Friday, June 29, 2007


Well, QB and I are off to Vegas this evening. There's going to be a heck of a crowd, as I think there are about ten of us or so that will all be meeting up over there. Even the legendary T-Bag is going to be flying out there from DC. And, let's not forget the GZA of 12th Street who is now the father of a beautiful daughter and no longer just the white version of that genius rapper.

We were able to get really good rates over at the Planet Hollywood. If you haven't heard of it, that's because that name has only been in use for a couple of months. You see, the Aladdin was sold to Planet Hollywood a few years ago, and only recently had the hotel been renovated and completely re-branded. Hopefully, the place is decent. I have never stayed at the Aladdin in the past... I guess I won't really have a good frame of reference to judge if the hotel is any nicer now than before.

In any case, it should be a good time. There'll be some pokering, some degenerate gambling (probably blackjack, pai gow poker, and craps), good food, and a show. We're going to see the Phantom Las Vegas Spectacular over at the Venetian. I heard it was a well-done, but shortened version of the original. I'm not a sophisticated theatre type at all. So even if the show stinks, I bet I'll think it's great.

Anyway, have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Upcoming Portfolio Disruption

Over the next six to eight weeks, the Long-Term Portfolio will be undergoing a serious makeover due to major cash outflow. For those who don't know what the deal is, don't worry, it's nothing bad... more details to come when things are a lot more certain.

Anyway, at this point, I am putting on hold all plans to buy more stocks that I like. I will be spending a fair bit of time figuring out which positions to sell off, either in whole or in part. The Trading Portfolio will likely be downsized as I move funds from it into the Long-Term Portfolio in an effort to keep as many positions intact as possible.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

eBay Going Back To China

According to the New York Times, eBay (EBAY) is getting back into the China auction business. I believe this is a good thing, and should help propel the stock a little higher. Hopefully, the company has learned a thing or two about the Chinese market since their last foray there. Then again, maybe my optimism is just wishful thinking.

Interestingly, there was a large block of 2MM shares that traded in the afterhours market. Anyway, have a good night.

*** Edit #1 ***

EBAY is moving higher today in a strongly down market. So, that's good.

I went ahead and covered the Network Appliance (NTAP) short at 31.25.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Quick Update

I've been so busy today with meetings, it's sick.

Anyway, I see that my order to sell some Form Factor (FORM) July 40 puts at 0.80 filled today. So, the two possibilities on expiration are that I pocket the premiums, or I end up re-entering my FORM position at an effective price of 39.20.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Perceptions and Monetary Loss

Earlier, I had a random conversation with a few friends that led to questions about losing money and how it would make you feel. I think everyone had their own opinions, and I'm just curious what you all think.

Say we had the following two situations:

1) You invest $10K in some stock, and lose $1K.

2) You carry $10K in cash by grasping it in your fist, open to the world. Some unforeseen event causes you to lose $1K (e.g. strong gust of wind knocks you over and $1K in bills flies away, or some bum runs up beside you really quickly and manages to snatch away $1K).

Obviously both scenarios suck, because losing a thousand bucks isn't fun. But, the question is... Do you feel differently about how the money was lost in both situations? Bottom line is that at the end of the day, you are out $1K. But, do you dwell over one loss more than the other? Is it irrational to do so or not?

And, no, this has nothing to do with a real-life situation. Although, it does stink that NTAP jumped today while EBAY sank.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Quick Update

Hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine was not the most relaxing, but it ended well.

Anyway, I got back into eBay (EBAY) at 31.70 and sold Network Appliance (NTAP) short at 31.79. Both are medium-sized positions in the Trading Portfolio.

Contemplating adding to Glatfelter (GLT) in the Long-Term Portfolio, but I'm probably going to hold off on that. Also, thinking about selling the July 40 puts on Form Factor (FORM) as I try and figure out how to re-enter that position.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Quick Update

Options expire today, so here's a quickie to keep the record straight.

Yahoo! (YHOO) June 30 calls (YHQFF) sold for $1.25 will expire worthless.

Form Factor (FORM) June 40 calls (AFUFH) sold for $1.05 are deep enough in the money that I will not be buying them back. The LT Portfolio's FORM position will be called away this weekend for $40. I will be looking to buy the shares back when they fall back closer to $40. If the stock runs away from me, that'll suck. I still like the company quite a bit. I will keep FORM on the list of stocks on the right for now. I will remove it from the list if a couple weeks pass and I was unable to buy the shares back.

The Network Appliance (NTAP) June 32.50 (NULRZ)- 30 (NULRF) bear put spread resulted in a loss of 0.45. I closed out the 32.50's, and the 30's will expire worthless. I could have taken a significant gain earlier in the week, but decided to gamble and hang on until the last minute to close out. As you see, I lost that gamble.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Qiao Xing Mobile

I didn't plan on blogging a second time today, but Bloomberg just reported that UBS just initiated coverage on Qiao Xing Mobile (QXM) with a Buy-2 rating and a $14 price target. This means that UBS believes the stock is a buy, but with the caveat that there is higher variance in their target price prediction.

This coverage comes just two days after CIBC and Cowen initiated coverage with Sector Outperform and Outperform ratings, respectively. Cowen reported that their latest checks showed strong trends in Chinese mobile handset demand, and they see QXM shares appreciating 30% relative to the market over the next 12 months. And, CIBC provided a $12 price target on the shares along with its Sector Outperform rating citing QXM's strong position in the growing market for handsets and smartphones in China.

I might dump half the trading position. It seems that I got a bit lucky in the timing on this one (+13% in 10 days), and I would want to book some gains at least. I suppose I'll have something to think about this weekend.

A Flash In The Pan?

Eastman Kodak announced today that they have developed a new set of color filter patterns that will eliminate the need for flash. If they are able to produce this and put them onto cell phones and other high volume products, this could be really huge for them. Picture a future where all those dim, fuzzy photos captured by cell phone cameras are a thing of the past.

Kodak continues to strengthen their digital position, and it will certainly be interesting to see how the company performs from here on out.

You can read the press release here.

For the past two weeks or so, there was unusual volume on the 27.50's. After today's announcement, all the odd options trading on the 27.50's sort of makes sense now. Who knows if there was a leak of some sort, but what's clear is that those call buyers made a killing.

Anyway, I do hope that Kodak makes the most of this technology, and that it's not a mere flash in the pan. Its weary shareholders can't afford to have any more setbacks and disappointments.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ex-Dividend and Limit Orders

A friend of mine was a bit baffled when his brokerage adjusted the price of his limit order for Altria Group (MO) today from 69.50 to 68.81. Anyway, he asked me about it. He's new to the world of investing, and I imagine quite a few others that are also inexperienced might find this little bit of knowledge useful. So, I'll write up a quick explanation.

When a stock pays a dividend, there are two dates that are important. One is the ex-dividend date and the other is the actual dividend pay date. The dividend pay date tells you when you will actually receive your dividend. The ex-dividend date tells you on what day the stock begins trading 'ex-' (without) dividend rights. This means that if you purchase shares on the ex-dividend date or later, then you are not entitled to receive any dividends on the dividend pay date.

When a stock goes ex-dividend, its price is adjusted down by the dividend amount. We see that yesterday, MO closed at 70.14. Today is its ex-dividend date, and it closed at 70.26. This quarter's dividend is 0.69 per share. What this means is that MO went up 0.81 today, and not just 0.12.

Naturally, your limit order price will be adjusted to account for this. And, that is exactly what happened with my friend's order. That said, you can specifically add a 'do not reduce' condition to your limit order, which basically tells your broker not to make any adjustment to your limit price due to dividends.

Monday, June 11, 2007

LA Trip and Lots of Food Pics

To make a long story short, QB and I went down to LA over the weekend. It was mostly to hang out with my family and to celebrate a few things including a belated Mother's Day, an early Father's Day, and a soon-to-be-born baby.

Friday night, QB, Crestfallen, and I hit up Father's Office in Santa Monica for some damn good burgers. They are really, really good. And, we had some sweet potato fries and aioli dipping sauce to go with them. Man, I haven't had such a delicious burger from a bar in... do I dare say, ever? Jules would probably toss that Big Kahuna burger in the trash after having one of these. I washed it all down with a Tripel Karmeliet beer.

On Saturday, there was a small party we attended at Marmalade Cafe in LA's Farmer's Market. It was a sort-of baby shower, but it was clearly co-ed, so I think that means it wasn't a baby shower. The brunch we had there was really good, but the fare was typical, so I won't write much more about it.

For dinner, seven of us ate at Noé Restaurant inside the Omni Hotel. I learned about a week prior to the planned dinner that their head chef, Robert Gadsby, had left to pursue other interests. I was really disappointed by that, but it was too late to do much about it, since I didn't want to change everyone's plans at the last minute. Despite knowing of the departure of their famous chef, we opted to do the 9-course tasting menu. We figured, we probably wouldn't get another opportunity to have a really nice meal like this in quite some time.

So, without further ado, I bring on the pictures of food...

Bread Dip of Olive Oil and Anchovies

Complimentary Amuse Bouche - Rabbit

Tuna Tartare with Watermelon

Diver Scallop with a Forest Mushroom Purée

Noé's Signature Dish - Classic Mimosa Salad
Accompanied by Mango Frappé

Corn Chowder Cappucino (no coffee, just a name)

Striped Bass over a Tomato Confit
(I messed up the dish slightly before taking a picture, ugh)

Duck and Foie Gras with Pears, Strawberries, and Arugula

Lamb in a Red Wine Sauce over Whipped Potatoes

Passion Fruit Cake with Blueberries
(for those who opted out of the cheese plate)

Cheese Plate - Epoisse and Onatek(?)

The Final Dish - Pastry with Berries

All in all, I thought the food was pretty good. I thought both the bass and the scallop were excellent. I wasn't a huge fan of the lamb, but everything else was really good. I wish the service was a bit better though. They weren't so good with keeping the water glasses full, and for one of the dishes, they forgot to provide one of us with silverware... incredulous.

The next day, we went out to Venice Beach. Didn't do too much out there. Grabbed some coffee at Cafe Collage, and checked out the random street vendors and entertainers. Also, got a cool shot of some wall graffiti.

The End

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sharp WS011SH Advanced/W-ZERO3 [es]

Okay, I really didn't mean to hammer you all with back-to-back work-related mobile phone posts on this blog, but it just so happens that Sharp and Willcom (previously a subsidiary of KDDI) announced a new PDA smartphone yesterday.

Here's a link to their glamorized website. It might be a little slow loading, and you might need to have Japanese language pack installed, but there's a lot of images on the site. Link to the Sharp WS011SH Advanced/W-ZERO3 [es].

And, here are a few images of the phone that I lifted from the link above and also this Willcom link.

Everyone's been extremely busy at work lately, but it does seem like the effort we've put forth and the sacrifices we've been making are starting to pay off.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Porsche P'9521 Phone

Yesterday, Porsche Design Group unveiled its first mobile handset device, the P'9521. I don't know too much about the phone yet, except that my co-workers and I are responsible for one of the components on it. It's obviously a high-end luxury phone similar to those released in the past by luxury brands such as Prada and Ferrari.

Seems like the P'9521 is the first in a new class of products for Porsche Design. Looking at their product list, I see:

P'1000 - Fashion
P'2000 - Luggage
P'3000 - Accessories
P'5000 - Sports
P'6000 - Timepieces
P'7000 - Home
P'8000 - Eyewear

I wonder what happened to P'4000?

In any case, I personally like how the phone looks. Here's a picture below taken from the phone announcement link above. That's really all I wanted to say... just thought I'd share.

Quick Update

I'm back in Wet Seal (WTSLA) with a smaller sized trading position at 5.92. I didn't want to put too much at risk with the upcoming Same Store Sales figures for May. Portfolio got a bit bloodied today, but relative to the overall market, it's not much of a concern.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Some Thoughts and Speculation

I've been a champion of Eastman Kodak (EK) for quite some time now. Thus far, it has been a poor investment. While I'm not losing money on it, I've lost quite a bit in terms of missed opportunity, as it has severely underperformed the market and has returned far less than the risk-free rate.

I've bought shares a total of 4 times in unequal portions:

08/17/2004 $28.72
10/20/2004 $29.93
04/25/2005 $26.94
09/21/2006 $21.59

Cost Basis: $26.62

Since I've owned it, I've received 3.7% additional shares as a result of dividend re-investment. So, the effective cost basis taking this into account is $25.68.

I've certainly endured some ups and downs, and I was close to throwing in the towel on a number of occasions as some of the longer-time readers might recall. But, for better or worse (mostly worse), I've held on to the shares.

That's just to give some background, since I'm on lunch break and have some time to write up a bit about it.

So, in the past few trading days, I would say that something seems a bit odd in the trading of both EK stock and its options. Shares have been moving up strongly with large volume seemingly ignoring other market activity. No real news of any kind came out that should prompt this activity.

Looking at today's options trades... 1,567 June 27.50 contracts traded with an open interest of 6,551. The July and October contracts also experienced heavy call volume.

And, to add further to the speculative machine, one of their board members, Richard Braddock, practically doubled his position about a month ago with a couple of purchases on the open market at around $24.80. Maybe there's not much to it other than him seeing the shares as an opportunity to make some extra money... as they say, "there are a hundred reasons to sell a stock, but there's only one reason to buy."

Who knows what the truth is, really. But, something seems a bit off. Please don't think of me as some broken record that keeps bringing up buyout talk of positions I hold, but I do wonder about this sort of stuff often when I monitor trading activity.

Although the Legg Mason Value Trust did do some selling of shares, 20% of EK is still owned by Legg Mason. They clearly have not given up on the company.

Monday, June 04, 2007

FMD Rumor Mill and Quick Update

First Marblehead (FMD) made a strong move to the upside today. According to a couple sources, it seems that rumors of a Wells Fargo (WFC) buyout are circulating again. The company is not just inexpensive in my view, which quite a few others share... it is downright cheap. I don't know enough about WFC, so I am not sure how well FMD would fit their business, but I would not be surprised if they are currently seriously interested in taking them out based on the current valuation of FMD.

*** Edit #1 ***

I forgot to mention in the above... I picked up a medium-sized trading position in Qiao Xing Mobile Communication (QXM) at $9.02 earlier this morning. I first mentioned the company about a month ago, and at the time, it was trading around $11. With the drop in share price, I think taking a stab at it is worth the risk.