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  • Clorox Management Focused On Shareholder Value [View article]
    "No mat­ter how poor the eco­nomic times, peo­ple still have to clean and col­lect trash."

    True, but in hard times are consumers are more likely to buy the more expensive Clorox-branded products when generic or supermarket own-brand chemical equivalents are available for a bit more than half the price?

    Of course, for all I know the generics may also be made by Clorox.
    Sep 1, 2011. 08:49 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • 'Buying Dividend Stocks For Income' Arguments Don't Make Sense [View article]
    "Most hedge funds are run by gun slingers who are looking to one up their hedge fund buddies so they can get the most coke and hookers at the boys night out Friday nights."

    Excellent post, love it.
    Sep 1, 2011. 08:38 AM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 'Buying Dividend Stocks For Income' Arguments Don't Make Sense [View article]
    What about the last 10 years?
    Sep 1, 2011. 08:31 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Can't The Cost Of Flood Insurance Rise? [View article]
    Flooding affects a lot of older homes in poorer neighborhoods here in Florida, as well as beachfront homes for the wealthy.

    Homes built in recent years have the lots built up higher from the road (like about 3 feet), making it much less likely that homes will flood. Many homes close to the water are built up on concrete pilings that keep them above the high water line.
    Aug 31, 2011. 11:10 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The 'Supercommittee': What It Should Do And What It Will Likely Do [View article]
    Yes, you are right about health care costs as far as it goes. The problem with US medicine is that many medical practices regard patients as revenue centers, and once you get someone on a long term medicine, then you have a revenue center for life.

    A fine example is the kind of dental insurance that employers often offer, which is really a scam.

    The insurance will offer free checkups, and then "copayments" for procedures.

    But the insurance plan is not really insurance, it is just a discount plan, and the free check up are really sales visits that drive customers to the supplier (dentist) so that he can propose courses of treatment that make money for the dentist.

    One plan I had covered porcelain crowns for a "copayment" of $750 dollars. A few years ago a dentist in the Dominican Republic gave me 4 crowns for $800 without insurance. With "insurance" like that who needs to pay for "insurance"?

    However the interesting thing is that the whole of the US insurance-based medical system works on the same principle.

    Now there are many dedicated and ethical practitioners, and I know many of them, and have worked with them, and some are my dear friends, but most of them aren't working in private practice.

    Nothing will ever change much, because for some reason that is quite opaque to me, Americans like it this way.
    Aug 31, 2011. 10:37 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 'Buying Dividend Stocks For Income' Arguments Don't Make Sense [View article]
    No, I understand. If you are planning to retire in 20 years from now, buying dividend growth stocks makes a lot of sense. If you want income right now, you may have to resort to more desperate measures.

    I do actually have an short put options position in WMT as I think this is a fine company that gets a lot of business from me, and I would have no objection to buying the stock at $50 per share. But if I don' get the stock put to me in January 2013, then I get a lot more than 3% for my trouble, and if the stock appreciates in value to a significant degree then I get it quicker too.

    My timing is not that great, but if you buy into a dividend fund with, say, a 10% annual dividend return a month before the ex-div date, there is a good chance the stock will run up into the dividend period and allow you to take a profit. If not, then you can hold it and get then dividend, then sell when the stock price recovers. At least you get two bites at the cherry. Of course you should not put more than a small percentage of a portfolio into each position of this type.

    BP currently pays a temporary half-price dividend of 42 cents per share, but will probably restore the full dividend of 84 cents within a year or two. At that rate it will offer a return of 8.5% on today's share price of $39. Maybe worth a look, especially as there is no sign of oil going out of style just yet.
    Aug 31, 2011. 10:08 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • AT&T: The Safety Of Coke With A Higher Return [View article]
    The recent changes in the prospects of T stock just show how important it is not to put too many eggs in one basket and how every position needs to be hedged at least to some extent against downside occurrences. With a seemingly stable stock like T this is not easy, but perhaps selling out of the money calls on 7/10 of a position and at the money calls on 3/10 plus a few LEAP bear put spreads would give some protection at little cost.
    Aug 31, 2011. 09:34 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 'Buying Dividend Stocks For Income' Arguments Don't Make Sense [View article]
    I have always wondered about this argument myself, especially with reference to stocks like WMT paying around 3% dividend. How is that even relevant?

