Thursday, October 30, 2008

When Will Vale Shake Off The Rust? (RIO, BHP, RTP)

Varian Keeps Beaming (VAR, ARAY, TOMO)

Big news for your fearless narrator

This is so ridiculous, it could only happen to me.

I've accepted an offer to join a sell-side equity boutique as their medical technologies analyst. Yeah, the market is down 40-something percent and I'm going back to sell-side Wall Street!!!

Based on the past trajectory of my career and personal life, the fact that I'm making this move strongly suggests that the market is going to crater in February and then start recovering.

I hope to keep writing/blogging so long as I'm allowed to, though I clearly won't be writing on anything relating to my coverage space (nor any companies followed by my new co-workers).

I enjoyed working for this fixed income buy-side shop, but it was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up.

Anyways, as the Muppets would say, "On with the show!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Alcon Takes A Poke In The Eye (ACL, NVS, AZN)

Ahh, Alcon ... one of those great companies now trading at a reasonable valuation ... in a time where everything else is trading incredibly cheap.

If you want a sure bet, here it is -- if I don't end up buying Alcon down here, I think you can bet very safely that I'm going to be lamenting it loudly and often for years to come...

Take A Pass On Boston Scientific (BSX, MDT, STJ)

Some day BSX will a spot-free company. On that day, I'll eat my monitor.
I also made that bet 10 years ago. Have never had to pay up ... not too worried about ever having to pay up on it.

Swiss Power Company ABB Flickers (ABB, SI, ETN)

I happen to really like ABB. Even with all of the turmoil in the board room, this is a company that simply has the sorts of products that are going to be in high demand whenever this global slowdown eases.

That said, I don't think anybody's going to rushing to buy an industrial infrastructure play these days...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Acrapalypse Now

I hate waking up and seeing this ... the 30-yr bond is below 3.9%, the European markets are getting torched, and the U.S. futures are pointing to something like 6% declines.

Now, this could all change throughout the day (or in an hour), and we could end up positive for the day ... but I don't believe this.

This is the point where it starts getting demoralizing. I think (hope?) we might be in the so-called capitulation phase -- that point where clients are making GMO ("get me out") and GMTFO calls -- but you never really know when you're in the middle of it.

No way am I making the "that's it ... the U.S. market is finished, sell all of your stocks and buy gold" call. That's nonsense. We'll get through this and we'll be back to the stock market as usual somewhere down the line. I have no idea if it'll be a five-year period to recovery or a 25-year period (we've seen both in American financial history), though, but I have complete certainty that nothing fundamental about the markets, or its investors, has permanently changed.

I realize there isn't really any insight here, but part of the point for me in this blog is to both log and record the pieces I write for others ... and to occasionally opine on topics that I can't (or don't want to) write up for other sites.

To that end, it's just demoralizing to wake up to the feeeling that you're in for a really rough end to the week. Heck, I'm beating the market (but still down a lot), but today is going to be another blow to the gut.

All I can say is to just stay alert to opportunities and take care of yourself -- get your sleep, stay up with the exercise and so on. Driving yourself crazy because the market is knuckling under to the collective panic of its participants does no good. Believe me, I've tried.

Good luck to us all!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Riding The Cycle With Weatherford (WFT, NOV, BHI, OIH)

I spent a lot of the first half of this year worried that I was missing the boat on energy services and second-guessing my feeling that energy was going to retreat with the recession. Glad I stuck with my thesis.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tracking UTX's Moving Parts (UTX, IR, DHR)

A Rare Opportunity In Steel Dynamics (STLD)

Along with Peabody (which I also wrote on recently), this is one of the few companies where I actually believe what management tells me and trust them to run the business.

Sadly, an increasingly novel concept...

The Peabody Story Is Elementary (BTU, ACI, CNX)

Once again I get to write about one of the better-run companies out there today...
Seems like every commodity is just collapsing into a puddle of goo, but that won't last forever.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Particular Conundrum Of This Market

So, here's the latest thing that's driving me crazy about this market (and at this point, it's a REALLY short drive)...

I'm finally seeing a chance to buy really good companies like Alcon, T.Rowe Price, and the like at pretty reasonable valuations. All the while, there's a host of "okay to pretty good" companies trading at "are you >bleeping< kidding me?!?!" valuations.

It's enough to drive a value-oriented guy to the edge...

Polaris Still Shining (PII, FLE, BC)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Frankencapitalism At Your Local Bank (GS, MS, BAC)

This was written for Investopedia:

Strange days indeed.


Monsanto - A Non-Commodity Commodity Play (MON, DD)

Here's the latest I've written on Monsanto for Investopedia.

I've long loved this company and lamented the valuation. Boy howdy is this a volatile one!


The Icelandic Saga

Interesting piece in BusinessWeek on the collapse of Iceland (

Interesting if, for no other reason, than this seems to be getting relatively little play, what with our financial system collapsing and all. It certainly is/was remarkable to see how a tiny country (smaller, population-wise, than my hometown of Omaha) could get so big on the global banking stage.

Of course, that's the wonderful thing about debt, isn't it? It allows you to get big REALLY fast. Then, of course, there's a reckoning and you get a whole lot smaller REALLY fast ... But nobody ever seems to remember that part until it's too late.

If I were Western Europe, I'd be a little more eager to help them out. After all, the last time the Vikings took it in the shorts, they sacked half of known civilization. Granted, that produced the material for bands like Amon Amarth to sing about today, so it's not all bad ...

But with Iceland possibly cozying up to Russia for assistance, maybe it's time to find a few spare dimes for our Viking brothers. After all, keeping Putin from making new friends in "our" part of the world is probably something that's in our long-term best interests.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Trouble Below The Surface At Acergy (ACGY, RIG, NE)

Can Aluminum (And Alcoa) Shine Again? (AA, CENX, RTP)

Here's an article I wrote for Investopedia.

Hard to get a good read on commodities right now. I still think we have a long way to go with this "super cycle", but the thing that the commodity perma-bulls always seem to forget is that you can have some white-knuckle corrections during that long upward march.

In any event, enjoy.

... And We're Live

Here we go folks...

I decided to start this blog principally as a way of cataloging my freelance writing (primarily for Investopedia these days). But since I'm here, I'll probably make the occasional posting on other items of interest and ideas that I can't write about for Investopedia or other sites.

By all means, feel free to offer up feedback. I know it looks a little crude for now, but I hope to refine elements of this as we go along (assuming there's the interest level).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Curious Bid For Atmel (ATML, ONNN, MCHP)"

I wrote the following for Investopedia on the unusual potential three-way deal between chip companies Atmel, ON Semiconductor, and Microchip.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Actuant A Growth Company In Training (ATU)

A piece for Investopedia:

Wachovia-Wells Fargo A Victory For Us All (WB, WFC, C)

I wrote the following for Investopedia:

Clearly we're in brand-new territory when it comes to government involved in the banking sector. Nevertheless, I can't see any reason for the government to spurn a viable all-private deal in favor of a Citi bid that requires government assistance.