Monday, October 28, 2019

Watching televised baseball today...

Other than the tendency of a baseball game to have its slow points, something has changed.  In league championship games and the World Series those times can be minimized by the excitement of having a favored team, usually.  Why are the announcers driving me to distraction, aka nuts?  Here's the thing.

Technology has enabled the monitors that feed them their lines to get into the minutia of baseball history in a way that is close to absurd.  "Yes, that was the first time since the 1959 World Series that a left handed hitter hit a bunt single off a left handed pitcher in the top of the ninth inning in a game four."

"You're right Joe, it was Eddie Slaughter, the nephew of the fabled Enos "Country" Slaughter.  What a character Enos was, so many stories, maybe later. You know Eddie hit that bunt single despite having an intensely burning case of jock itch, so bad that he had hoped to make an out.  They even had a dermatologist in the tunnel treating him between innings."

"Got you. On top of that did you know that the dermatologist got his MD at Washington University in St. Louis and he practices in Houston.  Reminds me of the Series today, you know, Washington beat St. Louis to get to the final to play Houston."

"What a coincidence. What goes around comes around. Didn't they have Tinactin then?"

"Back to the game, it looks like he will throw a slider just off the plate.  It's a home run.  Do you believe that?  Almost a line drive, straight to center, 440 feet.  That's the first time since the 1969 Series that a ball hit that low went that far."

"Slider, do they have a White Castle concession here?  Maybe someone could grab an eight pack between innings.  This could be long one."

"Tom, you've got some jokes going tonight.  Sounds good though.  What a great game."

Postscript:  Watched the first three innings of the World Series last night, checked back in the fifth for a minute, and then luckily put my book down and turned it back on at the beginning of the 7th inning.  Finally an exciting game, especially as my favorite from the beginning had been Washington, absent the Mets who at least gave it a good try this year.  The announcers and their script providers were totally unprepared and just kept repeating the same thing over the most of that time about the Astros pitching rotation miscalculation, same over and over...

Friday, October 25, 2019

Unusually significant moves up or down on earnings reports...

In the last week, there have been huge reactions, negative or positive, when companies have reported unexpected earnings.  Stocks like Ebay, Nokia, Bud, and Twitter down almost beyond reason, while Paypal jumps dramatically after some earlier pullback.  Normal pruning or adding going on here, although did add to Nokia on its radical decline.  Mistake, maybe, but its balance sheet look fine, even if income statement is not so robust.  It does make money, but invests heavily in 5G. 

Amazon bounced well after an earnings report well below analyst expectations that led the morning market commentators to make dire comments.  The company's history of investing now and letting the stock take care of itself is so well known that the actual investors brushed off the news, at least for now. 

So on to the World Series tonight in the nation's capital. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Is this finally it? and other thoughts...

---Forget about the impeachment hearings and the information being uncovered there.  Forget about the ridiculous actions in Ukraine led by Trump and his foolish camera ready henchman Guiliani.  Drop the focus on Trump also calling on China to investigate the hapless ne'er do well Hunter Biden.  In starting a new war in the Middle East, Trump has trumped himself.  His thoughtless and uninformed decision, made in a mere phone call, to trust that the Turkish autocrat Erdogan would preserve stability in Syria as the U.S. withdraws has led to a full scale attack on the Kurdish population.  These U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS and vicious elements of the Assad's Syrian autocracy had been staunch and capable partners.  Now Russia is back in again, likely supporting Erdogan and Assad, and at least 150,000 Kurds have been displaced in the last week.  The number of casualties is unclear at this time.

Sound complicated?  Has anything in the Middle East ever been simple?  In just a week's time, an offhand decision by Trump not vetted by the military or the professionals in the State Department(which clearly excludes Pompeo who has been at a Christian leadership conference in Nashville) has turned recent relative stability into chaos. If he is interfered with, Erdogan is now threatening to send another wave of migrants into Europe, notwithstanding the country's membership in NATO.  The assault on the Kurdish areas is massive and ongoing.  Executions of Kurd fighters have been filmed, too gruesome for network television.  By the time any truce has been arranged by Trump, the avowed peacemaker, the damage will be done.  Mike Pence has been dispatched to resolve the crisis.  Nitwit to the rescue!

---There is another Democratic debate tonight, if this is what these gaggles of cross talking aspirants can be called.  Biden will be in focus as a result of Trump's repeated attacks on him and his son.  Sanders general health will be watched.  Warren will likely intensify her attacks on successful American companies.  In fact, the airing of this debate had been overlooked here until a few hours ago.  Watching baseball still may be attractive, if this team from Washington is capable.  Should the obvious comment be made?

---The Showtime series "The Circus:  Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth" is generally entertaining, at times insightful.  The next episode will be a challenge.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Thoughts on October 9th --- age, luck, intuition...

---Not to be morbid, but there are days, not infrequent, when one of the most interesting parts of the New York Times are the obituary pages.  There are lengthy obits of people not so well known but important, with plenty of history to cover.  Today there is Beverly Watkins, an Atlanta based blues guitarist who worked since the 1950's with bands backing various blues and soul artists, and played in bars at nights for many years while "cleaning houses and offices and working at carwashes during the day".  She had her first album at 60, and won an award for best new artist at age 62.  Another is about Gunter Kunert, unknown here, who was an East German writer of satiric novels who was allowed by that government to spend 1972 as a guest professor at the University of Texas.  Calling himself a "cheerful melancholic", he later emigrated to the U.S. and taught at several other colleges.  Then there is Wayne Fitzgerald who spent a successful career making the opening sequence of movies and t.v. shows, including some of the most famous soap operas, no doubt watched by my grandmother, her "stories".  The most fascinating one today is about Pierre Le-Tan, a Paris based artist who did everything from "The New Yorker" covers to advertisements for chic French brands, covers for books by well known writers, and paintings that hang in museums in Europe.

Only very rarely do I find an NYT obit of someone that I personally knew, but at times of people that are related to others that I had contact with, often in business.  My age must have something to do with these observations?

---Along that tangent, while watching the financial and market news these days I occasionally notice people that are related to people that have been part of my circle in the past.  Today that observation was almost certain.  A fund manager at a mid-sized but highly regarded asset management firm was being interviewed on CNBC this morning.  Her parents worked at MHT.  Her last name matched.  She looked like her mother, good thing, and hair was identical.  She had the slight but unmistakable accent of someone who grew up in Minnesota.  I listened to her comments carefully as my inclination was that she was astute.  Another example, a senior fund manager at a major east coast asset manager is related to friends from the 1970's.  I never knew him, but I was making a pitch at this firm when he was much younger and in attendance with others.  Researching today a company based in Louisville, I noticed that his firm was one of the major holders.  Guess he should have some long term insight?

That said, there are some investors still around that were known relatively well;  Miller, Danoff, Pohl,  Gendell, to a lesser extent Cooperman and a few others. Watching what they do is of interest, but not necessarily what is followed.

---The financial markets remain volatile, and unpredictable as a whole.  Investors and analysts on news programs have opinions:  "Europe is where to invest now";  "Value stocks are back";  "Emerging market bonds are an opportunity, or not";  "Health care is a demographic imperative, must buy";  "Small caps are dangerous, no flexibility in a downturn";  and on and on.  Only thing to do is invest in personally researched companies and ignore the chatter, my thought for the day.  BUT, dry powder is important as is diversification.  These are just reminders to myself, back to that age thing!

Luck helps. I like to call that intuition

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Whatever... ramblings off my medication

---So called "senior economics reporter" Steve Leischman on CNBC today lauded stocks with substantial buybacks and solid dividends, as did a previously unheard of portfolio manager who said that her portfolio was recession proof because of that approach.  Hmm, nothing those companies can think of to reinvest in?

---On the same channel, Jim Cramer used the decline today of Stitch Fix(SFIX) as an example indicative of a pending economic and market downturn.  An unattractive market may be developing, the last two days certainly have been brutal, but SFIX is not indicative of anything.  It is a made to order apparel company that identifies as a technology company.  Katrina Lake is a charismatic leader who can charm some investors, but opinion here is that it is a hustle, if not a hoax.  Charmed two years ago here, rode some ups and downs until finally getting out breakeven and wasting time.  Almost sounds like a relationship!

---The HBO program "Succession" continues to be a compelling and perplexing fictional drama.  It's clearly based on a Rupert Murdoch type character and associated family members, sans a Wendy.  Oh well.  The number of characters to follow can become daunting, but the financial wheeling and dealing is realistic at times.  That was watched last night while taking a break from the Washington and Milwaukee wild card game, a perfect break as the real tension in that game was the last two innings.  Washington is my new team.

---Is anyone else annoyed by the Iphone software that does constant spell check on what is written.  Pauses are met by word guessing by the software which seems to be driven by words used, places seen, people mentioned, and phrases in former writing.  It is especially aggravating when, while quickly writing something, I only later see that spell check overrode what was intended.

---Payments system stocks invested in recently have seriously faded.  Buying the dip was ill timed.  The stocks remain attractive longer term.  My basis is not at this time.  Average down or wait?  Did add another today, PAYC, plus IBKR.  Go figure.