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U.S. Rental Crisis Or The New Reality

In my typical day I read 20+ articles pertaining to the the stock market and investing.  Only occasionally posting one here which stands out in my mind but one yesterday at Sober Look caught my eye.  It's author begins right off the bat with "The United States is not building enough homes to meet the nation's housing demand." and I almost spit out my tea.  Not building enough homes when you compare the aging ones being thrown out versus the new ones being constructed or are we looking at what a consumer can afford to buy?  He is clearly in the camp that we should crank out more housing which would cause prices to drop at some point and suddenly "Joe the Plumber" will move out of his apartment an into a new home.  I simply don't buy that…

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Top 10 Federal Contractors

When I came across this list of the top 10 Federal contractors, not only were they all defense contractors, it also gave a eyes-glance breakdown of what the U.S. purchases from each.  Nice if you're an investor.  I find it interesting that the F35 has been in production for 14+ years.  Seriously?  By the time we get one that works, it'll be time to fund development of a new one.  From Nationalpriorities:

10. Huntington Ingalls Industries, $4.7 billion.

Huntington Ingalls describes itself as “America’s largest military shipbuilding company.”

9. BAE Systems, $5.0 billion.

BAE Systems…

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Dining Out Or Cook At Home?

Have you noticed in the last several years that there are an increasingly large number of restaurant related stocks out there?  It seems that every week there is an IPO of some new hot concept stock.  The reason for this influx of restaurant stocks is because Americans are increasingly choosing to eat their meals out rather than cook at home.  Today’s Retail Sales report for the month of April was a perfect case in point.  

While overall sales were unchanged, sales at Bars and Restaurants increased 0.7%, while sales at Food and Beverage Stores declined 0.13% in what has been a continuation of a trend that has been in place for the last several years.

The chart shows the historical share of total sales that both Bars and Restaurants and Food and Beverage Stores have accounted for.  Over time,…

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Wearables At Work?

There’s been plenty of chatter about what consumers want from wearables and what they’ll use them for, such as mobile payments and health and fitness tracking. Based on recent research, wearable devices are also set to change the business world.

In a March 2015 study by, nearly eight in 10 US enterprise wearable adopters agreed that wearables would reshape their companies’ future success. More than three-quarters of users had already seen…

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Winners (or Losers) With Apples New Watch

The jury's still out on Apples new watch launch, especially it's longer term demand and shortages due to two suppliers have already shown.  I thought though (thanks to SeekingAlpha) we could take a look at it's current suppliers:

  • iPhone/iPad combo chip supplier Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) is providing a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/NFC/FM radio combo chip for the Apple Watch (NASDAQ:AAPL), according to an ABI Research…

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Fewer Wish To Buy A Home Than Before

More Americans who do not currently own a home say they do not think they will buy a home in "the foreseeable future," 41%, vs. 31% two years ago. Non-homeowners' expectations of buying a house in the next year or five years have stayed essentially the same, suggesting little change in the short-term housing market. As a result, what may have been a longer-term goal for many may now not be a goal at all, and this could have an effect on the longer-term housing market.

U.S. Non-Homeowners' Expectations for Buying a Home, 2013 vs. 2015

One of the long-running facets of the "American Dream" has been the ability to buy a house. Yet seven years after the housing market crashed in 2007-2008, it appears that a renewal of zeal for home buying may not yet be evident in the United States. Two years ago, Gallup asked those who did not own a home in the U.S. whether they thought they would buy a house in various time periods in the future. The current Gallup poll shows little movement in Americans' opinions…

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Cyber Security Revisited

In December I pointed out cyber security firm Vasco Cyber Security VDSI and scratched my head as it certainly seemed to these eyes seems one that is pumped up in a scramble for yield and then plummet as markets experienced mean reversion after 2000  and 2007.  As we all know from experience, parabolic moves, very often correct violently.  On a 10 year monthly chart, VDSI certainly seemed parabolic.

They target banks and financial services customers.  After JPM, Visa and Mastercard were all hacked the last few years, is there trouble in paradise?  Did this laggard deserve the run up?

Historically it generally traded very thin, under 100k shares per day but suddenly in 2014, volume ramped up and traders were piling in.  Was a laggard being pumped?  "Who doesn't love cyber security?  Let's buy them all." but are all cyber…

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For the love of Pete.  I can only imagine what's going through the minds of investors.  First fears of energy name defaults and now China's real estate (bubble) may have it's first big default?  It'll be a fun Sunday night when futures open. 

The Chinese real-estate developer Kaisa Group Holdings had a healthy balance sheet, according to investors and observers alike. It was the top-rated residential-property-sales firm in the city of Shenzhen, in the first half of 2014. It was known for fast, reliable work.

But on Thursday, Kaisa appeared to become the first Chinese development firm to default on offshore debt,…

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Default Concerns Continue To Weigh on Regional Banks

Dick Evans, chairman and CEO of San Antonio based Cullen Front Bank (CFR) made the rounds in December chatting with CNBC in an effort to reassure investors that the low price crude oil was only temporary and would not translate into a revisiting of the bloodbath of the 1980's, however their chart says that investors aren't drinking the koolaid.  (chart right - click to enlarge)

The same investor fear can be seen in southern lender BOK Financial which operates in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Northwest Arkansas, Colorado, Arizona, and Kansas/Missouri. (chart below - click to enlarge)…

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New Households, Student Loans And Apartment REITs

More than half the new households formed in the next six years will be renters rather than homeowners, according to a new report by the Urban Institute. But there aren’t nearly enough rental units to keep up with demand.

The result will be (is) low vacancy rates and higher rents, alongside stagnant incomes. Renter incomes are on average only 70% of homeowner incomes and add to that wide spread student loan debt and you have a good investment I believe will continue to profit (and pass on any interest rate hikes to their tenants).  This is not a short term blip on the radar screen either (see table below).  While everyone on CNBS (sic) will be cheering to buy builders, I will be watching apartment REITs for my IRA account. …

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Rails, Keystone And Cheap Gas

Rails are having a difficult time nowadays.  You can point a finger at lower gasoline prices, making shipment by tanker and truck more affordable but I believe you can also point a finger at the GOP and their desire to pass the Kochstone Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

It is what it is; bearish. 

Although CP shown here (click chart to enlarge) has not 'broken down' out of a bearish descending triangle, the lower swing high and high volume selling is evident.

I am already short but if it comes back to test upper resistance, you too can get short or purchase puts.  Risk and target shown.  Long live cheap…

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Energy On Sale But Few Are Buying

After Friday's spectacular 10% sell off in black gold, I went back to my earlier post on shorting crude oil and felt pretty darn good as I made myself a turkey sandwich for lunch.  Some would say it was a capitulation bottom but I just didn't see the volume which would come with such a move.   Yes there was heavy selling but it was funds getting OUT of energy names and forced selling - not buying a dip.  Sure, it can snap back and a near term bottom is most likely in but I will not be trading that.  The top is in in my opinion.  I will view any move higher (without an event risk occurring) as an opportunity to re-short at a higher level.

I still believe the entire sector is…

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Bleh Black Friday - Wait For Cyber Numbers

The National Federation of Retailers is out with some bad news about Black Friday – it sucked.  Some superlatives via WSJ:

“Shoppers spent an average $159.55 online, down 10.2% from $177.67 last year.”

“the number of people who went shopping over the four-day weekend declined by 5.2% to 134 million, from 141 million last year.”

“Total spending from Thursday through Sunday sank 11% from a year earlier to $50.9 billion”

The excuses you’ll hear will range from the warm weather in the Northeast to the protests to the late scheduling of Hanukkah this year to the whole “consumers are smart enough to wait til closer to Christmas”.  My…

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Short Black Gold? Commodity Deflation

Oil production in North America is booming, crude oil today hitting new 4-year lows, and it is now beginning to have a huge impact on global hydrocarbon markets. In fact, some believe that the U.S. will eventually overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s biggest producer of the key commodity, with some calling for the surge to happen by the end of the decade and OPEC is left if in a precarious situation.  If they cut production, prices may rise but they also risk losing customers to another provider (the U.S. or Russia).  If they do not cut production, prices will likely continue to fall due to excess capacity worldwide. 

