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Another year has passed. I hope that you are all a year healthier, wealthier and wiser. As I have done for each of the past four years and will do again by popular demand, I would like to share with you the 10 things that I will not miss about 2006 (and do not want to see or hear about ever again). So, in no particular order, here they are:
- Long-running network classics.I hate to say this, but
General Electric's (GE) - Get Report NBC Universal has to pull the plug on
Saturday Night Live. The show is simply unwatchable. I don't know if it's the feeble writing, the weak cast or both, but the show has overstayed its welcome.
NBC is not alone in needing to jettison an enduring show born in the 1970s. If Howard Cosell were still alive,
Monday Night Football would send him to his grave. The
broadcast team in the booth is just plain awful. We don't need some Hollywood or rock-and-roll star joining in for a quarter's worth of banter. No wonder the ratings for this weekly sporting event hit an all-time low this season. (By the way,
Disney (DIS) - Get Report
Monday Night Football from ABC to ESPN, in case you didn't notice.)
I will be egalitarian in my desire to never again see an oldie-but-goodie network show.
CBS' (CBS) - Get Report60 Minutes has also run its course. With deference to Morley Safer and the late Ed Bradley, CBS needs to put this show to rest. I understand that the network needs a time slot for
Microsoft (MSFT) - Get ReportVista.The coming of Vista has been as overhyped as the coming of
Comet Kohoutek in 1973. Of course, as soon as Vista does get released -- wake me up when it happens -- then we will have to listen to the never-ending coverage and hype for the
Yahoo! (YHOO) release of its Panama advertising system. I have the solution for all of this hype:
Apple (AAPL) - Get Report and
Google (GOOG) - Get Report.
Celebrity babies.I could care less about Brad and Angelina's baby, Tom and Katie's baby or Kevin and Britney's baby. Once they give a darn about my wife and five kids, then maybe I will pick up one of
Time Warner's (TWX) People magazines.
Soft landing.I did not know that the economy had hemorrhoids.
Dire consequences of an inverted yield curve.Anyone who believes that an inverted yield curve at low levels of nominal interest rates is a sign of impending recession must still believe in the
Phillips Curve. I believe that the Phillips Curve is a flawed concept. We need to understand how the yield curve is constructed. Earlier this year, I
wrote the following:
Monthly same-store-sales comparisons.This is without a doubt the most overexposed metric of the year. (See No. 8 in
last year's list for my rant on the subject of overused metrics.) My research indicates that while same-store sales are a factor in retail and restaurant earnings, they are not the sole determinant. Furthermore, margins are more important than same-store sales in determining profitability.
Sears (SHLD) , for example: Same-store sales were engineered to decline while the company focused on selling more profitable products. Shareholders are better off for that effort. We also need to wean the market off monthly sales data and move to quarterly sales reporting as several companies, including
Men's Wearhouse (MW) and
Yum! Brands (YUM) - Get Report, have done recently.
Body art.I think that's an oxymoron. I'm disgusted whenever I see tattoos and body piercing. What really gets my goat is seeing it glorified by athletes and movie stars. This stuff is ugly and permanent. If you want to adorn your body, might I suggest a few shirts from
Ralph Lauren (RL) - Get Report or some jewelry from
Blue Nile (NILE) ? Those are far more attractive options than tattoos and body piercing.
Bad Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Reportjokes.It seems that every two-bit stand-up wannabe comedian has some bad Starbucks joke. You know like: "Why is there a Starbucks on all four corners? So that people with Alzheimer's can find one." I don't want to hear another comedian say, "I will have a grande mocha latte capudrinko."
That said, if you own Starbucks, this is great. Free advertising! So if I may suggest some new targets for comics' material in 2007, how about some
McDonald's (MCD) - Get Report,
Ruth's Chris Steak House (RUTH) - Get Report or Taco Bell (a division of Yum!) jokes? Something like: I'll have a taco, hold the
OTC bulletin-board solicitations.My email and fax machines are increasingly being stuffed with stupid OTC BB ideas. The emails manage to get through spam filters, and you can't have your address taken off the distribution list. Cagey mongrels, these folks. Maybe some smart software vendor can find a solution to that problem.
Where is the
SEC when we need them? How many people are losing hard-earned money by falling for the OTC BB rags-to-riches pitch? I bet many more than are being hurt by hedge funds. Instead of raising the minimum net-worth level for investment in hedge funds, how about if the SEC raises the minimum net-worth requirement for investing in OTC BB stocks? That would send those purveyors of
dreck right back to the caves from which they came.
OPEC.This group of nations cheats on one another more often than
Tony Soprano cheats on his wife, Carmela. OPEC lies with the same alacrity as
Tommy Flanagan back when
SNL was quality entertainment. (See No. 1.) Yeah, that's the ticket.
"The yield curve does not worry me. The FOMC controls the short end of the curve; the marketplace controls the longer end. Now more than ever, the more expansive holding of U.S. dollars by foreign central banks is creating increasing demand on the longer-maturity U.S. government debt instruments. Thus, the yield curve is flattening out and to some extent inverting. The shape of the yield curve will no longer only be reflective of perceived economic conditions but will also include the impact of central banks on the U.S. dollar and their appetite for Treasury securities. While I hate to use the term 'new paradigm' and will not, I will say that we are going from a single variable yield curve to a multivariable model. We need to understand and respect that."
My best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday and New Year season to all of you and your families. Thank you for your personal notes and professional advice during the past year. I hope our team has made this year a profitable and enlightening one for our subscribers. Last but not least, thanks to our tireless contributors and editors who work so hard every day.
Please note that due to factors including low market capitalization and/or insufficient public float, we consider Ruth's Chris to be a small-cap stock. You should be aware that such stocks are subject to more risk than stocks of larger companies, including greater volatility, lower liquidity and less publicly available information, and that postings such as this one can have an effect on their stock prices.
At the time of publication, Rothbort was long Apple, Google, Sears, Men's Wearhouse, Yum! Brands, Ralph Lauren, McDonald's and Ruth's Chris, although positions can change at any time. Scott Rothbort has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. In 2002, Rothbort founded LakeView Asset Management, LLC, a registered investment advisor based in Millburn, N.J., which offers customized individually managed separate accounts, including proprietary long/short strategies to its high net worth clientele. Immediately prior to that, Rothbort worked at Merrill Lynch for 10 years, where he was instrumental in building the global equity derivative business and managed the global equity swap business from its inception. Rothbort previously held international assignments in Tokyo, Hong Kong and London while working for Morgan Stanley and County NatWest Securities. Rothbort holds an MBA in finance and international business from the Stern School of Business of New York University and a BS in economics and accounting from the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. He is a Professor of Finance and the Chief Market Strategist for the Stillman School of Business of Seton Hall University. For more information about Scott Rothbort and LakeView Asset Management, LLC, visit the company's Web site at www.lakeviewasset.com. Scott appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.