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  • You Go Girl; Janet Yellen Gives Gold The Beat Down [View article]
    "Also, his and other's anti-Fed rhetoric most likely compounded the crash of 2008"

    You can't be serious. I may not like Schiff all that much, but I will say that his discussion of where things were headed before 2008 was right (and the many "Schiff Was Right" videos on Youtube provide an amusing catalog of various moments where the bubbleheads on CNBC laughed at him.) Since then he's been a broken record, but saying that his questioning what was going on did anything to compound 2008's issues is absurd and gives him a power and credibility that you seem to argue he doesn't have. Beyond that, blaming Schiff and others for "compounding" 2008 really shifts blame in a silly fashion to people who questioned (how dare they!) and away from anyone who was at the helm that lead us to that point.
    Mar 24 10:34 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • You Go Girl; Janet Yellen Gives Gold The Beat Down [View article]
    "Cliffs Notes" version. "I hate gold.""I hate gold.""I hate gold.""I hate gold.""I hate gold.""I hate gold.""I hate gold.""I hate gold.""I hate gold.""I hate gold.""I hate gold."

    It's bizarre the level of upset (verging on hatred) that some people have for gold. When the most hated/shorted stocks go down, they don't get the same level of "neeener neener neener I was right" diatribes.
    Mar 24 10:29 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Dunkin' Brands Raised Its Dividend 21%, But Is It A Buy? [View article]
    As a child of the '80's, it's absolutely bizarre that Dunkin' is considered some sort of growth story. I liked the occasional doughnut when I was a kid, but the places always felt so 70's era/fluorescent. They have updated the look in new locations and have added a variety of other items, but the idea of eating there reminds me of comedian Jim Gaffigan's riff on McDonalds:

    "Those fries are amazing for what, like seven minutes? Then they turn into something that's not likely biodegradable."

    "It may take me a little while to do digest my quarter pounder, but that tramp stamp is forever. (to the tune of the McDonalds jingle) Do do do do do... (whispers) mistake."

    "But I was raised on McDonald's...well, maybe that's not the best reasoning."

    Additionally, it amazes me that there is a war against Coke about its lack of nutrition and no one says anything about places like Dunkin'.

    I'm not saying that people can't have Dunkin or can't have McDonalds, but so many people are having it every day. The issue becomes what effect does illnesses (hypertension, etc) as a result of this lifestyle have on the economy. It's probably not going to change until it gets to an absolute tipping point, though. Health care companies probably not complaining.

    As for Dunkin, yeah people do like the coffee - has that in its favor.

    I'll (very much admittedly) probably continue to be wrong and Dunkin' may continue to do very well, but given the Dunkin that I knew growing up (and not that much has really changed aside from actual non-sugar menu items and a fresher look), looking at Dunkin now as an (expensively priced) growth story is bizarro world.
    Mar 23 12:59 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 3D Systems: A Merger With Either Hewlett-Packard Or Epson Is Possible [View article]
    "More likely is Santa Claus buys DDD's so he can lower elf overhead cost."

    Best SA comment in ages.
    Mar 23 11:43 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • CDW: Deleveraging And Overhangs Mask Upside Of 33% Or More [View article]
    I will say this: not really on my radar for investment, but: the company has one tiny retail store. It is probably the most exceptional repair service that you will find and makes you really consider how well a computer repair chain that offers this kind of service might do.

    There is almost no way that they will do any more - they've always only had one store and it seems to be almost an afterthought/doing people a favor to give them to exposure to a group of people that are really top of their field. The debt load is concerning and I really haven't looked into financials or performance, but CDW is really exceptional in terms of what they do, both at the retail and corporate level.
    Mar 22 06:02 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ingenico Is A Great Long-Term Investment With A Nice Short-Term Catalyst [View article]
    As I noted, I just do like Ingenico more in terms of being shareholder friendly (raising dividend, etc), but I can see the thesis of Verifone catching up with valuation if they are really fixing their problems (and some of the problems I have with what's gone on in the payments space start smoothing themselves out.)

    Google buying Verifone is sort of interesting, but I am becoming discouraged with adoption of Google Wallet (and Google Wallet payments were apparently disabled the other day for all phones below Android 4.4), so it becomes if there is interest by Google of investing further in the mobile payments/payments space. EBay buying Verifone would seem like a better fit at this point than Google. I don't see any reason for AMZN to be interested. Apple seems to be more interested in doing their own thing with their rumored move into payments.

    I don't think there will be any consolidation in the industry, as it may run into antitrust issues. I am surprised that Verifone wasn't bought when it fell to the teens.
    Mar 21 08:22 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ingenico Is A Great Long-Term Investment With A Nice Short-Term Catalyst [View article]
    Fairly longish response to a very good article:

    1. I owned Ingenico for a while about a year or so ago. I really liked the basic thesis: you have two companies that dominate an industry whose product is everywhere and, given EMV adoption and mobile payments, you're going to have a period where stores are going to have to upgrade their POS.

    Fast forward to now and mobile payments has been handled in a manner that I would describe as a complete clusterblank. I am a huge fan of the technology and think that the phone in general opens up a wealth of possibilities that could revitalize retail in a way that is much needed, given the growth of online shopping. I can imagine a time when I see a coupon in a magazine, scan the coupon and go to - lets say Walgreens to buy Cheerios, which I scanned the coupon for. I walk to Walgreens and when I get close to the store, the phone recognizes me and Walgreens gives me a deal if I come in. When I go to pay, with one tap, I use the coupon, my Walgreens rewards card and pay.

    You had Google Wallet, which was blocked on T-Mobile, Verizon and AT/T because they were trying to roll out their own wallet, Isis, which they took a light year to get going. Meanwhile, Google Wallet has only been available via smaller carriers and the Google Nexus phones.

    Now, this week, you have 7-11 and Best Buy turning off NFC because of cost and lack of interest AND because those two companies are part of yet another wallet, the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX, which also includes Target, Wal-Mart and many others.)

    The lack of interest - I think - is due in part to the idea that consumers were confused about which wallet (I was at a mall the other week and wanted to use my phone at a soda machine. One machine at one end of the mall only accepted Isis, another at the other end of the mall did accept Google Wallet) and retailers - who already seem like they have to be dragged to invest in the payment experience - are sitting on their hands because they don't seem to know whether or not to invest in NFC, IBeacons (which are made by Qualcomm) or to go with barcode readers (which MCX is apparently going with.)

    So:

    I thought Ingenico had clear sailing from the standpoint of EMV adoption, the company's dominance and more.

    Yet, EMV adoption seems to be taking forever (despite the Target situation, which I think still probably won't speed EMV adoption like it needs to be), mobile payments have been handled unbelievably poorly and retailers don't seem to want to invest at all.

    There is competition, as well, although I don't think that they can achieve the same scale (private company Paydiant is handling the point-of-sale for MCX, it appears; there's also Square.) The main concern is just how badly the evolution in payments (EMV, mobile) have been handled in this country and how point-of-sale changes may not be made right away because of confusion on the part of customers and retailers who want to wait to see how things shake out.

    I invested in Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), which I think is a more diversified financial technology company, where you get exposure to payments (they are processing payments for MCX, for example), security and a ton of other things. It is less economically sensitive than an Ingenico.

    That is not saying that I don't think Ingenico is a good investment - I do. I just think that there's this investment case that seemed like a "given" - EMV, mobile - that I think has been kind of thrown into disarray in the short term by how badly it's been handled. Long-term, I think it works itself out, but I'm disappointed and can't believe that the evolution in payments that is going on is as sloppy as it has been - all of the people fighting over the mobile wallet space have done nothing but confuse consumers and hurt the technology overall.

    I don't like the barcode style of mobile payments. There's something elegant about the tap and pay of NFC rather than trying to push your phone up to a barcode reader. It's really too bad, as the rollout was just handled so badly. Every time I use NFC to make a payment, people go, "Oh that's so cool!" and I ask, "Well, do you see other people using it?" "Uh, no." or "Maybe once or twice?" I throw a lot of the blame at the telecoms for blocking Google Wallet while trying to get Isis together (and now that the NFC-centric Isis is rolling out, 7-11 and Best Buy stop using NFC at their point of sale...)

    A couple of other various notes:

    1. Ingenico's ADR in the US is illiquid - it really doesn't trade very much and often has a significant spread between bid/ask. That's not saying don't invest, just saying know that going in.

    2. Ingenico (and fellow French financial tech co Gemalto) have been heavily shorted in the recent past. I know Gemalto is still shorted heavily, not sure about Ingenico's current status. Again, not a negative as much as a "just sayin'."

    3. The shaky nature of NFC adoption makes me concerned about Gemalto as well as NXP Semiconductor. I think Gemalto can move and adapt longer-term, but short-term is problematic.

    4. Gemalto has its E-go project, which will allow people to pay by using touch (you wear a device and the signal travels over your skin.) It's wild and while who knows what the future of it is, it goes to show you that there's already other things in payment tech possible down the road. There is a video of Project E-go on Youtube.

    5. Fidelity National Information Services (http://bit.ly/1memmb9) and Fiserv (http://bit.ly/1h1D9JE) are interesting for those who want more broadly diversified financial tech companies, although I particularly like FIS. These companies also offer some security exposure, which is a becoming a huge issue, given security problems at the point of sale.

    6. Qualcomm is making beacons for those who believe that payments go that route.

    7. Verifone is fixing itself, but I continue to like Ingenico more, as I think Verifone's problems has given Ingenico a further lead. But, even if Verifone starts to fix its problems, I think Ingenico is more shareholder-friendly. I don't own either of these companies, but if I had to pick one, I think any move down in Ingenico because people believe Verifone is fixing itself is a buying opportunity for Ingenico.

    All that said, again, I think Ingenico is a good pick longer-term, but it is economically sensitive and I think the case for the company (EMV adoption/mobile payments and retailers upgrading terminals) is going to take longer to really play out than I could have ever thought.
    Mar 21 11:29 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Sears to spin off Lands' End in early April [View news story]
    "Isn't that $500 dividend a crock? Saddle Land's End with a $513 loan to pay for it and then kick them out the door to fend for themselves."

    This. Exactly this.
    Mar 16 05:31 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • CSX: An Efficient Player In Stable Rail Road Business [View article]
    In a time period where people have to consider what may disrupt the businesses they invest in (especially tech) in the short-term, rail is one industry where - unless they are coming out with ways to teleport large amounts of grain - there is nothing that is going to replace it.

    We went through a period in this country where rail was not a priority and many rails were taken away (turned into trails, etc.) Meanwhile, other countries upgraded their rails (high speed, etc) and now we are realizing the need for rail again.

    Long Canadian National Rail, but CSX is a fine choice, as well.
    Mar 15 06:38 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Target warns in filing that data breach could be worse than reported so far [View news story]
    It would be one thing if it was, "We had everything in place, we did everything we could." Now it becomes, "We didn't have everything in place AND ignored/sat on our hands when we were warned about the situation."

    It is surprising that there haven't been tons of lawsuits. Target isn't going anywhere, but this certainly isn't over. Canada is a problem too - I'd ask if Target had any sort of real international expansion plan, but they don't seem to be even doing that well in Canada, so...

    Also, fun fact: The CEO's family runs Steinhafel's, a Midwestern furniture store (which is a nice place to shop.)

    I do like shopping at Target, but I think I'll be limiting it (at best) for a while, the more comes out about this situation.
    Mar 14 06:19 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • WSJ: Surge in rail shipments of oil is causing delays for other industries [View news story]
    Is Keystone approved to offload some of the strain caused by the amount of energy being transported by rail? Does that even help - perhaps not. Canada is forcing its rails to transport grain.
    Mar 14 06:02 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The World Is Not Drowning In Oil [View article]
    lol, yes, thanks - meant Canadian Natural. Was thinking about buying more Canadian National Railway at the time I wrote the response. Thanks again.
    Mar 14 06:00 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Replace P&G With Unilever [View article]
    Thanks for the comment! Glad to hear that someone else is positive on Reckitt, as well.
    Mar 14 04:27 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Costco: Customer Loyalty And International Expansion To Drive Growth [View article]
    Maybe it's just the one where I go, but I don't know of another operation where I can stand in line, go "holy crap, this is a long line" and watch as the employee manages to both get the line through quickly and be cheerful. The front of the house at Costco is - at least in the locations I've seen - a well-oiled machine.

    I think Costco is at the core of a trend that sees people doing 'one stop' shopping - it's not going to 8 different stores, it's going to one. I do get the point about international that another poster mentioned above, but I do think that there are hypermarts and other such places overseas - I do feel like Costco can find its niche.

    Some bizarre article the other day scolded Costco for not marketing to younger generations enough. That's fine with me - it's the older generations that are faring better.

    Is Costco overvalued here? Probably mildly, at least. However, personally, it's the only retailer I would invest in.

    The only thing I don't like about it is how people herd around the samples like freaking water buffalo, blocking the aisles like there's no one else in the store.
    Mar 14 04:16 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Qualcomm: A Huge New Frontier Makes It A Shrewd Buy [View article]
    Overall, you're welcome to your opinion on Qualcomm but I'm baffled by Intel as the vision of a better alternative.
    Mar 14 01:51 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
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