This push towards energy self-sufficiency is largely thanks to the combination of fracking and oil shale, as previously unobtainable supplies are now…

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Solar Short Worth A Shot

The right shoulder of a possible head-and-shoulders top in CSIQ seems to have formed, rebuffed at the 200d with a dropping 20d SMA (a sign of sellers there).  Risk is defined with a cover alert (I don't use stops) above this weeks high.  (click chart to enlarge)

Based on weak economic conditions both here and abroad, I don't see solar sales taking off anytime soon......without further government subsidies.  Even then consider stagnating wages and new jobs being at the high and low end of the spectrum, I just don't see a catalyst for these names to go higher at this juncture.

They're already ridiculously cheap right now.  Can you get any cheaper than free?

Already heavily shorted, your broker may have to track down shares to short - or buy…

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Investing In The Drone Space

Last week it was amazing to witness entire expressways shut down during the Hong Kong protests.  Something which was not surprisingly given little attention by our "keep the advertisers happy at all costs" mainstream media.  *cough cough*  Thank goodness for technology with this amazing drone footage and social media for 'getting it out there'.  Afterwards I decided to take a further look into the area of investing in drone (and drone component) manufacturers.

I've thrown this together, running on battery only and no internet after having lost power due to a strong storm rolling through the region.  Hey, it's a start, right?

Face it America.  It’s only a matter of time before drone applications become commonplace and drones are buzzing past our homes like…

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China On Margin; Oh My

China traders on margin accounts is a thought both wildly exciting, yet utterly terrifying at the same time.  Even more so in the wake of $10 billion in fraudulent currency trades discovered just last week. 

Chinese markets have had a long standing reputation as being nothing more than unmonitored casinos plagued with corruption and insider trading.  What could possibly go wrong?

According to the WSJ, the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock…

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Unleash The Hounds. Alibaba Frenzy Month To Begin

When Jack Ma founded the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba in 1999, one of his stated goals was to build a company that will last for at least 102 years so that it would span from the 20th to the 22nd centuries. Now with products, technology and marketing -- what Alibaba has done is a great combination of all three.

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba ($BABA) is expected to begin an eagerly awaited roadshow for what could be the largest ever IPO early in the week of September 8, and its shares could list as soon as September 18 or 19, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Expected to raise about $20bn when it lists on the NYSE rivaling the Agricultural Bank of China’s $22.1bn IPO from July 2010, currently the largest on record.

Alibaba’s ability to make a transition to mobile has been a focus of analysts and investors as China’s tech…

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Top Mobile Apps

Google certainly looks to be dominating the mobile playing field.  Good for Google or does this just open the door to fresh startups and current disruptors to look to take market share?  (more below)

Top 25 Mobile Apps by Unique Visitors

Some key questions to be answered in this area include:

  • How fast has mobile app usage been growing?
  • How often are people using apps on each device?
  • What percentage of time are consumers spending on their top apps?
  • How do iOS users differ from Android users demographically and behaviorally?
  • Which mobile app content categories are we spending most of our time consuming?
  • How do the top apps compare in different age segments?

Download the full report at…

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Beware Old Man Winter (again?)

If the Old Farmers Almanac is even semi accurate, it looks as though it's going to be another nasty Winter - colder than last year (!) ahead thanks to the sun's activity.  According to this video (below) this forecast is nothing to shake a stick at as allegedly they have an 80% accuracy but only time will tell. 

Of course, the folks back home in Chicago will immediately roll their eyes and sigh in pure disgust and they have the right to after the "polar vortex" that rolled through the area last January.  Not only were schools shut and streets impassable but even expressways, covered with salt as fast as they could spread it, froze and brought commuters and semis to a stand still.  Supplies were cutoff across the nation and insurers definitely had to have felt the pain.

Seems I relocated to Texas…

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