A New Business Scam

Th is last month, I officially established my consulting business, Plans and Clues LLC, with the state of Oregon as well as a US Fedral EIN.  At least one of those things puts my business name and address in the public domain … the state of OR.  So there are either people or bots scanning the public domain for new businesss so they can contact you …

They sent me this very official sounding and looking document that could easily be mistaken for a state or fedral agency requiring a fee be paid.

But if you read the top paragraph on the right side, if clearly states that this same documentation that they are asking you to pay for is available for free from the state of OR.

This is a scam that they are intending you do NOT read and just go ahead and pay.  If not, how many businesses will stay in business if the EXACT same product is available for free from the government?

Data size, quality, machine learning and Apple

A conceptual inference struck me the other day as I was considering buying additional Apple stock for my ‘invest and almost never sell’ portfolio – there’s a 5-10 year horizon for this capital.  This go around I sold PUT on Apple stock and if it gets assigned, I will be content – there is no FOMO as i can repeat this.  But maybe in the inference path I used will be helpful for thinking about weighing investments leveraging competency in machine learning which I believe will be a major investment thesis over my target time horizon – 5-10 yrs.

Here are my assumptions wrt machine learning capabilities

  • The larger the data set available for the machine learning and correction, the more accurate the machine learning – basically the faster and better it learns and is then able to execute
  • The cleaner the data set the more efficient, effective and timely the same machine learning

If you buy those, then looking at Apple there a couple of like companies with such a broad and large data set that can be leveraged to provide better and better (i.e., demanded) user services and products, e.g., Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft are the most relevant.  There are others that may have large data sets but I do not think they have the same breadth and quality, e.g., Facebook, Comcast, ATT, Verizon.

Apple’s data may not be the largest, but i think it is the most controled and hence the cleanest.  Microsoft is probably the second cleanest data set but not as broad across device types, usage models and connectivity modes.  While Google and Amazon probably have the largest and most diverse data sets, neither have the same control over data quality that Apple and Microsoft have.

Based on this inference thread and my current position in Apple, I will continue to add to my position until the narrative changes or my allocation of Apple exceeds 10% of my managed portfolio.  Microsoft will be added to my target list with an upcoming deep dive on 5-10 year investment thesis and entry.

Strategy Clarity

There are two companies that I am currently invested in – I own shares in both companies, and will most likely increase holdings over the next 12 months.  Both companies met w/ analysts recently and both had very clear strategy narratives, imho.  They were explicit, easy to understand and map to my IOT product experiences.

Marvell Technology Group – MRVL

  • Here is their earnings conference call transcript 
  • Here is a recent analyst update

Adesto Technologies Corporation – IOTS

The key things that surfaced for me were the following:

  1. How their product portfolio can leverage greater BOM coverage w/ same sales calls
  2. How their sales strategy stair-steps into more complex, higher margin (takes patience)
  3. How they understand the long design times and ‘designed in’ timelines in the non-consumer IOT markets

I like both of these companies for long-term investments 5-10 years. 

30 minutes on Plan for Profit

I presented at short view on “Plan for Proft” for a local Chamber of Commerce Lunch event this week. A framework to help people start thinking about the needed clues to create a plan to meet their unique and individual profit goals.  http://plansandclues.org/files/PlanforProfit-2.pdf

Caveat:  These slides are not that helpful for people who were NOT in the talk itself – this is not a “leave-behind, stand on its own” collateral.

Covered Calls for Income

I looked at some scenarios based on current prices as of Friday, Nov 2 to identify if there is a compelling covered call platform to derive medium risk income.  I selected 3 companies that I would consider owning for their long term prospects, but would not cry a river if the position was taken at a profit:  HBAN, CY and NOK.  Other criteria included:  a good dividend, predictable, sufficient option volume and stable pricing over the next 3-6 months (as the market goes so will these).

Here is the simple comparison

HBAN
Price at analysis 14.29
Cost basis
500 @ 14.29 ($7145)
Possible
1. $14 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.62
a. Outcome with 500 shares (5 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $310 gross (4.3%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $155 gross (2.1%)
2. $15 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.25
a. Outcome with 500 shares (5 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $125 gross (1.7%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $480 gross (6.7%)
CY
Price at analysis 13.51
Cost basis
500 @ 13.51 ($6755)
Possible
1. $14 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.60
a. Outcome with 500 shares (5 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $300 gross (4.4%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $545 gross (8.0%)
2. $15 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.27
a. Outcome with 500 shares (5 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $135 gross (1.9%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $1424 gross (21.0%)
NOK
Price at analysis $5.80
Cost basis
1000 @ 5.80 ($5800)
Possible
1. $5.00 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.85
a. Outcome with 1000 shares (10 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $850 gross (14.6%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $0 gross (0.0%)
2. $6.00 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.17
a. Outcome with 1000 shares (5 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $170 gross (2.9%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $320 gross (5.5%)

The CY purchase and $15 Call with these assumed prices appears the best idea.  This idea fits my objectives of increasing greatest cash flow in worst case scenario (i lose the position) as well as the probability of losing the position (lower w/ CY @ $15) … not a recommendation to execute this trade, but a look at how it might be done and how I came up with the idea.

Data Analysis – Stop the Spray & Pray

A very short thought on data analysis and the use of data to make decisions.  I often hear people in different domains reference “data based decision making”, “data driven business”, and the list goes on …

But what so many people follow is the “Spray and Pray” approach of data analysis.  They collect as much data as possible, they spray it on the wall for everybody to see and pray that something meaningful surfaces.

What they miss is that any data analyst worth their salt would do the following:

  • Identify the most important data
  • Explain why that data is important
  • Relate what that important data means and its shortcomings / limitations
  • Recommend what actions should be taken based on that data (non action is appropriate response as well)

Extended Hours Poaching

A recent experience and additional observations have created a very jaundiced view of a group of traders who take advantage of less experienced folks.  They are poachers with all the negative connotations of that term.  Let me explain with an example

I had a short position in RUTH.  I stupidly placed a stop lost / limit order to protect my capital from a price increase above my limits.  I absent-mindedly left that stop loss order open over night … it was snapped up first thing when market opened at about $0.25 above the next trade.  I looked at RUTH trading history and there are several of these very odd very early trades way above the market … Poachers taking advantage of stupid people like me.

Not to self:  Never leave stop loss orders open overnight and especially in thinly traded stocks like RUTH.

Trading Tides Have Turned

After a very difficult trading month so far in October and a couple of interesting SA posts (Jeff Miller’s weekly trading post) and a new author for me posted I have finally figured out a way to describe the change:  the tides have turned and the winds have shifted.  Mary Poppins like …

Previously, the trading tides were pushing upward so trades were easily identified with consolidation at support points and falls from strong resistance.  The winds were blowing upward so lower values on dips made sense … and consolidation support points held – they were the floor. 

It seems that the tides have turned now after watching support levels break down consistently … the dips are now hard to stop (supports are like false bottoms).  The trading tactic now looks to be waiting for consolidation bottoms and upward lifts with volume and strength through weak resistance points.   This may reduce potential gains on the upside (longs) … shorts are also complicated as there are no support levels below (what can i logically expect for exit and profit)?

While I fully admit that i am not an expert technician and use fundamental DCF valuations as the filter for my trades, for me at least, the tides have turned.

Money flows from oil

A provoking post on Seeking Alpha this morning that prompted deep thinking on the money flows from the large changes in oil prices over the last 5 years.  The basic gist which totally makes sense is that the oil profits are not as important as the consumers’ total cost for oil.  The lower their costs, the more they spend elsewhere in the economy.  The inference then is that higher oil prices are totally deflationary – they reduce broader consumer purchasing … it doesn’t really matter if the oil profits end up in US, Canada, Russia or Arabian Peninsula.

It’s Oil Stupid

Walking in the Neighborhood #2

I was just wandering around today camera in hand.

Am I in prison?
Coming in for a landing but I’m covered in pollen
Pretty?
Just wonderful to hang out 
We can really share – but you’re in my way
Better to have it to myself
Snack time
Ah…
Oh my

An End to US$ as Global Currency?

I have been talking about this for several months, maybe even a year or so, but not to the technical depth that these two people are this past week.  I think this is worth considering and baking into your long-term risk management variables.   My pontifications have been more cultural evolution derived but these guys are helping me understand the investment implications.  

JP Morgan analyst is quoted within the below

Heisenberg on Seeking Alpha

2nd Qtr GDP

GDP ‘3rd’ estimate was released this morning.  One paragraph i found most interesting:  “The acceleration in real GDP growth in the second quarter reflected accelerations in PCE, exports, federal government spending, and state and local government spending, as well as a smaller decrease in residential fixed investment. These movements were partly offset by a downturn in private inventory investment and a deceleration in nonresidential fixed investment. Imports decreased after increasing in the first quarter.”

I bolded the points i focused on.  Government spending was a key catalyst in the figures – debt spending in great degree (?)

Full report is here:  https://www.bea.gov/news/2018/gross-domestic-product-2nd-quarter-2018-third-estimate-corporate-profits-2nd-quarter-2018

Lake Michigan September ’18

My extended family spent several days near the Lake Michigan shore this month.  It was an easy walk thru this gate to the beach below after walking through an amazing township park.

The Lake Michigan beach is wonderful and all without salt, sharks or jellyfish.

And looking west, the sunsets are usually tremendous with or without storms.

Lighthouses are plentiful and old … and there was a reason they were built

Searching for the most wonderful wave-polished stones can fill hours of tremendously peaceful hours.

Declining Bank Assets

This post by a followed article is a good read, and rather than comment on the details (you can read it) … i’ll ask some questions

Eric Basmajian on SA today

Questions:  

  • Is college debt for ages 25-35 having an impact on additional debt assumption?
  • What is the driver behind the decline – Banks unwillingness to lend, or debtors unable to take on more (other than credit cards)?

This was an interesting look an another indicator that suggests the economic growth continues to deaccelerate.