Seeking Alpha

Northwest Investor

View as an RSS Feed
View Northwest Investor's Comments BY TICKER:
Latest  |  Highest rated
  • Big Data Technology, Streaming Music, And Pandora's Competitive 'Moat' [View article]
    Amazon's entry devastates Pandora. Just speaking as a user-- there's really no reason to bother with anything else. Why would you? You have Amazon Prime, you get the music you want, at a marginal cost of zero.

    "Personalized Music Playlist" is hardly some secret sauce. "people who bought x, also bought y" -- Amazon's been doing that for a decade.

    Pandora is moat-less, a minnow swimming amidst sharks. The only upside here is that someone might buy them, because there doesn't seem much hope here otherwise.

    On the plus side, I imagine that you can listen to Pandora on your Nook . . .
    Jul 2 12:44 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Isis - Addressing Some Of The Bull Arguments To My Short Thesis [View article]

    The author knows his science, which is much more than I can say for the folks who are howling about his comments. He's looked carefully at data which other folks, including paid analysts, haven't bothered to examine. I have no position in the stock, but find his observations worthy of careful consideration.

    One could add that folks who've worked in the field have been thinking for a very long time about the potential immunogenicity of antisense compounds. The immune system is, for very good reasons, quite sensitive to circulating non-self genetic material, so far from being surprising, its actually an expected finding when you see that anti-sense DNA (or RNA) produces an immune response

    Indeed, long ago Vical exploited this in developing "naked DNA" vaccines, that is, you can inject folks with "pure DNA" - no adjuvant, nothing else, and raise an immune response against it.
    Jul 1 01:42 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • AMD Will Outpace Intel In Computing Efficiency [View article]
    @Stephen Aniston
    "The APU roadmap is working pretty well, no? AMD has a monopoly on the gaming market now."

    Bulldozer/Kaveri is generally regarded as "disappointing". Google "AMD" and "disappointing" and you'll find ample documentation.

    AMD's on their umpteenth corporate reboot because the umpteenth minus one didn't work, same as it ever was.
    Jun 30 07:30 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • AMD Will Outpace Intel In Computing Efficiency [View article]
    -- Which in no way validates that AMD can actually achieve that goal; I take Dr. Koomey's comments to be skeptical, rather than to affirm the AMD bull thesis. Koomey says nothing about AMD's prospects, you have third party validation for the historical pace of progress in semiconductor power efficency, that's all-- nothing beyond AMD's say-so for what they'll be able to do in the future.

    AMD "hopes" to outpace the historical pace of innovation, very dramatically. Perhaps they will be able to.

    How have their prior roadmaps worked out?
    Jun 30 03:13 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • An Analysis Of AMD's Restructuring Plan To Success [View article]

    you're splitting hairs with me over the name of the slides. The slides you're referring to were presented at the 2010 financial analyst day - so I refer to them as analyst slides, in that capacity they were slides for analysts.

    Not "splitting hairs". My point is that the company has produced roadmaps for investors before; these aren't things said by some third party, they're things the company said. My critique of Sean's article -- which is generally very good and very detailed- is that he might have mentioned that "we've heard this story before"

    "Also part of me you're quoting is taken out of context without the second part which references share price.

    As to share price, you said

    "would you not agree there is a very large difference between now and the analyst slides you're quoting from feb 2010?

    Primarily, a share price that's between $3 and $4 for many of us vs the $8 to $9 in 2010 when AMD was near multi-year highs?"

    what I'd say about share price is this:

    AMD was $40 in 2006, collapsed to $2 in early 2008, traded between $6 and $10 in 2010, and then went back down to $2 and change by early 2013. Now its doubled to $4.

    Its a volatile stock, great for traders, not so great for investors. If they can establish a meaningful business in new growth markets, that would change the investment thesis here; but its fair to note that they and others have aimed at this target before and missed.
    Jun 24 01:14 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • An Analysis Of AMD's Restructuring Plan To Success [View article]
    @Justin Jaynes
    would you not agree there is a very large difference between now and the analyst slides you're quoting from feb 2010?"

    Not "analyst slides" -- company presentations, and no, I don't see any "very large difference". This is the "new new plan" -- a new new management, planning to go into new new markets with new new technology.

    It _might_ work better this time, but you have to acknowledge that it failed last time. And not only has AMD failed, but you can look at INTC and NVDA's attempts to do similar reboots, and their similar lack of progress. NVDA, for example, has been singing the "ARM core" song for a very long time now . . . they had fancy roadmaps too, and they ended up doing not much. And Intel's "tick tock" of mobile failure: "promise ---> disappoint". Takeaway message: Reboots of semiconductor companies into competitive new markets are really hard, and have a high risk of failure.

    As to stock price, AMD has been all over the map; its a nice vehicle for traders looking for volatility, but for an investor looking for some kind of consistency, or confidence that new strategic plans will bear fruit, there's not much reason to have confidence that their new new plans will work any better than their old new plans.
    Jun 24 12:33 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • An Analysis Of AMD's Restructuring Plan To Success [View article]

    "@Northwest Investor: "(Steamroller/Bulldozer round 3) was going to make the 2011 Bulldozer rollout disappointment a distant memory. . .

    Trusting the opinions so loudly voiced in the popular technical media is simply begging to be mislead. These are not old-style magazines with serious technical reputations, and we are not their customers."

    Randsec, I am not "trusting popular technical media". I'm just recalling what AMD said in their earlier product roadmaps, on earlier investor days.

    My comment about today's roadmap remains:

    AMD has presented very amibitious roadmaps, together with fundamental reboots of the company-- both in business and technology-- before.

    These haven't worked out nearly so well as investors -- and the company-- hoped at the time. Investors looking at the current roadmap should bear in mind the history of disappointment from prior roadmaps.

    I don't think any part of that is controversial. As I said, "there's a reason the stock is at $4" -- its because the broader investing public is justifiably skeptical of AMD's new new plans.
    Jun 24 11:36 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • An Analysis Of AMD's Restructuring Plan To Success [View article]
    AMD has had more recent disappointments too -- the entire Bulldozer architecture, more or less. I brought up the Storage Controller because "doggiecool" asked "why aren't they doing storage controllers?" Just Google "AMD & Disappoints" and you'll find articles in pretty much every time frame.

    More generally, its fair to observe that AMD is a serial restructurer, and that these restructurings have failed in the past. That's relevant in evaluating today's roadmap . . . yesterday's roadmaps lead into the ditch.

    yes, AMD stock has been volatile-- a speculator may make a lot of money when a stock goes from $2 to 4, for $4 to $6, or back down to $2.

    But I'm not a speculator; I'm an investor. I buy good companies at good prices based on strong businesses, and I plan to hold them a long time. In the case of AMD, you have a roadmap, which, based on the past performance has a lot of question marks. Not much for an investor there.

    But for a trader or speculator-- sure. $4 today, could be $5 tomorrow. Or $3. I'm sure there are folks out there who've been in and out of AMD and done well doing it . . Raj Rajnaratnam comes to mind, but then, he had a different sort of "roadmap" to go on.
    Jun 20 08:45 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • An Analysis Of AMD's Restructuring Plan To Success [View article]

    "I did not invest in past attempts, I've picked this one as the likely one to succeed based on its merits and performance to date. "

    Seems to me that its fair to look at a category of corporate restructuring and re engineering and ask: "Based on the experience of this and other companies attempting such reboots, can we say anything about the likelihood of success?"

    Me, I think we can say something about the likelihood of success:

    When a semiconductor (or indeed a tech company generally) faces secular decline in their historical profit centers, re engineering the company for "new markets" will be more challenging than is acknowledged in powerpoint decks.

    "Just curious, why doesn't AMD develop products for the storage industry? "
    They beat you to it, by the better part of a decade. Didn't make any money doing that, either.

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

    "AMD unveils storage controller for midsize firms
    Embeddable storage controller promises to help ease server workload"
    Jun 20 04:59 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • An Analysis Of AMD's Restructuring Plan To Success [View article]

    @Northwest Investor : "Have investors who bought on the promise of these very detailed roadmaps made money?"

    Specifically which promises, by whom and when, and how was this money to be made? AMD is under new management.

    My point is that, for folks who've been around this stock for a while, AMD seems _always_ to be "under new management", with a new roadmap.

    A skeptic, with some history in this company will remember Jerry Sanders, and then Hector Ruiz, and then Dirk Meyer, and now Rory Read. Each of them had new plans and new promises, and you'll find occasional whiffs of excitement, sometimes even big runups --reached $40 back in 2005 on (what proved an ephemeral) advantage in CPUs.

    This company has never wanted for an interesting roadmap with some "new markets" to conquer.

    Remember "Spansion"?

    There was a valuable market, flash memory, a joint venture between AMD & Fujitsu and with Chinese partners . . . once upon a time, AMD (and investors) thought they could make money with it-- result Chapter 11.

    As I've said before, I don't want to dump on the company. Rory Read seems like a good guy (but then, so did Hector Ruiz), and I wish him and the company well.

    But when folks see a product roadmap, they're entitled to ask "how well has this company done with their prior product roadmaps" and "how well have competitors attempting to do similar diversification done"?

    That's all. AMD is in a tough expensive business, with fierce competitors. It will be hard for them to achieve what they've put down on their roadmap, that's what the history tells me.

