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  • Facebook: Watch The Management [View article]
    Interesting theory that building palaces and castles is a sign of impending doom. Could be a sign that these execs are more concerned about a display of ostentatious wealth than the customer experience. Then again Thomas Jefferson devoted a lot of his creative energies to Monticello. I think one would have to get a feel for the underlying motives and intentions.

    The trouble is, once you have enough money to live on for the rest of your life, what DO you do with all the excess money?

    The privacy issue is probably an indication that the company is much more concerned about milking user data to sell to advertisers than with providing a good user experience. No surprise there, and part of the reason why I cancelled my Facebook page.

    The biggest danger is probably that the next Facebook alternative comes along and takes the next cohort of puberty graduates.
    Feb 24 11:50 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Should Dividend Investors Care About Entry Price? [View article]
    You just did.
    Feb 24 11:10 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Should Dividend Investors Care About Entry Price? [View article]
    So it is OK for the federal govt. to send people to their deaths, but not to get into health care? Hmm! I think what it all really comes down to is whether the US is really one nation, or just a confederation of states. In a lot of ways the states are not really states in the normal sense of the word, but are more like Provinces, as in Canada. The European Economic Community is clearly a collection of states united by treaties (even if they aren't working very well right now in the economic area), but the US, as it stands now, is a single large state with limited regional government handed down to 50 local legislatures plus Puerto Rico and a few colonies.

    Their are other anomalies, for example one can be a citizen of the US without being recognized by any of the states as a resident. Florida, for example, but no doubt other states, demands a driver's license as proof of state citizenship, but if you change address your driver's license is invalidated in two weeks if you do not notify the state government, so if you move overseas for work you can lose your status as a state resident. At least federal citizenship is permanent, and you actually have to pay if you want to renounce it. It is not taken from you.
    Feb 24 11:03 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Should Dividend Investors Care About Entry Price? [View article]
    Absolutely. But what can those of us in peace-loving states do to stop war-like states starting foreign wars of aggression? Should there be a referendum in each state to determine whether it will support a war?
    Feb 24 09:18 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Should Dividend Investors Care About Entry Price? [View article]
    Trouble is the Constitution gives the federal government the right to regulate interstate commerce, which is practically everything. Hence you get the weird anomalies that Florida has banned intensive pig farming because it is cruel to pigs, but can do nothing to prevent factory farmed imported pork from Georgia. To set the states free, it would really be necessary to amend the constitution.

    If the states would get their acts together and do something about health care insurance, with the honorable exceptions of Massachusetts and Hawaii, there would be no need for federal mandates.

    To some extent it would be good if there were free competition between the states to attract populations. As things stand at the present time they are all far too similar, with the same businesses, same or similar laws and remarkable few cultural differences considering the size of the nation. Let there be states that are gun-free and let there be states where everyone is armed. Why not? Let the states each have their own border patrols to prevent encroachment from neighboring states, or cross border smuggling of cheap liquor or cigarettes.
    Feb 24 08:20 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Soros Identifies Europe's Achilles' Heel [View article]
    I don't see why Greece can't so something like Bermuda. Bermuda has the Bermuda dollar that can be exchanged (in Bermuda) for US dollars at par 1:1. But Bermuda residents are paid in Bermuda dollars and not allowed to hold US dollars unless they work for international businesses that pay them in US dollars. Merchants can buy US dollars, and residents can buy US dollars for vacations, remittances, etc. By this means the Bermuda government can control the number of Bermuda dollars in circulation, so that the currency does not get out of whack. Outside of Bermuda, the Bermuda dollar essentially has no value for exchange purposes.

    If Greece had its own Greek euro for internal use and Greeks were required to buy euros for international transactions, the situations would never have gotten so out of control.
    Feb 23 07:39 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Should Dividend Investors Care About Entry Price? [View article]
    Countries need governments, governments provide services, the people who provide services have to be paid, the money has to come from the citizenry. Get it?

    Of course in a democracy we have a little bit of a say in what kind of services are provided, and there is certainly room for disagreement, but even when people claim they want "small government", on questioning they will always admit to wanting some government services, so it is just a question of degree, and if people want less federal government and more state government, probably the answer is to move towards secession of the state they live in, as some or many do in Scotland, or Alaska, or else to move away completely to another country out of the reach of the Federal government.
    Feb 23 06:20 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • 5 Things To Consider Before Investing In Wal-Mart [View article]
    Good points. I don't think the dollar stores do undercut WMT like-to-like, but sometimes they sell items in smaller sizes at a lesser price, or for example one pair of socks instead of a pack of three pairs. When in the US, I often shop at a dollar store that sells everything for a dollar, but then some of the items they have are sold for less than a dollar in Walmart, for example VO5 shampoo of the same size, and some other items.

    Incidentally where I live in the Dominican Republic many things cost more than in the US in bulk, but on the other hand you can buy a single Band-aid or a pair of aspirins, or a spoonful of tomato paste for very little.

    In Florida I have not noticed any difference in the type of customer in Target as opposed to WMT, but other states may be more socially stratified, I don't know. Target is not exactly high class merchandise either that I have noticed, just cheap imported crap.
    Feb 23 06:08 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Earnings Analysis: Why OpenTable Is Still A Hold [View article]
    Stock option shares. This is a general question, but one I have often wondered about.

