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Friday Tubthumps, Cobalt Winners and More!


"Stop spritzing me, Meehan!"


Is it my imagination or did "they" somehow sneak a sixth day into this workweek? Not that I'm so much opposed to the idea, should it come down to a vote with a sixth day vs. opening the NYSE earlier, just that I need to pencil in a bit more rest if this is going to be the norm going forward.

No more whining beyond asking the forgiveness of those of who may be looking for "a theme", a point or coherence in this wee rant of a tubthump...

Because I feel proprietary about them, much as I do with TiVo (TIVO), more thoughts on Hewlett-Packard (HPQ):

* Of-Freaking-Course HP can "be saved". A new CEO isn't a panacea, it's just a start. Morale and reputation are utterly bottomed out at HP. Fiorina had expunged dissenters like a corporate Stalin for 5-years. She collected somewhere in the 9-figures in pay and options while gutting employees and residing over a 55% stock drop. For at least the last year, it has seemed as though the major focus of operations was shuffling divisions, stretching EPS like Silly-Putty, taking "one time charges" at a pace greater than 3x actual earnings from 2000 through 2003 and just generally running about with no clue.

It won't take the second-coming of Alfred P. Sloan to stop the bleeding.

* I'm engaging in several running debates around the question of how long it will be before HP takes back the entire gap from Wednesday. "If they fired her now the numbers have to be a disaster" is competing for mindshare wtih "Nobody on earth cares how bad trailing numbers really are (and they are likely much worse than has been stated)... ding dong and all that, the market's favorite drug is 'hope'".

The company reports next week. Now THAT will be "must hear CC".

* Who has a better case for a lawsuit? The NYSE is charging that their own CEO tricked the board into over allocating the growth in profits at his non-profit to himself. As observed by the WSJ's Charlie Gasparino, taxpayers are footing the bill for this suit, having convinced the AG to pursue Grasso.

In comparison stand the shareholders of HP. They've seen their stock plummet, in large part due to the BOD agreeing to a merger that many shareholders opposed. That same BOD paid a CEO, in whose choosing shareholders had no say, multiples of Grasso's pay while she ran the company if not into then certainly aggressively towards the ground.

Don't expect a taxpayer-expenses lawsuit on behalf of HP stockholders. That's just wrong.

* I didn't wear the funeral shroud on Bullseye because the puts don't officially get buried until March. I'm not optimistic but at the current bid I'm content to play out the season (for now).

Cobalt Winner!

The winner of our mystery sponsored "I need a different way to invest in Cobalt" contest is Minyan Jamie Ellis! Jamie suggested looking into Sherrit International (listed as S on the Toronto exchange).

Not advice in any sense, folks. The contest was based solely on the email found the most "provacative" by my original emailer. The winner and the benefactor have been brought together and we've all learned a little something about Cobalt (about which I knew nothing and still don't know enough to invest on).

My work here is done.

Because the Saskatoon Ramada's Conference Room was booked...

How very "Eisner" of Disney (DIS) to bravely face their angry shareholders just 1,500 miles from corporate HQ, in the media and tourism hotspot that is Minneapolis in February. I'm picturing company flaks chuckling long and hard (and evil-ly) while cordially inviting shareholders and the press to today's event.

Retail Details A-Comin'

The retailers are on deck for earnings reports. I'm not expecting generally good numbers or outlooks. For my money, whether or not mediocre news is "in the tape" depends largely on the angle of the stocks of the particular company. Ann Taylor (ANN) has a much, much lower bar set for them than does, say, Abercrombie (ANF).

Blame Canada

This week alone has seen Canada:

* Protest Wal-Mart's (WMT) hiring practices (it's fine when Americans do it... sort of like a little brother, you can pound them but no one else can).

* Pull fine American Adderall from their shelves

... and, just today...

* Escalate their mad cow threats.

With the current administration, the phrase "manifest destiny isn't just an east-west thing" keeps leaping into my mind, for some reason.

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Positions in TIVO, HPQ

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