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Ken Fisher's Apple And 7 Other Sit-On-Your-Hands Stocks

|Includes:AAPL, E, HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBC), IDEXY, SAN, STX, WDC

As an keen follower on Ken Fisher's work, I don't agree this issue of his article (www.forbes.com/sites/kenfisher/2013/03/2.../).

On Apple, since the passing of Steve Jobs, I have repeatedly said that Apple isn't a buy. Those of us who have been following the industry knew that Apple struggled after it kicked jobs out in 1985. The Mac, which was one of the hottest thing in the 1980s, became a dinosaur and was soon obsolete. I see Apple following the same trend today, albeit on a much larger scale - a creative company that cannot survive well without its creative mind. And the world of mobile phones is littered with the bodies of Motorola, Nokia, Research-in-Motion, Sony Ericsson, ...

HSBC might look like a knight in shinning armor today but it is certainly not a stock to hold for the long term. In fact, if we take a closer look, we will see that this knight has worn his helmet backwards. The company has its corporate headquarters in the UK and is essentially run by the Brits at the highest level. However, a simple look at the 2012 results show that almost 90% of the bank's PBT is from Asia, with Hong Kong being the largest market. Management issues aside (I personally think that HSBC should be split into the Asia bank, managed by the Asians, and the RoW bank, which the Brits can keep). Internally, the management of the bank is quite bad, and the appearance of one bank is only an appearance - HSBC is an loosely amalgamated group of banks around the world - which is why they have so much corporate governance issues. The problem with HSBC in Hong Kong is that its position as an international trade bank is fast eroding by the Hong Kong branches of the Chinese banks, as well as other more aggressive banks like Standard Chartered and Citibank. Without a full banking license in mainland China, HSBC is unable to compete effectively against the likes of BOC, CCB, ICBC, etc. Now, if we examine the segments, HSBC's key segments are Retail Banking, Commercial Banking and Global Banking & Markets (investment banking). HSBC's retail banking does have great technology and but it mainly feeds off real estate lending in Hong Kong and Singapore. Not a place I want to be in at the moment. In Commercial Banking, HSBC is outhustled by the likes of BOC, CCB and ICBC in Greater China, and DBS, UOB and OCBC in Singapore (another of its key power base in Asia). Global Banking & Markets is flow trade business, which is eroding fast, and HSBC's investment banking business has been, and will remain a joke. Finally, I don't like the fact that HSBC is using "we will move our headquarters to Hong Kong" as a negotiating chip against the FSA - the bank has to decide if it is a British bank or a Hong Kong bank - sitting on the fence and using it as a chip for negotiating will not benefit the organization in the long run.

Inditex (Zara) is one of the leading fast and casual fashion brands today. My worries on Inditex is firstly supply chain. At roughly US$15 billion revenue, the company probably procures US$5-6 billion worth of garments. A 10% growth rate means US$500-600 million (or roughly 100 million pieces of garment) more per year. This is against a backdrop of consolidating apparel manufacturing capacities, and wage inflation for apparel workers globally. In fact, the removal of the quota system and the great financial crisis (and the quantitative easing that ensued) caused manufacturing capacities in southern and eastern China to be unsustainable overnight.

Finally, I don't like WDC and Seagate - for hard disks are fast becoming obsolete, accelerated with the rise of smart phones, tablet computers and even ultrabooks. The consumer side of the market is fast shrinking. However, the rise of "cloud computing" means more server and storage networks, which is a plus for the hard disk industry.

So, to cut the story short, these are not bad recommendations by any stretch, but to "Sit-On-Your-Hands" is definitely a no-no for me, for a storm is brewing in the horizon.

Stocks: HSBC, AAPL, WDC, STX, IDEXY, SAN, E