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Siddharth Dalal
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Siddharth is a software engineer at Solovis LLC, a startup that develops a breakthrough software platform for investment managers. Prior to this, he was a software engineer for over a decade at The University of Virginia and a short time at Worldstrides, a student travel organization. He is very... More
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  • Blockbuster Adds No Added Cost Game Rentals. Still Dying

    I logged in to my Blockbuster account today and saw this:

    Blockbuster is really throwing everything and the kitchen sink to compete with Netflix and Redbox. But nothing seems to be working to keep the company alive. I'm not sure why they don't throw in free streaming like Netflix too.

    Total Access (exchanging disks in store), no delay for new movies, no extra charge for Blu-Ray none of this has worked for Blockbuster online. I'm not sure how well the kiosks are doing as compared the Redbox.

    In my opinion, the problem with  Blockbuster is not that they aren't doing enough. They are just doing it wrong. None of their offerings integrate with each other and Blockbuster just seems like a combination of separate companies held together by a bandage that is too small.

    When Total Access first started, it want very well integrated with the Queue. Finally when they did integrate it with the queue, they removed features that made Total Access attractive in the first place. After blockbuster started shutting down stores and opening kiosks, they made the kiosks incompatible with total access. When Blockbuster started the streaming options after buing a streaming company, there was no option to stream some items for free like with Netflix.

    The allure of free streaming from Netflix is that  alot of devices come with the ability to stream from Netflix and it is included. With Blockbuster you have to pay to stream so that is not as nice as Netflix. Of course with Blockbuster you can stream newer movies but if you are getting them in the mail anyway, why would anyone pay to stream? I just don't get it.

    I'm not a gamer so this new game feature is useless for me but this might cause a few gamefly users who also have Blockbuster to possibly consolidate into one account.

    Either way I hope Blockbuster stays relevant and I hope they add total access to their Kiosks. That would really make me stay with Blockbuster for longer than I am planning now.

    Disclosure: No Positions
    Tags: NFLX, BBI
    Aug 11 10:48 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Stocks for Bad Times (and Good Times)

    As the market tumbles and the Dow continues to stay under 10,000, a big question is what should we buy now as a replacement for the AAPL we sold. The stock market is tumbling and I want some safe havens to park the money forever or at least until I feel like getting back into more risky investments.

    Right now there are a few stocks I have in mind that can offer just such a proposition. I'm going to post the same age old advice that will never go out of fashion. However as of now the opportunity is fantastic thanks to depressed stock prices.

    Without further adieu, let me offer my suggestion - large cap dividend paying stocks. I have a few in mind that pay handsome dividends and are not going anywhere:

    1. VZ - Verizon:  Current Dividend is about 7% and the company is not going anywhere. They are the most reliable wireless network  and will be the first to have 4G nationwide. They are likely to get an iPhone next year and the stock is near recent lows. I have an order in if the stock reaches the mid $25s.

    2. KMP - Kinder Morgan Energy Partners: Current Dividend is about 6.6%. KMP is an energy transport/storage company and is structured as a partnership (more work during tax time)  but the dividend yield is worth it. We own some KMP and inspite of the ridiculous P/E ratio I would still recommend this one. The dividend has been constantly rising.

    3. MO - Altria: Current Dividend is about 6.9%. If you dont mind buying a cigarette  company stock, this one is a good buy always.

    4. T - AT&T: Current Dividend is about 6.9%. AT&T inspite of network issues is doing well thanks to iPhone exclusivity. Even if the iPhone hits Verizon, there should be minimal short term impact on AT&T because of users being locked into long term contracts and famlily/corporate plans. If I were to make a selection between AT&T and Verizon, I would pick VZ but you can do your own research and decide.

    If you are into researching stocks, here is a link to the Yahoo Finance screener for companies with market cap > $10 billion and dividend of more than 5%. There are some household names in there like drug companies AstraZeneca - AZN, Glaxo - GSK (we own some), Bristoll Myers - BMY, energy companies like Shell - RDS-B and Total - TOT.

    If you would like to look into smaller companies that pay good dividends you can adjust the screener and here are a couple that I recommend you look at - TLP (8% dividend) - another energy storage company and BGS (6.5% dividend, We own some) - a food company with some known grocery store items.

    Original Post Here

    Disclosure: Long AAPL, KMP, GSK, BGS
    Tags: AAPL, KMP, VZ, T, MO, AZN, GSK, BMY, RDS.B, TOT, TLP, BGS, Dividends
    Jul 06 3:06 PM | Link | Comment!
  • BP, Obama, Why was work on the Relief Well not started on Day 1?
    If it was known that a relief well was the only solution that is 100% known to work, why was one not started on day 1 of the spill. We are now at Day 43. The work on a relief well has not even started as BP wastes time trying other stuff. If they would have started work on those on day 1 we would be nearing completion by now and if any of the failed attemts had worked, they could have just stopped work on the relief wells.

    Is the Obama administration stupid? Is there not even one person on his team who thought of this?  For this one reason alone I would say that the Obama administration handled this disaster worse than Bush handled Katrina.

    People are boycotting and buycotting Arizona in the thousands. I hope everybody just boycotts BP. They have a history of problems. Since the Alaska pipeline leak in  2006, America should have been investigating how to end their reliance on BP. At minimum they ahould have been watching BP more closely.

    To add insult to injury, BP had another oil leak in its Alaskan pipeline a few days ago. No matter what the financial impact, the only responsible thing the government and everyone else can do is end all ties with BP. That may not be easy because BP is the largest supplier of fuel to the military but it is time to move on from the most reckless, irresponsible and harmful company on the planet to somebody else. Just boycott BP. This is one company that really company needs to die.

    If you think this is a buy signal, think again. The spill will continue for two more months minimum. Oil wil hit other states. BP will have to pay for the cleanup. Sell

    Disclosure: Do not own
    Tags: BP
    Jun 01 11:04 AM | Link | Comment!
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