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  • Glatfelter Reports First Quarter 2015 Earnings 
    Glatfelter is continuing to fail to anticipate the potential catastrophic risks to its manufacturing processes.

    It is especially alarming that this is the 2nd time in 2 years that the Ohio mill has suffered increased costs due to its evaporators.

    The Ohio evaporators should have been in pristine condition last summer, which was right after an army of PhD consultants had spent months diagnosing and fixing the previous fiasco with the Ohio evaporators.

    Glatfelter needs to upgrade its technical staffing at its mills so that catastrophic risks of this type can be better identified and so that vulnerable unit operations can be properly monitored to allow for corrective actions before catastrophic failure occurs.
    May 5, 2015. 10:26 AM | Likes Like
  • P.H. Glatfelter's CEO Discusses Q1 2014 Results - Earnings Call Transcript  [View article]
    Going forward, Glatfelter's top mgt needs to allow / encourage its facilities to strengthen the technical staffing that supports their more complex operations.

    The evaporator scaling fiasco could have been much less severe if the Ohio mill was more frequently monitoring the chemistry profile of its "liquor cycle".

    If, in 2013 and prior to the problem, the Ohio mill had been collecting and analyzing a more robust set of its "liquor cycle" process data, it would given them 2 benefits: (1) They could have observed a significant change in their liquor chemistry before seeing the effect of the severe scaling and (2) they could have given their consultants a significant jump-start on solving the problem.

    From the above transcript, we can see that the chemistry change was a consequence of a necessary change in the mix of softwood and hardwood being pulped. The wood mixture change was a necessary consequence of an "evolving product portfolio". There is a decent chance that, over the next few years, the mixture of woods being pulped could change again (or, alternatively, some of the moving parts in the liquor cycle process could simply have a break down). When that happens, will there be an adequate number of adequately-trained chemical engineers and technicians to monitor its impact upon the chemistry of the liquor cycle?

    If you are smart enough to analyze stocks (and can remember some high school chemistry), then, to learn more, do an internet search on some of the following terms: "black liquor" "evaporator scaling"; pulp mill "effective alkali"; pulp mill liquor deadload.
    May 1, 2014. 08:26 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Glatfelter's CEO Discusses Q4 2013 Results - Earnings Call Transcript  [View article]
    GLT's pulp mill problem is very disturbing.

    If one were to do an internet search on the term "black liquor evaporator scaling", one can see how extensively this topic has been studied over the years.

    The scaling which occurs in these evaporators is comprised of salts. The components of these salts (ions) can easily be measured in the process streams which are both downstream and upstream of the black liquor evaporators. These ions are a normally occurring part of the process, but their concentrations must be controlled. There are parts of the process, which, if maintained in good working condition, will control those ion concentrations.

    For decades, it has been established that good management of the "black liquor recovery" cycle, requires frequent monitoring of the chemical profile of the many process flows occurring both downstream and upstream of the black liquor evaporators. This process is similar to forensic accounting. Chemical Engineers call it "conducting a mass balance". It's an analytical practice where a chemical analysis of process streams is combined with flow rate measurements to determine the rate at which a quantity of xxx chemical (or ion) is moving through a given section of the process.

    The chronology of events described in the above transcript implies that, prior to November, the Ohio mill might NOT have been employing the necessary resources to effectively monitor the flows of these scaling ions. In other words..., not enough mass balance analysis was being done on a regular basis to detect, in advance, the potential for an unusually severe evaporator scaling problem.

    Why not?

    Furthermore, after the problem had occurred, historical mass balance analyses would have been extremely helpful in highlighting the differences between the conditions (chemical profiles) when evaporator performance was poor versus when it was good.

    Analysts need to ask what has been learned by top management from this experience. I don't mean just technical knowledge learned. Rather... Did they previously under-appreciate the complexity of pulp mill operations? How might they adjust their staffing requirements going forward? ... And, will they be changing any of their management philosophies as a result of this experience?
    Apr 27, 2014. 12:13 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Point on Inflation vs. Deflation Debate  [View article]
    According to the CIA World Fact Book, the unemployment rate in Japan in 2009 was only 5.1%.

    This "begs the question":
    In what ways, exactly, are the average Japanese people actually suffering as a consequence of their deflation?
    Nov 19, 2010. 09:13 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Watch the Utilities for Clues About the Future Direction of the Market  [View article]
    Thanks! This sounds like a very useful forecasting tool. Your logic makes a persuasive argument.

    (I had bought some "SO" shares many months ago for similar reasons.)
    Sep 30, 2010. 08:43 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Wall Street Manipulates the News...And Investors  [View article]
    Just a few more items...

    The general theme of these links is that (1) the FOMC is inflating the various markets by buying Treasuries and (2) the Bureau of Labor Statistics is deliberately being overly optimistic with its data reporting.
    Sep 20, 2010. 10:00 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Wall Street Manipulates the News...And Investors  [View article]
    Those of you who have been followers of Seeking Alpha for a couple of years might remember the former contributor "Tyler Durden" (a pseudonym inspired by the movie "Fight Club").

    His (or perhaps "their") website, is filled with various data-supported blog entries which describe various indicators of apparent market manipulation as well as the the activities of the Plunge Protection Team (led by Brian Sack).

    That site covers other economic topics also.
    Sep 20, 2010. 09:13 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Spending vs. Saving: Good or Bad?  [View article]
    Raising the ceiling on the income range of the 10% tax bracket might be one way to achieve the scenario described in your first paragraph.
    Sep 1, 2010. 10:15 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Weis Markets: An Attractive Stock for an Uncertain Environment  [View article]
    As someone who lives in an area with several Weis stores, I can offer the following observation (as a customer):
    - For purchasing groceries, the shopping experience at Weis is much more comfortable than it is at the local Walmarts.

    To a few readers, this "shopping experience" factor may seem like a trivial point for the financial analysis of a stock's intrinsic value. However, I see it as a loose indicator of "price elasticity of demand".

    - The "value proposition" at our local Walmarts is limited to (a) pricing and (b) the ability to simultaneously purchase a bucket of paint or a lawnmower, etc. (In other words, its just pricing.)

    - The check-out lines at the local Walmart's are notoriously under-staffed, and, consequently, the waiting times are always annoyingly long.

    - In contrast, the check-out lines at Weis are faster, and their prices are rather reasonable. In particular, their meat prices are very competitive with Walmart, and the meat at Weis has a good reputation.

    Also note the following 2 news reports where a study in Virginia revealed that Walmart has recently raised prices on a variety of its products. This should be somewhat beneficial to Weis (if customers begin to notice the change).

    Other grocery chains also exist in our area. However, they have slightly different target markets. One competitor, the "Giant" grocery chain, had made an attempt a few years ago (2007 to 2008) to target more upscale shoppers. However, when the recession hit, they had to retreat from that marketing strategy. Thus, "Giant" still has a reputation of being more expensive than Weis (but I do sometimes see exceptions to that).

    These are merely my personal observations. My main point is that, as a grocery customer (and not as a financial analyst), I see no negative "red flags" with Weis.

    I thank the author for his analysis.

    I do not have an investment position with any of the companies named here.

    Happy shopping everyone!
    Aug 24, 2010. 09:47 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • What the 2-10 Treasury Yield Spread Indicator Is Telling Us  [View article]
    For what it's worth, you can actually give your opinion to the Fed via this link...

    I did once (in 2008). Based on the response they sent me, it sounded as if a real human being had actually read my comments. Unfortunately, in spite of my "advice", they still made one last stupid reduction in interest rates. (Whereupon, various commodity prices shot up immediately.)
    Aug 23, 2010. 08:16 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Should the Bush Tax Cuts Be Extended?  [View article]
    Regarding the matter of how the wealthy applied their tax cuts (mentioned by ctjaeger), I would like to offer a few hypotheses.

    I have no data to support the following hypotheses, and I would welcome any data that could support or refute them. They are merely hypotheses:

    The wealthy may have applied most of their tax benefit in one or more of the following ways:
    1) Invested in hedge funds, which, in turn, invested in various commodities, which in turn, exacerbated inflation in so-called "crude materials".
    2) Invested (perhaps indirectly through hedge funds) in Collaterallized Mortgage Obligations (CMO's) and other types of Collaterallized Debt Obligations (CDO's), which, in turn, added to the economy's "easy credit" and thus contributed to the housing bubble and inflation.
    3) Invested directly in housing speculation, condominium speculation, and other property speculation, which, in turn, contributed to various property bubbles.
    Aug 19, 2010. 08:36 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Shilling: We're in a World of 'Chronic Deflation'  [View article]
    Everyone has to eat (on a semi-daily basis), but not everyone has to sell a house (within the next few years).
    Aug 13, 2010. 09:25 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Great ‘Deflation Lie’  [View article]
    I was just reading another article on this website from David I. Templeton entitled: "Wholesale Inventory to Sales Ratio Nears All Time Low."

    Within that article, the author links to the following article, from Aug 10, which is entitled:
    "Walmart Quietly RAISES Prices".

    Apparently, over the last six weeks, Walmart has raised their prices, on average by 6%.

    Here's a similar report from 2 other news outlets.

    But Wait !!! - I just remembered that we shouldn't be counting food (or energy) prices. Just housing prices, right? My Bad. Sorry. I feel so ashamed.
    Aug 12, 2010. 07:38 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The End of the Expense Cutting Rope  [View article]
    You are correct, "DigDeep".

    To elaborate, within North America, the paper industry has been reducing capacity since the early 1990's. These capacity reductions have tended to occur in "clusters" - often as a reaction to either (1) a spike in the price of key raw materials or (2) a reduction in product prices due to capacity expansions occurring in Asia or South America.

    Presently, our segment of the industry is in a slow-motion "dead-cat" bounce. In the past 2 years, some mill and/or machine closures have occurred as a reaction to the reduction in demand caused by the recession. Now, however, we are seeing enough uptick in demand to see an increase in the utilization of that (now smaller) capacity.

    Certainly, digital data storage has reduced or eliminated certain key end uses for paper. Newsprint is a prime example where that has occurred.

    However, for other segments of the paper industry (especially the bleached segment), it has been a little easier to adapt to a trend of that nature than it has been to adapt to the other factors I mentioned above (which typically are more abrupt). An individual paper machine can often make multiple products for multiple markets (without retooling).

    I hope this is helpful insight.
    Aug 12, 2010. 01:47 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Great ‘Deflation Lie’  [View article]

    It's sounds like you actually live in the real world.
    Aug 12, 2010. 12:47 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment