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  • Sell Weight Watchers Now, It's A Value Trap [View article]
    Those weight watcher's meals you see on the supermarket shelf... those are not sold by WTW. Those are sold by Heinz (WTW's former owner) and WTW gets $0 from it. The fact that the original author seems unaware of this seriously calls into question his due diligence, in my opinion.

    Comments on WTW and the value of brands: Blockbuster and Kodak were taken down by major upheaval/elimination of their respective industries. (Sorry, but hotmail was never a dominant brand.) If you believe that the weight loss industry is going the way of VCR's and film cameras, then WTW would be in trouble. Personally, I don't believe that apps or activity trackers have any chance of displacing WTW in the long run. They'll take some business for a while, and ultimately end up having their own place in the market, but no way do they replace WTW's programs. Losing weight is incredibly difficult. If the only difficulty was tracking your diet and activity, we would have cured obesity long ago. Issues of lifestyle, discipline, support, and even peer pressure make weight loss one of the most difficult problems many people ever deal with. Weight watchers can deal with those issues. I don't think an app or a fitbit ever could.

    If you're a trader, being early is the same as being wrong. I think that's what's happened to a lot of investors in WTW recently. They bought into the value story, but they got in too early and the stock continued to drop. Based on that, they became convinced that they were wrong. "WTW isn't a value," they've decided, "it's a value trap." But if you are a value investor, you have to get used to being early and feeling wrong. It comes with the territory, unfortunately.

    As for WTW, fundamentally I think the value story is intact. I don't know if things turn up this quarter or a year from now, but I will be very surprised if WTW ends up being a value trap.
    Apr 9 04:50 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Farmland Partners IPO Offers Investors Unique Opportunity To Own Farmland [View article]
    They make the tenants pay the full year's rent up front, as a rule.
    Apr 5 05:45 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Farmland Partners IPO Offers Investors Unique Opportunity To Own Farmland [View article]
    Thanks for the write up. I browsed that prospectus. I do like the concept, but I was put off by what a sweet deal it was for insiders.

    Just going from memory it seemed like they had bought about $17 million worth of agricultural land, accumulating roughly $17 million in debt in the process. This is the roughly $0 net value on offer in the IPO. What investors pay to buy into this IPO will provide 100% of the value of the company, yet the investors only get 70% ownership of the company.

    I should really start my own agriculture REIT if there's an IPO market for deals like this.

    However, since I wouldn't know where to begin in starting such an REIT, Farmland Partners may be my best bet for this sort of investment.
    Apr 4 05:37 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Aegerion Pharmaceuticals' Viability Threatened As Regulatory, Legal And Market Forces Close In [View article]
    I am not defending AEGR or its current share price. You can put together a true, fair and balanced short case on this stock. If you do that, I won't comment except to say, "Nice write up."

    That is not what this author has done. This is an exaggerated, manipulative attack piece.

    "It's not often that evidence gathered in one of our investigations into a company that is not a classic pump and dump or U.S. listed China Based company would lead the GeoTeam to conclude that the subject company's shares could ultimately become essentially worthless."

    This quote made me strongly suspect these guys were full of $hit. Plenty of other points in the piece confirmed my suspicions.

    I have no interest in AEGR one way or the other. I just don't want uninformed readers to look at this article and think they're getting a fair, reasoned analysis. They're not.
    Mar 28 09:00 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Aegerion Pharmaceuticals' Viability Threatened As Regulatory, Legal And Market Forces Close In [View article]
    I'm not saying this is all trivial, only that the author is seriously over-hyping these issues, in my opinion.

    AEGR isn't allowed to promote off-label and I know of no evidence that they have. At least not deliberately-- just some sloppy talk from the CEO. But they can promote to every HoFH patient they can find, and I'm arguing that they'll find far more than 300.

    The DOJ is investigating to see if they can find evidence of blatant off-label promotion. They'll find something or they won't. A blabbermouth CEO doesn't seem like a strong starting point for an investigation to me.

    We'll see where this goes, I guess. I wouldn't buy here, but the author is suggesting there's a significant possibility of this going to zero. In my opinion, the odds of that happening in the next year or two is one in a million.
    Mar 28 06:42 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Aegerion Pharmaceuticals' Viability Threatened As Regulatory, Legal And Market Forces Close In [View article]
    Wow! That was a lot of words. You must be really, really, really, really right.

    Just kidding. Mostly you just seem to have written a very, very long article exaggerating the issues at AEGR to try and make your short position pay out better. What's the opposite of pump-and-dump? Bash-and-cover?

    I don't doubt that AEGR is probably overvalued, so you'll probably be fine on your short. But you could just as well have gone short a biotech index. The whole sector has been very frothy recently.

    As for AEGR, there are issues, but they are mostly minor. Your overwhelming pessimism suggests that either 1) you don't follow the biotech/pharma space and are misreading the situation, or 2) you're just trying to manipulate readers for profit.

    Without going into detail, here's why. Doctors prescribe off label all the time. It is legal. The pharmaceutical companies know it and the FDA knows it and it's all fine. The company just isn't allowed to promote the drug for off label use. But again, letters like the FDA sent to AEGR are quite common. Pharma executives or advertisers will accidentally say something that the FDA feels is uncomfortably close to off-label promotions, and the FDA will ask them to stop. As long as AEGR doesn't ignore that letter, they'll be fine. (There is no indication that they haven't complied.) The patent expiration doesn't really matter because they have orphan exclusivity. Orphan drug patient populations always end up being much bigger than experts thought before the drugs were approved to treat them, so the 300 patient number is almost certainly far too low.

    The one issue that does stand out is the PCSK9 drugs. That's likely to seriously hurt AEGR, but not for a couple years yet. Are you planning on maintaining your short until 2016? No? Bash-and-cover then.
    Mar 28 05:54 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Ruthigen IPO Set To Soar; Tetraphase To Find Lower Floor [View article]
    Agreed. Ruthigen wouldn't have been able to raise money at all for their essentially commodity product if the biotech market wasn't so bubbly.
    Mar 25 10:59 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • My Inner Contrarian Says It's Time To Go Long Hussman's Hedging Strategies [View article]
    It's a mischaracterization of Hussman's strategy to say that it's the same as Taleb's. Taleb's strategy (to the extent that I understand it) is buying tail risk insurance all the time, Hussman only buys insurance when markets look to be at risk of a serious pull-back. Now for the last few years he's been buying those puts to protect against a pull-back which (mostly) never came. So honestly, yes, for the last few years his actions have been similar to Taleb's, even if his strategy isn't. And unfortunately (I'm a shareholder) it hasn't worked out too well. At least not yet.

    "In the post-2008 world, although the downside stock protection looks historically cheap (low VIX index in general), stock protection in the form of puts is actually overpriced, and not underpriced as Mr. Hussman's and Mr. Taleb's strategies imply. The tail-risk events will happen, for sure, but with lower magnitude than Mr. Hussman's and Mr. Taleb's models anticipate. This is why betting large corrections are a loser's game since 2008. Since 2008, a large market decline is less likely than under natural market scenario."

    If I remember right, plenty of people thought they had the Greenspan/Bernanke put protecting them pre-2008. They also thought betting on large corrections was a loser's game. Turns out they were very, very wrong. I'm impressed at how much faith you (and others) have in monetary authority's abilities to control markets.

    "I am a great fan of Mr. Taleb's and Mr. Hussman's economic theories and findings. However, when it comes to applying their strategies in real-world investing, they have become victims of the popularity of their strategies"

    Taleb's strategy, by definition, is only going to work once in a long while. Black swans come along very rarely. You think just because it hasn't worked for 5 years, the strategy is broken? If we don't have another major bear market for 5 *more* years, then we'll talk. And again, Hussman's strategy is totally different, though it's very difficult to argue that its problems are a result of its popularity.

    All of that aside, I would agree with one conclusion of your article. On a contrarian basis, this probably is a very good time to invest in Hussman's funds.
    Mar 14 04:19 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Enzymotec Had A Great 2013, And Has A Promising Year Ahead [View article]
    That really makes sense to you? You would rather pay $600 million for a company than pay $90 million for that same company? Good luck with your investing. You're going to need it.
    Mar 12 05:28 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Wal-Mart Economy [View article]
    Good points. I agree that the German solution is unlikely to get anywhere here, and that employee shareholdership is a similar concept but more a American-appealing option. I actually used to love the idea, and I was incredibly excited at the prospects when employee unions ended up as 55% shareholders in United Airlines ( That ended up going quite badly, unfortunately. There are a number of reasons that might have been a special, disadvantaged case. The ownership was indirect, so individuals didn't own shares. Airlines are a tough industry and that was a tough time for them. Despite all that it went worse than I might have hoped. I'm just not sure most people can suppress their personal interest to think like business owners just because they're shareholders. Though I guess that's a separate question from letting them share in the company's wealth by being part owners. Regardless, it's a good concept and I'd love to see more of it.

    Thanks for the article by the way. Good discussion.
    Mar 7 12:40 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Wal-Mart Economy [View article]
    Nonsense. Is everyone without a PhD in computer science incompetent? Because I can tell you, there are plenty of PhD chemists, physicists, etc. out there having a tough time finding good jobs. That's not counting the far larger numbers with (good) bachelor's degrees but bad (or no) jobs.

    There are many millions unemployed and any tech employment shortage is almost certainly measured in the 10's (maybe low 100's) of thousands. Are Google, et al. going to be hiring 10's of millions if they just have the right training?
    Mar 6 07:59 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Wal-Mart Economy [View article]
    Your negative feedback loop argument makes a lot of sense. Companies cut their wage bills to increase profitability. Wage earners with less to spend reduce demand. With low demand, companies see poor growth prospects-- no need for cap. ex. to fund growth. The only way to increase profitability is to cut costs (including wages) more.

    The 'government regulations are increasing costs' angle looks weak to me. If high costs were the problem, profitability wouldn't be at record highs.

    The issue with your feedback loop, and feedback loops in general, is that eventually the cycle has to break. Eventually the cuts to workers wages to fund more payouts to shareholders will become unworkable. (I think we can all agree that labor's share of total income cannot go to zero.)

    How do you resolve this? That's the really hard problem. I think the usual 'easy' answers (minimum wage hikes, or just get the government out of the way and everything will be better) are likely all wrong.

    I think an ideal solution would be something closer to Germany's corporate governance rules, which require companies to be managed for the benefit of shareholders and employees. I expect many Americans will find this blasphemous. Fair enough, but please point me then to a better solution that keeps this from grinding down to the breaking point.
    Mar 6 05:55 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • CYREN: New Products Launched This Year Should Transform The Company [View article]
    There were a couple of good SA Pro articles on this one toward the end of last year. Long term (3+ years) I like their prospects, but given that they don't anticipate profits for 2014 or 2015, I'm more comfortable watching this name for now. I sold out of my position on Tuesday. Five years into a bull market, and three years away from profit, I'm guessing I can get in at a better price later.

    Time will tell.
    Mar 6 12:47 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Nuance: Value Trap Until Further Notice [View article]
    I don't think you completely get the concept of a value trap. A value trap is a stock that looks cheap next to current earnings/cash flow-- it looks like a value. What makes it a trap is that earnings fall and continue falling and the stock keeps falling with it.

    What you have described in NUAN is just a value, without the trap. The company still generates lots of cash flow and it's still growing. Because of some missteps and revenue recognition changes, investors have sold off the stock, so you can buy it at a discount. If missteps continue, the stock might pull back a bit, but it's already cheap enough that the down side is limited. But if one of the several positive catalysts you highlight works out, the stock will move up a lot.

    That's a value. You buy those.
    Mar 5 01:30 PM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Enzymotec Had A Great 2013, And Has A Promising Year Ahead [View article]
    Interesting. I was getting very excited about this looking at google finance, which lists 3.17 million shares and a market cap of $87.6 million. That is clearly very wrong.

    I'm still confused though. Their just-released 2013 Annual report lists 7.5 & 9.3 million basic and diluted shares. Those seem to be post-IPO numbers. I assume that's probably right, which gives them a market cap of $208 million on the basic share count. But then I look at Yahoo finance, and they list 21.4 million shares and a $592 million market cap. That's more or less in line with the market cap shown here at SA. Do you know why there's this ~21 million share count out there? That makes a very, very big difference in valuation.

    And actually, that highest number must be right. Their low end earnings estimates for 2014 are $18 million and $0.70/share, which works says there must be almost 26 million shares. Where did they come from? What have I missed here?
    Feb 25 08:41 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment