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  • Sasol President/CEO Constable to step down next year [View news story]
    Yahoo stock data is filled with errors, some of which get corrected eventually, and others of which do not. I think the dividend shown is, like for some other stocks, merely what has been declared, but not the indicated annual rate. Regardless, it is better to look at other sites for data, including BARRON'S, which has far more info on each stock.
    Jun 30, 2015. 01:57 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Chevron's Experience Is Vital Now [View article]
    It's hard to generalize about drilling/production costs and profitability at domestic oil prices near $60/bbl. Where is your data? Isn't it likely that there is a range of profitability from various locations, not only in the U.S. but overseas? Again, where is the data that allows you to make very broad conclusions about CVX?
    Jun 30, 2015. 01:43 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Intel/Micron Joint Venture Might Not Last After 2018 [View article]
    I have to say that there are many points in the article that are in dispute. Among the key issues is that the joint venture between Intel and Micron makes use of a cross licensing agreement between Intel and SanDisk. Let me explain.

    Intel invented what is known as multi-level-cell (MLC) flash memory chips, where each cell can process multiple bits, rather than single bits in the single level cells that SanDisk pioneered back in the 1990's. Intel cross licensed its MLC technology in return for gaining access to SanDisk's numerous patents that deal with things such as even wear on all blocs of a flash memory chip. As long as Micron is considered part of Intel (i.e., as a joint venture), Micron has access to these SanDisk patents without having to get a license or pay royalties. And there are numerous patents included.

    The NAND flash memory chips produced by the joint venture appear to be competitive, especially in the enterprise server market, which Intel pretty much dominates with its server processors.

    SanDisk some years ago acknowledged that Micron was using SanDisk proprietary technology. Why didn't SanDisk file a patent infringement action? Because there was a great likelihood that Micron's use of SanDisk patents was permissible as long as the joint venture between Micron and Intel persisted. Thus, to speculate that these two companies are suddenly going to call it quits has really no basis. They need each other.
    Jun 29, 2015. 05:17 PM | 19 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Chevron's Solid Long-Term Bet On LNG [View article]
    Natural gas in the form of LNG is an obvious substitute for coal fired plants, especially in China. Not only does China face a growing health problem from continued use of coal, many countries that import products made in China are likely to attach fees related to coal use rather than a cleaner fuel such as natural gas.

    Chevron knows that demand for LNG will grow perhaps even faster than its current predictions, if for no other reason than the highly polluting nature of coal based electric generation plants. Though I'm not in a hurry to boost my current holdings of Chevron, I think the shares have great long term potential, due mainly to its emphasis on LNG facilities.
    Jun 26, 2015. 04:31 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Corning; Undervalued Glass Company With Significant Upside [View article]
    Part of the reason for the low price goes back to the 1990's, when Corning was subject to product liability lawsuits connected with silicon breast implants made by the Dow Corning joint venture. Just as the Tylenol issue (contaminated bottles) affected the price of Johnson & Johnson for at least 20 years, so has the breast implant issue affected Corning's price.

    A second reason for the low price has been the depressed price for TV display glass, which has been a prime reason for lower profits. It appears that the demand is now growing, sparked by larger screens capable of making the most from 4K HD video.

    A third reason is that Corning overbuilt its fiber optic operations, based on false data from communications service providers trying to make their growth look better than it actually was. The fiber optic operations are now generating nice profits, and the debt that was created years ago is at manageable levels.

    All these factors provide a basis for not only earnings growth but higher share prices. When this will happen is difficult to predict in a market filled with uncertainties, such as underperforming economies in the U.S., China, and Europe especially. The downside risk, however, is minimal, given the superiority of Corning's products compared with their competitors.

    Not least, the management is better quality than that of most tech sector companies.
    Jun 25, 2015. 05:36 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple And Intel: A Marriage Made In P-Code? [View article]
    If Apple wanted to acquire Intel, why wouldn't it also want to acquire Foxconn? The answer is that Apple doesn't like to buy into manufacturing operations but instead hopes that there are competing suppliers for its components in order to keep the price down.

    I see no likelihood of a merger between Apple, Intel, or any other supplier.
    Jun 24, 2015. 03:57 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Isis Pharmaceuticals: Another Regeneron (Or Even Better) In The Making? [View article]
    Really "risky business" would be more like many other firms that have only one or two potential products being developed and tested. With some 36 drugs in various phases of testing, ISIS is far less risky than other developmental drug firms.
    Jun 24, 2015. 03:44 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Chevron: Which Analyst Call Is Right? [View article]
    Chevron recently announced it was getting out of most of its off shore Nigeria holdings. This makes good sense, given the political/corruption issues there. The long term impacts might not be favorable, inasmuch as Chevron is giving up some properties that might eventually produce at a profit, but not immediately for sure.

    I think the latest sale shows that management intends to divest questionable holdings and at the same time generate a little cash to help continue the dividend at its present rate. That's a plus for the stock.

    With Iran stubbornly insisting on a minimum of inspection of its nuclear resources, the probability of a negotiated agreement on nuclear proliferation is lower than before. Conversely, the probability that sanctions on Iranian oil will continue makes it likely that oil prices will not decline to the extent they might have if the sanctions were lifted. Stabilized and possibly increasing world oil prices can only help companies like Chevron. To consider selling CVX at this point would be silly.
    Jun 24, 2015. 03:30 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Qualcomm Is A Short Until Low Tier Orders, Aggressiveness Pick Up [View article]
    Brandon, you stated that you "don't see any reason for the stock to grow in said time period."

    First of all, the mere repurchase of close to 12% of the shares might, just might have an impact on earnings per share. The use of bonds, issued at historically low interest rates, with the interest tax deductible, doesn't look like "mismanagement" to me because the after–tax interest cost is LESS than the dividends saved from fewer numbers of outstanding shares.

    Second, to suggest that management somehow has not been doing a good job, when Qualcomm retains about a 60% or greater share of the modem chip segment of the market, is ridiculous. I could go on, but any argument would probably be frutless until you looked closely at the financial statements over the past five years.
    Jun 23, 2015. 04:51 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Intel And Micron: The Purple Swan [View article]
    "Who would be your supplier of choice in the data centers given the Micron drives won't lose data due to bugs or power outages, radiation will not effect . . ." SanDisk, which has even better specs than MU for enterprise SSD.
    Jun 23, 2015. 10:28 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Isis Pharmaceuticals: Another Regeneron (Or Even Better) In The Making? [View article]
    It's more than "just a lot of chatter." Before ruling out future prospects for the stock, based on FDA approval or lack thereof, you should recall that ISIS is on track to receive close to $1 million in milestone payments this year for each employee! Find me another company, drug or otherwise, that produces that much revenue per employee. And those milestone payments are coming in, regardless of whether the respective drugs are approved or not.

    When you look at the business plan, and specifically, how it allows ISIS to continue doing research on some 36 drugs without going broke, you may come to the conclusion I reached years ago, that this company is one of the few development drug firms with sufficient LOW risk to attract investors of any size and risk level.
    Jun 22, 2015. 10:38 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron's 'Qualcomm Problem' [View article]
    Micron is a major supplier of Dram and NAND flash memory in several configurations. With Dram prices and margins under pressure, one has to look more carefully at Micron's margins in NAND flash. Those margins turn out to be about half the gross margins reported by SanDisk, which many consider the lowest cost producer of NAND flash memory.

    My question, therefore, is, can Micron grow profitably, given the pressures in its gross margins?
    Jun 18, 2015. 02:33 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Game Of NAND: SanDisk's Uncertain Crown [View article]
    Regarding SanDisk's 3D products, I understand they have 48, not 32 layers. Can you provide a source for your info?

    Regarding eMPC, there is a speed issue here, determined in part by the NAND flash itself and the controller. My understanding is that SanDisk is able to customize speed v. reliability (long life) for particular applications, maintaining competitive pricing as a result.

    Finally, the largest manufacturer of 3D chips so far seems to be Samsung, but its yields have been questionable, giving it low margins at least up till now. It's not clear to me that Micron is any better, in terms of 3D yield. SanDisk, meanwhile, has made a conscious effort to ship 3D chips later, rather than earlier, waiting until its own production yields are satisfactory.

    All this has to do with net earnings. Thanks to the yen devaluation, SanDisk NAND chips are among the lowest, if not THE lowest cost. Micron, it's true, makes its Dram at the Elpida facility in Japan and gets a lower cost due to the yen devaluation, but its NAND flash production in Singapore may not be as profitable as SanDisk's in Japan.

    If you have some sources to back up your views on these issues, I'd be interested in seeing them.
    Jun 16, 2015. 03:09 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron, SanDisk drop on Morgan Stanley downgrades [View news story]
    "SNDK price is only holding up on the promise that Micron may buy them out." What's your basis for this conclusion? Maybe there are other factors:

    1. SanDisk has a 3D architecture with 48 layers -- more than other competitors.

    2. SNDK is the acknowledged low cost producer of MLC and TLC planar chips, along with controllers customized for numerous different applications.

    3. SNDK might be acquired, not by Micron but more likely by Hynix, which faces paying SNDK a sizable sum (in the neighborhood of $500 million) for misappropriation of trade secrets. The former employee of the SanDisk - Toshiba joint venture in Japan already was found guilty of forwarding some 10GB of documents to Hynix in return for a high paying job. He's now in jail. Hynix has already settled with Toshiba (which owns less of the technology than SanDisk), and the trial[s] involving SNDK as plaintiff are only now in preparation in California.

    So there might be other reasons that SNDK is a desirable opportunity for investors, including the fact that the shares currently are down more than 40% from their recent high. Don't underestimate the value of SNDK.
    Jun 16, 2015. 01:30 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Electrical Components: Why I'm Long Corning [View article]
    Though I also like Corning as a long term growth opportunity, I differ on the reasons for weak earnings over the last four years. The biggest factor has been the declining price of TV display glass, which is just now showing some strength (i.e., the price is still declining but is compensated by improvements in productivity).

    A second factor that has weakened earnings is the devaluation of the Japanese yen. Corning owns Japanese manufacturing facilities, resulting in lower dollar denominated earnings from these facilities.

    Meanwhile, the company has achieved a nice balance with its fiber optic and related products, as you mention in your analysis, and with other environmentally interesting products, including ceramic substrates for catalytic converters designed to reduce diesel fuel emissions.

    I'm not worried at all by debt created at historically low interest rates -- low enough that the tax deductible interest payments on the debt can cover increases in dividend payments. The increased debt should be seen as a favorable factor because of its impact on both earnings per share and dividends.

    Finally, the advances and market share for Gorilla glass and newer variants for smartphones, tablets, and laptops have been somewhat overemphasized by enthusiastic analysts. These products, though popular, still represent a small portion of total revenues and profits. But they're gaining in importance because of growing demand and a performance/price advantage over most competing displays.
    Jun 16, 2015. 12:59 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
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