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Toyota: Most Overrated Company on Earth?


Not quite - but yesterday's rally suggests shorting may be good idea.


Greetings from New York, where the list of countries attending this weekend's G20 meeting calls to mind the old Groucho Marx line about not wanting to belong to any club that would have him as a member. Italy? Turkey? China? I'm keeping my expectations in check by assuming absolutely nothing productive comes out of the meeting - and hoping there aren't any fist fights. As a hedge on at the latter, I'm taking Putin by an early, savage, beating.

Here's what I'm doing when not handicapping fights between global leaders (and followers):

  • I've done a grand total of one trade today, which was re-entering my short in Toyota (TM). Not to get all "jargony" on you, but I've done some research on this and, as it turns out, Toyota makes expensive things consumers buy and drive to places like "shopping malls." Toyota is no longer the most overrated company on Earth - but it's close enough for me to want to be on the other side of yesterday's rally.

  • Overheard at this weekend's G20 meeting: "So... You Russian fellas wanna give British Petroleum (BP) any access to that plant it built for you? Nyet? Well, that's a disappointment. How about if we get you tickets to the new Bond flick?"

  • Documentary film maker Michael Moore is reportedly "feverishly shooting" a documentary regarding the American economy with an "end of the empire" tone. Presumably the frenzied pace is to allow Moore's latest work to be released on the 20th anniversary of Roger and Me, which documented the disastrous effects of General Motors (GM) cutting its workforce in Flint, Michigan. GM recently opened a $300 million plant in Flint, which builds the V6 engines; information I share with you only because the $300 million plant is just one of the assets US taxpayers will soon own a portion of through our $25 billion "Bridge Loan." So, there is that.

  • "Goodbye, Lolita." Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) is just one of many retailers being tortured after earnings fell a disappointing 44%. The economy is so bad parents have finally stopped allowing their daughters to buy pre-distressed, trashy outfits. Abercrombie not only illustrates the futility of long-term love affairs with specialty retail, but the challenge of trading retail at all in this market. There was no one, anywhere, who expected Abercrombie to somehow buck the trend of an economy which went from "slowing" to "dead" sometime in October yet the stock is still down another 10% today. Abercrombie longs are left envious of Lolita and Humbert's fates.

  • Speaking of pain and regret (which are admittedly fairly low-hanging creative fruit), which year-to-date return through November 14th would have shocked you the most last New Year's Day: Apple (AAPL) down 54%; Goldman Sachs (GS) down 68%; or crude oil down 40%? I'd have to go with crude, if only because so many folks are trying to prop it up, many of whom will be at the G20 this weekend.

  • Finally, to my considerable distress, I've learned that one half of of the Batman & Robin of Money Honey's, Ms. Erin Burnett, will be spending time with Vladimir Putin next week. Not only is Putin considered to be the sexiest man alive by both Mrs. Jeffmacke and Karen Finerman, he has documented skills with assorted tranquilizers. For the record, Ms. Burnett finds my concern for her safety "Insane" and suggests Mrs. Jeffmacke and Finerman both "need help."

    That's what the tiger thought as well, Erin.
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Position in TM

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