    If shares are issued as a result of employee stock options, are these previously unsold shares that have notionally been in existence since the IPO but held in the name of the company, or are these new shares that are issued and added to the total capitalization of the company?

    Why do companies not just buy LEAP options on the open market and gift them to employees as part of their compensation? The more valuable the employee the deeper in the money the LEAPs.
    Feb 23 08:33 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 5 Things To Consider Before Investing In Wal-Mart [View article]
    Yes, but Target, at least in Florida stores, does not have a full range of groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, oil change, gardend center, etc. so difficult to make a direct comparison. I would occasionally look in Target if I could not find something in Walmart, but Target rarely offered anything better.
    Feb 22 08:12 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Should Dividend Investors Care About Entry Price? [View article]
    The remark above might be intended to be tongue in cheek, but retirement accounts and pensionfunds do not pay tax on dividends, but they do pay regular income tax on distributions.
    Feb 22 07:36 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • 5 Things To Consider Before Investing In Wal-Mart [View article]
    "Customers seem to prefer the shopping experience at a Costco, Target, Ross, or perhaps Family Dollar, which provide a combination of better value and cleanliness, which WMT is oft criticized for. "

    I don't think this is really true about the value, but perhaps consumers have an inaccurate perception of value. I lived for some years in a small city where the Walmart Supercenter was virtually the town square and meeting place where nearly everyone shopped for food. There were very few customers in the other 3 supermarkets by comparison with the crowds in Walmart.

    Walmart offered excellent value on their line of Great Value generic grocery products and Equate drugs and medicines. Better than anywhere else, although there were certain items they didn't stock that meant having to go elsewhere periodically to buy.

    If I had a beef at all, it would be that they would stock items that I would buy regularly for years, and then suddenly those items would disappear from the shelves never to be seen again.

    Although Walmart Supercenters offer some facilities like a Garden Center, oil change, hair styling, photography booths etc. they could improve in the area of other businesses inside their stores. For example my local supermarket here in the Dominican Republic includes stores for two different cell phone companies, a full service bank, Western Union, a laundry service, an ice cream parlor, Domino's pizza, a large upstairs cafeteria where the portions are sold by weight to eat in or to go (very useful if you want to buy cooked white rice to go) and ATMs of 4 different banks on the outside wall. It also plays a wonderful selection of music from big band tunes of the 1930s to modern movie themes.

    Walmart, by contrast, has a rather Eastern European utility decor and ambience, but I don't think the rivals are any better.

    My overall impression after years of daily shopping at Walmart is that they do offer competitive value and quality of merchandise, but they are tone deaf regarding decor and ambience.
    Feb 22 08:19 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 5 Things To Consider Before Investing In Wal-Mart [View article]
    Most of what WMT sells is food, medicines, and general grocery, supermarket, pharmacy and hygiene items, cigarettes and beer that will never go out of fashion.

    Most of these things are not bought online. What WMT needs is population growth.

    WMT seems to succeed in some markets overseas, but not others, depending on whether they can adapt their management style to the local culture. However, internationally supermarkets are in a very competitive business, as recent disappointing sales figures for Tesco (UK) show. However that did not stop Buffett, W. from snapping up 5% of Tesco (320 million shares) when the stock dipped sharply a few weeks ago, so by analogy I would think that WMT is a good buy if you can get the stock on sale.
    Feb 21 10:11 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Greek Default And Devaluation: Would It Even Matter? [View article]
    Economic war: The Clinton administration forced Haiti to accept imports of cheap US rice. This in turn bankrupted many rice farmers in Haiti who could no longer sell their crops, forcing many thousands of Haitians to move into the already overcrowded cities, chiefly Port au Prince, where the worst of the earthquake damage was done.

    Entire infrastructure: Almost every building of any size in the affected areas, the power supply and the water supply. Most cell phone towers and roads survived.

    Climate: You have obviously never been to Haiti, so I resent your patronizing comments. Haiti's climate is tropical in parts, but also semiarid in other parts where the effect of the trade winds is cut of by high mountains. Much of Greece also has dry Mediterranean climate which is similar. Both countries are mountainous with much of the soil eroded by overuse. Both countries have a lot of goats, because that is all the grazing will support. I don't see why this is such a stretch.

    Anyway, my point remains that despite the incredible death and destruction in the earthquake 2 years ago, life goes on in Haiti, and Greece will be in an infinitely better situation.
    Feb 21 06:58 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Sell Puts When There's Blood In The Streets [View article]
    Good article that makes some excellent points. I agree about selling puts when there is blood in the streets, or failing blood, a high VIX will suffice. One of my best investments ever was selling BP 2014 $35 and $30 puts back in October which are still paying off very well. If the stock is one that one really wants to acquire, the falling knife might be dealt with by doubling down a couple of times to get into a full position. In retrospect late 2008 and early 2009 was a fantastic opportunity to open positions in stocks at bargain basement prices. AAPL was trading below $80 at one point.
    Feb 20 09:50 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment