Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Facebook Invades your Privacy?

It looks like Facebook is broadcasting what you buy on their member sites unless you opt out of some Ad related thing.
Matthew Helfgott, a 20-year-old in Cortland, N.Y., said he noticed that
his girlfriend had some purchases listed in her news feed, including a pair of
black leather men's gloves, meant as a gift for him. He told her that many of
her online buys had shown up in her news feed, an update on Facebook profiles
with what members do on the site.

"She was ticked off about it," Helfgott commented. "She felt it
violated her privacy."

So they pretty much peeked into your online closet and found the gifts you were going to give your friends and family and broadcasted it on their site. Facebook kind of reminds me of the digital version of kids searching the house for where their parents hid the presents and then peeking under the wrapping paper. I guess more people need to be hard to shop for like me and just tell their friends and family what they would like for Christmas so they won't be surprised with something you either have or don't want.

J. Michels Video Game Index 11/28/07

+$1,765.00 +4.03%

J. Michels Uranium Index 11/28/07

+$2,771.00 +4.66%

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Credit Card Bills Could Spell Recession

Hmm, it seems the chance of recession has been bumped up to 30% in some economists eyes.
Arnold said that many consumers, particularly those without top credit
scores, will no longer be able to easily transfer balances to new cards
carrying low introductory rates.

"That's what consumers have fallen back on, and it's been a
lifesaver for the economy. It worked pretty well, even if it masked the whole consumer debt problem," said Arnold. "But that safety net [for consumers] is not
as much of an option these days."

Plus many of these guys with the subprime credit scores also have to deal with an adjustible rate mortgage that keeps going up on them. Plus, they may not be able to sell their expensive houses or even tap the home equity on it with the market is falling in many areas.

I'm pretty sure they won't be talking about buying a new TV when they might not be able to afford the house to put it in. I mean the spending cutbacks have already hit Joe Consumers' daily Starbucks fix. Make sure to get those hedges in place and sell into any Santa Claus Rally. I'm semi-short the market but I'm going to go almost all cash pretty soon.

Activision Ups Outlook

I guess Guitar Hero is currently winning the battle of the Band-type games.
Activision previously said its "Guitar Hero 3" video game that came
out in late October racked up more than $115 million in sales in its first
week on the market -- equivalent to more than a third of the company's
fiscal second quarter revenue.

They upped their forecast from 51 to 66 cents a share which is quite a move upwards. I guess the idea of dropping $100 on a game and a Guitar is really paying off for them in terms of margin expansion and on the amount of revenue per unit sold. I'm sure the Best Buy deal of Xbox360 plus Guitar Hero 3 was a gold mine as well.

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Buys some Citi

I guess Citi is getting cheap enough for the oil shieks to jump in for a $7.5 billion stake.
"While these announcements from the financial industry are continuing to
unsettle investors, the lower dollar has put the U.S. in the position of being
for sale at attractive prices, so Abu Dhabi can come along and buy an interest
in Citi," said A.C. Moore, chief investment strategist for Dunvegan Associates
in Santa Barbara, Calif. "Anytime you have corporate action, that's one of the
strong bull arguments" for stocks.

It's is certainly getting really close to my mental buy price of below $30.

J. Michels Video Game Index 11/27/07

+$1,243.01 +2.92%

J. Michels Uranium Index 11/27/07

+$194.00 +0.33%

Monday, November 26, 2007

Citi Cuts Costs and Might Have More Layoffs

The stock is getting near the $30 mark and if it breaks through it might be a pretty good value. Too bad all of the subprime writedowns haven't been wrung entirely out of the stock yet.
Its shares fell $1.63, or 5.1 percent, to $30.07 in afternoon trading
Monday. The bank is still looking for a new CEO, after Charles Prince
stepped down as chairman and chief executive Nov. 4, the same evening the bank
announced that it will likely write down the value of its portfolio by another
$8 billion to $11 billion in the fourth quarter

Once that happens I think it might be a good stock to jump back into simply for the dividend alone. Hopefully the new CEO will view that dividend as something that cannot be cut and even raise it as things start to get better.

J. Michels Video Game Index 11/26/07

+$227.99 +0.54%

J. Michels Uranium Index 11/26/07

-$1,530.00 -2.52%

Friday, November 16, 2007

Starbucks on the Ropes

I guess this is a big sign that consumers are tightening their belts.
The company blamed weak consumer spending and high input costs in the
form of milk. Yup, it literally cried over spilled milk.

I'm pretty sure that milk is the least of their worries. It does seem strange that they are blaming an item that takes up such a small part of every Venti Latte for their woes for two quarters in a row.

I think it is just a case of consumers not buying $4.00 Lattes and instead trying to make payments on their jumbo, balloon payment, 3 points over prime etc. etc. adjustable rate mortgage on a house they can't sell that keeps dropping in value month after month. The first thing people will cut back on is their daily Mocha Frap to save a few bucks. I guess consumers are just drinking more freeze dried Folgers Crystals now.

The9 Limited Gets Smashed

Revenue was up 35 percent but earnings were 4 cents short of estimates.
Part of The9's problem, Brueschke said, is that it is using very expensive
Hewlett-Packard servers to operate the game. The better it does, the more server
farms have to be added, hurting profits.

Furthermore, the game is still in its early, low-margin,
"investment phase," and its higher-margin phase is still many quarters away, the
analyst added.

That first thing kind of sucks because as the game gets more popular then expenses will rise at the same time. I wonder what this higher margin phase will be as well. World of Warcraft is kind of getting long in the tooth as video games go and I have heard about a dropoff in interest for the game.

Maybe Chinese gamers are different then US gamers and they lose interest in the game at a slower rate but I'm not so sure. I'm sure the expansion will bring more players back to the game and have more players pick it up but that will peter out eventually. I guess that is the danger of having only a single item that you derive the majority of your revenue from.

J. Michels Video Game Index 11/16/07

-$1,298.00 -2.92%

J. Michels Uranium Index 11/16/07

+$257.00 +0.42%

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Video Game Sales up a Whopping 73% in October

Now these are some impressive numbers compared to J.C. Penneys and Kohl's warning lower.
U.S. sales of video game hardware and software jumped 73 percent in
October, with Nintendo Co Ltd's Wii console regaining its spot as the
top-selling console, industry data showed on Thursday. Total sales were
$1.1 billion, compared with $643 million a year earlier, according to market
research firm NPD.

Hillary Campaign Planting the Questions Now

I missed this when I was in Japan but it looks like the Hillary Campaign is now resorting to planting questions so she can better triangulate her answers.
"After her speech, Clinton accepted questions. But according to
Grinnell College student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff ’10, some of the questions from
the audience were planned in advance. 'They were canned,' she said. Before the
event began, a Clinton staff member approached Gallo-Chasanoff to ask a specific
question after Clinton’s speech. 'One of the senior staffers told me what [to
ask],' she said.

I thought these Town Halls were supposed to be impromptu and not as rehearsed as a debate or a stump speech. I guess the Clitonistas are resorting the snake oil salesman school of using shills to back their candidate. Maybe Obama will pull this thing out after all.

Hillary on the Defence at the Las Vegas Debate

Wow it looks like the Democratic nomination is starting to turn into something other then a Coronation of the Her Triangulous, Queen Hillary I. It is instead turning into a bomb throwing contest with Hillary fighting from behind.
Edwards was next to accuse Clinton of trying to have it both ways with
the war in Iraq, Social Security and defining the scope of President Bush's
power to use military force against Iran. "She says she will bring change to
Washington while she continues to defend a system that does not work, that is
broken, that is rigged, that is corrupt," added the former North Carolina

"I've just been personally attacked again," Clinton shot back. "I
don't mind taking hits on my record on issues, but when somebody starts throwing mud at least we can hope it's accurate and not right out of the Republican playbook."

Yup Edwards is using Republican plays against her boo-hoo. If she wasn't such a wishy-washy triangulator she wouldn't have these problems. She relies far too much on polling data and consensus building to have an opinion on anything. If someone said "Iran just bombed Israel; Madam President what do we do?" She would say " let's get a poll together that will judge the harshness of the statement that we will send to the UN while making sure we don't offend Persian sensibilities."

At least you know where a guy like Edwards stands on the issues. I would even give grudging respect to a guy like Kucinich because he clearly states his loony notions and doesn't obfuscate and search for the "correctly polled and vetted answer" to everything. Hillary just isn't authentic and Obama and Edwards are using it as a hammer against her.

J. Michels Video Game Index 11/15/07

+$22.00 +0.05%

J. Michels Uranium Index 11/15/07

-$2,266.62 -3.54%

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lennar Mothballing Homes

Now this is some scary stuff if you are looking for housing to bottom out.
Lennar Corp., for one, has joined the "not to sell" camp at its
development in Orange County, Calif. The Miami company plans to finish
building 259 homes -- the first phase of a 1,100-unit development in Irvine
-- but it has decided not to sell any of them until the constrained mortgage
market and swollen housing inventory improves.

So they are basically building houses and then just letting them sit until the market improves. What happens if you run out of cash while waiting for things to improve?

Lennar has $128 million in cash on the books and 3.12 billion in debt. I wonder what it will cost Lennar to make those 259 homes? It just seems to go against business sense to pay big money (perhaps 50 million or so?) to build something and then sit on it until the time is right to sell the thing. This is especially true when the thing you are building might have been priced too high in the first place due to a bubble. I wonder what the margin on these homes today compared to the 2005. It would be interesting to find out how much it has shrunk.

J. Michels Video Game Index 11/14/07

-$33.00 -0.07%

J. Michels Uranium Index 11/14/07

+$1,125.63 +1.79%

Friday, November 02, 2007

Prince Finally Out at Citigroup

You would figure that if a CEO lost $6.5 billion he would be out on his ear alot faster then now. Too bad he took the stock price down to the tune of 38% on his way out the door.
Charles Prince will offer his resignation as chief executive
officer of Citigroup Inc., the biggest U.S. bank, the Wall Street Journal
reported. The shares rose in extended trading.

I was stopped out of this stock quite a while ago but it may be a good beaten down name to jump back into after the smoke clears on their total writedowns. Hopefully they won't need to cut their dividend in order to meet their capital requirements.

MSFT Employees Gave $72 Million

Now this is a nice program that more companies should think about doing.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT - News) matches
employee donations, dollar-for-dollar, for up to $12,000 per employee per year.
This year, the company's 70,000 employees donated to 25,000 nonprofit groups.

In addition, the company directly donated another $68 million in
cash and $331 million in software to nonprofits.

You can't say that the evil empire doesn't give some its money to charity. $331 million in free items cannot be a bad thing.

J. Michels Video Game Index 11/2/07

-$3.99 -0.01%

J. Michels Uranium Index 11/2/07

+$1,569.00 +2.84%

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Worlds Oldest Clam Born in 1602

Now this is quite a feat for a lowly clam.

Scientists said the mollusc, an ocean quahog clam, was aged between
405 and 410 years and could offer insights into the secrets of longevity.

Researchers from Bangor University in north Wales said they
calculated its age by counting rings on its shell.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the longest-lived
was a clam found in 1982 aged 220.

The weird part is that this clam was born at the same time the Dutch East India Company was founded in the Netherlands. That was the first multinational corporation that was also the first company to issue stock. Now this is also whopping figure. The Dutch East India Company paid
an 18% dividend for almost 200 years! This was also the first performance of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

EA Posts Pretty Decent Numbers

It seems that Electronic Arts posted some down numbers due to an accounting change to sales of online-enabled games but things are looking great for Christmas.
Adjusted earnings, excluding the change in revenue recognition and
other items, were $87 million, or 27 cents per share, up from $65 million, or 21
cents per share a year earlier. On that basis, EA beat Wall Street's earnings
expectations. Analysts, on average, were expecting a profit of 20 cents per
share, according to a poll by Thomson Financial.

They also say that game sales in North America and Europe for 2007 will grow 15 percent to 20 percent. That seems pretty reasonable and would seem to be recession proof since video games seem to be bought in all markets no matter what. They are also saying they are holding market share and also closing some facilities, including one in Chertsey, England wherever that is.

It is good for the stock after hours since it is up 5%. Finally, it seems the options players were straddling the stock as well unsure of where numbers will fall. It should be interesing to see the conviction tomorrow morning on this stock.

Take-Two Leaves Banned Content in Game

It looks like hackers have unlocked the content that moved the game from Adults Only to Mature status. I guess Rockstar only blocked the gory content and did not cut them out of the game entirely. I wonder if this is another case of the "Hot Coffee" mod.
Take-Two edited parts of the game, including blurring some of the most
gruesome killing scenes, to get the less restrictive rating.

Hackers defeated that blurring on the version of the game for Sony
Corp.'s PlayStation Portable. The game is also available for the PlayStation 2
and Nintendo Wii systems, and those versions do not appear to have been

J. Michels Video Game Index 11/1/07

-$641.01 -1.33%

J. Michels Uranium Index 11/1/07

-$2,421.00 -4.19%