Friday, November 29, 2019

Timely real world observations...

An advertisement shown during yesterday's NFL game had Cardy B endorsing Pepsi.  Health food I guess, beverage for the masses.  She points out that not only do you get that great soda, but also on every can there are numbers that can be checked on the internet for cash prizes.  According to Ms. B, cash is the only gift worth receiving during this holiday season.  So let me get this straight.  Pepsi cans are Lotto tickets?  Now that's a winner.  Somehow I don't think Michael Bloomberg would approve.

The halftime show, a Dallas tradition that could be compared to the Super Bowl, had the English pop singer Ellie Goulding singing in a slightly twangy Nashville style voice and wearing a bizarre hat that concealed her face much of the time.  Social media pounced on that, and she will be immortalized for wearing a lampshade.  She was surrounded on a multi-level stage by more Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders than anyone knew existed, no doubt spawned especially for this easy on the eyes extravaganza.

Currently the Bad Boy Mowers Battle of the Atlantis in Nassau is a college basketball event.  Any company with the dough can sponsor anything.  Living in New York, I would never have known about Bad Boy Mowers without this tournament.  No problem now.  I wonder if they are faster than the one George Jones rode on the country highways for his shopping trips?

Would I refer to the President as a putz face?  Would I call the Vice President a bootlick?  Would I call Hannity a blockhead?  Would googly eyes be a reference to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin?  Would Elaine Chow be called, no, not even going there.  Hey, I would do none of that!  I was President of the National Honor Society in High School and none of those slurs would be presidential.

Thursday, November 21, 2019


---Treme is being watched via Netflix, halfway through Season 2 with more coming in the 4 Season series that was on HBO.  The television film is a montage of stories in post Katrina New Orleans.  It began in 2010 and was filmed primarily in New Orleans, with a few variations as one character moves to New York for a job and others venture in and out of Houston.  The stories and characters can be of varying interest, each to their own, but the music is a consistent positive force.  The primary actors are well known, but most of the musicians are the real thing, well known for their music.  Even some of the actors are musicians as Wendell Pearce learned to play the trombone for his role and the exceptional Lucia Micarelli is a Julliard trained violinist, a Korean Italian from Queens, New York. Among other roles she played with Jethro Tull and the Honolulu Symphony.

Other actors include John Goodman, Melissa Leo, and Steve Zahn, whose character or his acting are consistently obnoxoius, can't decide which.  This show was a collaboration between David Simon and Eric Overmayer.  Simon was the primary force behind "The Wire", and Overmeyer had joined into that during the series.  The references to New Orleans habits, customs, celebrations, and food are genuine from my perspective, although looking at reviews from that time a critic named Rolf for the Atlantic mostly panned it.  Guess that's a positive!  Treme is a treat to watch again.

---The last few nights on TCM have had some classics of the late 60's and early 70's, when those in college had time to see them and talk about them.  Among them were Serpico, Cool Hand Luke, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, and Klute.  Having almost completely forgotten McCabe and Mrs. Miller,  watching and listening(Leonard Cohen score) last night was so mesmerizing that I forgot to watch the debate.  A blessing?

---Seemingly dominating the news, the house impeachment hearings, while important, are a grinding bore most of the time to watch.  Watergate had more interesting characters and the Clinton/Monica hearings more unattractive ones on all fronts, but this is just really serious business.

---Tonight's Thursday NFL game, Houston vs. Indianapolis, has possibilities for distraction if it's competitive and the referees aren't picky ones that like to see their flags on the field constantly.  Sometimes they can seem like needy attention seekers.

And that's my 2 cents worth, for real, not a politician who says that and purposely conflates it with 2%.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Interesting combination?

Recently there has been media commentary about Berkshire Hathaway, and Warren Buffett's $128 billion hoard of cash equivalent reserves. There is speculation about what next?  Will he make a major investment in a public company, buy a company outright, or return a massive amount of capital to shareholders. In this market there are few of the obvious deep value investments that he always aspires to do.  Few companies are troubled enough to need a bailout, and the stock market keeps melting up.  My question?  Would he buy Fidelity Investments, a private company that was founded by and has always been controlled by the Johnson family in Boston.  As is well known, it the largest discount broker by far, and has a significant institutional business as well.  They are every investment bank underwriter's most desired partner.  Goldman Sachs knows Buffett and Fidelity well, based on past interactions, and would be a probable underwriter that would accommodate Buffett's need with reasonable fees.

Charles Schwab is a public company and has a current market value of $56 billion.  In recent months that stock, SCHW, was under pressure so on October 9th a position was started here, with a few additions after.  At this point, 30 days later, it is up 17%.  Something is going on in that sector it seems.  In a certain sense as it continues to grow, Fidelity will almost necessarily need to become a public company to satisfy family interests and provide more liquidity for their former and current employees.  Are the winds of change pushing Schwab higher?

This would be a complex transaction.  How it could unfold is just a guessing game, but it could be worked out.  IPO, investment combination?  Just a thought here.  A guess would suggest that the market value of Fidelity could be twice that of Schwab.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Did you know that...

---Some recent photographs from the past have been unearthed and posted on Facebook due to an iPhone upgrade.  Those upgrades are done automatically, with some warning, and most are routine.  A recent one added capability to the iPhone 7s that allows older photos to be significantly altered, in many cases improved.  In particular this applies to photos that were taken on settings that made the photo too dark, or without enough contrast.  It's sort of amazing.  Unusable photos come alive and routine photos become special.  No fees have been received from Apple for this comment.  They will be accepted, no shame.

---As usual from this perspective, at this point in the NFL season most televised games are simply there for quick checks, not for watching.  Once again, from a home area perspective, there is no incentive.  Jets are hopeless and Giants somehow foiled again, not good teams.  Moving to the NBA, the Knicks and Nets are starting poorly.  "Wait 'til next year" may be an appropriate thought for the Durant waiting Nets, but that mantra is always the same for the Knicks.  Narcissist inherited rich simpleton Dolan must be out before anything good can happen there. How does this major city so often field such poor teams, proof that money isn't everything which many would say is good for professional sports, but not for my viewing pleasure.

---How's this for suspicious thinking.  Is it possible that the White House resident twit Stephen Miller actually writes some of Trump's tweets for him, all more than a sentence or two?  Trump says what he thinks in New York gutter talk, and then Miller translates, even having intentional misspellings or exaggerations to show that these are real Trump tweets.  Joke is on the media, on the public?  Trump's history is that he reads almost nothing and writes almost nothing.  Yeah, "All Quiet on the Western Front" is his favorite book?  Does he read now, other than headlines and anything about himself.  Who controls his communication?  A strange quasi Nazi Jewish Duke grad who is 100% repeating and supporting every Trump statement?  Does this make any sense?  It would certainly be easy to repeat Trump's tweets and comments word for word as Miller does if he actually writes them.

---Looking at the stock market week ahead, no great insight here.  Still focused on Nokia, a recent investment that is underwater by 30%, uncertain what's going on.  In Finland, where they are based, Nokia is meant to be a source of national pride.  Unlike in the U.S., they apparently accept forward thinking investment even if it hurts near term profits?  Balance sheet is strong, earnings mixed with some losses, risk/reward can only be positive with its 5G focus. This is not investment advice.  The other stock focused on now is Capital One(COF), once a darling of financial investors but now just muddling along.  True believers for many years remain adamant, Dodge and Cox is the largest holder, parts of Capital Group are there, and Davis Select Advisors is still there.  Chuck Pohl, Chris Davis, and others are nothing if not loyal.  Capital One advertising is ubiquitous and well done, and in a commodity business does that make a difference?  Have modest position, still thinking?