Archive for January, 2013

Ready To Jump On The Research In Motion ($RIMM) Train? You Must Be Insane

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 01.31.2013 (4:00 am)

logo blackberry blackI have not traded Research in Motion (RIMM) in some time now. In fact, a few months ago I publicly said that it was very unlikely that we’d see RIMM recover. Turns out that the stock (see the 5 year chart later in this post) has done very well in the past few months based on hopes that the new Blackberry10 would be a game changer.

Yesterday, the company unveiled Blackberry10, announced it would be changing the company’s name to Blackberry and even its ticker to BBRY.

Time To Rethink My Position On Blackberry (BBRY)?

I’ve not been a believer and I’m not about to change. Why? There are so many reasons.

Apps rule: Having the best hardware is important but having the apps is critical. Apple and Android feature hundreds of thousands of apps and while Blackberry expects to launch with 70K apps, it’s not even close. There will be several of the top apps but many of the critical ones such as Youtube, Google Maps, Instagram have so far refused to commit to building a Blackberry map.

There’s No Reason To Switch: Blackberry is pulling off all the steps (including a Super Bowl ad) to make this a success but the fact is that even in its most recent presentation, Blackberry was not able to provide any solid reasons why users would want to switch. Their best reason is that some users have 2 phones (Blackberry for work and iPhone/Android for personal stuff).. The fact is that there is little reason why users of those phones would want to switch.

It’s Just Too Late: Just ask Microsoft how things have been going with its Windows mobile strategy.  The network effect creates major incentives for developers to keep focusing on Android and iOS devices and for users to stick to what they know and where their friends and family are.

Users Are Leaving Or Preparing To Do So: A large portion of Blackberry’s users are corporate users in governments and large corporations. Those react more slowly and many governments and large banks are currently testing and preparing to start migrating to other platforms. Just look at how revenues have been progressing in the past few quarters… it’s not looking good:

RIMM Revenue Quarterly YoY Growth Chart

RIMM Revenue Quarterly YoY Growth data by YCharts

I’m thinking of making a longer term speculative trade on RIMM. I just don’t see much upside here, I don’t believe BBM10 has a shot and analysts don’t either. They expect the company to lose money both this year and in 2014… so P/E ratios are very difficult/impossible to use. Still, I think there is a fair possibility that the stock will suffer major losses in the next few months. The company is expected to report its next earnings at the end of March which will certainly give us a good indication of how sales are going.  Limited upside and plenty of downside? Seems like a good short to consider.. I’m still skeptical as the risk of taking a longer term position is significant but I’ll certainly keep posted.

Here are some numbers:

[table “487” not found /]

And the chart:

RIMM

Disclaimer: No position on RIMM

 

Optimizing The Ultimate Sustainable Dividend Portfolio (USDP)

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 01.30.2013 (3:00 am)

37Today, I decided to take a deeper look into the USDP. I got a question a few weeks ago about the beta of the portfolio. I thought that was interesting and decided to take some time to look at it. Just in case some of you are not as familiar, beta is basically a factor that gives you an indication how a stock or portfolio reacts historically compared with the rest of the market.

A stock/portfolio with a beta of over 1 would generally increase more than the market in rising markets but also decline more in down markets. Cyclical companies, technology stocks and others would fit.

A stock/portfolio with a beta of exactly1 would increase exactly like the overall market. You’d expect the SPY ETF for example to be very close to that (according to Bloomberg, it is 0.9957)

A stock/portfolio with a beta between 0 and 1 would increase less than the overall market in rising markets but also decline less in down markets. Large cap stocks would generally be here

Finally, some stocks could have negative beta if they generally rise in falling markets and vice-versa.

I expected the USDP to be a bit under 1. Why? Dividend stocks are generally more stable than the overall market. The only thing that made me pause was the close relationship between the performance of the USDP and the S&P500 total return.

Drilling Down

Here are the top Beta’s in the USDP:

Johnson Controls Inc (JCI) : 1.38
Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY) : 1.37
Eaton Corp (ETN) : 1.36

And the lower ones:

PepsiCo Inc/NC (PEP) : 0.56
JM Smucker Co/The (SJM) : 0.69
Hasbro Inc (HAS) : 0.77

Here are some numbers for the USDP using the shares as of Jan 14th and last night’s data.

[table “485” not found /]

I was quite surprised to see that the overall number is above 1. I guess that goes to show that not all dividend portfolio’s are not created equal. I also took a look at some of the top dividend ETF’s:

VIG 0.9953
DVY 0.9975

You could certainly say that the portfolio is more volatile than the average and that is not something I have an issue with

Sectors

I also took a look at how much exposure I have to certain sectors, you can see the following table:

[table “486” not found /]

I personally think that it’s fairly diversified. As I add more money into the portfolio, I will likely add a few more names but I want to avoid getting to a point where I struggle to keep up with news for my holdings. As I have discussed in the past, I’m also looking to add more international stocks to the portfolio to achieve greater diversification. I do feel like having 20 names is perfect for a portfolio of this size but as it gets to $30-40K, I will likely add a few more names to avoid dropping too much if one of my holdings suffers an Enron-like event.

What does your portfolio look like?

Disclaimer: I will be writing more about this but the USDP-dividend strategy is just one part of my investing strategy, I do have higher concentrations in others, especially in higher risk plays on certain technology stocks (Facebook – FB for example)

Adding Debt To Increase My Assets

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 01.29.2013 (3:00 am)

borrowA few months ago, my wife and I met a financial planner that went over all of our financial things. Our assets, debts, income, spending, taxes, insurance policies, will, and a lot more. His goal was then to go over it all and come up with a few specific recommendations. I expected to be sold on a few different products, probably around life and disability insurance. It did happen to some extent but one of his main suggestions was something that I did not expect.

-borrowing to buy solid investments

Why? Basically, because we are young, have decent level of assets, no debt except for our mortgage.  Add to that the fact that we are capable and willing to take on more risk, do understand the benefits and possible downsides of making such a move, etc. Basically, any money that we can save is currently going into our tax-free retirement accounts but once that’s done, there are 2 main choices:

-increase the speed at which we pay our mortgage
-save money in non-taxable accounts

Since we are paying very little interest on our mortgage, the thinking is fairly simple. Over long periods of time, the odds are that we can generate more money through our assets than whatever we’d be saving if we were paying our mortgage.  It’s fairly straightforward and I certainly know that in theory this is something that makes a lot of sense.

Why Didn’t I Think About This Myself?

You’d think that with all of my financial education, my CFA title and everything else, I could have gotten to this conclusion myself. I guess this is proof that it’s always useful to see someone who is more “impartial”. I’m still not a huge fan of leverage but I do think that to some extent, it makes a lot of sense to increase my leverage.

The tax perspective also makes this more attractive because any money that I end up paying in interests in borrowing to fund investments is tax deductible.

How Much Debt To Take On?

I’m seriously considering adding some debt, but how much? I’ll probably use a ratio of debt to assets.

For example, if I currently own $500K in assets and $200K in debts and am willing to have a 50% ratio, I’d be able to borrow $100K to invest in the markets (or other passive income generating methods). Why? Because I would then have $600K in assets and $300K in debts (300/600 = 50%).

Have You Considered Doing This?

If you are paying 3% on a mortgage and need to generate less than 2% (because of taxes impacts) to breakeven, do you think it’s a no-brainer to keep some level of debts?

New Trade: Long TripAdvisor ($TRIP) & Short Travelzoo ($TZOO)

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 01.28.2013 (3:00 am)

After publishing my 2013 Tech Stock rankingsI’ve been able to start off the year with three good looking trades so far.. or I had until Apple’s recent collapse. That trade is still flat so I do remain confident although I will continue to read analysis on the recent quarter. There’s no doubt that holding Apple is not as “cool” as it was just a few months ago but don’t think that will scare me off. Last week I mentioned I would be publishing a spreadsheet with my picks, it’s now up there (only my 2013 tech stock picks are there for now) and you can take a look here. More on that in the near future. Let’s start off by publishing the main numbers for both stocks involved in today’s trade!

