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  • Whole Foods Market increases focus on value brand [View news story]
    Tricky: You're right that they don't have as extensive a line as many grocery stores--and far less than Walmart super. But they never did and that was never their goal. And their customers knew that the minute they walked in the store for the first time. Nor does Costco, Trader Joe's, Fresh Market and many others including every food coop in the country (and most of the Whole Foods have a larger range of products than any of those). A lot of people focus on the organic nature but I always thought of them as more of a gourmet outlet, with a focus on organic. If you want to see high prices go into the typical food coop. Go into Whole Foods at lunch and you will see a huge crowd buying salad bar, pizza by the slice, sushi, etc and I'm not sure organic has anything to do with those customers being there. Don't know Wegmans or HEB (seems like I went into one in San Antonio long ago and was impressed with their wine selection)--but competition is good--it drives the A&Ps of the world out of business and forces the Whole Foods to improve and adapt--I think the 365 is part of that process.
    Aug 2, 2015. 11:52 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Whole Foods Market increases focus on value brand [View news story]
    Funny--all these comments and nary a comment about the 365 line of products. I assume that will be the backbone of the new concept. I mostly avoid generics but have found the 365 products as good or better than most name brands and at a lesser cost. They also seem to do well in product reviews in Consumer Reports and Cooks Illustrated. A lot of moaning about the prices at Whole Foods--check out the 365 line. I think it is a concept that might work and if it does it will result in adding more 365 products to their regular stores--great economies of scale and maybe margin expansion. Costco has been doing a lot or replacing name brands with their Kirkland brand with mixed results (to my taste buds). I think there is a lot of psychology in how each of us select our favorite grocery store/restaurant/wines... IS no accounting for taste. But as investors I think we need to do more than assume the rest of the world has tastes similar to our own.
    Aug 2, 2015. 10:15 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • It's Not Rocket Science: STAG Is Now Grossly Mispriced [View article]
    gstromb: Good idea and if the analyst can't be grilled it would seem that someone reading this article must know what that one analyst said in his sell report. Sell ratings are rare (and often dangerous for the analyst to make) so wouldn't it be valuable to know what he said?
    Jul 29, 2015. 10:55 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Unlikely Break Up Of Eurozone - One Crucial But Ignored Reason [View article]
    Marion: Even though there is some redistribution of taxes (and borrowings) among U.S. states, such as the location of military bases (think Georgia) and Federal employees (think Virginia and Maryland) and Social Security checks (think Florida) that still doesn't do away with all the problems that U.S. states (and territories) can get themselves into and need to get out of. U.S. states make most of their own decisions on things like state employee pensions, levels of taxation, teacher tenure, minimum wage laws, etc. So you see Puerto Rico, Illinois and California (just to name a few) with major financial problems in recent years that they need to fix--how different is the Illinois budget problems with that of Greece? Can Illinois devalue their currency? So I don't think it is "economically impossible" for the Euro to work--it just requires that countries live at a level that matches their level of production. My guess is that the pensions of Alabama government employees are a lot less generous than those of Oregon (and the cost of living is less to match it) . Not to say that it wouldn't work better if the Euro union developed some additional income redistribution along the lines used in the U.S.--and I think they are moving in that direction--it will just take time and maybe they don't have that time. My guess is Germans would be far more willing to accept some income redistribution among Euro countries, as compared to constantly being asked for more loans and loan haircuts.
    Jul 26, 2015. 11:44 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Amerco: The Security I Like Best [View article]
    Francisco: Do you know anything about the litigation accrual you mention?
    Jul 21, 2015. 06:14 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • No Growth, No Profit, No Problem [View article]
    Wolf: I always thought it would be great for SA to require all authors to answer the basic question when submitting an article--do you think the markets are efficient? Stock market. Bond Market. If the answer is no, then why do so few mutual fund/pension fund/hedge fund mangers outperform? If the answer is yes then what is the point of your article?
    Jul 20, 2015. 06:56 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Reflections On The Greek Tragedy [View article]
    Steven: I was making no case that Greece should stay in the Euro. My comment related to Bob's statement that a new currency and devaluation would solve their problems (or at least improve things). Based on their history, I don't think it will. Sometimes there are no good choices--staying or leaving the Euro might be equally bad if they don't make the tough decisions that they have avoided for the last 70 years. They seem to have a political/economic system stuck half way between communism and capitalism.
    Jul 19, 2015. 01:42 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Reflections On The Greek Tragedy [View article]
    Bob: I see many articles like yours that concludes with "Greece desperately needs a currency it can devalue". They had a currency they could devalue, for the 150 years before they joined the Euro --did it solve their problems? Obviously not or they wouldn't have joined the Euro in the first place. After reading scores of these articles over the last six months (but never having spent 16 days in Greece!) it seems obvious they have structural flaws that won't be remedied by a new currency--corruption across the board and a people who don't want to pay their taxes, just to name a few. Like Argentina and Venezuela they have been eating that free lunch and the bill is finally coming due (of course we could say the same about the U.S. who hasn't run a trade surplus in 50 years and has run up sovereign debt of $18 trillion--talk about free lunches).
    Jul 19, 2015. 07:29 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Pre-Earnings Look At Gilead Sciences [View article]
    I have wondered whether companies can buy back shares based on insider information. You seem to have no doubt that they are doing that. No "quiet period" for share buybacks?
    Jul 14, 2015. 07:46 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tax Efficient Large-Cap Portfolio Management System With Minimum Volatility Stocks Of The S&P 500 [View article]
    George: Your idea of tax efficiency is maybe unique. Paying a long term capital gain tax after holding the stock for 13 months is efficient only compared to a short term capital gains. And selling some 20% and paying a short term capital gain is just short of suicidal. If you want to be a market timer put them in your IRA and ignore the time period.
    Jun 29, 2015. 04:34 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ignore The 'Buffett Indicator' [View article]
    Todd: I have seen many articles and discussions on this topic over the years and your #2 comment is the first time I have seen any mention of the obvious flaw in the Indicator. Production of S&P 500 companies overseas are excluded from our GDP (but the profit is included as you say) and production of foreign corporations (non S&P 500 companies) that occurs in this country is included in our GDP but the profits are not included in the equation. My guess is that the information is available from the Federal Reserve or Commerce Dept and could be incorporated into an adjusted indicator. Since Buffett has to understand this issue at least as well as we do, maybe the Indicator is using adjusted numbers and all that is missing is a better explanation of the indicator.
    Jun 18, 2015. 11:08 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Portola's Lymphoma Drug Looks Good At ASCO [View article]
    DoctoRx: You use the term "overweight" for many of your positions. Mutual funds seem to use that term when comparing their holdings against an index (that they use to compare their performance with). Does the term have any specific measure within your portfolio?
    Jun 4, 2015. 11:22 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • My Attempt To Find The Best Healthcare Mutual Fund Since 2007 [View article]
    Dane: Don't think I will. Partially because after 15 years you can imagine the capital gains I would have to pay in the taxable account. Partially because I still think the Vanguard fund is a good one even though it might no longer be the best performer. What I have been doing is supplementing the Vanguard fund with individual health stocks--mostly in the biotech area--VGHAX seems a little heavy on pharma and light on biotech and maybe that accounts for some of their under performance in recent years. They might be right in the long run if biotechs correct.
    Jun 3, 2015. 03:54 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • My Attempt To Find The Best Healthcare Mutual Fund Since 2007 [View article]
    Dane: Great idea for an article. I also own the Vanguard Fund (since 2000) and it has been a great one but the assets have exploded. They now have some $52 billion and Morningstar says that is what will make it difficult going forward--they can't buy the small caps and have any impact on performance. Assets for your three picks range from $2 billion (FPHAX) to $10 billion (FSPHX). The Vanguard has 86% in large cap and your choices have between 64% and 83%. Am surprised that Vanguard hasn't closed their fund years ago
    Jun 3, 2015. 12:26 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Busting The Myth About Size [View article]
    bjb57: Sure, starting points matter--that's why I mentioned not only the 15 year numbers but pointed out the 3, 5 and 10 year out performance of small caps. For large caps the best you can do is point out the internet bubble period where the Cisco's of the world had PEs approaching 200--of course the two are related--the big large cap run up of 95-99 was undone in 2000-2002--so the latest 15 year numbers are a little overstated in favor of small cap. But that shouldn't affect the 3 and 5 year numbers. I don't think the author comes close to making a case about the small cap "myth", although I am guessing the impact of size has been reduced as investors pile into small caps (on the other hand they have piled into large cap looking for dividends).
    Jun 3, 2015. 12:01 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment