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  • Apple: A Reversal Of Fortune Seems Inevitable [View article]
    I feel anyone analysing Apple has to include careful review of the following:
    a) Apple has a best in class manufacturing and logistics system, with its deep China linkage;
    b) Apple still has one of the best product design eco-system, one that the Google-Samsung team can only dream about;
    c) Apple's corporate tax and treasury team is also best in class, as they can squeeze every $ of profit from everywhere they sell their products into. No company matches this capability, so it is in effect a large bank inside Apple;
    d) Apple's increasingly affluent, fringe and well heeled customer base will never compromise on any other product, esp as the world's wealthy, powerful and socially arrogant become more and more separated from the not so haves of the world; and finally,
    e) all the Chinese manufacturers are throwing big money at this sector to eke out market share, but the higher the market share within the Android group, the less the profits, as time goes on.

    All in all, Apple will more than thrive in this world it will distinguish itself more and more from all the others, esp the Android crowd. Mr. Blair only has to visit one Asian city to see for himself how successfully Apple increases its distance everyday, as the others are more and more distinguishing themselves by selling their own products with almost no pride about what their product represents to the customer. Millions of Huawei phones and tablets are now given away with newspaper subscriptions, with almost no commercial value attached to them......what is happening to the Chinese brands is almost incredible, but they all think they are getting ahead in this mad race to the assured bottom.
    Aug 9, 2014. 03:49 AM | 29 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron Could Hit $50 In 2015 [View article]
    Well timed article on MU's near and long term prospects. Some surprise aspects to the upcoming Q1 earnings are:
    a) it is a 14 week quarter, which could well trip "up" revenue and earnings;
    b) depending on how well they covered their FX exposure, it could well be a tremendous +ve, as the JPY collapsed against the USD in the last few days of Oct, and even more so going into Nov;
    c) Apple's heavily dependent on MU for both DRAM and I suspect, NAND too, and Apple's IPhone 6 and 6+ astounding success could well bring great news for MU;
    d) Intel was tooting the horn loud and clear at its recent Investor Day on its 3D NAND readiness to ship early, and with its huge, singular mojo in Data Center and Cloud computing, MU will be a direct beneficiary of Intel's R&D. In addition, MU is the likely the singular, preferred and highly "optimised" DRAM supplier to all the upcoming Grantley servers during Q4 and all of 2015; and finally,
    e) as Samsung looks to supply itself and leverage to the full its highly diminished prospects in smartphones and tables by subsidising its DRAM supplies to its own mobile products (and of course, Apple), I wager that the Chinese, most aggressive players like Xiaomi, Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE have no one to turn to but MU for their DRAM supplies, esp when things start going a little crazy before the upcoming X'mas, New Year and most significantly, the Chinese New Year (of the always prosperous bringing "Pig" Year in 2015.
    Nov 29, 2014. 01:11 PM | 19 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Asia: 3 Warning Signs Of A Potential Bloodbath Ahead [View article]
    Just as there are "3 Warning Signs", there are many positive signals which indicate that Asia as the most economically dynamic continent has promises which could well extend beyond a normal lifetime. The reasons are as follows:
    a) a declining oil/gas price has negative implications for Malaysia, Vietnam and possibly, Australia. But other economies, esp the likes of Singapore, Indonesia (now a net importer), China, India, Philippines and a whole host of frontier markets from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Laos, etc all stand to benefit handsomely from lower energy prices;
    b) the recent economic migration of hardworking nationals from countries such as Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan to high income economies in Middle East, USA and even Europe is not fully appreciated. This trend continues as most of these countries have now become addicted to these people to undertake the menial or "difficult" jobs that their respective nationals decline in doing. Indeed, much of the ambitious plans the Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar have planned are entirely scaled on continuing import of foreign labour to do the "heavy" lifting;
    c) since 2008, most of the financial infrastructure in the Asian countries have been cleaned up, restructured, M&Aed so that they are intrinsically stronger, with far greater supervision from their respective Central Banks. Consequently, there is almost no likelihood of a 1997 style Asian meltdown in the next 5-10 years;
    d) most importantly, it is not appreciated by many that there is much "economic" work left to be done in almost all countries, except Singapore, HK and possibly, Australia. With a teeming young population, expectations of higher living standards, greater political transparency than ever before, it is almost impossible for any of the Asian countries to slide back....on the contrary, there is much dynamism, political will to drive towards win/win bilateral arrangements, so that countries' leadership HAVE to focus on delivering the goodies for the populace. Failure will result in them being held accountable, even in centrally planned countries like Vietnam, China, Burma, North Korea, etc.

    All in all, with a "natural" hedge among Asian countries (i.e. highly developed vs less, energy rich vs poor, economically dynamic vs "slow paced" ones, agricultural vs industrial, the contrasts just go on and on), and with the largest, most ambitious, highly dynamic diaspora on this plant, Asia will survive, thrive and its stock markets are well primed to perform better and better in the months to come. With recent steep, across the board declines in stock markets, currencies and well advertised economic prospects, any Fed tapering scares are already factored in. Last but not least, you heard it first here, Chinese diaspora worldwide generally believe Years of the Horse brings very good financial begins as early as in 3 months, so wait for the hugely positive surprises....including possibly, finally, from China's stock markets!

    In the case of India, the recent out performance of its stock markets can be attributed almost solely to a BJP-cum-Narendra Modi ascension in next year's elections.....and from all I "read and see" between the lines, it is justified, as nothing is worse than the current state of paralysis at every level of govt, when there is so much urgent economic "work" to be done in India. India does deserve better, a lot better....the alternatives are extremely dire.
    Nov 10, 2013. 06:39 AM | 17 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Intel Has Truly Come A Long Way [View article]
    It seems to me that none of the positive attributes in the article matter anymore, as the smartphone industry "matured" too fast, right before Intel's, wide eyed, but amazed "paranoical" eyes, as their misfocused "retinas" were too focused on the likes of AMD, and yes, dare I suggest, even the EU's Anti-competition commissioners, the likes of Neelie Kroos and Mario Monti for their own, in retrospect, self-regretful monopolistic business practices.

    In the meantime, the ARM eco-system, "powered" by the then relatively lowly, mostly ignored, but extremely venturesome, again in retrospect, Apple, Samsung, LG, TSM....but an, even to date, the real technology, unpolished "gem", again in retrospect, yes, Qualcomm.

    They all, mostly by cruel "focused, intent" against "evil" Wintel, but also perhaps by "accident", traversed many deep dives to carve out, on their own, in reconfiguring, redesigning business, technology, sorry, to repeat a much abused word, "process" practices advantages of their own, to largely thwart over make irrlevant, then GAWP (Generally Accepted Wintel Practices), of mostly Wintel defined "religious" rules, "quanxi" and "processes" which Intel had absolutely no clue about, slowly, but surely powered it is all history, it seems to me at least, as it is too little too late, FinFet is a story, it seems, of marketshare, patent control, none of which Intel is really in control of anymore.

    In short, the new "game" in town across the "small form factor" world, is about:
    - being genuinely humble,
    - patent "control and extending" ,
    - eco-system,
    - battery life,
    - apps,
    - the power of the fuzzy Asian way of getting things done, at the likes of TSM, MediaTek, LG, Samsung, even
    - and perhaps, just being "cool".....
    none of which Intel controls anymore, and it seems to me the writer of the article continues in his "denial" mode. All his many cruel diatribes against the ARM eco-system, is just another FUD like the Wintel fallen army.....more FUD. In fact, I feel "sick" Microsoft may be a better investment today than Intel.

    In short, it is better to "sleep" with Qualcomm than Intel, if that were one's restricted investment universe. In retrospect, isn't it wonderful that Intel was delivered the most painful punishment by the likes of Ms. Kroos and Mr. Monti, almost innocently, while the ARM people just drove through so many obvious roadblocks, including patents, technology, and yes, I love this word, as I do not understand it anymore, "processes".....
    Nov 3, 2013. 12:42 PM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • IBM: A Disaster In The Making [View article]
    It is amazing that this article purports to know so much of IBM, one of the few crown jewels of USofA, to declare that it is a "Disaster in the Making". Whether the servers are in the public or private cloud, the economics no longer matter, as:
    a) most of the time, IBM has "locked in" their customers, with complex long term deals, usually of the outsourcing variety. In these deals, it is usually extremely difficult if not impossible, to insource the IT Dept or worse, outsource it to the public cloud;
    b) it is an insult to IBM management to think that IBM management does not know intimately the economics of say, Amazon's AWS or Accenture's or Infosys' business model. The reality is that they are competing constantly with these players, and thanks to HP's discarded "orphan", that of Price Waterhouse's Consulting Division which it bought for a song (and Carly Fiorina tried so hard to buy at any price, but failed), they are now the role leader when it comes to highly profitable Business Consulting;
    c) over the years, they have developed a deep competence in taking on complex, highly risky "transformation" projects, at cities, states, countries as well as global companies. There are few companies in the world that can match IBM's scale, "vertical" and yes, "horizontal" competencies, whether it is govt, telecom, healthcare, banking, insurance, manufacturing, education, just to name a few "verticals";
    d) if you only could "feel" how expensive/difficult it is to learn the business processes of say, the wireless telecom business or retail banking, or pharma and "port" it to other companies in other geographies, and finally keep sharing "best practices" across these verticals, you will appreciate IBM's real value is not in cloud, private or public; and finally
    e) since the basis of the argument is about the economics of private vs public cloud management, ask IBM employees at the operational level how much they get paid, how hard they work (usually because it is such a prestige to work for IBM), and before too long, they will tell you where they are based, how little they get paid, and how long and hard they toil, and how hard it really is to 'hang on'. To me, this is very telling about how hard and competitive IBM is as a company, worldwide. It pays to read some articles recently about how the likes of Huawei can compete globally, and it all traces back to how IBM is helping these people.....just multiply this by at least 1000, as IBM is truly global.

    In other words, the author really does not even know what he does not know......
    Apr 23, 2013. 10:30 AM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Qualcomm Has Further Downside Ahead [View article]
    Qualcomm's predicament in China, I fear, is one that will likely pervade every company that has built its business model on collecting royalties on (in)valuable IP it developed over many years. In this regard, I offer the following thought points:

    a) with increasing complexity and additional feature enhancements being added to every smartphone, the actual value of the original IP, commercially speaking, is only assured of going down every year. In other words, there are now so many claimants to the total IP value of a smartphone today, some relying on licensing, such as QCOM, but others that actually provide a chip, a screen or some other hardware that is included within the smartphone or tablet device. These new claimants, such as AVGO, SWKS, NXPI, GLW, CRUS not only provide the IP but also the crucial hardware that is embedded within these devices. By providing the "hardware", even if it is priced at just say, $20 per chip, they are able to control directly the value of their IP. Unfortunately, for QCOM, its Snapdragon processor is effectively the only "hardware" path it can apply to control the value of its IP, and yet, there are now so many able competitors to Snapdragon, from the likes of INTC, but also NVDA, CRUS, etc;

    b) QCOM has become an effectively "also ran" in the industry, even if it was the only company that provided the most valuable invention for the mobile industry, i.e. CDMA. While it has continued to evolve CDMA to 3G, and now LTE/4G, much of this evoultion has not been a revolution, so its business model, relying on royalties is going to prove weak in the knees as time goes on;

    c) there were many promises of new revolutionary technologies from QCOM, such as its Mirasol technology for display, but it never came to the market. In short, QCOM has not been "lucky" with its R&D of late, at least since the elder Irwin Jacobs gave up executive role in the company some 10 years ago;

    d) QCOM was, imo, too desperate to get cozy with China, as it believed that much of its big promise will arrive, one day, when its valuable IP is applied to proliferate its technology for the most advanced network, as well as its Snapdragon chips embedded in every smartphones and tablets manufactured in the country. Instead, China took all its "knowledge", "adapted" it (to be polite) to evolve TD-SCDMA and now calls all this IP its own....just ask Huawei, ZTE, and of late Lenovo and Xiaomi and they will tell you how much they really think QCOM's IP is worth. So, QCOM suddenly finds itself surprised so badly, when both the number of devices are pathologically underreported, the level of royalties per device to be paid disputed, and the final blow, being branded a "monopoly"....all not a good scenario going forward, and putting a new CEO to face "China Inc" is akin to putting lipstick on.....;

    e) China is not Japan or SKorea, the competition for mobile is cutthroat to say the least, Apple is the only player that has the entire aspirational world at its feet, and QCOM is left to pick up the crumbs when all the remaining players from Intel, Samsung, Sony to Lenovo, ZTE, Huawei and so many unnamed brands are left to pick up an industry that is rapidly evolving to a bleeding edge business model; and

    e) finally, I ask myself "who's next" and ARMH comes to mind, as they too built a company on selling IP to everyone who needed it, including QCOM, but of late, they must realise "not every fabless train will reach its sunny destination". .

    Sad, it must hurt the elder Mr. Jacobs and his son, but such is life in the brave, seemingly lawless, IP disrepecting, cutthroat world!
    Nov 8, 2014. 07:02 AM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Real Reason for Silver's Run [View article]
    Your article fails to cover the mostly behind the scenes activities of practically all the central banks around the world, esp those from the Asia Pacific, Latam, Middle East and Russia. Statistical data from reputable sources such as BIS is missing of course, but there is a probably a reason: they're all on the same side of the boat, i.e. quietly, but furiously buying PMs and reducing if not downright dumping USTs.

    This wave is only beginning as most countries above previously held a high concentration of USTs as their collateral for their respective currencies in a world of fiat currency.
    Mar 4, 2011. 10:02 PM | 11 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Taiwan Semiconductor Tries To Pull A FinFAST One [View article]
    It is always a good thing to learn new rules, to think out of the box, and yes, ask "what if somebody else is right?". In this regard, I learnt a lot from a very recent presentation by the CEO of Sandisk, with respect to his response to someone questioning why the Company is not rushing into 3D NAND when Intel/Micron JV is just about to start the race "down" this lane. He said, quite calmly, that Sandisk always evaluates its investments carefully, and at this point in time, measured investments in 2D NAND "planar extensions" are far more profitable in terms of total returns than deep dives into 3D. He wished to wait for the 3D technology to mature before diving in.

    This short statement "lit another lightbulb" on my tired brain last night: yes, there is no need to rush into 3D at all costs, or even the lowest node possible, especially if you have an eco-system (in TSMC's case, ARM of course) where people are relentlessly searching for the best balance between low power/low cost/high battery life/low total cost of maintenance.......

    The question I like to ask is what if Intel has too much arrogance in continuing to think that it can "suck back" the profits in this tough industry by just pulling on its node 'string' with a PC platform mindset, trying to gain lost market share in smartphones/tablets while the rest of the industry, esp the Asian players have moved on to the new game, with a very humble, fully risk aware ARM leading the brigade: a whole new set of rules, learning from each other, adapting, trying things with minimised risks, etc etc.

    Time will tell, but my bet is that the ARM brigade is far better equipped with both technology as well as EQ to face the opportunities in the "internet of everything" world. An old dog like Intel, even if it is a pure breed, must learn to play by a whole new set of dynamic rules, esp when a lot of these rules are being set by Asian players.

    I somehow think TSMC cannot have been in this business for so many years, supplying so many reputable companies in their eco-system, by pulling "stunts" that the author seems to know what they say about you can fool some all the time......
    May 30, 2013. 05:01 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Will Windows 9 Be Able To Save Microsoft? [View article]
    Having "boiled" down a lot of inputs to my poor, ageing brain (listening to earnings conference calls of GOOG, AAPL, MSFT, INTC, IBM, ORCL, YHOO among many others), and using my "legacy" knowledge of the state of the IT/telecom/e-commerce eco-system, I feel:

    - Microsoft is uniquely positioned vs. Apple to steal a massive, permanent march on both Apple and Google, its most "feared" enemies, but also the likes of IBM, Oracle, HP;
    - Microsoft has to become in many ways as predatory as Oracle become, all of a sudden, some 12 years ago, to realise that the glorious past is no guarantee of the future. In other words, it has to keenly look for every piece of "hole" in its massive series of "technology dykes", and plug them asap, almost by "instinct" rather than by "disciplined, thought driven, passioned execution".....i.e. acquire, acquire, acquire, for the next 12 months, and almost break every rule in and outside the book.....I mean in this case, all sorts of verticals software that work with humbled Windows (for now), all manner of "horizontals" software, whether they be horizontal Apps as we know them, or large enterprise eco-system changing, systems, such as, dare I suggest, even the likes of WDAY, Z, etc etc; and finally
    - become almost "religious" at explaining at every opportunity to customers, governments, economic communities (such as the WTO, EU, etc) how "going to bed" with Microsoft is arguably the only way to realise the "holy grail" of creating good, permanent jobs, everwhere, in small towns, big towns, cities, states, countries, and regions and even communities such as the EU, ASEAN, etc.

    Microsoft has finally delivered a whole suite of unparalleled software (that is inherently IMDB optimised) to the corporate world that is secure, flexible, scalable in Windows 9, Office, Dynamics, SQL Server, Azure, Bing, and all of the other suites. Now, it has to realise it has a once in a lifetime opportunity to become the behemoth in the world economy that Ms. Rometty and Mr. Cook can only dream of, but without that singular, suddenly, equally hungry partner, Intel, they can never get there, but Microsoft (and its partners, both current and future) can.

    In short, I am extremely bullish on Microsoft, as at least, we, I think, no longer have to beat them up for allowing rampant piracy of their valuable IP.
    Jul 28, 2014. 06:16 AM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple: Something Extraordinary Is Certain [View article]
    This time it's different, just look at all the mojo worldwide.
    May 30, 2014. 12:02 PM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is The New Wal-Mart? [View article]
    Re: "how different WMT and AMZN are, really".......

    Well, to my mind, they truly are 2 different companies, and I do suspect they will become increasingly different entities in the months and years to come.

    If I could intellectually split AMZN into 3 companies, i.e.
    - retail distributor of books, CD physical media and all manner of household goods, and compare its financials for this "division" to WMT (and a sliver of UPS and FDX for good measure);
    - take its "Instant" media business and compare it to NFLX; and
    - take its AWS business and compare it to......wait for it, the consolidated, but relevant "divisional" financials of GOOG, MSFT, ORCL, AKAM, FIO, IBM, CSCO, VZ, ACN.....and a whole host of other cloud players.

    Only then could Amazon stock price be accurately "analysable" .....and even then it is almost impossible to figure out AMZN's fair value, as one needs to first pore into the brains of Mr. Bezos, as so much of AMZN's EV is actually his brain, soul, "miracle" execution skills and leadership.
    Jul 14, 2013. 09:17 AM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • You Just Don't Understand Europe [View article]
    Everywhere I look, as I live in Europe, all the countries around me are shrinking economically. Whether you visit supermarkets, restaurants, cinemas, airports, train stations, electronic stores, garden centres, etc the picture is the same: shrinking crowds, shopping for the cheapest goods and saving as much as they can for a more difficult day tomorrow. Mix this micro view with a macro reality of shrinking and ageing populations, loads of pessimism everywhere, and you "feel" things will get a lot worse before they get better. Politicians are at a loss, as they don't have the simple tools they once had to fix short term problems. I tell everyone I meet that they should learn from the Korean experience: drastically lower the Euro, take sovereign bond haircuts where appropriate, prepare the populace for nationalistic or European focused thinking for the next 3-5 years, and do everything they can to save the continent for the next generation. Within 3 years, the pains will be gone, economies will start to grow again, and there will be optimism everywhere, as so many +ve aspects of Europe (great history, general cleanliness, natural beauty will endure forever) are not being amplified during these difficult times.

    In short, Europe must do what SKorea did in the late '90s, and will solve its problems quite quickly, otherwise, the slog is going to take at least 10 years, with a lot of permanent damage.
    Mar 28, 2013. 05:54 AM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple Update: A $2 Billion Currency Hit? [View article]
    I "feel" Apple investors would be well advised to consider the following:
    a) the swoon on the EUR has been happening over some 2+ years, and the "shock factor" from the Greek elections were well advertised;
    b) Apple's current share price may already reflect the currency risk, and therefore, the "news" of such a huge hit may have less of an impact than it has had on Microsoft;
    c) I suspect Microsoft runs a highly profitable business in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and consequently, its sheer size there will mandate that it will take a huge hit from currency headwinds. Apple on the other hand, has, I suspect a much lower %age of its business in EMEA, which should help lower its associated FX hits;
    d) X'mas, New Year and upcoming Chinese New Year festive seasons have and will have a much bigger tailwind effect on Apple that Microsoft can only dream about. This tailwind effect is likely to be particularly strong for its newer products;
    e) very few companies have the size and sophistication of the "Apple Bank" inside its HQ and in key places such as Ireland, Singapore and elsewhere. I'd wager that one of the very reasons the EUR went down is because some of the MNC such as Apple were selling into the swoon, so the "heat" on Apple may well be behind it, esp with respect to its BS.

    In short, I do not expect Apple to make such a big deal on currency as Microsoft's an exciting "watch"!
    Jan 27, 2015. 07:58 AM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Micron's Stock Still A Buy? [View article]
    Alas Arie, I congratulate you on the following:

    a) you've braved yourself to write an article on MU, which has been unearthed by so many men before you, and spaded over from so many angles, that the eyes and minds do sometimes tire; but
    b) unlike so many men before you, you are so surprisingly modest in quoting Tipranks source as credit for the analyst from Credit Suisse, but failed to declare that you yourself are ahead of him, i.e. your ranking is an incredible 17th out of 7194 experts. This is a truly incredible achievement, for which, as we say in my part of the world, "chapeau".

    But I wish you would write your views on the prospects for soft commodities, as Goldman Sachs has just issued a dire one on practically all of them. I wonder where the truth lies, over the next 12 months.

    Congratulations, again and best wishes.
    Oct 3, 2014. 04:31 AM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Here's Why Enterprise SSD Is An Important Business For Micron [View article]
    Re: Micron's competition, I am surprised the article makes no mention of SNDK at all, and while we are it, shouldn't this article be doing a deep dive on TLC vs MLC, as this key differeniator may well be the major determinant of how well MU does vs SNDK in the marketplace, at least in the short term?
    Jul 27, 2014. 05:04 AM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment