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Robert Kientz  

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  • Near-Term Outlook Grim For Precious Metals As 2 Important Props May Have Been Removed [View article]
    That depends on your investment horizon and whether you believe the manipulation is intended to last indefinately. All manipulations end eventually, whether intentionally or by force.
    Nov 4, 2014. 04:58 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Bitcoin Vs. Gold [View article]
    "It's still very, very early in the adoption stage. The comments here clearly demonstrate that. "

    Agree with this last statement. The wise man doesn't invest in unproven models, unless he doesn't mind parting with his cash more often than not.

    Technology is always hackable, see my comments above. See credit cards and the various forms of protections that routinely fail in its implemenation.
    Nov 4, 2014. 04:55 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Bitcoin Vs. Gold [View article]

    Thanks for the comment. I was a bit harsh in my original reply, apologies for that.

    I agree that technology does tend to get better over time. However, bitcoin has some severe issues that have already begun to be exploited. Exchanges have already been attacked successfully, etc..

    What you realize when you study security weaknesses of encryption is that the attackers don't usually try to brute force the keys. They attack the software implementations, the key exchange (man in the middle attack), the money exchanges (or peers), and any storage of data. The weakness is not in the mathematical model, it is in the software and hardware that supports it's implementation.

    The major flaw in the bitcoin model is that someone will figure out how to generate coins faster, like the banks figured out how to print pure fiat beyond gold stores and reap the benefits of free cash before inflation took hold.

    In my experience, no software is immune from cyber attacks. Having attended the Blackat security conference in Vegas recently as an information security professional, I can attest that anythng is hack-able given enough time. Bitcoin will be no exception eventually. Then we are back to square 1.

    I would rather base my currency on physical limitations that gold has that are not easily manipulated by man rather than the ability to print cash (fiat) or simulate cash generation (software, hardware). One cannot be manipulated easily, the other two can and have many times over in history.
    Nov 4, 2014. 04:52 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is SolarCity A Solid Long-Term Investment? [View article]

    We are using savings to remodel (and proceeds from previous house sale), so I have no interest costs. So it made sense to pay for the lease on what I expect will be the same interest rate on a smaller loan on the panels than what I spent on the remodel.

    The rates on panels shouldn't be much higher than other interest terms if you have good credit (above 660 FICO). Most buyers will probably calculate their monthly payment and figure out what system they can afford from there, using the expected savings as an offset.

    Depending on the budget, the average person could probably save 20-25% on their monthly energy costs and maybe more by using the panels. Given the short payoff period on the lease due to incentives, the free energy should be calculated into total ROI to justify the the go/no go decision on the deal.
    Nov 4, 2014. 04:37 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is SolarCity A Solid Long-Term Investment? [View article]

    I paid about $7k for a 5.1kw (could have been 4.1kw, need to check) system due to all of the incentives I received. In addition to government rebates, there was a flat $1000 rebate off the bottom line from SC due to some special financing they had received that year. It was a sweetheart deal.

    I used a spreadsheet to focus on how long it would take me to pay back the lease based upon my continuing real world savings on electricity. After a year of data, my assumption that I would pay back the lease in 7 years was beaten as I was actually going to pay it back in 5.5 years. That meant 14.5 years of free 5kw of electricity on the lease, 5 hours per day on average as I live in a sunny state. Given that I had zero maintenance cost expectancy, it was a steal in my opinion. The buyers saw it the same way when we sold our house.

    According to Solar City, I can get a similar, but not quite as good, deal on my second home (so no limit). I haven't done it yet because our money has gone into whole-house rehab, but I am considering doing another lease next year using similar terms depending on discounts/rebates available. SC was a fantastic company to do business with, and I hope there business model works out for them (and their customers).
    Oct 24, 2014. 05:00 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Gold: Making The Most While Avoiding The Risks - A Strategy For Income Investors [View article]
    I have no doubt the author's strategy works and kudos to him for it for as long as it holds. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to make some money with our strategies and none of them will be right forever. At some point, all markets change.

    That being said, I am long physical and don't touch the paper stuff. I get the paper markets, but long term the various forms of gold paper are worthless. So if you want trading strategies, try this author's approach. If you want long term savings that shouldn't be affected by fiat currency failures and bubble busts, buy the shiny physical stuff and just hold it.

    Depends upon your strategy.
    Oct 24, 2014. 04:51 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is SolarCity A Solid Long-Term Investment? [View article]
    I used to lease from Solar City, but sold my house with the leased panels. In my case, I paid the whole lease up front with no interest costs, and used that as a selling point on the home (with slightly increased price). It worked out for both buyer and seller as I sold my house in 10 days after listing. Who could beat the attractiveness of solar panels at a discounted price? The buyers couldn't, and I recouped most of my costs while benefiting from the solar energy while I was there.

    That being said, there are a lot of assumptions made on either side of the debate. First, most customers know nothing about solar leases or panels. If the house is a good deal and the net gain on solar energy outweighs the leasing costs, many consumers would not complain. The only ones who would are those that don't want the extra cost and prefer to pay full price on their electricity. With these customers, simply showing them their rate of return on the solar energy should diffuse some of the confusion over their expected costs. In my case, I posted the Solar City savings chart (available on their software) on the front door so customers could see before they walked in how much solar saved them on a monthly basis, which is an undeniable selling point.

    The area I think gives most house shoppers pause is not the future lower price of solar panels, which most people probably aren't up to date on. I think it is whether they will sell the home again within the lease period and have to deal with lease costs to the next buyer. Average 7 year ownership means that is likely to happen even with 2nd owners. In that case, they would swallow the lease costs from the sale proceeds, or convince the next buyer of the long term benefits.

    Most likely it will be a compromise as with my case where both the buyer and seller absorb some of the costs (buyer absorbs most) and the buyer gets to look forward to lower electricity bills.

    With solar being rare in the market, it is a huge selling point for those wanting to be green and for those who are owning long term. If you have a bunch of first time home buyers on the market incentivized by the government to buy a house, you might have more trouble selling your home with solar panels because they may not be living there long term.
    Oct 24, 2014. 03:46 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity: Undervalued In The Face Of Possible Obstacles [View article]
    Because with current payments the customer still makes out. See my post above. From a customer perspective, the lease model is a steal. From an investor standpoint, I am not so sure ...
    Oct 24, 2014. 12:47 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity: Undervalued In The Face Of Possible Obstacles [View article]
    I was a leasing customer of Solar City within the last few years. After a year of owning the system, my wife decided to move. Broke my heart because of the sweet deal we had on the panels.

    The lease is very profitable for the owner as it takes the risk of owning the panels out of the equation. And after 6 years, I projected to have the lease paid off and have made 14 years of free energy from the panels. It helped to have the big government incentives to reduce the overall lease price.

    There is no reason why most customers shouldn't opt to lease the panels and SolarCity's business will continue to grow. As for profitability, I'll wait and see how the company does.
    Oct 24, 2014. 12:42 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Inflation Is Killing My Retirement: How I'm Dealing With It, Part 3 [View article]
    If you look at countries with no socialized medicine, they tend to have lower overall medical costs per procedure and less out of pocket by spenders while having equivalent quality and higher levels of end user service. Chile is a prime example.

    The problem with Canada, France, et. all is lack of advanced procedures, falling rates of doctors per 100 residents, lower quality equipment, longer lines, and higher overall costs. This has led to a booming medical tourism industry.

    I did an extensive study of socialized versus non-socialized medicine and found this to be true in all the countries I studied. I don't have an article written (it was for my own purposes) but am content with the richness of the data I studied to back my assertions.

    So, I tend to disagree with statements that socialized medical systems are on par with free-market systems in general.
    Oct 24, 2014. 11:17 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Inflation Is Killing My Retirement: How I'm Dealing With It, Part 3 [View article]

    I agree as I expect continued slow rising inflation until certain elements of the economy come under control. So my planning assumes high inflation rates and I try to use strategies that mitigate this trend.
    Oct 24, 2014. 11:13 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Will Lastline Make FireEye Need A Lifeline? [View article]
    G3 has a good point about the relationship between technology and people. I don't care what technology you have, if you don't have good people, your security sucks. Seen this too many times in the real world and it happens at most major companies.

    Hire good people first, setup a good process, and then buy/adopt technology solutions as needed.

    FireEye will do well because of their name but they are by no means any sort of silver bullet. As CIOs and CISOs figure that out, there will be a cap on FireEye's market cap.

    Mandiant's research is the best thing to happen to the company, not the appliances they sell.
    Oct 14, 2014. 04:52 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Is The Price Of Gold Falling? [View article]
    Most people, when referring to the historical gold standard, really refer to gold as money. The gold standard of Bretton Woods was a paper ponzi on top of a fixed gold price, which predictably broke apart causing the US to go pure fiat in 1971.

    I know of very few who want paper backed by gold using the same conditions such as government fiat inflation to a fixed gold price or even a manipulated gold market price based largely upon speculative paper investments.

    To solve the argument, just put gold and silver in the market as money alternatives with pure market pricing, and see which wins. That is the only way.
    Sep 22, 2014. 05:47 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Is The Price Of Gold Falling? [View article]
    The short term fear factor is gone in the minds of the public. However the fundamental factors contributing to that fear have only grown worse. Blame it on the 24 hours news cycle for people to lose interest and move from current story to current story. For those looking at long term investing, the reasons to own gold have continued to strengthen.
    Sep 22, 2014. 05:44 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Discontinuity That's Not In The Market [View article]
    Natural gas is hard to export with existing infrastructure. I agree with the article, having previously written on the subject. But I also think this is somewhat of a long play as infrastructure build-out continues. There will be a convergence between gas supplies (and prices) in the East and the cost of exporting from the west. I don't think anyone knows that that convergence price is at the moment, given the uncertainty in the oil markets where nat gas is a partial substitute.
    Sep 22, 2014. 05:05 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment