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Best-of-Breeds Toyota, Apple No Longer Immune


Even industry leaders revert to mean in economic crisis.


Hello from New York, where we've been celebrating Christmas since last Friday. With the kids home for a snow day, we answered the door and were greeted by an intrepid UPS agent and an enormous box containing a 108-square-foot jumping castle.

No plain brown wrapper for the folks at Inflatable Impressions - just a quick datapoint for parents (or for those living with their parents and seeking inflatable company). With the surprise thoroughly ruined -- and not wishing to spend the next 6 days saying "no" -- Mrs. Jeffmacke and I cut our losses and ran with the excitement. In 10 minutes, my office was louder than a steel mill, and we were wagering on how long it would be until daddy ran to the ER with a sleigh full o' bleeding child.

For those interested in betting, I'm betting "earlier" for our first major injury. Mrs. Jeffmacke has more faith in Superfly's balance and restraint than I do.

Here's what I'm watching, when not playing lifeguard at the most dangerous dry pool on earth:

  • Another day, another warning from Toyota (TM). The company faces a strong home currency (bad for exporters), competitors getting free money, and an industry "adjustment" from 17 million sales per year to something closer to 9 million. I'm not short it at the moment but that's OK, I was for the first warning.

  • Not that I have to remind you, but keep an eye on Apple (AAPL) as a proxy for general enthusiasm. Like Toyota, you could argue any number of problems facing the Best of Breed. The bottom line: Great companies selling expensive products to dead consumers tend to revert to the mean, stock-wise.

  • Again, it's very hard to overstate just how loud the air-pump for this castle is. A rough comparison is straddling a jet engine like Slim Pickens. I'm also fairly certain I'm personally sucking up half the juice on the Eastern Grid. The kids are giddy with the kind of exuberance only those who haven't yet gotten stitches can muster for this kind of toy. Add it up, and you've got a deeply satisfying purchase.

  • With that I'm off to offer the folks at Winnebago (WGO) 50 American dollars for their entire 2008 fleet. It's a nice time to be bidding, as opposed to selling, but it's not reasonable to expect us to be the only consumers consuming this year. Get out there and start stimulating, people.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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