Archive for April, 2007

Ways to Decrease Donations

I gave money to my alma mater — against my better judgment since this money could have been spent at Marquee instead — and received an emailed thank you note a few days later.

The Annual Fund helped [an] assistant professor of mathematics host a program aimed at eliminating gender inequities in math and science. It helped the studio art department rent a downtown gallery space for student, faculty and visiting artist shows. It helped the women and gender studies department host an essay contest for undergraduate and graduate students. And it helped an associate professor of sociology, organize a conference on memory and trauma. It helped.

So apparently my money went towards helping girls who aren’t good at math, renting a studio in the most expensive part of town so that hippies can paint, and holding an essay contest in the women’s studies dept!?! Since when does it cost money to hold an essay contest!? Incredible. Reading that makes me wish there was a money-back guarantee. I thought the money would go towards scholarships for poor kids or research in the sciences.

Recommendation: Short my university’s fund-raising efforts. Judging by my sample (n=1), 0% of this year’s donors plan to donate again next year.

Girls Gone Mild: Straying From Core Competencies

Joe Francis, impresario at large, is releasing Girls Gone Wild branded restaurants which will compete against Hooters in the BSR market. On the surface the idea seems great, but Francis’ comments belie the fact that these BSR facilities will be a departure from the Girls Gone Wild core competencies:

A restaurant chain under the “Girls Gone Wild” brand name is being planned by Joe Francis, whose Mantra Films Inc.’s has built a $100 million business videotaping and selling the DVDs featuring young women exposing their breasts.

“This is going to be about fun, lifestyle, youth, sun. It’s about everything ‘Girls Gone Wild,'” Francis said. “It’s going to be sexy without being sexual.”

The first two restaurants are expected to open by mid-summer in Mexican beach towns Cabo San Lucas and Cancun. Francis sees franchises popping up mainly in college towns in the United States and around the world.

There will be no stripping, topless waitresses or filming in the restaurants, Francis said.

Recommendation: Girls Gone Wild was built on filming women stripping and/or going topless. Girls Gone Wild restaurants will not feature stripping, toplessness or filming. This is a textbook example of deviating from your core competencies. Despite our negative sentiments on the Girls Gone Wild BSR concept, we we are still bullish on the tasteless food service industry and recommend going long Pink Taco.

The CFA 2006 Annual Report is Pretty Poopy

The CFA Institute releases an annual report each year documenting their results and accomplishments.

You would think that an organization whose sole raison d’etre is to certify industry standards both in analysis and presentation would be especially attuned to how they present their annual report and the relevance of the content inside. But then, thinking is not the basis for attaining your CFA (rote memorization is).

Every single one of the CFA Institute’s charts starts on the left with the most recent financial year and ends with the earliest financial year, the opposite of what any reader would expect.

We read left to right. So do most human beings. Almost every chart in the history of mankind goes left to right, starting with the earliest date on the left ending with the latest date on the right. Then why is it that most companies persist in the illogical layout of putting their most recent financial year on the far left? And why does the CFA use that standard when they exist only to improve financial standards? What exactly are they paying their president $900,000 to do?

Why does the annual report show pictures of charterholders describing what their CFA means to them while doing something entirely unrelated to finance, like playing a guitar or gripping their Nikon camera? Is this a Lifetime channel brochure or some shit? I thought the whole point of becoming a CFA charterholder was to make more bank? Why not show CFA charterholders making it rain at Scores? Isn’t that why we fight?

If a professional financial analyst was reading through the annual report of a company, and were treated to a picture of the CEO playing the drums and the CFO wearing a captain’s hat on on his schooner, what conclusion should they draw from that about the quality of the company’s management? Is that a firm in which to invest? I’m sure there is some LoS which covered that.

Recommendation: Don’t worry candidates and charterholders, you are spending your time wisely, trust us. Once you get your CFA, you will be strumming your guitar and taking pictures all day long.

Swiss Get Whores

The Rolling Stones sang about the non-truism “you can’t always get what you want” but Switzerland has found that if you try sometimes, you just might get what you need. Reacting to a dearth of professionals due to strict immigration and labor laws, “Switzerland entered a treaty with the European Union to import workers, seeking more bankers, managers and academics“. Instead, it received “an influx of prostitutes.”

The decision to open the labor market to workers from the EU, adopted in 2000, is part of a series of covenants Switzerland agreed to in exchange for reduced trade barriers with the economic and political union.

The number of people offering sex for money has risen by a third in Zurich and 80 percent in Geneva since Switzerland opened its borders to workers from the 15 EU-member states at the start of 2004, police estimate. Some lawmakers predict prostitution will grow even more after the government last year removed work restrictions for residents from 10 newer EU countries as well.

