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Keith Woolcock

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  • Research in Motion: Another Company Apple Will Vanquish [View article]
    The question is how to make money. I have been telling clients for the last six weeks that media is the place to be. I wrote a piece on seeking alpha back in Feb called The User Illusion. In it i drew attention to News Corp. In an era of mobile dominated internet users are going to be more willing to pay for content. Second, as the Comcast court decision suggests the era of Net Neutrality may be ending. In Europe over the last week, the three biggest telcos have sided with the likes of Murdoch in saying it is time for internet giants like Google to pay up. News Corp is up c20% since it reported in early Feb. The media ETF is about c 2x what the tech ETF has done over the same period. That is more interesting than Rimm's attempt to stop being juiced by Apple.
    Apr 13, 2010. 11:17 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Monsanto: Sowing Future Profits [View article]
    The prospect of American farmers siding with the Chinese in a trade war focused on cheaper versions of Roundup will be interesting. Due to cheaper, chinese versions of Roundup, Monsanto says that gross profits will be plus or minus $600m - I wonder what the Mandarin is for, "That's quite a spread?"
    Monsanto might be a seed version of Microsoft. IE, like windows -until Windows 7 that is- Microsoft kept stuffing Windows with features that few needed. Monsanto seems to be saying that farmers want to return to basics - they want to increase yields and are less concerned about fancy seeds that can exterminate a weevil at 20 paces. Managements always like to sound as though they are in complete control, but there is enough in Hugh Grant's final comments to suggest that Monsanto might be entering a period of long, painful re-orientation.
    Apr 13, 2010. 02:45 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Research in Motion: Another Company Apple Will Vanquish [View article]
    you're right about the closed aspect of iphone vs blackberry. this gets to the very heart of how the internet, as we all grew up with it, is changing. Embedded devices, such as smartphones, which are tethered to the manufacturer, will win out. ie The Apps Store model will win vs the old open development model. On a mobile device users are more passive and so more inclined to buy content and applications. As you point out, on an embedded device you cant develop your own anyway. Within 2 to 3 years there will be 500m plus smartphones sold a year, which is why ARM is beating Intel hands down - check stock price performance. Another way to play this is to buy content companies. Check out the performance of the likes of News Corp over the last few months. The mobile internet needs a far more ergonomic user experience, this in turn requires vertical integration, which is what apple provides. The old horizontal model that dominated the PC value chain is being side lined - Google will therefore, probably lose out to Apple. It's not pretty but this seems to be the way the world is going.
    Apr 12, 2010. 11:00 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Research in Motion: Another Company Apple Will Vanquish [View article]
    One thing I forgot to mention was that last week HTC, in Taiwan announced blow out monthly sales. HTC is the purest play on the Android. The stock has been a dog for the last year, ie margins dropping. However, it might be about to turn. In support of RIMM, the device is still very popular with teeny boppers and mainstream IT people - uniting those two groups is quite a feet. In the short term the problem is, why buy a stock when ASPs are going down - a bit like catching a falling chain saw. Wait until ASPs show signs of stabilising
    Apr 12, 2010. 10:41 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Smartest Parts of the IT Market [View article]
    thanks for the in put. totally concur, yes IT is always evolving but so many investors seem to miss that. my formative experience was as a young analyst who began work in 1986. in those days, all anyone wanted to talk about was big stocks, like IBM, Burroughs, DEC, Sperry, NCR etc etc. If you look at a chart of tech market cap during the 1980s it fell between 1980 and 1990 - the reason, those big stocks were dying while Microsoft, Sun, Cisco, Intel,Dell, Compaq were rising. Same is happening now, old IT is going nowhere, but that doesnt mean IT is dead. My swipe at the Cloud is really due to fact that so many analysts focus on this subcycle without seeing the main event. However, I do agree with you, the Cloud and mobile internet access go hand in glove
    Mar 19, 2010. 12:42 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The User Illusion and Media's New Golden Age [View article]
    Yes, I have read the User Illusion, though a long time ago. I still remember it as one of the very best books of popular science that I have read. I have just written a longer piece on this subject, which
    i will put up on my blog Mashlite, next week, after my clients have seen it.
    A terrific book, called Proust and the Squid, which examines the neuroscience of reading, has further light to through on this subject. I strongly recommend it. The central contention is that reading is an unnatural act that requires extensive rewiring of the brain. The more we read, the more associations our brain makes as we read; IE, more of the mind is being employed. Therefore, the richer the experience; quite literally, you give your brain a work out. Part of the problem with reading blogs and internet comment is that we do not have the same immersive experience as we have with a book, or long magazine article. Check out An interesting mock up of a new tablet based magazine that addresses some of these issues. I was struck by the comment that one Bonnier designer made: reading on the internet is too full of distractions, it is too busy and so the reader seldom gets a sense of closure, or completion. Hence, my interest in the iTab, which could address some of these issues.
    Johnathan Zittrain's book, The Future of the Internet, is highly researched and well argued essay on the impact of embedded computers vs generic computers. He first marked my card on this issue. However, when he wrote this book the Apps store wasn't around. The Apps store gives control to Apple, which is needed -ie it plays the editorial function that addresses the ergonomic issues - but is also gives the user richness of experience and content. Zittrain may view the Apps store as Frankenstein's child. It will accelerate the evolution of the internet into a more closed, less open realm. However, I see this as unavoidable. Anyway, the walls between the open and closed internet will be porous.
    On the ergonomic issue it is certainly worth digging out a book from the 1990s, called, The Invisible Computer, written by an ex Apple engineer called Norman. And, finally, on the subject of conscious bandwidth and our over reliance upon it the English intellectual, John Gray wrote an excoriating short work called Straw Dogs, which tackles through a wide angle lens. Highly recommended if you have a hankering after a Schopenhaurian invective against modern life. Maybe all this can be summed up from a line in TS Eliot's -I think- Chorus from the Rock: Where is the knowledge we have lost in information. Thus proving that poets understand data compression better than the rest of us.
    Feb 26, 2010. 03:15 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Will U.S. Corporate Tax Rates Rise? [View article]
    I share your concerns; but look at this issue from the other end of the lens, which is what Pellegrini has done. US corp tax rates are low by historic standards. In addition, corporates have been cutting jobs and hoarding cash for years - long before the crisis.

    Then there is a separate issue, which may eventually be conflated with the tax issue. Over the last couple of decades the average American has seen his/her salary fall or stagnate, whereas as the top 1% of the country continues to become richer. I have seen a chart which shows that wealth concentration is now right back to where it was in 1928.

    Don't know what the answer is to this but something is wrong. Since Reagan every US government, Clinton included, has been hyper pro business. In return for this indulgence the US has seen falling levels of investment, falling levels of patent filings, the national infrastructure is crumbling and wealth concentration has worsened etc. How do you get back to a more balanced economy and equitable society? In the 1950s, under Eisenhower, society was more balanced, the infrastructure was first rate - what has gone wrong since?

    Back to the question of putting taxes up - this is not my idea, I was merely passing on the comment from one particularly successful hedge fund manager -Pellegrini- who thinks it is probable and so is investing accordingly.
    Feb 22, 2010. 11:33 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment