Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Is Google’s ($GOOG) Waze Acquisition Smart Defense Or A Desperate Move?

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 06.12.2013 (3:00 am)

wazeYou might have heard that Google (GOOG) is on the verge of completing its $1.1B acquisition of Israel-based mapping company Waze. On the surface, this could be seen as a surprising move. After all, if there is one company that does not need help with its mapping software, it would be Google. Not only do Larry Page and other Google execs think they have the best mapping product available (I doubt anyone would argue that), but they also feel like no one will be able to catch up.

Apple Reinforced That Confidence

If you remember well, when Apple (AAPL) upgraded its iOS over a year ago, it was forced to come out with its own mapping software because its deal with Google was going to expire. That ended up being a disaster for Apple as the product didn’t come close to meeting expectations. Instead, it made it obvious that the only way to get good maps would be waiting on a Google app which did end up being released a few weeks later. Since then, Apple has been working extremely hard on improving its product and while everyone would probably agree that it has done just that, it’s still years behind Google’s maps.

GOOG

In Comes Waze…

Waze is a unique product in the sense that it’s a mapping product used by tens of millions of users which also has a social aspect. Users tend to add and share information about traffic, road obstacles, etc. That makes it unique and explains why Apple and even Facebook (FB) are reported to have made offers in the past few months. Apple’s offer was too low and Facebook did not want Waze to keep its Israel based HQ which ended up paving the way for a Google deal. Larry Page offered a reported $1.1B and for Waze to remain independent.

Why Is Google Making This Move?

I think it’s a very fair question to ask. The main thing that buying Waze brings is the ability to keep it out of its competitors hands. Google has a competitive advantage in maps. One that can be leveraged over and over. If I take a minute and look at Facebook’s social advantage, it’s a lot more tricky to manage. Why? Because potential competitors are coming up every few months (from Instagram, to Tumblr, Vine, etc). It becomes very expensive for Facebook to keep buying these companies. On the other hand, there are only a handful of decent mapping products and it’s very expensive and difficult to build one from scratch. Waze could have been leveraged to build better Apple maps or a more precise Facebook local. Instead, for a fairly small amount of money, Larry Page just made it even more difficult to compete with Google maps.

In my opinion, this was a brilliant move by Google. In retrospect, it’s not surprising though. Was it worth +$1B for Microsoft, Apple or Facebook to get a helpful partner in competing with Google maps? Perhaps. But it was worth much more than that for Google to keep one of the few solid mapping companies out of the hands of its competitors.

What are your thoughts on the Waze acquisition by Google?

Wealth Management Options

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 05.21.2013 (1:00 am)

One of the aspects of personal finance that I rarely discuss because many readers are more interested in finding their stocks themselves are companies that do wealth management. They generally will have your money transferred to them and will charge an annual fee (generally % of your assets) and then they will reinvest it as best as they can. The major benefit is that it’s relatively hands-off, which may become the best option for all of us at some point.  The downside of course is that the fees would generally be higher for such options. I do have a few relatives using such services and they seem to be very happy with the results. I sometimes get tempted to offer my services against those fees but such arrangements can often not work out as planned.

How To Find Such Brokers

I’d say that in general, if they’re able to find out that you have some money to invest, they will be able to get to you. In other cases though, it can be good to look online for information. In the US, Merrill Lynch has a fairly solid reputation and can be a very decent option. While Merrill is present in most major countries, there are often more local players that have significant presence such as Investors Group in Canada and Suncorp (view the Suncorp Super Website). These brokers can typically offer all kinds of solutions that will include annuities but also custom products such as the Suncorp Superannuation.

I would not go as far as saying that this type of product is for everyone but it certainly can be useful for a certain part of the population that are looking for easy and convenient ways to have their finances taken care of.

Have You Worked With Wealth Management Shops? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts

Happy New Year To All Of You!!

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 01.01.2013 (1:00 am)

 

 

Good morning! Today, I’d like to wish you all the best for the New Year. I was incredibly blessed in 2012 in all possible levels and I’m very thankful. Perhaps one thing that did not go as well as I would have liked is my actual trading. I’ve had a couple of very good years prior to that and did have some good calls (including my long Facebook position). Still, I’m hopeful that I can do a better job in 2013.

 

I do hope you also had a good year, health, happiness and quality time with your loved ones.

 

Are you into New Years resolutions? I am to some degree but I guess we’re all very different.. I’m hoping to run my first marathon at some point, to be in better shape, and have more time with my familyJ May you be able to fulfill all of yours as well,

 

All the best, I’m looking forward to your comments and feedback in the New Year.

 

IntelligentSpeculator

Long Weekend Readings:)

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 09.01.2012 (5:00 am)

Well I’m off for a small trip this weekend, will try to enjoy the long weekend as much as possible, I hope you’ll be doing the same:)

General Readings

Do you have enough miles to get to space? @ TechCrunch
What is the earnings yield? @ Monevator
Sacrificing sleep to study for the CFA @ SmartFinancialAnalyst

Dividend Readings

Are Dividend Stocks overvalued? @ DividendMonk

 Tech Readings

How Apple Became the Most Valuable Company Ever @ TheBigPicture
Solid beat by Pandora (P) @ TechCrunch

Weekend Readings

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 06.16.2012 (7:27 am)

Hey everyone, I hope you are all doing well, with a great weekend just getting started! I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s Euro action and seeing the results of the Greek elections.. should be very interesting:) Here are some readings if you have some free time!

Not All ETF’s Are Cheap @ BuildYourETFPortfolio
Does investing in gold make sense? @ Dividend Ninja
Making the case for cash @ Monevator
Should asset allocation change with age? @ ObliviousInvestor
House buyers: Is 20% always better? @ MoneySmartsBlog
Washington vs The Middle Class @ TheBigPicture
The Definitive Lesson In “New Normal” European Geography @ ZeroHedge

Dividend Investing Readings:

The investing fee that makes a $300,000 difference @ TheDividendGuyBlog
Starbucks (SBUX): Substantial optimism is built in @ DividendMonk

Tech Readings:

Has Zynga Peaked? @ Wall St Cheat Sheet
Facebook exchange, a new revenue source? @ TechCrunch

Weekend Readings

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 03.17.2012 (5:00 am)

I’m a fan of Matt Taibbi’s work and while I don’t agree with everything (or perhaps even most) of his work, it is always very interesting and entertaining, you can read his latest piece about Bank of America here. Other than that, Peyton Manning is apparently down to 3 possible destinations… 49ers would be amazing:) Oh well, back to investing, here are some great readings for the upcoming week:

Daily ranking of the world’s 20 wealthiest individuals @ Bloomberg
Truth about technical analysis @ Long-Term Returns
Is the increasing income gap a myth? @ AllFinancialMatters
Target Date Funds/ETF’s, Good Products, But For Who? @ BuildYourETFPortfolio
60% of US workers have less than $25,000 saved @ CuriousCat
Italy said to pay $3.4B to Morgan Stanley on a derivatives loss @ Bloomberg
The man who broke Atlantic City @ The Atlantic

Dividend Readings

Dividend Stock Battle Can Campbell Soup Flood Heinz Ketchup @ TheDividendGuyBlog
3 Dividend Payers Benefiting from the Network Effect @ Dividend Monk
The Poor Rich Need Dividends? @ Dividend Mantra

Tech Readings

The Final Facebook IPO analysis @ ZeroHedge
Why UBS Just Cranked Up Its Apple Target To $675 @ ClusterStock

Low Volatility ETF’s… What Are They And How Do They Work?

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 03.02.2012 (5:00 am)

This is a guest post from BuildYourETFPortfolio.com

If you have been reading about ETF’s in the last few months, chances are good that you will have noticed a trend among the new ETF’s being issued on US markets and abroad. Low volatility ETF’s on almost every possible index. Take for example a fund such as SPLV, a Powershare S&P500 low volatilty ETF.

What Is Volatility?

In order to explain what such an ETF does, I think it’s necessary to go back to the basics. Volatility can be expressed in many different ways but today we will look at it from the perspective of a Beta. Beta is a number, calculated for each stock that will give you an idea how the security reacts to market movements.

For example, if there are 2 stocks, how would they react during a 10% rise in the markets? If one of them usually moves exactly like the markets and rises 10%, you would say its Beta is 1. If this stock rises by half of what the index moves, 5%, then the volatility would be 0.50. Beta could also be 0 and could even be negative in the rare case where a stock usually reacts in the opposite way of the market. Basically, beta is:

Variation of a stock / variation of the market

Generally, most investors prefer having stocks with low beta or low risk. It’s not always the case but I would say that investors with less taste for risk will generally tend to go for those, as well as dividend payers, etc.

In Come Low Volatility ETF’s

Managers of these types of funds generally try to look at an index like the S&P500 and only buy a portion of those stocks, ideally those with the lower beta. Each ETF will be built differently but it could be done by buying the top 100 lowest beta’s in an index.

It’s certainly not a perfect method and I’ll be interested to see how such funds react. Obviously, in market declines, these funds will likely outperform standard funds but it’s likely to be the opposite when markets will rise (in a way similar to Covered Call ETF’s). I do think that such ETF’s might be right for certain types of investors and would love to hear your thoughts.

Financial Readings

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 02.11.2012 (2:28 pm)

Hi everyone!! I wrote a bit about bonds today and found it interesting to find out that Buffet had called them dangerous! Anyway, don’t have much to report, I hope you’re enjoying your weekends, here are some good reads if you have some extra time:) All the best!

Why so many ETF’s are being launched @ BuildYourETFPortfolio
Let’s make a difference starting next week @ AllFinancialMatters
Half of America does not pay taxes @ Darwin’s Money
Learning how to invest in oil to maximize profits and minimize risks @ OilandGasEtfs
Millionaire Teacher book review @ Balance Junkie
S&P downgrades 34 of 37 Italian banks @ ZeroHedge
The world’s richest people adjusted for ago @ Clusterstock

Dividend Investing

18 stock picks for 2012 @ TheDividendGuyBlog
12 dividend companies with large patent shields @ Dividend Monk
5 reasons why I love REIT’s @ Dividend Ninja

Tech Stocks Investing

Linked (LNKD) beats the street @ TechCrunch
Tripadvisor (TRIP) comes up short @ TechCrunch

Is Microsoft (MSFT) About To Wake Up From The Dead?

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 12.09.2011 (5:23 am)
Microsoft

MSFT

Microsoft has been known since the start for its software, its operating system Windows changed how we were able to use pc’s while software like Office ended up being used by nearly every pc user around the world. You might argue that things are changing and that it’s far from clear how those will be able to compete in this new cloud based era. I would agree. Certainly, the domination that Windows has enjoyed will probably never be the same. That being said, I don’t expect a crumble anywhere near what Internet Explorer ended up suffering. Building an operating system is complex on so many levels and even powerhouses such as Google and Facebook are facing many challenges in coming up with a viable alternative.

Are Windows/Office and others slowing down? Not significantly. But the booming years of Microsoft certainly look way behind. Just take a look at this MSFT chart from the past 5 years, you will see what I mean.


A New Era?

I do think Microsoft is doing great things though with all of the cash that its software business continues to generates. After paying a reasonable and growing dividend, Steve Ballmer and others have been able to develop promising businesses.

Online/Social

Argue as much as you want, I think this still has to be seen as a success, even though it is proving a very expensive one. Microsoft is putting up billions of dollars into its online business, trying to compete with Google and others through Bing and its other properties. It has proven to be an incredibly difficult challenge which is no surprise. Almost everyone has given up on competing with Google in search but Bing continues to challenge. A remarkable success has also been the early stake in Facebook which not only was a good move financially but it has also helped Microsoft develop a great relationship with what is without question, the new dominant internet player. Facebook, which will become the biggest IPO in a long time to hit the markets in 2012 will be an important partner for Microsoft’s online division. How soon will it be profitable? It’s unclear of course but I personally think that the main priority should continue to be improving the product and the audience, everything else will come.


Gaming

No doubt, many thought Microsoft was crazy to get involved in an industry dominated by Sony’s Playstation franchise. Where are the doubters now? The company has been incredibly successful and continues to be an extremely strong player in the fast growing gaming market with its Xbox 360.

Microsoft Taking Over The Living Room?

Slowly but surely, Microsoft is becoming a huge player in a space where Apple and others are fighting very hard: The control of our living rooms. As Xbox continues to gain market share, it has proven to be a premium place for all entertainment. There were games, links to providers such as Netflix but there is also a growing offering of tv shows, movies and all kinds of other entertainment options. On Black Friday, Microsoft sold 960,000 Xbox consoles in the US alone. A large portion of those users will start using Xbox to access entertainment.

Major Battle Coming Up

Of course, 2012 will be a big year for Microsoft as the Xbox is likely to compete with some type of offering from Apple when Apple comes up with a new product for our living rooms (some type of Apple TV). In the end, it comes down to valuations though and I personally think that Microsoft might turn out to be a very good play for 2012. Will it explode? Probably not. But there is much more upside than downside.

Disclosure: No positions on Microsoft (MSFT)

Financial Ramblings

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 12.03.2011 (5:00 am)

 Winter seems like it’s just around the corner… and I’m afraid…! Please tell me that for once, winter will forget to show up and that I can get back to running outside, playing tennis and eating great BBQ meals? Pleassseee? …. ah well, if you are somewhere in the world where preparing for the upcoming snow is not necessary, you might have some free time in which case I highly recommend these readings:)

Invest $25K, Make Money And Don’t even dip into your pocket @ TheDividendGuyBlog
Do demographic changes affect stock returns? @ A Rich Life
China tech IPO’s turning into horor stories @ DigiCha
USA unemployment rate drops to 8.6% @ Curious Cat
Why we can’t have our cake and eat it too @ BalanceJunkie
What are dividend cuts and raises? @ WhatIsDividend
Canadian Insurance Dividend Plays @ CanadianDividendStock
Tech Millionaire: “The Rich Aren’t Job Creators” @ WSJ
Why Do Foreign Banks Need Dollars? @ NYTimes
Apple vs. Samsung @ The Big Picture