    If they _do_ make a success of it, then management and the investors who supported them will be well deserving their profits . . .
    Jun 20 04:39 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • An Analysis Of AMD's Restructuring Plan To Success [View article]


    "I just don't see any downside with AMD adopting ARM."

    The downside is here already. The stock is rock bottom. The question is "is there upside?" Compare with NVDA, going into ARM designs for mobile; they've been delivering Tegra roadmaps for years now, to very little effect.

    Its hard to deliver a new solution to a new market on a new architecture and make money doing it. There are a lot of moving parts in that story.

    Again, if they succeed, they and AMD investors will make a lot of money. All I'm saying is that AMD investors and indeed, investors in other semiconductor companies, have heard many "next new thing" stories.
    Jun 20 03:59 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • An Analysis Of AMD's Restructuring Plan To Success [View article]
    Lots of semi companies have aspired to "new markets". NVDA aspires to mobile processors and GPU programming, for example . . . those are "new markets", too, and NVDA are smart guys, and they . . . still make their money on expensive GPUs for gamers, mostly.

    My point: its easier to say "we'll find profitable new markets" than it is to do it.

    I don't want to sound too negative on AMD. It does seem like they're trying to do the right things; I'm just adding a note of caution that on past performance there's a big uncertainty between "plans to" and "delivers"
    Jun 20 03:49 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • An Analysis Of AMD's Restructuring Plan To Success [View article]
    Adopting ARM makes them a commodity player; lots of folks build ARM core chips, and they do it at commodity margins.

    So they go from competing with INTC, to competing with Samsung and Taiwan Semi.

    @Sean Chandler
    "Can you connect the dots of how going from a semiconductor company to a fabless is similar to... deciding to end several decades of a duopoly between Intel & AMD by expanding into 5 new markets that AMD has made significant progress in each."


    Both are fundamental decisions taken at the company level to remake the company. As they say "you can't step in the same river twice" -- so each "fundamental restructuring" is logically going to be different (eg, they can't spin off foundries again, 'cuz they don't have them anymore). So no-- this restructing ain't precisely the same as the last one -- and their next fundamental restructuring won't be the same as this one, either.

    But to my point, folks who've been around this company and this stock have see, previously, the management and Board fundamentally remake this company-- without improving investors' fortunes.

    Hence my comment which started all this: you have to approach this roadmap with some skepticism, if you've been around the stock for a while. If you've never heard it before, then it all sounds "great, a new dawn".

    Some of us have seen quite a few "new dawns" . . . which turned out to be "not much, in the end".
    Jun 20 03:31 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • An Analysis Of AMD's Restructuring Plan To Success [View article]
    I would agree that Rory Read AMD is better looking than Hector Ruiz AMD. But then, we thought Hector Ruiz AMD was going to be better than Jerry Sanders AMD.

    I've known this stock a long time; I hope you'll pardon my jaded view.

    More generally, I've seen all kinds of semi companies try to reinvent themselves as something else, going all the way back to WWTK (Weitek, for a time a money making engine on the strength of their numeric coprocessors). Or Chips & Technologies. Or today's other "let's reinvent ourselves" semiconductor companies, INTC and NVDA.

    My observation is that companies tend to have their markets and margins shot through them. Its a very rare company that nimbly repositions itself into a new market and a new business model. Its pretty awesome when it happens (eg Apple), but it doesn't happen often.

    I will say that I'm impressed that AMD seems to be doing better with their console chip sales than NVDA did . . . I had assumed that this was going to be a deal at no profit or even a loss to soak up some of the Global Foundries capacity that they were obligated to use, but they seem to be doing better than that.
    Jun 20 03:23 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • An Analysis Of AMD's Restructuring Plan To Success [View article]
    @Sean Chandler
    "I am not aware of a restructure like this in AMD's past. My optimism comes from the fact that AMD is at rock bottom and is transforming themselves as a company."

    Oh, AMD has done this sort of thing before, even more dramatically, actually. They are at rock bottom, true. And if they successfully do what they say they'll do, you might make a lot of money. But this same company has previously done very dramatic restructuring . . . and achieved not much.

    No two restructurings are the same-- they can't be, right? But this restructuring is actually less dramatic than stuff they've done before.

    AMD had a massive restructuring to spin off Global Foundries, a fundamental re-architecting of the company. It was dramatic, and it was "AMD trying to be a new company", going from an integrated semiconductor company to a fabless one.

    And it failed to advance the fortunes of AMD shareholders (except, I suppose, in the sense that AMD still exists).

    see, for example:
    "AMD to spin off manufacturing operations
    Shares jump as semiconductor firm unveils much-awaited 'asset-smart' plan"
    Jun 20 02:57 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment