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  • If Windows 8 is going to give the PC industry a much-needed lift, Microsoft (MSFT) has some convincing to do. Though 6 out of 10 respondents to a U.S. poll done by antivirus software firm Avast said they're aware of Windows 8, only 9% said they would speed up plans to buy a PC because of it, and 74% said they'll probably stick with what they have. Moreover, about a third of Windows users ready to buy a PC said they plan to switch to an Apple (AAPL) product. [View news story]
    With Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to do what noone else has done before, which is to establish a common operating system for PCs, tablets and phones. This is a powerful vision, but not easy to execute. On the technical side, I think Windows 8 will not be robust for at least a year. However, Apple has not taken this common platform approach and could be surprised by Microsoft's strategy, which has been re-enforced by Surface and other Microsoft hardware products, which are likely to be introduced, starting with a Windows 8 phone. Microsoft retail stores may also surprise Apple, although they are obvious copycats and will be dismissed by many for this reason alone.

    Google's decision to dump iGoogle as a home screen will only push users into Windows 8 where you can select and arrange your favorite sites.

    It's a long shot, but I would not count out MSFT yet. Apple has had a long run and the market could be surprised by what MSFT serves up.

    Most importantly, I think investors invest in AAPL for emotional reasons, just as they did with MSFT 15 years ago. Don't be surprised if the market shifts and the love is lost. If so, that means that AAPL's premium may shrink substantially.

    That being said, I'm an Apple consumer and have not bought a Windows 8 product yet, so if I put my money where my heart is... it is with Apple. However, as an investor, I think the next year will be very telling about MSFT's ability to get an edge on AAPL. If they can't do it in the next year, I am bearish on MSFT.

    Note: I have a small long position on MSFT
    Nov 16, 2012. 05:30 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Teva: Copaxone And Management Uncertainty May Be Hiding One Of The Last Bargains Around [View article]
    Excellent article, however, I tend to agree with Dan, that TEVA's location holds back its valuation. I've been long TEVA for a year, so am not the most knowledgeable, however, I can't understand why TEVA's share price does not better reflect its underlying financials and future prospects. I DO think that its location in Israel, is, unfortunately, a negative factor for this very good company. Partly because of this, I think TEVA needs to beef up its investor relations effort. I may have missed it, but every other major drug company has quarterly results transcripts and links available on Alpha. Does TEVA?
    Oct 31, 2012. 01:09 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI +1.2%) faces an uncertain future following the dissolution of the Edward W. Scripps Trust, which as of Sept. 30 owned 28% of its common shares and 94% of its voting shares. But investors may be looking toward takeover hopes, as old concerns that the trust could prevent a takeover or make one more difficult are swept aside. [View news story]
    Clearly, this is a tipping point for SNI and how the family will manage their control of the company going forward. The links in this post are extremely helpful in understanding the history and legal structure associated with the family holding of SNI. I see SNI as a ripe acquisition target, and have been long on the company for several months. However, I now see that the family ownership status could be a deterrent to potential buyers, but it also seems that the family may want a liquidity event. I would be pleased to hear more about SNI's potential future from those who understand the picture better than I do. Fundamentally, I see SNI as a very attractive business venture/opportunity in a world of media content consolidation. On the other hand, if the family ownership of SNI stalls a potential sale, then buyers should beware.
    Oct 19, 2012. 09:22 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 3 mREITs That Will Be Least Affected By Prepayments And Compression In Interest Rate Spreads [View article]
    Does NLY's share buyback plan change their prospects?

    If QE3 stays alive for the next 6 months, i.e., past the next administration, how do you se the future for Mreits?
    Oct 16, 2012. 08:25 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Global Dividend Income Fund (ETG): Q3 NII of $0.453 as of July 31, vs. $0.971 as of July 31, 2011. Net assets of the fund were $1,086.6M as of July 31, vs. $1,205.5M as of July 31, 2011. NAV per share was $14.24 as of July 31, vs. $15.80 as of July 31, 2011. (PR[View news story]
    I have not done any analysis lately on ETG, but these numbers don't look good. So, why is EFG up 19% for the year and maintaining a $14 price? Are the fundamentals bad and the market is just buying yield? Would love to hear from others.
    Oct 16, 2012. 08:13 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apollo Residential Mortgage Gives An Early Holiday Gift To Shareholders [View article]
    Thanks! With luck, I bought in August and did not understand why Apollo went up so fast. You've explained it, and have also given a great hint to others in the market. In the current economic environment, high quality residential real estate is a safe bet, I think, and Apollo is a great play on this sector.
    Sep 24, 2012. 11:58 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Is It Time To Buy Teva? [View article]
    Great, succinct reply. I agree. My only question is why the market continues to treat TEVA like an ugly stepchild. Other pharmas have had big increases, but TEVA never seems to realize its upside potential. Any thoughts on this, or are TEVA shareholders only more patient and smart than others :)
    Sep 21, 2012. 01:32 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Buy Intel Before Windows 8 Releases [View article]
    I own Intel because I think they are a great company, but I am disappointed with their performance this year and I am prepared to exit but missed my chance with Warren Buffet made the right call.

    In my humble opinion, your analysis is too insular, comparing Intel's financial performance to companies that are not very similar to Intel. And how can you ignore AMD?

    Seems to me that Intel is falling behind in terms of available cash to pay dividends and invest in R&D (another writer made this point brilliantly last week) and it seems Intel is struggling to position itself as a player in the smartphone and tablet game, which is where most future growth will be.

    Windows 8 is not at all a sure thing. Many tech folks have panned the operating system as the worst of all worlds--not functional on a PC and sub-optimal on a touch screen. I'm a bit more optimistic for Windows 8 v2, but to hitch Intel's star to Windows 8 is a pretty long stretch in my view.

    Personally, I see Intel as a HOLD at best, but definitely not a BUY.
    Sep 21, 2012. 01:18 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft: Lumbering Giant No More? [View article]
    Nice, hopeful headline, but this is a shallow analysis in my humble opinion. NFC is an open technology where Microsoft has no specific edge in my view. It is also a tiny component of Microsoft's overall potential cash flow. Hoping NFC will make Microsoft a Giant again is like wishing on Fairy Dust. I think the success or failure of Windows 8, and the ability or inability of Microsoft to succeed with Surface and/or other combined software/hardware products is much more central to their potential success. I own Microsoft because I think they are seeking to change their cultrue and business model; but I think it is only 50/50 given their past performance. So despite their dividend, I see this as a somewhat high risk position.
    Sep 21, 2012. 01:01 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft's Upcoming Dividend Increase Might Be A Little Light [View article]
    Thank you! A fascinating analysis highlighting the stupidity of US tax law. However, fundamentally, I think this accounting snafu is a footnote to Microsoft's bigger issues... Windows 8, and its experiment with its own hardware, Surface. Regardless of the dividend increase, there are big questions about Microsoft's future, which will only be answered later this year after they have launched their new software and hardware products.
    Sep 10, 2012. 01:11 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • More on Dycom (DY): FQ4 misses on all counts as revenue growth slowed. Gross margin narrowed to 20.7% from 21.3%. Shares -12% AH. [View news story]
    Fundamentally, Dycom seems to be in a great market. We will certainly see growing demand for internet and telecom lines to fuel America's and Canada's growing use of the internet and demand for higher internet speeds. As I recall, the company is not overly leveraged and has good liquidity. A 12% drop for missing your targets by small amounts seems like an over-reaction to me. Tomorrow is probably a good day to buy Dycom!
    Aug 28, 2012. 07:04 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • No Stimulus And Tightening Global Liquidity Point To Correction In Equities, Commodities [View article]
    Very good article. I'm not a professional economist (although I was trained as one), but the relationships you've drawn between monetary supply, velocity and the price of the dollar are key factors that will affect the US Equity market in particular, and I agree with your conclusions. I also think a 10-15% US equity decline by year-end is a real possibility. US and European policy makers are paralyzed regarding fiscal moves and structural adjustment; that is bad news. The only people who can make decisions today are Central Bankers, and their tool kit consists mostly of band-aids. The Chinese can also make decisions, but they are so over-leveraged domestically that their options are also limited, and they are now obsessed with the change in government in the fall, and after that, there will be months of shuffling for power. I wouldn't be surprised to see the RMB depreciate.

    I've significantly reduced my exposure to high-beta US equities, but have stuck with the more solid companies that have decent dividend yields since I'm a long-term investor. REITS and mREITS still look attractive to me.

    My only disagreement with you is with your recommendation to diversify into emerging markets, where I have some expertise. Many people only think of Asia as emerging markets, but one must be much more selective. Overall, I'm not too bullish on any emerging markets as for most, their future hinges on what happens in Europe and the US, which is not looking pretty. India is a basket case as the past two major power blackouts show.

    My thoughts on emerging markets would be to look selectively at Latin America (Mexico) and other countries that could benefit from the drought in the US. Another interesting, although highly volatile play (mainly for traders) would be Russia, which will move with the price of oil. If oil (Brent) drops below $90 or $85, the Russia ETF (RSX) could be a good play; but be ready to take your gains without being greedy!
    Aug 2, 2012. 11:28 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Euromess Continues [View article]
    An excellent analysis.... sobering. Thank you. I would just add that I'm skeptical that Germany will support the ECM with a banking license, which would only be a baby step forward (although a significant signal) toward resolving the fundamental Eurozone problem: Monetary Union without fiscal union or banking union.

    The German courts will decide on whether or not Germany can support he ECM in mid-September.

    With so many countries, and democracy at work, I can't see how there will be a solution in time.

    I expect Spain to default--soft or hard. I think Greece gives us a precedent for what we can expect, and it is not pretty.

    Ultimately, the failure of the Eurozone system is likely to result in significant social unrest. It is already happening in Greece and starting in Spain. If Italy unravels after their elections in March, we face a frightening specter.

    Europe needs a leader now. Not 19 summits with few decisions and no timelines. Soon, Europeans will no longer tolerate this sclerosis, and the markets will need to retreat from their "irrational exuberance" three-day joy ride after Draghi promised a band-aid.
    Jul 30, 2012. 10:50 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • By Far The Strongest Coal Producer, 31% - 42% Upside Potential [View article]
    Peter, since you are a coal bull, can you please explain to me how you see the impact of low-priced natural gas on the coal industry? While NG has had a huge rally earlier this year to over $3, it's not clear to me why? Following the US winter season, there was nearly twice the inventory of gas than usual. Many analysts are predicting NG prices, long-term, closer to $2. As a result, I'm hearing that many utility companies are switching to gas. You obviously have a different view. Can you enlighten us? Thanks!

    PS I agree ARLP is a star in the coal world, but they are also down 18% in the past year, despite their high dividend. What will reverse the fairly strong negative trend on most coal companies?
    Jul 30, 2012. 10:22 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • China's End Game - The Dark Side Of A Great Deleveraging [View article]
    Thank you for an excellent article that articulates the high risks embedded in China's economy. Many of us have personally seen China's amazing growth story for the past 20+ years. When it began, we did not believe it could happen. Now, most people don't believe that it can stop, but it may.

    As other readers have written, China still has a few tools in its pocket, such as their monetary reserves and the value of the RMB. I suspect there are several others too, that could put off the pain of deleveraging.

    Dee Woo, I would like to offer a new challenge to you. Could you put yourself in the shoes of the Chinese finance officials? Could you write another article explaining how China could manage a soft landing? It would be fascinating to hear your ideas.

    Again, very well done, and many thanks!
    Jul 30, 2012. 05:05 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment