Mr. Sensitive

April 30, 2012

New Justin

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 07:24

As I mentioned in the Friday update, the purchase of Great Wolf Resorts by Apollo Global Management is closing this week; thus we say goodbye to WOLF at the open this morning.  In the end, the shareholders probably got a fair price: $7.85 for a stock that started the year at $2.90 is not too shabby.  Where it gets interesting is when you consider that management and the board couldn’t wait to sell at $5 to the same buyout firm that was ultimately willing to pay almost 80% more than that.  I’d like to get a look at the severance packages for the top execs that came with that lowball $5 bid—I bet they weren’t so stingy.  The shareholder lawsuits will peter out now, but I certainly hope the outgoing executives never hold fiduciary positions at a public company again.  As for the Family Stock Index, well…let’s just say I’m not complaining.  WOLF set us up terrifically for the rest of the year, accounting for 728 of the 2,402 points we’ve gained in 2012.  So I’ve decided to let Justin rest in peace for the remainder of 2012, putting him in something a little less animated.

I was looking for something to reflect Justin’s new vocation, Science Writer.  My take is that the science part is at least as appealing to Justin as the writer part.  Writing about science is almost almost almost like being a scientist…in much the same way that writing about the Moon is almost like being the Moon, but I digress.  So I went for science (in my head I say it like Kelly Bundy—sky-ance) with the ticker SCI.  SCI is Service Corporation International.  What does a company with America’s most nondescript name actually do?  Well, here’s the Bloomberg description:

Service Corporation International provides death care services worldwide. The Company operates funeral service locations, cemeteries, and crematoria. Service also sells prearranged funeral services in most of its service markets.

BOOM!  That’s one-stop-shopping, folks; now Justin can write you some science, and when it bores you to death, he can fit you for a snazzy coffin and comfort your family, all for a modest fee.  I love this so much I didn’t even try to talk myself out of it.  Well, I tried a little, but it didn’t work.  Death jokes are the best jokes, so SCI it is.  The stock trades at $11.50, near the top of its 52-week range of $12.12 to $8.37, valuing the company at $2.5 billion.  SCI enters the FSX as of this morning; I rebalanced the whole index because trying to do something else was hurting my head.

April 27, 2012

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 17:45

Apple earnings were this week!   Apple earnings!  This week!  I have never seen a market so committed to peeing its pants, no matter what the results were.  Before this week, I didn’t know the market had pants to pee, so even I learned something.  Apple released quarterly earnings after the bell on Tuesday, and all day it was like the countdown to midnight for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I can’t believe no one on CNBC asphyxiated.  As a backdrop, AAPL had run up from $400 at the end of last year to $640 a week or so ahead of earnings.  With almost a billion shares outstanding, you can do the math as to how much market value had been added in a little over three months.  Then the stock seemed to crack on a technical basis, giving up 10% in a week on huge volume and breaking through all kinds of magical short-term supports in the process.  Leading into earnings a miss was baked in.  Instead, Apple beat on every single metric: revenue, EPS, gross margin, unit sales (35 million iPhones sold in the quarter!).  The stock popped from $560 to $610 after hours and held that gain the next day.  After all that, AAPL still only sells at 13 times earnings, a below-market multiple.  In comparison, Amazon ‘beat’ their expectations last night with ‘only’ a 35% DECLINE in earnings per share year over year (Apple EPS doubled).  AMZN trades at nearly 200 TIMES EARNINGS.  If Jeff Bezos wasn’t Katie’s boy, I’d be even more incensed than I am.  How a 35% decline in profits counts as beating anything (except investors, in the face) I just don’t get.  I understand how AMZN could have a higher multiple than AAPL; after all, Apple’s competition is just getting geared up, while Amazon’s is fading away.  But a 200 multiple, on top of declining earnings, and a stock price near record levels—it’s just too much.  Now that I’ve said that, watch AMZN trade over $300 before the end of the year, because I am the worst market-timer ever.

The Family Stock Index traded lower for most of the week before inching back into the green over the final two trading sessions.  The FSX closed at 13,479; its 0.6% advance was well below the 1.5%-2.3% gains logged by the major averages.  We’re headed into a major event cycle, with wedding season beginning next month, school ending in June, and my first draft wrap/complete nervous breakdown just a few weeks away.  If we hadn’t run up 21% year-to-date, I’d be a buyer here, because I think the risk/reward profile looks promising.  But we have run up 21%, so a lot of that promise is priced in.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the FSX top 14,000 in the near-term—that’s only 4% away, after all—but I think the odds of a 10% drop to around 12,000 before the end of the summer are greater than the odds of another 10% rise.  Just saying.


  • Brinkley (BCO) +17%.  I can’t think of anything Brinky’s better at than he was last week, except for things it’s not better for him to be better at.  The market has come around to him as the strong, silent type, I guess.  Whatever the reason, this big move takes Brinky from the bottom of the FSX to near the middle.  I’ve taken to calling him Number One almost exclusively (shortened from Number One Top Baby), so maybe the market is listening.  He’s got a long way to go to catch Reagan, though, and I’m not-so-secretly hoping he won’t—for all our sakes.
  • Reagan (REGN) +11%.  Another big move on earnings carried Reagan across the $140 mark this week.  Up 150% year-to-date and 10% for the week, she still couldn’t get past Justin and Brinky, respectively.  Reagan has actually seemed slightly less fragile in recent weeks; maybe the market’s fooled, but I know better.  Sometimes I seem less insane, too, but it always comes back.
  • Charlotte (ICE) +3.3%.  UPS delivered two big boxes of what I’m betting isn’t actually guitar amps.  They look to be in good shape (the boxes, not the amps) and I haven’t set fire to either of them yet.  Chawly to NC looks like a fait accompli.
  • Mario the Elder (MGEE) +2.4%.  Katie told me something is happening with a house, although whether we’re talking buy or sell is beyond me.  Hopefully Mario T.E. knows which it is; I couldn’t fault him for getting confused and bidding on the house he’s selling, but you can bet the market would.


  • Justin (WOLF) -2.6%.  Speaking of a fait accompli, the Justin takeover is all but done.   He’s agreed to a final price of $7.85 with Apollo; KSL has declined to go higher; and the market has bought into $7.85, giving up all last week’s hopes for a price north of $8.  The tender offer closes next week, so I’ll be looking for a new stock for Justin over the weekend.  So long WOLF, and thanks for the 170% year-to-date gain.
  • Jodi Ann (JOY) -3.4%.  Jodi Ann’s continued underperformance worries me, because I think when heavy-equipment stocks are lagging it suggests dwindling industrial demand.  CAT has faced similar market headwinds and has been holding down the Dow Industrials much as JOY has held back the FSX.  She’s hardly been in freefall, but if we’re going to top 14K on the index we need Jodi Ann to put in a bottom here around $70.  No pressure, though.
  • Jenny (JNY) -10.1%.  Jenny admitted to her mother this week that she tends toward obsessive when it comes to books, shows and movies.  Well, the market was hoping for a little more contrition, frankly.  Admitting that the actor who plays Peeta is horribly miscast and looks like a shrimpier Alan Tudyk would be a good start.

Alan Tudyk was ripped up on Dollhouse, in case you forgot.  If you’re going to cast shrimpy pseudo-Alan, just cast ripped-up Alan.

And Eliza Dushku could be Katniss.  Then you could get Rick Fox to play Cinna, and all would be right with the world.

  • Zero (ZIP) -10.4%.  Maybe there are guitar amps in these boxes.  I’m not going to open them and find out, not that I know a guitar amp from a warp drive.  As long as there aren’t body parts in there, we should be good.  Looks like the market’s not assigning a zero probability to body parts, though.
Name Ticker 4/27/2012 Change
Brinkley BCO $25.98 +3.79
Charlotte ICE $132.67 +4.28
Dustin DST $55.95 +1.31
Icarus FLOW $4.10 +0.12
Jenny JNY $11.69 -1.31
Jodi Ann JOY $71.60 -2.49
Justin WOLF $7.85 -0.21
Katie CATY $17.73 +0.21
Lee MSTR $141.11 -4.09
Lisa LNCE $26.04 +0.19
Lucas LEI $1.81 -0.06
Lulu LULU $74.71 +1.01
Marcus MCS $12.81 +0.18
Mario T.E. MGEE $45.82 +1.09
Mario T.Y. SUP $18.10 -0.35
Marisa MOLX $27.90 +0.90
Namilita NL $14.41 +0.37
Nicole B. NI $24.49 +0.08
Nicole L. COL $56.27 +0.71
Reagan REGN $140.01 +13.63
Ruby RJET $5.15 +0.14
Wilson WILC $4.51 -0.15
Winston ED $59.31 +0.70
Zero ZIP $12.20 -1.41
Zondro ZQK $3.46 -0.09

Big Man

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 10:56

We were watching a little of the NFL draft last night, but two of us didn’t make it very long.

Look at the size of that boy.  I was half-expecting Roger Goodell to call his name last night.  Realistically, he’s probably a second-day pick.  He’s got the measurables, as they say, but he’s not very coachable.  I also don’t know how he’d do on the Wonderlic; if it’s a pencil-and-paper test, the only real question would be which to eat first–the pencil or the paper.

April 26, 2012

Spider Incursions Continue

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 18:56

I killed a third big black rearer in the kitchen this afternoon; this one was spotted by Jenny and Reagan near the dinner table.  The spiders are putting me in a tough spot here, because there’s not much I can do in response that wouldn’t represent a significant escalation of hostilities.  Rearers in the kitchen–even three in a week–doesn’t justify an attack on the underside of the deck or a strafing of the Dominion proper.  I plan to bomb the garages this weekend and to clear the front porch next weekend, and the latter in particular will be a high-casualty event for the spiders.  I still believe the kitchen incursions amount to little more than posturing.  I do feel that, in the interest of diplomatic transparency, I should reiterate that if they put one of those monsters on Brinky they will die by the hundreds.

Republicans Won’t Cut The Deficit

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 12:38

I’d like for President Obama and the Congressional Democrats to point this out every now and then.  Where they get off track in elections is trying to convince the crazies that the Republicans don’t represent them; it’s time to give up on those people.  If an Evangelical Christian still believes the national Republican Party represents her Christian values, she deeply misunderstands Christianity, politics, or both.  She can’t be convinced by facts or reason; unless the voices in her head change their minds, she won’t change hers.  Democrats need to focus on the things Republicans claim to be that appeal to moderates.  For example, Republicans say deficit spending is bad, and voters generally agree.  Why do Democrats let them have that?  The Republicans don’t even have to say they would end deficit spending–which they absolutely would not do–because the Democrats just let them have ‘deficit spending is bad’ all to themselves.  Then the public can make the short intellectual leap from ‘Republicans are against deficit spending’ to ‘Democrats must be for deficit spending.’  When the public does make that leap, the Democrats have no one to blame but themselves.

The Democrats won’t end deficit spending either, but what they should point out is that they have a better shot at it than the Republicans do.  Not very catchy, though:  sure, we’ll probably spend more than we have, but the other guys will definitely spend more than we have.  Why won’t the Republicans end deficit spending?  Here’s why:

  1. They will cut social spending.  They say they will, and they will: funding for Medicaid, housing subsidies, food stamps, social support services, all of that–gone.  All else equal, that will reduce the deficit.  But all else isn’t equal, because…
  2. They will cut taxes on rich people and corporations.  This is the number one priority for the modern Republican Party, and it’s also numbers two through ten.  By themselves, the tax cuts will offset the social spending cuts (and polarize society even more), leaving the deficit as big as ever.  So the Republicans would have to make spending cuts elsewhere.  Would they?
  3. They will not cut defense spending.  Defense spending is the biggest chunk of the budget other than Social Security and Medicare.  Republicans don’t even pretend they would cut it.  Why do we spend so much on defense?  I don’t know.  If there’s a good reason, I’d love to hear it.  Do we need to fund the war in Afghanistan?  Yes, until it’s over.  Do we need to have bases all over the world?  No.  Do we need multi-billion-dollar super-duper weapons programs?  No, not if we have to borrow from China to fund them.
  4. They will not cut Medicare or Social Security.  No politician would vote to do that.  No politician.  You know who votes?  Old people.  Are there going to be fewer old people in the coming years, or more?
  5. They will not cut earmarks/pork-barrel spending.  No politician will pass up a chance to funnel money to his constituents.

So the bottom line is that Republicans won’t end deficit spending.  How do we end deficit spending?  Increase tax revenue (more from simplifying the tax code than from raising statutory tax rates), cut defense spending, and give the President line-item veto to cut pork out of omnibus bills.  That’s it.  And neither party will do any such thing.


April 25, 2012

Mmmm Blueberries

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 20:01

Such good sharing…except Brinky may have eaten more than Reagan intended.

Turn Around, Sweetie

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 10:01

Because of those dudes behind you.

Because of every one of those dudes.

Except maybe the Michigan man back there; he’s clearly not amused by the potential goings-on.

April 23, 2012

Spider Incursions

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 12:26

I just destroyed a hairy black rearing spider in the kitchen, the second such in four days.  The circumstances of the incursions are more disturbing than the force put behind either.  The rearer from Friday was under Brinky’s chair–while he was in it–and the one today was on the lid of my sink-side bleach bottle–when I went to reach for it.  I was mad after the one today; I’m using this opportunity to cool down a bit.  He was hard to kill, too; I had to put a decent amount of wasp cannon into him before he would stay down (I just stomped the one on Friday).  I wasn’t even frightened of this one; I wanted to really dress him down before I took him out.

So…what the hell, spiders?  It’s awful early in the year for this provocation.  I did clean out and bleach up the Apple Floor Room and basement stairs three weeks ago, as I’d intended.  These interlopers are coming from above-ground.  It might be wishful thinking on my part, but I can’t escape the feeling that this is a bluff.  If the Dominion intended to attack in force, they’d wouldn’t do anything to arouse my suspicions until they were ready to launch.  It could be that these were scouts that wandered off-course, but they were awfully slow for scouts, and besides, the Dominion has ants in abundance to provide it with intel.  This feels more like a ‘hey, remember us?  we can put a rearer near your baby’ kind of thing.  Okay, I get it.  Deterrence is the cornerstone of the peace, and after I fired up my bleach-loaded pressure-washer earlier this month, the Dominion wanted to remind me they’re not without military assets of their own.  Just don’t actually put a rearer on my baby.  I’ll take out the entire underside of the deck if you do.

April 22, 2012

John’s Not The One With The Problem

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:06

Look at your face, lady.

He’s not the only one having sport.  Now, if John knows you’re having sport about him having sport and it makes his sport even sportier, well, now you’ve ventured into a weird area.  It’s going to be tough to get that one past the Comics Code.

April 21, 2012

Livin La Vida Loca

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 20:58

You haven’t partied for real until you’ve realized

  1. it’s 9 pm on Saturday night;
  2. you’ve been watching Baby First TV since about 8 pm;
  3. the actual baby went to bed at 7:30.
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