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  • Windstream (WIN +0.6%) directors Samuel E. Beall and Carol B. Armitage recently bought 30K and 1K shares, respectively. The purchases come as Windstream trades near its 52-week low amidst concerns its hefty dividend (current yield of 12.5%) isn't sustainable.  [View news story]
    These purchases are barely worthy of reporting and and are not remarkable nor inspire confidence particularly from Ms. Armitage who received $121K of $201K in cash of her total non-employee director 2012 compensation.

    What would be more remarkable is if public Boards of Directors would approve compensation for executives at a reasonable proportion to the lowest paid employee in the corporation and more importantly to growth profitability and not how peers in similar positions are compensated. This latter compensation standard is a deleterious concept which promotes mediocrity and a club environment instead of a competitive and excellent management.
    Apr 1, 2013. 05:20 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • ConocoPhillips (COP) CEO Ryan Lance received ~$19.3M in total compensation in 2012 following his ascension to the top spot, a nice raise from the $5.9M he received in 2011 as senior VP of exploration and production. COP says increased base pay levels for Lance and several execs "are linked to their expanded leadership roles following the spinoff."  [View news story]
    One of the reasons the retail investor does not trust Wall Street and Washington regulators is the unbridled greed of executives who dismiss their fiduciary relationship.

    It is simply horrific that the authorities allow executives and obsequious Boards of Directors to loot shareholder funds with impunity and not serve prison terms like common criminals. Particularly for public corporations this is simply well-orchestrated white collar crime.
    Mar 29, 2013. 12:35 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Annaly's Management More Concerned About Its Compensation Than The Spread?  [View article]
    One of the reasons the retail investor does not trust Wall Street and Washington regulators is the unbridled greed of executives who dismiss their fiduciary relationship.

    It is simply horrific that the authorities allow executives and obsequious Boards of Directors to loot shareholder funds with impunity and not serve prison terms like common criminals; particularly so when there is a lack of performance and benefit to share owners.
    Mar 20, 2013. 11:36 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A dispute between an Indiana farmer and Monsanto (MON) over soybean seeds will be heard next week at the Supreme Court. At issue is how long MON can claim patent protection for its genetically engineered seeds, but it isn't just the agriculture world that's nervous about the outcome. Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL) have filed briefs saying a ruling against MON would "eviscerate" their patent protection.  [View news story]
    Patents should be granted for a reasonable time to reward the original creativity and repay the investment. However, patents should expire in a reasonable time to promote access and lower costs. To allow companies, persons or their estates prolonged grants while particularly those who had no hand in the original creativity is poor public policy and not unlike the Rule Against Perpetuities in property law having been imposed to promote the fair distribution of wealth.
    Feb 15, 2013. 11:10 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Several Theories To Explain Apple's Nosedive  [View article]
    Apple management has been technologically savvy. No one can deny they are the best customer service tech company ever and their ecosystem has created a world class cash machine. But what they do not have is stock market savvy. They should be splitting their stock to allow the small investor to participate in the options market removing volatility from their stock price as a result of the whims of the large funds players. They should be buying back stock, simply announcing their intention to do so will help support the stock price. They should be using their incredible cash position to make strategic acquisitions and announce an intended dividend increase plan. To do so requires Board action; the members appear to be asleep at the wheel. Tim Cook undoubtedly a great supply line manager is apparently not share owner-oriented; he has no personal incentive to be so. For that matter, in the short-term, neither does the Board.
    Jan 30, 2013. 09:48 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Amazon Calls Out The iPad Mini: Is Apple Running Out Of Steam?  [View article]

    Yours is a good article. You provide insightful observations for discussion. As a retired exec let me offer the following mission of a GREAT company:

    1. To optimize profits;
    2. Provide quality product and/or services;
    3. Lead in the markets served;
    4. Provide exceptional customer service;
    5. Create a collegial, respectful and collaborative workplace;
    6. Compensate all employees well and fairly;
    7. Maximize shareowner value via share price and/or dividends;
    8. Maintain a dynamic and creative mindset throughout the organization;
    9. Improve, add and change products, services and procedures for the marketplace;
    10. Prioritize your customer or client.

    Using the aforementioned mission as a template how would you rank the companies mentioned in your article?
    Oct 29, 2012. 11:58 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • In The Wake Of Annaly's Downgrade, It's Time To Consider Alternative Options  [View article]
    Analysts bring little, if anything, to the table. They recommend buys AFTER stocks recently hit new highs and recommend sells AFTER stocks recently hit new lows. At best they serve as convenient references for brokers or financial columnists to motivate ignorant retail customers to act.

    Unless analyst recommendations and their personal or firm portfolios and positions are quantity, date and price detailed and open to the public, their recommendations are rubbish.
    Sep 13, 2012. 04:40 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Case Against An Apple Stock Split  [View article]
    Years ago stock splits were more common for a palpable reason. It was difficult and or costly to buy an odd-lot (less than 100 shares); therefore, the reason most often given for a split was to make a lower priced round lot more achievable. With the advent of discount brokerages, computerized trading and penny incremental pricing, odd lots are no longer an issue.

    Stock splits may provide some personal mathematical appeal and the allure of a possible runup in price but in realty a stock split maintains proportionate investor ownership. Nonetheless the split of a high-priced stock does allow odd-lot sellers the opportunity to dispose of a portion of a position instead of its entirety.
    Sep 6, 2012. 05:59 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Supervalu (SVU) says it's successfully completed two debt financing transactions, totaling $2.5B. The debt is structured in a new five-year $1.65B asset-based revolving credit facility, secured by the Company’s inventory, credit card receivables and certain other assets, and a new six-year $850M term loan, secured by a portion of the Company’s real estate and equipment.  [View news story]
    Wish them luck but you certainly do not build market share on higher prices and gimmickry. They are not the likes of Whole Foods or Costco nor can they compete with Wal-Mart, Target or ALDI. In Chicagoland, they compete more with Dominick's who have also lost their way. Grocery is a tough, hands-on business.
    One size does not fit all. Thus far upper management has been occupied with B-school notions instead of understanding their local markets and customers. Another round of financing is admirable if they can execute.
    Aug 30, 2012. 07:06 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Taking a page from one of its top suppliers, AT&T (T) is opening a giant flagship retail store in downtown Chicago. The store, which is more than 3x bigger than a typical AT&T retail outlet, is notable for featuring a Microsoft PixelSense table. AT&T currently has 2,300 stores in the U.S.  [View news story]
    But alas the number of cars in the lot could be a contrarian indicator. The customers may have been there as likely to complain about the poor customer service, wireless connectivity, the exorbitant and sneaky price increases, the lack of communication between AT&T retail, online and their vendors, their hold times, the times you have to repeat your case to poorly trained representives, and when online, sometimes in foreign countries who are awful communicators, the billing errors which take forever to resolve, the time it takes to have an independent contractor technician (formerly handled by employees) to resolve site issues, the inability to deliver the very services they inundate you with such as high speed Internet and U-verse and more.

    AT&T size has actually harmed their customers as top management focuses on quantitative instead of qualitative metrics. A bigger retail store does not matter as much as a bigger customer experience. Just ask an Apple customer.
    Aug 30, 2012. 06:25 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Procter & Gamble (PG) paid CEO Bob McDonald 6.1% less in 2011 than 20120, according to a filing with the SEC. The exec took home $15.2M in overall pay, with his straight salary held flat at $1.6M.  [View news story]
    Not impressed by the decline in pay. Public corporate CEOs are largely and widely overpaid, some of them grossly so, particularly those who cannot deliver consistent positive earnings growth and importantly a return for the owners of the company, the shareholders, in the form of share price or dividend increases.

    In fact executives and their lieutenants who cannot deliver results in a reasonable time should be dismissed including members of the Board of Directors who countenance those executives. The individual member of the Board should recall his or her fiduciary relationship to the shareholders trumps any political relationship to the executives.
    Aug 24, 2012. 06:30 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Chimera Sets Its Payout Through 2012, But Expands Its Accounting Snafu And Related Risks  [View article]
    Financial restatements and reporting delays generally portend deteriorating conditions and results. When managements are not immediately forthright and are instead opaque concerning their finances investors beware.
    Aug 13, 2012. 11:27 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Windows 8 and its dual interfaces represent a huge gamble, and some think it will backfire. Bronte Capital, worried the Metro UI won't function well with a keyboard and mouse: "This will wind up with a lower corporate take up rate than Vista." Valve CEO Gabe Newell, worried about Microsoft's (MSFT) proprietary approach: "Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space." Matt Rosoff: "Windows 8 is for touch screens. Period." Developer Jeff Atwood is "cautiously optimistic." (also: I, II, III)   [View news story]
    Microsoft succeeding operating systems have done little for users in terms of ease of use and seamless integration with hardware and legacy applications. Over the years they have launched disparate upgrades prematurely replete with bugs while maintaining the consistently outrageous attitude that users overpay for the privilege. There is no reason to believe that this condescending and poor product management DNA or user-unfriendly track record will change.
    Jul 28, 2012. 07:07 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Supervalu: Short-Term Challenges, Optimistic Long-Term  [View article]
    If the CEO did indeed short his stock ahead of the dividend cut his gains should not only be clawed back he should be criminally prosecuted. How does this differ from insider trading?

    It is long overdue that regulatory agencies enforce and Congress pass new laws if necessary to protect the public trust. This nation cannot condone executives of public corporations placing themselves ahead of shareholders who own the company. Huge salaries and outlandish bonuses and perks particularly when awarded for poor sales, earnings and market share make these executives no more than educated thieves who should be fired and incarcerated and all the monies returned to the corporation.
    Jul 13, 2012. 10:04 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The U.S. Supreme Cort agrees to hear an appeal by Comcast (CMCSA -1.5%) over a lower court ruling that allowed cable subscribers in Philadelphia to sue on a basis that the company monopolized the market and overcharged them. The case will be on the court's docket sometime this fall.  [View news story]
    Competition is the lifeblood of fair pricing. The Supreme Court must rule against Comcast if they have acted in a predatory manner. In the same vein the DOJ must police the telcommunications and other highly concentrated industries such as banking, credit card, oil, and airlines to name but a few of a growing number to assure competition for the protection of the public. Those companies at the the top of the food chain cry foul and speak of the benefits of economies of scale and the resultant benefit to the public when in practice and experience precisely the opposite occurs.

    Not breeding competition results in too-big-to-fail companies, greedy executives and boards of directors who gorge themselves at the public's expense, reduction and outsourcing of jobs and job opportunities, a net reduction in tax revenues to the country, skimping in quality and service and over-pricing and the deterioration of net worth and standard of living to the average American.
    Jun 25, 2012. 04:58 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment