Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mark Cuban backs away from the Dodgers Roulette table

Yes, you heard correctly, Mark Cuban has done the smart thing.

Mark Cuban, the savvy basketball billionaire businessman that he is, has backed away from the insanity that is becoming the legalized gambling and bidding contest for the LosAngeles-DivorceCourt-ChavezRevene-MattKempGotScrewed-Dodgers.

This ownership battle is no longer about baseball or watching Clayton Kershaw pitch a 1-hitter. It is about who will be Baseball King of Los Angeles and enjoy the benefits of a huge cash flow cornucopia; aka the future re-negotiated TV rights to the Dodgers

Good luck Dodgers. You'll probably finish third or forth in the West again this season.

For now, Arte Moreno, owner of the LosAngeles-Anaheim-OrangeCounty-Angels-of-SealBeach, is King of baseball in the Southland.

As the song says: "Where have you gone Sandy Koufax?" or was that Joe DiMaggio??

Monday, January 30, 2012

Not Found: $1.2 billion in MF Global money has "vaporized"

From the WSJ:
"As the sprawling probe that includes regulators, criminal and congressional investigators, and court-appointed trustees grinds on, the findings so far suggest that a "significant amount" of the money could have "vaporized" as a result of chaotic trading at MF Global during the week before the company's Oct. 31 bankruptcy filing, said a person close to the investigation."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Warren Buffett sends pennies to Washington

Warren Buffett, trapped in a half-baked, crazy tax matching program challenge with Congress reported here at Think Billions; apparently will pay up after all.

Acting like a pensioner who thinks a 25-cent tip is sufficient for the kid to park his car at the country club, Warren Buffett has promised a check to the United States Treasury for just over $49,000.

Who says billionaires are not generous human beings?

Warren Buffett continues to show how a founding member of the 1% Club tips like the 1% giving less than 1%. A true role model for citizens everywhere.

And yes, old Warren was spotted by our reporters recently in downtown Omaha laughing his way to his local bank. A public relations embarrassment turns out all right after all for the family balance sheet.

And Happy Valentine's Day to you Warren Buffett, well in advance, from Think Billions!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winning with Mark Cuban

Long-time readers of Think Billion$ will find it funny that we actually would like and would promote a book by Mark Cuban.

Even though we’ve been an occasional Cuban Critic over the years, we did find it in our hearts to congratulate the Dallas Mavericks on their NBA championship last year.

Mark Cuban has indeed done some crazy things over the years. However, he does provide us with some good business recommendations from time to time. And "How to Win" does provide us with solid suggestions and ideas. Plus, where can you find good quality business ideas and commentary these days for just $2.00+? Yes, two bucks! Amazing. Enjoy reading Mark Cuban.

How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mikhail Prokhorov: Democracy Now in Russia

"What worked before does not work now. Look in the streets. People are not happy."

"Stability at any price is no longer acceptable for Russians." 

"I am against any revolution, because I know the history of Russia. Every time we have revolution, it was a very bloody period." 

"We now have all the pieces in place to move very fast to being a real democracy." 

Mikhail Prokhorov, age 46
Russia's third-richest person, $18 billion net worth
owner, New Jersey Nets basketball team

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bye, bye Jerry Yang!

In a letter to the Yahoo! Board Chairman Roy Bostock, Jerry Yang wrote:

“My time at Yahoo!, from its founding to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. However, the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo! As I leave the company I co-founded nearly 17 years ago, I am enthusiastic about the appointment of Scott Thompson as Chief Executive Officer and his ability, along with the entire Yahoo! leadership team, to guide Yahoo! into an exciting and successful future.”

NAME: Jerry Yang AGE: 43
NET WORTH: $1.1 billion; holds 3.6 percent stake in Yahoo Inc.
FAMILY HISTORY: Born in Taiwan, married to Akiko Yamazaki.

Sean Quinn: The Road From Billionaire to Bankrupt

It seems, as if, the theme of this early week begins with several stories about billionaires in court. Maybe a new, reality TV program, perhaps? Probably not, since viewers are sick of reality TV.

Yesterday, we wrote about Michigan billionaire Manuel (Matty) Moroun getting thrown into jail for a day for not complying with a judge's order. We ever so politely suggested to Matty:  Finish the damn bridge!!!

Today, it is about obliging our European readers with an image, a story and comments on Sean Quinn, the ex-billionaire prankster bankster from Ireland. Everyone in Europe and half the people elsewhere know about Sean this month.

Our commentary at Think Billions is kind of obvious and basic here. The hubris, the aggressiveness, the audacity that worked so well for this guys in the business world, does not work at all in the court room. Do you expect their legal team will tell them to "tone it down a bit?" Of course not, they want their jobs, their retainer, don't they?

Yes, this is a helpful lesson for all the future billionaires out there. Be careful in the court room. And be especially nice to judges, whether you mean it or not!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Billionaire in Michigan Botches Bridge Job

A judge in Michigan has jailed 84-year old billionaire Manuel (Matty) Moroun, head of the Detroit International Bridge Co., until they are in compliance with the judge's order to finish building ramps connecting the Ambassador Bridge to nearby expressways.
Hey Matty! Finish the damn bridge!!! 


Friday, January 13, 2012

Eddie Lampert of Sears is forced into his own share buy back program

Hey, stock investors! what happens to one of your positions when you fully realize that you are "long and wrong?" Well, there are multiple strategies, of course. Sell, admit a mistake, and exit your position. Hold and hope for price recovery. Enter into some sophisticated options positions.

Eddie Lampert, formerly known as The Next Warren Buffett, has experienced the "long and wrong" feeling with his beloved basket-case of a retail turnaround project better known as Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD). Currently selling for a cool $34 a share (52 week lo/hi 28.89 - 94.79) this dog of a stock has most certainly seen better days. Plus, from an operational standpoint, the news gets worse and worse month after month.

What is happening now to Eddie is that he is not just "long and wrong" with his personal holdings in Sears, but with his managed hedge fund as well. To placate his restless hedge fund investors, he has personally bought more Sears stock directly from the hedge fund to emphasize that he is "long and wrong" with conviction! Go, Eddie,go Eddie!

File this move under averaging down, doubling down or forced to eat his own shares under duress.

NY TIMES: Sears article

Eddie is receiving alot of quality strategic advice these days on this investment matter. Such as: dump Kmart, stop watching the movie Groundhog Day and take a part-time job at Walmart to learning retailing from the ground up. The Sears turnaround attempt will make for a great movie some day and/or a compelling Harvard Business School case study.

But, best of all, most think Eddie is still a high quality investor and that Sears is one of his few serious mistakes along the way.

So, we at Think Billions, wish Eddie Lampert well and hopes he enjoys a profitable 2012.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kashya Hildebrand schools the world on insider trading


Microsoft stock continues to go nowhere, but Steve Ballmer has a plan!

The kind of CEO backside kissing that Businessweek brings to journalism is truly special. You'll want to read the following article for proof if you can stomach it--

Steve Ballmer Reboots

... because, after all according to BW, Steve Ballmer is all about "Cooler tech, more energy, higher profit—the Microsoft CEO is out to prove Steve Jobs wrong and make Redmond relevant again."

Warren Buffett Mouths Off (again) About Taxes

Warren Buffett, trapped in a controversy about tax policy, is again mouthing off like an 81 year old off trying to find his medication container.

With Senators telling the geriatric investor that if he [Buffett] authentically felt "guilty" about paying too low a tax rate, he should "send in a check," old Warren has responded with some sort of half-baked, half-crazy matching program deal (which will never take place) with the Senators.

This is what amounts to an economic debate on tax policy in the United States of America these days.

This is also a demonstration of the Warren Buffett Public Relations Machine deflecting how he isn't doing his fair share as a long-time Card Carrying Member of the 1%.

Our Think Billions blog recommendation to the long time billionaire is: stick to investing in China, Warren (search for recent stories).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp (NYSE: RL) downgraded

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp (NYSE: RL) was downgraded by investment analysts at Wells Fargo & Co. from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating in a report issued to investors.

Billionaire wife lectures ranchers about hating horses

Madeleine Pickens says: ranchers have "grown up hating the horse. The group that's opposing us -- they don't like the horse."

CBS News story

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

India: Where did all the billionaires go?

Sorry to report sad net worth news, but billionaires in the BRICS did not have a bullish 2011. Especially India.

According to the Wall Street Journal and data from ET Intelligence Group, India now has just 40 billionaires, down from 60 in 2010. An amazing fall in individual economic power.

Stock market declines and cyclical macroeconomic conditions are the main drivers behind the decline.

For example, India's wealthiest billionaire, Mukesh Ambani, saw his worth drop to $16.8 billion from $20.8 billion in 2010.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Billionaire brings down Swiss Banker Hildebrand

Swiss National Bank President Philipp Hildebrand has resigned effective immediately.

Kashya Hildebrand, his wife classically pictured above, transfered Sfr400,000 into US dollars three weeks prior to Mr.Hildebrand and the Swiss National Bank famously set a ceiling for the Swiss franc [aka "the EURCHF floor"] to help save and protect the plunging euro.

Front-running profits quickly came to Kashya's account [a Sfr75,000 profit in just two months – a 19 per cent return, well over 100% annualized]

Christoph Blocher, billionaire industrialist and ultra-nationalist politician, alerted Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey to the Kashya dollar trade in December 2011 to ignite the scandal.

"We all know that he is a man of total integrity, extraordinary ability and, most important of all, courage. Such people are rare. His country will miss him," Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said in a statement. Jolly good, Governor!

Billionaire 1, Unemployed Banker 0.

The euro is trading higher in FX trade today.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Warren Buffett sings to his new friends in China

(Reuters) - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett will reach out to millions of Chinese in the most curious of ways: singing for the online version of China's annual Spring Festival gala.

The Berkshire Hathaway chief executive, best known in China for his investment in automaker BYD Co Ltd, has recorded a video specially for the gala in which he sings and plays the guitar, state news agency Xinhua said, citing Wang Pingjiu, a production executive for the broadcast.

Only in the United States of America, circa 2012.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Starbucks and Netflix price increases

Starbucks, with its stock currently selling at an all-time high at $46 per share (NASDAQ:SBUX) has decided to increase java prices in select markets (the Northeast).

Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks [net worth $1.1 billion], has done a remarkable job with the turnaround efforts of the company over the past 5 years.

One online poll asked: Will Starbucks' price hike change your coffee-drinking habit? (32% answered:) I've had enough of these incremental price hikes everywhere I look; I'm drawing the line and switching to a cheaper brew. If true, Starbucks is conducting an interesting price-elasticity market test.

The economic question of the day then becomes: why the lack of uproar over the Starbucks price increase, compared with the Netflix price increase? Sure, we are trying to compare coffee with movies. A produce with a a service. But it is an interesting question.

Our answer to this question includes: politics, target market demographics, and public relations power of the individual firms.

Enjoy your coffee today!