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Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflecting on Goals

In keeping with the traditions of reflecting on the past year, setting resolutions goals; I present you the following...

FINAL 2010 R.A.P. (Resolution Accountability Page)

Actually, to restate, I make my resolutions in the form of measurable and (hopefully) achievable goals.

So, How did I do?

1) Eliminate non housing debt.













As you can see, the scuba dude is still swimming....

I did not do nearly as well as I had hoped but OK. The big dip in the summer was a new AC and Furnace. After nearly 20 years the AC finally gave up and we were faced with a huge decision and expense. For a brief moment the cheapskate in me thought, we can tough it out. We don't need no stinking AC. The human race survived for thousands of years without it, we can too.

WRONG! After a couple days of nearly 100 degree heat and humidity I was convinced that those crazy ideas were, well, Crazy.

There is a bit of good news in getting a new AC and Furnace. It is more efficient than the old, which means we should save on utility bills, and it qualifies for the Green Housing tax deduction.

Also, you may notice that my chart, despite the sudden dip, appears to basically rise in somewhat equal increments. This is because I tried to dedicate an automatic amount each month to go towards eliminating that debt.

Usually this is best done through automatic transfers, and if one can do it via payroll deductions, so much the better because then you never have the chance to miss a payment towards your goal.

The tricky part is budgeting well enough to do just that. It is not easy, but definitely possible; for everyone!

2) Beat all DJIA, NASDQ, S&P averages with my investment income and do at least 50% better than the 16 % return I had this year. That means 24% annual return.

Me +20%
S&P +13%
DJIA +11%
NASD +18%

Well, I did not reach my 24% goal, but I came close, did better than last years 16% return, and I did beat all the averages.

You know, maybe, just maybe I can do this individual investor thing after all.


3) Sports and Fantasy Football.
Conspire/Rig/Cheat as commish To have the east coast win back the Borderless League Fantasy Football Trophy next year. Oh wait, Conspire/Rig/Cheat as commish, would not be very fair and ethical, so I’ll just put down that I will make the playoffs and the East Coast will win the Championship next year.

Well, I may never reach this goal completely. :-(
I did make the playoffs but the East Coast lost yet again.
In fact, Yanni won for the second time in a row.
I did make it into the Championship game but thanks to Atlanta and Philly playing below expectations, I came up short in this ultimate fantasy goal.

4) Double the number of people following my blog. I currently have 10 listed.

I now have 24 listed so, baring a sudden mass exodus, I think I made this one.

5) I’m starting a web site dedicated to donating to charities and activities that are most important to me and my family. Specifically The American Cancer Society, and Greyhound and Veterinary Research.

Well, technically I did do this one in that I started it and got it up and running and I did achieve my goal of donating to charities. It just proved to be exceeding difficult to successfully promote that site so about half way through the year I changed it to an EBAY entity that donates proceeds to the charities.

That method proved to be more successful so I think I will stick with the EBAY donations going forward.


Coming Soon:

My 2010 Top Ten
Update on NFL Stocks
My 2011 Goals !!!

Read more...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thinking Outside Pandora’s Box

Amazon (AMZN) has patented a new return process.

“So what” you say.

Well, consider the following:






What if I said you could not only find out what gifts others are getting you, but you could then “return” those gifts before they were ever sent!

Or, if you could set up some sort of rule that tells Amazon to always return or exchange for a gift certificate any gift that your dear old (insert random friend or relative here) happens to send you.

You could even set up a rule to send an ecard thank you note for the gift that was ordered but never received.

From a business perspective, this is great!

From a personalized “I was thinking of you and got you this gift because I like you” perspective, this is not so great.

After all, anybody who has kids, was a kid or even still is a kid, knows the importance of gift giving and making others feel good. You know, “it’s always better to give than to receive” and giving gifts helps show others that you care and are thinking of them. And this is a good thing.

But, according to some studies, up to 30% of all gifts are returned. This represents a huge amount of time, effort and expense that people and businesses have to deal with.

Imagine, from a financial business point of view, if you could come up with a way to save up to 30% of the costs associated with everyday business processes; From packaging, mailing, shipping and receiving, transacting and refunding; your bosses and stock holders would love you.

And probably get you a gift . . . ;-)

But here is another financial thought. . .

Would those potential amazon stock holders continue to be so happy if they were also stock holders of UPS or FedEx?

If we are talking about 30% of all gifts returned, then it could be safe to assume, especially with large online e-retailers such as Amazon, that for every 100 gifts shipped via UPS and FedEx, 30 are shipped back. With this new process, we could be talking about a lot less business for the shipping industry.

Or back to the whole gift giving and return process. . .

What if you are like us and do a lot of online shopping and have the gifts sent to yourself so that you know it arrives in good condition, wrap it, and personally give the gift to your intended recipient? Would you want that person to know ahead of time? And stop the shipment?

Or if you saw that you were going to be getting a sweater you really did not like but knew that you would be at that persons house party next week and "the right thing to do" would be to wear it in a show of appreciation.

Would "returning" it before it even shipped be appropriate?

I actually like the fact that Amazon is thinking outside the box and being creative and looking for new ways to do things.

This new patented return process has a lot of good, and bad, potential. Like most new inventions, it will be all in the way it is used that will ultimately determine it’s usefulness and impact.

What do you think? Good, Bad or indifferent?

You can find out about Amazon's new patented return process here.

The inspiration for this post can be found here at the Washington Post .

Read more...

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Longest Championship Game

The 1971 AFC Divisional Playoff Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins, played on Christmas day, didn’t end until halfway through a second overtime period. The marathon game lasted eighty-two minutes and forty seconds.

That is nothing!

Nothing compared to this Christmas Championship Weekend in Fantasy Football !!!

This championship weekend is going to last 5 days!

Thanks to a classic Nor'Easter snow storm / blizzard and the postponement the Sunday Night Football game to Tuesday.

It started last Thursday evening with Pittsburgh Steelers and is not scheduled to end until this Tuesday with the Philadelphia Eagles.

As of this point in time, I am 31 points behind. Tonight’s Monday Night Football game between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints will help decide my fate in this championship game. I still have Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and DeSean Jackson yet to play. He has David Akers.

It would be a lot closer, and I would feel a lot more confident in my comeback potential, if I had not kept the Dallas D in there instead of the Ravens. How they could absolutely clean up on the Skins for 18 points last week and totally #@!$ this week against an equally bad and sack / turnover prone team is beyond me.

I know I am not alone in this extended suspense filled championship game lasting so long. There are lots of other leagues and teams having their championship this week.

But this is the only one I really care about and I wish my opponent would just get it over and forfeit now ;-).

Seriously though, this has been a really wild and crazy and exciting fantasy football year and having the championship come down to the wire like this is why we all love this so much.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Read more...

An Educated Investor?














There is a marketing ad by SYMS that states “An educated consumer is our best customer”.

The theory behind this is that an educated consumer would know value and quality when they see and hear it and know to come to SYMS for the best advice and deals.

Does this also hold true in the investing world?

Is an educated investor the best investor?

This time of year you can search countless sites and articles about what to invest in for the coming year.

There are plenty of “experts” out there who give advice. Some, well - actually most, give some sort of value added education to their customers so that they can make informed decisions and realize that they are getting valuable, quality, investment ideas from “the pros”.

But how good are the experts?

And

Can an individual investor do just as well or even better?

Well, since I am NOT a psychic and can NOT predict the future, I can NOT tell you how well these “experts” will do in 2011.

But, I can tell you how well they did, and did not, do in 2010.

I searched for 2010 stock picks from various sites and came up with a fairly diverse list of expert picks and their results for 2010.


Editor Paul Goodwin -17.73%
E-House China(EJ)-20.21%
Gafisa(GFA)-15.24%

Alan Gayle -14.15%
Adobe Systems (ADBE) -15.83%
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) -19.03%
Microsoft (MSFT) -7.58%

Editor Byron King -5.61%
Cameco (CCJ) 20.68%
Gammon Gold (GRS) -31.90%

Newsletter Sound Advice +0.70%
Boston Scientific (BSX) -13.09%
Maxim Integrated Products (MXIM) 14.49%

Marc Johnson +3.11%
McDonald's (MCD) 22.86%
Medtronic (MDT) -16.64%

Kiplingers +4.85%
UPS (UPS) 25.01%
Kimberly-Clark (KMB) -1.66%
PepsiCo (PEP) 7.35%
Paychex (PAYX) -1.06%
Western Union (WU) -4.40%
Sysco (SYY) 3.01%
Chevron (CVX) 16.10%
Broadridge (BR) -5.59%

Howard Ruff +5.76%
Barrick Gold (ABX) 26.86%
Rydex Inverse S&P 500 Strategy Fund (RYURX) -15.33%

Chris Temple +6.22%
Matrix Service (MTRX) 11.00%
PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish (UUP) 1.44%

editor John Buckingham +9.20%
Palomar Medical Technologies (PMTI) 33.04%
Navios Maritime (NM) -14.63%

Channing Smith +15.39%
Yum Brands (YUM) 41.46%
Procter & Gamble (PG) 6.77%
Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) -0.26%
PetSmart (PETM) 51.55%
CarMax (KMX) 33.01%
Quest Diagnostics (DGX) -10.14%
McKesson (MCK) 12.49%
Abbott Laboratories (ABT) -11.77%

Mike Avery +20.70%
Monsanto (MON) -19.77%
Apple (AAPL) 51.53%
Nike (NKE) 30.34%
Value Line Survey 21.81%
American Tower (AMT) 16.19%
Weight Watchers International (WTW) 27.43%

Rich Howard +31.92%
DuPont (DD) 46.03%
Barrick Gold (ABX) 26.86%
Newmont Mining (NEM) 22.86%

Jerry Jordan +32.49%
National Oilwell Varco (NOV) 46.54%
Halliburton (HAL) 31.25%
PowerShares DB Agriculture (DBA) 19.68%

The Street.com +33.29%
Amazon.com (AMZN) 34.01%
Comcast (CMCSA) 31.94%
Microsoft (MSFT) -7.58%
Red Hat (RHT) 49.06%
Research In Motion (RIMM) -13.88%
VMware (VMW) 106.18%

Editor Dan Sullivan +42.23%
Massey Energy (MEE) 24.97%
Teck Resources (TCK) 59.49%

Editor George Putnam +51.04%
US Airways Group (LCC) 105.58%
Global Crossing (GLBC) -3.50%

The overall average for all these sample experts is 14%. Not too shabby. But some, obviously did better than others.

This chart does tell us that some of the experts did quite well in choosing stocks that would perform well over the whole course of the year. A pretty amazing feat considering how volatile the stock market was in 2010.

What this chart does not tell you is that some of the experts who seemingly got it wrong, really did have it right, but just not for the whole year.

Hint: this is where the education comes into play . . .

Couple cases in point:

RIMM: A well run tech company that fell out of favor from April – September, mostly due to the advancement of the competitions “smart phones” and even a couple political land minds from countries who wanted access to the secure transmissions and threatened to ban sales of RIMM products. Good companies who also by the way have market share will successfully navigate these land mines and down trends in sentiment and eventually “surprise” the market and come back into favor. This “out of favor” slide sent the stock from a high of $75 in March to $45 in September. I believe the analyst in picking RIMM as an investment for 2010 said something along the lines that it was too smart and agile of a company which also happened to “invent the smart phone” to permanently fall to the competition.
Well, that analyst was and is correct and the company has since surprised the market with good reports, new popular products and a reasonably strong future and now sits at a price of about $60. That is a 30% return up from its low point. Yet for the year, the stock and analyst seemingly got it wrong with a -13% YTD return.

UUP: A fund that rises and falls based on the strength or weakness of the dollar. The analyst recommending this stock for 2010 had it exactly right and , unlike this chart, an educated investor would have made a decent profit by following his advice. You see, he saw a short term uptrend in this dollar index fund but recommended selling once it got near the high 20’s. And low and behold, that is exactly what happened. The fund rose from $23 to $26 during the first six months of 2010 then fell back down to where it is today.

So, what sets a good investor apart from a bad investor?

Education.

The more you learn about how the market works, what makes a company a good company or bad company or even a good company out of favor, the more you can make educated decisions and hopefully good decisions on investments.

Unlike year end stock predictions, where the last 12 month results of a particular company is passively listed, educated investing is an active process.

Are you or the experts going to get it right all the time? No. Are you and the experts going to make mistakes? Yes. Are you and the experts going to get it right some of the time? YES!

The important thing is to study and watch the market. Learn from your mistakes as well as your successes.

An educated investor may not be the best investor, but he or she will be a smarter investor and actively involved with the market instead of passively investing in yearly expert lists.

Read more...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Thought














With all the headlines filled with topics of war, threats of terrorism, corruption and such;
I’d like to wish everyone two simple wishes not only now but for the coming year;
OK, and every year after that one too!

Peace on Earth and Good Will towards Men.

Read more...

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Little Christmas Humor















A Russian couple looked out their window Christmas Eve and the wife said, “Look Rudi, it’s going to snow!”

“No” said the husband, “it is going to rain.”

Wife: “It’s cold and windy outside. It’s going to snow I tell you.”

Husband: “No dear, it’s going to rain.”

Wife: “Rudolph, how can you say that?”

Husband: “Because, Rudolph, the Red, knows rain. Dear.”

Read more...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?


















Back in April of 2010 I posted this post " Holy QB Pass Batman "

Among other things, I talked about the “system” and having the right players for “the system”.

Folks have talked about the Redskins defense all season. About how we had/have excellent 4-3 players but they seem out of sync in a 3 – 4.

It now appears that perhaps Donovan was “out of sync” with the new system.

In a Washington Post Article "Rex Grossman might not be a star, but he might be what Mike Shanahan wants" Thomas Boswell makes the following points.

The Shannies want a strict "system quarterback," someone who improvises only as a last resort, not as an agreeable alternative. They want someone who reads the field deep-to-middle-to-short, not short-to-medium-to-deep as McNabb did in Philly. In short, they don't want the kind of quarterback McNabb has been all his life.

Grossman seems to understand the Redskins' offense better than McNabb, run it more quickly, end up in the right play more often, go through his reads deeper and step up in the pocket as asked. He doesn't have McNabb's arm strength, ability to rip away from rushers to make plays, nor his career-long ability (until this year) to avoid interceptions.


Was Donovan a mistake?

Some are now saying that Shanahan, in his de facto GM role, wasted so much time and money, plus draft picks, with his McNabb mistake.

Other say,
"Not so fast." Grossman next faces two teams in playoff contention, not the Cowboys, who have given up more than 30 points eight times and rank 31st in points allowed. Grossman's QB rating (93.6) was lower than McNabb's a week before (100.7).


Up until the last game killing interception, and that is exactly what it was, Rex's rating was actually better.

People around the league and multiple fan bases will say that there is good Rex and bad Rex. In the game against Dallas we saw both.

Good Rex: 4 TD’s , over 300 yds passing, and 30 points put up on the board.

Bad Rex: 1 lost fumble, 2 interceptions, and 5 sacks.

Though it might be argued that sacks are not always the QB’s fault.
But the fact still remains. That last interception was a killer.

Boswell also states:

Successful NFL coaches do what they've done before. Shanahan breaths discipline, demands control, weeds out everyone who isn't totally with his plan (sometimes cruelly) and, when necessary, will take the lesser athlete for the sake of a superior attitude.


Others might also argue that other successful NFL coaches have adopted a system to play to their players strengths. I actually think Boswell is more right than wrong.

If you look at successful NFL organizations, you will find stability; and within that stability you will find a "system" , a "style" or a "plan". The organization then finds players to fit that mold.

Shanahan didn't wait to see the tape to glow: Grossman "executed the offense. We have a system. You've got to go through your reads. It's very complicated to tell you what he did. He just executed. There's a lot of different coverage, lots of different blitzes. We have routes called for different coverages. He performed like a veteran performs."


For now it appears that Rex fits the mold more than Donovan. The question still remains.

Can an old dog learn new tricks?

Can Donovan learn to fit the new mold? Or is he better suited in a different system?

Like I said back in April...

Only time will tell.

Read more...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Bad Fan

A funny thing happened last weekend. My son and I got into a bit of a fan rivalry even though we are both Redskin Fans.

You see, we were watching the Redskin Dallas game on TV and I was noticeably more excited every time the Dallas defense or kick return team had a good play. I would smile and say something like “yes! Another point for me” and he would moan is disbelief and complain about how poorly the skins were doing.

Dad ! what are you talking about? Are you routing for the Cowboys? How could you?

No son, I am routing for my fantasy football team.

You see, when I heard that Rex the hex was promoted to starting QB and knew that the Dallas Defense was doing well in the sack and turnover department (and oh by the way the skins offensive line is , well offensively BAD!) I picked up the Dallas Defense off of the waiver wire and put them in the starting lineup.

Since we count interceptions, fumbles, sacks, and return yards, I thought it a fairly safe bet. Well, 143 return yards, 2 interceptions, a fumble and 5 sacks later . . . my fantasy team had an impressive 18 points on defense even though the skins scored an impressive 30 points (which did count against the Dallas fantasy point total).

I must admit, that for at least one game, Rex did run the offense better than Donovan. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

But on with my post . . .

With my borderless league playoffs in full swing and my “Fun Bunch” team the last remaining East Coast representative left, the pressure was on for a win and a chance at the title next week.

Was this tactic enough to win?

Well, it helped.

The Dallas D scored 9 more points than Greenbay which I sat on the bench.
My decision to start Kenny Britt (15 points) over Anquan Boldin (0 points) also helped.
And least I forget DeSean’s last second TD return!

That helped too!

Final score:
Fun Bunch 130
Unemployables 118

In my League of Experts my team was also in the playoffs but lost Aaron Rodgers in the first round which gave both of us a major headache. Oh, well. . .

So now it is off to the championship game between my East Coast Fun Bunch and the West Coast Edumucation Team.

May the best my team win.

Read more...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No Hothouse Flowers

I am old school. No big secret there.

I am a big proponent of clearly defined and simple rules.

Not the least of which should include: Having fun and being good.

The best memories and even wisdom can come from life’s experiences.

When it comes to Football, There should be one clearly defined rule.
Actually several, but the first ones should go like this.

- NFL Football Stadiums should be outdoor stadiums.
- NFL Football Fields should be natural turf.
- NFL Fans should love the elements as much as the game itself.

Plain and simple: Football is an outdoor sport!

As I watched the Vikings Monday Night Football Game against Da Bears, I came to the realization that I, and these simple rules, have been right all along . . . ;-)

And a lot of important people agree with me. Here are just a few:

Joe Gibbs: There is no indoor practice facility at Redskins park because of his long standing belief that football is an outdoor sport.

Leslie Frazier: grew up in the cold and experienced many a football game in the elements and loves the idea of being out in the elements.

Zygi Wilf: wants to reinstate the tradition back in Minnesota, or where ever he ends up moving the team . . .

I sincerely hope that this outdoor tradition catches hold and we see a lot more games played out in the elements like the one last night and see more new OUTDOOR stadiums being built.

And for those of you who want to point out that I was inside a climate controlled room with a wide screen TV while I came to this enlightened realization remember this:

I was about 1200 miles away
and
TV is NOT an outdoor sport!

Read more...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

NFL DRAMA AWARDS !

Who will win?








My original idea for this post was a kind of Drama award for the NFL.

We certainly have had (and continue to have) plenty of teams, coaches, owners and players all worthy of some sort of Headline or Drama award this year.

I even had a couple top contenders in mind (Vikings and Brett Favre) vs ( Redskins, AH, McNabb, Shanahan). Yes the Redskin side out numbers the Vikings, but only in candidates.

There are plenty of other contenders out there and everyone (fans), depending on their loyalties and personalities, will have his or her own favorites.

The first dilemma I encountered was how to choose and whom?

One way might be to go simply by number of news articles for 2010. I quickly realized, that despite my , and a certain followers preferences, the previously mentioned; surprisingly are NOT necessarily top contenders.

Google 2010 news articles:

Brett Favre --------- 19K results
Donovan McNabb ------ 9K results
Albert Haynesworth -- 4K results
Mark Sanchez -------- 11K results
Minnesota Vikings --- 21K results
New York Jets ------- 28K results
New York Giants ----- 31K results

I could have done more but I did not feel like going through every possible team and player combination out there.

Another way to choose a winner might be to go simply by popularity.
For this I turned to social media to look for answers.
Again, I found some surprising results.

Teams with most Facebook fans:

#1 Dallas Cowboys
#2 Pittsburgh Steelers
#3 New Orleans Saints
#4 New England Patriots

#6 Minnesota Vikings
#10 Washington Redskins

Then we have the number of people who “like” something, or in this case, somebody else:

673K people like the Minnesota Vikings
440K people like the Washington Redskins
1.16 million people like the New England Patriots
1.26 million people like the Steelers

But what about some of the players?

T.O. has 390K people who like him (obviously there is no accounting for taste as you will soon see)
Favre 98K like him
Mcnabb 40K like him
Only 1K people like Haynesworth.
Randy Moss, has 170K liking him.

Ochocinco 1.3 million people like him (Really?)

And, sad to say, two of my personal favorite NFL role models:

5K like Darrell Green.
2.5K like London Fletcher.

Twitter had some equally interesting results for top followers:

#4 Kerry Rhodes
#7 Mark Sanchez
#9 NY Jets
#11 New England Patriots
#16 ndamukong_suh
#21 Vikings

Oh, and now for something completely different, one funny listing I saw regarding “most retweeted” for 2010 . . .








OK, now that I have totally digressed beyond / past my original idea, let me pull everyone back to how to choose and present an award.

For this, I took inspiration from the original photo I so grandiosely trashed. The Oscars and the Academy Awards.

Instead of creating a dull and most likely incomplete poll, I am going to create discussion threads on my Fumbled Returns Facebook Fan Page with the following Categories:

Best NFL Actor
Best NFL Art or Sign
Best NFL Fan Costume
Best Rant
Best Action Shot
Best Sound Effect
Best Unscripted Comment
Best Dance
Best Score
Best Commercial
And stealing one from categories turned down . . .
Best Juvenile Award

Within these discussion threads anybody will be able to nominate their own personal suggestion / link and or agree with one that is already there.
I will keep the threads open through the remainder of the season, including the playoffs and super bowl.

And in keeping with the original inspiration, tally the votes and announce the awards sometime around the real academy awards in 2011.

So, you all have some time to think about your choice awards for each category and submit an entry.

Submit multiple entries if you like.

Or confirm that you end up liking one already there.

Lets see who wins!

Read more...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Queue the Circus Music

Rex Grossman to start over Donovan McNabb Sunday


Probably should have seen this one coming with Shanny's statement the other day

"I like people getting prepared for a lot of different people," Shanahan said then. "Even though they say it's a meaningless game, it's not meaningless to us. We've got a big game. We'll get a lot of preparation. You guys will have to show up to view all of the starters."


The skins can cut him after this year and only be out $3.5 Million.

Guess the Vikings just might be able to get a decent QB next year after all...

Read more...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Suggestion























It has been reported that the Vikings are wanting to play in a friendly, all be it, frigidly cold Frozen environment at the University of Minnesota.

I have a better idea.














FedEx Field is perfect.

The Skins will be in Dallas.
It is still outdoors.
I've seen Viking fans here before.
Most of us hate Da Bears.
and . . .
If rumors are true, I'm sure there are still a few Patrick Ramsey fans in the area too!

That and Danny boy can not only honor all 63,000 already sold tickets to the game but he can sell about 28,000 more!

Plus FedEx field is already equipped to handle multiple concession stands and alcohol taps.

And the weather prediction for our area is noticeably better too!

Read more...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Leaders, Legends and Losers













OK, This one is easy. I don't know how much time, money, and thought went into their decision but instead of Leaders and Legends, how about sticking with the theme of the logo?

Blue and White?

Thank you, thank you very much!

Hey, and I will only charge .01% of total gross revenue for my consulting services.

I don't think that this took a whole lot of leadership and I don't think this will become legendary beyond that fact that the whole logo and division names are total losers.

That, my friends is only the first of my Leaders, Legends and Losers for this post this week . . .


Next up, Jets strength and conditioning coaches.


















This guy is NOT a Leader and is quickly becoming an unpopular Legend and is a total idiot.

This is a good way to end a players career.

I certainly hope he does not have a job after this week.



And last but certainly not least . . .












Contrary to most opinion boards out there, I actually kind of like this. He is on one of my fantasy teams and seems to have remembered the all important fact of holding on to the ball as you cross the goal line!

Yes, the officials got the call totally wrong. This should be flagged for un-sportsman like conduct or taunting; Not celebrating after the TD.

But hey, I am one of the few who actually would love to see more stuff like the old Redskin Fun Bunch return to the NFL.

Players should be allowed to celebrate a good play and score.

Believe me, the stuff that goes on in the stands and TV rooms across the country each weekend is far worse than anything that has generally happened on the field.

And with the rules against celebrating after the score, it was only a matter of time that somebody got around to doing it before they scored.

I'm putting this one in the Legend category.

Read more...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fumbled Gift Ideas - Sports

This is a wonderful time of year.

Many people are focused on the holidays, Friends, Family, and all things which we are thankful for and have contributed to making our lives better.

I would like to think that one of the things which make our lives better, or at least more fun and memorable is sports.

This past week, the sports world lost a legendary sports and entertainment figure Don Meredith.

Don Meredith was part of what is now an American Institution. Monday Night Football.
Oh yeah, he was also a Dallas Cowboy, and a pretty Dandy one at that, but I certainly don't hold his choice of teams against him...

When I look for gift ideas, I often try to think of ideas that give either a different spin on a popular topic or represent the "classic" or "best of" a topic.

So, in honor of Dandy Don and Monday Night football I've come up with two Gift Ideas.


















Monday Night Mayhem:

Based on the book by Bill Carter and Marc Gunther, this immensely entertaining made-for-cable film tells it like it was in chronicling the golden age of Monday Night Football, a bold experiment in prime-time programming that transformed the pop-culture landscape. Carrying the ball for the lesser-known ensemble is John Turturro's Emmy-worthy performance as Howard Cosell, who played the role of "provocateur" in the then-revolutionary three-man booth that included in its heyday "Dandy" Don Meredith (Brad Beyer) and Frank Gifford (Kevin Anderson). John Heard gives a career-best performance as ABC producer Roone Arledge, who nurtured his brainchild and brilliantly massaged the egos of his stars. His prickly, more complex relationship with Cosell is the heart of this film. Rich with incident, Monday Night Mayhem spans from Muhammad Ali's controversial anti-Vietnam War stance and the blood-soaked 1972 Munich Olympics to John Lennon's death, which Cosell announced to a shocked nation. Also comic and compelling is the behind-the-scenes in-fighting and the colorful backstage characters.


This next one is the "classic" "best of" production version of the story just mentioned and, best of all, it comes in an "old school" VHS format!

















25th Anniversary of Monday Night Football:
The complete story of the early years of the greatest night in sports.
In September 1970, ABC Sports started a revolution that became an American Institution. Now, 25 seasons later, the beginning of every autumn work week is much easier to handle. The 25th Anniversary of ABC's Monday Night Football celebrates the highlights and history made by football's greatest players and play-by-players.
The hard-hitting action is all here in classic overtime victories, amazing runs, winning kicks, blitzes, bloopers and bizarre moments from the NFL's greatest night. John Frank Gifford, Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf, and former announcers Howard Cosell, "Dandy" Don Meredith, O.J. Simpson, Joe Namath, Fred Williamson and Keith Jackson for magic moments from the booth to the backfield to the bench.
This special collector's edition also features: inside stories, classic anecdotes and great gaffes; moving moments of triumph, defeat and courage; and much more!


Personally, Monday Night Mayhem is one I've known about and have heard about before but never seen. I think I am adding that one to my list to Santa. Of course, I wouldn't mind watching the classic 25th anniversary one either.

Hint, Hint.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

MoneysWorth

Well, it is now officially playoff season.

Fantasy Football Playoffs that is.

And I have managed to qualify in both my leagues.

First, in my Borderless League, I limped into the playoffs by loosing my last 2 games by a heart wrenching 6 total points. No matter, even though I had a mediocere 7 - 6 record, I had the second highest point total in the 12 team league. I won my division (the top 3 teams all tied with a 7 - 6 record) because of that high point total. That means I win the division and I get that all important 1st round bye and a guarenteed extra $50 bucks!

In my Fumbled Returns League of Experts I again won my division as well. Though no money was involved, I do get bragging rights! :-)

On the real football front, it appears that the Redskin organization has FINALLY getting around to expelling Sir Albert and attempting to recover some of the insanely high priced salary cap hit they have taken.



















Has this proven to be a distraction?
Yes.
Was signing him in the first place a stupid thing to do?
Yes.
Were Shanny and Allen dealt a bad hand?
Yes.
Now that he is "technically" gone, will this continue to be a distraction?
Yes.

Reports are asking, and will continue to ask every coach and player and fan possible...

Was this a distraction?
Are you glad it is finally over?
Do you think he will be back next year?

We should have cut him before the season even started, or at least put him on the physically/mentally unable to perform list.

You could have gotten a lot more money back.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Last but not least

For my December Watch lists I had to sort through a ton of information and finally came up with my 30 stocks.

This month I am including two special requests and observations from outside of my usual screens.

These special appearances fall under the "observation" and "buy what you know category" of investing.

First, Wet Seal (WTSLA) is a teen and young adult fashion retailer that has attracted not only the fashion eye of my teenage daughter and her friends but also the savvy deal shopper eye of my lovely wife.
My daughter an all her friends have this fashion shop on all their Christmas lists, birthday lists, wish lists etc etc.
They also, according to my wife, have frequent sales better than other stores and product at reasonable prices.
This, along with the fact that Wet Seal is generally out of favor with investors and the stock price has been showing recent recovery strength is lending me to trust in this investment.

The other Watch list special is Cracker Barrel (CBRL). When we were traveling Thanksgiving week through six different states, along countless highways, and towns; there were two stores we saw over and over and over again.
One was Dunkin Doughnuts which is literally on nearly every street corner in the North East. But this is a privately owned, franchised, company and does not have publically traded stock.
However, Cracker Barrel seemed almost as prevalent and was definitely busy and from folks I talked to, has a very loyal, almost fanatic, customer following. Their stock has fallen back a bit after reaching a 52 week high point and though it appears slightly pricy still, all other indicators are pointing to a good possible entry point.
So, with that said, I am adding it to my watch list as well.

STARTING LINEUP:

DELL - Dell Inc
This one showed up on my “large and cheap” screen and the price is right with a bounce off of support around the 13 mark.

MFW - M&F Worldwide Corporation
This one was on my “value” screen and could be looking to set up a new good support level for a turn around.

CBRL - Cracker Barrel
See above.

XLNX - Xilinx Inc
This one was on my list last month as was MSFT. Either is worthy of an entry here but XLNX I think has a greater momentum and growth potential.

ASIA - Asiainfo Linkage Inc
This stock is a type of “contrarian” play and looks like it might be setting up for recovery off of 16 - 17 support - look for possible double bottom reversal pattern.

CNIT - China Information Technology, I
After reaching high points In stock price then cooling off signs are pointing to a possible swing back up for this “value” play.

CSKI - China Sky One Medical, Inc.
Another stock worthy of watching. Personally I am looking for a double bottom reversal patter below 6.5 or 7.

WTSLA - Wet Seal
See above.

IGOI - Igo Incorporated
This one is up on higher monthly volume and still seems to have a lots of upside left to it.

TXN - TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC
This is my guilty play because it has me wishing I had gotten in 2 – 3 months ago when it first appeared on my lists.

BENCH:

ASYS - Amtech Systems Inc
I know the solar market has cooled recently but this one works in as a worthy play on solar stocks.

CPWM - Cost Plus Inc
This stock is showing good volume and corporate returns.

EZPW - Ezcorp Inc
This appeared on my lists a while back and still (because of economic conditions) warrants a watch.

NEP - China North East Petroleum Hold
This and the next stock, probably should be on my practice squad but I’ve been wrong before and missed opportunity so I’ve moved them up to the Bench.

ACOM - Ancestry Com Inc
See previous entry . . .

CMFO - China Marine Food Group Limited
This seems to now finally be at a good support level and worth a watch.

CMM - China Mass Media Corp American
This stock showed up on my outperform screens and is showing good momentum for undervalued stock.

FCFC - FirstCity Financial Corporation
Another potential value play.

HOGS - Zhongpin Inc.
A growth stock that I have successfully timed before and now seems to be at an intriguing entry point.

LGL - LGL Group, Inc. Common Stock
Another stock that shows good potential to outperform the market and it’s peers.

PRACTICE SQUAD:

GFRE - Gulf Resources Inc
ONP - Orient Paper Inc
BMY - Bristol Myers Squibb Co
CVI - Cvr Energy Incorporated
HQS - HQ Sustainable Maritime
AMAP - AutoNavi Holdings Ltd
CSFS - The Cash Store Financial Service
FSIN - Fushi Copperweld, Inc.
GILD - GILEAD SCIENCES INC
JNJ - Johnson & Johnson

Read more...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wiki Sports















Now this is a site I could and would get behind!

There could be something for everyone.

From Belichick to Sports Writers

From Owners to Fans

From Players to Cheerleaders

Imagine the possibilities!

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

In Spirit

Well, as you may be able to tell, I've been pretty silent on the blog lately. But I've been here in spirit.

Just too busy to really write about it.

So lets start with the basics and a little catch up of events, both with sports and stocks.

Sports:

Fantasy wise, I am doing OK. I will most likely make the playoffs in both my Fumbled Returns League of Experts and even in my other Borderless league. There, I am top point winner but currently 3rd out of 12. I think I stand a good chance of getting in but I was really, really hoping to be top in my division so I get that all important 1st round bye. But James has to loose and I have to win this week for me to even have a chance of that happening and I have a tougher match up than he does.

After being the wise old man that I am and drafting handcuffs to Frank Gore (Anthony Dixon) and Chris Johnson (Javon Ringer) in the beginning of the year, I subsequently dumped them when everyone stayed healthy and I needed players during the bye weeks. Now with Gore out for the season, folks are scrambling to get Westbrook. But he is hurting too and Dixon could become a factor yet. I think I will take a gamble and pick him up just in case. In looking at the waiver wire both are amazingly still available. Strangely enough, Byron Westbrook was picked up . . .

Hmmm I wonder if somebody made a silly mistake . . . Yes, (an email confirms it), yes he did ( wow )

A lot of folks around here are talking about the Skins but unfortunately they have performed just about they way I had expected. There were just way too many weak spots to address and way, way too few draft picks to work with. Personally, I think Shanny and Allen have done a really good job with the hand(s) they were dealt with. It will be a few years before we can get back to the glory days.

And speaking of glory days, while in NY over thanksgiving, my father in law had out on the table an anniversary edition of the history of the Giants. What I was really struck with was all the good ol’ shots and stories of football from the days before AstroTurf, over protective / restrictive rules, and domes. This is probably why I enjoy working with and watching youth football so much.

I am putting natural turf, celebration dances, less restrictive player rules on my NFL Christmas Wish List.

Stocks:

My Share builder November list did really well. MOTR was the big winner and, though I did have a few lose money, none were big drops. Overall my investments returned a healthy 6% for November.

I did learn one very important thing about Share Builder and Auto Investment Watch Lists. If you have Sharebuilder set to auto invest, as most accounts will, and you sell a stock that has done really well, like I did with MOTR, move the proceeds out to your regular savings or checking account. Otherwise, whatever stock(s) you have listed in your Auto Invest list will be purchased with said proceeds on your next scheduled Investment Tuesday.

But other than that little bone head ‘gotchya’ moment, I have been very pleased with my experience with Sharebuilder. I just wish it had better research tools to use for building my watch lists. But that is OK, I got that covered elsewhere.

Speaking of watch lists, yes it is December, but I will not be able to get my December list(s) out before this weekend. So stay tuned.

I saw today that ARO took a tumble because of an analysts downgrade. I think people just might be pleasantly surprised by the retail returns this holiday season so this downgrade just might be a good opportunity to get in on the low end of this stock price.

And speaking of buying on the low end, MSFT recently appears to have bounced off of a key support level and is rising back up as is TRLG which is up nearly 14% as of today.

And last but not least, here is a bit of holiday spirit courtesy of my daughters 7th grade band. They have been practicing really hard all year and her music teacher is really one of the best I have ever met. He has a funny little saying which he tells them when he thinks they are not doing well and that is

“you are all playing like 7th graders . . . “
I believe he did not say that during the holiday concert. But you can be the judge.

Oh and this is sports related because, as you can see in the video, there is a basketball hoop and backboard in the background! The holiday concert was obviously held in the acoustically challenged school gym.

Read more...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Things I learned from Thanksgiving

My family and I spent most of Thanksgiving in and around the New York area.

There seemed to be a lot of people driving this year. We saw license plates from at least 20 states including from as far away as Washington State and international travelers from Quebec. Thank you TSA ;-)

6 states, 900 miles, 18 hours of driving and all the friends, family and food I can take seemed a lot easier when I was younger.

The trip was great and well worth it but I am thankful to be home and have a day of rest and recovery.

It’s funny how one can subconsciously look for familiar icons while traveling. Like spotting a guy wearing a Redskins cap in a hotel lobby in the heart of enemy territory! I complimented him and his choice of head wear.

My son, a chip off the old block, purposely wore his redskins LaRon Landry hoodie just to show off his pride and needle his grandfather.

Old , elderly Wise elders of the family give historic directions. I asked for directions to a particular store about 2 – 3 miles away in the NY city area and proceeded to learn the entire 40 year history of practically every landmark building along the way.

Like how the satellite building of a state community college was once the hospital where my wife and her sisters were born.

Or the now cardiac health center was once a family owned deli and apartment building and the former owners were a wonderful Italian couple whose kids are now all grown up and not running the family business.

But one landmark is still there and thriving and has not changed much . . . Nathan’s Famous Frankfurters.

Desserts are the opposite of stressed. I had a lot of one and not so much of the other.

Just because they happen to have a famous baseball team, the Bronx thinks they can lay claim to the title “All American City”.

My cousins are planning an east coast tour of major league baseball parks ! Oh to be young again. I'm sure nothing will stop them from their quest, except possibly the fact that one cousins wife is expecting their first born in . . . oh about 2 weeks ! Poor kids, They have no clue how much their lives are about to change . . . ;-)

My kids think NY city is totally cool (yes, yes it is) and has awesomely WOW! – oh my gosh – tall buildings and bridges. They are still working the kinks out of their necks ;-)

If you really want to drive around in Manhattan, get behind a taxi cab and stay close. You’ll get around just fine. ( I actually learned this years ago , and yes, we really did drive into Manhattan)

Kids can get away with a lot. William, my 4 year old, yelled out “Hello Everybody” while we drove around Manhattan. He got a lot of smiles, waves, laughs and happy honks.

I get a totally different reaction when I yell out the window at somebody.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Impact of Irish Bailouts

So the markets are reacting favorably to the Irish agreeing to be bailed out. But I believe this will be short lived.

The bailout has not actually occurred yet so there are plenty of “terms” to be worked out but suffice it to say the market “likes” the stability of an agreement.

The Terms of the agreement will be in the form of loans from other countries such as Germany and these terms will most certainly raise rates and in turn force Ireland to raise corporate and income tax rates.

These rate increases will affect companies such as Microsoft (MSFT), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Bank of America (BAC), Merrill Lynch, Google (GOOG) and Intel (INTC).

Of course these companies are in Ireland in the first place because of the lower subsidized rates (the lowest in the Euro-Union) that existed before and only helped to fuel the financial and international trade imbalance which existed and contributed to the need for this bail out in the first place.

The companies are not threatening to leave at this stage, but the statement - signed by executives from the four companies - does point out that while Ireland's tax rate may be low in European terms, it is not when compared with Singapore, India and China.

John Herlihy, head of Google's European headquarters in Dublin, said ''anything that impinges on Ireland's competitiveness is going to be a big thing for Google''.
So how did this mess happen? Well in some ways, it is the same greed and deals that ran rampant in the US which has contributed to the Irish demise.

Ireland has three big insolvent banks and several other smaller, equally insolvent financial institutions we won't bother to mention by name.

Ireland also has a large number of subsidiaries of European, British and American Banks. These subsidiaries are often registered as Irish and therefore on Ireland's tab not the nation of the parent bank. This often gets forgotten in the excitement.
Ireland also houses a very large chunk of the world's Special Investment Vehicles (SIV's) which are the shell companies which house trillions and trillions of dollars and Euros and pounds worth of Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs).

These are what Warren Buffett described as "weapons of financial mass destruction".
These CDOs, in turn, house an equal or greater nominal value of Credit Default Swaps (CDS) written upon the CDOs.

These subsidiaries were often registered as completely Irish companies. In other countries these same companies faced tighter and stricter policies. So the Irish registered subsidiaries provided a loop hole.

Rumors have it that banks would work the deals outside of Ireland, then send a banker over to Ireland, get them to sit at 'their' desk in Ireland, in the Irish bank, and do the deal there. The legal registration of the deal and the 'oversight' were all Irish. This is known in the financial world as jurisdictional arbitrage. You and I would call it cheating if we were feeling charitable and lying if we weren't.

The deal was properly overseen and approved by the appropriate Irish financial authorities and the profits would be banked at a very happy Irish bank. If any management of the 'deal' was required an Irish company would be hired, there are many, and an Irish manager often living not far from Cork, would 'manage' the money in and out.

Any bad deals, losses and improper oversight is question of wealthy bankers from all countries and the Irish companies, not the people. It should be the bankers who made the losses who should take them.

But as is the case with the US financial and economic woes, it is often the people who pay in the terms of lost jobs, property, income, and higher taxes.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

NFL Uniforms - The Source?

So this week we had a leak of new Nike NFL Uniforms hit the web.

By now everyone knows they are fake.





But where did they come from?

Who drew them? What is the source?

And Why?


Well, here at Fumbled Returns we strive to uncover the truth behind the story.

To separate fact, from fiction.

We of course started with the various news agencies, press releases and sports talk shows.

It did not take long for us to realize that there were basically three variations of this story.

1) It was real – later supposedly proven to be false
2) It was a hoax – generated by lonely bored and or failed graphic artists.
3) It was really a conspiracy theory hatched by the NFL and Nike to judge market and fan reaction to their concept drawings.

Which one of these is the truth, if any; and how do we go about exposing the real source of this news and sports story?

Lets start with the last one. The conspiracy theory - With a little of "hoax" thrown in for good measure...

If one were to expand this hoax and conspiracy theory in a predictable next step, we should soon see one of these “concept” drawings show up as a real true prototype.

And when you have a prototype, you have the chance and the opportunity for theft, smuggling and illegal transport of goods for monetary gain.

I believe that the feds have already taken action to stop this from happening by instituting new scanning










and pat down procedures for the TSA. How else would one hope to uncover smuggling of these concept prototype uniforms?











Don't believe that lady could hide a uniform in there? Well if Leslie Johnson, the wife of the arrested PG executive, Jack Johnson, can stuff $80K in here bra, you can see why hiding a uniform just might be plausible.

I applaud the TSA for “checking out” every potential passenger traveling into and out of airports. But I believe there is a better way to catch a thief. And the source.


Fraudulently claim to be that said source yourself!

Following the money is often the best, quickest and most reliable method to getting to the root of a problem, investigation or uncovering the source.

So here is my solution.

Post up on Zazzle the new concept uniforms and sell them for $19.95 a piece.













Trust me, real , fake , liked, disliked or otherwise, you will get a lot of interest and people wanting to buy them if for no other reason, memorabilia.

If they are really test marketed by the NFL and Nike as a hoax , I guarantee that you will have them jumping all over you with their lawyers and the conspiracy theorists will be proven correct.

If they are really from bored lonely fans and failed artists, and that person(s) sees you making tons of money off of their idea, you will be contacted.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Stress

Thanks to the TSA, it looks like Holiday Travel will have a few extra perks this year...



















All strips courtesy TSA and Time.com Cartoons of the Week.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

No 2 minutes drills this week...

Well, at least we don't have to worry about Donovan being able to run a two minute offense this week... Bummer :-(

Go DeSean! (he's on my fantasy league...)

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5 for 5

Wow, I knew they were working out a deal but this is truly surprising.

Guess Donovan was right when he said he wanted to stay a Redskin. This is more than I was expecting. 3 years with maybe a 4th but FIVE? !!!

And if the rumors are true about the $78 million contract extension, $40 million of which is guaranteed. This is not a bad deal for either party.

Donovan has average $9 million per year prior to this so it fits very nicely into the scheme of things.

Not too shabby for a hall of fame caliber QB and a 2nd round trade.

Congratulations to Donovan!

Congratulations to the Redskins!

Though, it does make me wonder what he could have gotten if he had been able to run a two minute drill....

Now go out there and toast the Eagles tonight!

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Parity vs Crazy

I posted last week about parity in my Borderless league and how crazy this NFL season has been.

Week 10 has continued the crazyness.

Jason Whitlock had a very interesting article about this. I was working on a similar train of thought regarding the Cowboys game and the new interim coach, but as is always the case, somebody else said it much better than I could ever hope to.

So here is the article and link. Thanks to Jason.

Explaining the NFL's craziness

You can blame parity, the salary cap, free agency, officiating or even your bookie.
I’ll blame coaching.

Coaching an NFL team is quite possibly the hardest thing to do in sports, more difficult than playing quarterback or hitting .330 for the Kansas City Royals.
Football is a military sport. A coach leads his men into war. Just imagine if a significant percentage of General Patton’s soldiers had multimillion-dollar contracts and know-it-all agents chirping in their ears.

