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  • REE/Strategic Minerals Concentrator, March 18, 2014 [View instapost]
    The topic of substitution is inherently a 2'sided coin.

    When Lynas' basket price was over $200 during the unsustainable peak in 2012, while China was halting all exports, substitution (and recycling, a related issue) were wildly discussed, with "alternative" ideas explored everywhere. Some large companies (particularly Japanese) initiated research looking for substitutes and alternatives.

    But with the Lynas basket now selling for about 10% of those wacky 2012 days, is there still a big push to move to substitutes and alternatives?

    Probably not. Recycling, for instance, is little discussed with prices this low. Substitutes (which might be viewed differently from "alternatives" since they feature the use of different materials in the same role within a product) are often available, and will "work", but with less effectiveness and efficiency than the original concept. Deduct the price disadvantage, and the cattle prod to work around the "best" solutions loses its zip.

    Finally, there is the normal R&D cycle for industrial materials and processes, which does NOT resemble Moore's Law activities in the computer industry. When manipulating electrons we have seen astounding technological advances happen quickly, but this is very different. What might take a few years in a Moore's Law environment to achieve a doubling of efficiency, will take long decades to gain 20% in an analog world where Newton holds sway.

    When one starts with the need to create entire new solutions to replace a wide spectrum of the elemental table and still equal the performance of the existing technology, well, this is a tall order. To do so very quickly is even more so. To receive the "price is no object" sort of funding such a project needs to stand any chance of success in an environment where the cost-driven motivation is now absent...

    I am skeptical.
    Aug 19 01:43 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • QuickChat #273, August 15 2014 [View instapost]
    I like the cement-based siding products. I've had good luck with them, and they are indeed available in a good selection of colors (probably never need painting) or they can be painted (I believe they come in a condition which is considered "primed").

    If you are looking at cost, I tend to agree, vinyl wins, particularly labor, and particularly if you don't need to insulate it. Note that it is contraindicated near any heat source (proper clearance must be made around fireplaces, chimneys, and of course the infamous family bbq or smoker.

    Installation guidelines must be followed, so if you hire it done, be sure to check to make sure they do this. Many installers get lax, and start skipping nail holes they should nail, and this will not be readily apparent sometimes for a year or more until suddenly the vinyl starts to "sag" (particularly if installed without the support of the shaped insulation which matches the pattern). Trying to fix the sag, which sounds like a simple process, can be a nightmare since vinyl is a memory material, and once it sags and goes through a heat/cool cycle it will tend to also stretch and show wrinkles and warp lines if you attempt to reposition and re-nail. Replacement is often necessary, not just of a few pieces, but MANY pieces, which can easily equal the original cost of the entire installation.

    So, I like the Hardee Board (sp?) stuff.
    Aug 16 11:15 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 359 August 17 '14: 10-Q For Q2 2014; S-1 For $15MM Share Issuance; Changed Loan, IP-Secured MDA; David DiGiacinto Appointed Chairman And CEO [View instapost]
    Mud Jacuzzi set to lightspeed, but the jets are struggling...

    Sensors set to "monitor".
    Aug 16 08:24 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • QuickChat #273, August 15 2014 [View instapost]
    HTL, its now common practice to use plastic boards for decks and various trim and siding items. I use plastic moldings for some frame jobs, and if properly joined (the correct adhesive is essential), they do well and are cheap.

    Has anyone else ever seen the plastic parking barriers which have been attempting to replace cast concrete? They work well until, er, they don't. Until recently, they had a relatively short life and were prone to cracking and checking, caused by the usual reaction of that variety of plastic to constant weathering and sun (particularly harsh UV). An innovation in plastic formulation which has also entered other industries like signage and outdoor printing is UV curable plastics and inks. The best examples actually become stronger from exposure to the same conditions which once destroyed them. Adding this tech to things like the cast plastic items makes a ton of sense, and makes the industry's growth prospects a powerful story.

    Construction adhesives have come a long way. My brother (lifelong builder) has recently told me that he sees wood buildings phasing out, including wood products like OSB and the various MDF creations. Steel and plastic are taking over, and the technology to use combinations of the two to create incredibly strong, durable and quickly erected structures is already in place and working.

    The strength of engineered products featuring laminated plastics and fibers is amazing. I saw his crew erect a 5 bedroom steel home in an afternoon, including roofing supports and a decking which was made from the new (mostly laminated layers of plastic with some sandwiches of wood fiber) lightweight materials just coming on the market. The weight is about 40% less than conventional plywood, its twice as rigid, and quite waterproof (they use a variety of this product in high quality kitchen and bath installations for this reason). There were a lot of screws holding everything together, using high tech screwguns feeding like machine guns from long belts of ammo. Construction adhesives were used liberally for the decking and subflooring, which when combined with the steel construction, pretty much ends "settling", squeaks, and nail pop problems.

    Needless to say, such a house (if not sided with a wood product) can laugh at the termite, carpenter ant, and woodpecker threat. In this case they were going for a low cost overall, and used a cement-based siding plus stone facia, which combination I found quite attractive.

    The exterior shell of the house, complete with siding and stone work, took about 2 weeks, but my brother tells me they have done such jobs in as little as 2 or 3 days for demonstration purposes (this is tricky for the stone masons, where quick setting materials are a bit more unusual for them).

    He told me of reports of "nailless and screwless" houses being built, with high tech materials which are literally held together by their designed shapes and the proper construction adhesive.
    Aug 15 08:12 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 358 August 14 '14: S-1 For $15MM Share Issuance; Changed Loan, IP-Secured MDA; David DiGiacinto Appointed Chairman And CEO [View instapost]
    I took that NS report as perhaps referring to field tests of the BMS. Probably not of the BMS installed IN the working 999, given the surveillance of said loco.
    Aug 14 07:53 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quickchat#272, June 16, 2014 [View instapost]
    I have always followed the Russell (its my area of focus, and has been for years), but its a stretch to see this index unseating the RFR and CAPM for the analytical level for the Fed, or replacing the FFR in importance.

    This was once anticipated, in the days before we started rapidly backing away from capitalism, but I don't see it happening today.
    Aug 12 01:19 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Stability Of The European Union June 2, 2014 To ??? [View instapost]
    FPA: OK. The "more equal pig" must be involved. Policy has changed because it HAD to change to accommodate the herd of the "more equal". Had the damage been confined to outsiders and little, merely "equal" pigs, the policy would have triggered an intricate "bail in".

    In this case, I suspect the primary more equal pig was the government of Portugal, though there are many other suspects. The bank had been thoroughly looted before the crisis came, so there are presumably few assets left, and few depositors to tap as unwilling new "share holders".

    The timing with geopolitical events in eastern Europe and the Middle East is, I think, not a coincidence. In times of economic stress, it is the weak and lame that are brought down by the wolves first.
    Aug 7 01:34 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quickchat#272, June 16, 2014 [View instapost]
    Interesting idea, that the new government/corporate alliance in America has created stock market conditions which essentially REQUIRE large companies to raise enormous amounts of cash to use to buy their own stock and pay dividends which may well prove difficult to maintain in the future. And ironic that this cattle prod forces some companies to run the tax gauntlet in order to do so.

    With a strong balance sheet and lots of taxable income, Garmin appears to be already paying high corporate income taxes. If they pull $1b back onto their American balance sheet, and pay taxes, that would mean something like $700m net. Assuming they need the money to boost their stock price with buybacks and dividend boosts, the gamble must be that the market will be kind to them WHEN they execute the plan (otherwise, much egg on face).

    I think this is risky, given the current market conditions, but hey, we'll see what ultimately falls out the end of the pipeline.
    Jul 31 07:36 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quickchat#272, June 16, 2014 [View instapost]
    Based on the $19.1b valuation, the IPO has little upside and is priced to perfection. I find this IPO quixotic. GE must believe the valuation is low - very low.
    Jul 31 07:27 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Stability Of The European Union June 2, 2014 To ??? [View instapost]
    Oh, meant to mention that I seem to recall the new EU bailout, er, "banking" regulations call for a claw-back provision for large depositors that manage to extract their funds just before a bank failure. That's a paper chase that could be revealing.
    Jul 31 07:21 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Stability Of The European Union June 2, 2014 To ??? [View instapost]
    Someone (a lot of someone's) is indeed going to be on the hook - the usual someone's - the taxpayers. They will nationalize this bank.

    This "family" (makes me think Mafia, actually) should be liable as well, in civil courts and criminal. A more clear case of past management looting a company is hard to find.

    This "structure" for a major bank is downright medieval, but I would not be surprised to find it elsewhere in Europe, particularly Spain...
    Jul 31 07:19 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • REE/Strategic Minerals Concentrator, March 18, 2014 [View instapost]
    The Cashflow report was interesting, but the notes about the numbers not reflecting the recent changes just mean we can expect a different outcome from the projections, such as they are.

    Presumably the operating and administration expenses will go down long term due to the changes, but might well go up short term due to the costs of enacting those changes (moves can be expensive, and paying off contracts isn't free).

    The (*appx) 10 million options executable at $0 cost are, as always, irritating to me.
    Jul 30 11:16 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quickchat#272, June 16, 2014 [View instapost]
    Yes. I am thinking that this is a one-time rebound, ie, take the 2 quarters, average them, and then figure for a further easing in growth for the rest of the year. Final numbers will underwhelm. 2015 is NOT an election year, so pump priming will cease...

    I think a year from now, we will look back and see the spring quarter as a high point, particularly highs for 2014.
    Jul 30 09:23 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quickchat#272, June 16, 2014 [View instapost]
    I expect GE to spin off some divisions and operations soon, but also engage in new MA activity bringing new opportunities in. They are overdue some of this, imo.
    Jul 30 08:58 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • REE/Strategic Minerals Concentrator, March 18, 2014 [View instapost]
    Oh no, I didn't mean to do that (particularly to the Rat), but its times when we see price appreciation when trading makes particular sense, and buy/hold starts to show its risk.

    I consider Lynas a trade, and given the current volatility, potentially an exciting one...

    But a balanced view of things is essential, in so far as I see my duties as the blogger.

    I am a trader, not an investor, at least if one considers long term as part of the definition. Agility at times like this is a crucial requirement.

    I have been sounding cautionary notes for ages in this space, though I suppose my flat "objective" POV does not translate well as a "WARNING, WARNING, Will Robinson" alarm bell.

    I am trading down my trading blocs now, at a nice profit, and cashing profits when I can. When the stock is illiquid, this is particularly important (and LYSDY is often illiquid).

    This is the debut of the new CEO. Now we see if she can sell their case. I suspect she does a much better job than the last occupant of the job.
    Jul 29 02:59 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment