Posts filed under “Analysts”

Sheila Bair: On Ratings Agencies, Bank Leverage

Former Chairman of the FDIC Sheila Bair talks about President Barack Obama’s nomination of Jack Lew to Secreatery of the Treasury. She speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

Bair: “I Would Like to See Justice Done on Ratings”

Bair Says Ratings Companies Need Regulatory Changes

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Banks Still Have Too Much Leverage, Bair Says

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Is Wells Fargo Still the White Knight of Banking?

Source: Bloomberg, Jan. 11 2013

Category: Analysts, Credit, Video

The Collossal Gall of Bad Apple Investors

“In the last quarter of last year, especially with the change in tax rate coming, I think Investors got exasperated. There were a number of investors that this was their largest holding, And it destroyed their record for last year. There were ramifications for what the board did.”

-Lawrence Haverty, Gamco Investors on Apple’s $137 billion dollar cash hoard

 

That absurd quote above was heard this morning on Bloomberg with Tom Keene interviewing Haverty. The display of investing acumen cognitive dissonance is rather ironic.

As a longstanding Apple guy (think Mac Classic in 1989) and someone who was pushing the stock post iPod at $15 (pre-split), I cannot help but be astounded at the current crop of Apple shareholders. Wall Street has always misunderstood Apple but its now getting ridiculous.

Recall that during the run up from a near bankruptcy to the largest company on earth, creatively destroying all competitors in its path, the value guys all touted the cash as a reason the company was cheap. Ex-Cash, its a 9 P/E we heard.

Now, they insist the cash must be returned to its rightful owners — them.

If you want to know why Apple is holding onto all that money (aside from obvious tax considerations), just look at Dell. It is a cautionary tale than any technology company can miss the next shifting tech trend and quickly become irrelevant. Bang, you are the next Maytag. Even Microsoft’s history offers a foreboding look at using special dividends as a salve to investors concerned only with their quarterly P&L (and personal compensation via 2 & 20 fee structures).

David Einhorn is a great investor (and a nice guy), but he joined the Apple party somewhat late, and suffered a setback last year with the rest of shareholders once the law of big numbers set in. He is now suing the company because they have too much cash.

My takeaway is that Graham & Dodd value investors are terrible at buying technology companies (They don’t know how to manage positions)

Now we have guys like Lawrence Haverty the Gamco portfolio manager, who is the source of the quote above. Boo hoo for the investors who feasted on the way up, but — WTF?!? – saw a performance setback because after a 10,000% move, Apple now gave back 30%?

The cognitive dissonance comes from not admitting their error — hanging around too long — and instead blaming the board.

My criticism of the critics is not Monday morning quarterbacking — recall that we took some Apple off the table last year ($625-650) and advised clients to do the same. And we further took that warning public back in October and November of 2012. Those who overstayed their welcomes have only themselves to blame. (Aren’t hedge funds supposed to be, well, “hedged?”)

What should Apple do? For legal reasons, they should hear what these activist shareholder are suggesting, giving them a thorough hearing out, with all attendant chin stroking and “Hmmm, interesting” — prior to ignoring them.

Apple has a long-term strategic plan which for obvious competitive reasons is top secret. Sorry, activist investors, but we cannot share them with you because it would give an advantage to competitors like Samsung and Google and Amazon and Facebook. But rest assured, we have a plan.

However, Apple can tell investors that their strategies may or may not include the following:

-Funding a separate R&D division (like Xerox Parc) to keep fostering “outside the box” innovations;

-Creating a subscription based unlimited streaming music business;

-Make a series of strategic acquisitions (such as Pandora or Twitter);

-Funding a long term Venture Capital division to foster more innovations for the Apple ecosystem

-Supersecret plan X! Its so secret, it would risk of billions of dollars in business, so excuse us if we cannot tell you.

Etc.

Technology is a fast moving sector of the economy, where trends shift quickly and alliances change overnight. Having a cash hoard gives Apple maximum flexibility to deal with this for their future.

Sorry if after 30 years, changing the dynamic in no less than 6 industries, creating the biggest technology firm in the world and briefly, the biggest company of any sort on the planet, we had a bad couple of quarters. That was inevitable.

It was obvious that Apple had to eventually run into the law of large numbers. Perhaps less obvious was the law of activist fund managers:  No matter how much money a company makes for investors, they all eventually want more . . .

 

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Category: Analysts, Really, really bad calls, Technology, Trading

Moody’s, S&P Knew of Ratings Fraud

A quick reminder of the extent of corruption at the ratings agencies: They were well aware of the fraud that was going on, they just elected to ignore it. Recall this 2010 NYT article: “In 2004, well before the risks embedded in Wall Street’s bets on subprime mortgages became widely known, employees at Standard &…Read More

Category: Analysts, Bailouts, Legal, Really, really bad calls

Wall St. Feeling Better but Far from Bullish

  I have shown this graphic repeatedly in the past, but given today’s rally, we might as well trot it out one more time: The Sell Side Indicator — Merrill’s measure of Wall Street’s bullishness on stocks — rose by 2.8pt in January to 49.8. This is now an eight month high and the fifth…Read More

Category: Analysts, Contrary Indicators, Investing, Psychology

Cred and Credulity: Dylan Grice

Okay, kids, gather round: I have in my hands your weekend reading assignment, and its a doozey: Dylan Grice, former Société Générale strategist (and Big Picture conference speaker) collection of Popular Delusions essays. The work covers the period from 2009 to 2012 and runs 244 pages long. It is chock full of terrific stuff. Topics range…Read More

Category: Analysts, Investing, Markets

Honest Rating Agency Is Punished for Telling the Truth

While Hooey-Peddling Agencies Are Rewarded The big 3 government backed ratings agencies (technically known as Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization) – S&P, Moody’s and Fitch – all committed massive fraud, which was a prime cause of the 2008 economic crash. They took bribes for higher ratings, “sold their soul“, engaged in a “culture of covering…Read More

Category: Analysts, Bailouts, Credit, Think Tank

SEC Bans Wrong Ratings Agency

Throw back the little ones And pan fry the big ones Use tact, poise and reason And gently squeeze them -Steely Dan, Throw back the Little Ones   The WSJ is reporting that the Securities and Exchange Commission has suspended small ratings firm Egan-Jones from issuing any “official ratings” on bonds issued by countries, U.S. states,…Read More

Category: Analysts, Bailouts, Credit, Really, really bad calls

S&P 500 Index at Inflection Point

Dr. David P. Kelly of JP Morgan Asset Management quarterly deck is out. Its a regular favorite of mine, laden as it is with great charts that look at the very long term. You can download the entire 69 page deck here.   click for ginormous chart Source: JP Morgan Funds

Category: Analysts, Data Analysis, Investing, Markets

4 Companies Provided Half of SPX 2012 Earnings Growth

Source: Adam Parker, Morgan Stanley   Today’s absurd datapoint comes from Slate’s Moneybox: 88% of the S&P500 earnings growth for 2012 came from just 10 firms. Just four companies—Apple, AIG, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America—together provided a majority of overall earnings growth among large-cap companies.   Source: Four Companies That Together Provided Most of…Read More

Category: Analysts, Earnings

QOTD: Housing Recovery

I moderated a few panels at the PEW conference in DC this summer with Sheila Bair — and the stand out to me was Laurie Goodman. I think this quote today sums up the Housing recovery meme perfectly:   “While we have seen many dramatic headlines touting the housing recovery over the past 3.5 years,…Read More

Category: Analysts, Real Estate