Further imagine there was a 24-hour TV network dedicated to second-guessing Patton and his infantrymen and all-talk radio stations located at every combat zone dissecting the day’s events. Suppose Patton’s savviest soldiers spent part of their day plotting how to build their brands in hopes of landing a reality TV show or a post-career broadcasting job.

It’s impossible to lead nowadays.

Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry and Chuck Noll had it very easy compared to Tom Coughlin, Mike Tomlin and Sean Payton.

Lombardi and Co. excelled during the era when a coach’s voice rang loudest, when a coach had all the power. A coach could be an absolute bully during the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. He could say and do pretty much anything he wanted. Players feared him.
Marvin Lewis fears Chad Ochocinco. Brad Childress fears his entire roster.
In the new millennium, there has been only one coach who has been able to build and sustain a hold on his football team week to week and year to year -- Bill Belichick.
His success in the postseason, his ruthlessness in regards to dismissing players and his relationship with Tom Brady have allowed Belichick to rule the way Lombardi, Noll, Don Shula and Bill Parcells once did.

Belichick’s competitors pull off an old-school imitation for a stretch of games or perhaps a season, but eventually they lose their grip on their football team. Even Belichick's team can still lose it -- look at the 34-14 loss to the Browns last week.
Mike Tomlin is a good coach. But his Steelers laid an egg in a high-profile, important football game Sunday night. They weren’t ready. They got smacked at home in the marquee game of the weekend.

Like Tomlin, the Giants' Coughlin has a Super Bowl title on his resume. For five weeks, the Giants looked like the best team in the NFC. Sunday, the Cowboys and their interim coach, Jason Garrett, embarrassed the Giants.

The AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs fell behind the last-place Broncos by 35 points. Chiefs coach Todd Haley has been trying to impersonate Parcells for two seasons. Sunday, when his team got exposed, Haley resorted to postgame whining and finger-waving because mean-old Josh McDaniels scored two second-half touchdowns.
It seems that every good NFL team has at least one head-scratching, let’s-reevaluate performance this season. There is no Super Bowl favorite. There are 10 to 12 teams that could win it all if they get on a roll.

It’s coaching. And I don’t mean bad coaching. It’s simply much harder to coach in this current era. It’s more difficult for a coach to sell and get players to buy into an overarching theme for an entire season.

There are more voices in a player’s head. Take the Cowboys. At one point, you had Jerry Jones, Wade Phillips and head-coach-in-waiting Garrett all leading the Cowboys.
Lombardi was the absolute final word in Green Bay. What he said was all that mattered. Now you have star general managers and team presidents and offensive and defensive coordinators.

Plus, you have a commissioner, Roger Goodell, who has appointed himself as the league’s top cop. The players fear the commissioner far more than they do their head coach. Goodell suspends and fines players for their conduct on and off the field. Discipline/punishment used to come from the head coach. Now it comes from the commissioner’s office.

Punishment is a primary tool in leadership.

It’s impossible to lead nowadays, which makes it impossible to predict what will happen week to week.

I’m sticking with my preseason prediction that the Steelers will win the Super Bowl. They’re the most complete team.

I planned on ending this column ranking the 10 best teams. I can’t do it. It would just be a lot of speculation and guesses. In no particular order, the Steelers, Patriots, Giants, Jets, Ravens, Colts, Saints, Eagles, Packers and Falcons can all win the Super Bowl.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Should you buy the GM IPO?

This week the much anticipated and highly hyped IPO of the Government Bailed out GM is expected to hit the market.

Should you buy in to the hype, the IPO and the stock?

Lets look.





First of all, even though the government bailed out GM with your and my tax money, you and I are NOT investors or “interested / invested” parties. The big name bankers, financial institutions are. They are the ones bringing this IPO to market, setting the initial price offering, and stand to make the most initial profit. This is really pissing off disappointing a lot of common investors and taxpayers.

Money is power, and you already gave yours away to the government. So stop complaining. But that does not mean you and I cannot invest in GM. It just means that it is a bit riskier.

What usually happens with highly anticipated and high demand IPO’s is that the offering price is what the institutional backers get as a strike price and the demand and hype drives the pricing up for the individual investors.

So, what is the initial public offering price?
Currently it is somewhere between $26 and $29 per share.

In fact, if I were the government, I’d be more than a little annoyed at this IPO price. The government got 60% control of the company for a price of $44 a share. This means even at $29 a share, the government is losing 35 cents on the dollar. Yet the financial institutions are going to make, in all likely hood, a nice tidy profit. Recent reports have demand for the shares at 6 times the number being offered. This demand is certainly going to drive up the price.

Generally I do not invest in IPO’s because historically they are not profitable and actually tend to underperform the market over the short term. This is because most IPO’s are offered after the company has made money doing whatever they have done and are looking to pay off debt and or generate cash for other investments.

There have been numerous studies on IPO’s over the years and many have shown variations of the following:

1. Most were afflicted by declining sales and earnings trends and slip in profitability within 2 years of their IPO. Very few (about 10 -15%) showed improvement.
2. In fact, over half show quarterly earnings drop in the first four quarters after the IPO occurs.

In all fairness, the winners enjoy on average price increase of 134% from their IPO dates and 71% from the close of their first trading date. 76% outperformed the overall market from their IPO date and 72% outperformed from the first day's close. Admittedly, the last part shows significant promise - that is until you realize that most of the better IPO's are already pre sold to institutional investors.

So, how should the average investor play the IPO market or more to the point the GM IPO?

You could look for the quick hit or profit but this is highly risky. Only the best and most highly anticipated IPO’s of profitable and well run companies make the good money and investments. And even those do not always show the stock profit initially.

That is because the hype has already built the price up over the IPO pricing that the institutional investors get. In fact if one were to look only at the best and most profitable IPO’s you will see that at some point the price often falls off a bit and only after it goes though a consolidation phase does it actually show a gain for the average investor.

The big question: Is GM one of these hyped and well run companies?

They are certainly generating a lot of interest. So I think it is safe to say that the “hype” factor is in full play here.

But are they a well run company?

If you have followed their company reports recently, and watched their dog and pony show, you will see that they have in fact been able to not only repay many of their debt obligations but actually make a profit. The big question is will they be able to sustain this profitability and more importantly show a profit for the average investor?

There are pros and cons to the GM IPO.

First the some of the Cons:

GM is prohibited from paying dividends as a condition of many of its loans. Meanwhile, it must make payments on new preferred stock, given to the United Auto Workers, before paying a dividend. This isn't the GM of old. Don't expect dividends anytime soon.

Much of the proceeds of the IPO will go to service obligations to the UAW, including pension liabilities.

Gotta Love those Unions.... ;-)

Now for some of the Pros:

They are obviously re-engineering their brand to try and be more green and competitive. Which is a good thing.

Also, a huge element to the government's takeover of GM was a provision that allows the company to hold onto nearly $16 billion in operating loss credits. Over the coming years the GM will be allowed to use these prior losses to offset future tax bills.

Sounds like a pretty good deal right? Essentially the company lost money, then got bailed out and went through a restructuring, but keeps the 'benefits' of losing money in the past.

Gee, that is a sweet deal!

I think, at least for the first few years, GM will have enough support from government credits to keep it profitable and competitive.

Over the years I have only played in the IPO opening day game twice. This was with Visa and Chipotle. Another well hyped and sucessfull IPO was Google. I thought about Google but did not buy in at first.

All these were well hyped, well known companies, and well run.

So, how did they do?

Visa was priced at 44 and opened around 60.
Chipotle was priced at 22 and opened at 44.
Pretty nice profits for the institutions huh!.

How did the stock perform once it started trading?
Did the average investor (me for that matter) get that “quick” profit?

Well, depends on how you look at it.

VISA










CHIPOTLE










GOOGLE











All of them experience a bit of volatility and swings in price but if you look at the first few weeks of trading, the stocks tended to trade within a range before taking off again.