[table “484” not found /]

Long TripAdvisor (TRIP)

Not a big surprise to regular readers here. I’m a big believer in social web stocks and the fact is that TripAdvisor brings a unique product to the marketplace in my opinion. It has the most trusted review system by far, an active community and what is quickly becoming a trusted relationship with many of its users. That is fueling much stronger growth in revenues and profits and I expect that to continue in the future. Competing with TripAdvisor will turn out to be a very difficult, even for established players such as Google it’s an uphill battle. I do think that TRIP has a lot of upside in both it’s business and  stock price and that both revenues and profits will continue to show strong growth.

TRIP

TRIP Revenue Quarterly YoY Growth Chart

TRIP Revenue Quarterly YoY Growth data by YCharts

Next earnings: February 13th

Short Travelzoo (TZOO)

After making Travelzoo one of my top 4 picks in 2012 for the stock competition, I’m obviously not as optimistic this year.  The fact is that the company’s performance has been very disappointing. Yes, Travelzoo does email deals very well but due to subscriber fatigue and a lot of competition, growth seems to have almost disappeared. That makes it very difficult to warrant a forward P/E of 17.  I’ve read a lot of research about the company and no one seems to believe that growth will resume making it very difficult to believe that there will be a quick turnaround, especially with the amount of competition in the space.

TZOO

TZOO Revenue Quarterly YoY Growth Chart

TZOO Revenue Quarterly YoY Growth data by YCharts

 

Next earnings:  April 19th

Disclaimer: No positions on TRIP or TZOO

 

One More Sign That Facebook ($FB) Needs To Be Owned

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 01.24.2013 (5:00 am)

A couple of weeks ago, when I put Facebook (FB) as the top social media play and near the very top of my tech stock power rankings, I was told that Facebook’s potential remained limited, that its revenue growth was very uncertain and that my arguments were shaky. I’ve said from the very start that Facebook should not be valued based off of its current revenues. Its strength is in its user base and its data. You’d be foolish to think that Facebook’s future depends on those little banner ads at the right of the screens.

[table “483” not found /]


*Facebook is scheduled to report Q4 earnings on January 30th

Facebook’s Evolution Continues

Facebook started off with banner ads, has also been integrating ads into newsfeeds, offering the ability for users to send each other gifts, offering credits to simplify life of merchants and users, etc. Today, Facebook finally confirmed it would be entering the search market with social graph. Thanks to all of its data, it will be able to help users find people, places, businesses, music, games and more.

How Social Graph Search Could Work

Facebook is gathering data about all of us, what we like, what we don’t, what we talk about, where we work, who are friends and family are, etc. That data can become very useful. For example, through its partnership with TripAdvisor (TRIP), Facebook knows where many of my friends have been (hotels, restaurants, etc). The other day, I got an email about the top 25 hotels in the world from TripAdvisor telling me which friends have stayed where. That and a lot more is data that Facebook has access to and could enable it to make a competitive search product. If I’m looking to buy a car, it would be incredibly useful to know which of my friends drive that car and what they’ve said about it. Then, Facebook could sell very targeted advertising knowing that I’m shopping for a new car.

That seems like a win-win doesn’t it? I’d venture to say that the number one complaint from Facebook users was the poor search experience. That is about to change and there are a lot of dollars to be made there. How much? Google is getting more diversified but still depends on search ads for the vast majority of its revenues. Getting even part of that market which is estimated at $15B would be a major win.

At just 5% of the market (which seems like a conservative estimate), Facebook would be adding over 20% to its existing revenues. This will also help Facebook promote its places and deals businesses which comes into direct competition with Yelp (YELP). If you’re wondering how the market reacted to such competition, just take a look at Yelp’s chart following the announcement on Jan 15th

YELP

Despite Its Size, Facebook Is Still Acting “Small”

One of the challenges for big tech giants is becoming so big that everything gets slow. I don’t think anyone would argue that Microsoft reached that point a long time ago. Google had as well but since the return of Larry Page as CEO, Google has improved significantly. I’m still impressed by Facebook’s speed in launching new features. For example, just a few weeks ago, it started testing free VOIP for Canadians. Tests did not go on for too long as this week Facebook announced the feature was available for all US users as well.

In This New Digital Economy…

Do you doubt the importance of owning Facebook? Yes, Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL) are clearly huge players but I’d argue that Facebook has a shot at becoming the biggest. Could it be the next MySpace? Yes, it’s possible. I do remember how many said Google would become the next Altavista some years ago. At some point, a product can become so superior and its critical mass of users so big that it becomes nearly impossible for competitors to step in. Just ask Microsoft how difficult it’s been to challenge Google in search?

Try thinking about all of those local businesses that have recently started using Facebook? Don’t you think they’d be willing to pay Facebook to come out at the top when users search for: “Best restaurants in Los Angeles”?

At some point, if someone is looking for such a restaurant, Facebook could offer them an easy way to buy a coupon with Facebook credits, let them know about special promotions, etc. it all ties together and it’s a dangerous trend for Google. Why? Because everything happening in Facebook’s walls is off-limits for Google (it can’t access the content or index it in its search engine).

Facebook Risks

As you would expect with any stock that has upside, there is certainly risk involved for Facebook shareholders. One major point is how much it depends on users trusting the site. Just a few weeks ago, privacy policy changes at Instagram (owned by Facebook) backfired with thousands of users leaving the service. If Facebook ends up stumbling in such a way, the consequences would be severe. Facebook depends on users continuing to upload data in order to remain relevant both as a social network and for other initiatives such as search. The day users stop sharing would also mean the search engine would lose relevance. In my opinion, the risk of self implosion is Facebook’s biggest risk, much bigger than competitors such as Google+, LinkedIn (LNKD) or Twitter.

In The End Though

Facebook is adding new revenues sources every few months, has a ton of upside and some risk. I would argue that the upside is very significant and the downside isn’t.. that sounds like a stock you need to own don’t you think? I know I do!

Disclaimer: Long Facebook (FB)

Adding Passive Income Flows: Buying A Farm? Am I Crazy?

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 01.23.2013 (3:00 am)

farmingEvery month, I provide updates on my passive income goals and progress as I try to become financially independent. It’s a long road and I’m just getting started but the two main things that I want to work on are:

-increasing my passive income
-diversifying those flows in order to make sure that no 1 or 2 changes or events could knock me significantly.

I’ve mentioned it before and some of you might think this is insane but I’ve been considering getting involved in farming at some point. I’m not sure when it would happen and those real estate investments would likely happen before but I’m certainly looking into it and had some very interesting conversations with a few farmland investors in the past few weeks.

Why Farming?

Diversity

There are several good reasons but a clear one is the diversity this would provide. Don’t get me wrong. Selling crops is volatile and the prices can swing. I would argue though that it does still remain great diversification. The odds that the same event affecting companies like Microsoft (MSFT) or Aflac (AFL) in my dividend portfolio would also knock down my farming income are slim. Fact is that over long periods of time, farming has remained very stable with governments sometimes getting involved to smooth things to avoid having too big of an impact on consumers.

Yield But Low Volatility

Farming is a great example of a business that can provide solid yield on investment. You put an initial investment and after that it becomes about increasing the return on the land, limiting costs, etc. I also tend to think that no matter what ends up happening, that farm will continue to provide decent yield. In addition, farmland prices have seen less than 25% of the volatility of the S&P500 over 20 years. Not bad right?

As well, some say that owning gold is the ultimate protection in case things go bad but I would argue that farming is probably even better. Its value would remain very strong because it’s so tangible.

Long Term Perspective

If you think about it very quickly. Over the decades, we continue to eliminate farming land all around the world to build cities. The world population continues to expand and is likely to keep doing that for a significant amount of time. Much of that growth is happening in emerging countries which are quickly increasing food imports as they can gradually afford to do so. It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that food prices have increased so much in the past few years and I honestly don’t think there’s anything that will stop that increase. There will be bumps and declines but over time, even with increasingly efficient farms, prices will continue to increase.

I don’t think it’s simply by luck that more and more investors are moving to farming to increase their income and profit from terrific opportunities. Jim Rogers, the commodity legend is one of those guys who is investing heavily.

-Costs And Complexities

If you think that I somehow know how to farm a land, take care of animals or anything else of that nature, you’d be way wrong. I don’t, have no one in the family or friends who has and I’d be insane to think that I could simply pick that up on the go. It’s not easy to do but you wouldn’t expect it to be either, if it were, everyone would jump in and opportunities would disappear. There are a variety of alternatives that can be used though:

Farming funds: This is a logical first step. It requires a lot less capital to start off and requires little to no time (similar to buying a REIT compared to being a landlord). I would probably end up reading their annual reports and more which would help me gain “some” farming knowledge.

-I did find some Canadian funds managed by AGCapita (http://www.farmlandinvestmentpartnership.com/)

Private Investor: Another would to find some way to get involved with an existing farm, by providing some financial support in exchange for return but also knowledge.

Hire: I could also end up buying a farm, and then hire someone to run most of it. That could be a few individuals but there are also some companies that specialize in running farms which can be a more expensive but easier to manage alternative. Hertz Management (http://www.hfmgt.com/ ) was one such company that was mentioned to me.

Buy A Farm And Run It On My Own: I don’t see how I could possibly even consider this but I guess that for some of you it could be an alternative.

Timing

I was also told that right now might not be the best time because the pricing is a bit high. That might be true but its’ something I’ll have to look into over time! I certainly wouldn’t just jump in at this point, I’ve got homework to do.  Is there currently a bubble because of the bad weather and explosion of ethanol demand.

Other good resources:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/investment-ideas/farmland-funds-grow-in-more-ways-than-one/article4170486/

http://moneymorning.com/2012/07/12/why-jim-rogers-is-investing-in-farmland/

What are your thoughts on adding farming to your passive income flows?

Highly Discouraging To See What’s (Not) Happening In Washington DC…

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 01.22.2013 (3:00 am)

No matter what you believe about taxes and how those should be changed, I certainly hope that you agree that it’s not the main issue we should be tackling right now. I’m fines taxes rising somewhat as they did even though taxing the wealthy is not nearly as effective as some would think. What I don’t get is why we’re not even trying to fix what’s really wrong.

800px-U.S._Federal_Spending_-_FY_2011

Tax reform: Biggest issue is not that rates are too low… in fact they’re way too high. But having a tax code that makes thousands of exceptions for individuals and companies that are able to lobby for them is not helping the overall economy. Raising tax rates IS NOT the way to go, even if you’re trying to increase revenues.

Defense: I’m not saying that spending here should be drastically reduced. But do we need to have more spending than the next 20 nations combined? And even if we did, wouldn’t cutting just a bit help us spend in a smarter way?

Entitlements: This is absolutely huge.. just take a look at this chart:

SRfedspendingnumbers2012p12chart1http://www.heritage.org/~/media/Images/Reports/2012/10/sr121/SRfedspendingnumbers2012p12chart1.ashx?w=600&h=531&as=1

Seriously, the fact that Obama, and both Republicans and Democrats aren’t able to tackle this is a huge problem. I understand that politics are involved but that shouldn’t prevent us from moving on those. Entitlement programs are NOT SUSTAINABLE. They cannot keep being managed as they currently are. However, because both parties fear the political cost, they discuss it but have no clear plan to overhaul these programs. Social security, medicare, Medicaid/Obamacare are all great programs but ones that the government cannot continue to fund in their current forms. Everyone who’s looked at the numbers agrees on this. Every single person. Do you know what they also agree on? That the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to fix the problem.

Telling the country that raising taxes on the rich must be done is an easy thing to do because it’s a popular measure. Telling them that the benefits they have been promised cannot be fulfilled and must be changed requires courage and thinking about the country first instead of the next election.

Democracy’s Biggest Weakness?

Unfortunately, this problem is occurring in most advanced countries where politicians have very little incentive to fix long term problems because it has a short term political cost. This has been making governments ineffective and I wish I could say there was an easy solution but I don’t see it. Why should we wait until our country is steps away from going bankrupt if we could start reforming now?

SRfedspendingnumbers2012p22chart3

credit: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/10/federal-spending-by-the-numbers-2012

We Had A Golden Opportunity

The recent fiscal cliff face-off was as good of an opportunity as you could possibly get. Both parties HAD to negotiate; we forced to look into different ways. I was watching NBC’s Meet The Press last week and they were talking about how they only worked on the easy stuff. That is exactly how I feel. So if such a cliff, right after a presidential election (when no party is “supposed” to be preparing for the next election) is not a good sign. There will be another (probably bigger) face-off at the end of February which will also include a debt limit standoff so there will be another opportunity. The problem is that no one seems to even hope for bigger issues to be tackled at this point so I don’t know when those will be addressed.

Do You Feel The Same Way?

I’m generally an optimist but I don’t see how or who would start tackling these issues in a bipartisan way (both parties would need to do so), how about you?

What This Means?

If you take a look at what has happened in countries that have gone through this (and failed to fix the issues), a major consequence has been governments making significant changes that affect all citizens. That is one more reason for me to work on my passive income flows to remain as independent as possible from whatever pension and services that are currently offered. What about you?

New Trade: Long Priceline ($PCLN) and Short AOL inc ($AOL)

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 01.21.2013 (3:00 am)

After publishing my 2013 Tech Stock rankingsI’ve been able to start off the year with two good looking trades so far. I remain a bit late on publishing all of my trade info but I am working on an online spreadsheet where I will keep my live trades and positions, which will help you see how I’m doing live;) More on that very soon! Today, I’m opening a trade on a stock that haunted me last year. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know exactly what I mean, if not, keep reading please;) Let’s start off by publishing the main numbers for both of these stocks!

[table “482” not found /]

Long Priceline (PCLN)

I was not as active on Priceline but it wasn’t because I didn’t like the stock or the company. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. But Priceline has been one of the best performers in the past 10 years and last year I often felt like other stocks had more upside. Today’s trade is a bit different though. I cannot imagine how both of these stocks could be priced at comparable P/E ratios. Honestly, Priceline is one of the most solid and consistent performers among the stocks that I follow. The company’s fundamentals are very solid, growth in all areas remains very solid and I just think the downside risk is very limited. Priceline has an incredibly strong brand, a loyal customer base and continues to expand thanks to smart moves such as its recent acquisition of Kayak (KYAK) which was clearly a need that the travel giant needed to focus on. In the end, attractive valuation for a stock that is trading at a very reasonable multiple.

PCLN

Short AOL inc. (AOL)

As one reader recently wrote, I had a fairly good year if you exclude my trades on AOL.. that works apart from the fact that once you start excluding things, returns become meaningless. The fact is that I beat heavily against AOL last year and it hurt me. The biggest reason was the huge patents sale that it made which had not been anticipated by the markets. That was the biggest reason behind AOL’s spectacular return. Otherwise, revenues continues to decrease and it’s unclear how the company will be able to offset revenue losses from its shrinking ISP business. My ultimate fear is to keep dropping because of AOL as happened last year but hopefully I’m seeing things straight now and AOL does not have any surprise assets to sell off;)

AOL

Disclaimer: No positions on PCLN or AOL

 

Weekend Readings

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 01.18.2013 (3:00 am)

37I hope you all had a great week… I had a good one but TGIF:) Especially with a small vacation planned, it’s well overdue:) All the best and here are a few good readings if you have some time:)

General Readings

ETF volume does not equal liquidity @ IntelligentSpeculator
How low are US taxes compared to the rest of the world? @ TheAtlantic
Is it worth trading in your index fund for a cheaper model? @ Monevator
10 significant trends in finance @ TheBigPicture
The stock market @ BlogMaverick

Dividend Readings

Dividend investing goals for 2013 @ TheDividendGuyBlog
Spring cleaning my dividend portfolio @ DividendGrowthInvestor

Tech Stock Readings

Zuckerberg: Would have loved to work wit Google but… @ TechCrunch
Fascinating progress in the world of DNA mapping @ AllThingsD
My tech stock power rankings (in case you missed them) @ IntelligentSpeculator

Huge Couple of Weeks For Tech Stocks..Are You Ready? ($GOOG, $AAPL, $AMZN, $MSFT, $FB, $YHOO, etc)

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 01.17.2013 (3:00 am)

Apart from the 2 upcoming NFL conference finals, the most exciting thing coming up are next 2 weeks of earnings. Just to give you an idea of who’s reporting Q4 numbers among the stocks that I follow:

Jan 22nd: Google (GOOG)

Jan 23rd: Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX)

Jan 24th: Microsoft (MSFT)

Jan 25th: Travelzoo (TZOO), Monsterworldwide (MWW)

Jan 28th: Yahoo (YHOO)
Jan 30th: Facebook (FB), Yandex (YNDX)
Jan 31st: Amazon (AMZN), Ctrip (CTRP)
Feb 1st: AOL (AOL), Dice Holdings (DHX), IAC Interactive (IACI), Quinstreet (QNST)

WOW! If you look at my 2013 tech stock power rankings, you’ll notice that 4 out of my top 5 as well as many others will be reporting. As if that wasn’t enough, for many, Q4 numbers are critical. Companies like Amazon and Apple typically have much stronger numbers in Q4 so to say that there will be a lot of pressure and volatility would be an understatement.

Already, eBay (EBAY) made the news yesterday when it announced strong earnings…!

The Main Things I’m Looking For

Apple: Rumors have been wild with every analyst trying to figure out what’s going on. Many think that iPhone5 sales will turn out to be disappointing and could be blamed in part for the US GDP being weak (that seems a stretch!). At some point, there were rumors that Apple was working on a cheaper iPhone but it does seem like it was just a rumor. I’m a major believer in Apple, even if growth continues to slow down but I’ll of course be looking at what comes out of it.

AAPL

Google: I’ve been very impressed with Larry Page and will of course be looking at revenues and expenses. Even more important though are any details that we can get about the Android strategy. It’s quickly becoming the dominant mobile platform and there are huge opportunities for Google, I’m hoping to get more of an insight into those plans in the earnings call.

Facebook: The stock has increased over 50% since my purchase and my next target is for the stock to hopefully get back to its IPO price. For that to happen, Facebook will need to provide more improvement in its mobile results, additional info on how gifts are performing and more monetization strategies. I’m always incredibly interested in reading the earning call transcripts for companies such as Facebook that don’t give as much insight about what they’re working on.

Amazon (AMZN): Despite all the common sense in the world that tells me Amazon’s P/E is outrageous and unreasonable and that I’d be foolish to buy it, I’m tempted. I’ve even read some very solid arguments into why it was overvalued and for some time was a doubter. I’m having trouble convincing myself though. The company makes no money, seems in no hurry to do so and has razor thin margins.. however, there is a “but” and it’s a major one. I see Amazon as the store of the future. It is building an incredibly selling machine, customer base, distribution network, etc. There’s nothing that even comes close and no one seems to even try competing with Amazon. How in the world can that not turn into an incredibly profitable business at some point? I just think that Amazon is turning into a new digital Walmart but with very limited competition. It’s an incredible opportunity. So yes, even at these valuations I’m very optimistic… I’m close to the point where I’d buy Amazon as a long term speculative stock…call me crazy,:)

Yahoo: Another very interesting story with Mayer who continues to make very quick changes. I like what I’m seeing and am looking forward to hearing what’s next. I’d love to hear commitment for a few core products and dropping others where Yahoo has poor products. It’s all about execution in a few key areas.

What are your expectations for these names? I’ll be sure to discuss my thoughts both here, in the tech mailing list and on Twitter so stay tuned!