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  • Microsoft: Will Big Money Join The Class Action Suit? [View article]
    You can take a short position in an IRA account by using options. Although I do have a long position in MSFT, I also held a position shorting the September expiration $35 calls that I liquidated at a good rate of profit following the earnings announcement.

    Had the stock rocketed up to $50 on announcement of earnings, I would have lost some money, but not much.

    Shorting a company like MSFT only exposes you to UNLIMITED losses if the stock has the potential to go to infinity, and in any case the losses cannot realistically exceed the value of your account unless your brokerage is asleep at the wheel. Given the performance of the stock over the last decade, that seems improbable, and the company is not likely to be subject to a hostile takeover at a higher multiple of earnings.
    Aug 19, 2013. 06:55 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft: Will Big Money Join The Class Action Suit? [View article]
    It depends really on who profited and who lost out on the run up of the stock from $32 to $36 and then back again when the poor performance of Windows Surface RT was announced.

    If it could be shown that whomever profited from the sudden fall in the stock had access to privately held information about Windows Surface RT sales that was deliberately held back from shareholders yet had some access to information from MSFT sources, or if MSFT insiders profited, then there might be a very good case to be made for stock fraud.

    However these type of case nearly always fail as they are typically propagated by ambulance-chasing attorneys who exploit the anger of disappointed stock holders mainly for the gain of the attorneys. I think they would have to show criminal behavior way beyond simply overstating the value of inventory of one product for one quarter to get any joy. They would need to show a motive and show who profited from the alleged deception.

    I was actually short MSFT at $36, though not because of any special information, but because it looked overbought to me at that price, and because stocks that run up into earnings often fall back on the announcement. See also WMT's recent stock performance.
    Aug 19, 2013. 04:56 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Crocs: A Cheap Gift From The Markets [View article]
    I have a pair of basic Crocs that I wear quite a lot as they are light and soft on the feet, so good if you have painful feet, etc.

    However I cannot see them as being any good at all as a beach shoe, as they easily allow painful bits of grit and sand to enter the shoe.

    They are also extremely dangerous anywhere it is wet, for example at the side of a pool, in a kitchen with spills on the floor, a bathroom with a tile floor, or on a sidewalk in a rain shower as they become extremely slippery under those conditions, both inside and outside of the shoe and you can easily fall down, twist an ankle, or fall down a flight of steps if you aren't using the handrail. (I still wear them, though.)

    So they can be a good cheap shoe, and quite durable, but they do have severe limitations. Possibly this is a reason why some employers in the US do not allow them.

    They do make a range of non-slip shoes for restaurants, etc. but I am talking about the shoes Crocs are best known for.
    Aug 16, 2013. 03:44 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Will Nokia Rebound To Prove The Bears Wrong In Q3 And Q4 Of 2013? [View article]
    Yes, there are others, but I have been buying music from Amazon since they started selling it (never had DRM nonsense) and now can download mp3 rips of any CD or mp3 I have ever bought, or will buy in the future, but only with the Amazon player.

    Maybe it isn't a big deal, but probably Amazon music customers would prefer not to have a Windows phone device vs Android at this time, all other things being equal, although I appreciate that most people probably aren't using a phone as their primary music player.
    Jul 31, 2013. 08:46 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Will Nokia Rebound To Prove The Bears Wrong In Q3 And Q4 Of 2013? [View article]
    Android is an operating system, not a phone. I have an Android tablet, which is OK, but it would be interesting to see a comparison of the Android operating system for phones versus the Windows operating system from phones used by Nokia.

    Reading reviews does not seem very promising as many people report the Kindle reader app does not work properly, and searching on, which Web site doesn't work very well, I can't even find another e-reader like Coolreader, which I use in Android, listed.

    Also it does not appear to have the Amazon mp3 player, which I use a LOT on Android.

    Looks like Windows phone may have a long, long way to go to catch up on basic apps.
    Jul 30, 2013. 08:19 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Nokia Lumia 1020 Edges The Company Back Into Conversation [View article]
    You are right about most people and Facebook, but there are also many people like journalists and other professionals of various types who might find a camera of this type extremely useful for business , not to mention affluent types who want the best of everything, and world travelers who want the most compact devices.

    As far as apps go, there are probably less than 100 free apps that meet the needs of most people, and after that the numbers diminish exponentially. The more expensive paid apps, such as the drug data bases used by doctors will mostly be available on all platforms.
    Jul 12, 2013. 09:37 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Nokia Lumia 1020 Edges The Company Back Into Conversation [View article]
    Buy an unlocked phone and use it with T-Mobile?
    Jul 12, 2013. 09:01 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Motors' Full Analysis 2.0 [View article]
    You may well be right about the market cap, but as with Amazon the stock might stay in nosebleed territory for years, because a lot of people are thinking the company may continue to develop new technologies to improve the performance of the vehicles and are prepared to hold their stock for the long term.

    Of course there is the conundrum that the drivers who spend the most on gasoline are those who put in the most mileage or whom have the largest and heaviest vehicles, but they probably can't benefit from a switch to electrical vehicles with a shorter range or less towing power. On the other hand those who travel shorter distances will save less by not buying gasoline.
    Jul 3, 2013. 03:10 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Motors' Full Analysis 2.0 [View article]
    Living in New York as a single person, you might use an electric car for shorter journeys and maybe rent or fly/rent for occasional long distance trips. In households where there are two cars, one for wife and one for husband, it would make sense to have one ICE car to use for longer trips and an EV for commuting, school and supermarket runs.

