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Lemmings Flock To Amazon, Qualcomm

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Failure to think drives up stock prices.

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Last night produced a blizzard of earnings reports.

There wasn't anything stellar - including Amazon (AMZN), which was trumpeted as being wildly successful at the silly game of beat-the-number. Its "earnings" were aided by the fact that it dropped the tax rate to 22% and booked a gain for selling a subsidiary - a non-cash gain, at that. At the same time, gross margins were weaker.

The company wouldn't have beat the number, in short, had it not been for those special features (which of course were largely ignored by those who want to believe in the magic of Amazon).

As for next quarter, Amazon guided to an operating income range of $115 to $160 million. To put that in perspective, it was $217 million last quarter, up from $198 million the previous quarter.

If one looks at the operating income, which of course isn't affected by changes in tax rates or selling divisions, one can see that there's nothing really happening at Amazon. It's a mystery to me how the stock can trade where it does. Nevertheless, Amazon exploded this morning, up better than 15% on the wonderful news.

But this deficit of discernment didn't apply only to Amazon. Qualcomm (QCOM) also exploded by 20% overnight, as it was announced that it had settled its suit against Nokia (NOK). It would appear that Nokia got what it wanted from Qualcomm, which was a reduction in royalties.

This morning, Qualcomm (clever folks that they are at the company) announced results that did not meet expectations, after having preannounced higher numbers a few weeks ago. How the company could have done that is beyond my comprehension. Had the suit not been settled, Qualcomm would have been crushed today.

I decided to take advantage of the lunacy and sell some. Amazon and Qualcomm, taken together, are birds of a feather -- pointing out that there are well-entrenched pockets of craziness still operative, even as the economy weakens and the financial system threatens to do laps around the drain.
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Position in AMZN, QCOM

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