Archive for November 2013

Weekend Open Thread   10 comments

Another week (and month) bites the dust, so it is time for another weekend open thread! Discuss whatever you like here…

As for me, I am talking about the best musical ads! Specifically, my favorite ads which use well-known songs in them.

1. Nissan’s use of Van Halen’s You Really Got Me: I don’t think Van Halen could have made a better music video for this song. Funny and hot.

2. Microsoft’s use of Alex Clare’s Too Close: No, I still won’t use Internet Explorer or Bing. In fact, this commercial worked out better for Alex Clare than it did for Microsoft. Whoever heard of him before this commercial? This song was originally released in April 2011, but it didn’t become a hit until Microsoft picked it for the ad a year later.

3. Honda’s use of Heart’s Barracuda: This one gets the “overkill” award. Barracuda to advertise a van? I suppose if you are trying to say vans are cool, this may be the best way to do it. Still, it is hard to go completely wrong with this song in your ad.

Enjoy your weekend folks!

PORTFOLIO UPDATE: Amazingly, my portfolio soundly trounced the indexes today, going up 0.81%, aided by huge days in BIDU (+2.20%), NNVC (+5.38%), MSFT (+1.41%), and PVCT (+1.79%).

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Posted November 29, 2013 by edmcgon in Music, Open Thread, Portfolio

Photo of the day   Leave a comment

demotivational-irony-government1

(Hat tip to Id’s Ego for the pic)

Posted November 29, 2013 by edmcgon in Humor, Politics

Traders Corner   5 comments

For the third trading day in a row, the S&P 500 topped out at 1808. While that doesn’t fall within the definition of a “triple top”, I would call 1808 firm resistance until broken. However, there is nothing in the technicals to keep that from happening. But considering it is the last trading day of the month, and we have a mystery Federal Reserve meeting in a few weeks (“To taper, or not to taper…”), do you really feel comfortable betting on the bulls here?

The S&P 500 levels to watch today:

UPSIDE: 1808 (3 data points and the all-time high) and 1815 (top of the Bollinger Bands).
LAST CLOSE: 1807.
DOWNSIDE: 1802 (2 data points), 1800 (2 data points), 1797-1798 (2 data points), 1794-1795 (3 data points), 1790-1791 (2 data points), 1788 (November 18th’s low), 1782-1784 (3 data points), 1781 (20 day moving average), 1780 (November 14th’s low), 1777 (November 20th’s low), 1773-1775 (3 data points and October’s high), 1770-1771 (2 data points), 1764-1768 (5 data points), 1760-1762 (3 data points), 1752-1755 (2 data points), 1746-1747 (2 data points and the bottom of the Bollinger Bands), and 1740 (50 day moving average).

Posted November 29, 2013 by edmcgon in Daytrading, Investing, Market Analysis, Technical Analysis

Ed’s Daily Notes for November 29th   1 comment

Another month comes to an end, this time on a short trading day.

Bloomberg: Microsoft, Yahoo Upgrades Shows Snowden Won, Obama Failed

Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden succeeded where President Barack Obama couldn’t — getting Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) to upgrade computer security against hackers.

The companies are adopting harder-to-crack code to protect their networks and data, after years of largely rebuffing calls from the White House and privacy advocates to improve security. The new measures come after documents from Snowden revealed how U.S. spy programs gain access to the companies’ customer data — sometimes with their knowledge, sometimes without — and that’s threatening profits at home and abroad.

“These companies actively fought against numerous mechanisms that would have mandated far more secure data,” Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation in Washington, said in a phone interview. “Now they are paying the literal price.”

While Google (GOOG), Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook Inc. (FB) provide data to the government under court orders, they are trying to prevent the NSA from gaining unauthorized access to information flowing between computer servers by using encryption. That scrambles data using a mathematical formula that can be decoded only with a special digital key.

The NSA has tapped fiber-optic cables abroad to siphon data from Google and Yahoo, circumvented or cracked encryption, and covertly introduced weaknesses and back doors into coding, according to reports in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper based on Snowden documents. He is now in Russia under temporary asylum.

Nothing motivates companies like bad PR…

Motley Fool: Microsoft Should Be Scared to Death of Google’s Chromebooks

Speaking of Microsoft, the above article shows why the Steve Ballmer era can’t end too soon at Microsoft. The article references the following ad from Microsoft:

When I watch this ad, my first thought is, “Really? You’re advertising the competition fools!” Shining the spotlight on a low market share competitor is a recipe for disaster, even if your points are accurate. Mind you, I am not suggesting that Microsoft should ignore Chromebook, but don’t advertise it!

If Ballmer wasn’t retiring, I would seriously think about selling my Microsoft shares.

Seeking Alpha: China Search Leader Baidu Keeps Advancing

Above is link to a good article that summarizes China’s Baidu (BIDU) quite well. I was especially intrigued by this:

Baidu (BIDU) is China’s version of Google (GOOG) except that it’s being outpaced in growth by another tech rival called Qihoo 360 (QIHU), which is one of China’s fastest growing companies. Qihoo is quickly taking search market share away from Baidu and has already met its year-end goals in online traffic. Even so, Baidu is still the search leader in China and its stock is trading at a reasonable multiple while fundamentals are healthy enough for more gains.

While Baidu’s most recently reported third quarter revenues grew by 42.3 percent to $1.45 billion year over year, Qihoo’s revenues grew 124 percent for the same period. Baidu projects a 49.6 percent increase in revenue for Q4. Operating profit was up 1.2 percent to $545.4 million while net income inched up 1.3 percent to $498 million. The company’s marketing costs on mobile to compete with Qihoo increased by 115 percent from the previous Q3, following 77 percent and 83.5 percent increases in Q1 and Q2 respectively. Mobile advertising only accounts for 10 percent of the company’s search revenue. Baidu held onto 63 percent market share in desktop searches in the third quarter.

This begs the question of whether Qihoo is serious competition for Baidu, or just China’s version of AltaVista? Although the Seeking Alpha article above seems to take Baidu’s side, I am not so certain. The problem is that web search in China is still a growing industry, about where the U.S. was 10 years ago. It is real hard to pick a winner there. The only reason I lean to Baidu is that it’s search engine is very similar to Google’s, yet a bit smarter than Qihoo’s. For example, Baidu takes English-text searches, whereas Qihoo is limited to Chinese text. I know that isn’t a selling point in China, but it shows that Baidu is a little more advanced. But even with that, I will still say it is too early to call, mainly because Qihoo’s financials look pretty good. Both of these companies will be in the race as long as China’s search engine market keeps growing. It is when the market is saturated that the real winner will become apparent. Qihoo is not a bad play in the meantime.

Yahoo Finance: Fortune Magazine Names Genworth CEO Thomas J. McInerney to Its “Top 50 Business People” List

Good news for shareholders of Genworth (GNW):

Genworth Chief Executive Officer Thomas J. McInerney is recognized in this year’s Fortune rankings of 50 national senior business leaders. In naming McInerney, one of two Virginia-based chief executives on its fourth annual list, Fortune points out that “McInerney is only 11 months into the CEO job but has boosted profits 124% for the first nine months of 2013.”

I would add to what Forbes said by mentioning that Genworth grew earnings in the last quarter by 208% (year over year). In a quarter when revenues dropped over 5%, that is an impressive feat! With book value per share at $29.56, and the share price at the bargain basement price of $15.21, GNW is still a great deal for value investors.

Posted November 29, 2013 by edmcgon in News, Stocks, Technology

November 27th: Ed’s Daily Portfolio Summary   2 comments

BIDU: -0.04 to $162.99 ( -0.02% , 5.15% overall)–bought at $155.00
GNW: 0.07 to $15.21 ( 0.46% , 62.33% overall)–bought at $9.37
MSFT: 0.25 to $37.60 ( 0.67% , 12.41% overall)–bought at $33.45
NDZ: -0.02 to $8.24 ( -0.24% , -4.74% overall)–bought at $8.65
NNVC: -0.03 to $4.63 ( -0.64% , 82.28% overall)–bought at $2.54
PVCT: 0.04 to $0.84 ( 5.00% , -9.68% overall)–bought at $0.93
YHOO: 0.32 to $36.96 ( 0.87% , 53.04% overall)–bought at $24.15

OVERALL: +0.28%

Last reminder: Markets are closed tomorrow, so I will return on Friday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted November 27, 2013 by edmcgon in Open Thread, Portfolio

Traders Corner   9 comments

The first two days this week showed us something that doesn’t happen often in the S&P 500: In consecutive trading days, the S&P 500 had the same high (1808), the same low (1800), and the same close (1802). Are the bulls taking a breather, or is this as high as it goes? With volume as light as it is, I suspect we won’t know what the market’s next real move will be until next Monday, and even that might be a head-fake of new month activity. If you are concerned about December, today might be your best opportunity to sell.

The S&P 500 levels to watch today:

UPSIDE: 1808 (2 data points and the all-time high) and 1812 (top of the Bollinger Bands).
LAST CLOSE: 1802 (November 18th’s high).
DOWNSIDE: 1800 (2 data points), 1797-1798 (2 data points), 1794-1795 (3 data points), 1790-1791 (2 data points), 1788 (November 18th’s low), 1782-1784 (3 data points), 1780 (November 14th’s low), 1778 (20 day moving average), 1777 (November 20th’s low), 1773-1775 (3 data points and October’s high), 1770-1771 (2 data points), 1764-1768 (5 data points), 1760-1762 (3 data points), 1752-1755 (2 data points), 1746-1747 (2 data points), 1745 (bottom of the Bollinger Bands), and 1738 (50 day moving average).

A reminder to everyone: Obviously, the markets will be closed tomorrow for Thanksgiving. Also, don’t forget that Friday’s trading day will be shorter.

Posted November 27, 2013 by edmcgon in Daytrading, Investing, Market Analysis, Technical Analysis

Ed’s Daily Notes for November 27th   8 comments

Washington Free Beacon: Iran: White House Lying About Details of Nuke Deal

Iranian officials say that the White House is misleading the public about the details of an interim nuclear agreement reached over the weekend in Geneva.

Iran and Western nations including the United States came to an agreement on the framework for an interim deal late Saturday night in Geneva. The deal has yet to be implemented

The White House released a multi-page fact sheet containing details of the draft agreement shortly after the deal was announced.

However, Iranian foreign ministry official on Tuesday rejected the White House’s version of the deal as “invalid” and accused Washington of releasing a factually inaccurate primer that misleads the American public.

“What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action, and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham told the Iranian press on Tuesday.

Afkham and officials said that the White House has “modified” key details of the deal and released their own version of the agreement in the fact sheet.

Iran’s right to enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, is fully recognized under the draft released by Tehran.

The White House lied? No surprises there…

The key takeaway here is: What will Israel and the Arabs do? Neither of them will buy the argument that Iran will only enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. I would expect an Israeli strike on Iran within the next few months, with the Arabs assisting. Maybe it’s time to buy some oil companies?

France 24: Germ-killing nanosurface opens up new front in hygiene

This is the kind of technological innovation I love. It is simple to understand, and quite effective:

Imagine a hospital room, door handle or kitchen countertop that is free from bacteria — and not one drop of disinfectant or boiling water or dose of microwaves has been needed to zap the germs.

That is the idea behind a startling discovery made by scientists in Australia.

In a study published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, they described how a dragonfly led them to a nano-tech surface that physically slays bacteria.

The germ-killer is black silicon, a substance discovered accidentally in the 1990s and now viewed as a promising semiconductor material for solar panels.

Under an electron microscope, its surface is a forest of spikes just 500 nanometres (500 billionths of a metre) high that rip open the cell walls of any bacterium which comes into contact, the scientists found.

It is the first time that any water-repellent surface has been found to have this physical quality as bactericide.

Last year, the team, led by Elena Ivanova at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, were stunned to find cicada wings were potent killers of Pseudomonas aeruginsoa — an opportunist germ that also infects humans and is becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Looking closely, they found that the answer lay not in any biochemical on the wing, but in regularly-spaced “nanopillars” on which bacteria were sliced to shreds as they settled on the surface.

They took the discovery further by examining nanostructures studding the translucent forewings of a red-bodied Australian dragonfly called the wandering percher (Latin name Diplacodes bipunctata).

It has spikes that are somewhat smaller than those on the black silicon — they are 240 nanometres high.

The dragonfly’s wings and black silicon were put through their paces in a lab, and both were ruthlessly bactericidal.

Keep in mind, these surfaces are smooth to the human touch. The beauty of this is you could probably do it with any kind of hard substance, as long as you can manufacture it correctly. Since this is a naturally occurring quality, it would be difficult to patent it. However, a manufacturing process which creates this quality could be quite valuable. Watch for companies that do this in the near future.

Business Week: Yahoo Hired Katie Couric, but Is She Worth the Money?

Simple answer: No.

Mind you, I am not selling Yahoo because of this. CEO Marissa Mayer has made enough smart moves to offset this boneheaded move. This is what I call “outside of one box thinking, but inside another box”. Mayer is trapped in the tv news broadcast box with this move. It has been decades since a tv news personality sold the news broadcast, yet the tv networks still think this is how it is done, even as people quit watching their nightly news broadcasts. Mayer will learn this the hard way.

Fox News: Sony files patent for bizarre ‘SmartWig’ with vibrating sideburns

I totally don’t get this one:

Sony filed for a patent for a hairpiece with vibrating sideburns.

The SmartWig is jammed packed with sensors that vibrate on the user’s head to send them messages. The patent also says the wig may include special fibers that look natural and can change shape.

The hair-raising idea will monitor your health, give directions and could “be made from horse hair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair or any kind of synthetic material.”

The wig has already been tested on Sony employees who switched slides during a presentation by tapping their sideburns.

“‘One or two switch buttons may be provided under the sideburns of the wig, and the one or more buttons are connected to the external computer via a wireless connection,” the patent reads.

The SmartWig also has a built-in GPS chip and laser pointer.

If they replace the laser pointer with a “laser death ray”, they might have something…

Posted November 27, 2013 by edmcgon in Market Analysis, News, Technology