Friday, December 23, 2011

The Apple of my eye

Caveat, I'm a big Apple fan. They just announced a press event for October 4. The assumption is this is the new iPhone (oh please oh please oh please let it run on Sprint!). I digress.

I doubled down, buying more around the time that Steve Jobs announced he was retiring as CEO, at around $380/share.  Today it's $419.  That's over 10%. In a month. Why, because even without him, the company is very well run.  And I still think it's a good deal, Some things to consider:  It's the largest publicly held company in the world by market capitalization, and it doesn't have a monopoly in any segments. Including iPads as computers, it's only got about 12% of the market. But it has the vast bulk of the profits. Let me repeat that. Apple is making all the money. This year Apple captured two thirds of available mobile phone profits in Q2.
The analysts are putting prices like $500-$520/share on the stock. As I've said before, I don't believe in analysts for a few reasons, primarily, they are not inside the company, and don't have a real clue as to how the day to day operations are going, nor do they know what products might or might not be in the pipeline.  Morgan Stanley feels Apple should buy back some of it's shares, because it has too much money on hand. With all due respect to the probably very intelligent analysts at Morgan Stanley, that's the stupidest thing I ever heard.  We're going through a recession/depression/giant suck of an economy and they're saying someone has too much cash on hand?  Really?  Hm, I bet Circuit City, Blockbuster or Borders wished they had too much cash on hand. Sometimes people talk to keep the quiet from enveloping them. 
I've been a shareholder for over a decade. I've never gotten a dividend, and I'm cool with it. When I originally bought the stock around $4 I didn't expect one, nor do I now. I don't want one. I want them to keep that money in the bank, keep making great stuff and keep getting more valuable. My point is, this train ain't stopping no time soon....

Netflix - WTF?

On July 23, Netflix stock hit $298/share.Today it's at $130. The stock had tripled since 2010. Well, scratch that. What happened? A couple things... They had already vanquished Blockbuster, who was too stubborn to see streaming as a viable alternative to physical stores.  So they were BMOC in video.  From everyone I talk to, the biggest problem with their streaming service is lack of popular/current titles. That isn't totally their fault, the content creators don't want movies streaming too fast, it undercuts the DVD market.  So, in the middle of all this, they are in ugly negotiations with STARZ, one of their MAJOR content providers. They double down: raising the price on streaming to current customers, even though never raising their content from suck to less suck. There's a backlash, they pretty much ignore it. Then they triple down: separating the streaming and DVDs by mail into 2 separate business units, calling the DVDs by mail Quickster. Wow. Bet that took a long meeting to come up with. The price will be the same for the combined service (the new, higher price), but now you will have 2 debits on your monthly credit card bill versus one.  Anyway, the STARZ negotiations imploded, so the library will be going from suck to more suck. And as I understand it, that's the streaming and the DVD libraries.  So more suck 2012 costs more than suck 2011. Good move. The sad thing is, there's no one to take advantage of the missteps. Blockbuster, a shell of it's former self, isn't set up to do streaming or large volume DVDs by mail. But Coinstar and Amazon, not to mention that other company, Apple's iTunes are all out there

Bottom line, I don't think Netflix is going away, but they really need to get their act together. The stock is probably a buying opportunity right now because at $298 it was probably over rated, and at $130 it's probably under rated.