    Last week I picked up about $40,000 worth of stock in three funds paying dividends of 10%, 10%. and 7% respectively. This morning I cashed out all three for an average gain of very close to 3%, which, if taken as a quarterly dividend, would be equivalent to the payments on a 12% dividend. I also picked up 1000 shares of NLY last week, which pays a quarterly dividend of 65 cents per share which is equivalent to 14% annual dividend . I was able to sell 10 calls which guaranteed I would get 70 cents at the end of September when the shares will be called away.

    Why on earth bother with something that pays a dividend of 4% when that is 1% per quarter and the stock may rise or fall by that amount any day?

    Of course I do understand that stocks held for many years may actually end up paying a huge dividend relative to the original investment.
    Aug 31, 2011. 04:17 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The 'Supercommittee': What It Should Do And What It Will Likely Do [View article]
    "They appear oblivious to the fact that the government expenditure cuts they insist on will slow growth by even more than the tax increases suggested by others."

    Well, this is the nub of the matter, isn't it? The Republicans' calculations seem to be well off target, because they are not accounting for the jobs that will be lost by cutting government expenditure, most of which goes on contracts and salaries.

    Improbably as it may seem, the only hope is for the Committee of 12 to meet in private and for their members to park their party affiliations at the door and do what is best for America regardless of the opinion of crackpot radio and TV show hosts.
    Aug 31, 2011. 09:47 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The 'Supercommittee': What It Should Do And What It Will Likely Do [View article]
    "U.S. (health)costs are high because services are “supply driven.”"

    This is partly true, but they are also high because of other factors. When my wife went to the local ER with terrible headaches, they wanted to do an MRI which would have cost $1200, so having no insurance, she refused it, left and got some over-the-counter pills.

    However she still had to pay the ER $400 (later negotiated down to $350) just for the privilege of entering the ER and registering, although she received no treatment.

    When I had acute sciatica recently in the Dominican Republic, I went to an Emergency Room where they gave me a shot of IV Lasix and a shot of IM diclofen (antiinflammatory) WITHOUT EVEN ASKING ME MY NAME until making out a handwritten invoice for $60.

    Now, here we have two extremes and I am not saying that either is ideal, but clearly there is an awful lot of middle ground to find between paying $400 for nothing but having your name entered in a computer, and paying $60 for 2 shots.
    Aug 31, 2011. 09:39 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The 'Supercommittee': What It Should Do And What It Will Likely Do [View article]
    "What should be done about Social Security is straightforward – move the year at which one can start getting payments out a few years."

    Two possible objections here:

    1. If workers retire later, then they tie up jobs that could have created vacancies for younger workers.

    2. You will have a much larger number of sick and/or partially disabled workers with high rates of absenteeism desperately clinging on for the last few years of work trying to qualify for Social Security.

    Take me for example. I am 60 years old and will still have to wait 2 years for minimum social security age or 6 years to get the full amount. I am in basically good health, and until a few weeks ago (see below) did not take any medication.

    Earlier this year I took voluntary retirement as I could afford to do so thanks to pension and savings. However another reason for retiring was that at 60 years of age I was increasingly finding it harder to work 12 or 16 hours shifts, as I had for years, due to swelling of my feet and pain walking.

    Having quit work I devoted the summer to improving my health with healthy eating, swimming, leisurely cycling, and walking, and was much improved as my feet were not swollen and I had no pain walking, only to suddenly develop a very acute case of incredibly painful sciatica for which I needed injections, painkillers, and complere rest. After 3 weeks I am still walking with a cane and would be completely unable to work if I wanted to.

    I am not writing this as a plea for sympathy, but to point out that I am a rather healthy 60-year-old and that there are millions who are obese, take blood pressure medication, have diabetes, and so on, of my age whose health is much worse than mine and who work in lower level jobs that require physical effort and who cannot afford to retire without SS. To make them wait until, say 69, before they can retire on SS is just asking for problems, and would probably put many more people on disability benefit and food stamps.

    A better approach to prevent SS from collapsing would surely be to increase the age a hair instead of a few years, increase the rate of contributions a tiny fraction, and increase the level of salary up to which contributions have to be made (possibly to include all earnings at all salaries). If that is still not enough, then shave a hair or two off the amount of the payout.

    Continue to jigger these numbers in concert until the whole plan comes into balance with the minimum damage done.
    Aug 31, 2011. 09:24 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft's Problem Is In Its Own DNA [View article]
    Well, OK, but I can type 70 words per minute on a regular keyboard, and learning to type on an iPad is equivalent to learning a new skill.

    I guess young people who first learn to type on an iPad will find it comes naturally as they will not be used to moving keys or using a mouse.

    Personally, for non typing computer usage, I would rather lean back in my padded chair with one hand extended to the edge of the desk resting on the mouse and navigating via almost imperceptible twitches of the forefinger, than have to hold a screen in my lap and keep tapping on it, but maybe I am just lazy. Again younger folks may adapt better.
    Aug 31, 2011. 08:40 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Sirius XM: Using Superior Content To Boost Revenue [View article]
    From Wikipedia"

    "SiriusXM Cancellation in North America"

    "As of 12AM on 9 August 2011, Sirius XM is no longer carrying BBC Radio 1 programming. Sirius XM gave no prior warning to its customers that it was going to be removed. On 10 August, the BBC issued this statement:The BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide has been in partnership with SIRIUS Satellite Radio to broadcast Radio 1 on their main network, since 2005. This agreement has now unfortunately come to an end and BBC Worldwide are in current discussions with the satellite radio station to find ways to continue to bring popular music channel, BBC Radio 1, to the US audience. We will keep you posted. Press Release."

    "Sirius XM to return in North America Sirius XM has announced that BBC Radio 1 will become available again to US listeners this week, as part of a new multi-platform carriage deal with the corporation."

    "Last week, the BBC's flagship music radio station was dropped from Sirius XM after six years on the subscription satellite radio platform, although the corporation continued talks to bring the station back to US listeners."

    "Sirius and the BBC have now agreed a new carriage agreement that will see Radio 1 broadcast on the Sirius XM Internet Radio platform from August 19 at 5pm ET."

    It seems that neither party is really telling the whole story. From another source I gleaned that the BBC said the contract was coming to an end, but that Sirius had not approached them about renewal, so the question is why not.

    Presumably it is a matter of cost and cost probably comes down to music royalties rights. I believe Radio 1 uses primarily or exclusively British music, whereas its more popular sister Radio 2 has a more international flavor. This may be the reason why Radio 2 has not been available on Sirius (rights to royalties).

    I know when I lived in Bermuda in the early days of cable TV there was a lot of difficulty initially getting services like HBO in Bermuda, because the US cable company that partnered Cablevision in Bermuda only had rights to show movies in the US and not for Bermuda, which was covered by some other treaty. It is probably the same with these radio stations and their ability to broadcast copyright music being covered by different treaties in different parts of the world.

    Isn't there some kind of Web site or news organization that covers these kind of issues?

    From what I understand Radio 1 was quite popular (understandably) on Sirius satellite and Sirius just deleted it without giving any proper explanation to subscribers, except that it had to give way to another channel that Sirius had acquired. If I was a Sirius satellite user who listened mainly to BBC Radio One, I would be furious.

    It is hard to imagine that the replacement channel is as good given the relatively high budget of BBC Radio One, with hosted DJ shows round the clock presented by broadcasters many of whom are stars in their own right, and the considerable library of original concert music in the possession of the BBC.

    Of course from the stockholder or option holder point of view (me), it might be good news if removing BBC Radio One from satellite broadcasts makes the service more profitable, even if it does slighly undermine Sirius' claims to be a quality broadcasting service. Certainly it could have covered this news story better.
    Aug 31, 2011. 08:29 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Sirius XM: Using Superior Content To Boost Revenue [View article]
    Understood, but I mean having to pay $2.99 extra to get it on the net on Sirius when it is available free on the net anyway.
    Aug 31, 2011. 07:40 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Sirius XM: Using Superior Content To Boost Revenue [View article]
    Yes, but you can listen to BBC Radio 1 for free on the Internet anyway, (and BBC Radios 2,3,4,5,6) so this is even more of a rip off.
    Aug 30, 2011. 10:43 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment