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  • PayPal: A Teenager's Perspective [View article]
    Therein lies the problem..... I've used PayPal a few times, but in general the service is a bit restrictive. It doesn't seem economically competitive to me either. I believe there is an opportunity with the business, it is a fantastic cash generation machine, but I'm having a hard time convincing myself that they are going to come out ahead. The caveat here is, maybe they don't need to.....

    However, back to my original point, anecdotal evidence from younger people is a data point, but I don't see many of my friends and co-workers using the service. All these people have 6 figure salaries. I don't see how PayPal differentiates from other options available to higher net worth individuals (I have multiple opportunities to send money to someone, free of charge). Quite simply, it's not economically competitive for me compared to larger financial institutions. And that's who they are competing against. It is a transaction business, and as far as stocks are concerned I got MA for that......

    PYPL is not cheap. It has gotten slightly cheaper recently, but I wouldn't assign a comparable multiple to PYPL as I would MA or V. Maybe it's growing slightly faster, but those are great companies without the 'internet' moniker that could very well drag down margins and/or multiples over time as new entrants come in. No one is displacing MA or V, especially amongst higher net worth/big spender types.

    Having said all that, it's a great business. The growth is there, but you're paying for it. It's already a $50b company..... At the 10,000 foot level, if we just asked a simple question like 'Would I expect PYPL to be half the size of MA?' I think the answer is maybe. Like 60-75% of yes. So where does that leave us? Does PYPL turn into a $100b business? Well, maybe. But if so, MA is probably a $200B business. If I had to guess which one has a higher likelihood of getting there, I think the answer is MA.

    It's not a terrible stock to be long, but I'm having a hard time seeing it as superior to MA...... Especially for younger investors (like me), although MA has run so much over the past 5 or 6 years.

    Good luck!
    Jul 29, 2015. 01:37 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • PayPal's Hidden Jewel [View article]
    PYPL is a good business, but I went through it the past couple days and it's not cheap. There are companies growing faster, with lower multiples, although the cash generation here is fantastic.....

    I don't see any attempt here to reconcile the true operating figures for PYPL in light of some one-offs recently and where Venmo fits in. This would help baseline where the company is at and what investors can expect going forward. In true 'tech company fashion', they use misleading numbers on their website specifically relating to 'how Venmo is doing'. Mixing Payment Volume for Venmo, Number of Payments and then in the previous year using Mobile Payment Volume. All different names dancing around the real issue.... How much revenue Venmo is bringing in. None of these terms gives investors real, actionable information. Yes, growing payment volume 300% year over year in Q1 is awesome and I think Venmo is very valuable. But this is already a $50b company.....

    Comparing it to MA/V on a quantitative basis with an attempt at normalized operating figures would be very useful for readers of the article. I could, for example, compare my figures to yours and then have a thoughtful discussion. We could then exchange estimates for what Venmo needs to become in order to support a specific valuation.

    Just a suggestion.

    Good luck!
    Jul 21, 2015. 06:17 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • FTC accuses LifeLock of violating settlement; shares -25% (updated) [View news story]

    I found this company yesterday for the first time and read around for 20 minutes.... Total scam.

    This thing should just go away.

    Good luck!
    Jul 21, 2015. 05:56 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • LifeLock's Marketing Shift Means Risk [View article]

    I guess my timing could not have been better. If I only shorted this POS........

    Good luck!
    Jul 21, 2015. 05:55 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • LifeLock's Marketing Shift Means Risk [View article]
    Numbers look great, but after reading about this company I don't want any part of it. The first thing I looked at after the financial statements and products on their website was, 'LifeLock Reviews' on Google...... After sifting through hundreds of negative reviews on Consumer Affairs I figured maybe this is a poor sample set. Sure enough, every site you look at talks about the scam here.

    I've only looked at this thing for about 20-30 minutes, but I don't want any part of it. While turnover isn't astronomical as the first poster mentions, I think they list over 80% retention rates in their last release, it seems once people figure out what they're paying for (nothing) they bolt.

    Maybe there is a lot of money to be made here. It just doesn't pass the smell test.

    Good luck!
    Jul 20, 2015. 08:06 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wait And See: Thoughts On The Micron Q3 Earnings Call [View article]
    This is typical price action with these types of companies.... Spoke with a MU executive in December, 'consolidation, improved economics... Things are going great'. I just remember sitting there thinking, 'this thing is at a top'.

    It's just a tough business..... Capitalize on the price swings and get out. Anyone holding on long term needs to re-evaluate.

    Good luck!
    Jun 26, 2015. 01:03 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Top 10 Utilities For Dividend Growth And Income [View article]
    Great approach and nice article, but I would make one observation...

    In 5 years time, corporate bond yields of financially sound companies could very well be yielding 5-6%. While I don't dispute that these companies could potentially raise their dividends faster than inflation, I'm not true they have a lot of upside or are the most prudent choice for income investors. It should make people wonder, however, if dollars allocated to these names will appreciate meaningfully in real terms.

    Having said that, the top names on your list are clearly attractive relative to some of the others. I'm just not sure if the total return estimate is justifiable.

    Good luck!
    Jun 19, 2015. 02:33 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Investing In A Sleep Well At Night REIT Like Warren Buffett [View article]
    Let me guess, he didn't respond.....

    To answer your question, what about the average Joe investor? The bottom line is real estate isn't that exciting. Rarely has it been. Especially on top of an enormous move up in asset prices.

    Your example of Warren Buffett and his Real Estate play in NYC is interesting. What it shows is that Real Estate, like every other asset class at some point in history, is subject to wild valuation swings. The time to buy is when prices are in the gutter. Could there be a few hidden gems out there? Sure. But I doubt many of the REIT's today will be able to raise rents substantially going forward. It's hard to imagine 'the Average Joe investor' will be able to generate 35% in annual distributions on an investment in real estate today at any time in the near future.

    Specifically, with regards to UBA, investors who bought in 10 years ago have seen their increase in distributions lag (virtually non-existant) inflation......

    Buy low, sell high..... Good luck!
    Jun 19, 2015. 09:56 AM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • What Mobile Wallets And Smartphone Cameras Now Have In Common [View article]
    I just Googled 'Apple Pay Benefits' and read the results for about 20 minutes..... I still can't figure them out. I'm willing to bet this is why I never see anyone using the service. One article hinted at discounts and benefits to get people to switch over. That's great.... Who's paying for that?

    If I have to try and search what the benefits are, and leading technology websites can't articulate it clearly, that's probably not a good sign. Plus, once more, the installed base of credit card readers is enormous. Worldwide enormous. I can pay with my credit card virtually anywhere (maybe select vendors in Myanmar have shut me out). What's the alternative? I stop carrying my credit cards to use Apple Pay everywhere? What's the investment for vendors? How long will that take to roll out?

    I can be considered a lot of things but unimaginative is probably nowhere on that list. I keep trying to think of a reason why using these applications is advantageous versus the alternative. I'm struggling to find ones compelling enough to warrant a change in my paying behavior. I haven't read any reasons anywhere to influence that. I had one of the first phones that utilized the mobile payments service, and it never even occurred to me to use it......

    Comparing this to boarding passes is interesting. If we were to put a percentage on how many people actually check in digitally, with no paper, what do we think that would be? 20%? 10%? Surely it can't be higher than 25%, right? And that's being extremely generous... That's been around on major US carriers for awhile. I travel a lot and I still use my paper pass regularly. There are still bugs being worked out as well I get a digital copy all the time, but I still go to the counter when I check bags and receive a print out. It's free insurance. Meanwhile, that technology had no barriers. In fact, it has been embraced by airlines. It still hasn't 'caught on'.

    So, what's our best possible upside case here? 10-20% of iPhone users in America will utilize Apple Pay at the 4 vendors that utilize the service every week in 2020? What's that? 20% max of 100 million smartphones out there (remember this is probably just in America at this point). That's a max upside of $100B in transactions assuming $100 in purchases for the week. That's Discover in 2012... According to, an estimate for revenue on $100 in purchases would be $.15. So, annual revenue could be $15B? That seems very optimistic, considering MA did less than $10B in all of 2014. Even if they got to $5B, guess what? They could be doing $250B in revenue by then.... Who cares? lol

    Compare this to the installed base of machines accepting CC's and vendors utilizing those machines. Now think about the competitive aspect here. Where does this money come from? MA, V, JPM, WFC and everyone else involved with the credit card business is just going to let a new entrant come in, carve out a profitable niche and change their economics? Now throw in a general reluctance to change consumer behavior on anything. I can go on and on. Just because 'Apple did it' doesn't mean it's revolutionary, lol.

    I just asked my die hard Apple officemate what he thinks about Apple Pay....... He's never heard of it. "and I don't think I've had the opportunity to use it".

    I'm not trying to damper new technology here..... Just trying to be realistic.

    Good luck!
    Jun 16, 2015. 04:24 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • What Mobile Wallets And Smartphone Cameras Now Have In Common [View article]
    All these 'Pay' technologies suffer from an age old fault...... Engineering a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

    It takes me the same amount of time to pull my credit card out of my wallet and swipe it at a register as it does to pull out my phone and pay for something digitally. Most times I'm paid up and waiting while the person behind the counter is packaging my goods. Plus, the installed base of machines that accept my credit card is enormous. So, what problem are we solving with technology here? Security? I could explain why that's idiotic, but I don't think it will matter.

    Lots of time has been wasted here, and 5 years from now people will still wonder why the technology hasn't caught on..... Let me save you some effort trying to figure it out. There's no incentive for any merchant to utilize this. Customers aren't saving time using their phones at checkout counters. There's nothing new being provided that doesn't exist today. The existing process is more than adequate.

    Let's stop pretending these things matter.... Google Maps was a revolutionary application that made everyone's life easier, it saved everyone time and it provided a critical service in a small footprint that had never been provided before. Lots of technology has done this for humans over the past decade. No payment application is going to revolutionize anything, simply because the current system doesn't need revolutionizing.

    Move on.....

    Good luck!
    Jun 15, 2015. 10:06 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Seeking Alpha On Day 1 [View article]
    My ATM fees are waived with the account balance mentioned above (only in the US). Being out of country is another issue. However, I've been to 5 different countries in the last month or so and I haven't had any problems.....

    I guess I'm just a little surprised I never see these guys mentioned. You can boil this entire website, and the entire investing principle, down to 1 simple premise; comparative analysis. I think it's important to take advantage of all free things offered to people in the world today, and for people that aren't I would question if they understand 'getting the best deal'. I understand 'a reputation' but I would encourage people to do the homework themselves, which is, again, very similar to investing. I divide my assets across various banks and I capitalize on deals. It's no different than with traveling and credit cards.

    Good luck!

    edit: Link
    Jun 11, 2015. 02:15 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The $936 Million Quirk In Bank Of America's Earnings [View article]
    Bank earnings and assets are extremely difficult to get to the bottom of. SFAS 159, the true value of assets that are not publicly traded (L2 and L3), whatever.

    The bottom line is, when interest rates go up BAC will become more profitable. The deposit base isn't going anywhere. On top of that, they have worked hard over the past few years to clear themselves of all their legal obligations.

    All of these financial institutions are in a much better place than they were in 2008. Both sides of the balance sheet have improved, assets are really assets and liabilities are knowable and coverable. Prices have moved on a lot of these names over the past month or so, but relative to some other sectors in the market there is plenty of value out there.

    Good luck!
    Jun 11, 2015. 01:59 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Seeking Alpha On Day 1 [View article]
    I'm not sure why people can't figure out the discount brokerage game..... I pay $0 for ~1500 free trades a year. That's with 2 of the largest banks in America too. All you need is $100k with BAC, spread across all your accounts so this should be very easy, and you get 100 free trades a month. I'm grand-fathered into the WFC PMA free trades and that is 100 a year per account. The account minimum, again across all accounts, is $25k.

    So with a book of $125k, that's checking, savings, retirement accounts, taxable brokerage accounts and even a percentage of your home loan if you have them with those institutions, you get all the free trades you could possibly use. You also have access to ATM's and branch's all over the country. I even saw BAML in Hong Kong and Singapore last month....

    The fact that people don't understand this is mind-boggling. I never see these institutions mentioned. It's strange.

    Good luck!
    Jun 11, 2015. 12:55 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Bank Of America: The Rally Begins [View article]
    "Regulation has been a drag on earnings for the past 7 years banks, but it was essentially an investment in capital and investors are better off for it. "

    One of the better statements I've read considering the capital structure/regulation dynamic. People get all emotional about regulation, but people should acknowledge the benefit this has had on the risks inherent to commercial banking companies (which SHOULD be a laughable statement).

    I see you mention Harvard in your profile, so I'm sure you've read plenty of Michael Porter......... Chalk this one up as another 'sometimes increased regulation is better for business'. Reading is fun.

    Good luck!
    Jun 8, 2015. 12:37 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 3 Of Seeking Alpha's Best [View article]
    This place is starting to get weird.......

    Good luck!
    Jun 7, 2015. 06:51 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment