Seeking Alpha


Send Message
View as an RSS Feed
View consultnick's Comments BY TICKER:
Latest  |  Highest rated
  • Apple's Declining Advantage Is Undeniable [View article]
    Trainer's Last Stand.....right on schedule, and with Blair to the rescue! What else might we expect from these fellas, as the Hour of Doom approaches....Monday after the bell, which will toll for them.

    A call for 240? That's even below last year's Trainer Rant for 260! He must be wetting his shorts about now. Even MORE wrong--how is that possible?

    Should be a fun weekend for Seeking Alpha aficionados, as it will draw out the most extreme emotions and positions in this now-down January market--presaging a bad year...."So goeth January/so goeth the year!" Will APPL's RSI save us?
    Jan 24 01:20 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple: Confessions Of A Closet Fanboy [View article]
    I share your disillusionment regarding missed opportunities--AAPL could have bought NFLX, combined resources with ultra-content-deep Disney, and created its own content delivery SYSTEM--and still could! I was convinced that was what Jobs meant when he said he'd "Cracked it" referring to where AAPl was going regarding TV.

    You can do one hell of a lot with $150billion, and I do see how that cash honey pot is absolutely mesmerizing to Icahn. He is partly right to demand that it be put to use--the question is how best to do that....boosting him to another public financial orgasm probably isn't the best use of it. But just what do they have in mind? Why not build their own semiconductor foundry and get the Samsung rat out of the pantry? $20 billion'd be more than enough to get them into sub-20 nanometer technology, and with all of the patents they have rolled up--they would be forever untouchable, and we would be lots closer to learning "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"!

    I could go on and on with the list of undone stuff and missed opportunity, and that topic has been well-treated by myself and many others in hundred of comments elsewhere on SA. But I am not running this company, and I cannot possibly know what they know, and I must believe that they are way, way smarter than any of us out here on the outside of the most profitable and innovative enterprise in human history.

    So I try to practice long-suffering humility while hanging onto my thrashing shares....but what really gives me hope is Art Cashin's favorite maxim:

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

    You need look no further than SamStung's watch debacle for confirmation of that maxim....and you know who is "watching".........
    Jan 24 03:35 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple: Confessions Of A Closet Fanboy [View article]
    As with you, had I bought shares of Amazon products, instead of tons of products hawked by Amazon across these many years--I would be considerably richer! Had I bought Netflix stock instead of paying cable bills across these years--I'd be richer still!

    Been in and out of AAPL since 97--usually out at the wrong time and back in at the wrong time, but holding my pee since 2004. Been very painful for a year and a half, however, as the stock has been behaving "mercurially"--and very frankly--unpredictably.
    Jan 24 03:10 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple's Last Chance To Dominate The High End [View article]
    Sadly, and clearly most cynically, I see the ever-promoting Isaacson brown-nosing at the Googlarium--lining up his next biographic target of opportunity, which could be Eric Schmidt (since he knows that book sales-inducing conflict inside and out, after his intimate time on death-watch with Steve Jobs), or either Sergey Brin or Larry Paige....any one of the three would be likely grist for his patient pulp mill.

    I've been keeping the long eye on Isaacson's back-field motions as the aura of Job's death has slowly dissipated, and have caught a few "leaning away from Apple" comments as he searches for his next stage moment. It was a fairly good book, but his ego got greatly enlarged....

    Think about it--whaddaya do as a second act to the Jobs book? Your reader base is primed and panting....and you sure ain't gonna get material from Tim Cook!
    Jan 23 11:29 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Sneak Peek At Starbucks Earnings [View article]
    ar42....Chipotle is about the only fast food vendor out there that makes a serious effort to acquire higher quality produce and meats for their menu. I eat tons of it, but can't bring myself to buy their stock price! Maybe I can't afford the stock because I'm spending toooo much money wolfing down their tasty burritos!
    Jan 23 02:33 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Sneak Peek At Starbucks Earnings [View article]
    T&T....You have succinctly outlined my initial reason for investing in SBUX....way back at the IPO! You WERE absolutely right about the Cheers phenomenon, but a new dynamic has invaded the picture....the laptop, smartphone and tablet!

    Starbucks has become a very lonely place the last several years, as folks repeatedly "camp out" for as much as the entire day at tables--setting up "offices", and with their noses pointed inward to their devices, avoiding any conversations--actually getting a tad snappy if bothered! That wonderful atmosphere of conviviality has been largely replaced with folks desperately struggling to find jobs and/or run businesses off of their devices.

    I know this because I've casually "interviewed them" regarding what they are up to. These folks are FOCUSED, and have no interest in engaging with anybody--they might be there to do Facetime with folks from around the world, but have no interest with local conversation! Groups gather at tables, and do not even talk to each other, as they bury themselves in their devices.....

    I've done my research in the most unobtrusive and polite manner possible, and have come to the conclusion that it just ain't that friendly in most Starbucks most of the time here in Seattle. And, yes--I do have my social group, and yes--they are all of the same opinion--the atmosphere has changed. It has become socially rather cold, off-putting AND expensive!

    Luxury and status are not what I see here, rather, I am seeing lots of intense desperation regarding economic survival, and lots of unemployed folks have "laundered" a significant portion of the proceeds of their unemployment checks thru Starbucks. So I worry....

    Asia is the new front, and I am absolutely unable to comment with any authority about Starbuck's potentials there, but I can tell you that Asians here in our local Starbucks are decidedly cliquish, very unfriendly, and "unified with their devices", into which they loudly rant in their native language. It's deeply disturbing, especially to me--after having spent 2 years in Okinawa falling in love with many friendly folks and wonderful features of East Asian culture.
    Jan 23 02:23 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Sneak Peek At Starbucks Earnings [View article]
    Rivalsjp.....I agree strongly with your position on Schultz--he is precisely why the stock is not half its price! On every metric that you can measure a CEO--he comes out on top, including treatment of employees, giving back to the community, and having courage to goad the folks in Washington DC to do a better job! However, here in Seattle he has made many basketball enemies, and struggled mightily with his neighbors over trees and driveway issues--both very small potato issues by comparison.

    He has very successfully brought the Mediterranean coffee model to the US, and multiplied it successfully worldwide, although it did exist in Los Angeles in a very small form way back in the 60's (coffee/books/music/cozy hangout atmosphere).

    Like you--I would run from the stock the minute if I hear of his impending departure!
    Jan 23 01:50 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Sneak Peek At Starbucks Earnings [View article]
    A very nice article, but nasty chart action these days has us round-tripped all the way back to August of 2013! Kinda caught me by surprise, and leaves me somewhat mystified. All of the Starbucks are always busy here, so I think it is more related to the "spongy" conditions in China, which are exceedingly hard to divine, but it could also be a cultural phenomenon beginning to extinguish itself.

    It does feel akin to divination--trying to find out what is going on. Every pundit has a different view, and sentiment surges with surprising volatility. For many great names, climbing the Great Wall of Worry in China has not been especially profitable the last couple of years. The wretched market reaction to AAPL's Chinese initiatives have been.....wretched. The food names have suffered as well, as conditions are uncertain.

    Starbucks is really just another food name. That is, of course, heresy here in Seattle, where they think coffee was invented by Starbucks. Well, what was invented here was outrageously HIGH PRICED coffee! Entertaining at Starbucks is akin to dining the family....a Grande whatever and baked Boulangerie comes out to $7-8 + tax (10% in Seattle) + tip (20% if you are to be regarded as a humanitarian) = $10/person/visit. This is serious money if you are dragging your family of 5 in there weekly--$50 for coffee and sweets after church on Sunday!! This "contribution" amounts to $200 monthly/$2500yearly. Folks are re-learning addition these days, and realizing that's a nice little vacation, a nice kid's car, a nice appliance--whatever. Chipotle's for lunch is way more nutritious and cheaper!

    If any of the food folks ever wake up and realize that it's the social atmospherics that folks are going for, and if they revolutionize their interiors to be hang-out comfy, including carpets, comfortable furniture, mood lighting, free wi-fi, great music, etc.....Starbucks will be toast. Starbucks certainly realizes this, and that's why they are encroaching into the restaurant space by offering more than bagels and donuts--but we could see the tide shift the other way! MickyDs has a very decent coffee for a buck, and Starbucks basic java is known among coffee aficionados as mediocre at best--so the bottom-fishing fast-food vendors are not only converging on taste, but getting beat-down by a double on price!

    Folks are "examining" their Starbucks "addiction" these days, and beginning to consider the long-term financial impact of a life savings deposit left with Starbucks. With compounding, the numbers for a daily contribution are astronomical over an estimated 40 years....So says my kid's math teacher in high school! I don't wanna know....but I'm wondering how much longer to hang to the stock--because I'm beginning to think that folks are beginning to think........
    Jan 22 03:54 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 2014 Outlook: No Apple iPhone Killer [View article]
    Apple has never altered its approach to building stuff that owners and operators fall in love with, and it's products have usually been priced well above the competition--often 2-3 times the price of the competition!

    At this point, we are now well into 2 generations of families that have poured their precious discretionary income into Apple product purchases for over 30 years. I own 25 year old Apple products that still fire up at the touch of a button--daring me to cast them from my life! I have closets full of competitor products that failed within the first year, and--with necessary and frequent repairs--doubled their effective price! I was stupid for soooo long!

    For over 3 decades armies of wannbe's have risen and fallen--every major device brand that has attempted to best it now lies in its wake. If you research the pathetic efforts of vaunted Microsoft's attempts to dethrone Apple--it's likely that you can't even remember the names of their products now residing in the dustbin of history.

    Apple is now the most valuable business enterprise in human history. Apple's brand cachet is tops on the planet earth. It is THE aspirational name by every market metric. How is this philosophy NOT working? How can one even question their approach?
    Jan 20 02:44 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why I Continue To Invest In Apple [View article]
    Those that have this gift understand, and those that do not--never will.
    Jan 17 04:44 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • What's In Store For Apple's App Store? [View article]
    Thank you for this insightful article on an area of considerable mystery to me. I have never seen the subject treated here in SA—or any place else for that matter!

    Very loosely borrowing from chain reaction models used in nuclear physics, it occurs to me that there are parallels here. As we grow the mass of particles (APP developers), they interact with each other, stimulating more and more APP development, and this activity expands on its own trajectory, somewhat independent of the APP user-base--which is also growing independently on its own trajectory, and which is itself loosely connected with the Smartphone installed user-base growth--on its own growth trajectory, as well! So you have 3 interdependent, but separate, growth engines rapidly expanding simultaneously. The attendant chaos and complexity are beyond calculation, but the net effect is already visible--we are at the start of a Very Big Bang!

    Using this model we do not, however, get a fission-like atomic-bomb type of chain reaction, dependent on thermodynamic energy transfer mechanisms based on splitting the atom. Instead, as the pieces of this gigantic convergence come together, we get a giant rapidly-expanding fusion-like interconnected information processing and sharing neuronal-like network....a World Brain custom-made for you, and custom-linked to You!

    The rates of APP growth that you cite are awe-inspiring. From your chart showing APP download growth rate--after starting off with a tripling from the first to second year--looks like a steady doubling every year! And this rate of growth does not yet reflect the new audiences found in DOCOMO and CHL--which should contribute enormous gains in momentum on each of these 3 trajectories--just in Asia. And of course India, Africa, and South America will soon be drawn into this expansion.

    At a minimum, APPs process information, and acquire behavioral data about their users and their environments, so that we are seeing a phenomenal growth in the storage of information acquired, managed, processed, researched, shared, reconfigured, and re-marketed--all in the service of human interest areas of research, communication, entertainment, innovation, economy and education, just to name a few fields of endeavor. And what I get out of this article is the feeling that we are in the stage of infancy--with a growth rate similar to the human prenatal brain!

    Randal Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, recently stated “In the next 5 years, your mobile device will become the “remote controller for your life.” But that is not even close to the real story implied here--APPs will invade every aspect of it, and APPs will be developed to find each other, cross-link, and go on to develop meta-APPs that will talk to each other. We are on the brink of an unimaginable future.

    This new explosive development in “industrial evolution/revolution” has no precedent, and no one can predict the social atmosphere and information environment 10 years into the future--and by extension--the economic landscape in this furiously-expanding new world of connectivity and meta-connectivity. And since we are focused on investment in AAPL here, we are probably somewhat on the right track to benefit from the “APP tsunami”.

    I'm a little sad that AAPL passed on the Nest "home automation stuff"--already sold in Apple Stores--and pushed it into the waiting hands of the GoogleOctupus, but they must have had their reasons, and I respect their decisions. Long live AAPL, anyway! And....I guess....Still long AAPL!
    Jan 16 03:08 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • China Mobile receives 1.2M iPhone pre-orders [View news story]
    Good news! Guess we should immediately prepare for "stock punishment", expecting AAPL to react within character. This will only produce more tons of cash, and we know that cash is bad, therefore--time to sell. Or maybe not enough cash, therefore--time to sell. We already know that IPhone 5's are assembled by naked Chinese prisoners standing in cold water 20 hours a day, fed once a day from the carcasses of executed workers. We also know that sales figures are all lies, unless they refer to non-Apple products, in which case they are vastly under-reported. So what's new....a better buying opportunity awaits below $100/share....there is plenty of time to wait.
    Jan 15 04:53 AM | 35 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple Will Drop The Firm Hammer Of Justice On Short Sellers In 2014 [View article]
    Anonymous Wizard, you are correct in every respect--and yes, your list of “good things” is well short of complete! Many more can be extrapolated from APPL's acquisitions, patents, court decisions, new semiconductor partners, yada….yada. And Samsung, Google and Microsoft's efforts pale against the wide-band of innovative progress we are seeing in Apple this last year.

    Therefore the stock should be punished! That's its tragic nature/personality. This is its new identity! Everyone knows how incredible the company itself is--on every metric imaginable it stands out above the rest, and will continue to do so for years--but it makes no difference to the stock price because everyone knows it makes no difference to the stock price!

    Hark back to the introduction of the 5S & 5C....raging product and sale successes then and now--greeted with a severely sharp stock decline! Look at the great news regarding CHL--the deal to end all possible deals--access to a market of 750,000,000 souls—AAPL has round tripped back to “almost no progress”!

    I have been an APPL bull since 1997, but have not been able to effectively argue against the simple contemporaneous fact "That AAPL always goes down"--mounted by friendly opposition. Michael Blair sits in his shorts in near-certainty more because of AAPL's "stock personality", than because of hard market analysis—which, when sufficiently extensive, proves incontrovertibly that AAPL SHOULD be a rising winner! Comparatively speaking, just the P/E alone is a joke! APPL used to “kill shorts”—I can’t say that anymore.

    APPL has lost a lot of money for those who have more recently bought out of enthusiasm--and it takes raw enthusiasm to put your cash on the line. Any fund that pivoted into APPL at the first of the year has already taken gas to the tune of -5%. Friends know me as a long-term bull for APPL, but I have no advice for them now--except to stay away until the stock "reverses personality". These illogical, ugly and continuous share price disappointments have shaken out lots and lots of very experienced investors--they are tired of suffering, and many thought that last year’s double-bottom “capitulation”+ cup w/handle+ 5S + 5c + Icahn + CHL, in addition to dividend support, buy-back programs, innovation, etc, etc, etc, would be enough......but it isn't! Didn't we already live through last year? I’m still here, but I am worried about another lost year.
    Jan 12 03:03 AM | 19 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Citi considering sale of $1B in P-E assets [View news story]
    Well--noncompliance is bad, and eventually causes expen$ive trouble. Compliance is good, and makes the feds go away. And we must assume that the liquidity--although forced--is still liquidity, and will be employed somewhere else--or used to pay another fine! What's another billion anyway? Yawn~~
    Jan 8 03:35 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Hedge Fund Picking Means Apple Season [View article]
    Per Camden's comment--are these guys the broken clocks that are right twice a day? Hard to evaluate, especially since Bill MIller's position has been left out, as well as David Tepper's and of course Leon Cooperman's--serious heavyweights all!

    But then again--I may be unfair here--as I really never learned how to distinguish among funds, mutual funds and hedge funds! I've never personally invested in any of them--but after this last year's performance--probably should have!

    Sadly, in spite of his brilliance, erudition and perseverance, David Einhorn's intranseigence and near-suicidal crusade against Herbalife (and his public duke-out with Carl Icahn) has somewhat diminished his stellar shine, and somewhat shaken my confidence in him. On the other hand, I confess to being comforted by his steadfastness in his AAPL position!

    But all-in-all, a good article reflecting an unusual approach to divining APPL's future. I appreciate the perspective and effort that went into it.
    Jan 6 07:14 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment