Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hostess Bankruptcy

I guess everybody's heard of Hostess heading toward bankruptcy again by now.

Here's a line in the most recent article:
"But the new private equity backers loaded the company with debt, making it difficult to invest in new equipment. Earlier this year, Hostess had more than $860 million of debt."

Normally it's a line that I'd read right past.  A company coming out of bankruptcy with a lot of debt shouldn't be surprising.  But the thing is this is a theme that I increasingly see - and a theme pointed out by more and more writers that look at these things.  Wall Street (I'm not saying this derogatively - I just don't know what to call it except Wall Street) has evolved so that many of the restructurings of failing companies seem to take advantage of the opportunities to spin out a new company and collect alot of fees, sell more debt to investors - (why your should care:  this includes pension funds, retirement funds) on the premise that it is actually an investment, but in the end the company is loaded down with more debt than it can manage and the company ultimately fails multiple times.  Wall Street gets its fees and everybody else is worse off.

It sounds similar to what happened the mortgage backed securities.  Package up bad loans, and sell them as AAA investment grade.  Make alot of money in the process, but when it all goes under society loses as a whole.  Similar with bonds sold that bankrupted Jefferson county Alabama (Birmingham).

 Now, obviously, if companies are in bankruptcy there's something wrong with the business and changes need to be made, but are the incentives so messed up that Wall Street is incentivized to do deals that have too high of a risk of failure?   Again, it's just a theme I keep seeing.  A recurring theme. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Last chance for Hostess Twinkies

Hostess is going out of business.  There's a run on Twinkies.

Inflation: Coca Cola style

Here's a cool article from NPR about how a bottle of Coca-Cola cost 5 cents for 70 years, and why it stayed that way until apparently 1959.

Now it's about $1.29 or more at the local Mapco.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

High Speed Internet Options

Hi all,  I was getting disgusted w/ the poor quality of my Comcast internet service that was always freezing up during downloads - especially things like you tube that are nearly impossible for me to stream without reloading /refreshing multiple times - and was trying to shop around.

If you've done some shopping you quickly realize there aren't many option or much competition.  If there is supposed "competition" it seems like they're all priced about the same.  Almost seems like the competitors are working together.

In the process of looking for options I came across these stats in review of a book called "The Fine Print."  If even some of this is true it bugs me a lot.  I'm putting the book on request at the library.  I've already killed my home phone which I rarely used (saving about $40 per month), and have gotten rid of my cell phone which I rarely used (saved $65/mo).  I really have to keep internet though - but I would like for it to work better for as much as we pay for it.

Here's the article.  "Why your phone, cable, and internet bills cost so much."

Some of the bullets from the review:
"- Americans pay 38 times as much as the Japanese for Internet data.
- America has gone from #1 in Internet speed (when we invented it) to 29th in the world and falling.
 - Americans pay four times as much as the French for an Internet triple-play package—phone, cable TV and Internet—at an average of $160 per month versus $38 per month.
- The French get global free calling and worldwide live television. Their Internet is also 10 times faster at downloading information and 20 times faster uploading it"

also from the article "The relationship between phone and cable providers has essentially become a cartel"

On the other hand, maybe I should just invest in Comcast despite my dislike.  Where I live they've carved out a monopoly of being the only cable company in town.  I've owned the stock before - maybe I should just get back in.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Picture of Curiousity Rover on Mars

Wow - check out this photo from Mars. Apparently the rover took several photos of itself from it's camera arm and then they edited the multiple photos so the arm holding the camera was edited out.

Added some more Apple today

Not much to add, but just added a bit more Apple today.

Portfolio looks like (from large to small)  Larger positions:
BRK.B Berkshire Hathaway
CMI Cummins
NEU Newmarket
AAPL Apple
INTC Intel
CSTR Coinstar
WDC Western Digital
CF CF Industries

Smaller positions of note:
GES Guess
APEI American Public Education
TESS Tessco

Monday, November 5, 2012

Added some Western Digital and Apple today

Added AAPL Apple and WDC Western Digital back to the portfolio again. I've owned both these multiple times before, so we'll see how it goes again.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Self-healing concrete

This is kindof a neat idea if they can make it work. Mixing a bacteria in with the concrete - that when the concrete cracks and gets exposed to water - the bacteria acts to create calcite (white crystals like you see in limestone gravel) that would reseal the cracks.