Friday, August 31, 2007

Merkel Most Powerful Woman in the World

Good for Germany because Gerhard Schroeder was a pandering doof. I have a feeling that Hillary is going to be taking the top spot before too long.
"Merkel continued to impress the world with her cool leadership at two
back-to-back summits, and stuck to her principles, getting G8 leaders to agree
to significant cuts in carbon emissions, among other things," Forbes

Bush's Mortgage Plan

It looks like Bush is going to be the one to backstop the mortgage market meltdown. IIRC the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) was one of those New Deal programs that came out of the FDR Administration. Ah, FDR a positive, forward thinking Democrat that America could get behind. He was instrumental in winning a war too.
Under the Bush proposal, which FHA officials said would take effect
immediately, an estimated 60,000 homeowners who have fallen behind on payments because their mortgages have reset would be able to refinance with FHA-insured loans. That marks a significant change because FHA does not now insure refinanced loans from borrowers who are currently delinquent.

J. Michels Uranium Index

+$1,444.60 +3.46%

This is a Great Article on SEC Football

This is an outstanding piece of writing on how people in the South love their football.
I love "ARE YOU READY?" and all the other SEC football idiosyncrasies,
too, because they come from the same kind of passion: Mississippi State's
cowbells, the Vol Navy, an Arkansas fan using the Freedom of Information Act,
the way the crowd sings along to "Sweet Home Alabama" on a warm Southern
Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In Birmingham, they love the gov'nah, indeed. Me, too, even if I don't know a single thing about him. That's what football can do. It can even make me love Steve Spurrier. That rat bastard, I love him

I actually got a chance to see that Sweet Home Alabama sung at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It was one of the greatest football related experiences you could have. You could really feel like you were in the cathedral of football praying with the flock.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Microsoft to Buy Out Blackberry?

Now this is very interesting news IF it actually happens:
Research in Motion (nasdaq: RIMM - news - people ) also had a good day. Shares of the BlackBerry maker rose .9%, amid chatter that software giant Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) wanted to buy the company. Microsoft may be angling to muscle rival Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ) out of the mobile phone software market.
There has been talk of Google possibly getting into the mobile phone business with a Google branded phone. Maybe MSFT is going to try to head them off at the pass and really shake some things up. I think this would be a very canny move by MSFT to get away from the desktop/laptop field and become the king of mobile computing.

Also it would be nice to concentrate the Blackberry and Windows Server 2003 all into one easier to handle source. Also MSFT would get the patents to push e-mailing so they can do all sorts of crazy stuff with newer versions of Exchange Server going forward.

This would also get MSFT into the handset business so they would be able to compete head to head with Nokia, Motorola, Samsung etc. If they tried to compete from scratch they would probably fall on their head. Instead they would be buying millions of users who are already using the Blackberry service who would be unlikely to switch to Palm or the Motorola Q. They will by buying a leader in the field and not some also-ran like Palm.

I think if they complete the deal (it would cost like $46 billion and MSFT has $12 billion in cash) it will really make MSFTs stock hum since they will be buying a true growth business. It is the kind of deal that would reshape their company. It would be a little like how Apple went from Mac to IPod to IPhone in the consumer realm. Instead MSFT will be doing from Windows XP, to Windows Mobile, to Microsoft Blackberry in the corporate realm. It would suck to get a virus on your Blackberry though.

Increased Defaults Hit Freddie Mac Income Statement

These are the regular prime mortgages and not those subprime ones.
The $764 million in net income fell sharply from the $1.4 billion last

The company's chief financial officer blamed a rise in mortgage
defaults for the lower earnings. Costs related to current and future failed
loans rocketed 433 percent from a year earlier to $336 million, and rose 74
percent from the first quarter.

Rising loan failures have not yet set off alarms about the quality
of the company's assets, said Jim Vogel, who tracks the company for FTN
Financial in Memphis, Tennessee.

This means things might get alot worse before they start getting better. The bad part is that quite a few adjustable rate mortgages still have the adjust in the coming months. The age of the "House Flipping Wanna-be Robert Kiyosaki" are long gone.

Another Tellabs Buyout Rumor

This should be good news for this stock. Nortel may be trying to buy them out.
The Toronto telecom equipment supplier is considering a
cash-and-stock offer for Tellabs, according to a source familiar with the
discussion. A takeover price of $14 to $15 a share from Nortel was reported
Thursday by Light Reading, a networking industry publication.

The stock is also trading in the mid-10's so this would be quite a nice bid if they do the deal. However Nokia and Siemens were thinking of jumping in for $16-$17 a share on the deal last month so the spread dropped a little. Some options players think a deal is eminent because they bought about 16000 At or Near the money calls from the Sept. through the Dec. series. Almost no puts traded today as well.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/30/07

-$493.60 -1.17%

Cerberus wants to Cancel H&R Block Deal

It looks like some of those private equity guys are getting cold feet when it comes to doing certain deals.
H&R Block is negotiating with Cerberus to waive some closing
requirements and close before a December 31 deadline, but said there is "no
assurance" any transaction will occur.

Losses at Option One contributed to an overall loss of $302.6
million, or 93 cents per share, for the fiscal first quarter that ended July 31.
That is up from a loss of $131.4 million, or 41 cents per share, a year

Cerberus seriously doesn't want to start racking up big losses just to get their hands on that Option One mortgage servicing business. It looks more and more like the sub prime loans that people have made are like a hot potato that no one wants at any cost. I'm still thinking that the tax payer will end up taking to loss to prevent massive foreclosures.

Report Second Guesses Va. Tech Shooting Response

Now this is the kind of thing that gets people mad at the media. This article first says this:
Virginia Tech officials could have saved lives if they had quickly
warned the campus that two students had been shot to death and a killer was on
the loose, a panel that investigated the attacks said Thursday.

But right in the report it says this:
But the panel also concluded that a lockdown of the 131 buildings on
campus would not have been feasible. And while the first message sent by the
university could have gone out at least an hour earlier and been more specific,
Cho likely still would have found more people to kill, it said.

"There does not seem to be a plausible scenario of a university
response to the double homicide that could have prevented the tragedy of
considerable magnitude on April 16," the report said. "Cho had started on a
mission of fulfilling a fantasy of revenge."

They thought the killer left the campus (which he did to mail the package to the news media) so officials thought they were in the clear. They had no idea that he would come back, chain a door and start killing people. They were in a no-win situation. If they locked down the campus over a domestic dispute then there might have been chaos. So they tried to warn people as best they could and it came too late to save people. Even if most people heard there was a shooting in the dorms they still would have gone to class because it was so close to finals and people needed to review and get ready.

Even if they locked down the campus, Cho still would have shot up the dorms instead of those classrooms. He was a loaded weapon ready to go off. Nothing save killing him could have stopped him from shooting up the campus.

About the only thing they could have done is recognized that this guy was mentally ill and took steps to send him put into a mental institution or something. Even this tract was pinched off by privacy laws that prevented Va Tech from getting mental health records of a minor child (which he was when he had some of these thoughts.) Also you can't make this out to be a failure as well:
The university's counseling center failed to give Cho the support he
needed despite the warnings, including his referral to the center in 2005
because of bizarre behavior and concerns he was suicidal, the panel said. It
blamed a lack of resources, misinterpretation of privacy laws and passivity.

What does the Counselling Center have to do? Get an armed guard to escort him to the clinic? They can refer him all they want but they can't force anyone to go to counselling.

Some of the things that could have prevented Cho from killing those people could have been a better upbringing, less racially motivated bullying in high school, or maybe getting a girlfriend. I think if he had a girlfriend to understand him, reign in his behavior, listen to him bitch, and provide something for him to live for this tragedy might have been prevented.

I still think he killed that first girl, Emily Hilscher because he had a crush on her but was too weak and scared to make it known. So his weakness and fear manifested in violence that he used to make him feel strong and in control again.

Iraqi WMDs found at UN

Talk about hiding something where you would least expect it.
The FBI was called in to remove the substances, which were discovered
last Friday and included phosgene, an older generation chemical warfare agent,
taken in 1996 by inspectors from a former Iraqi chemical weapons plant at Al
Muthanna, the inspectors said in a statement.

Phosgene was used extensively during World War I as a choking agent,
according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

But I thought the Iraqi's didn't have any WMDs according to Hans Blix? You would figure that the UN would want to destroy WWI choking agents that turns water your respiratory tract into hydrochloric acid. It sounds like nasty stuff and it shouldn't be in some UN storage facility.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Retail Stocks a Bargain?

It seems that consumer spending is going to slow a bit and that means people will not be buying as many Coach bags and such. This article has a pretty good gauge on what stocks will weather the storm. I agree with this part:
Where would I recommend looking to invest instead? I think that
companies selling consumer staples with strong international footprints are a
good idea, as they provide both a defensive bent and upside potential. The
defensive bent comes from the recession-resistant nature of the products these
companies make: spirits in the case of Diageo (NYSE:
DEO - News), confectionary
at Cadbury Schweppes (NYSE:
CSG - News), chips and drinks at PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP - News), and soup and food products from Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB - News), as well as a vast array of consumer products from Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG - News). These are good stocks for uncertain times and are also good long-term investments, given the secular growth trends we see in a number of foreign markets.
I really agree with Cadbury Schweppes since they are a very strong competitor in the European market. They have alos sold off their non-core European assets and they now own Dr. Pepper, Snapple and the 7-UP brands. They are also rumored to be circling Hershey's for a potential buyout. That would make CSG a true juggernaut in the chocolate space. Whatever happens to the subprime market people are still going to eat chocolate and drink soda.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/29/07

+$1,324.00 +3.24%

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dirty Dealings at Countrywide

Now this is quite an expose on the excesses of Countrywide Mortgage. Some of their risky mortgage schemes and such may be worthy of an Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room style book depending on how bad this subprime crisis gets. One black flag if you were a shareholder is how many shares that Angelo R. Mozilo the Chairman and CEO was selling. He cashed out $129 million in the last 12 months. When the CEO starts to bail its time to sell/go short the stock.

Mr. Mozilo has ridden this remarkable wave to immense riches, thanks to
generous annual stock option grants. Rarely a buyer of Countrywide shares — he
has not bought a share since 1987, according to Securities and Exchange
Commission filings — he has been a huge seller in recent years. Since the
company listed its shares on the
New York Stock Exchange in 1984, he has reaped $406 million selling Countrywide stock.

As the subprime mortgage debacle began to unfold this year, Mr.
Mozilo’s selling accelerated. Filings show that he made $129 million from stock
sales during the last 12 months, or almost one-third of the entire amount he has
reaped over the last 23 years. He still holds 1.4 million shares in Countrywide,
a 0.24 percent stake that is worth $29.4 million.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/28/07

-$2,061.00 -4.80%

Monday, August 27, 2007

The French Plan

I really like some of Sarkozy's new plans for France. He seems to be anti-bomb for Iran in no uncertain terms but also is pro nuclear power for Iran. That seems like a pretty reasonable stance. I wonder if French companies will be the ones trying to build the Iranian reactors instead of Russian ones if some kind of accommodation is reached.

He is also pro-NATO security for Afgainstan but is still against the Iraq war. That seems like a position that is held by 70%+ of the American people as well. He also opposes Russia going totalitarian and using their oil as a weapon. He is also against the Chinese trying to control the flow of raw materials from Africa. The French are traditionally an African advocate and it is time they flexed their diplomatic muscles to help out there.

I also like how he has ties to the Arab leaders in the Middle East while also supporting Israel. I think the French more then anyone else could get a deal in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. They don't have colonial ties to the area (Britian,) or secretly wants Israel destroyed (other Arab states,) or is too close an ally with Israel (America.) They really have nothing to gain on either side from brokering an acceptable political deal. They could be a true impartial arbiter that could bring UN pressure to bear and keep the US at arms length.

Finally this would be an interesting opportunity as well:
Closer to home, Sarkozy reiterated his proposal for a "Mediterranean
Union" to bridge the divide between Europe and North Africa. The idea echoes a
concept dear to Chirac, who called for a "dialogue of cultures" to counteract
the forces of extremism.

The faster France could tie their former Muslim colonies to themselves and push them away from extremist rhetoric the better it will be for the War on Terror. Perhaps France can do with North Africa what the US tried to do with Iraq. Create a pro-West democratic government that isn't a hotbed of Terror and actually prospers. Perhaps France's role as the "Diplomatic Superpower" will be built upon more then just naked self interest and anti-Americanism.

Embattled Gonzales Finally Out

I guess he is really one of the last of the Bushies out the door. The Republicans look like they wanted to remove more distractions before they line up for a try at the Presidency in 2008.
Apart from the president, there were few Republican expressions of
regret following the departure of the nation's first Hispanic attorney general,
a man once hailed as the embodiment of the American Dream.

"Our country needs a credible, effective attorney general who can
work with Congress on critical issues," said Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire,
who last March was the first GOP lawmaker to call on Gonzales to step down.
"Alberto Gonzales' resignation will finally allow a new attorney general to take
on this task."

The last thing the Republicans need is to have lots of ethics questions hanging over their heads. The better to cut all ties with the Bushies so that the Dems don't get a chance to run against Bush instead of the real GOP contender. Before too long we are going to see Romney or someone denounce Bush in a public forum.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/27/07

-$377.00 -0.87%

Miss Teen USA Contestant Has a Mind Melt

Now this has to be a really embarassing mind melt on national television.

Question: "Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate
the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?"

Lauren Caitlin Upton: "I personally believe... that U.S. Americans are
unable to do so... because... "Uh... some people out there in our nation don't
have maps...

"And... uh... I believe that our education, like such as in South
and... uh... the Iraq, everywhere, like, such as..."And I believe that they should...
"Our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S... uh..."Or,
should help
South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries... "So we will be able to build up our future... for our [children]."

Miss Teen USA host Mario Lopez: "Thank you very much, South

I'm sure the education here in the U.S. should help the U.S. especially for the U.S. Americans. I wonder why she kept going to the South Africa well over and over though? Maybe she read (or was told) something about South Africa having either junk schools or schools as good as the U.S. Now this is a classic freeze-up that will probably be talked about for years. It is cringe inducing and shows why people have such fear of public speaking as well.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bill Gross May Wan't Bush to Save Bill Gross

Hmm this is an interesting take on why PIMCO bond guru Bill Gross wants the government to come to the rescue of the mortgage markets.
I see the top bond guru in the world returned a three year average of
3.83% in his "Total Return" Fund. One could have parked money in a money market fund, CDs, a bank, or short term treasuries and done better than that. Digging deeper I see the top five holdings of the Total Return Fund are as
1) Fannie Mae (FNM)

2) Fannie Mae
3) Fannie Mae
4) Fannie Mae
5) Fannie Mae

So it would certainly be nice for Bill Gross if "W" was the "Decider" and opened up his wallet.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/24/07

+$1,640.00 +3.93%

Thursday, August 23, 2007

AT&T Looks Stupid On IPhone Bills

Now this is a boneheaded move by AT&T.
When Justine Ezarik, a video blogger in Pittsburgh, saw that a box from AT&T
had been delivered to her doorstep a couple of weeks ago, she thought that
perhaps she had been sent a complimentary accessory for her new iPhone. Instead, she found a 300-page, double-sided, excruciatingly well itemized bill.

This bill is itemized Kilobyte by Kilobyte. So this resulted in massive piles of paper that AT&T will have to eat the cost of shipping for. AT&T had to pay $7.10 just to get this bill to her.

Wasn't there someone in corporate that said "should we send out a 300 page bill in a box for $7.10 to this customer?" Wasn't there some VP that said lets send out summaries and keep the itemized bills online and we'll save a few bucks? A 300 page bill seems like something that would be red flagged for special handling in their automated billing system. There had to be someone at AT&T that called the shipping company and placed 300 pages worth of paper put into a box and sent it out. It was a failure of controls, fallbacks, and thought by upper management. It really speaks ill of AT&T since the rampup of the IPhone was a pretty long process and wasn't just a rush job on short time.

This kind of screwup also makes AT&T look even worse since this is a failure in handling perhaps one of their most lucrative exclusive contracts. It also makes Apple look like crap because they love to push how green their company is. Yeah, they are so green that tons of extra trees were cut down just so they can show page after page of 2KB for $0.00. I guess this is case in point of the danger of providing exclusive contracts.

Iraqi National Intelligence Estimate Interesting

This article mostly focused on how the al-Maliki government is about to fail or is nearly failing. I think this part buried at the bottom is the most important part:
• Iraq's neighbors will continue to focus on improving their leverage
in Iraq, expecting the U.S. and its allies to leave. "Assistance to armed
groups, especially from Iran, exacerbates the violence inside Iraq," the report
said. Since January, there is mounting evidence of Iran's support for Shiite
militants, including highly lethal explosive devices.

• Syria has cracked down on al-Qaida networks inside its borders
because they threaten Damascus' security. However, Syria is increasing the range of groups it supports in Iraq to bolster its influence there. And it still
allows roughly 50 to 80 foreign fighters a month to travel into neighboring

• Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states have not supported the
al-Maliki government, but they haven't provided arms or other support to Sunni
fighters, choosing instead to stay on the sidelines.

So Iraq will be the next Arab land grab and influence rush when the Americans pull out? Iran has the most to gain by supporting Shiites and hopefully being able to create a client state out of Southern Iraq. A failed Iraqi state and Iranian influence might lead to a Saudi Arabia/Iran war sometime in the future depending on who holds what. You know which side the US is going to be on. I can see the Saudis beefing up their military in the next few years.

Also that part about Syria keeping Al-Quida out so that the terrorists can't destabilize their government may be in interesting gambit to play in the future. Maybe some behind the scenes reaching out by Europe could get Syria to back away from Iran and come into the anti-terror fold. The sooner we break up the pro-terror powers the better we can frame the War on Terror as Al-Quida against the Arab Leaders and not Al-Quida against the West.

Is Having an Online Wife Adultery?

Some people are considering it anyway.
Confusing? It should be. Turns out that Ric and Sue's marriage is on
the rocks. She contends that he spends more time online in Second Life, a
virtual universe currently home to 30 million players, with his online wife. Sue
spends her days in front of the television, while Ric is in the other room
running a virtual night club and consorting with his online wife, sometimes for
as long as 14 hours at a time on weekends.

I wonder if having an online wife will actually be grounds for divorce in this case. I think that spending 14 hours on weekends on a game would be a better grounds in my opinion. This "gaming widow" effect will get worse the larger and more mainstream things like World of Warcraft and other MMOPRGs become.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/23/07

+$342.00 +0.83%

GameStop's Outstanding Numbers

It looks like my love for Gamestop has translated into some big gains.

Shares of GameStop gained $4.74, or 10.9%, to $48.16, after the company
announced second-quarter earnings that grew 581.3%, to $21.8 million, or 14
cents per share, from $3.2 million, or 2 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts
polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings per share of 9 cents for the
period ending August 4.

The stock was up from $38.98 when I started to take a look at it to $47.45 today. A nice 20% paper gain in 5 days. The stock still seems pretty well poised for more gains in the next few quarters due to that lineup of cool new games I talked about. The stock is priced to perfection at a 44 PE though This tidbit could be a key to further margin expansion as well:

Used video game sales continued to be incredibly lucrative for GameStop.
Like other game retailers, GameStop allows customers to trade in old games at a
steep discount for new games. GameStop then marks up the trade-ins and sells
them at a handsome margin.

GameStop earned $173.2 million on used game sales at a gross profit percent of 48.5%. That towered over the gross profit percentage earned by new game hardware and software sales, which were 7.3% and 20.3%, respectively.

I think GameStop should try to expand its Used Game reach by starting an online market to buy and sell used games. They could start an Ebay store or even do something with their website where you will be able to buy used and sell used games online. The buyer will then pay a shipping cost or pick it up at one of their stores for free. The seller, on the other hand, would drop off the game at a nearby GameStop (where they might buy some additional product) then their account will be credited.

Of course they won't offer any first run games for sale for a certain period of time to prevent the used market from eroding their current game market. I think this move would expand their reach and allow them to corner the market in used games. This segment really doesn't have any credible competitors that could challenge GameStop once they got rolling. I don't see Best Buy stocking rows of used games and buying games from the gamer in need of cash.

I have to say that any business where you can charge like $10-$15 for a used game and turn around and sell that same game for $25-$30 is great for gamers and GameStop alike. The gamer gets games at a discount and an outlet in which to get rid of games that they have already passed. While GameStop gets to pocket the spread. It is a win-win

Bill Gross Tells Bush to Save Housing Market

It seems that only Bush can save people from losing their homes in foreclosure according to Gross. What is the the reason that he has to get this little dig in on Bush though?
"Write some checks, bail 'em out, prevent a destructive housing
deflation that (Fed Chairman) Ben Bernanke is unable to do. After all 'W',
you're 'the Decider,' aren't you?" Gross wrote.

Part of me doesn't want to see millions of foreclosures but sometimes people need to wake up and understand what they were signing up for when it comes to Adjustable Rate mortgages.
Adjustable rates mean they might adjust in the future. People should have realized that interest rates will eventually go up.

Plus some of these home owners bought more house then they can afford to reach that Bling-bling Cribs lifestyle then it makes things even worse. This is why there needs to be a mandatory financial literacy classes given in high school. The government shouldn't always have to backstop people who have made bad decisions.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rangers Punish Orioles 30-3!

Now this is one hell of a box score. I mean there were 7 home runs and 29 hits given up in this game! This is the new American League record for most lopsided game beating the former record of Boston of the Boston Red Sox beating the St. Louis Browns 29-4 on June 8, 1950 according to this. This a site shows another game as the National League record holder.
The Chicago Colts score in every inning to demolish Louisville 36-7
while setting the NL record for runs scored. Chicago amasses 32 hits good for 51
bases with
Barry McCormick hitting 4 singles‚ a triple‚ and a HR in an ML
record-tying 8 at bats. Tying another league record set by an earlier Chicago
club‚ 6 players score 4 runs each with McCormick and
Jimmy Ryan each scoring 5 runs. Winning pitcher Nixey Callahan is 5-for-7‚ the first of three times he'll collect 5 hits in a game (May 18‚ 1902; May 8‚ 1903, a record for a pitcher. Chick
starts for Louisville‚ but gives way in the 3rd to Jim Jones, who makes his major league debut with his team down 14-0. Only 9 runs are earned as Louisville kicks in with 9 errors. Jones will make one other pitching appearance, in 1901, but will play as an outfielder that year and next.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/22/07

+$2,089.00 +5.32%

Pigeons May Have Been Factor in Bridge Collapse

I know these flying rats would eventually cause grief for mankind.
Pigeon droppings contain ammonia and acids, said chemist Neal
Langerman, an officer with the health and safety division of the American
Chemical Society. If the dung isn't washed away, it dries out and turns into a
concentrated salt. When water gets in and combines with the salt and ammonia, it creates small electrochemical reactions that rust the steel underneath.