    Obviously there will always be some people with lifestyles where the EV won't work for them. I was one when I used to do a 600-mile round trip commute to work every weekend to a location far from airports or any kind of public transportation.
    Jul 3, 2013. 09:37 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Motors (TSLA +7.2%) CEO Elon Musk tweets that the company is closing in on the 100K votes it wanted recorded in an online petition urging the Obama administration to allow the company to sell directly to consumers in all states. The Tesla initiative has worked its way on to the top ten list of most active petitions at [View news story]
    Freedom of trade between the states has always been in the domain of the federal government, otherwise the states would all be cooking up embargoes against each other to protect home state industries.

    Legislation mandating dealerships can surely only be legitimate if it has a valid purpose in protecting purchasers of vehicles.
    Jul 2, 2013. 07:50 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Danger Of Shorting Tesla Motors: The Amazon And Salesforce Factors [View article]
    Good article. Yes, I think there are a lot of younger retail investors who have put some TSLA shares away in their IRAs and 401(k)s with the intention of holding for 20 or 30 years.

    On certain stocks the notion of fundamentals breaks down somewhat, and TSLA is probably one such, because it is all about a vision of the future.

    My mother's family owned a sadlery business from 1877 and rented out horses and buggies. At the end of the first World War, they had the first motorized bus in their part of England. Three brothers of whom my grandfather was one drove the buses until my grandfather died of a stroke aged 49 and his widow insisted that the other brothers buy out her inherited share of the business, even though this split the family and nearly drove the business into bankruptcy.

    However in 2012, the family sold the business for a very substantial return, so had someone who could drive a bus invested in the business when the company was a mess in 1945, they would have been well rewarded as the internal combustion engine continued to gain market share over railroads and other forms of transportation.

    (my great grandfather--the local Elon Musk--is pictured).

    Not so sure that the personal interests of the major owners mentioned are significant. Bezos, for example, even if you assume,improbably, that AMZN stock goes to precisely zero tomorrow, is still worth almost a billion dollars, enough to keep himself and his family in the uttermost luxury until the fourth generation.

    Of course if, like Gates and Buffett he has charitable and educational foundations he wants to massively support, then that might be a different motivator. Same for Elon Musk. These guys will never, ever be broke. For them it is all about the excitement of ideas and the challenge of doing something that has never been done before.
    Jun 11, 2013. 09:34 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Could This Strategy Be The Holy Grail Of Investing? [View article]
    Yes, but having to be watching the market every moment in case of assignment makes it all the harder for the non professional to implement. Just the other day I had some short options assigned on one of the rare days when I am not online, and it didn't work out for the better.
    Jun 10, 2013. 08:43 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wal-Mart's Slow-Motion Privatization [View article]
    But do they really want to go private? The folks from Walton's Mountain can donate as much money as they want to politics anyhow, and $813,000 donated by four family members is peanuts in relation to their total wealth or dividend income. Probably like you or I giving $5 to breast cancer research.

    I have no doubt that they could control several members of Congress or buy their own seats in Congress if they wanted, regardless of whether the company is private or public.

    Ultra rich people are often extremely conservative in their political views, for having inherited their wealth purely by their own efforts, it is natural to want to draw up the ladder behind them, but it doesn't necessarily mean they want to devote their hard earned leisure time to politics.

    The stock hit new all time highs a few weeks ago, but has been pulling back recently and I have been shorting it on up days. A move over $80 per share could be an indication that something is up.
    Jun 10, 2013. 04:25 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Could This Strategy Be The Holy Grail Of Investing? [View article]
    "Some of you seem to think that one can become a professional golfer and concert pianist in one easy lesson-just send in $19.99 plus shipping and handling."

    It takes a certain amount of self confidence.

    A friend of mine in Bermuda was the nephew of a local golf pro and a pretty good player too, though his religion forbade him to participate in sports on Saturdays, which meant he could not play in many competitions.

    A few times was invited to make up a foursome with Michael Jordan. My friend said that Michael was convinced that he had what it took to join the PGA tour, though my friend was actually able to identify significant flaws in his game and particularly in his mental approach which might have made it hard for him to succeed at that level.

    The problem with the suggested approach is that it would be very difficult for the talented amateur investor to implement on the pro tour. One would need a very active hands-on approach to rolling the short puts that could easily lead to errors.

    Anyway, I have a system for making 20% per month, but I am keeping it a secret.
    Jun 8, 2013. 02:41 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft (MSFT +0.5%) appears bent on unloading Surface inventory: the software giant is now offering a free Touch or Type Cover (they normally go for $120/$130) with a Surface RT purchase, and will be selling RT and Pro models for a respective $100 and $399 to attendees at next week's TechEd conference (the tablets normally start at $499 and $899). The discounts could be due to weak demand, a pending hardware refresh (reportedly due at the June 26-28 BUILD conference), or both. [View news story]
    Giving decent discounts to conference attendees on Surface products hardly suggests that they can't make enough to meet demand.
    Jun 1, 2013. 08:12 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment