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Tom Au, CFA's  Instablog

Tom Au, CFA
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In the early 1990s, during the middle of a secular bull market, I began work on "A Modern Approach To Graham and Dodd Investing," that was not particularly suited for the decade of the 1990s, but was ideally suited for the following "Lost Decade" of the 2000s.
My book:
A Modern Approach to Graham and Dodd Investing
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  • Christmas Season Peaked Early for Retailers
    Yes, the Christmas season DID get off to an early, and good start for retailers. But it limped to a sluggish finish. This realization is causing a (downward) readjustment in the price of retailing stocks.

    This sluggishness appears to have set in BEFORE the post-Christmas snowstorm on the East Coast. More to the point, the wave of early New Year sales appear to have fizzled out earlier than usual (at least in the NY City area, judging by unusually light commuter traffic).

    It was something I foreshadowed in a November retailing piece:

    This was confirmed by a Gallup poll employment survey, that uncovered the fact that "post" holiday layoffs by retailers started earlier than usual, in December, rather than January.
    Jan 07 9:59 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Good and Bad Times For Movie Remakes
    A recent "remake" of True Grit fell flat. That was not because of the acting, but rather because of time (generational) alignments between the actors and the original characters.

    The original (1969) version of True Grit came at exactly the right time in the current cycle. The key actors were crusty old "John Wayne" (Marion Crawford) of the World War II generation, the softer Glenn Campbell of the Silent generation, and a young Boom woman named Kim Darby.

    The plot, on the other hand, featured crusty Rooster Cogburn, the Civil War-era sheriff, a younger Teddie Roosevelt-like "Progressive," the effete Mr. LeBoeuf, and the fiery (and female) young Mattie Lee Ross of FDRs Boomlike Rendezous With Destiny Generation. Thus the actors could pretty much play their respective roles in their natural personalities.

    The current actors? Fortyish (not sixtyish) Jeff Bridges as Cogburn, a slightly younger (but not effete) LeBoeuf, and a collegial, not fire-breathing, Mattie Lee Ross. Doesn't quite cut it.

    On the other hand, recent remakes of The Sound of Music and Thoroughly Modern Millie seem far more authentic with Gen-Xers Rebecca Lukker as an (older), and Sutton Foster as a (younger) members of the Lost Generation. (Generation X is sometimes referred to as the New Lost.) These are "naughty" but "nobodies fools" young women who protect their juniors (in the Sound of Music) and peers (in Thorougly Modern Millie). On the other hand, when these movies came out in the 1960s, Silent Generation Julie Andrews seemed out of place playing Lost Generation curmudgeons.
    Dec 31 10:48 AM | Link | 1 Comment
  • Santa Claus and Second Thoughts
    "How did you make that mistake?" I once asked a friend after a particularly bad decision.

    "I never gave it a second thought," was the answer.

    Now I've made many mistakes in the past. But almost never without a second (or third) thought.

    Ironically, one "person" in our "Santa Claus" society, who does give things a second thought is Santa himself. As the popular Christmas carol goes

    "He's making a list, and checking it TWICE.
    Gotta find out who's naughty and nice."

    Now "Santa," in most people's lives, is an older person; probably parents, maybe an older sibling, possibly even that "rich, right-wing uncle," that youngsters fear, and later fear becoming. But someone who will give a thought to what a "kid" deserves. And even if Santa were that old man on the North Pole who spends the year making toys, he'd give a LOT of thought to which kids were deserving, and which weren't.

    And here may be the moral. The GIVER of gifts is likely to think twice about things (like yours truly). The problem is that RECEIVERS (or purported receivers), often do not.

    Dec 30 11:00 AM | Link | 1 Comment
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