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  • Microsoft Has Lost The Smartphone Battle [View article]
    "Also, the fact that Microsoft chose AT&T (NYSE:T) as the exclusive seller of its devices means that the goal of selling one billion devices in three years may need to be revised."

    But this is only true of phones in the United States, At&T is not even in the market for selling phones in substantial Windows phone markets like Italy and the UK. Also it does not apply to devices like the Surface tablet, which are sold through a variety of channels.

    Disclosure: I have Windows phones and my children have Windows phones. The kids like them because they are cheap enough to use as a wi-fi client without a SIM card to play games and watch videos, and I use mine for business purposes like texting, navigating, photography, scanning documents, dictation, One Note, international calling and messaging via Whatsapp, as a mobile hotspot, and as an alternative short-wave radio, and find that they are excellent for the purpose and, importantly, much, much cheaper than iPhones, so that if one does happen to fall in the bathtub, it is not the end of the world, or even the beginning of the end of the world.

    Of course the fact that I find Windows phones to be an economical and practical solution to a number of communication problems does not mean that other people will, but I don't see why not
    Nov 19, 2015. 06:17 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Toil And Trouble: Nike, Apple, McDonald's, Yum! And Value Creation [View article]
    What goes up must come down
    Spinnin' wheel, got to go round
    Talkin' 'bout your troubles, it's a cryin' sin
    Ride a painted pony, let the spinnin' wheel spin

    Read more: Blood Sweat & Tears - Spinning Wheel Lyrics | MetroLyrics
    Nov 3, 2015. 06:21 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wal-Mart Wants To Be Target, Amazon, And Costco... Oh No [View article]
    Yet another subtly racist post on Seeking Alpha.
    Nov 3, 2015. 09:08 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wal-Mart Wants To Be Target, Amazon, And Costco... Oh No [View article]
    I agree, the author says that he is willing to pay more just to buy his food in a store where he apparently likes the red-and-white decor. Well, OK, but most families would rather pay less for their food every week and have more money left over to spend on other things.

    " It wants to simplify the company and turn what are often little more than disgruntled automatons, as far as I can tell from my shopping experiences, into engaged sales associates."

    Walmart is for the most part a self service store. You get a cart, you put stuff in it, you take it to the cashier and pay for it, or run your purchases through an automatic cashier machine.

    This is not the case in all departments. Photography, the gun sections, the paint sections, the tire and oil change shop are manned, but to be honest I have not noticed disgruntled automatons. The people who work in those departments tend to be longer serving employees, not shelf stackers, and if they were seriously pissing off customers, they would be gotten rid of.

    Walmart innovated by introducing groceries to hardware stores, then became more of a grocery chain, by having 24-hour Supercenters that are a boon to shift workers, by offering lower prices on most foods than competitors, and so on.

    However they are not particularly cheap for everything. Try looking at the prices for iPhone accessories in Walmart. A case for your phone may actually cost you more than the cost of buying some other smart phones outright.

    The quality of goods in Walmart is quite good, and in electronics, paints, tires, lingerie, etc., they are selling reputable brands, Compare to the quality of goods in discounters in third world countries and Walmart in the US looks more like a luxury department store.

    I think the problem for Walmart growth is that they are pretty much built out in the US, and their style of doing business does not seem to work quite so well in foreign markets where labor is more regulated and shoppers are less automobile-driven, populations are denser, and the potential for building large Supercenters in underserved areas where there is little competition is less.

    Their Web sites remain dowdy, with poor searching capacity, and lacking Amazon features like 1-Click ordering and quality customer reviews of products, or third party merchandise. If they do get their act together with Web sites, it may not be profitable for them to sell iPhone covers for 10% of the price in the stores, because to some extent they will cannibalize store sales.

    Very likely the stock will drift a bit lower over the next couple of years.
    Nov 3, 2015. 09:04 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft: Updating The Windows 10 Investment Thesis [View article]
    I have Windows 10 on various devices from my phones to my laptop and desktop. I cannot see a whole lot of gain over earlier versions of Windows, although Windows 10 Mobile is more caught-up when it comes to dictating into apps. However, I don't think that this means the end of Micrsoft.

    At this stage of the game all an operating system needs to do is to keep up with technological gains and be easy to use with a bit of practice. Doing things like browsing the Internet, writing e-mails, watching YouTube, running Web based applications, listening to international radio stations, pretty much the same regardless of what operating system you use, especially once you are familiar with it/

    What Microsoft is doing now is unifying its operating system over different forms, so that some, at least, applications can run the same whether on phones or desktops, and this makes it easier for people to learn how to use them.

    There are some interesting innovations on the way, like being able to dictate and send text messages from a Windows 10 desktop computer to phone numbers. I can think of plenty of businesses that would find this very useful.

    One Note is also an incredibly useful program and now you can dictate Take A Note and get both voice to text and voice only recordings in your notebook.

    I would also like to see available the ability to dictate text messages and deliver them to fax numbers, as fax is used a lot in the industry I work in, which is one of the largest industries in the US. Perhaps this will come soon.

    Of course innovations like a Cortana interface box on desktops are ultimately aimed at directing people to the engine that drives Bing search and makes money for Microsoft through the sale of advertising revenue. This ultimately is where MSFT will succeed or fail. Everything else is the bait to get people using the operating system and asking Cortana "where is the nearest restaurant that is not a McDonald's" or "what is the cheapest flight from New York to Sydney that does not overfly ISIS-held territory?" or "where can I buy a used Hallowe'en costume?"
    Nov 2, 2015. 05:22 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • I Still Think The Market Is Wrong On McDonald's [View article]
    At least the e coli was organic, so they could spin it as a probiotic.
    Nov 1, 2015. 08:34 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • I Still Think The Market Is Wrong On McDonald's [View article]
    "So long as a the 'food' is considered a tasty guilty pleasure, people will eat there. Even if it's in secret."

    I think it is a class issue. I know plenty of hospital workers who get take out breakfast and lunch from MCD or pick up coffee on the way in on the early shift.

    Not every day--they will rotate a bit with the various restaurants within short driving distance. Not so many doctors eating at MCD, though, perhaps because they don't have time, or they send someone else to get lunch for them.

    People who are financially better off have more options, coffee machines and fridges in their offices, domestic help, etc, and don't need to buy fast food so much.
    Nov 1, 2015. 11:33 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • I Still Think The Market Is Wrong On McDonald's [View article]
    Difficult to know how much McDonald's customers care about cage free eggs. Not very much I suspect, but these kind of things are a useful kind of PR if nothing else.

    It seem to me difficult to evaluate MCD stock because of difficulty in telling whether the company is making money by selling hamburgers or by selling franchises or real estate, and whether growth in China can offset stagnation in the US.

    Here in Florida, MCD restaurant seem to be about every few hundred yards in populated areas, most of the restaurants have about as much ambience as a public toilet, and the food on the menus looks horrible and overpriced--however that is just my personal opinion, and people seem to use them quite a lot to pick up breakfast or lunch items on the way to work, or when traveling on the Interstate, as they are often positioned at exits.

    I think it is pretty obvious that you will not get anything fresh there. Last year I was eating at a truck stop in Florida and got talking to a truck driver. He had come down with "fresh salads" from Tennessee to deliver them to local supermarkets and the school board. I asked him if they grew a lot of produce in Tennessee and he said, no, it came from all over. So you wonder how fresh these salads could be, and indeed what is the point of eating salad at all if it is not fresh. But most people don't think that way, or don't care.

    With so many restaurants, there is no way they will be sourcing much, if any, of their food from local suppliers of fresh produce.

    But does this matter? If people will buy food from them, then they will make money no matter how processed or unfresh the food is, because they have LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.

    I am a bit impressed if they are really reintroducing butter. But why? It seems widespread that restaurants in the US offer fake butter on toast and fake milk in coffee, and nobody seems to object at all. I guess the aim is to try to position the public perception of the chain a little more upmarket.

    Stock looks overbought to me at the present time, but it could go higher yet on shareholder sentiment as a quintessential American stock.
    Nov 1, 2015. 11:24 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • I Still Think The Market Is Wrong On McDonald's [View article]
    "I live in the central US. McDonald's has lines out to the street waiting to buy their product."

    Interesting, but is there such a lack of fast food in the central US that people are willing to actually get in line and wait just to get an Egg McMuffin and a paper cup of soda or coffee?
    Nov 1, 2015. 10:55 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Do Not Follow The Herd - Sell McDonald's And Microsoft [View article]
    I agree. I and my children have used Windows phones for a few years and find them perfectly adequate at a fraction of the price of iPhones. I find Windows Mobile 8 and the trial version of Windows 10 Mobile work very well for dictation and navigation and use One Note a lot. My wife currently does have a cheaper model iPhone, but it does not confer any special benefits or do anything (for us) that the Windows phone cannot do.

    My Nokia 1520 has a better camera and screen display than any iPhone for high definition photographs that I use in my work.

    The race is not always to the swift and it is important for businesses and consumers that major companies continue to compete and try to make better products in this area.
    Oct 28, 2015. 07:42 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Do Not Follow The Herd - Sell McDonald's And Microsoft [View article]
    "The idea of cutting the menu means cutting items they don't actually sell."

    So they are cutting items from the menu that are just there to make it look like there is more choice? I can't see how this will make them more money unless they replace them with items that will sell.

    Anyway, I always say that the real profits are made on drinks that cost pennies in materials to make, but are expensive to the customer. For example I can make 6 gallons of iced tea at home for $1.50, but in a fast food place I will have to pay more than that for a paper cup of incredibly diluted beverage. That is where the profit lies. I suppose if you can get more people in for their salty afternoon McMuffin, they may also buy something to wash it down.

    I had a tiny short options position before earnings and lost my money, planning to go even shorter if MCD surged on earnings. This was on the basis that stocks often run up into earnings and then pull back. I still think MCD is too expensive right now, but the insanity may continue for a while, so I am waiting and seeing.

    The interesting point will be at the next earnings announcement. We will probably see another run up going into earnings, and then...and then what happens, does the stock continue to explode upwards or does it fall back to earth a bit? The stock market tends to be irrational for long periods, as we all know. I think the longs may rule on MCD for a bit longer.

    What I tend to look at is the demographic for MCD. What I see is that MCD is used primarily by middle to lower middle working people to buy fast food on their way to work, during breaks in work, and on the way home after work, when they are too tired to even scramble an egg for themselves. Is this demographic likely to spend more on fast food over the next couple of years, or is the trend towards all day breakfast an indication that dire straits are turning workers to eggs as the cheapest available form of protein,
    Oct 28, 2015. 07:33 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Microsoft Makes Money, And The Impact Of Q1 2016 Results [View article]
    I would not be surprised to see the stock jumping even higher at the January 2016 earnings report. I don't think there is any expectation that Windows 10 PCs will jump off the shelves. Clearly vast numbers of retail customers who would once have bought PCs or Laptops are now getting their Internet fix of e=mail, Facebook, and pornography, or whatever it is that they like from smart phones and other viewing devices.

    Businesses, however, and people like me who have large hands and like to type fast on a full size keyboard and use large size monitors while leaning back in a chair, will probably stick with PCs as they are a cheaper option and, being modular, have easily replaceable parts like keyboards, mice, and screens, so you can mix and match to your satisfaction. I am currently using a Lenovo ThinkCentre 58P circa 2008 and originally issued with Windows Vista that runs completely silently, is incredibly easy to repair, and is running Windows 10. Would not change for anything.

    But I use a phone for dictation and texting. However soon I will also be able to text from the desktop via Cortana.

    Still, Windows 10 will be much harder to bootleg than earlier versions of Windows, and practically every business on the planet will still be running some kind of Windows machine 10 years from now.
    Oct 26, 2015. 05:13 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Should McDonald's Be Added To My Dividend Growth Portfolio? [View article]
    I would actually have agreed with every word of this at the time that it was written, but I wonder whether the author thinks that MCD is an even better short now. Like Moon Woong, I cannot see MCD growing very much in the years ahead and it seems to me that ideas like all-day breakfast are not very original and would have been done years ago if people really wanted bacon and eggs for breakfast, lunch, and supper.
    Oct 25, 2015. 05:33 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Microsoft Makes Money, And The Impact Of Q1 2016 Results [View article]
    This is one of the best articles I have every seen on Seeking Alpha. Far too many articles don't really address the question of where Microsoft makes its money. For example, as far as I know, although not mentioned here, Microsoft still gets royalty income from Android phone sales, this somewhat offsettting losses on Windows phone. Some time ago, I predicted in comments that Microsoft would hit $50, and sure enough it did, and then immediately retrenched and fell back to the low $40s.

    Microsoft stock has now busted through the $50 line, and it will be interesting to see if $50 which has previously been a resistance point will now become a support level. I suspect so. I am long 2017 MSFT $50 calls and have sold November $55 calls as I don't see the stock busting through $55 before next earnings announcement, though if it does I will be happy enough, but surely it cannot go to $60. If it falls back next week, then I am OK with that too, but I will stick my neck out again and say that I think the stock is very likely to touch $55 within a year.

    Of course, if there is a general crash, then all bets are off.
    Oct 25, 2015. 05:27 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Is Wal-Mart Taking Itself Down? [View article]
    Aldi Nord owns Trader Joe's, which I believe is mainly in California. I don't know if their stores are typically Aldi in style as I have never seen one.
    Oct 25, 2015. 04:53 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment