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George Acs  

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  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]
    Even at historically low rates, there is something, that to me, at least, seems inherently wrong about debt issuance in order to buy back shares or to pay a dividend. Even if the interest is low there's still the principal and the principle.
    Apr 18, 2015. 02:02 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]
    Thanks. I don't think I've ever seen the double chin emoticon.

    Buy backs are great as long as stocks are attractively priced and the company has no foreseeable use for the money nor any strategy to use the money.

    I think I would prefer special dividends, particularly if representing a return of capital. Why take the excess funds and invest them in buybacks in shares whose value may be susceptible to falling, especially once the buy back is exhausted? There's nothing more inefficient than driving up share price by announcing a buy back and then artificially skewing demand to the buy side and further inflating prices, only to pull out the rug when the buy back is completed.

    Unless you cash in on the way up all that you are seeing is your company purchasing shares at artificially inflated prices. Additionally, as the buy backs come to an end the EPS results won't keep improving by virtue of decreasing the float quarter after quarter anymore.
    Apr 18, 2015. 01:57 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]

    Tried that subscription for a year, just a few years back and I missed the old guys. Reading the latest issues also made me realize how out of touch I was with current culture.
    Apr 18, 2015. 01:47 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]
    No doubt that it is expensive and not necessarily a revenue center, but in the case of American Express, that still charges annual fees and has always distinguished itself on customer service, it should at least be considered a revenue retention center.

    It would seem to me that for those customers with an AMEX-Costco branded card there may be good reason to try and keep customer service at high enough of a level to try and retain those customers on some new AMEX offering.

    If they are off-shoring, I think it would represent a recent change. After 30+ years I was struck by the obvious difference in the "i know we can help you" kind of philosophy to one reflecting resignation and ineptitude. The accents may have been coincidental, but they also seemed to represent something new at AMEX.
    Apr 18, 2015. 01:44 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]
    Initials, too. You can't be too careful when naming your kid.

    I once had a friend whose name was Joe Sh*t. He hated his name. The first thing he did when he became an adult was to have it legally changed.

    The funny thing is that he subsequently had a sex change operation, too and I think she now goes by Francine Sh*t
    Apr 18, 2015. 11:22 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]
    Dividend hikes are fine, as long as they're warranted and don't impede strategic initiatives. You gave an important qualifier yourself, the ones that have traditionally warranted increasing dividends.

    If they're done out of appeasement or as a near term move to boost stock prices, especially if compensation is tied to stock performance, then the long term interests of shareholders may end up being compromised.
    Apr 18, 2015. 11:16 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]
    Yes and no.

    I've been with AMEX more than 30 years and have always thought their customer service was great. Recently, my wife and I, without being aware of one another's issues had to call AMEX customer servie and we were both really stunned, especially when we compared notes not having known that the other was in the middle of trying to resolve an issue.

    AMEX announced workforce cuts after the COSTCO announcement, but I don't know if that's a factor or not.

    One thing that did strike me and my wife noticed it as well, certainly not meaning this in a pejorative way, but for the first time in our collective recollections we were dealing with customer service representatives that had decidedly marked accents. Has AMEX off-shored customer service? I don't know, but our experiences could either be chalked up to coincidences or possibly reflective of an upcoming degradation that is part of the strategy to offset decreased revenues in 2016.

    You may as well start with those workforce reductions now and have something to show for it on the bottom line is the likely thought process when looking only quarter to quarter.

    As far as banks go, you may get what you pay for or you may not. I have accounts at a major money center bank where I get great service and also at a local bank where I get great service.

    But, any reference to Lipschitz is always appreciated. If you don't know the old telephone call prank, it went like this:

    Hello, is this Mr. Lipschitz?
    It is? Well, if your Lipschitz, then my a*s talks.

    It never gets old.
    Apr 18, 2015. 11:11 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]

    I'm not quite certain where Guys Hospital is relative to East London, but I spent a few days in their Cardiac Care Unit about 2 1/2 years ago. Great care and great people. The experience made me much more tolerant of the pronunciations.

    Whenever I had any difficulty in understanding proper English, I asked one of the nurses, who was an American. The funny thing is that her brother was a policeman in the little town in which I live back in the states and who my wife met a couple of years later. She told me that he had an almost incomprehensible accent that she couldn't quite place, but turned out to be from Baltimore.
    So, we all have our distinctive ways of doing things.
    Apr 18, 2015. 10:00 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]

    As usual, your article is thought provoking. I have never paid as much attention to the 10 Year and its fluctuations, as I do now. We are in a fascinating period, as negative interest rates have become a reality and as low as our own rates are, they represent an incredible attraction for overseas money. That may be all the fuel needed, as long as the government remains an active participant and actually expands its participation in economic expansion projects.
    Apr 18, 2015. 09:48 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]
    Basing a dividend increase on things such as currency exchange rates or lower energy costs is not a very logical thing to do, because investors expect dividends to be sustained and generally punish stocks when they are not.

    Any one who expects the US dollar to sustain its current strength or for energy prices to stay at such low levels has never looked at charts. Basing a dividend increase on cash flows that are likely ephemeral is a recipe for disaster. That's what "special dividends" are for.

    eBay, for the past few years has been a great covered option trade. In less than 2 years I had owned it 24 times ( ). Like most stocks that I consider buying, I'm interested in the background information, but am much more guided by its pattern of trading and don't place too much emphasis on the kind of issues you raise.

    While I agree that it may no longer be an appealing covered option trade once it spins off PayPal, I have a week to week horizon, so don't really think about what may be the case 3 months from now. 24 trades in 21 months may be a good reflection of that short term philosophy.
    Apr 18, 2015. 08:45 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]
    I apologize. Weekends shouldn't be for thinking. Personally, I'll be out on the deck trying to replace some board s and not sever any fingers.

    The process you describe is just another example of productivity increases that the developed world has been seeing for the past 150 years, often driven by the technological advances characteristic of the era. The form and the means just continually evolve. The difference is that perhaps now the evolutionary pace is faster.

    The process that you describe may just validate the contention that CEOs and boards aren't necessary in such companies. All that's needed are good operation people. Maybe the COO becomes the equivalent of a CEO where it's all about the process and not the long term planning and strategical initiatives.

    I didn't mention him by name, but Peltz was on my mind, specifically with regard to his push to break up DuPont (in which I hold no position, but does report earnings this week). I think that desire to separate the research component from DuPont will add inefficiency and additional cost into the process of innovation and make us less competitive, as a result.
    Apr 18, 2015. 08:35 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Fink Speaks The Truth [View article]
    Thank you.

    After about 20 years of marriage I discovered that my wife actually liked MAD magazine and so I got her (us) a subscription, but it just wasn't the same anymore.

    So sad. I could think of no more apt metaphor for aging.
    Apr 18, 2015. 08:21 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • I Never Really Liked Goldilocks [View article]
    When volatility is higher there's often lots of reason to rollover even positions that are going to be assigned. The forward week premiums are much better than the expiring premiums. But right now, just like you've seen, there's not too much incentive to roll a position over to keep it alive. You're better off taking the assignment and looking for something new or to just sit on the cash.
    Apr 14, 2015. 08:37 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • I Never Really Liked Goldilocks [View article]
    Definitely positives and negatives to the weeklies.

    Most of mine are weekly options, but if volatility were higher I would like to have more of the monthly variety.

    In general, though, I like, where possible to be diversified by expiration. I've had too many times when a big move happened on a Thursday or Friday and wiped out lots of anticipated assignments because all those eggs were in one basket.

    The extended weeklies are a nice way to get some diversification.
    Apr 13, 2015. 02:22 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • I Never Really Liked Goldilocks [View article]
    Thanks. I missed that piece.
    Apr 13, 2015. 08:06 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment