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Random Thoughts

This will be a short note as I have family obligations to attend this afternoon. My daughter is home for spring break from the great frozen north and we’re headed to John Pennekamp park down in the Florida Keys this afternoon so she can thaw out. So just a few random thoughts and observations from last week’s action:

Mark Zuckerberg continued his shopping spree offering up $2 billion for a virtual reality company with no viable product. My first thoughts were of a front page Wall Street Journal article from the early 90s (I’m guessing on that since I can’t actually find the article on line) about Jaron Lanier. This was back in the days when reading the WSJ actually involved getting ink on your hands and I remember very distinctly the incongruity of the dread locked Lanier on the front page. Anyway, Lanier was a pioneer of VR, working in the field since the early 80s and the article was about how it was finally ready to hit the big time. There were still problems to work out but it was coming. Here we are 20+ years later and the same problems still exist but Zuckerberg has decided he can solve them with Facebook’s billions. Well, good luck to him. This is what happens when Wall Street showers kids with billions of dollars and an expensive stock. BTW, Occulus was originally funded on Kickstarter and anyone who donated will get…well, nothing. Tell me again how this is a model of capital raising in the future?

Citigroup apparently failed the Fed’s stress test or at least got a low enough grade that the Fed rejected their capital plans. So no dividend hikes or buybacks for you Citi shareholders. I’m trying to figure out why anyone is surprised and who the hell actually wants to own this company. They’ve been bailed out at least three times in my adult life and I’m probably forgetting one or two. Why the hell couldn’t we have at least let this lousy company fail in 2008?

GM is recalling cars faster than they’re selling the things or at least that’s the way it feels. Again, why did we feel the need to bail out this perennial dog of a company? Put us out of our misery for goodness sakes.

King Digital’s IPO finally debuted on the NYSE and promptly got Candy Crushed. Some cited this as proof that we aren’t in a bubble but I’d say it is only proof that even in a bubble there are limits to what can be floated on a stock market. By the way, 30% of the shares offered were from existing shareholders who would appear to know how to get when the getting is good.

The market was down a bit last week but the momentum darlings have been really taking it on the chin lately. It might be a good sign that some of the froth is coming off the market. Or it might be a tell for the rest of the market as what led on the way up may lead on the way down too. Too early to tell.

The economic data last week was the same meh we’ve been getting for months. Data on housing was punk while manufacturing reports were mixed with one region up and one down. Durable goods headline looked better but it was mostly Boeing and the capital investment numbers were negative.

I’ll be back next week with my usual post.

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For information on Alhambra Investment Partners’ money management services and global portfolio approach to capital preservation, Joe Calhoun can be reached at: jyc3@alhambrapartners.com or   786-249-3773. You can also book an appointment using our contact form.