Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympics Update:Bobsledding is Back

Foe the first time since the St.Moritz Olympics in 1948,when Lake Placid police officer Francis Tyler led Team USA to gold down a natural track,American bobsledders won the four-man event at Whistler,BC on Saturday night.Steve Holcomb drove the winning sled,"The Night Train,"designed by NASCAR veteran Jeff Bodine,through 5gs of gravity-the equivalent of a rocket launch-down the fastest track in history.Holcomb drove impeccably,keeping to the clean lines characteristic of champions of the sport. Holcomb,of Park City,Utah,described the sled as very slick,very dynamic.As he stood on the medal stand with his three team mates,Holcomb blinked back tears.He had nearly retired when his eyesight deteriorated from a corneal disease.A new treatment consisting of a contact lens implant restored his vision to 20/20 and the United States to gold,displacing German great Andre Lange,who had driven his sleds to four gold medals.Lange reacted with good sportsmanship,applauding the American victory and cheerfully posing for pictures with Holcomb at the awards ceremony in Whistler,living up to his gentlemanly reputation.Lange and his team took the silver medal and Canada's Lyndon Rush drove his to the bronze.

Friday, February 26, 2010

High Winds Blast Trucks

High winds from a storm pummeling the East coast knocked several tractor trailers on their sides in Northern Maryland this morning.U.S. 15 South was closed while authorities dealt with the matter,halting traffic for several minutes.Truck drivers are routinely warned during wind storms,but this morning's toll was exceptionally heavy as winds were gusting up to 60 miles an hour.Small cars can be tossed around as well.It was the latest event in an historically harsh winter.Although there were bursts of snow in the area,the roads were only wet this morning. A motorist in a sedan narrowly escaped injury as he braked sharply when he came upon the stalled traffic,spinning onto the median,but somehow managing to recover and rejoin the queue.It may have been inattention or simply the topography of the route as it courses through the foothills of the Northern Blue Ridge,providing limited lines of sight in some stretches.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Managing the Trading Range

Chuck Carlson,CEO of Horizon Investment Services,says they're in a defensive mode.The rally has retraced two-thirds of the decline at this point.Now the market is churning.Can it go higher now?It's at an inflexion point.The market is actually a bit lower than it was at the beginning of earnings season in January.How the market responds to news is always more important than the news itself.
HIS likes Aflac and Travelers insurance companies.These represent good value and have a score of 98 or better on the HIS rating system.HIS also likes Ross Stores,which has good earnings momentum and a score of 99.
HIS is the wealth management affiliate of Horizon Publishing Company,which has been publishing investment newsletters for more than 60 years.It was founded in 1997.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Full-Time Faculty Needed

Howard Community College,located in Howard County,Maryland,needs full-time faculty to begin in August 2010.Applicants must be willing to teach days,evenings and weekends.Disciplines needed include Accounting,Film/Interdisciplinary Studies,Hospitality Management,Mathematics,Physics/Engineering,Reading,Spanish,and Writing.Salary is commensurate with experience.Please visit their website at for details and to apply.EEO/AA

Did Berkshire Guess Right?

Berkshire Hathaway,billionaire Warren Buffett's holding company,made a number of portfolio changes in 2009,according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.Just how effective were these moves?Among the adjustments were additions to various holdings.They added 9.5% more Wells Fargo shares.To date in 2010,Wells Fargo is up 1.4% in value.They also added to Republic Services by 128% in Q4 of 2009.Those shares have gone down 0.8% in value so far in 2010.Berkshire increased their Iron Mountain shares by 107.6% in Q4.That stock has risen 6.1% in 2010.They also added 25% more shares of Becton Dickinson in Q4.Those shares have lost 1.7% in value so far this year.That's two wins and two losses for Berkshire Hathaway on their buy side transactions.
Berkshire Hathaway not only bought a number of shares in 2009;they unloaded a lot of them as well.They cut their Exxon Mobil holding by 67%.To date in 2010,Exxon shares have declined 3.4% in value.Berkshire also axed Procter and Gamble shares by 9.5% in Q4.That stock is up 4.7% this year.Also in Q4 of 2009,Berkshire cut its Conoco Phillips holding by 34.3%.Those shares have depreciated by 4.29% in 2010.The Johnson and Johnson holding was reduced by 26.5% in Q4.That stock has lost 0.9% in 2010.That's three good guesses and one poor one for Mr.Buffett's firm on the sell side.Berkshire Hathaway did better on the sell side than on the buy side,judging by the results to this point in 2010.Overall,they scored five wins and three losses according to the publicly available information.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Olympics Update:MSNBC Airs Bright Interview

Torah Bright,the Australian snowboarder who won the gold medal in the halfpipe event at Cypress Mountain,B.C.,was interviewed on MSNBC Friday evening.She won her medal on Thursday night.Lester Holt and Chris Jansing hosted Ms.Bright on the Vancouver waterfront.Ms.Bright,23,said she was congratulated by Kevin Rudd,prime minister of Australia,in a phone call Thursday night.Wearing an "Australia" t-shirt,she admitted her country was better known for its deserts and coasts than snow sports.She is engaged to be married,and described her competitors as being friends.Given to flashing her shy smile,the willowy athlete was warmly embraced by American snowboarder Kelly Clark,2002 gold medalist in the halfpipe event,following her clean performance.Holt and Jansing were cordial to the new star of her relatively young sport.
Following his victory in the Super G alpine skiing event,Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal was interviewed by NBC as well.These interviews followed criticism that NBC was overly focused on U.S. competitors at the games.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Commentary:Aussie Wins Halfpipe Gold

Australia's Torah Bright won the women's halfpipe snowboarding event at Cypress Mountain,B.C.Americans Hannah Teter,2006 gold medalist at Torino,and Kelly Clark,who won gold at Salt Lake City in 2002,garnered the silver and bronze,respectively.The competition was broacast live.Many of the athletes ended up on their backsides as they pushed the limits of their rapidly evolving sport,realizing that only a full effort could lift them to the podium.No one was injured.Those who washed out got up with a smile.It's not a sport where you take yourself too seriously.Of all the competitors,the snowboarders seem to be having the best time.They have a free-wheeling attitude that preserves them from the stresses of big time big money-at least somewhat.It also gives them an entree into the world of marketing to the younger set.
Ms.Bright,the gold medalist,was apparently not interviewed by NBC at all.It must be considered whether NBC's coverage has bordered on chauvinism.One sometimes has the impression that,if you're not an American athlete,you are given short shrift,because that is what NBC thinks is the viewers' attitude,and hence the surest path to big ratings.That may or may not be the case,but it isn't good journalism.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fundamentals,Not Speculation

John Calamos,Sr.,founder of Calamos Investments,thinks that we're in a very volatile period.If you sit on the sidelines,you end up missing a lot of opportunities-such as in the global markets.Investors need to think more globally now than ever before.The fundamentals of growth stocks are very favorable.
Calamos is looking at some of the consumer product tech firms.The fundamentals of Apple are what make it attractive.We're entering a slow growth market phase that will favor active managers.We're favoring the tech and energy sectors for the road ahead.The commodity and energy plays are hedges against the dollar being devalued.
Financials are more of a speculative trading play,rather than fundamentals,Mr.Calamos said.It's more a hope,a speculation that things will get better.I'd rather own cheap growth stocks,the thirty-plus year veteran of asset management stated.Calamos Investments,located in Naperville,Illinois,offers a suite of diversified portfolios designed to help clients reach a wide range of investment goals.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Entry Level,All Majors

DMG Securities,Inc. is seeking recent college graduates for its brokerage business.Applicants with all majors will be considered.Personalized in-house training is provided.A lucrative payout schedule is offered.DMG is a member of FINRA and SIPC.They are located in affluent Great Falls,Virginia.Those interested may submit resumes to

Career Transition:From Olympus to D.C.

Athletes face a whole new challenge when their competitive careers end along with their youth.Very few Olympic athletes can make a profession out of their notoriety-or indeed desire to.Once their games end,they must adjust,finding a new career in the non-athletic world.Some have gone on to be medical doctors;others establish themselves in business.For gymnast Kerri Strug,it was a civil service career that called.Ms.Strug,a protege of coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi,who helped Team USA win a team gold medal at the 1996 summer games by her brave performance in the face of injury,went on to graduate from Stanford University.Today she is a program manager at the U.S. Department of Justice,Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,in Washington,D.C.
Ms.Strug is engaged to another civil servant,attorney Robert Fischer,a congressional staffer.They are to be married in April.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Olympic Respite

The Winter Olympics will provide a welcome respite for weather beaten citizens.From mudslides to blizzards,this winter has been a burden for many,and deadly for a few.Two weeks of games in Vancouver will help us recover from the meteorological trials that have recently beset us.The spectacle of winter competition will be front and center from February 12-28.About 2500 athletes will participate in seven sports and 86 medal events.
Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined lead the games off on Friday at Whistler,British Columbia.Nordic Combined joins ski jumping with cross-country skiing.Six gold medals will be awarded on Saturday,and another five on Sunday,in a number of disciplines.Figure skating begins on Sunday.Many of the NBC channels will broadcast the games.Surely the diversion will improve the world's wellness and knowledge of aboriginal culture,which Canada is highlighting at the games.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crunching the Market:PIMCO

Reacting to a mildly favorable jobs report,Bill Gross of PIMCO said the unemployment we've been seeing is a structural issue.It's gonna be very hard to replace those 8.5 million lost jobs.Many of them were in real estate,construction and mortgages-areas at the heart of the financial crisis.To posit a vibrant,positive economy based on the jobs report is off-base.
The economy,the asset markets have been reflated by the government,Mr.Gross explained.Now a lot of that has been halted,and some has been withdrawn.The private wallet and the will that must take over are being questioned by the markets.The minute that government check disappears,the private market is standing all alone.PIMCO thinks the transition to final demand is different this time than it was for other recessions.Instead of levering,we're delevering;instead of deflating,we're inflating.The new normal taking shape,a protracted period of slow growth and high unemployment,is a sea change,not a readjustment.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Oracle Needs Staff

Oracle says that,to make their acquisition of Sun Microsystems successful,they need more smart and savvy employees.They are seeking Sales Consultants and Sales Representatives specializing in servers and storage.Also being sought are first class chip designers,hardware engineers and software developers.If interested,submit your resume to oracle-sun-hiring

Crunching the Market:Barclays Capital

As liquidity,or various forms of government intervention,gets withdrawn from the market by central banks,there will be lower lows and lower highs.By the time we get to rate hikes,the process should be complete,in the view of Barry Knapp of Barclays Capital.The process started with Chinese tightening.A recovery starts with government stimulus,then moves on to inventory restocking,eventually resulting in hiring.
Barclays is selling cyclical stocks and buying defensives.Cyclicals are companies that rely on robust growth,such as industrials,energy and materials firms.Defensives are in areas that are less economically sensitive,such as consumer staples and health care.In the current case,however,industrials are just starting to recover.As a rule,during a period of adjustment to stimulus withdrawal,defensive stocks are likely to outperform.Many analysts expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in the second half of the year,a major step in the transition process.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Medical Aspects of Snowfall

Heavy snowfall presents a number of health challenges,both mental and physical.East coast residents are are getting a full measure of them this winter.If they are not approached correctly,they can lead to exhaustion,injury,and even death.The media are partly to blame for all the stress.If you listen to their raving too much,you will increase your stress level considerably.Turn the TV off for a while.Go for a little walk at the height of the storm.See how it transforms your surroundings.
Consider shoveling two or three times a day,instead of taking on a huge burden by doing it all at once.Relax in between the sessions.If your heart starts to pound,you need a rest.Just stand there a few minutes and catch your breath,taking in your surroundings.If power goes out for any length of time,put your frozen food in a plastic bag or cooler and set it out on the back porch.Let nature provide the refrigeration.
Make sure you have a week's supply of prescription and over the counter drugs,just to be safe.Buy a couple of magazines,paperbacks or newspapers you've always wanted to read while you're at the drugstore.Keep up the spirits of the elderly and infirm,don't alarm them-you will help yourself in the process.Don't fight the snow;make good use of it.It is a gift as much as it is a problem.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bankers Dislike Regulatory Proposals

The American Banking Association,a trade group,is uncomfortable with the current climate in Washington.Ed Yingling,ABA president,says there's a general situation that is of concern to bankers:that the language portrays banks as risky.The financial crisis should be seen as international in origin,Mr.Yingling believes.The Obama administration's definition of proprietary trading means banks can't have a bond portfolio,in his estimation.All banks have one,Mr.Yingling indicated.
The U.S. has been the world leader for financial services for many years,Ed Yingling recalled.Now only six U.S. banks are in the top 50 of the world.Without coordination of regulation with international authorities,there would be no U.S. banks among the global leaders,Mr.Yingling warned.
Under the Obama administrations proposals,banks' share of the capital markets would be capped at 10%;they could no longer own hedge funds;and proprietary trading,or trading banks do for their own profit,would be taken away from them,resulting ultimately in less money for lending,critics of the proposals point out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Long&Foster Seeks Students

Long&Foster,the largest privately-held real estate firm in America,is offering pre-licensure classes through its real estate institute.The classes may be taken online or live in Maryland and Virginia,but only live in other states.A free aptitude test is given online to find out if real estate could be for you.If you pass the pre-licensure course,you may take the proctored license exams at a number of regional centers.Long&Foster operates from New Jersey to North Carolina in more than 200 offices.If interested,visit and click on the RealSTAR link or call 800-543-3365.Long&Foster was founded in 1968.

SEC:The Challenge of Regulating

Mary Schapiro,Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission,appeared before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission recently in Washington,D.C.She said she has spent a year taking the SEC apart,trying to understand where its strengths and weaknesses lay.It's quite an independent agency,but is subject to congressional appropriations,while other regulators are self-funded.It's critically important that we continue to have independent standard-setters for accounting;it's particularly important for the profession to remember that the investor is their audience at the end of the day,the soft-spoken Ms.Schapiro observed.
Mary Schapiro was herself an SEC commissioner 20 years ago.As a general matter,I am a huge fan of transparency across the board,she declared.The amount of data to sift through is overwhelming.For us,it's a matter of acquiring new technology,reviewing millions and millions of trades.Our tech budget is 50% below what it was five years ago.I'm concerned about over the counter derivatives markets,their ability to do what is not permissible in regulated markets,Ms.Schapiro added.
The SEC,which has five commissioners,has voted to approve the reining in of computer systems that certain financial firms use to trade huge amounts of shares at high speed.The SEC is concerned this practice may distort market activity and give these firms a leg up on other participants.The commission has also begun an inquiry into the impact of technology on financial markets generally.