"Every time you get a little bit of moisture there, you wind up
having a little bit of electrochemistry occurring and you wind up with
corrosion," said Langerman. "Over a long term, it might in fact cause structural

They needed to put those little spikes on the bridge so that these little vermin don't land on the bridge and rust the supports with their crap. It would be a sad deal to die because of pigeon poop.

Opposition to Morning After Pill a Joke

This is the kind of stuff that makes it tough to be associated with the Right sometimes.

A coalition of conservative groups, including the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington seeking to reverse the FDA ruling. The groups contend that the FDA acted unwisely under political pressure and lacked authority to approve the same drug for both over-the-counter and prescription-only distribution based on the user's age.

"Barr may be making a healthy profit, but women are paying the price," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, who believes Plan B is less effective that its backers assert.

So since the thing is less than 100% effective the FDA should ban it? These groups want to stop someone from taking a pill that may prevent them from having an abortion in the future. So in a way this pill will "save the unborn" as these groups advocate.

I guess their view is that since pregnency begins at the moment of conception then any type of birth control is bad. I know this is the Catholic view but a pill that will prevent someone from having to have an abortion should be viewed as a good thing. That is why I have a hard time with the religious right since they always seem so against things that may actually help mankind like Stem Cells and in this case the morning after pill.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bush Tries to Calm Markets

At least that is what he seems to be doing.
"The fundamentals of the U.S. economy are strong," Bush said. "The
fundamental question, 'Is there enough liquidity in our system?' And the answer
is `Yes, there is,'" the president declared.

So the fundamental question is that the fundamentals are strong? What if the new view on decreased liquidity is shifting the fundamentals? I mean there have been 87,962 job cuts so far this year caused by this mortgage mess. The days of people using their home as piggy banks to buy stupid stuff are over as well. Now people are having a hard time getting a mortgage even if they have decent credit. If tightening credit moves to the credit card market things will be even worse I think.

In any case it seems that the Dems want to make the mortgage mess the governments mess as well.
On Capitol Hill, some Democrats would like to see mortgage giants
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- which are recovering from accounting scandals --
play a larger role in the mortgage market. Some would like to see the two
mortgage companies buy "jumbo" mortgages of more than $417,000.
others, like Dodd, would like to see investment caps relaxed on the companies'
investments. The administration, however, opposes that idea.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/21/07

-196.00 -0.50%

Americans Hardly Read

This is a pretty bad stat for the publishing industry.
One in four adults say they read no books at all in the past year,
according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did
read, women and seniors were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction
were the top choices.

You have to add this to how busy people are nowadays. If you don't have time to take a vacation then you probably don't have a lot of time to sit down and read. I also think that when people take work home with them via Blackberry, GoToMyPC etc. their reading suffers as well.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Capital One to Shutter Mortgage Unit

It looks like it is a bad time to be a mortgage broker.
Capital One said it will shut down GreenPoint Mortgage and eliminate
most of the jobs by the end of year. The McLean, Va.-based company will close 31
GreenPoint locations in 19 states and "cease residential mortgage origination"
effective immediately but said it will honor commitments to customers with
locked rates who have loans already in the pipeline.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/20/07

+$525.00 +1.35%

University of West Virgina Top Party School

I guess that is some distinction if you are going to college for parties and not for academics.
Senior Katie O'Hara, 22, said WVU is No. 1 because "no matter what kind
of party you want it's here — bars, fraternities, house parties. ... If you want
to take shots all night, there's a bar; no matter what you want to do, it's

They missed describing the the part where Katie double-fisted some Jager shots and collapsed in a stupor under the bar stool.
Still, O'Hara said her friends "know how to manage their time. They
know when to party and when not to," which wouldn't explain the school's No.
1 ranking in the category of Their Students (Almost) Never

It is kind of sad when their students aren't partying they aren't studying either. I guess when West Virgina students aren't partying they are simply recovering from or getting ready for the next party. I think Budweiser or Diageo PLC needs to subsidise some of this schools tuition in order to give something back to the school that uses their products so well.

Friday, August 17, 2007

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/17/07

+1,305.00 +3.47%

FED is the White Knight?

It sure seems that way since the market went strait up after that.

The Fed cut the discount rate by a half percentage-point to 5.75
percent but left the federal funds rate -- its main economic policy lever --
unchanged at 5.25 percent.

However, it said it stood ready to act to keep the U.S. economy on
an even keel, giving an immediate boost to beleaguered stock markets.

Right now they have tried everything in the arsenal except for dropping the fed funds rate. I think if they did that outside of their normal FED meeting it might panic the market. It would be an admission that they were to break the glass and hit the "Big Red Button." I wonder what this is doing to the liquidity of that Asset Backed Paper market?

In any case it seems the FED is now the backstop if anything goes wrong in the markets. If the Hedge Funds are leveraging 6x to get maximum returns and their black box goes haywire then the FED will be there to ride in on that white horse. I think they saw what would go down if the Hedge Funds had to really sell assets to cover redemptions. I still think they may not have averted the "Big One" depending on how this mortgage thing works its way through the markets. I still think cash is the way to go until we get more

FTC Appeals Whole Foods Ruling

Is it just me or does someone in the FTC has a personal vendetta against Whole Foods or something?
Mitch Katz, a spokesman for the FTC, says the agency is now asking a
Washington, D.C., district court for a temporary injunction on the deal, pending
its appeal. Whole Foods and Wild Oats have agreed to hold off on any proceedings
to close the deal Monday at noon.

They should close the deal over the weekend in an emergency meeting or they might have to fight the FTC all the way to the Supreme Court. It is almost as if the FTC thinks when this deal closes Whole Foods will own all the organic fruit orchards in the US. Maybe the Whole Foods CEO kicked the FTC Chairman's dog or something.

The FTC should know full well that almost every supermarket has an Organic section nowadays. Whole Foods needs the merger to protect their market share from the Safeways and the Krogers of the world. I guess they should have called their merger deal "Project Fluffy Bunny" instead of "Project Goldmine."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Watching GameStop

Gamestop (GME) has just launched their Monday Night Madness event to kick off Madden 2008. The stock however has been trading pretty flat in a range of about $38-$39 in the past few days. Part of the reason for the sluggish performance is the push back of GTA4 to 2008 which will make for lower revenues in the Christmas season.

I think this will be small potatoes because the game hasn't been delayed indefinitely or anything like that. When it comes out it will be a shoe-in for the top game of the first quarter of 2008. I would expect that quite a few gift cards will be hoarded to plunk down on this game.

In the meantime there will be a pile of category killers coming out for the different platforms. First of all we have Madden 2008 which will be a huge seller if the past games are any indication. The last game sold 6 million copies and now the installed base for the PS3, Xbox360, and the Wii are much bigger then last year.

Then we have Bioshock on August 21st. I have read quite a bit about this game and from what I see it is going to be big. It has lots of customisable game play and tries to stretch the limits of the Xbox 360. Also the visuals are stunning and it looks like the kind of game that you may have bought your Xbox360 to play. Then we have Halo 3 coming out on September 25th so the Xbox360 will have lots of great games in the near future. Halo 3 will be huge and it will sell millions of copies no matter what.

Then we have Assassin's Creed coming out September 1 for the PS3. If this game lives up to the hype it will be one of the reasons why people will buy a PS3. From what I have seen the graphics are outstanding and it used the PS3 graphics and processor as much as possible. It may be the kind of game that actually makes people buy a PS3.

Another top seller will be Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock which comes out on October 29th. The Guitar Hero series has been a huge success and this new one will probably do as well or better then the other versions have for Activision. Also EA will bring out Rock Band in November hot on the heels of GH3. If Rock Hero is a big seller for EA (it sure looks that way,) they will have a get a nice margin bump from selling the guitar, mike, and drum add-on peripherals. These babies will raise the average selling price of each copy of the game and bring in a pretty good windfall for EA in the 4th Quarter.

In any case, each one of these games will be great for GameStop since gaming is one of the more recession proof entertainments out there. It seems that GameStop has doubled in that past few months since people are looking at the stock as a way to play the console switchover without having to bid on the higher risk gaming stocks. If they can keep same store sales up and people keep buying games like crazy GameStop will look cheap at $38 a share.

FTC Reveals Some Whole Foods Secrets

I guess the FTC doesn't know how to redact company secrets when it reviews merger candidates:
The AP revealed some of the information that was released before the
error was fixed, including the "Project Goldmine" strategy -- Whole Foods'
hypothesis that acquiring Wild Oats would result in 80% to 90% of Wild Oats'
customers coming into its fold and ultimately increasing Whole Foods' revenues
in related stores by 85% to 90%. The information also revealed that Whole Foods
is attempting to make arrangements with suppliers to drive up costs for Wal-Mart and in a particularly odd piece of data for the FTC to cite, it was revealed
that Whole Foods seeks to position its stores in areas where there are large
numbers of college-educated people.

The first thing does seem like it was pretty logical seeing as they are acquiring the company to increase their organic food footprint. You would think that they want nothing more then to bring all of the people that used to shop at Wild Oats into their stores.

However the Wal-Mart thing is something you want to keep secret. Knowing this information, Wal-Mart can retaliate by trying to get their organic suppliers to boycott Whole Foods. Now Wal-Mart can use the fear of banishing these suppliers from their stores as a big hammer to hit Whole Foods with. This leaked information would be something Whole Foods should try to sue the FTC over (if it is even possible.)

Finally, the last thing, as the article points out, seems pretty logical. They want to put there stores in neighborhoods that have people with college degrees and thus better chances of having high incomes. This means they can stock their shelves with higher margin stuff that Costco or Safeway doesn't usually carry. They have some of the best margins in the grocery industry so they need to keep them high. Whole Foods is trying to sell a way of life and a lifestyle and not just a massive bruised pile of mismatched "organic" pears next to a pallet of 69 cent toilet paper.

Judge Okays Whole Foods Merger

Now this is great news for people that are bulls (like me) on Whole Foods (WFMI.) When they buy Wild Oats they will almost double the amount of stores they own.
Whole Foods operates 190 stores, while Colorado-based Wild Oats has
about 110. Both are relatively small players in the grocery business, but
government lawyers said the combined company would essentially corner the
industry market on premium and organic food.

Quite a few people I have talked to swear by Whole Foods in the mainland and love to shop there not just for the Organics but also for the upscale food as well. There will soon be a slew of new Whole Foods in Hawaii and I plan to do some serious market research before jumping in on this one. I've heard tell of good sandwiches and soups so I must investigate.

Nordstrom Profit Up and they Raise Forcasts

This is one of the companies I have been watching for some time and it looks like they had a pretty good quarter recently.
Sales rose 5.2 percent to $2.39 billion, helped by strength in designer
apparel, accessories and men's clothing.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key metric of financial
health, rose 5.9 percent in the quarter, above the company's expectation of a
rise in the low-single digits.

Nordstrom now expects full-year 2007 earnings to range from $2.91
to $2.97 per share. It earlier forecast earnings between $2.81 and $2.90 per

Luxury is one of the few pockets of consumers that aren't be hurt by gas prices or by food inflation. They also hold up well in any type of economy short of a true recession. I think as the credit crunch works its way through the market stocks with solid fundamentals like Nordstrom's will reap the rewards. It is also good to see a stock like this that have 5.9% same store sales when the rest of the industry has break-even or negative same stores.

HP Beats Estimates on Cost Cutting

It seems that HP is humming along as always.
Net income in its fiscal third quarter advanced to $1.78 billion, or 66
cents per share, from $1.38 billion, or 48 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, HP earnings came in at 71 cents per share.

Revenue in the quarter rose to $25.4 billion from $21.9 billion a
year earlier.

They also bought cheaper components so they led to a boost in their bottom line. I like that revenue boost myself since it shows that people are still buying printers, computers and laptops despite that consumer spending slowdown.

J Michels Uranium Index 8/16/07

-$1,458.00 -3.73%

Art Industry Is Big Bucks

I knew they brought in money but I never knew it was this much.
The study's results show that this field generates $166 billion in
economic activity every year, resulting in almost $30 billion in federal, state
and local tax revenue.

It also provides 5.7 million jobs as well. I guess buying, selling, showing, and creating art is quite a big deal. I wonder if it would be possible for a really rich guy to buy out a bunch of galleries and become a mighty patron in the industry. A kind of arbitrator of taste in the art work by sending the bucks in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Good Healthcare Pick?

This guy is saying that Apria Healthcare (AHG) is that stock. It isn't something to buy now but it certainly is something you can buy cheap when this credit crunch is over. I think there are all kinds of these kinds of "stocks on sale" in this market if you dig deep enough and have some patience to wait out the storm.
The overall tape still concerns me, and even though AHG is
significantly lower than the April 52 week high of $34.36, I still think there
may be some further room on the downside. That being said, AHG already reported 2Q EPS on July 31 and although full year guidance was not great, it was far from a disaster. However, with a relatively small float and a large short interest of around 21%, the bears will use the weakness of the overall tape to push the stock lower. I think we should use any bearish price action as a buying
opportunity, especially if we see AHG down around $24.00.

Goldman Hedge Funds at a Deep Discount

I guess Goldman pulled out all the stops to rescue their dying Hedge Funds including dropping fees to lure in new money.
Goldman on Tuesday night said it had agreed to waive its annual
management fee for the investors, who contributed $1bn in new capital to the
fund. The investors will pay a performance fee of just 10 per cent on any
profits the fund makes once it has achieved a 10 per cent return.

Earlier an investor had to pay 2% of assets for a management fee and then 20% of profits they make passed a 10% return. This article is saying that even dropping their fees is still like putting bad money in after good.
Sorry Goldman, the game is up. Half-baked measures will no longer do.
People shouldn't be willing to pay 20% (now 10%) of profits plus a 2% management fee (now 0%) to a fund that is down two consecutive years and 30% in a flash. Is the greater fool's game over or not? I guess we soon find out.

That is a stomach churning fund if I ever saw one. Down two years strait and then down 30% in 6 days. Now that is not the kind of volatility you want to see in a fund. Those investors should have just stuck with a nice Vanguard fund with its 0.20% management fee. They would have been down only a few points right now.

Hedge Fund Speak Revealed

This is a pretty funny article on what Hedge Funds really mean when they say the things they do.
Hedge-Fund Phrase: This isn't a rescue.
Translation: THIS IS TOTALLY A RESCUE!!!!!!!

Goldman Sachs' GEO fund lost 30 percent of its value in a week and
was leveraged at a rate of 6-to-1. But to hear Goldman tell it, the cratering of
its own fund simply presented an irresistible buying opportunity. "We are
investing not because we have to, but because we want to," said Viniar during a
conference call. At another point, he noted: "No, let me just clarify. This is
not a rescue." And if you believe that, I've got some subprime debt I'd like to
sell you.

Yeah they really "want to" not have the fund go insolvent and ring up billions of dollars of losses for Goldman. The irresistible buying opportunity was there so that the Goldman guys could get through this mess with their jobs still intact. Hmm, I would be willing to bet that those big bonuses paid out last year may not happen again this year. Time to go short on expensive painting dealers, private jet rental companies, and guys who make yachts.

Obama Seeks Spirit of Openness

This seems like a good idea in theory.
To make the government more accountable, Obama said he would post all
non-emergency bills online for five days before he signed them into law,
allowing Americans a chance to weigh in on the legislation. In addition, he said
he would post all meetings between lobbyists and government agencies

I just wonder if he is going to let the American people have a veto if they don't like the legislation. I guess this is just a way for Americans to pick what pork barrel spending got tacked onto the latest appropriation bill before the money is doled out. Of course that pork can't be cut but I guess it can at least be shown the light of day. Posting the meeting minutes part would be interesting to see though.
Obama said he would require Cabinet officials to speak to
Americans via national broadband town-hall style meetings to discuss issues
at their agencies. He also pledged to issue an executive order that
information about the government's operations must be released to those
seeking it unless it could
harm a protected interest.

I'm not sure the information about the government operations would be worth seeing though. If it is about top secret stuff it will be heavily redacted so it wouldn't be worth seeing. Also I would be willing to lay even money that quite a few people in both parties will do everything in their power to suppress some of this stuff. What Senator wants his pork barrel projects and wasteful spending to come out day after day? Also I would be willing to bet that people will be thinking more about fooling people with the government operations forms then actually thinking about how the money is going to be spent.

Amgen Cuts Workforce; Guides Lower

Losing all those sales on that anemia drug, Aranesp is finally going to cost some people their jobs. It is also causing Amgen to guide lower.
The company said it plans to reduce its work force by 12 percent to 14
percent, or between 2,200 and 2,600 positions and will get hit with a
restructuring charge between $600 million and $700 million. Amgen also reduced
its adjusted earnings per share guidance for the full-year to between $4.13 per
share and $4.23 per share from previous guidance of $4.28 per share.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/15/07

-$1,566.00 -3.85%

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Run on the Bank?" That Sounds Serious

I had no idea this thing existed until they stopped redemptions today.
Sentinel, like Goldman Sachs (GS) when referring to their Global
Equities Opportunities firm, now says they own securities selling at "deep
discounts to their fair value" and that would cause their investors "unnecessary
losses." So, the bottom line is they don't want to sell those assets and
give investors back their money. Yes, no one likes to sell things for a
loss. Of course, markets care nothing about "fair value."
Fair value is what someone is willing to pay, not what an investor deserves to

These securites may have been those illiquid mortgaged backed securities (or bundles of these securities) that they couldn't unload when people came looking for their money.

This seems to be what made Goldman pour that $3 billion into their Global Equity Opportunities (GEO) fund. They had 30% losses on their books in that fund from in just 6 days of wild market swings. They also had about 3.5 times leverage in place on the thing. Goldman perhaps couldn't get rid of their mortgaged backed debt obligations to pay redemptions (or margin calls) so they were forced to sell their equities instead. They then had to inject an extra $3 billion into the fund to keep the thing from going the way of those Bear Sterns funds.

Hmm, I wonder how bad this credit mess is going to get? The idea of an entire class of credit obligations that are stuck in limbo because you can't sell them (or put a value on them) is crazy. I know it is time to avoid the financials like the plague but what industries won't get hit by this credit crunch stuff?

This article says the sectors to be in are biotech and telecom. Isn't biotech the realm of the companies that are financed almost totally by debt? If the credit market dries up or bankers become more risk adverse maybe they will pull the plug on financing some of these long shot drugs that may or may not get FDA approval. That may lead to mass bankruptcies in those small one shot biotech names and maybe even big problems at the big guys as well.

I guess that leaves only telecom which will probably be pretty strong unless the consumer truly gives up the ghost and cancels his cell phone plan or something. Or you can go to accumulating cash which I have been doing. I think when things blow over it will be a great time to buy good stocks cheap.

This is Why the White House Never Comments

As soon as the White House opens their mouth.
As to the merits of it, I think it's outrageous. This is a president
who, first and foremost, has helped millions of seniors across the country have
access to prescription drugs at a much lower cost," Perino said. "As to whether
or not our troops are invisible to this president, I think that is absurd and
that it is unconscionable that a member of Congress would say such a

The Hillary Hype Machine goes into action:
Campaigning in Dubuque, Iowa, Clinton referred to the White House
criticism of her "invisible" comments.

"Apparently I've struck a nerve. The White House just attacked me a
few minutes ago," Clinton said. "Not only have I said it and am saying it, I
will keep saying it because I happen to believe it."

That is exactly why you always say "No Comment" to attacks. Is Hillary trying to win the 2004 election or something? I think Bush is going to be a huge albatross around the necks of the Republican candidates come election time. He needs to get out of the way of this crap and set his party up to at least hold the line in the House and Senate. If he keeps this up it looks more and more like the "modern progressive" agenda is going to be firmly in place come 2008.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/14/07

-$1,138.00 -2.72%

Monday, August 13, 2007

2000 Year Old Etruscan Tomb Found

Now this has to be quite a find.
Inside the tomb, a narrow corridor led to a small burial chamber, about
2 meters long and 1.79 meters wide, he said. It housed about 80 objects
including vases and mirrors in bronze and ceramic. Urns holding human remains
were also found.

It is pretty weird that almost none of their literature and very little of their history exists to this day even though they lived for 1000 years. I guess that is the reason why you need to constantly record your history and put constantly put current events in context. Or perhaps a 1000 years from now no one will know that there was a Simpsons Movie or that there was such a thing as a Pecanbon from Cinnabon.

Rove Out at White House

Would the last person to leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue please turn off the lights? I have a feeling you won't hear the end of this guy though.
Rove also predicted conditions in Iraq would improve and that the
Democrats would nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, calling her
"a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate." Rove does not intend to work
for any candidate in the 2008 presidential election, White House press
secretary Tony Snow said.

I agree that the Dems will nominate Hillary as well. I also have a feeling that the GOP is going to nominate Romney and she is going to take the White House. 4 years of Hillary? It may be time to move to Staad, Switzerland or your luxury apartment in Dubai if you are a Conservative. Normally I would say Canada but what conservative wants to live there?

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/13/07

-$556.90 -1.31%

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Black Mesa Warns of "Massive" Liquidation by Another Hedge Fund

Could this create a chain reaction where lots of these Market Neutral Hedge Funds need to liquidate portfolios in order to meet margin calls? Maybe this is what is causing the insane whilesawing in the markets in at 3:00PM each day.
Black Mesa Capital, a hedge fund firm that uses computer models to
track down arbitrage opportunities, has told investors that at least one very
large hedge fund or investment bank is liquidating "massive" trading portfolios,
according to a letter the Santa Fe, NM-based firm sent to investors on
Wednesday. That's causing disruptions and triggering losses among other
so-called market-neutral hedge funds, Black Mesa said in its letter, a copy of
which was obtained by MarketWatch on Thursday. "Clearly, something is amiss in the markets that few in our strategy, if anyone, have experienced before," Black
Mesa wrote.

Oil Prices Drop to $71.59 per Barrel

Hmm, it seems that Oil Prices are dropping and thus gas prices should follow.
Worries about shrinking oil consumption in a slowing global economy
continued to suppress crude prices, according to Alan Mandel, analyst at Alan M.
Trading. However, investors shouldn't expect oil to fall much further, Mandel

"There will be a buying opportunity if oil falls below $68," he says.
"Geopolitical hotspots around the world are still relevant, and we haven't yet
entered the peak of hurricane season."

I have a feeling that oil prices may drop further here because demand seems to be slowing and these geopolitical hotspots are kind of moving to the back page. Also there seems to be few if any hurricanes so far this season that I know of. There may be some big ones later this month but it would seem that there would be more throughout the season and not a big clump at the end. I'm still in the camp that New Orleans won't see another levee breaking whopper hurricane for another 40 years.

Companies Pulling Debt and Bond Deals

It seems that compnaies are do not want to issue debt at this time.
In the past two weeks, another 13 corporate loan or bond deals have
been postponed or reduced, representing just under $43 billion, in new research
released Thursday by Baring Asset Management. The total number of deals pulled since June 22nd now stands at 46, analysts at the firm said, valued at more than
$60 billion. That compares to last year where there were no pulled deals

That kind of sucks when the pulled debt deals went from 0 to 46 in one year.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/9/07

-$2,092.00 -4.80%

Apparel Chains take Beating

I guess it just wasn't time for kids to do their back to school clothes shopping yet.
Mall traffic has also fizzled and people aren't as willing to rush to stores for the latest back-to-school merchandise in July, instead waiting for markdowns.

"We've been seeing this trend for the last five years," Perkins says. "Kids have been going back-to-school shopping closer to need."
I'm still puzzled at who thinks kids do their back to school clothing purchasing in July? What kid is all pumped to buy a jacket and long pants when it is super hot outside? Also you would think they would rather procrastinate until they actually need the products as well.

Couple this with the parents knowing that retailers mark down stuff in August and September so they just wait the retailers out. When gas prices as high as they are you have to bring in any savings that you can. They might even get a break buying in August because gas prices usually dip during the late summer so it frees up more money to buy their kids back-to-school clothes.

Plateosaurus Mass Grave Found in Switzerland

This is quite a find.

"It could be that the area extends for 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) and
in that case, you could certainly say it's the biggest site in Europe," said
Martin Sander, a dinosaur paleontologist at the university of Bonn in

The Frick area contained the bones of one animal per 100 square
meters, Sander said, so the entire area might contain bones of 100 more

These Plateosaurus' seem to be similar to elephants. This article says how older elephants die close to water and their skeletons pile up. I wonder if these Dinosaurs had the same behavior?
This is a Plateosaurus (I thought they were those Bonehead Plated dinosaurs when I first red the article.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Goldman "Rumor" Whipsaws Market

Now this is a weird development:
U.S. stocks had pared gains in late trading on market speculation that
the world's largest investment bank (GS.N:
Quote, Profile, Research)
would make an announcement, possibly related to one of its hedge

Several traders told Reuters there was speculation that an
announcement was forthcoming, but said there was no consensus on what Goldman might say.

So there was a rumor that Goldman might say something but noone knew what. People assumed it was bad and sold and the market which went from up 180 to almost negative territory in little less then an hour. Then when Goldman denied the rumor the market recovered to settle up 150 or so. Now that should ping someones fear quotient a little big. We might be doing some serious "wall of worry" climbing this week. In any case it will be a great time to put in some hedges on the cheap.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/8/07

+$711.00 +1.66%

Weird Trading Persists at 3PM each day

This behavior seems to be really throwing off some money managers.
Oddly, though, in every session the wildest action has taken place
right around 3 p.m. EDT -- an hour before the close of regular trading.

Just why this is happening isn't clear, though market watchers have
some theories. Richard Bove, an analyst at Punk Ziegel, suggests technical
or program trading may be responsible for the wild midafternoon swings. Others
speculate that a large investor -- perhaps even a foreign buyer such as China --
may be targeting the U.S. markets.

I like the mental image that Mao-Suited Red Chinese Bankers manipulating the US markets at 3AM in China. I can see them now, sitting in a darkened ministry building with ethernet cables snaking in all directions from state-of-the-art trading stations. There are perhaps thousands of identical desks in this building where shady Commie moneymen control the movement of trillions of dollars while the rest of Beijing sleeps. It makes for something out of a spy thriller written by Jim Cramer.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

XBox Online Community Could Be Golden

Minyanville says that it may be even bigger selling point then that $50 price cut.
Xbox Live is 7 mln strong and growing. Gamers from around the world are
linking up every night to play their favorite games, creating a brand new
experience. Users can chat, email and download TV shows, movies and classic
arcade games. Heck, gaming leagues are now
popping up on TV.
I agree with this 100%. I think XBox live is one of the biggest selling points for the XBox360 and it will be hard to match for the other consoles. This could be a big source of ancillary income when it comes to certain gaming companies. For instance I used the example of the extra songs for Guitar Hero 2 from Activision. I would be willing to bet even money that if these add-ons could be a pretty nice income stream going forward. The gaming companies just need to come up with add-ons that are ITunes-like that will make people come back again and again and pay $1 per pop for. This could potentially make a game that is 5-6 old bring in revenue quarter to quarter.

Also this 7 million strong group is made up of one of the hardest to reach demographics when it comes to advertisers. They are the largely male 18-40 year olds that hardly watch TV in real time, barely react to net ads, and come late to movies to avoid those 10 ads at the beginning. They also have that disposable income that the advertisers like so much. For advertisers Xbox Live is a goldmine when it comes to reaching those unreachable eyeballs.

Some of the things the advertisers can try is to have those Viral Ads that people talk about as downloadable content. They could also have something like the Axe Effect All-Star bikini team for Madden with downloadable uniforms and everything. You can replay Bikini Bowl 2006. Also you can have a Guilty Gear type game where you can download the Burger King so you will be able to kick the crap out of him. You could even have those virtual billboards in-game that will change periodically to kind of freshen up the look of certain games. Finally, it would be so nuts to have something like an American Eagle in-game in GTA4 that has merchandise that changes from time to time depending on the season. I think as long as the ads aren't too intrusive the sky is the limit for this kind of thing.

Hillary's Plan to get us out of the Sub Prime Mess

It pretty much boils down to having the government backstop some of the bad loans, add more government oversight of the mortgage market, and also educate the poor-dumb borrowers. I do like her plan to eliminate prepayment penalties though.

-Require mortgage brokers to disclose to borrowers that their compensation rises when borrowers' mortgage rates and mortgage fees are high.

-Work with states to develop strong licensing standards and require federal registration for mortgage brokers.

-Eliminate prepayment penalties on mortgage products.

-Require mortgage lenders to include the cost of taxes and insurance in the underwriting assessment of higher-risk mortgages.

-Establish a $1 billion fund to assist state programs that help at-risk borrowers avoid foreclosure.

-Expand Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's foreclosure prevention efforts.

-Establish a $1 billion fund to provide federal support to housing trust funds established by state, county and municipal governments.

Netherlands Might Ban Magic Mushrooms

It looks like the Shroom Industry is facing major shutdowns if the conservatives in the Netherlands get their way.
A majority of parties in parliament ranging from centrist to far right
have demanded the hallucinogenic mushrooms be outlawed.

If the government does ban mushrooms, it will be in keeping with
conservative trends that have been sweeping the country in recent years. Since
2001, Muslim immigrants have been under pressure to learn Dutch and integrate,
and there have been calls by some to ban Islamic schools and radical

CSCO Beat Estimates

It looks like they had a pretty good quarter for the most part.
Revenue rose 18.1 percent to $9.4 billion. Analysts on average expected
revenue of $9.275 billion.

In May, Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers forecast fourth-quarter
revenue growth in a range of 15 percent to 16 percent.

Hey they beat their own revenue growth estimates. I guess all those routers and such are just flying off of the shelf. It looks like Options guys front ran this one to the tune of 74,000 contracts trading on the 30 and 32.50 August Calls. If tomorrows trades match todays after market move (+1.72 to 31.42) then the investors holding that 30 strike will be in the green.

J.Michels Uranium Index 8/7/07

+$439.00 +1.03%

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dropping Energy Prices to Save the Day?

All that gloom and doom in the housing sector may mask a ray of hope according to some analysts. This ray comes from lower oil prices and thus energy not taking such a big bite of the consumer budget.
At the pump, meanwhile, gas prices also extended their declines,
falling 2 cents over the weekend to a national average of $2.838 a gallon,
according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Retail prices, which
typically lag the futures market, peaked at $3.227 a gallon in May. At that
time, gas futures were rallying on concerns about the refining industry, which
struggled all spring with maintenance issues and unplanned outages.

Maybe the consumer will be able to ReFi their loans so that they can absorb any rate increases. Or if they are able to get out from under those expensive homes and possibly sell them they will be in the clear. They may need to rent or buy a condo or something but at least it will help them not go bankrupt and lose their homes. However these oil guys are hopelessly split according to that article though.

In any case I wonder if we will see another 30% drop in oil prices from now until October like we saw last year? Someone placed a $7 million bet on 9000 contracts of Oct 2007 OIH Puts today. This person is betting on a 14.9 point drop from the current levels in the Oil Services HOLDR by October to break even. The OIH dropped about 20% last year from August to October (A 20% drop would put OIH at about 132.) Finally there is an almost 3 to 1 Put to Call ratio in that series as well. Could all this option positioning mean people are hedging for a drop in OIH (and oil prices) from now until October? It seems reasonable.

Pretty Grim Take on the Housing Blowup

It seems that not even the FED can save us from things going belly up in the mortgage markets. This is the scariest part of the article I think:
Inquiring minds are no doubt asking why even more miracles may be
needed. The reasons center around debt servicing and jobs. There is simply no
pent up demand for housing, no growth in wages, and no way cash strapped
consumers can service current debt loads. There is also no source of jobs that
an overheated housing market created. There is no need for more Home Depots
(HD), Lowes (LOW), Pizza Huts (YUM), Applebees (APPB), nail salons, strip malls,
Walmarts, etc etc. In fact there is a need for less stores not more and the
coming consumer led recession will prove it. Overcapacity is simply rampant. It
would take even more miracles to correct all of that.

No jobs, no wage growth, and no housing demand means there will be widespread foreclosures unless people take 2nd and 3rd jobs to service all that debt. If you think people are cranky now wait until they are working 3 jobs to pay more and more every month for that $600K house that is now worth only $500K.

I'm guessing there might be some knee-jerk reaction on the part of the Dem Senate to bail these people out. Will Fannie and Freddie, financed by the taxpayer, buy all those underwater/defaulted mortgages? Or will there be a bail out of the mortgage market just like we saw in the bail out of the savings and loans in the 80s? I guess it depends on the pain that the US consumer will be feeling and how much they clamor for a government quick fix.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/6/07

-$545.00 -1.26%

Dems Introduce Censure Motion

Here is another half-assed attempt to "get Bush" from the Dems.
One resolution (S Res 302, H Res. 625), would censure Bush and Cheney
for “misleading the American people” about the need to invade and occupy Iraq,
as well as for poor planning and conduct of the war.

The other measure (S Res 303, H Res. 626) would censure Bush and
Gonzales for “undermining the rule of law and the separation of powers” by,
among other things, authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct
warrantless surveillance of American citizens and making “misleading” statements about the application of the a sweeping 2001 anti-terrorism law (PL 107-56).

The guy will be gone in a little more then a year. Censure him or fine him or whatever after that. Until then concentrate on the so called "progressive agenda." Don't waste any more time on grandstanding for the Far Left.

Friday, August 03, 2007

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/3/07

-$1,500.00 -3.36%

Take-Two Postpones Grand Theft Auto 4

And the stock got smashed for a 16% loss on the day for it.
Due to additional time needed to complete the title, Take-Two said it
was now planning to release "Grand Theft Auto IV" in the second-quarter, which
ends next April, as opposed to the original release date of this

There goes a "must have" Christmas category killer. From what I read about the game it would have been a serious contender for game of the year for 2007. Whatever the case TTWO is a real joke of a company. First that Manhunt 2 release fiasco and now they have to push back the release of their bread and butter game.

Bush to Call Global Warming Meeting

It looks like Bush is finally getting around to confronting global warming.
Under pressure for tougher action against climate change, Bush
invited the European Union, the United Nations and 11 industrial and
developing countries to the September 27-28 meeting in Washington to work
toward setting a long-term goal by 2008 to cut emissions.

Of course environmentalists are poo-pooing it as always:
But John Coequyt, a policy analyst with Greenpeace, expressed concern
the Washington talks would be used to "erode support for the process that's
strengthening at the U.N."

Yup instead of trying to work with the White House to craft some type of bipartisan environmental effort the Greens accuse Bush of "eroding support for the process." He is calling the worlds polluters together to craft some type of sensible plan which seems like advancing the process to me.

Why doesn't Greenpeace offer to craft Bushes message for this meeting or sit down in a face to face with him? If Bush refuses to meet with them then they can jump on him for not listening to the point of view. Put poo-pooing proactive movement on global warming is another sign of not taking "yes" for an answer.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Activision has Great Quarter led by Guitar Hero 2

It seems that the game makers have made the transition to the new platforms with flying colors.
Video game publisher Activision Inc. posted fiscal first-quarter
earnings and revenue above Wall Street's expectations Thursday, boosted by
strong sales of "Guitar Hero II" and its latest "Spider-Man" title.

For the quarter ended June 30, Activision earned $27.8 million, or 9
cents per share, versus a loss of $18.3 million, or 7 cents per share, in the
same period a year ago.

I can say with firm conviction that Guitar Hero II is a great game and probably carries a pretty nice profit margin for its $90 price tag. Also Guitar Hero can have an added revenue stream due to downloadable content via Xbox 360s Live service. I would be willing to plunk down a few bucks so I would be able to play a new song via this game. Some hot licks form an AC/DC song goes a long way. Now they need to come out with Drum Hero or something like so they can sell a drum kit as well. That would also be a perfect fit for the Wii and its weirdo controller.

2/3s of Americans Can't Define the word Recession

Here is another sign that Americans are clueless when it comes to economic matters.
Nearly half the survey respondents, 46 percent, believed a recession
was already under way.The conviction comes despite a 3.4 percent rebound in
economic growth during the second quarter, according to Commerce Department data released last week.

A recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of
declines in gross domestic product.

There still hasn't been 1 quarter of declines in GDP. It slowed to 0.6% in the first quarter but didn't go negative at any time. I guess this is another sign that Americans cannot be trusted to handle their own Social Security money. They will probably blow it on lottery tickets or a new deck or something. Also this same ignorance is what keeps the Mutual Fund industry knee deep in bags of money.

J. Michels Uranium Index 8/2/07

+$134.00 +0.30%

Obama backs Bombing Allied Country

And it seems that the Pakistanis don't like that talk one bit.
Obama warned Wednesday that if he is elected president, he would order
US forces to hit extremist targets on Pakistan's frontier with Afghanistan if
embattled military ruler President Pervez Musharraf failed to act.

"Such statements are being made out of sheer ignorance," Pakistan's
Minister of State for Information, Tariq Azeem, told AFP. "They are not fully
apprised about the ground realities and not aware of the efforts by

At least W is for striking targets in "enemy" countries and doesn't back bombing stuff in a key ally in the war on terror. I thought the Dems were all for political solutions, polling the world community, respecting the sovereignty of nations, and stuff like that. One thing that is interesting is how the AP immediately deflects some criticism from Obama to the Bushies:
Islamabad has bristled against a string of similar threats in recent
weeks by the administration of US President George W. Bush, whose top
counter-terror official in July refused to rule out US strikes in

Refusing to rule something out and actually saying you will bomb an ally if you are elected are two very different things. I guess the AP thinks that "all options are on the table" actually means we "will use those options no matter what." I guess the AP doesn't believe in the diplomatic adage of freedom of maneuver.