publishes selected emails received by the publication and its staff members. To send an email intended for publication in this section, write to email@example.com and include your full name and city. Letters may be edited for length, style, clarity and accuracy.
Where the FD Could Take Us
Boom to Bust in Seconds Flat: Hot New Things Fall Fast in Today's Market
I think the dearth of information is only a short-term effect. The smart companies are not going to want this volatility. They will figure out that more open guidance is better than less or none. They will start giving updates to investors on a regularly scheduled basis, more like monthly. They will report some key metrics, financial and non-financial and reaffirm their forecasts. If necessary, they will adjust the quarterly forecasts, the same way they did by whispering to their analysts. Their bias will be toward the downside, so there will be a greater potential for an upside surprise at quarter end. Sharp analysts and (
) reporters will dig up the good news on their own and be rewarded for it. Stupid companies will (a) keep everyone in the dark, (b) if they talk at all, have an upside bias, (c) get their stock hammered, and (d) get sued. (But what do I know? I'm just an individual trader/investor.)
Riding on your Webvan
The Perils of Betting On 'Concept Companies'
A very good article. I like you also think it is a very risky investment, but also like you think the idea is right for today's computer oriented nation. I see
all over the streets of Chicago here, and people I have talked to love the company and the idea in general. I just have a gut feeling about this company, and am planning on buying some shares. Not a major investment by no means, but one that, if the company returns to say 30 or even 50 % of it's market high then the investment was a genius one.
Who knows we could have another Bargain Town, U.S.A later known as
TOY'S R US
here. It once was a penny stock, and yes it took 40 plus years but at $15 to $20 per share but some people made some money if they held on as my father did.
Good Looking Out
Warning Sign: Keep an Eye on VC Investment in Optical Equipment Start-Ups
I was rereading some reports saved from less than a week ago and came across your very timely discussion of slowing VC investment in the optical equipment stocks. I was short
today, but I would have been a wealthier trader had I focused more carefully on your work.
That was a great call. Your reports have become very market timely and should be perused carefully by anyone trying to trade this market.
Thank you for your excellent work.
--Michael M. Heflin
Whatever Happened to the Big Picture
Today's Market: Ugly Day on Wall Street; Nasdaq Gets Beaten After Nortel Warning
I am blown away by the overreaction to
numbers! But now, in a quiet moment, I can see that they did an extremely poor job of positioning what
considers the "good news". We need to count on the big guys to lead the market, and to do this they need to stop communicating in secret coded language.
The average investor won't see or remember Nortel's 75% increase last period, so it's not possible to see how the results this quarter are in line or ahead of what we expect from other mere mortal companies. And when are we going to stop being surprised when
warn about shortfalls? It's OK to be disappointed, but surprised?!? I don't get it.
I would hope that after some number of disappointing quarters, investors would look to other companies for leadership. I know communication is more art than science, but is it really this hard for responsible companies like Nortel to understand their audience, the importance of shareholder value, and the relationship of these things to clear communications? If
and others want to be leaders, let's hope they get a clue from all of this and do more to communicate. I don't mean marketing spin, I mean honest communication about the status of the market and their performance.
Surely the whole optical networking potential didn't go bye-bye today! But maybe there really isn't a market leader any more!
Make Yourself @Home?
Subscriber Goals Hang Over Excite@Home
That's what I call shooting at an ambulance.
The worries that you are reporting are precisely what drove the stock down to that level and I find comforting that analysts are not expecting anything positive for at least one year (despite having a buy recommandation, strange). Anyway, I as a customer are not going to wait too long for things to happen.
Stamps.com Cuts 40% of Workforce Following Net Industry Trend of Layoffs
story I think you fell into the usual trap of labeling firings as "layoffs." Recently, I noticed a company actually had layoffs and I was wondering how the press would describe the situation, now that the terms have become confused.
A "layoff" comes about when a company's business either slumps or shrinks temporarily and the company adjusts its staff temporarily to a lower level, fully expecting to call the workers back when business perks up. Coal miners, steel workers and even auto workers used to be subjected to layoffs. Somewhere, sometime a few years ago some corporate spin artist decided to tell the press that the 1,000 people leaving the company had been "laid off." instead of "fired." The press lapped it up and reported the "layoff." Of course, doing so was tantamount to censoring the news, using a politically correct term instead of a harsh term and losing the true effect of the action. Now, it is routine for the press to report (incorrectly) that there has been a "layoff."
In most reductions such as these the staff is summarily fired. And it should be described as that. Then, when there actually is a layoff, it could be reported as a layoff, bringing a dimension of accuracy to both kinds of events.
--John E. Baack
Off the Hook Analysis
About That 'Weak' Mobile-Phone Market ...
I wanted to write this message to thank you for your excellent, spot-on analysis of the mobile-phone industry. You have saved me a bundle of money and taught me something about the future at the same time. Keep up the good work and I'm looking forward to your next column.
You Can Ring My Cell
About That 'Weak' Mobile-Phone Market ...
Thank you and congratulations on getting the
story right. Back in early
August, you were the only person in the world who was saying that Nokia was sacrificing margins slightly to achieve important market share gains in the low-to-midrange models. I printed out that report and put it in with my Nokia research. Based on that article and my other research, I bought in at 37 and change at that time. And again when it fell to 30 in sympathy with
RF Micro Devices
news. When my broker sent me a research report lowering earnings and target prices for NOK, I carefully read the report, then reread your article and said to myself, "Motorola's cell-phone division falling apart fits Tero's thesis perfectly. I believe Nokia will show a good quarter." So I stuck to my guns, thanks largely to you.
Congrats and keep up the good work.
--Marc R. Lee
No Business Is an Island ...
This Out-of-Sync Market Will Sink to a Bottom
I was interested in your report on "reaction to the news" rather than the news itself. Perhaps the oil-related stocks went up early because "those in the know" knew about the news before it was news, reacting "before the news" and not to the as-yet-unreported news.
Here are some thoughts for you, based on my experience in American business. The market in America will show great signs of upward change based on more money staying in or being in America's system. This means one fundamental shift: a wholesale change in the flow of money. In truth, America is like any other island. When money leaves the system, the natives do not save or invest; in fact, they experience poverty while listening to their CD players. The market needs more real dollars from real Americans who have it to save or invest.
The out "game": Inflate or counterfeit money or sell your country to the cash holders abroad. Most islanders hate it when their land is owned by others -- small surprise. So how is America any different? Printing money legally or illegally is what America has always done in the past. Does anyone remember the gold standard or, for that matter, gold? No!
The problem still goes unsolved and unacknowledged. When American politicians and their economists recognize that quality of life depends on mutual trade exchange and not imbalance of trade exchange, then America will have a healthy and predictable stock market and an improved quality of life.
--A. Carlyle Frank
Reasons Not to Be Bullish? Let a Wall Street Bear Count the Ways
was always in the news, going to Congress, increasing interest rates, for the benefit of the economy, and now that the economy is taking a dive he is no where to be found? Couldn't he,
George W. Bush
make comments on what is happening to the stock market and what they are going to do about it? How come we in the United States of America are silent, watching stocks take a dive? People are losing their savings and no politician is addressing this. It is incredible to think that no one in the audience (during the debates last night) asked about the economy. It is as though
was told not to choose that subject. And why didn't Bush or Gore tell the citizens of the United States their thoughts on what is happening to the stock market? Someone must say something.
Could You Please Repeat the Question?
*New Feature* The Janus Question: To Hold or to Sell?
I found your October 16 article on
very uninformative. I happen to be following the "Janus saga" right now and I found not one new insight in your piece.
left months ago, and everyone knows that Janus has primarily growth stocks, none of which is doing well this year. What's the point? Unintelligent investors will get out of Janus with the same blind enthusiasm with which they entered. And frankly I don't care if they lose their shirt. An intelligent investor wants to know: What is Janus' strategic plan for the coming year? Do they plan to more clearly articulate their process for adding value, i.e., are these guys lucky or good? Who is going to fill the gaps in upper management, etc.?
If you can provide any of this information, please feel free to pass it on. Otherwise it is difficult to justify your piece's billing as a "hard and inside" look.
Brett D. Fromson
Wrestling With a Bear? Maybe Not, but It's a Good Time to Plan
Perhaps it's less important that you are right than it is that you get through to your readers.
Sometimes, showing some humility in your investment (or medical) diagnosis can help the patient stomach that awful-tasting dose. Your first text paragraph, and the balancing of near-term thinking with that of
, showed a keen sense of dealing with a very touchy subject.
I hope you get through to people and I would hope they stand up and act on your excellent cautionary advice.
--Michael M. Heflin
Turn the Beat Around
Just Like a Broken Record ... Record ... Record ...
I didn't understand what you're talking about with your advice to people on 401k's -- if ever there were a time to continue making your contributions, it is when the market is going down.
By advising against this, aren't you limiting one of the greatest benefits of making regular contributions: the opportunity to buy when prices are falling?
Of course, if you have no confidence in what you're doing, then fear will lead you to hold off. Worse, if you think you know what you're doing, then you'll believe you're doing the safe thing by waiting and keeping those new contributions in cash.
No one can, over a long period, accurately predict short-term movements in the stock market. This is why dollar cost averaging is such a powerful tool. Why try to do so over a short period? The probabilities of success are against you each time you try if they are against you over time.
As we know, at least half of all invested capital will, by definition, fail to beat the market. When we factor in taxes, fees and trading costs, I think it is fair to guess that at least 80% fail to beat the market. By advising such an illogical, emotional response to falling prices, you're ensuring that the people following your advice, on average (if enough people do take it to make a statistically valid group), will underperform by a greater amount than they otherwise would.
What ever happened to buy low?
No Thanks to Galbraith
James K. Galbraith
Who Needs the Fed to Fight Inflation?
I subscribe to this service to gain insight into the markets and the economy. As your name suggests, your site is about how to help us make "real money". However every time I see a letter by
Mr. James K. Galbraith
instead of learning how to make money I learn about things like why the
is not needed, why we should raise the minimum wage, why we should release oil from the
(Strategic Petroleum Reserve). Perhaps he would like to tell me who to vote for? Actually in one of his letter a few months back I thought I read him make a very thinly veiled attempt at that as well.
As a subscriber I would prefer that content focus on money and markets. I would encourage you to review the types of articles that Mr. Galbraith is submitting to this forum and ask yourself if the content in those articles serves your audience? Perhaps Mr. Galbraith could write about topics a little more relevant to the readers of this site or find a forum where his audience is more interested in his topic.
Thank you for producing a great site.
Bookham, Gilder: Telecosm Devotees Predict the Next Pick
Your article about Gilder would have been informative if it is written before the latest Nasdaq debacle. For example, you could have examined the valuation of Gilder's picks (maybe you did, and I just didn't read your forward-looking piece) and sound some
-type alarms. Instead, it was a piece of information-less, perfect hindsight that reminds me of the articles in
(which is the spelling I first saw in your colleague
columns) that your paper so loves to ridicule.
Btw, is schadenfreude a general mentality among financial journalists? I'm not being sarcastic here. I'm just curious if financial journalists, because of the strict investment restrictions that their employers usually impose on them, tend to feel a bit of envy when the market goes up, and maybe a tad bit of glee when the market goes down.
Dummy Decimal System
Decimalization Makes a Promising Showing in Trial Run
I hadn't given the entire issue of the shift to 'decimalization' little thought until recently. Quite frankly, it struck me as just one more change promulgated by those with not enough useful work to do and plenty of time on their hands to create mischief. Your article this evening prompted to think briefly about 'decimalization' and its possible effects on my trading. Frankly, as I thought it over, it seems like a fairly hopeless idea.
I've watched quotes for
, among others, in decimal format, and went away totally confused. What should I bid? $50.20?? $50.21? $50.22? What is meaningful? Where are the support and resistance levels? At least with 1/8ths and 1/4s, there were increments that had some level of meaning. But the difference of a penny or two on most shares is irrelevant - unless one is dealing in the arcane world of penny stocks!!
For most shares - and certainly those over a few dollars in price -decimalization and offers in pennies adds far more noise to an already frenetic market where the signal to noise ratio is often hard to decipher. If we must move to decimals - and I fail to see any real compelling reason why we should - at least quote stocks in nickel and dime increments. Penny increments are nonsensical and, for most shares, quite meaningless.
--Clark A. Dobbs
Stop the Doomsday Fantasy
Brett D. Fromson
Nine Reasons Why the Tumble Down the Tech Rabbit Hole Will Continue
Your article relating to Alice in Wonderland and the Rabbit Hole, sounds more like something you would like to see happen, rather then just speculating on what could happen?
I put you in amongst the rest of the "Chickens" that are running around and yelling "The Sky is Falling." What this Market needs is some positive comments, instead of all this "Dooms Day" rhetoric the talking heads and mouths of the Media are putting out.
How about it, the Sun still comes up and the Moon still shines!
--Gary K Herbst
The Phone's Ringing But Is Anybody Home?
Resistible Force, Meet Immovable Object: Lucent Board Has CEO Issue
Excellent article on
. From someone who is about to be a former investor in Lucent, I really appreciate the dimensions given by your writer of the article. Any board with Carla Hill and that representative of another failing operation,
, is in danger of poor performance. There used to be some sense of accountability to shareholders. If an executive could not cut it, he was quietly dropped. What we have with Lucent is a little "club" who does not have a clue about the business. I hope that some of the largest shareholders put the arm on the board and threaten to run a slate of competent directors at the next annual meeting. Thanks.
-- James Heald
A Couple of Screws Loose
Motorola Goes South as Company Lowers Guidance
It sounds to me like analysts and consumers have become so spoiled in the market that when a company like
produces solid financial results like they did in the third quarter, the stock drops! What type of economy pumps money into risky Internet companies in the red and with no infrastructure in place, but dumps stock in a company that does about $10 billion in revenue and produces profits?
-- Dan Hassett
More Sides to This Tech Story
AMD Investors to Hear Whether It's Safe To Breathe EasyYou missed a very important point. If
Advanced Micro Device
is supposedly ahead in the "high end" of processors, then why does
have an average selling price twice as high as AMD's? Why does Intel have a near monopoly on the business market? My information tells me that businesses generally buy the higher-end products. Apparently, there is a lack of interest in AMD's "higher-end" products in the business realm.
On a journalistic level, you could have explored another point of possible interest and critical to AMD's future: How much of AMD's advantage on the high end is attributable to the fact that Intel couldn't produce the 1 GHz processors in substantial quantities? Now that demand has slackened off, Intel can probably produce many more of these processors. What effect will that have on AMD? Also, no mention is made in your article about the Pentium 4. I was stunned that a journalist could discuss AMD's so-called advantage on the "high end" & not at least speculate on the impact on the market of the forthcoming P4 processor. You indicate that two-thirds of Intel's processors shipped in Q3 were Celerons. Aren't you at least a little curious as to why the market is willing to give Intel a much higher ASP when Intel is shipping more of its lower-end processors and AMD is shipping more of its higher-end processors?
-- Alex Miljkovic
Leaving Home Without It
Unlimited Free Trading Hits Limits at American Express
The most damaging thing that
just did is they deflated their strong brand presence. I have had an Amex card for many years, and was considering moving to their brokerage, but when they use this kind of gimmickry, it reduces my overall trust in their brand dramatically. It'll be hard for them to get me to consider their services beyond what I have now, because I'll never be sure that there's not some ploy behind an offer.
-- Henry Chueh
Brett D. Fromson
Master Investor Gerry Jordan's Take: Energy Yes, Tech Stocks No
I have enjoyed your articles on oil (
Gerry Jordan ) and gold (
Peter L. Bernstein ). I hope you could ask your next interviewee if the bullish case applies to the other hard commodities. It seems like the bullish case for gold and oil would somewhat apply.
Keep up the excellent work.
-- Paul Siluch
You Think This Is a Game?
Game Theory: Trading Competitions Fine-Tune Your Strategies Risk Free
It is my opinion that trading games are harmful to your skills as an investor (or trader). With a game there is no downside, the most you can lose is your time, whereas the upside is a tangible prize. In this environment you will find that the winner is someone who put his whole stake on junk stock and caught one going up. If real life such a technique will wipe you out immediately. If you look carefully you may start to believe that the winner "gamed" the system by using more than one alias/entry to increase his odds.
Games make one lazy and careless; there is nothing like real money on the table to keep your focus on real investing or trading. Game players are to trading as couch potatoes are to real football players, no bumps, bruises, or touchdowns.
-- Douglas C. Kubler
In Israel, Don't Put Politics Ahead of Business
Turmoil Threatens Israeli High-Tech Bubble
I was shocked from your last article on Israel's tech sector. I think you put the Israeli high-tech technology into the politics of the country instead of talking on its technology, market and other issues with in the business itself and not the political.
I think your article is a very bad example of how to put fear and uncertainty in external investors about Israeli companies, even though these companies could be a promising investment.
You are right, not everybody lives and works in Hertzeliya, and Yokneam is just a sample of the new Zionist ideas of penetrate new technology to new areas such as Yokneam, not everyone are Ex-Galatz people and Shenkin/Tel-Aviv as you are.
I can just tell you that the Yokneam high-tech area is prospering, high-tech offices for renting could not be found. The Israeli economy is lucky, some people still think and do upraise the country economy and technology, and not writing fearful ideas to external newspapers. I hope your article would not stop it.
New Economy Nonsense
End of An Era
What an insightful (though sad) piece. I am, by trade, a bankruptcy attorney, so when I told people for the last two years that the net craze was just a modern version of the tulip mania of the 17th century, most assumed that I had an ax to grind because of my profession. It's just that I've seen it before (though certainly not to this extent), and there was no more dangerous or hateful phrase to me than "New Economy," because of its deliberately implicit connotation that the old rules (supply and demand, earnings, etc.) no longer applied. I knew that the frenzy had reached its pinnacle when the phrase "unburdened by earnings" started to make the rounds as a justification for unprecedented multiples.
I take no pleasure in the misfortune of those who stayed on this crazy ride (many are still riding) to the bitter end. Nevertheless, when I recall the last two years, with 25-year-olds (who never knew a market to do anything but rise exponentially) parading themselves around as 21st century captains of industry, I cannot help but think that a certain rough justice, and perhaps sanity, is returning to the investment community. I guess every generation has to learn hard lessons all over again.
I also am glad to see that in the field of business journalism, of late totally monopolized by cheerleaders and apologists for the insanity (perhaps because many of these "commentators" are also, dare we say, in the business of selling securities), there are a few, such as
, with integrity. Regrettably, as with meteorologists, who are almost always wrong, there is generally no accountability in this field. The only justice comes when investors stop listening to the people who've cost them their savings, and when the daily comedy banter that passes for business coverage on
finally ends with the realization that the jokes are tasteless, because the viewers are either broke, or worse, have gone back to
Keep up the good work!
--Warren R. Graham
eBay: Getting Too Big for Its Britches?
eBay, Rolling the Dice on Revenue Expectations
Last year was great. I was listing 50 items a week on average. I had an 85% average sale on my listings. Multiple buyers on each item.
then offered me power seller status, which gave me the Mister Lister bulk upload program. What took me four hours to list 50 items now took me 15 minutes. So I doubled my listings to 100 a week and guess what happened?
The percentage of listings sold went down to 50% and multiple bidders went down to a few and sometimes just one. I then priced my items higher because of the one person who bid on my item, instead of the multiple people bidding my item up to fair value.
The results are too many items on eBay and not enough buyers. There is a lot of junk on the site now because of the bulk upload. When it took more time to list individually, sellers put their best items on eBay. Now they list everything. It is hard to go through the listings with so much low-end junk when you are trying to find a treasure.
eBay has transformed my business and has allowed me to stay at home more. I represent clients and take a percentage when I sell their items on eBay. I also run estate sales, sell at the flea market and do moving and storage auctions. As eBay gets bigger, the sales price of items will probably decline due to competition. When this happens I feel it will be easier to sell again in the local markets rather than to use eBay.
eBay's competition will come in the form of free advertising on local bulletin boards. I am now starting to use these services with good results.
Articles that Break Conventions
On the Contrary
James J. Cramer's
"Debunking the Long-Term Blather" piece, I am reminded of your piece as a corollary to it a few months back. In a nutshell, your column blew up the old saw that said, "If you like (fill in the blank) at 58, then you'll
it at 41." I can't tell you how many times I have chased losers -- at my broker's recommendation, mind you -- just because the stock seemed to be cheaper. That was invariably followed a few months later (usually in November or December) with: "Well, you might want to look at this as a good candidate for a tax-loss sale." Thanks, your article was quite an epiphany to me, just another example of the value I find here.
New Alerts Rock!
*New* Alerts! Please click here
I've been using the new
offers to get notified whenever you put up a column, and it's terrific. Great idea! It duplicates, to some degree, the TSC bulletins, but is much more timely and better focused.
--Anders R. Sterner