Archive for category Investing

Eliminate Executive Restrooms

I have heard people say that CEO compensation isn’t really out of balance with their responsibilities.  Really?  Take a typical S&P 500 CEO.  If they earn 1.5 million in salary, that is equivalent to 1,500,000/52/5/8 = $721.15 per hour.    Considering minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour.  Ok, so a typical CEO makes 100 times that of a minimum wage worker in salary.  The reality, though is that only a fraction of the typical CEO’s compensation comes in as salary.  The AFL-CIO database of CEO compensation lists the average compensation for S&P 500 executives at $10,836,843 a year.  In other words:  $10,836,843/52/5/8 = $5210 per hour.

I think we should eliminate executive restrooms.  Here is my reasoning:  Let’s say the typical S&P CEO visits the restroom three times a day during normal business hours, at five minutes a trip this adds up to 15 minutes a day.  $5210/hour equates to $86 a minute, thus the CEO costs the company $1290 a day in bathroom trips.  If this is a daily occurrence,  $1290*5*52 = $335,400 a year to go to the bathroom.

Considering the President of the United States is compensated $400K a year, well, I’ll let you make the leap.

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Community Intelligence evolves

One of the aspects of the internet is starting to bear real fruit: community intelligence. Up until recently (from my perspective), the internet has been primarily used in a community sense for discussion boards (newsgroups, mailing lists, chat boards), and self indulgent websites (like this one). I frequent a couple of sites that are aiming slightly higher than the others.

One of them is the CAPS facilities provided by The Motley Fool. For years, The Motley Fool has promoted discussions on their stock boards, which I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to. The CAPS facilities provide a lot more than just simple discussion. They actually allow you to weigh your stock picks against the market, as well as weigh your stock predication abilities against other people. This becomes a community effort because you can post comments along with your picks that other users may end up reading (and commenting on). This has spawned a whole new community around these simple concepts. They have recently partnered with MSN, which has expanded the pool of users a bit. It is interesting to see how things grow and progress in that environment. I’m skeptical that the data gleaned from the site has merit, but that is remained to be seen.

The other site I have been frequenting is a site devoted to community reviewed wine called Cork’d. In addition to wine reviews, they also allow you to keep an online catalog of what wine you have stored, and provide the opportunity to search for online vendors to purchase wine. It is interesting to see how other people react to the wines Lisa and I have tried. Especially the bad ones. There are a few jokesters who rate wines inappropriately (Mad Dog with a 100 rating for example), but a lot of people put significant time and energy into their entries. Check the sites out if they sound interesting — there’s always room for one more!

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Oregon biotech could get defense spending funding…

AVI Biopharma could get some defense spending dollars to research some potential treatments for “terror-oriented” diseases. I have been following this company for quite a while and it is interesting to watch the attempts to get a product to market.

They have struggled for years to get recognition of the technology they hold, and to find someone to help them bring a drug to a Phase III trial. It is my understanding that a Phase III trial is very expensive.

The press releases about past trials are usually impressive to the biotech naive (like myself). I wonder why they haven’t been helped by any big pharma company…

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Quicken vs Money

Lisa and I have been using Quicken since at least 1999. This includes the time before we met. Once we got married, we combined our finances, and I went through the pain to include her accounts in Quicken. Since the time of that combination, we have upgraded Quicken a couple of times. The latest upgrade was to Quicken 2004. I keep a lot of data in Quicken. Our data file is over 20MB. Quicken has always worked well for me up to list latest version. At various random times, the data seems to get corrupted. I did validate, super-validate, and everything I could think of to fix the problems. Every time a problem cropped up, and the validate “fixed” something, it would end up dropping various legitimate transactions from years ago.

Recently, when we purchased our tax software at one of the local sales, we also bought Microsoft Money 2005 which we will get mostly free after rebates. I started on what I envisioned to be a painful journey of switching from Quicken to Money. Initially I tried importing our 20MB database into Money. I didn’t really like the result, and was having difficulty linking in the online behaviors I wanted. I discussed it with Lisa and chose to start a new database given the balances as of 12/31/04. This seemed to work fairly well, although the online accounts ended up downloading more transactions than I wanted. It took me the better part of 6 hours to get it all straight, but all of our accounts are balanced, and seemed to be linked properly.

I must say there are things I like a lot better in Money, and things I like a lot better in Quicken. In money, loans are handled much better. It actually keeps track of payment numbers. This is important when trying to link transactions downloaded with actual payments after they have occurred. For example, when I downloaded our checking information, it included payments for the mortgage. When I set up the mortgage, it covered all the payments up to the most recent. This meant that when I was fixing the categories for the transactions in the checking account, I had to somehow link the transfer to the payment. I did this by changing the transfer to point to the mortgage account, and then went in to the mortgage account and deleted the auto generated payment. I fixed the payment number (it is a field in the database), and Money recalculated the interest and principal amounts for the payments past that point. It was a good thing. Loans never seemed to work right in Quicken.

I do like parts of the Quicken user interface better. Money seems to waste a lot of screen realestate in the registers. Quicken seemed to pack more information into the same space.

So far, my reaction to Money is a positive one.

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Sold my free Travelzoo Stock

Do you remember when Travelzoo was giving away free stock? Well, I just sold my free shares (which turned into 6 shares by the time they went public) for $400. Pretty good for free money eh? 🙂

It was a bit of a hassle to actually get the shares, but for $400, I was willing to put up with a little inconvenience.

If you remember getting a share, but don’t know what happened to it, be sure to check out the Investor Relations section of the Travelzoo website.

Update: Check out this article for another description.

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AVII mention in the news

This article mentions AVII and the experimental treatments against WNV they did last year.

Here is another mention regarding SARS and AVII.

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Caterpillar and Intel

I sold my shares of Caterpillar Stock today. I had originally purchased it in 1998 at $43.86 a share, and sold it today at $83.85. This decision was based on this “Stock Selection Guide” I built in Excel.

I’ll be keeping an eye on it, and if drops down to the buy range according to the SSG, I may pick it up again.

I am looking to sell Intel as well, if it gets around the 38 dollar level, as suggested by this stock selection guide. I originally purchased it in June of 2002 for $18.32.

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AVI Biopharma treats kittens at Greenhill In Eugene

It is ironic that AVI Biopharma, a company I follow, worked with Greenhill Humane Society in Eugene, which I have visited. I guess it isn’t all that ironic since they are both in Oregon. AVI has seemed to help at least some of the cat population there.

Here is the article.

AVI’s “problem”. is that they don’t have enough money to complete Phase III trials of the various drugs they are working on. This means they have a grip of various avenues they could persue. Maybe someone will recognize the potential soon.

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Europe's RoHS Directive

Europe has set up legislation such that products released in 2006 have to be lead free. There are additional material criteria as well, but the lead requirement is the most painful for manufacturers.

It will be interesting to see how the electronics manufacturers react to this requirement, as I’m sure it will change which suppliers are used.

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CREE looking iffy

This article from The Motley Fool mentions obnoxious and worrysome behavior by CREE at a recent conference call. I’m certainly going to avoid them!

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