The influx of sex workers has cut prices for “quickie” sexual intercourse to a range of 30 to 80 francs ($24 to $65) from 150 to 250 francs ($122 to $203), said Adrian Klaus, a social worker with Basta, a support group for prostitutes.

While the Swissies may be chafing at the increase in professionals, the valuable services provided by these workers are exactly what their populace needs and at a cheaper price. Any serious business owner or senior executive knows from experience the ways in which prostitutes keep a workforce running smoothly and increase efficiency.

Recommendation: Never look gift whores in the mouth.

Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing 4-08-07

You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you.
Leon Trotsky

Past Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing

Taxes Taxes Taxes

Taxes are due April 17th. It is April 7th. That gives you 10 days to create an elaborate tax shelter scheme involving Bermuda shell companies or a family of 740 phantom children you could claim as dependents to minimize your tax liability. This is a tight timetable even if you have top tier tax lawyers working around the clock billing you at $1100 a pop, so we recommend you start your taxes immediately.

Remember that if you don’t get your taxes done, you will die alone.

We Will Never Run Out of Oil, For Reals

No really. Cantarell is soaring, like the Hindenberg. Perma-downers like Matthew Simmons chirp “peak oil” like a kookaburra spotting a snake or whatever it is a kookaburra chirps about up in the eucalyptus, but our “infinity oil” thesis posits that not only we will never hit so-called peak oil, we will never ever run out of oil. Never ever.

Alarmingly Not Alarmed

Seen in my hotel elevator today:

In the event that doors do not open, do not be alarmed. Please press the button labeled ‘Alarm’ and speak to the operator

World of Warcraft In Real Life is the Most Dangerous Game

Bill Bishop of Billsdue has a shocking first hand account of wealthy Chinese World of Warcraft players bringing the game to reality by using real people instead of orcs. We always keep an eye on Bill’s posts on online business in China, and this report may be his biggest blockbuster to date, suggesting that “The Most Dangerous Game” forms of entertainment may be making progress on their long path to legal recognition and social acceptance. Our long term stance has been that it is simply immoral to deny the poor the right for me to pay to hunt and kill them for sport.

Disclosure: We hold a substantial position in several shell companies which control Human Hunting and Human to Human Death Combat entertainment operations throughout the third world as well as several privately owned islands.

Short Senders of Firm-Wide Emails

Every firm has an alias that represents everyone of the firm — you send an intra-office email to this address and everyone in the firm gets it. Every office also has an amazing amount of people who think it’s a good idea EVER to send a non-work related email to the entire firm:

Hey all:

I’m registering for the Save Hot Boobs from Cancer Strip-off for Charity and anyone sponsoring me would be greatly appreciated! I get paid for every hot boob I am able to hit with a nerf gun and I have been training hard for months. I think I can raise a lot of money for charity if you can only spare some money. Especially you, Bill, I saw your bonus and it was enough to buy a vacation home in northern Spain, so I think you can spare a few bucks for hot boobs.

Herman Resourcier
[ed note: this signature would be in size 15 of Scripty Font San-Serif and probably in light blue hue]


Found a cubic zirconium earring on floor 48, if yours please contact:
Irina Techzocova ext 10007

If not please ignore this email I sent to everyone including the managing partner.

This has astounded me since the very first day of my professional life. In firms ranging from 50 to 1000+ employees, I have received hundreds of firm-wide emails containing attempts to sell tickets to a Christina Aguilera concert, messages about lost $5-10 value items, assorted solicitations for ineffectual charities, accidental pornographic emails, and invitations to parties. This does not even count the incessant HR and IT notices that have been on minutiae so small that they had no need to be sent to the whole firm, yet were sent anyways so that those respective departments could maintain the theater that they are not cipher-ladens pools of mediocrity.

Recommendation: Short anyone who think it’s a good idea to send a non-work related firm-wide email in a 100+ person firm. They will never achieve above average returns because they have negative common sense.

Here is an easy to follow guide on when you should send a non-work related firm-wide email:

  1. Never or
  2. Only with the explicit direction and approval of someone who is your boss’s boss.

Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing 4-01-07

There are two kinds of investors, be they large or small: those who don’t know where the market is headed, and those who don’t know that they don’t know. Then again, there is a third type of investor — the investment professional, who indeed knows that he or she doesn’t know, but whose livelihood depends upon appearing to know.
William Bernstein

[hat tip: Infectious Greed]

Past Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing

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