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  • SolarCity's Operating Leases Will Lead To Lots Of Future Cash [View article]
    Galileo, nice article! Since I am both long SCTY and a Solar City customer (solar panels will be installed tomorrow), I not only believe in the company but in its future. I've bought into the Elon Musk vision of a solar world and look forward to watching it unfold. What is especially interesting is the synergy between Tesla Motors, developing battery technology, and Solar City. Today, all of Solar City's systems are "on-grid", which means that the power company acts as the "battery," storing excess power generated and supplying generating shortfalls. My guess is that within five years, most of these systems will be "off-grid," using Tesla's batteries. Of course, the power companies are running in tight little circles trying to stop all this - good luck! Solar City will reap the benefits, offering existing customers off-grid upgrades. And perhaps Tesla Motors will offer discounts on their cars. I'm in line!
    Aug 20 10:44 AM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Fiscal Cliff: QE Slayer [View article]
    Last night I watched a session of the House Armed Services Committee taking testimony from high ranking military and DOD leaders on "sequestration," which is the formal term for the fiscal cliff. What amazed me was the relatively nonchalant attitude of the few (probably fewer than 20) House members versus the obviously concerned attitude of over 100 DOD members.

    The military/DOD said that there is no logical, reasonable way to do this - over 9600 contracts, including some multi-billion dollar ones, would have to be re-negotiated, affecting almost every corner of our economy.

    The House committee members replied that it's not their fault - the House is doing its job in trying to find a solution, but the Senate and Administration are the culprits! ... and it's too late to do anything before the elections anyway because we go on recess tomorrow!!!

    There you have it!
    Sep 23 09:17 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 5 Reasons Why This Long-Time SolarCity Bull Is Nervous [View article]
    Last week I signed the lease docs for a Solar City residential system. No cash up front, 33% savings on electricity based on today's rates and very conservative estimates, 100% warranty on all components and a performance guarantee for the 20-year lease term. The only downside is that it will take about 4 months to install. My sales person said this is due to the time it takes to get permits and clearances for what is a major construction project. In my area, Arizona, they are very aggressively pursuing residential business backed by the GS $500 million fund announced a few weeks ago. I'm very optimistic about their business plan and plan to go long after it sells off a bit. I've been holding a few bear put spreads since it peaked a couple of weeks ago.
    Jun 5 07:51 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 2 Strategies Solar Is Fighting Over - Which Will Win? [View article]
    After "considering" solar for the last decade, I bought an on-grid system from SolarCity last week.
    - my average monthly electricity bill will fall from $150 to $98
    - the system has a full 20 year warranty
    - no upfront cash outlay
    - constant remote monitoring of the system

    As a consumer, I agree with Mr. Rive's statement - I don't care whose panels they are or what the technology is as long as they keep working as advertised. Although I think SCTY has gotten a bit ahead of itself, I believe this is the solar stock to own in the long term because of their business philosophy and Elon Musk's leadership. Now I'm just waiting for Mr. Musk to come up with an affordable EV. If the lease terms are similar to my solar system - free transportation!
    May 24 09:08 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Amazon Doesn't Want To Be More Like Apple, It Wants To Be More Like [View article]
    I think there's another angle to these new Kindles and that's advertising and marketing. What do Americans do best? - innovate (AAPL) and market (AMZN). Marketing is getting you to buy something you didn't know you needed, and this is done through advertising. But we're bombarded with so many ads, we subconsciously turn them off - UNLESS they are relevant to us. Who would have thought Google could make money off of advertising, but they made the ads relevant to their users. A couple of years ago I noticed that when I sent or read emails in my gmail account, ads appeared which were related to keywords in my text! So, an adbot in real time sends me what I am more likely to pay attention to.

    Amazon has also been using Google Search to promote itself. Try googling something you want to buy. The search may come back with 23 million hits, but Amazon will always be on the first page. Whatever Amazon pays for that service is worth it - most of us don't go past the first couple of pages.

    Now, suppose the Kindle becomes your favorite device, with all your movies, books, music, etc. on it. Although it sounds like a conspiracy theory, I would guess that Amazon Marketing would have access to all the information it can derive from knowing what's on your Kindle, and can customize the "Special Offers" for you. They've gotten you to pay for a device which gives them a conduit to your brain, and probably charge their advertisers a premium for such directed ads! Brilliant!
    Sep 10 04:55 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Arena Pharmaceuticals Weight Loss Drug Lorcasersin Approved By The FDA [View article]
    Douche - yours is probably the most intelligent comment I've seen on ARNA, mainly because it agrees with my own point of view :) Obesity, like smoking, is, for the vast majority of people, a voluntary and self-inflicted problem. Despite many possible remedies, obese people choose to remain obese. Sure, it's easy to blame the problem on commercials, fast food, big portions, your mother, etc., but it's really a matter of will. The latest "magic pill" is no more than another fad. I agree sales will probably spike initially, but as people realize they still have to do the exercise and diet thing, which they should have been doing all along, they will give up.

    As for making money on the stock, I have to admit I got really lucky Wednesday morning. I am a long-time options trader and was amazed when I looked at the IVs on the June 29 puts and calls - 600-700, higher than I have seen anywhere anytime! With ARNA trading just below 9 at the time, I guessed that it might move 50% up or down and sold puts at 3, 4, and 5 strikes and calls at 13, 14, and 15 strikes. Admittedly a big risk if ARNA took off like some thought it might, but it now looks like all my options will expire worthless.
    Jun 28 08:01 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • If You Own This Tech Giant, Then It May Be Time To Sell [View article]
    I think the larger B&M stores like WalMart and Target will sharpen their pencils, beef up their on-line capabilities, and sell the advantages of buying local.

    Amazon's future growth is totally dependent on the on-line consumer, a really fickle and non-loyal SOB, like me! For stuff I buy regularly, I stick with brands I can trust and with a few clicks can get the best price. For instance, I just bought some creatine from Amazon for 2/3 of what WalMart charges. I don't think this bothers the WalMarts and Targets of the world, but as Amazon gets into physically larger items, things change. Sure, I can get free shipping and maybe no sales tax on a queen-size mattress or washing machine, but what happens if it breaks? Do I need to keep the shipping crate in my garage in case I have to send it back? What does a "20-year guarantee" on a mattress really mean, especially if you are ordering from a third-party supplier that you've never heard of? Thanks for the offer Amazon, but those kinds of things I will continue to buy locally.
    Jun 5 01:36 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Making Sense Of Amazon's Market Value [View article]
    "Wall Street loves Amazon and will use any model it can to justify its valuation."

    Yup, I believe that's the way it works. You can replace "Amazon" with CMG, PCLN, CRM or several other unique names. "Wall Street" consists of large trading houses, hedge funds, banks and their mouthpieces, the analysts, all of whom gain from higher prices. The more unique a company's business model is, the easier it is to invent some novel way of pumping up its share price. And we sheep go, yeah, sure, that makes sense - I'd better buy another 100. I wish I could remember some of the ridiculous metrics Wall Street came up with during the dotcom bubble to justify soaring prices of companies that had nothing more than an untested, unproven idea!

    I can't wait to see what Wall Street will come up with to pump up Facebook over the next couple of months - after all, FB's PE is only half of AMZN's!
    May 20 12:22 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • 'One More Thing' About Apple [View article]
    Rocco - your article is a good reminder of how important it is for investors to keep emotions out of investing. In my younger days I had a sign on my desk, "Don't follow your dick into Hell!" The theme was a bit different, but the idea was the same - we create our own Hell and then we have to live in it.

    For fanboys and bashers who quote endless streams of numbers justifying their positions, I recommend three books that have helped my investing immensely:

    The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb
    The Crowd by Gustave Le Bon
    Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Dummies by Wilson and Branch

    ... all available as e-books from Amazon.

    CBT helps you look inside your head to better understand your behavior and belief systems. Since I have always had problems with "authority figures," I came to realize that Mr. Market was just another authority figure that I had to deal with. CBT has helped me stop over trading my account based on what I'm sure a stock "has" to do.

    I enjoy your articles a bunch!
    Apr 28 02:40 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Jobsian Reflection In Google's Glass [View article]
    I believe two major game-changers for mobile computing, and maybe computing in general, are user interfaces: voice recognition and displays. Voice recognition is well on its way and I would hope would be a major input option for all devices in the near future. As for displays, I've often wondered why each device we use has to have its own display. Displays add to the cost and size of the device, reduce battery life and are difficult to see in bright sunlight. Obviously a remote HD display would require a lot of bandwidth but low-res images like icons and text would work fine with today's technology. I think Glasses will take off and its offspring may well give device manufacturers a cheaper "non-display" option to sell.
    Apr 6 05:01 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple And The Difference Between Pinning And Open Interest Max Pain [View article]
    Good stuff Travis! I've been trading options for a long time, but this is something I know very little about. How can I learn more?
    Jan 2 05:04 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Searching for Gains With Yandex and Baidu [View article]
    I too am long YNDX and bought the stock after talking with a friend who works there. The company's future depends on attracting and keeping the best and brightest, and YNDX has concentrated on providing an all-inclusive work environment that encourages productivity by making it easy to work 24/7 when the employee wishes. He also mentioned that YNDX is very strong in Turkey and has targeted Turkish search as a key market.
    Aug 2 08:23 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Amazon Is Way Too Risky For Your Portfolio [View article]
    Seems to me Amazon is playing a very risky game in their core business, e-retail. I see Walmart as the sleeping giant that Amazon keeps poking at. The first of many possible future reactions was the removal of Kindles. Walmart already has warehousing around all cities and most rural areas and a state-of-the-art distribution network, all of which Amazon is desperately trying to build up. What would it take for Walmart to attack Amazon in e-commerce? Probably little more than a marketing and ad campaign. Pay
    Google some more so that searches always present Walmart ahead of Amazon, clean up the website a bit, email weekly promotions, focus on local service and support for big-ticket items, etc. - wouldn't take much to get everyone's attention.
    Sep 28 02:41 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Sell Amazon - Even The New Kindle Doesn't Warrant Sky-High Valuations [View article]
    $vix, I don't believe in any of these conspiracy theories about WS supporting their buddy Bezos or "manipulation." It's all about money, and if they could make it shorting AMZN, they would turn around in a flash. I agree with the author's thesis - for right now, being long AMZN is the way to make money, regardless of logic, fundamentals or outcries from AMZN shorts. Kind of reminds me of when I was a newbie salesman for IBM in the mid-70s. IBM owned the hardware market at that time. Their success was due to the fact they had people believing that, even though IBM might not be the best choice, it was never the wrong choice!

    For AMZN to drop seriously, there has to be a crack in the dike. Bad earnings or rising PE obviously won't do it - when they announced lower Q2 earnings and forecast a loss for Q3, the price shot up and stayed up. I'm afraid that if they post a Q3 loss but beat reduced expectations, the price will once again take off!

    Perhaps the "crack" is Goldman's removal of AMZN from its basket of preferred stocks, which is essentially a downgrade. If other analysts follow with downgrades on valuation, I think the "hedge-herd" will quickly head for the exits. But unless this happens within the next week or so, fund window-dressing will probably push the price up even further.

    I'm short AMZN via puts (probably way to many!)
    Sep 14 03:04 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Amazon: Putting In A Little Irrationality [View article]
    Paulo, back to the original irrationality theme: AMZN's price has been pushed up this week due to rumors of multiple Kindles and even a smartphone hitting the market soon. Seems to me the best companies stick to their core businesses. The first Kindle Fire may have been that, but it's successors plus the smartphone seem to be efforts to compete head-on in an ever more competitive market. The market seems to be cheering these efforts, but I can't see how these new products will do anything but increase costs.

    Aug 25 03:42 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment