Thursday, January 08, 2009

Madoff Essentials

Did Madoff only just become a conman, or has he been conning us all his life. He has a very refined skill set which only comes from experience. The financial media is filled with stories about the current hedge fund problems.

How can we be sure that he has not screwed others in the past and just got away with it. It would be interesting to hear from people that he has crossed swords with in the past and get their take on Madoff Essentials.

GE Capital Smoke Screen

GE Capital (GE) wholly owned by General Electric made some interesting announcements. They bought Interbanca S.p.A., a leading Italian corporate bank, from Banco Santander. At the same time GE Capital also completed the sale of former GE Money businesses in Germany, Austria, Finland, its credit card and auto businesses in the UK, and its credit card business in Ireland to Santander.

No terms, conditions or valuations were disclosed. GE literally gushed about the acquisition and made no comment about the dispositions. These guys are money guys. GE knows how to count. But the investing public is not a party to any of the salient data.

Just as in any sports trade involving professional athletes you have to wonder who got the better of the deal. But without the price tag/valuations it’s just something more in the black box which no one can figure out.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Did Intel Disclose Or Just Titillate

Intel (INTC) issued a schizophrenically focused press release today. They announce revenues are down sequentially 20% and 23% looking at comparable quarters. Margin estimates are coming in around 55% which is at the lower range of expectations and R&D spending is down by 200 million. But wait Intel says they are now going into their quiet period and at the same time they are reviewing their quarterly results. Conference call scheduled for Jan 15, 2009.

This whole quiet thing is always a problem and Intel wanted to have the last word before the rumours start flying. They have painted themselves into a corner because to come out just one week after this announcement with major changes is incomprehensible. So for Reg FD and other regulatory purposes was this disclosure? It becomes quite the tar baby when you think through all the ramifications.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Callaway Does Something With uPlay

Callaway (ELY) announced an acquisition of uPlay. No terms and conditions were announced. So investors are flying financially blind as to how their capital is being used. The press release says that the deal will not have a material impact on 2009 earnings. But then they continue to say:

The acquisition of uPlay makes sense for us on several fronts, said George Fellows, President and CEO, Callaway Golf. We’ve said that we would look for acquisitions to help accelerate our growth, and the combination of uPlay with its innovative GPS platform and Callaway Golf’s technical leadership in club and ball development will do just that by creating incremental new business opportunities, while also enhancing golfers experiences on the golf course.”

But the acquisition will not have an incremental effect in 2009. Hmmm. They did conclude the press release by saying more information will be available on their upcoming conference call. Which means there is more information you need to know but we will tell you later. When does Reg FD come into play here.

Anyway the press release did not mention when the conference call is scheduled. So when I looked it up it seems to be on Jan 27, 2009 which is a full three weeks and one day away. 

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Secret Currency of Love

Interesting book launch this week called "The Secret Currency of Love" by Hilary Black. Some of the comments in the trailer knocked my head back a little. Money and emotions are the most complicated dynamic. This book seems to scratch the surface.

So if you are ranting to your wife or girlfriend (or both) about something in the stock market you might have a few things to think about. Because apparently they are thinking in ways that you probably do not understand.

I guess I just assumed most of my readers are male. Hmm Anyway here is the link: Book available this week everywhere it seems. Buy and read. Quickly

The last taboo finally revealed:

Financial Skeptic on Kindle

Newstex just sent me a notice that this blog and probably others are now live on Kindle. Kindle is an amazing electronic reading device distributed by Amazon (AMZN) When you check Amazon's site the Kindle reader is sold out which I think means its hot. Here is the salient quote from Newstex

"Amazon - Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device - Newstex is pleased to announce that Amazon has chosen Newstex's Blogs On Demand for distribution of Newstex blogs for purchase on the Kindle. We will be rolling this out over the next few months.

How do Blogs work on the Kindle? Unlike reading blogs on your PC, Kindle blogs are downloaded onto Kindle so you can read them even when you're not wirelessly connected. And unlike RSS readers which often only provide headlines, blogs on Kindle give you full text content and images."


Apple Lacks Bench Strength

Apple (AAPL) investors are unsettled with Steve Jobs admission of medical issues. We probably do not know the full extent of the issues. Confidentiality plays a vexatious role. Also when dealing with medical issues not everything is a certainty. Just talk to any doctor and ask for a 100% guarantee for anything. You will not get it.

The real issue with Apple and Steve Jobs is his iconic status. While the C suite executives are important you should not be tied so dramatically to the health of one individual. When you create value the implicit assumption is that it will be enduring. Apples board of directors and major investors should start insisting on meaningful succession plans for all key positions.