Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Push

I posted this before but it's worth repeating. I watch this video every Monday morning to set my pace.

Monday, January 29, 2007

More on the Brulée

Well it seems like I hit a nerve with the CB review, so here's some more deets; the stuff comes in 4 x 100ml containers for five bucks and is found in the dairy section with the rice pudding, tapioca and stuff like that. It's refrigerated and comes with a packet of brown sugar that you sprinkle on top and pop into an oven (I use an acetylene torch like a pro of course ;).

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Creme Brulée

Whoah, a second celebrity endorsement in 1 day - this is a record. My second recommendation today is Kookk Creme Brulée found in Metro grocery stores in Montreal. I am a fanatic for CB and have ordered it in pretty much every restaurant in the world that I've been to where it's on the menu. I've had $25 CBs and $2 CBs and I'd say that the Kookk is pretty close to if not better than the $25 CBs. Aside from a ginger and orange CB in Quebec City, the Kookk is 9.5/10 for a plain vanilla CB. Pretty close to the Gibbey's version but actually a bit creamier. Well worth the $5/4 pack if the Brullée's your kinda grub.

30 Day Stock Trades that Made Money

In the past 30 days, here's the stocks that made me money:


AAPL - Got in in the low eighties, got out in the low nineties
LYTS - Got in at 15, out at 18
SVNT - Got in around 11, out at around 14.50

My methodology:
The first two were bought because of huge dips and then a flat period. SVNT because I got in for a long ride after a Cramer recommendation but they bolted up too fast so I got out. Maybe I'll get back when it's safer.


HP - Got in at 23, not out yet at 26 (staying long)
RAL - Got in at 3.40, still in at 4.16
T - Got in at 34, still in at 36.40

My methodology:
I found HP randomly when I was looking for HPQ and they seemed to be a great value that was not getting a fair price when I did my research. Rally Energy (RAL) had a great story and growth and I thought that AT&T was going to do really well with all the new mobile data services and triple play offerings. I'm keeping an eye on Rogers, BCE and Telus for the same reasons



Everything else is more or less stalled. I got out of Intel & Yahoo because they're a little scary right now. Lost a bit on Intel, gained a bit on Yahoo. I think that Google is a fools game, there's easier money out there.


I have no real stinkers yet except that I got stung by the exchange rate drop and gouged by the bank FX spread. I was an idiot and didn't buy on my corporate FX spot rate, cost me 1% extra for bank gouge + 1% FX loss. Verisign is getting me a little worried but I am not freaked out yet.

What's next?

I really like the idea of Chinese growth and I think that Chinese people are starting to acquire a big taste for luxury goods and American products. DEO, Starbucks, MPEL and Excel China are on my long list. On the tech side, I really like Digital River especially since they will be the e-comm merchant for Vista upgrades and they're depressed right now. I am waiting for AAPL to bottom out so I can buy in again. I really like Electronic Arts because with all the new consoles flying off the shelves, these guys will see the $$ and on top of that, their share price is getting beaten down right now - I am waiting for them to bottom out. And finally I am waiting for EDA to settle down before buying in with real money.

A Celebrity Endorsement

OK, so I'm not a celebrity outside of my own cranium but I can in good conscience give a huge endorsement to the 20cm Artisan Skillet found at Canadian Tire for $35. Why a frying pan? Well, glad you asked, I have consumed (yes consumed) many frying pans over the years including some chi chi fou fou Lagostina stainless masterpieces and I can safely say that the Artisan kicks all of their collective asses. It's thick, beefy, holds heat well and has some crazy deep hard teflon armour that doesn't scratch, flake or flinch in any way. I love it and it's half price every 2 months if you keep your eye on the CT flyers. The Artisan grill, crepe skillet, egg pan and their whole set is great too. I'm a believer.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Regulatory Compliance

What would happen if a company cooked it's books to hide some debt? Probably the suits would end up like this guy. So why is it that the US gov't gets to ignore generally accepted accounting practices (GAAP) and make their own version of a balance sheet to present to their shareholders at earnings call?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A short sell

In a litigation happy country like the USA, usually when a CEO bungles his objectives, makes a mess of his balance sheet and loses the confidence of his shareholders, this CEO usually gets fired by the board. This CEO would also faces class action lawsuits for mismanagement and incompetence and if employees and/or customers died, throw in criminal negligence charges. Unfortunately this won't happen when the CEO is the President and the Corporation is the USA.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


We interrupt regularly scheduled programming in order to bring you a carefree interlude in the form of a gallery of frogs.

More on the Wealth Building

As it turns out, more than one friend reading this blog is enthusiastic about my research and as it's also RRSP time, I'm going to list my most hopeful investments and recommendations. As always, do your own research and learn how to read the numbers and charts on finance.google.com before investing. Buy me some tequila if you make some money and go ahead and drink lots of tequila if you lose your shirt.

So here goes, here are my picks:

Global Santa Fe (GSF $55.99) - great growth, super profitable, undervalued
CVRD (RIO - $30.62) - Great mining company, I used to own Inco before CVRD bought them and made 75% return in 3 months
Goldman Sachs (GS - $212.97) - undervalued
Toyota (TM - $131.21) - serious growth spurt ahead, stalled/low-ish this week
Consolidated Edison (ED - $48.25) - Very safe electrical utility, 5% dividend + consistant stock growth. buy them on a cyclical dip
Helmerich and Payne (HP $25.02) - Contract drilling for oil, undervalued, profitable and growing
DIVX ($20.88) - I watched them go from 2 guys to a 750M valuation, great velocity, very risky, very rewarding
Digital River (DRIV $ 50.81)- eComm software sales, profitable and growing, buy them when they bottom out in 3-6 months. Medium risky.
American Apparel (EDA $10.70) - Wait until they go lower before buying, the acquisition company was funded at $7/share so $10.70 is pretty high considering nothing happened yet. However if you wait too long, you might miss the ride. Really risky as well.

With all of these stocks, it's much easier to know when to buy than to know when to sell. The only advice that I can give you is to not be greedy and get out when the going seems too good to be true. This doesn't apply as much to the really conservative stocks like ED, HP or TM.

Mutual funds
Excel India/China/Chindia
Vertex One - Vertex Fund

Trading Accounts (Canada)
eTrade - $20 trades or $10 if you keep $50K with them, no other fees, 4% interest on cash
Royal Bank - sucks $30+ trades, $10 if you had 30 trades in the last quarter, terrible exchange rates. User interface and rate updates like a bad site from 1996
BMO - Not bad if you are on the 5 star program (250K), use etrade otherwise

Monday, January 22, 2007

New Toy - HP iPaq Travel Companion

I just got this groovy little Windows Mobile PDA with GPS, bluetooth and Wifi for some development work and had a weekend to play around with it. It's not bad but still not terribly useful. My issues with it:
- battery life is 2-3hrs with wifi enabled (!)
- GPS takes a few minutes to find the satellites
- Tomtom navigator is good but setting bookmarks and using it outside of navigating sucks
- Handwriting recognition sucks compared to my tablet pcs (obvious)
- quirky, crappy, ugly UIs for everything
- GPS doesn't work at all indoors
General impression: this thing is a science project.
However, it's great for mobile development apps. I'm going to be working on some in-car and mobile apps that take advantage of the GPS/wifi combo. I'm figuring that your car and cell phone will have always on Internet, GPS, bluetooth, camera/video and lots of storage - this opens up many possibilities.
I think that the Apple iPhone is a great start but without the ability to run third party apps and a single carrier it starting to smell like some suckage.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I'm out of AAPL at $92

As of 9:30:25 AM, I'm completely out of AAPL at $92, for a tidy profit of about $10/share. I'll buy back in when the options scandal has peaked or when the stock really is completely down for the count. I moved most of my funds over to an oil exploration company called Helmerich and Payne which took a recent beating, I already had a good position there when they were at their lowest and now they seem to be creeping up in anticipation of a positive quarter.

Chicken or egg

In the couple of years since I started this blog the phrase "wish you were beer" seems to be gaining momentum. I'm pretty sure that I was nearly the first if not actually the first to use it but now there are t-shirts, bumper stickers, an album, a radio station and a song with that name.

A couple of years ago, you'd google it and all you came up with was this stinky little blog up on top, now I'm somewhere around the 2nd page.

Sandbagged by AAPL

As some of you have so wisely pointed out, Apple sandbagged their investors with a hyper-pessimistic second quarter projection despite a record breaking/blistering first quarter. I'm sure that they did this on purpose to take some air out of the stock so that it would have a soft landing instead of a crash when the options scandal hits the news again.

What is really interesting here is that the market was pulling the shares down yesterday well before the news was public when all along it should have been rising. This means that people at the hedge funds knew something bad was highly likely. Smells really fishy to me considering the rest of us were sure that the quarter was going to be stellar. Such is life and so we live and learn to watch for this early warning.

Cramer says hold on AAPL, I am saying screw that - I'm taking the money and running until the stock bottoms out and then getting back in when it's safer and cheaper. I still made $10-$12/share so I'm not feeling bad but I don't want to be greedy and get crushed by the stampede of panic that's sure to ensue.

I am selling AAPL today at around the pre-market price of 93 bucks and buying back in probably this summer or when the stock goes under 80 which ever comes first. At the same time, I'm dumping Intel and Verisign at cost but staying on for the ride with DivX and Microsoft.

I'm still bullish on the long term prospects of Apple and Intel but the short term prospects are bleak. Had they not tempered the next quarter, the stock would have bumped up by 5-10 bucks. Smart move though all things considered but unexpected. This is a great opportunity to sit back and wait for both to bottom out or dance sideways for a couple of quarters.

Yeah, I know that I've flip flopped on this in less than 24 hours but sometimes you gotta change your route to get to the same destination.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More on AAPL, EDA, DIVX and RRSPs

Both Apple and EDA/American Apparel are up quite a bit since we bought in. My next picks are DIVX which is down today and who's releasing numbers soon and Intel who is also down because they're in a vicious price war with AMD.

On DivX
DivX is a great company, I met Jordan Greenhall a long time ago in the muddle of a failed acquisition where my company was the target. Subsequently after that fiasco, he started his own thing and asked me to merge my company with some new unknown new entity. I didn't pay much attention and nothing happened. That entity was DivX which is now worth three quarters of a billion dollars. The company makes a living with software, licensing, content and web traffic revenue. Lots of people use their stuff, lots of their stuff is ending up in TVs, DVD players, media players, gadgets of all types and software of all flavours. Almost every torrent in the world uses DivX but DivX has no apparent liability yet has seems to have an upside in customer/device/traffic/content adoption. I like them, I like Jordan so I'm already fully loaded with DivX stock.

On Intel
Intel is a little worn out right now because of shrinking margins but their processors are great and they've pulled ahead of AMD with quad cores. I think that they are not going to let up and they're ready to get serious about AMD. Vista is coming out soon so there should be a bump in new computer sales and both AMD & Intel will see a boost. The price war will hurt both of them so this is the only dirt in the salad that I am watching for.

On Apple
Apple release their earnings tomorrow night and should blow everybody away. Even without the phone hype, they have a new OS coming out soon, lots of software upgrades and some new pricey quad core computers and luxury laptops imminently being readied for release. There might be a lull after the earnings call this week as things go quiet for aw while and the euphoria subsides but it should bump up again when the new stuff rolls out and the cash rolls in. This one's a long term keeper.

If you don't have a clue where to put your money this year, consider China and India funds like Excel. I am doing great with them so far but if regional politics (Pakistan/N. Korea) get sketchier then things might get messy. I'm young enough to take that risk with 5-10% of my portfolio.

You might be getting bored of this financial stuff but its pretty important at this time of the year when RRSP dollars get put into seemingly random funds with exciting financial sounding names. For a long time I had no idea about what I was investing in and had no real control over what happened to my dough. The money that I put in was real but the numbers moving up and down every 3 months on my statements weren't. It was like some kind of quarterly lottery. Now I do understand and control my RRSPs better with some of my dough in a self managed RRSP account and I'm finding that I'm growing my money easily and relatively quickly outside of my day job so I am passing on what I know so maybe you can take an interest in your finances at some point if you care to do so. Oh yeah, I like doing it too so that makes it a lot easier.

More on Success

A while ago I listed some principles for growth that work for me and by coincidence, just today I watched this video on TED that pretty much recaps the exact same thing. So why isn't everybody successful then? Probably because they(you)'re going to put off starting on success until tomorrow when they/you have more time. Take 3 minutes and watch that video and bookmark it for the days when you're lethargic.

Monday, January 15, 2007

My favorite blog

I'm living vicariously through Liz Clark on her blog. Props to her for what sounds and looks like an amazing journey.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Adobe Torrents versus Bockbuster and Netflix

Here's some news that's not getting much press these days, Adobe is building a high def peer to peer movie distribution network into their flash player.

What does that mean? Well it means that 97% of desktop computers will be able to access the worlds biggest and smartest movie distribution network with an upcoming flash update.

Who are the players?
Adobe - Flash w/250-350M players connected to the internet
Verisign - encryption
Kontiki - peer to peer company started by ex-netscapees, bought by Verisign

Impact: They are still missing content and customers but all they have to do is buy out a blockbuster competitor or an online distributor (cinemanow?), but when they do have their ducks in a row they will be a force to recon with. I would think that these guys are Apples biggest competitors in the video rental/purchase market going forward.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Exciting Mobile Apps

Consider this for youz guyz who still do a lot of real world buying, imagine that your cell phone had a barcode scanner and when you were in the grocery store or Best Buy that you could point your phone at a product and it would tell you the best deals in town/on the internet on that item?

Well these guys have that product using smartphones, I love it. This is the future.

I just wish that Google maps and custom apps could be downloaded into car nav computers so we could do the same kind of thing for gas prices. Picture this, you're tank is low and your car tells you the 10 stations within range ranked by price or it figures out when the optimal time to buy is based on trends, proximity and time to empty.

It's coming and I can't wait. So subsequently I am off to the MEDC mobile dev/business conference in Vegas in May to start figuring out how to get in on this.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

AAPL recap

So much to my pleasant surprise, Apple closed at $97 today. Its moving even quicker than I had predicted so far.

So here's where we are at with our virtual portfolio:

Shares: 120
Cost: $82.55 Total: $9,906
Current: $97 Total: $11,640

Gain: $1734 (minus ten bucks for brokerage)

Endeavor (American Apparel)
Shares: 1100
Cost: $9 Total $9,900
Current $10.83 Total: $11,913

Gain: $2013 (minus ten bucks for brokerage)

So we've gained $3747 US on an investment of $19,806 in three short weeks. That's 19% !! Man I wish I could pull this off more regularly but unfortunately this kind of thing doesn't happen every day - easy money though.

I haven't sold yet so anything could happen.

So you probably didn't buy but I sure did and I goofed, didn't buy enough. My next picks are DIVX which is relatively low today at $22.64, Intel at $21.52 and Yahoo at $28.70 - both a little higher than optimal but we'll jump in just the same.

So we're going to buy ten grand in each:

DivX - 440 shares
Intel - 460 shares
Yahoo - 350 shares

In real life, I actually bought all of these a bit lower but to be fair, we'll use todays closing prices for this exercise. Let's see how these go - they're all long for now.

None of these are blind bets, each company is one that I know intimately, use their products and have friends that work for them. Some of those friends will probably read this with a chuckle when they do stumble in here for a monthly visit ;)

Each company has bad ratios/multiples but has a winning/passionate leadership team and lots of momentum. Hang on, we're in for a ride.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

AAPL on the move

Did any of you listen to me and buy AAPL shares at $82.50????

They're at $88 and rising right now :)

And the iPhone is HOT!! This stock is going to $130-150 in the next months and double over the next year. As much as I dislike Apple products, this is the killer we've been waiting for.

If you'd have listened to me, you'd have made 10% on your investment in 3 weeks.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

AKA The Knife

Due to the abysmal weather, I'm staying in town and working this weekend. Props to Jacob@DNA and boo AKA Bruce who's in town from Paris this week, hung out with them & Marko last night at Tokyo lounge, great toons in the small room. Bruce and I had a special moment together a decade back when none other than Bjork joined us for a beer at a random record label launch - how surreal was that?

I'm really tripping on The Knife this weekend. Here's another video and yet another.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What's in my ears

The Knife - Pass this on
Booka Shade - Body Language
DJ T - Time Out
Booka Shade - Friend for a Night
Jona - Learning from the Mistakes
Cari Lekebusch - Motions of Energy

Zune day 3

After a couple of days, this thing is really start to grow on me. Most of the stuff that I wanted to do with syncing is actually really easy - I was just in too much of a rush to figure it out. So here's the score so far:

- FM radio
- Slick UI
- Great sound
- Loud enough
- Usable with gloves on
- Lots of stuff that I like in the all you can eat subscription service

- No gapless playback yet
- No volume wheel for in-pocket control

This week I'm going to hook it up to my XBOX 360 and see how that goes. In theory it's pretty well integrated...

Now hopefully we'll get a buttload of snow so I can take it to the hills.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Zune Day 2

I finally got my Zune yesterday and have been using it non-stop ever since. Here are some observations;

UI - Slick slidey zoomey fadey menus like an XBOX, no surprise since the XBOX team built this gadget.

Looks - I got the white one, looks like a sandblasted glass block, painted on the inside, translucent and classy. Great looking screen, super bright and viewable from all angles.

Usability - With only 3 buttons, it's really simple and easy to get used to. Not having a scroll wheel is not great but actually drives quicker once you get used to it because the UI is so smooth.

Software - Here's the weak spot, it's more or less like iTunes but a little rougher around a couple of edges. It tried to sync my entire library upon installation - a big no-no. I haven't figured out what's the best way to sync stuff although I have been creating playlists and syncing them no sweat. No biggie so far but it seems to be made by default for all or nothing syncing. Also when I installed the software, I got some weird rundll32 errors but everything is working fine.

Video Playback - The videos that came preloaded look great, the screen is excellent. I dropped a couple of video on it and they played back no probs. My DIVX/XVID avi's don't convert automatically so this is a bit of a drag but I'm sure some tools/plugins will be out soon. There's this youtube to zune converter plugin out already for easy scrapes if you want to stock up on menthos vids.

So would I recommend it? Yes, I'd give it an 8/10 where my Rio was a 7.5 and the iPod is a 7. It's nicer to use than an iPod and the videos are way cleaner, brighter and bigger. The reason that I can't stand the iPod is because I can't really stand being tied into a single source proprietary ecosystem. I won't ever buy a Zune pass (at least I don't think I will) but I do buy CDs from Amazon, rip them and then play them on pretty much any computer, laptop, MP3 player, car stereo, CD player, DVD player or clock radio that's close by. Even with WMA files, they play everywhere, everywhere that is except for an iPod. With iTunes/AAC, I'm stuck in barrel.

iTunes reminds me of AOL of old, it's a great place to live if you don't mind being jailed in a walled garden. Zune is a walled garden too but most of the gates are open.

Oh yeah, one more thing - you can upgrade to 80GB pretty easily if you wanted to.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Golden Apple

So two weeks ago we bought 120 imaginary Apple shares at $82.55 and they dipped down to $80 before bouncing up to $84.84.

So far we're up about $275 or about 3% in 2 weeks. This is better than most banks would give you in a year. But wait a second - the ride has just begun. A tremendous quarter is just ending, Macworld is next week with a bunch of new products, iTunes store is on fire, iPods were a huge seller and Macbooks were flying off shelves.

Even Goldman Sachs is tripping out. The markets will open tomorrow morning with a lot of pent up demand and the stock should jump another couple of bucks, still a deal if you are ready for a 6 month or 1 year ride. Sure there are a couple of lawsuits, nothing big yet and they will take years to resolve.

Happy New Year!!

Wicked, I survived another year mostly intact!!

Ok, so Times Square was a fiasco but I still had a pretty good time. A word of advice, if you want to go to Times Square for the countdown, get down there in the afternoon no later than 4 and don't leave and make sure that you've gone to the washroom because you won't get another chance for 7 hours.

NYC overall is really well organized and friendly but compared to the jazz festival in Montreal, the festivities are a joke. The first hundred thousand people fit in the square and get a good show, the other 900,000 get cordoned off on adjacent blocks with nothing around but metal barricades, pissed off cops and no entertainment and no way to take a piss. They could make a fortune and spread a ton of goodwill if they let corporate sponsors take care of the people outside of the core and just let the cops handle security.

Anyways, we split at 8:30 after half an hour in the midst of a pissed off crowd and jetted to the village for a fun random night at the Sullivan Room at a Brazillian party.

Hope to see all of you soon and hope everybody had a great vacation. Now lets all pray for some snow up here in the northeast. Peace.

Oh yeah, congrats to Sean and Marie for the birth of their new daughter during the last days of December 2006!