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Geoff Gannon July 5, 2008

Controlled Greed – Life of the Blog

John Bethel of Controlled Greed has posted that blog’s latest results. He gives the individual performance of every stock pick.

Don’t be surprised if you see posts from me on some of these stocks, especially note Whirlpool (WHR)American Eagle (AEO), and Capital Southwest (CSWC).

Read Controlled Greed’s “Life of the Blog”

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Geoff Gannon July 3, 2008

News Items – Saturday July 5th, 2008


King of Beers? Only in America

Is Merrill Shopping Its Bloomberg Stake?

Is Bill Miller Toast?

Nightly Business Report Transcript: James Grant Interview


BCE Reaches Final Buyout Agreement: What Next? (Controlled Greed)

A Flurry of Appearances for Bruce Berkowitz (Circle of Competence)…

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Geoff Gannon July 2, 2008

News Items – Wednesday July 2, 2008


My $650,100 Lunch with Warren Buffett

UnitedHealth Ends Options Suit, Cuts 4,000 Jobs

Circuit City Shares Fall as Blockbuster Yanks Bid

GM Shares Fall to Lowest Price since 1954; Merrill Suggests Bankruptcy

Microsoft, Yahoo’s Winding Road


OneBeacon, White Mountain File Shelf Registration (24/7 Wall St.)

Fat Pitch Financials Portfolio Mid-Year Update (Fat Pitch Financials)

Some Blogging-Related Quick-Hits (Controlled Greed)

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Geoff Gannon July 1, 2008

On a Certain Candle Company’s Complex Cash Management

What strange times we live in when a candle company’s 10-Q reads like an investment bank’s:

The Company invests in a number of financial securities including debt instruments, preferred and common stocks, a joint venture, and a limited partnership that primarily invests in other limited partnerships who invest in real estate investment trusts and marketable securities…Certain preferred stocks are bought and sold on a short-term basis with the sole purpose of generating a profit on price differences…These securities are valued based on quoted prices in inactive markets… the Company held…ARS classified as available-for-sale securities. Auction rate securities are generally long term debt instruments that provide liquidity through a Dutch auction process that resets the applicable interest rate at predetermined intervals in days.…The recent uncertainties in the credit markets have prevented the Company and other investors from liquidating their holdings by selling their securities at par value… In the first quarter of fiscal year 2009…auctions for substantially all of our auction rate securities portfolio…began to fail due to insufficient buyers.

The candle company in question is Blyth (BTH). Jonathan Heller, formerly writing as Clyde Milton, recently wrote about Blyth. I wrote about the company back in September of 2006.

Read Jonathan’s new post

Read my old post

Despite Blyth’s ability to find imaginative new ways to lose cash, the stock is worth a look.

There may be a lesson in all this. There are certainly a number of bad puns.…

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Geoff Gannon July 1, 2008

On Pump Points for Politicians

Politicians are always telling us about gas prices.

So I thought maybe gas prices would like to tell us something about politicians for a change.

These “pump points” are based on gapitem data. I’ll explain gapitem in greater detail in a later post. For now, just know that it’s a unit of fuel consumption equal to gas consumption per person per day.

Gapitem = Gas per capita per diem

As the following scores use gapitem, a decrease in per capita gasoline consumption is just as effective in scoring highly as a decrease in the price per gallon of gasoline. The converse is also true – higher consumption, even at the same price per gallon, would result in a lower score.

Tree-hugging environmentalists will love this; laissez-faire capitalists not so much. The latter have a legitimate beef in that people may increase gas consumption for reasons other than necessity – and therefore gas consumption is not entirely non-discretionary. In that sense, higher gas consumption isn’t quite as ubiquitously onerous a burden as say increased tax revenues – but, it’s awfully close.

All scores are from 0.0 to 10.0 with 10.0 being the highest recorded score in that category.

Remember, these scores reflect increases in real per capita GDP after paying at the pump.


1. Bill Clinton (10.0)
2. Ronald Reagan (8.6)
3. Jimmy Carter (5.9)
4. George W. Bush (4.2)
5. Gerald Ford (2.7)
6. George H.W. Bush (2.0)


1. ’94 Republican Majority (10.0)
2. ’54 Democratic Majority (8.9)
3. ’06 Democratic Majority (0.0)

Party Presidents

1. Democratic Presidents (10.0)
2. Republican Presidents (6.2)

Party Congresses

1. Republican Congresses (10.0)
2. Democratic Congresses (8.2)


1. Anti-Administration Majorities (10.0)
2. Pro-Administration Majorities (8.8)


1. Second-Terms (10.0)
2. First-Terms (4.5)

Real per capita GDP after paying at the pump tends to grow faster when the Congress opposes the President.

In other words, agreement in Washington tends to encourage stagnation in America.


No comment.…

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Geoff Gannon July 1, 2008

On Blogging

A while back someone asked me why so many investment bloggers stop blogging.

I didn’t have an answer for him.

Bloggers stop blogging for a lot of different reasons. But, that wasn’t the question? The question was why investment bloggers stopped – especially good investment bloggers. Why, once established, and with some number of regular readers would an investment blogger stop blogging?

Good question.

I still don’t have a good answer.

My own experience with blogging has been mixed. I’ve had some wonderful exchanges with readers and especially with other bloggers. But, I’ve also had a lot of listless exchanges. A lot of people write to you – they don’t comment so much on my blog as email me directly – with questions that aren’t really questions. See, they want a certain answer, and if you don’t give them that answer – well, I’ve found almost everyone to be exceedingly polite. However, very few people are exceedingly interested in actually changing their mind. Very few people write to me asking for advice with the intention of actually allowing that advice to enter into the equation. It’s a strange feeling. Someone writes to you, you write back, they thank you profusely, etc., etc., etc. but you also know they’re going to do exactly what they intended to do before they wrote you.

I must sound awfully jaded. But, it really is a strange dance you have to experience to understand. It makes you wonder about the silent majority of readers who don’t write. Has anything I’ve written ever made a difference to them – ever entered into their thought process at all – about any stock, investment, approach, etc. I really don’t know. And I had intended to be a source of information (and improvement) rather than entertainment.

One thing I’ve been very lucky with is the cool-headedness of people who email me (and comment on the blog). When I first started the blog, the specter of ranting readers was the thing that worried me most. I’ve read other blogs. I know that people with the most extreme views will tend to be the most vocal promoters of those views. I know that the anonymity of the internet encourages more ranting, more raving, and more ad hominem attacks then ever occur face to face.

And yet somehow this blog has tended towards civility.

I didn’t expect that.

If the most vocal readers are as cool, calm, and collected as those I’ve exchanged emails with – the silent majority of readers must be on sedatives.

Overall, I’ve been impressed with my readers. And somewhat less impressed with myself. It took a little while to find my voice, and even then, I wasn’t very good at balancing the blog format, my readers’ interests, and my own interests. On several occasions, I made grave mistakes – usually by writing about something that interested my readers more than it interested me. My biggest mistakes in this area were when I had the most traffic data …

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Geoff Gannon July 1, 2008

News Items – Tuesday July 1, 2008


Starbucks to Close 600 Stores; Cut Up to 12,000 jobs

Steak N’ Shake Appoints Biglari Chairman

Seeking Alpha / Micovision Story

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