VISA showed some classic triangle and pendant patterns with a well defined resistance level which it finally broke out above 2 - 3 weeks after offering.

CHIPOTLE showed a well defined trading range.

And GOOGLE peaked quicklyfor a 10% gain, but over the next couple weeks drifted back down to its initial opening and support level before take off.

All these stocks showed good strength by NOT falling below their opening range support levels.

In pattern investing we call this consolidating. After a big run up, which is exactly what happens with IPO’s like these, the movement of the stock will look to settle within a new support and resistance range.

The key is this; will the opening days range(s) of the IPO set the new support level.

My advice would be to take the wait and see approach to make sure a new support level is established.

If, you really do want to try for the quick hit profit then I would look to set a buy limit price of about 33% above the offering price. Say somewhere between $34.5 and $38.5 and hope that is good enough to get in on the action and that the new GM support level is higher than that.

Me, I’m going to wait at least a week or two to see what it does.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Stop, Drop and Roll

The stock market stopped its multi week rally with a nearly 2 point drop across the board; Reminding all investors that they need to roll with the punches. Except many of them went running to Gold and other precious metals sending the already inflated prices even higher. That is OK because it only creates more opportunity for the rest of us to buy on the dips and sell later on the highs.

My new investment portfolio courtesy of Sharebuilder was up over 5% before this week and I am still up nearly 3% overall. I’ve had a couple big winners so far this month and one of them I actually managed to invest in. Metricity (MOTR) is up 30% and Lincoln Educational Services is up 18%.

So with my automatic stop gain / loss (drop) settings, in this case “gain”, I’ve already locked in a 30% gain in one of my investments after just 10 days. We will have to see how the rest of the month plays out (rolls along).

The winning play of the Falcons – Ravens game was an example of drop and roll.




Or rather stiff arm push off to the head, knock the player down and watch him stumble and roll to the ground while you catch the game winning touchdown pass.

That one marvelous 33 yard TD, no penalty called, play was worth an extra 10 fantasy points for my Borderless League team. That would be 6 for the TD, 1 for the pass yardage, and 3 bonus for passing over 300 yards. That one pass play gave Matt Ryan 316 yards and me 10 fantasy points! Wow!

Speaking of wow, this year the league is incredibly even and exciting!

At this point in the season, both the East Coast Conference and West Coast Conference have their top 4 teams with identical records.

That is the top two teams in each conference are 6 -3 and each of the next two teams are 5 – 4. And, coincidentally, each 6 – 3 team is playing an intra-league 5 – 4 team this week!











With only 3 games, after this week remaining before the playoffs, things are getting really really exciting ! Oh yeah, my team (The Fun Bunch) is 6 – 3 in the East Coast. I’ve won 3 in a row now, so hopefully my winning streak will not stop, causing me to drop in the standings, and leaving the playoff race(s) up to the roll of the dice.

Until next time, Be Good, Do Well, Have Fun.

And remember Stop, Drop and Roll !!!

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Legendary Sports Veterans

I found this great sports article that honors veterans. All credit goes to back to this link.

If you see a veteran today (or any day for that matter), please be sure to thank him or her for their service and dedication.

Here, we mention some of the professional athletes who have served our nation on the frontlines during war.



Bob Feller: He was the first major leaguer to volunteer for active duty, enlisting in the Navy on Dec. 9, 1941, two days after Pearl Harbor.

Grover Cleveland Alexander: During the middle of his 373-win (tied third all-time) pitching career, Alexander was an Army sergeant fighting in France for about a year duing World War I. He suffered shell shock, partial hearing loss, seizures that grew increasingly worse and other illnesses that were either caused or aggravated during his service.

Yogi Berra: A Navy gunner's mate, his boat reached the shores of Normandy a few days after D-Day. Two years later, the catcher made his debut with the New York Yankees. He went on to win three MVP awards and make the Hall of Fame.

Rocky Bleier: As his 1968 rookie season was about to end with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bleier was drafted into the Army. He volunteered for duty in Vietnam and arrived there in May, 1969. That Aug. 20, Bleier was hit by rifle fire in his left leg and moments later, was hot by shrapnel fro a grenade in his right leg.
Doctors told Bleier he would not play football again, but he returned to the Steelers in 1971. Paired in the backfield with Franco Harris, Bleier was an integral part of the Steelers' four Super Bowl championship teams of the 70s.

Al Bumbry: Fewer than 10 major leaguers served in Vietnam. Bumbry earned a Bronze Star there during his service as a platoon leader. Soon after getting back to the United States, Bumbry began his 1973 American League Rookie of the Year season as a Baltimore Orioles outfielder. He played 14 major league seasons.

Roger Staubach: The 1963 Heisman Trophy winner as the quarterback of the U.S. Naval Academy team, Staubach could have requested a military assignment in the U.S. after his graduation. Instead, he volunteered to go to Vietnam, where he served as a supply officer.
Staubach began his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys at age 27 in 1969. He retired in 1979 as one of the game's most successful and exciting QBs, and was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Don Steinbrunner: Played offensive tackle with the Browns in 1953, but was forced to retire because of a knee injury.
Steinbrunner soon joined the U.S. Air Force. He went to Vietnam in 1966, and on July 20, 1967, his plane was shot down in South Vietnam, killing all five crew members.
Steinbrunner was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and a Purple Heart.

Pat Tillman: An Army Ranger, he was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Tillman had played safety for four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, making Sports Illustated's first-tea all-pro team in 2000. He finished the 2001 season and decided to enlist in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Ted Williams: Considered by some as baseball's greatest hitter ever, Williams served a total of nearly five years in World War I and the Korean War -- both stints during the prime of a playing career that ended with a .344 batting average and 521 home runs.
Williams served in the Marine Corps and Navy. Much of his World War II duty was as a flight instructor. He flew 39 combat missions in Korea. He was awarded an Air Medal for a mission during which the hydraulics and electrical systems on his plane were hit by flak and ruined, and yet he managed to fly the crippled plane back to its base.

Some individuals who did not engage in combat get special mention. For instance, heavyweight champion Joe Louis, regarded by some as the greatest boxer ever, enlisted in the Army in 1942, during World War II. The U.S. military was then racially segregated and Louis, an African-American, was assigned to a cavalry unit at Fort Riley, Kansas.

The Army soon realized the positive impact Louis's personality made on the troops, and felt the best way he could serve was to visit troops around the globe. Louis fought exhibition matches and also proved to be a master recruiter.

Obviously this list is far from complete. If you wish to add to, or comment on this post, please feel free to do so.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Caption This !!!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This week we saw -













Pike called up from the nether worlds to take command beside his highly effective offensive line and teammates.

BTW – That would be Tony Pike of the Carolina Panthers. Not Captain Pike of Star Trek but hey, I could not resist.

The Panthers burned through Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen and finally called Pike to get him some playing time because , well, just because.

With seemingly ever star name either out or on the bench, this team is really hurting.

But honestly, I can’t decide who is hurting more. Panthers, Bills or Cowboys.

The Bills proved that they stink no matter what country they are in.

They Cowboys proved that there is no low too low for them to go this year.
















If I were Jason Garrett, and thank god I’m not, I’d be worried.

Hey Jason, here is a tip from a devoted Redskins fan. Keep calling up those wonderful passing plays!

And on a more positive note.

The Browns took it to Uncle Bill and the Pats! (I actually picked that one in my pickem league)























I know, everyone else was baffled too.

The Redskins didn’t lose.

And I am still winning the division in both my leagues thanks in part to my being able to (unbelievably) pick up Jacob Tamme off of waivers this week. If he is still available in yours, he is definitely worth a consideration.


!!! UPDATE !!!

Cowboys dot Com site goes down due to registration failure !!!

Default Network Solutions page with two kids playing soccer is shown instead of all the wonderful personnel and player headlines !!!

Ha ! Ha ! Ha !

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