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  • Apple Outspends Google On Acquisitions In 2013 [View article]
    Yebrevo....this is important information--to the right folks! Generally speaking, low level employees actually enjoy torturing clients--especially if they feel unappreciated or underpaid themselves! I know, because I have been one! In that position, one feels like the company "deserves" to be punished, and the only way that can be accomplished is by stone-walling a client. It is indeed perverse, but happens!

    Your customer experience is invaluable to the corporate level of customer service. Please consider a formal letter to the Apple Headquarters, fully describing your frustrating experience, including how you felt under-served, and were forced to seek relief by using competitor products and services! Sometimes an actual paper letter gets much further up the chain of command than ubiquitous email, which clogs everyone's mailbox and is essentially useless. A paper letter gets stamped in and routed around until someone actually has to deal with it.

    Address such a letter to the highest customer service corporate officer that you can identify within the Apple corporate structure--do not bother with low level names! That person is there to defuse such situations as yours, and has the ability, access, motivation and authority to fix these kinds of invisible problems in the best way possible. No corporation turns away from this kind of powerful information originating from a long-term faithful consumer such as yourself.

    You have far more power than you can possibly imagine, but it must be focused to exactly the right spot within the corporate structure. If you indeed are a loyal Apple consumer--demand Apple's loyalty for yourself. That's the contract....enforce it!
    Mar 11 04:07 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Costco Earnings Preview: Superb Execution, Perennially Overvalued [View article]
    Well, Brian--after this morning's 3:00 am disappointing earnings release, I would say that you are more right than I am about the direction of COST stock! With the appearance of the Death Cross a few days ago--likely presaging this miss--coupled with the gap-down today and maybe some more bleeding tomorrow, we are now technically damaged, and could indeed see 100 again. Of course I hope not for my own selfish reasons!

    But I do not think that we are going to see the 90's. Once those tulips pop out back east, we'll see an avalanche of pent-up spending hit COST, and should have some very good comps to see in the next quarter, and of course those with long holding discipline might see very good comps next year at this time as Costco adjusts to fix what happened this past holiday--but that's gonna require faith!

    There are also deeper issues....they have made internal changes following Jim Sinegal's departure, resulting on serious spending on a bunch of fancy IT stuff, and are damaging employee morale with some benefit-tweaking--neither of these things are good, and Jelenik may be making mistakes along the line of "If it ain't broke--don't fix it!" My manager friend is pissed off about both of these things, but is confident of the long-term picture, per my quote above.

    I'd like to point out the brilliance of the membership fee increase--the membership fee looks like the profit! That's kind of a wake-up for me.

    Offsetting those self-inflicted problems is the recent phenomenal push to surface as the go-to place for organic--definitely taking share away from Whole Foods in some areas--I have shopped less there myself as I find what I want for far less at Costco. This is really big, and we are just at the beginning.

    Regarding COST mysteriously high valuation--i think it is a direct result of professional folks in in the valuation business watching how much money their own families are spending in Costco every month--sometimes ya can't even get a cart! I see "stock converts" in the check-out line all the time, too, saying "I gotta buy this damn stock!" while patiently waiting to spend over $200 each! It's a force. And Cramer is a victim himself--like him or not--and he pushes it at every opportunity.
    Mar 6 11:02 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • IDC: Chinese, global smartphone growth to slow rapidly in 2014/2015 [View news story]
    It all points to the inevitable crush at the bottom of the heap of phone-opportunists, trying to tear off their piece of the bacon--exactly where Apple does not play, and for the same reasons that they have repeatedly asserted all along........
    Mar 5 08:10 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Costco Earnings Preview: Superb Execution, Perennially Overvalued [View article]
    "Trading rich" is relative. I'm sorry, but I have no desire to see COST siting at 90 in order for you to back up your truck! I've been here since 2004, and do not feel overcompensated by any measure--there have been many, many lesser organizations that have enjoyed far greater rates of stock appreciation!

    Costco may indeed suffer a tough quarter due to harsh eastern weather, but that is just plain pent-up demand waiting to get spent. I am friends with the manager of one of the nations busiest Costcos here in Seattle, and he put it simply:

    "We've got more members than ever, who are paying higher membership fees than ever. They are making more money than ever, and spending more money than ever on more products offerings than ever at higher prices than ever.... After big weather events our customers can't wait to rush the store to spend even more than ever buying more harsh weather-based stuff than ever....What's not to like about us?!"

    To which I would add that I use the Executive Costco American Express card that pays 3, 2 and 1percent on everything I can possibly push through it--better than any bank, money-market, CD or savings account in the country.....and I inevitably spend my substantial yearly rebate check in Costco! I am on the board of 2 non-profits that push every needed expense through Costco, as well--it's become synonymous with good corporate financial management to purchase all supplies and as many services as possible through Costco.

    With international expansion, the sky is the limit here.
    Mar 4 02:01 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • If Tim Cook Does Not Care About The 'Bloody ROI', Does He Care About The 'Bloody Stock Price'? [View article]
    To the author's 3rd point, Tim Cook knows more about being ripped off than just about any other executive in human history, having been at ground zero when Eric Schmidt "eloped with Google", carrying off the entire package of Apple corporate strategy, plans and aspirations, with insider information--perhaps reaching forward for a decade--that only a trusted Apple Board member could know.

    He subsequently used that information to empower Google to create the Android system, now powering Samsung phones--and Samsung is Apple's principle supplier--which then morphed into its fiercest competitor.....what else do you not know regarding getting ripped off?

    Approximate calculations regarding the total damage to Apple SHAREHOLDRS can be arrived at by adding the cumulative lost revenue to Apple Corporation that has been absorbed by Samsung and Google due to market encroachment, together with a greatly reduced AAPL share price that by now should have reached $1500/share. Instead, we see Google @ $1200/share with twice the PE of AAPL, enjoying its reputation as the Great Innovator, while Apple's share price is $525, as it fights to be seen as other than a hidebound failure. Roughly speaking, the differential comes to about a TRILLION dollars.....Crime has indeed paid off handsomely for Eric Schmidt, Samsung and Google. Is that enough of a rip-off for you?

    I am incredibly pleased to see Cook kicking sand in the face of the self-centered cranks and complainers, who daily damage shareholder value with their endless rags and rants, while contributing nothing worthwhile to a forward thrust, and I am heartened to see evidence of backbone and moral conviction regarding environmental, social and labor issues. The folks who own Apple products are cognizant of corporate behavior, and well they should be!

    I am proud to be a shareholder of the greatest enterprise in human history, and have the faith that the corp of creativity, brilliance and inventiveness that has made Apple what it is will continue onward and upward. And I would indeed like to see the exit of the weak-kneed nonbelievers....don't wanna see em' at the big party when APPL cracks out of their grip....which will be soon.
    Mar 3 04:00 AM | 23 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple Is Building A Mobile Payments Platform To Rival PayPal [View article]
    @lowriskvalue--Wow....... even "curiouser"! And begs the question: "How pervasive do we expect iBeacons to become"? Lotta moving parts here.

    I certainly understand the retail motivation. Purchasing something here in one of our Seattle Apple Stores is semi-science fiction already. You never confront a line or cash register....just grab your goods....get a congratulatory handshake with an AppleGeek....and head out the door! Love it already!
    Feb 28 12:59 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Samsung Has Become Apple [View article]
    Please share the sources of your demographic and cultural findings, especially those culture-wide psychological test results that support your IQ numbers and device user statistics. And please Include a comparative description/definition of a "vanilla" customer. Without actual data, we might infer an Asian superiority bias here....But aren't most Asians somewhat "off-white", and therefore somewhat "vanilla"? I'm confused.
    Feb 28 05:14 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple Is Building A Mobile Payments Platform To Rival PayPal [View article]
    @Kimer62....I see how that could make some sense. 80% of phones--Androids--would not be able to use the Apple protocols, so Google becomes the natural suitor for Pay-Pal, which enjoys an increase in market value. Icahn gets double satisfaction--that's the only explanation for his sudden silence! Thank You!
    Feb 28 04:37 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple Is Building A Mobile Payments Platform To Rival PayPal [View article]
    I'm struggling to comprehend Icahn's position in this fray. We are told that he wants to pry Pay-Pal off of E-Bay, which he has stated could then be an acquisition target for AAPL. Yet he wants AAPL to proceed with its own payments system, which it would seem would obviate the Pay-Pal thing.

    I agree that Icahn went into a stunningly rapid radio silence--I was taken by surprise. He never gives up without a dog fight if he believes in something, and he never starts an initiative without a commitment to see it through to the end! That's why boards dread his pit-bull-like onslaught. They know, "reputationally", that he can't be stopped until value is released by some means. He went away--way tooooo quietly, regarding the AAPL buy-back demands he'd been loudly advocating. He made some weakly satisfied noises, and is gone!

    It would seem that his fight for separation of Pay-Pay would almost be moot if it's value were to be diminished by APPL's entry into their market space. What am I missing here? I profess no expertise regarding these payment systems or their application, so I'd appreciate informed commentary setting me straight about this dilemma. Can Icahn have his Pay-Pal payment cake, and an I Payment Phone too?
    Feb 28 02:59 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Bank Of America: Pay No Attention To The Legal Issues Behind The Curtain [View article]
    Been here in BAC since fall of 2009.....a very, very long time, featuring a gut-wrenching descent into the pit. However, BAC has "pulled strong" in a stable and well-defined upward trading-channel since summer of 2012. And if the upward channel continues (Buffett must be a believer, too) we should see a breakout above a 5 year high maybe by this fall. That would take us to about 18.60.....a reasonable reach from here.

    Once achieved--I believe we will be off to the races from a technical perspective--no resistance above, with a very solid orderly ascent of support behind. This synchronizes with the steady drumbeat of legal resolution, which we must remember, is Brian Monyihan's strong suit--he is an ATTORNEY, and a very brilliant hard-ass NEGOTIATOR. No one is better suited for this job, for it is not about making money so much as it is about fending off WAVES of LAWSUITS from every direction, with BAC being perceived as a pinata for everything that went wrong during the Financial Crisis!

    And with considerable justification! We mustn't forget the financial audacity of Angelo Mozillo of Countrywide--who ran one of the greatest fraudster sub-prime organizations of the Crisis--and whose tan deepened with every month preceding the Crash--before he escaped with a couple hundred million! Neither can we yet escape the consequences of the megalomaniacal aspirations of Ken Lewis, who rolled him up into BAC, along with Merrill Lynch.

    What looked like a cheap way into easy mortgage money turned into financial quicksand, and BAC is still fighting the alligators in the sub-prime swamp. But it should end eventually, and especially if the Feds get off their back. And that might happen because of the huge number of retiring Democrats in the legislative bodies--and/or if Holder gets tired and the Obama administration runs out of rails.

    I figure 2 years until the lawyer-fest ends. In the meantime, Monyihan is building a lean and mean bank....maybe even with a branch-less profile! BAC is where bank innovation is happening--it's the future. We are along for the ride--a long ride indeed, but eventually rewarding....that's why Buffett is hanging around. And remember....Buffett ONLY invests in businesses that he "can understand", so by inference--BAC must look good long-term! And for support when things get a little dark and confusing about banks--I only listen to DIck Bove, the true Voice of Reason among the chattering heads.
    Feb 28 01:41 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple's Inventory: The Sum Of All Fears [View article]
    Thank you for your perspective. I do get tired of following these articles and comments that amount to chasing mice with bulldozers.
    Feb 25 03:08 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Google Inc. Versus Apple Inc.: A Bond Market Ranking [View article]
    Thank you for the professional effort. But while I can appreciate the excellent scholarship and informed erudition, (and am frankly snowed to sleep by the subject), I fail to see its relevance here. Why would I expect to find information regarding Google bonds--or stock for that matter--here in that part of Seeking Alpha that I have signed up to in the interest of seeing Apple stock information?

    Or so I thought! Google bonds are the complete reciprocal to my Apple focus here--nothing could interest me less, especially as I have that long-term recollection of Schmidt's dastardly deeds, amounting to the greatest violation of trust in industrial history--his defection to the Google board with a satchel of Apple secrets and plans sufficient to launch Android and arch-rival Samsung. By now, the financial consequences of that singular betrayal are well into the hundreds of billions of dollars--if not a trillion--and may yet slay Apple. None could argue against incredible long-term damage, patent infringement, encroachment, and market trespass--all outgrowths of Eric Schmidt's insufferable quest for self-aggrandizement.

    Enough Google here, already, we knew Apple bonds were best.
    Feb 25 02:21 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is It The Right Time To Buy Costco? [View article]
    Thank you for your clear article, explaining why Costco tanked in spite of stores being more crowded than ever! It has been very difficult to understand, as I am friends with the manager here in Seattle at one of the busiest Costcos in the nation, and I am actually privy to amazing sales numbers, which continue to break internal records!

    It just hasn't made sense that the stock could dive 20%, and it is very disappointing to this long-term investor. The chart is broken, and rather astoundingly--we are only 60 cents away from a Death Cross, where the 50 day MA will cross over the 200 day MA--the worst sign! Hard to believe that after a fabulous year of increased sales, we would find ourselves at last July's share price!

    The transfer of power to a new CEO has left its mark--Jim Sinegal was a very unique man--a retail genius on the order of Steve Jobs--and he was a nice guy to boot! Since his retirement, employee morale has slipped, as some benefits have been shaved--this is absolutely counter to Sinegal's philosophy of operation, and his secret to minimizing employee turnover--the lowest in all of retail! "Not such a nice place to work anymore", I am told by long-term employee friends of mine.

    Costco better keep on the current upward path from $109, or it'll lose old holders like me. I don't care about IT improvements--"IT improvements" is code for money-losing and spendy changes that stress the employees who were doing their jobs just fine for years, and now those same employees have seen their benefits shrunk (to pay for the IT improvements), and their stock holdings whacked back by 20%--that's not a morale booster for them, and they are the key to Costco's success--AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN ITS SECRET WEAPON!
    Feb 21 03:36 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple's Value Creation Going Forward [View article]
    Once again, I drag out Art Cashin's favorite market maxim:

    "It's the SECOND mouse that gets the cheese!"

    Look at the impetuous kludge Samsung Watch-a-Ma-Callit....what a disaster!....The current prime example of "market overstepping", that will be used by marketing theorists for years in business schools. Apple is watching all of these good ideas and chaotic entries into these very rapidly -evolving market forefronts....all grand visions....waiting to see what really sticks. Right now it's Helter Skelter, as everyone tries to be all things to everybody, and it's a mess--an expensive mess. GOOG pushing out $3 billion for a thermostat is my prime example of a rash purchase that Apple didn't make--it already has the product for sale in its store!

    The automotive market is like the "Shoot-out at the OK Corral"! Who will be left standing when inevitable standards must be adopted? Do you want to throw your entire cultural life in the trash simply because you get a better lease on a Cadillac than on The government will necessarily get involved "for our safety"--just like current pot regulation, and there will be edicts of standards. Are you willing to trash all of your music, maps, fave places, games, yada-yada, in order to pick up a lease on the new Cadillac that will replace the Audi you have grown tired of? Will you be happy to dump everything? And do you think that the insurance-government complex will let you shed your driving destinations, habits and preferences like a snake sloughing off its skin?

    It's all about standards, and let us not forget how the vaunted Sony lost out on the VCR standards war back in the 80--with a superior product! All of these forefronts are very exciting, but it's a little early to "Go big or Go home!" Who wants to live in a home "ruled" by Microsoft....or Samsung, for that matter? We all know that whatever AAPL decides to do will be done with remarkable adherence to design economy, efficiency and ease of operation. It will feel like the future--and it will be glorious, just like all of the other products that APPL has created--it will be superior! Or they won't even bother.......

    So don't look for an APPL toaster, microwave, dishwasher, fridge, stereo....maybe not even an actual television....Samsung's already been there and done that, and APPL has been wise enough to let them hang onto those trophies. It is more likely that APPL will do something we haven't even anticipated. Get ready for whatever it is going to'll be here soon enough.
    Feb 16 06:43 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Secret Code To The Apple Cash Vault [View article]
    Everybody forgets.....way deep in the ancient August 2013....Icahn bought AAPL @$460/share. He got dividends, and will soon again. He is also sitting on a cap gain paper profit of 15% in that investment....made in 6 months....Not bad, and that's why he ain't so mad anymore!

    And he knows the ship has sailed, because Captain Cook is standing up all "aggressive and opportunistic". and barking about innovation! That's really the best possible result for his shareholder activism--putting starch into Cook's spine. Amazing what you can accomplish with Tweeting, $3 billion and a scrappy attitude! I also believe that having Icahn in your face does things for you--and your Board of Directors. Once he locks on, he has had powerful successful impacts in many business enterprises. I do not doubt that he jarred the complacency out of AAPL management.

    This has benefited all of us--this time we did NOT have to wait till AAPL sunk to 385 for them to step up to the plate with convincing buyback action--we got it at 500--coming early, loud and proud. The market loves it, and the shorts are learning respect! And although Icahn has a considerable ego, I am very gratified to see his dignified disengagement from strident buyback rhetoric. That's impressive! His lighter tone is a steady boost all by itself, as it takes the pressure off those who want heaps of cash available for serious R&D and serious (10 figures according to Cook) M&A.

    So we may be entering the Zone of Perfection....with a decent dividend, buyback support, share shrinkage, innovation imminence, cash still piling up, Apple on the M&A hunt, and the smell of fresh optimism!
    Feb 11 05:38 AM | 14 Likes Like |Link to Comment