstable regions on the planet.  Seems crazy to me.
  • Man with mannequin fetish sent to prison.  Say, can he log on to and place an order for a conjugal visit?
  • For you New Jersey squirrel hunters, avoid those critters near toxic waste dumps.  I know, I know.  You'll just have to hold your nose and substitute tacos made with chicken for awhile until this whole ugly thing blows over.
  • Tyra Banks, fat?  Banks, who is 5 feet 10 inches tall, said she now weighs about 161 pounds (73 kg) -- about 30 pounds (13.6 kg) heavier than in 1997 when she first made it as a swimsuit model.
  • Ford loses $12.7 Billion in 2006Still, the grim reality remains that Ford lost $12.7 billion over the course of the year, surpassing the massive $10.6 billion loss in 2005, thanks mostly to hefty charges incurred from the company's North American operations overhaul.   Hey Ford, here's an idea:  Sell $9.75 Tecates on the showroom floor.  Works for the NBA!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Did You Sell the Right Tech?

  • Just a quick Cramer note. Wasn't Jim on CNBC with a bullhorn last week telling everyone to sell tech?  "Sell tech in January, buy it back in August."  Right?  And he got complimented by Erin Burnett on the call, too.  Over on realmoney today, he just blogged "We are in trading heaven here, where you can rent tech when it goes down and sell it when it goes higher.  I am not suspending my judgment that most tech will be in for a tough ride here and needs to be sold on strength. I am just making the point that some tech can be held through the ugly period, and the only 'investment tech' name that has done nothing is Apple. I just don't believe it can stay down much longer, particularly because the bears are being routed in tech and can't take the pain of having still one more name fly up in their faces."   ER... UH...  I guess last week he should've used the bullhorn to say "Sell some tech, but keep the ones that are going to go up."
  • Iran receives defense missles from Russia.  Thanks, allies.  That makes me want to watch Rocky IV again and see Rocky Balboa beat Ivan Drago.
  • With the Democrats in charge of the Senate, a panel has opposed the troop increase in Iraq.  Instead, they offered the following plan:  "        ."
  • Stock market closed at the highs today.  EBAY was up 10% afterhourse last I checked, so this could continue tomorrow.  MSFT tomorrow, and that one should be interesting.  They'll have some operating system news (Vista), so that'll keep things hopping.  The stock has rallied quite a bit as folks must be expecting good things from Mr. Softee.

State of the Union Rally

  • Extremely swamped here at the Fun Factory. New year.  New projects.  Let the chaos ensue.  I've been in tons of meetings, giving presentations, and trying to keep my herd moving forward.  I could use a couple of border collies!
  • I watched the State of the Union speech last night.  I think the most important bullet item from President Bush's speech was that of energy independence.  Decreasing our gasoline usage by 20% over the next 10 years would mean we could almost completely eliminate our need for Mideast crude.  In addition, the building of new nuclear power plants, drilling more here at home, and developing alternative energy are all in the best interests of the US going forward.  Oh, and I expect absolutely NONE of this to gain any traction.  Senator Jim Webb clearly stated in the Democrat response that their number one goal was opposing everything Bush was for.  Gridlock at its finest, folks. 
  • The market ramping today.  After a week of weakness, we're due for a strong bounce in the other direction.  Of course, it looks as if neither bulls or bears can really get any traction going.  Looking at the market calendar, the end of month strength should begin around next tuesday.  Unless it's starting early!
  • Free Steve Jobs!  From Adam...
  • Trans fat alternative also unhealthyThe interesterified oils may not only lower HDL levels but also cause a significant rise in blood sugar, researchers found. 
  • The unfortunate thing about creating more ethanol, is that it requires a lot of energy.  What do we burn to create that energy?  Coal!  Coal is dirty, emits lots of CO2 (think "global warming"), and harmful radioactive gunk into the air and ground.  So is ethanol really the "environmentally friendly" choice?  Heck no. 
  • Market holding up well.  Interesting to see how the last hour plays.  Lots of folks were saying they wanted a bounce to reload up on shorts.  Here it is.  Will they?  Or are they chicken?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Clocking In

  • First, thank you to the well wishers.  I'm 98% recovered!  It was just a nasty headcold and I spent most of the last few days sleeping and pounding down the cough syrup.  One note: Beer and cough syrup are a powerful combo, and I don't recommend mixing the two.  File it under John Bogle's eighth wonder of the world, "the magic of compounding."  Pretty woozy feeling after cough syrup plus 3/4ers of a Fat Tire. 
  • Woo!  Monday!  The market doesn't seem to like today anymore than the rest of us.  We're coming up on the end of the trading day, so it'll be interesting to see if the bulls can mount a fight.  We're already off the lows by a bit.  I remain with low-beta holdings, some cash on the sidelines, and a little QID (double inverse QQQQ).
  • Normally, if options week was strong I'd expect this week to be weak.  But with earnings announcements up the wazzoo, anything is possible.  The end of the month strength is still a week off.  We also have the President's State of the Union speech, where he may recommend a (GASP) tax hike and talk about (GASP) global warming.  I expect this to mostly be lip service.   It's not like anything ever said in a State of the Union speech ever gets off the ground.
  • Hugo Chavez speeding up the nationalization in Venezuela.  Another reason to avoid investing in rogue areas of the globe.  This will basically destroy Venezuela, as foreign investment capital dries up.
  • Colts and Bears going to Miami for the Super Bowl!
  • Hillary Clinton joings the crowded field for the 2008 Democrats, and Liberal Larry is all over it in Tell Me What My Platform Is!  To be honest, I think it's a dogfight for the Democrats.  I think eventually, Hillary's centrist positions will put her on the top of the ticket.  John Edwards may have a shot at this, too.  I don't have a feeling for the GOP ticket yet.  I thought McCain would be the front man, but it's too early to tell.
  • Trading Goddess wonders if Google is priced 8x too low.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Attack of the Killer Virus

  • Ah, B movies.  Where would we be without them?  I'm home today and highly medicated, fighting whatever version of the Cold or Flu virus that is attacking Sacramento.  Taking lots of vitamin C, although I don't think that helps.  Maybe I should take more BEFORE I get the cold...
  • The market seeing some selling here.  Cramer comes on CNBC and says to "sell tech."  Is this why?  Well, I've heard Cramer say that tech is a strong play late in the year, and a weak play early in the year.  "Technology is a calendar issue," he just said on CNBC.  "Buy in August.  Sell in January."  Maybe so.   We've also come a long way since Summer 2006.  This market hasn't seen much profit taking, and we're way overdue for some health-restoring action.  And have you noticed how quick folks are to ask if "this is the bottom?" or is now a good time to get in?
  • I'm comfy-cozy with a low-beta and high cash position, and still have some QID which is doing great this week.  If we get a 5% pullback or so in the general market, it'll be time to get aggressive I think.  Oil prices are coming down, which acts like a tax cut for folks.  Let the worry build, and it could create a nice set-up for the first intermediate trade of 2007.
  • Didn't it seem that last night's American Idol was a bit over the top?  Did Seattle bring in the short bus full of special needs folks for the auditions?  I felt kind of sad watching it.
  • Have you ever wondered why Mark Cuban never wears a suit?  Now we know.  "Why am I such a suit hater ? I'm not a suit hater, I just could never think of any good reason for any sane person to wear a suit in the first place.
    Exactly what purpose does a suit serve ? Why in the world are so many people required to wear a suit to work ? Do the clothes make the man or woman in the western world today ? Does wearing a tie make us work harder or smarter ? Is this a conspiracy by the clothing, fabric or dry cleaning industry to take our money?"
      I agree with him. I hate playing dress up.
  • Interesting column up by Todd Harrison on Marketwatch, War Games.
  • If you missed Bernanke this morning, he was worried about entitlement spending and said that Social Security and Medicare have to be revamped.  Also concerned about budget deficits.  More from Schaeffer's site and David at The Shark Report.  Oh, and I Fought the Fed, and the Fed Won over at WSJ's blog.
  • The Miami Dolphins are interviewing San Diego Chargers' offensive coordinator Cam Cameron a second time.  Look, he may be great but how can we know for sure that he's an offensive genious?  How hard is it to say "OK, Tomlinson left" on one play call, then "OK, Tomlinson right" on the next?

Get to Know Me!

"Hello, I'm Jon Lovitz, and I'm having lunch in the Russian Tea Room with the most beautiful woman in the world - Paulina! Well, we can't all be me. But if you'd like to fulfill your dream like I did, then I have one piece of advice for you - Get To Know Me! When did I chip my tooth? Why do I drain my foot? Where is my extra bone? Get To Know Me!" - Jon Lovitz on SNL

So after being tagged by Adam, I've given it some thought.   Here are 5 things about me!

  • I auditioned for lead singer in a rock band once.  I had to sing Alice Cooper's "School's Out" with the band.  I roughly knew the lyrics but spent a few days nailing them down to the CD.  Of course, during the tryout my mind went blank initially, but I recovered after and was able to sing with the band.  I flamed out.  They recorded it and played it back.  I was awful.  Thank God Simon and Randy weren't there with the TV crew.  The band was cool about it, though.  The best compliment was "Believe me, I've heard worse, dude."
  • As a teen, my first two jobs were in the fast food industry.  The most important life lesson from those jobs was to "clean as you go."  But you know, that wasn't the fun part.  There's a line in the movie "American Beauty" where Kevin Spacey's character says, "When I was your age, I flipped burgers all summer just to be able to buy an eight-track. ...actually it was great. All I did was party and get laid. I had my whole life ahead of me."  Yeah, those were the days.  And what better memories are there then making out with coworkers in the walk-in 'fridge and hooking up and partying after the late shift?
  • I wasn't always vegetarian.  Well into the adult years, I wouldn't even eat a veggie, except for potato chips or french fries.  My diet was centered around meat, cheese and bread.  I have always been somewhat of a workout hound, even when I was heavy, but the weight came on no matter how much I worked out.   I realized I had to make some dietary changes.  I switched to a low-fat vegan diet and forced myself to eat veggies.  Seriously, I hated veggies.   I put lots of salsa or teriyaki sauce on them to gag 'em down.  Over time, I learned to like some (broccoli) and focused on the ones I liked over some sort of whole grains.  I lost 60 pounds over 5 months.  I'm currently 5' 9" and weigh 155.   I'm not as strict about the diet now, and do eat chicken or fish once a week or so. 
  • I've lived my whole life in California.  Living for a time in Redding, various places in SoCal, and most recently in various areas near Sacramento.  Sacramento is a great blend of country living like in Redding and city living down in SoCal.  I like being within an hour or so of SF and the mountains.  I would say that "home" to me is SoCal.  Someday, I'll go back.
  • As much as I blog about television, you'd think that it's been a major part of my life.  That is certainly true now.  But there was a period where I couldn't even tell you what the popular TV series were.  Other than a sports game now and then or a late night Saturday Night Live, I didn't watch much.   I was out at the gym or cycling in the evenings after work, and would head out with friends afterwards.  I missed the first five years of Seinfeld.  I remember a first date where a girl said at dinner, "That sounds like something from Seinfeld."  I'm like, "From what?"  I knew nothing about it.   Needless to say, that relationship didn't work out. 
Alright, spreading the love and tagging three?  Jeff at A Dash of Insight, the Zen Trader, and Value Blog Review.  And if you've done this already Emily, "Nevermind..."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Cold and Flu Edition

  • Sick again. I used to catch a cold/flu once a year at most.  This past year I've had four.  I've noticed that I always seem to get sick about 2 days after visiting my friends house.  I think I catch whatever his kids have.  They're always sick with something.
  • Everyone is wating for Apple.  Everyone thinks they'll beat, since they lowball their estimates.  But by how much?  I'm tempted to buy some AAPL on the selling pre-earmings and hope for a pop on whatever they say after the bell.  Can't be too bad.  Doesn't everyone want an iPhone?
  • On American Idol... Obviously they're hyping the bad singers and those who make fools of themselves.  I do feel for some of those folks who seem to think they can carry a tune, and have no Career Plan B.   I'm sure it all sounds better in the shower.  Oh, and is Jewel hot or what?  Hoo.
  • Man, I'm going downhill fast.  Think I'll head home.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

TV Overload

  • Options week! We have lots of earnings coming out this week, and that should keep things hopping.  We saw last week what happened to SAP and AMD on their bad earnings, so best to keep alert.  (The world needs more lerts...)  Intel after the bell!
  • Barack Obama throws his hat in the 2008 Presidential race promising a different kind of politics.  Uh huh.  Even though every politician since the dawn of time has promised a "this time it'll be different" brand of politics.  But he probably has an interesting chance at being the lead on the Democratic ticket.  Well spoken and not snake-oily like "Used Car" Johnny (Edwards).
  • I was tagged by Adam.  Well, 5 things you don't know about me?  My favorite kind of ice cream is...  OK, I'll give it some thought and get back to you.
  • I'm in full-TV mode right now.  Playoffs on over the weekend.  4 hours of "24."  And "American Idol" kicks off tonight.  Lots of other shows coming off their winter break in the weeks ahead.  Unless the daylight hours get longer and the weather warms, it's likely the only cardio work I'll be getting during the evenings is trips to the kitchen for sodas and popcorn.  "Keep those knees high, Mister!  Work it!"  Ugh, I'm going to have to make an effort.
  • So "24" kicks off, and we're all hooked even though we've all seen the same story line repeated over and over again.  As Adam notes, how James Bond-ish to have the villian tell Jack the master plan before killing him, only to have Jack escape to foil the plan.  As usual, the advice Jack gives to CTU and the President is soundly ignored, even though Jack has never been wrong.  We even have a new character to hate in Ally McBeal's The Biscuit (Peter MacNicol).  And remember, he likes a fresh bowl.
  • Some gripes about The Apprentice: LA?  First, having the winning team's project manager repeat as project manager seems a bit unfair to the other members on the team.  Next, I'm feeling some compassion for those living out in Tent City.  Seems a little unfair, in a cruel and somewhat entertaining way I suppose.  Next, when the winning team consists of mostly women and a gay guy, the winning prize is a trip to the Playboy mansion?
  • Funny "24" comic strip called "CTU Custodian" up at Liberal Larry's.
  • More financial stuff as the day and week goes.  I'm being careful, because I think there is a lot of risk out there right now. 

Friday, January 12, 2007

I, Aye, Eye...

  • Some thoughts on the iPhone trademark war between Cisco and Apple? Maybe Apple could call their smartphone the "eye-phone."  Or, the "aye-phone." 
  • Congrats to "Norm!" Fosback, for the MLKjr (market holiday) system that has worked once again.  Booyah!  All the while, the Nasdaq and NDX have broken out.  MSFT has broken out, and is about 13% of the NDX.  Of course, looking in the shadows we see some earnings troubles and stock blowups in SAP and AMD, with the earnings flood hitting us next week.  So we can see the potential of what can happen if a stock disappoints.  Probably not today's business, but maybe next week.
  • Will there be real-time stock prices to websites?  $100,000 a month?  I wonder if that fee is all inclusive no matter how many eyeballs are checking their quotes?  That'd be great for Yahoo, Google, MSN, et al.
  • Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz have broken up.  Another Hollywood romance ending?  Shocker!  "We have, in fact, ended our romantic relationship and have done so mutually and as friends with continued love and respect for each other."  Ah, got bored with the sex, I guess.  On to the next customer.
  • Simon Cowell of American Idol says Bob Dylan bores him to tears.  I'm not a big fan, either.
  • The RSI(2) on the QQQQ is close to 99.  It's 98.77 as I type.  Maybe it'll go above 1.  (LOL).

In Edit: Changed pic to Ricky Ricardo!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Moon Blast

  • Folks getting excited about a breakout in the markets. After a trading range from November-January, will be bust out and over for a new leg up?  Or could this be something that sucks in folks before we head back down?  I continue to be in low beta stuff with lots of cash, which is dragging down my total return compared to the market.  But still short-term trading with some cash, which is bringing the return back up close to the market.  Although with much more effort on my part.  Watching those little names like a hawk should the market reverse down.
  • Market internals great today.  Breadth great.  If the market takes off from here, I'll have to re-evaluate my current portfolio allocation.  It used to be really difficult for me to admit I was wrong, and clear the slate and begin anew.  But this is probably the most important thing to learn.  If one is wrong, why stick with it?   It's okay to be wrong.
  • Before folks get too excited about the hiking of the minimum wage, it may make some sense to see how the recent hike in California is affecting businesses here.  From the Contra Costa TimesMany East Bay restaurants are increasing menu prices as California's new minimum wage, which went into effect Jan. 1, drives up costs.
  • Adam on the put-call ratio.
  • More on the minimum wage from Liberal Larry, "Even With Minimum Wage Increase, Many Americans Still Making More Than Me."
  • I'm still waiting for the call to be interviewed for the head coaching job of the Miami Dolphins.  Wayne?  I'd decline it, though.  The team might get angry when they learn I have no Dolphins on my Fantasy Football squad.  Not exactly a vote of confidence from a head coach.
  • Michelle Malkin is in Baghdad!  Kind of interesting to read her take on events over there compared to what we normally hear from the Mainstream Media.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad!

  • Happy Birthday, Dad. As many of you know, I lost my dad last year.   Normally, I'd pick up the phone to call him and sing "Happy Birthday to you!"  He'd laugh and tell me to keep my day job or that it was a good thing that I went to college.  Miss you, Dad.
  • The MLKjr holiday rally is on in the stock market!  (See Norm!)  Yeah, everyone seems bullish.  The Investors Intelligence numbers are showing bulls coming out of the woodwork, but that hasn't slowed things down.  The market seems to be moving sideways the last two months, but here we are near the highs again.  Will we break through this time? 
  • The economy does seem like it's going well.  Democrats are in Congress and generating a feeling of checks and balances in the government.  Oil prices are down due to weak demand.  Companies are beating earnings.  Minimum wages went up in a bunch of states in January, and the Democrats in Congress are looking to bump the federal minimum wage.  Most think Bernanke and the Fed seem to have created a soft landing in the economy.  Many are saying that the real estate market has bottomed.  We'll all have iPhones by mid-Summer.  What could possibly go wrong?
  • On the weak oil demand, it's been pretty warm due to El Nino.  But a Siberian storm is heading this way, and we're not used to the cold.  Most of us here in Sacramento don't have mittens.  Heck, we think "mittens" is a typo.  Know what I mean?
  • President Bush speaks tonight.  I have a hard time listening to him.  I'd rather listen to a Saturday Night Live parody.  At least SNL is trying to be funny.  Bush will talk about sending more troops to Iraq and that mistakes were made.
  • Cisco sues Apple of the use of iPhone.  So, do you think Cisco can be bought off?  I can see the conversation going something like, "Maybe we can be pardners, pardner."
  • Adam's Randoms, with even more USC cheerleaders ("song girls").  And hat tip for the Wallstrip heads up with Kevin Depew.
  • Uh oh, Sears Holdings makes the anti-Cara 100.
  • While it seems like a waste of vodka to me, Boston Gal with some home gardening tips for your bulbs.  I haven't heard of that.  Bone meal, yes; vodka, no.  "Bloom, drunk flowers, bloom!" 
  • Are pet owners less healthyUsing survey data from more than 21,000 young to middle-aged Finnish adults, researchers found that pet owners were generally more likely to be overweight and to view their own health as poor.  This was largely because pet owners tended to be middle-aged, have less education and more health-risk factors, explained Dr. Leena K. Koivusilta, the study's lead author.  I said I wanted some "mittens," dammit!
  • Oh... One last thing. Pick up the phone and give somebody a call. Tell them you're thinking about them.

A is for Apple

A is for Apple. J is for Jacks.  Cinnamon, toasty, Apple Jacks!

Thinking about Apple.  When folks think of who created the MP3 craze, everyone thinks Apple iPods.  But I had my first generic MP3 CD player years before the iPod.  Then I bought a Nomad Jukebox, which I still use.  Now I use my Treo smartphone for music.  Apple had a great marketing strategy and teamed up their iPod with the iTunes music store.  That was really the first transition from folks downloading free music to a service that integrated a player with legally purchased music.

Now they're launching the iPhone.  New concept?  Not at all.  There are Blackberries, Treos, Qs, Blackjacks, and lots of flavor of Pocket PC smartphones out there.  Apple isn't the first on the scene.  I like my Treo and was thinking about getting a Blackjack in the months ahead.  Now Apple has me wondering if I should wait until June to check out the iPhone.  I have a hunch that 5 years down the road, folks will credit Apple for creating the smartphone.

Likewise, Apple is creating iTV which allows folks to stream content from their PC over a wireless network to their TVs.  New idea?  Not at all.  The Linksys Media Extender works with Windows XP Media Center to do the same thing.  I've been using it for almost 3 years now.  Microsoft's XBOX 360 allows you to stream content from the PC to the TV, too.  But will Apple get the recognition for being the innovator here?

We have to tip our hats to Apple for creating a usable interface that makes their products useable by non-geeks.  Apple gets credit for outstanding marketing of their products.  If I were a maker of smartphones, I'd be worried that Apple is going to wipe my product off the market.  And what about the non-Cingular wireless companies that won't have the iPhone in their product lines?  Tivo should be worried, too.

Cinnamon, toasty, Apple Jacks!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


  • Norm! As in Norm Fosback!  He of the famous seasonal timing system.  We're closing in on (yet another) holiday for the markets on January 15th, and Norm's system would have us in the market for the two days prior to the market holiday.   At least that's how I read it. 
  • Apple (AAPL) today announced the coming of the iPhone and iTV.  The iPhone will be much more expensive than today's smartphones, and do roughly the same things.  But it will be "Apple" and therefore have a cool factor that the other products do not.  More thoughts on the iPhone here from SeekingAlpha.  I don't think his complaints matter (Cingular quality, expense of the iPhone).  Because AAPL has the "it factor" as Simon Cowell would say.
  • The market today held up well.  Much of that I think was the mood swing created from Apple, but everything counts.  Nice close after the initial down.  And it looks to me like the MACD crossed on the NDX, for those who watch that.  I don't, but some do.
  • Barry Ritholtz calls the iPhone Drool Worthy.
  • Too much hype on that Ohio St vs Florida game.  What a boring blowout.  Can't we please get another game with Boise St?  Please?
  • Jason notes that the sell signal is on in Interesting Divergences.
  • Here's more on the 5-day failure of the market in 2007.  ...which our gurus who toil in some kind of boiler room somewhere tell us means the market has only about a 49% chance of ending the year higher than where it began.
  • Paul Kedrosky with more on the Apple iPhone. News this morning of the Apple mobile phone is going to mess with the mobile market. Among other things, it is worth watching how mobile competitors' stocks perform on the news.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Catching those Winter Rays!

  • It's winter time, so you know what that means:  Swimsuits, beaches, and plenty of sunshine!  Today it's supposed to hit 64 here in Sacramento.  And I noticed that folks were dressed rather lightly for a playoff game in New England yesterday.
  • If the first 5-days of the year trade up in the SP500, so goes the market (85.7% of the time) according to The Stock Trader's Almanac.  And how is that going?  The SP500 was 1418 at the close on December 29th, 2006.  Today the SP500 closed at 1412.  If the first 5 days are down, it's approximately a 50-50 chance how the market does.
  • Tony Romo.  Oopsie.  Do you realize how close he was to a first down?  If Grammatica makes a better block...  Still, should've held the snap.  Nice quip from Adam.
  • Kevin Stecyk on last night's debut of The Apprentice in Los Angeles.  I agree that both Martin and Frank should've been fired, but Frank won't last long anyways.  Martin reminds me of a typical professor type.  Know what I mean?  Lots of lectures and statements that don't mean anything, and lack of hustle in the real world.  Not to bash all professors.  Generalities apply to groups, not to individuals.  I also agree that "Tentcity" isn't a great idea.  But maybe this will motivate the losing teams.
  • DirecTV to offer 100 HD channels?  Hoo, that blows away what I'm getting now.
  • NBA All-Star Dancer (cheerleaders) ballots!  Hat tip to Adam. And yes, there are videos of the girls to help you pick your favorites.  So what will they due in lieu of a slam dunk competition?  Just thinking out loud here.  Ahem.
  • Jessica Alba.
  • More on the winter weather from Naked Shorts.  Time to put away the swimsuits and really get ready for a cold blast?

Friday, January 05, 2007

What's Next?

  • The market is a little scared today, and reason du jour is going to be strong jobs growth stoking inflation fears. Treasury prices gave up initial gains and took heavy losses Friday, pushing yields higher, after the Labor Department reported unexpectedly robust job growth for last month, alongside higher-than-expected wage inflation.  Of course, we really don't have much inflation yet; but the fear of inflation is what will spook things in the short term.  It'll be interesting to see how the minimum wage bump this month influences the wage numbers next month and throughout the year, too.
  • Lets go to the market playbook.  This week has been pretty volatile, but the Santa Claus rally is over.  We're out of the monthly favorable season, with the 401(k) additions already in.  So coming up we have the week ahead of options expiration, which can see some weakness.  I still have my QID hedge, and it's in the green offsetting the losses elsewhere.  Cash is cruising along with no worries today.
  • I stayed up watching the Lakers-Kings overtime game last night.  I thought Charles Barkley was hillarious doing the color for the game next to Marv.  Maybe too much Barkley, but he does add to the entertainment value. 
  • Finished Next by Michael Crichton.  It was an okay read, but nowhere near his best.  Meandered around and it was kind of tough to keep track of the players.  Plus, the ending was pretty abrupt.  From the middle of the book on, I found myself skimming some of the genetics "articles" inserts.  I found them a little distracting from the story line, because I wanted to get back to see what monkeyboy was doing. Oh, and kind of funny/clever working in of some David Bowie lyrics in there.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Rising with the Dawn

  • Note to self: Don't get too anticipatory with calling market tops in 2007.  That QID hedge isn't holding up too well so far!  The market has decided that "up up and away" is the catch phrase of the day.  Just like the last couple months of 2006, I'm just going to trade around with some small caps (on a short leash) and try to keep ahead of the market index, while maintaining a low beta weighting and plenty of cash on the sidelines.
  • Dawn simulator curbs wintertime blues.  Dawn who?  Dawn YangDawn Marie?   "Dawn simulation and negative air ionization are two naturalistic, non-pharmaceutical environmental enhancements now verified superior to placebo and remarkably effective in the treatment of winter depression," Dr. Michael Terman told Reuters Health.  I can see why. Just looking at the pics lifted my spirits!
  • WHAT?  No bowl game tonight? 
  • A hat tip to Adam's Randoms for the linkage to USC Cheerleader wardrobe malfunction.   A little cheesecake with your Rose Bowl, Mister?  Ooh lah lah.  (Who needs a Dawn simulator anyways?)
  • Cody on Google.  Cody gives "three examples of Google's fumbles that I expect, over a very long time (say, 10 to 20 years), will be the company's undoing."  Interesting thoughts.  Looks like the same column Cody had up at Realmoney.
  • Speaking of Realmoney, which is a subscription site of Cramer's, my subscription runs out this month, and I've decided to exercise my opt-out clause and take the head coaching job at Alabama. 
  • Jason urges us to keep the Pepto close in 2007.  Supersize that, Jason!  He wonders if the correction from November is over.  Interesting thought.  Has the sideways action since November been enough to work off the overbought conditions and set us up for the next leg up?
  • I went to Subway today.  My normal was up 40-cents over last week.  The owner told me that they had to raise prices to cover the increase in the minimum wage here in California.  And so the fools game of raising the minimum wage goes.  Prices go up.  Other workers will demand salary increases to "keep up with inflation."  Then we're back to square one.
  • I hope Nick Saban has some sort of inflation hedge built into his Alabama coaching salary.  When you're basing a career decision on a $32 million deal over 7 years, you want to make sure your living standards don't get blindsided by a 40-cent price hike in a meal deal at Subway.  Just saying.
  • "Nick Satan" the Dolphins fans are calling him.

Will Fish Oil Help Notre Dame?

  • While the Nasdaq is up today, the rest of the market is struggling.  In addition, decliners are leading advancers.  While I do have low beta holdings and lots of cash on the sidelines, I've added some QID as a hedge here.
  • Boy, LSU put a beating on Notre Dame last night.  I thought my 8.5 points looked good when Notre Dame tied it up in the first half.  And then LSU spanked 'em.
  • The Democrats are taking over Congress today!  Having swept Bush's Republicans from power in the November 7 congressional elections, Democrats have promised to (blah blah blah), close the growing gap between America's rich and poor and (blah blah blah).  Uh oh.  That smells like higher taxes.  Maybe initially raising the minimum wage, which of course doesn't really help anybody as everyone else's wages adjust upwards then, too.  But it sounds good, anyways.
  • Missed the sitcom with Kelly Hu last night.  I did DVR it.  Anybody see that one or the one about Mick Jagger?
  • Fish oil for depression?  I can't see the fish being to excited about it, but maybe things are a little more optimistic for our scaley little friends with this news.  Though some research has suggested that fish oil may fight depression, the evidence from clinical trials is too mixed to draw any conclusions, according to a new research review. In an analysis of 12 recent clinical trials, British researchers found little evidence that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) improved participants' depression. So no matter how many Fish Oil tabs Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn is taking today, they probably aren't helping...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Roll Tide

  • I haven't had a minute to catch my breath today, as 2007 hit the ground running at the Fun Factory today.  Finaly, I checked the markets.  Looking at the close, one would think it was rather quiet.  Turns out the market had quite a reversal today.  Euphoria led the market higher in the early hours, then brutal selling through mid-day, closing with buyers taking the market back up a bit.  Enough out there for both bulls and bears to throw darts at one another.  The market has had a tough time gaining any traction since November.  Maybe we're consolidating at the highs before we move higher.  On the otherhand, maybe the volatility we saw today is a sign of a market reversal coming our way.  I tend to believe the latter, and remain in low beta holdings with plenty of cash on the sidelines.
  • Notre Dame +8.5.  Er, maybe.  We'll see.
  • Full-fat dairy products linked to lower weight. The health-conscious often shun whole milk but a new study suggests that adults who favor full-fat dairy gain less weight over time
  • Fed minutes being blamed for derailing Wall Street today.  But is there really anything new here?  Or were investors just waiting with their fingers on the eject button?  Maybe investors hit the panic selling on that full-fat dairy products news.  Who knows?
  • Nick Saban leaves the Miami Dolphins for the coaching job at Alabama.  Roll Tide.  That one kind of surprised me.  I thought he was a little more dedicated to the Fins.  At least the Dolphins can go after some quality assistant coaches here.  If it had happened later, they'd have been stuck with re-treads.
  • In politics... The Democrats are about to take over the House and Senate.  Ah, maybe that's why the market sold off.  Was Pelosi's mug on the TV down on the floor?  SELL!  (Gridlock is good, though).
  • The Bill Cara crystal ball?
  • I've mentioned in the past that I really don't understand the whole Google click-ad revenue model.  Now some advertisers are cutting back on their spending.  Frustrated by the soaring price of Internet-search advertising and diminishing returns from the ads they buy, mid-sized advertisers say they plan to reduce how much business they do with Google this year -- in some cases, significantly.   This can't be good for the GOOG.  I don't know who is clicking those ads to be honest.   I've joked before that I wish my utility company would quit asking me for a monthly check, and instead just stuff the monthly bill with ads.  If Google can do a click-ad revenue model, why can't the utility company just stuff an envelope with ads and be done with it?  Uh.. yeah.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year 2007!

  • A "New Year's Resolutions" reminder: The gym will be crowded today!
  • Market closed today.  Futures are up, indicating that the Santa Claus Rally could continue for a bit.   We're also in the 401(k) contribution part of the month.  That should hold things up for 2007 initially.
  • For 2006, my total return was 16.99%.  (Can I round it up to 17%?  Please?)   Back in November, I mentioned that I was beating the SP500 by .5%.  I was able to improve over the last month even with a large cash position by increasing my short-term trades.  While the total market mostly moved sideways for the last month of the year, I was able to tack on a few percent to beat the SP500 by a bit more.  Of course, the large cash position since my September adjustments really acted like an anchor.  Fortunately, lower beta stocks were pretty strong and the Nasdaq underperformed for the year anyways!
  • Going forward, the Black Box is skeptical of the market's ability to move much higher without some correction or consolidation.  I concur.  Sentiment numbers are extremely bullish.  I plan on keeping my timeframes short for now, with lower beta holdings and some cash on the sidelines.  No reason to be a hero, Hiro.  I anticipate there will be at least one buyable dip in 2007, and that's where I'll load back up with beta.
  • Barry Ritholtz on Insider Selling"Insiders have been taking advantage of the stock run up from July to year's end to sell into the strength."  I also think one of the reasons for selling is plain and simple diversification.  Many people still have that 2000-2 bear market fresh in their minds.
  • Let me also go out on a limb on some 2007 Predictions!

In the TV show "24" Agent Jack Bauer will solve the case 11 hours into the drama, leaving the Fox network scrambling to fill 13 hours of primetime TV. 

In a new scientific health study, it turns out that test subjects who ate the most trans fats, the least amount of fiber, the most amount of simple carbohydrates and processed foods, drank coffee and colas instead of water, and who drank the most alcohol lived longer and healthier lives than those who centered their diets on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  The study concludes, "Potato chips and beer are the new health foods. And don't be bashful with the bacon."

President George Bush's popularity surges to historic highs when he takes over the Saturday Night Live intro skit and parodies himself.  Meanwhile, Will Forte moves into the White House, ends the war in Iraq, balances the budget, eliminates the national debt, bridges the gap between the rich and poor, creates an affordable national health care system, and replaces America's oil and gas infrastructure with environmentally-friendly renewable energy.

Donald Trump penalizes the losing team in "The Apprentice" by forcing them to watch Rosie O'donnell on "The View."