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  • Wall Street Breakfast: Equities Cautious Ahead Of Fed  [View article]
    How good an indicator of the state of the economy is the actual retail price of a new car? This morning I got an Email in which a major local Toyota dealer is offering a Camry SE [middle level Camry] for a few dollars less than MSRP for an LE [basic level] Camry. No serious details offered and short cutoff [1-31-2016] but it triggers memories of the offerings of the last few crashes. The next question is: How soon will rock-bottom real retail selling prices be offered by almost every manufacturer and dealer? If, of course, that comes to pass as a function of a declining economy?
    Jan 27, 2016. 01:03 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Kroger And The Emerging Threat To The Business  [View article]
    I suspect Walmart is "cleaning its house" and "straightening up its act." Logical and planned changes.

    Locally a Walmart "Neighborhood Grocery" closed-- - - to coincide with the opening of a new 'Big Box' store a half-mile away. I shopped often at the small grocery and miss it. The entire staff of the grocery is now at the bigger store. It was easier for me to get to the now-closed store than the new store because of traffic patterns on the streets. No real biggie. The grocery items I buy are all at the new store plus all the other general merchandise of a big Walmart. Like everybody [all the major chains], Walmart has some food products made either by or for them exclusively. I use one or two special items regularly and go to Walmart to buy them.

    In North Dallas, Walmart's stores are clean and there are almost never any empty shelves. Produce is very good. Sometimes the best and freshest in the area. The smaller and newer Sprouts chain may or may not match consistently but the prices and many of the food item offerings are too upscale for me.

    When I shop early in the morning [7:30 to 9:00 AM local] the employees are always happy and even anxious to help find things or provide other help. Same at Kroger. Majority of customers seem to begin arriving at all stores at about 10:00 AM and it does not let up until after maybe 9:00 PM? Some local Walmart Big Box stores are open 24-7 and shopping in the middle of the night can be easy. Did that sometimes when I was working nights on my day off. :-)
    Jan 16, 2016. 11:56 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Kroger And The Emerging Threat To The Business  [View article]
    Who is buying SKU's from where misses a very big point. I spent two decades driving 18- wheelers, the first year [calendar 1972] it was a refrigerated carrier and the rest as a "freight hauler" [non-union]. Whether a specific sale is to a middleman or directly to a retailer ties first to State laws and contract obligations. After that it is cost of transport. LTL shipments cost more to handle and deliver. Bread and bakery products move often by specialized carrier who have contracts for a large number of scattered stores. I know one carrier has drivers who load the trailer on Sunday and deliver all week on a route that is a circle a thousand miles in length. I had an unofficial route to deliver frozen and refrigerated foods between Dallas TX and San Antonio on Sunday and Monday. Load swinging meat in south Texas [The Valley] and go to New Orleans to deliver. Major grocer warehouses and little stores along the way. Load back with bananas on the Gulf Coast and deliver wherever going north {called "Rollers"] ; probably still happens. That kind of produce and commodity selling is very likely to still be a norm. Load swinging or box meat in Kansas and go back south and deliver to any buyer. Load back with stuff like TV dinners and frozen pies at several regular stops and end on Saturday morning in Dallas. The frozen foods we accumulated on the homeward leg were sorted in a warehouse and loaded for delivery as LTL for the early week drops on many routes. Usually the "OEM" product makers had identical product in the same boxes with at least a dozen labels printed on them for sale by everybody and anybody. The only restriction was that the minimum sale was one case. Or up to a full truckload. As a freight hauler it was all dry freight but the game was the same. Except other people fingerprinted the freight for me. I only needed to drive [and take care of the tractor, hookup trailers, etc.]. Kroger and Walmart get product of all kinds delivered to their central warehouses because it is the cheapest and most efficient way. Smaller scale retailers of food and everything else depend on whatever contract transport is available and works for them. Unless limited by State or national laws, all product makers and commodity suppliers will and do sell to anyone willing and able to cough up the cash.
    Jan 15, 2016. 06:30 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Stocks Head For Third Week Of Losses  [View article]
    Self-driving cars. They are for big cities. NYC, San Francisco. Maybe. May or may not ever be able to cope with Los Angeles/San Diego. Hopeless out in the boonies. May be good on the big freeways/Interstates for long distance trips in light to moderate traffic. Like the Cruise Control in most of our cars except it will not run over the car in front or wander out of the lane. Navigation with much turning and coping with a lot of other cars will exceed capabilities of the equipment for a very long time. My Nav Apps [Tom-Tom and WAZE] are great but sometimes could not find their way out of an open-sided pole barn. Eventually they will get to any destination but it can be by routing that is beyond crazy. I put front and back "Dash Cams" in my car to try and document/remember a Road Trip. The cameras see a lot. Miss much more. Tells me that any sensors on any self-driving car will be inadequate or will cost much more than the entire rest of the car.

    Price of oil. $20 or $10 crude is not forever. Two to five years it will most likely have reverted to the mean? At least $60 and more likely $90 to $120??? Or more ??? With price of gasoline at the pump back to over $3 in America and over $5 in the Atlantic and Pacific Megalopolises.

    Time to buy a new car if you might be in the market for one this year. Visit 3 or 4 dealerships this week. Pick a car in each place. Tell the salesman you are looking to buy but not today; there are other places to visit. Go back each week. Same game. You are going to buy in February on a cold Tuesday or Wednesday [morning?] with a little rain and a trace of snow in the air. For the sales guys it will have gone through desperation to seeing who will get the sale and win the game. And car sales are usually few and far between in February. Buy a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord. "Are you feeling Lucky?": Look at a Hyundai Santa Fe with the 4-cyl engine. Otherwise for an SUV a Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V.

    I have told the story of buying my Camry. Almost a cash buy. It is 5 years old this week. Date of manufacture from the VIN. Put a new battery in it on January 4 [AutoZone 5-year battery]. The OEM battery lasted exactly 5 years. Time to buy a new car but I cannot cope with the ugly of the current front-ends that look to me like 1950's era wrecks being driven with the grill and front bumper missing and the radiator exposed. Expect to drive this Camry for another year or two until the styling improves. I did a little research and if the current wholesale I got is even close, subtract that from the price I paid and this Camry has cost me $3000/year so far. Add $250/year for [two sets; Michelins to replace the OEM's at one year and Yokohama's to replace the Michelins after 2 more years-- State Inspector said the Michelins had chemical deterioration or 'dry rot.' Discount Tire gave me a big discount on the Yokohama's in all this] tires. Fuel about $1400/year. My routine car maintenance is included in these numbers. Total is around $5K plus or minus $500 per year. I get full-time stand-by unlimited transportation and that includes taking a couple hundred pounds of medical equipment along at all times. [Mobility Scooter & some other things.] What are self-driving cars provided by a taxi service supposed to cost? Fifty cents a mile? More likely $2/mile with a $20 minimum. Barely space for person and a couple bags of groceries or a laptop computer case and briefcase? What do I do with 3 grandchildren? Or ordinary folk with 3 kids, a spouse, maybe a dog? For probably $15K to $40K per year to "save" by not owning a car? Insurance is not included here but it is not that big an item for purposes of this comment and is too variable depending on who you are, where you reside, which insurer provides what coverage.

    My brokerage accounts are down a lot. My best guess is to hang in rather than locking in big losses. I still get the dividend payments. Saving up the 'dry powder' and trying to buy more stock position or positions at a good time. Wait & see.
    Jan 15, 2016. 11:14 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Kroger And The Emerging Threat To The Business  [View article]
    Tom Thumb [Safeway Affiliate] in North Dallas has hot cooked food in the Deli also. Mostly aimed at lunch time. Good food. The Kroger's have packaged cold foods and I am trying to remember if one or more Kroger's also have hot food. I mostly shop in the mornings right after stores open because it is easier then. Much of the immediate-use Deli stuff is not set out yet. Or, I am there quite late near closing and it is all over for the day. Walmart has fresh sandwiches [wrapped in plastic film] that look a lot like Subway but need dressing added to moisten them. The local Kroger's have good store bakeries. Best or easiest place to buy a cake, especially a personalized birthday or other special event cake. Some bread & rolls. Whole Foods closed a store and moved too far away for me. Used to buy specialty bread there. Whole Foods (the new location, Addison, TX) has a major cafeteria in the store, too.

    Shopping cart price or at least many items seem to vary in price depending on the store for all the grocers. Cheaper in lower income residential areas and higher priced near higher income areas. Also merchandise/SKU tends to accomodate the area preferences. I saw items on the shelf in California that I have never seen in Dallas. Parmesan cheese that was gently shredded rather than the more familiar to me powder, for example. But in Dallas the aisles are 3 shopping carts wide and front and back cross aisles are major clear spaces. Much extra space in the produce sections. In California where I visited it is a tight squeeze for 2 shopping carts everywhere. Dallas seems cleaner and better lighted, too? Dallas-- All chains including Walmart have full shelves; staff are helpful-- at least in the mornings. Walmart produce is always as good, sometimes better, as anywhere and may be cheaper or at least matches the lowest price at competition. Much seems to depend on where you are in a city and in the nation and what time of day it is. Friday through Sunday is always difficult?

    Have not been to Trader Joe's yet. It is apparently very popular with the food recipe bloggers in NYC and San Francisco. A new Trader Joe's is opening at the extreme limit of my shopping radius. Maybe soon?

    In Dallas, Safeway closed up and vanished decades ago. Too much [mostly non-union] competition. Forget at the moment the name but a chain of grocers from the Carolina's came to Dallas maybe back in the 1980's [?] and gave up after a year or two. Their mindset/culture and business model did not fit here.

    My nearest Aldi is squeezed against much low-income housing & apartments. May be why I remember mostly soda, beer, cheap wine, potato & corn chips in the familiar sealed plastic & aluminized bags. And stacks of pallets rather than shelves. I felt uncomfortable and they did not have whatever I was looking for that day.
    Jan 14, 2016. 11:36 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Kroger And The Emerging Threat To The Business  [View article]
    Am I really the only or the first to comment? Uncomfortable.

    An article like this makes me wonder if you know how to cook or to shop for food? Have you lived on your own cooking (literally) and shopped at the stores/chains you talk about? For extended lengths of time? I am in North Dallas. Old and on my own. There is an Aldi nearby. I shop in Kroger and Walmart mostly and in a chain called Tom Thumb which is or was owned by Safeway. The Aldi is an oversized convenience store. Chips, soda, beer, produce that did not impress me. Minimal and very basic dairy. I cook for myself and like to create reasonable quality, tasty food. Not possible in what I saw at that Aldi. I was there once and see no reason to return. I stay with Kroger and the local Walmart's, both the big box with groceries and the small "Neighborhood Market" groceries. Tom Thumb is slightly upscale and there are some things I prefer to buy there or can only find there.

    This is written in mid-January 2016. In the recent Winter Holiday Season I visited Sonoma County, California for several weeks and shopped at Walmart and Safeway. I was in the fringes of the San Francisco zone and was appalled at the squeezed space in the stores. And the usually higher prices for the same brands and kinds of produce I buy at home in Texas. [Pear tomatoes in sight of the fields where they are grown priced almost double what I pay in Dallas!]

    Locally Kroger has some "clothing." I would say fad stuff. No more significant to ordinary wearables than what is often seen in big gas station convenience stores.

    Aldi clearly caused the price of some things to drop markedly [milk and some other dairy?] but in the case of people who actually cook and eat real food Aldi is not a threat to Kroger or to the grocery sections of Walmart.
    Jan 14, 2016. 02:21 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Stocks To Attempt Another Bounce As China Stabilizes  [View article]
    @f85. . . : My discount airline was carry-on baggage only. They discourage checked baggage but will try to cope if the passenger insists at $25/item. It is amazing what can be squeezed into a small case (45 inches -- tall + long + wide) and a smaller "personal item." Wear the coat so it doesn't count. Nothing I took was ever out of arms reach.

    The orange arrows and the "new" marker are back today. On my computer they have been missing since the start of this year? I never know if it is my computer or something else. This Mac seems happier if I let it alone until glitches get unreasonable. I had to reboot/unplug a couple times lately and maybe the software finally reset properly. ??? [10 years caring for industrial computer-controlled machinery; the machines and the computers. I have a serious case of computer love/hate.]
    Jan 13, 2016. 12:34 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Stocks To Attempt Another Bounce As China Stabilizes  [View article]
    Yep. One day to go several thousand miles [each way?] in the air [including going to and from airports and actual flying time] or a week in the car?

    I took an airline flight during the recent holiday season. One day each way. Summertime 3 or 4 days each way in the car. Late December the blowing snow in 40+ MPH winds was 2 feet deep and half the Interstate highways were closed. 37000+ feet below?

    Of course I was 'grounded' much of the time at destination. Nothing to do but lie back and relax. :-) Cell phone has it all but the iPhone is a pain to cope with if things are serious and involved. [I took my Mac Mini and bought peripherals at destination for a permanent 'fix.' Desktop set-up now always available 'there' and the little Mac travels well.] I have my own medical problems and missed the "support kit" that is always in the car but which was too unmanageable to take on an airplane.

    Round-trip cost on a low-fare airline was about the cost of 2 days in the car with motels at night. I was staying with family at destination so no big costs there.

    My bottom line is to consider flying in winter and probably drive in summer. Why not?

    It seems like SA has dropped or lost the little orange arrows for late comments? So actually no one will see this note. ???
    Jan 12, 2016. 09:53 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: China Market Meltdown Spreads Across The Globe  [View article]
    Sorry about adding this late in the daily thread. I have dropped lettuce as a deliberate food. That is: it is included in the fast-food burgers [although I usually have the chicken]. Tomatoes and onions and sometime a cabbage get the Clorox water treatment. My greens are plastic boxes of spinach or shredded cabbage; Shredded carrots in ready-to-eat, too. And crossed fingers. I make my own salad dressing with a lot of Apple Cider Vinegar and hope for the best with the acid. [Apple Cider Vinegar & California grown olive oil, Greek Seasoning or Creole Seasoning.]

    From Twitter:Jonathan Krinsky,CMT ‏@jkrinskypga Jan 3
    This is nuts…up to 80% of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in U.S. is fake

    Jan 9, 2016. 08:51 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: China Market Meltdown Spreads Across The Globe  [View article]
    The slight trace of believable or valid information [usually not the same thing] I have read says the FDA accepts the word of other nation's officials about food standards and growing conditions. That is in all the Treaties.

    In my kitchen all produce that will tolerate the treatment gets a bath in Clorox water as it arrives from the supermarket. Keeps much longer in the fridge and I don't get sick nearly as often.
    Jan 7, 2016. 08:16 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: China Intervenes To Shore Up Stocks  [View article]
    Self driving cars are not possible in the greater scheme. Computers get into all sorts of software tangles. Need rebooting and serious professional qualified repair of some kind all the time. My Mac gets lost internally and needs restart or even be unplugged for an hour to let it regroup. My Windows PC is worse. My Nav Apps sometimes really get lost. They also like to wander in circles on strange and obscure journeys on their way to somewhere. A driverless car trip is likely to feel like the ultimate taxi-driver scam to get miles on the meter when the destination is in the next block. Computers do strange things all the time. Even my very reliable printer got lost this week in its task sequence and froze. Had to unplug and restart from there to get it to work. Couldn't even turn it off. What is the rider going to do when the driverless car is convinced that the way from 32nd St to 94th Avenue includes going through Chicago and will not allow the doors to be opened?

    Question for the day is how long until this market stabilizes? Or will it? Are we seeing a version of last year's market sequences?
    Jan 5, 2016. 04:00 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Will The Force Awaken Disney Shares?  [View article]
    Articles I have read indicate that US crude oil exports do not harm the Saudis but possibly support them. US oil is a lighter grade or grades of crude oil. The majority of the US refineries are optimized for heavier grades of crude which are from Saudi Arabia or Venezuela. Sending our crude oil to refineries in other countries that use and need lighter crude keeps the status quo in place.
    Dec 28, 2015. 03:41 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Will The Force Awaken Disney Shares?  [View article]
    Partly I manage my meager money by shopping carefully. Once that meant visiting several different stores and chains and seeing what was offered. Finding the "right" item in a suitable configuration was dicy at best. Now I can find the precise thing with all the bells and whistles and only the bells and whistles I want-- on Amazon. Save up items in my 'cart' for free shipping or pay less for shipping if I am in a hurry to get something [almost never] than the cost of the gasoline to go to a brick & mortar with service that might be wonderful or make me hate the whole chain forever.

    Sometimes the Amazon experience leads to unconnected 3rd party suppliers [research the possibilities, just like buying stocks] with really wonderful items. Like the true OEM factory in Asia selling directly at half or less the price? Not often but I do have a few of those [professional, industrial-grade] items that are unavailable anywhere else that I could find or qualify to buy. Walmart Online has also been a source of clothing for me that is never available in the stores; sizes or patterns or something I wanted or needed. Walmart has choice of paying shipping or free pickup at the closest B&M store.
    Dec 28, 2015. 02:11 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Stocks Fly After Fed's Historic Liftoff  [View article]
    Speed limits and traffic signals will cease to exist except for use by human traffic like pedestrians and bicycles. Self-driving cars will move at their own efficient and safe speeds determined by laws of physics and chemistry. When all cars are operating on electronic intercommunication they will weave in and out among and between each other in ways totally impossible for human drivers and do so at high speeds. Intersections will be monitored universally by visual and infrared cameras and probably short-range radar and the results of the surveillance will be read and used by the cars. New jobs in new industries will be for human technicians to monitor and sometimes operate the robots that will do much of the grunt work. Humans because some of the work needed will defy logic or pre-programmed actions.

    It might take a hundred years or more but our great-grandchildren and beyond will look back at the way we do our transportation now the way we look at the old wooden sailing ships and the technology of hemp rope and linen sails.

    In the meantime we will spend a lot of time developing and improving our technology, tech devices, applicable law.

    As a note of comparison, I am on a holiday trip and flew on an airplane [Airbus A319 ?] that, according to a Google Search, is almost all plastic. Almost all composites. Twenty years ago it was a tech fantasy coming into existence in the real world. Twenty or more years ago airplanes could only be made of aluminum. ??? And the only aluminum was a copper alloy [2024]; with some new upstart alloy [7000 series] being tried to see if it would work [Boeing ???] in the real world. Now all the new airplanes seem to be made of newer and better plastic. ???

    I remember when I was in college and then the Air Force in the 1960's that I was sent to several schools explaining how computers were going to change our lives and awareness of the events going on around us [relating to maintenance data collection and using that data to improve final results]. In my own experience it took not the then estimated number of months or years but maybe that many decades.

    I would say to hang on and hang in when watching about self-driving cars. The grinding wheels of the gods do indeed grind both exceeding fine and grind exceeding slow.
    Dec 17, 2015. 02:31 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Stocks Rise Despite Investor Anxiety  [View article]
    My teen-age grandson will be there for first show. Bought tickets when they were first available. He bought online; said entire rows of seats were being bought up rapidly. Going to be a lot of individuals there. There are a lot of Star Wars fans and I will be surprised if it is less than one of the top money movies of this year.
    Dec 15, 2015. 08:07 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment