Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Apple valued at > $500B soon?

A few weeks ago I predicted correctly that Apple would beat the $500 a share mark. Today I predict that their market cap will hit the $500B mark. At 932K total number of shares outstanding they'd need to grow less than 1% to hit that point (give and take four bucks, in fact). It's either gonna happen later today (despite the huge ride they already had since early this morning) following increased consumer confidence data announced earlier today, or definitely before this weekend. Unless Israel attacks Irani Nuclear installations in the meantime, and we start the roller coaster again...

UPDATE: Day just closed and this is Apple's market cap based on the closing price : $ 499,11B Ouch! Pretty close but not entirely. Maybe tomorrow...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Feb 25, 2012


Feb 25, 2012, a set on Flickr.

Walking around Oudenaarde, today...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Roller-coaster Apple stock

Apple stock holders must have gone crazy today. The stock hit an all time record of 526.29  (lucky bastard the seller, and stupid ass the buyer! - for the time being that is...) and then it fell like a rock and never looked back. Actually the run in the highs was far too sudden and unreasonable by all means, and then a little funny rumor about Amazon being told not to sell iPads in China (how stupid can some rumor spreaders can be) brought the stock down 28 bucks and change from its all time high. All in a matter of a few hours. Also, very considerable volumes were traded today. Four to five times its recent average, more than 53 million shares, or about 27B greenbacks in Apple stock alone that changed hands... I was right on my other post about them hitting the 500 bucks a share mark this last Monday, and that rally continued yesterday too. Anyways, all things being considered, we still don't know which 'real' event and expected moves were the cause of all this turbulence (rather a tsunami). I'm still curious about the dividend rumor, if it will ever happen, and what will bring the future. Unfortunately, even in its current performances and share price levels, Apple remains an extremely volatile stock to hold and one should never invest in them for short term expectations. On the long run we, shareholders, shall all be fine... and dead too!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A game of cards

Early this morning I got a trick with cards on my email. A picture of six cards from a deck was shown, as here on the left. You had to pick a card, memorize it, and the Genie would have guess it.

You then had to stare into the eyes of the genie (a simple comic avatar) for 20 secs mind you, and the genie asked you next to scroll down the page and find the answer.

Could the genie ever have guessed the right card you had memorized? Sure thing. Each and every time you done the trick. Jeez! How come?

Curious thing, when I first looked at the original set of cards, I couldn't help but notice that the cards they selected were pairs of same numbers but with 2 of the 4 card signs. You had for instance the 7 of diamonds and clubs but not of spades and hearts. Same thing for the 6's. Hearts and spades alone, not the remaining two, clubs and diamonds. 8s were just like sevens. At the time, I didn't suspect yet that this was the clue for the solution. This is not a hard problem to solve. Let me tell yah why.

You pick a card, say 7 of diamonds, and 'stick' it in your memory. At that particular moment, you will obviously focus on the card you selected alone and nothing else, right? The rest are still there, you might have even observed by accident that they were 8s and 6s with two signs each, but you didn't bother to remember what those signs were. You only had to remember 7 of diamonds, right?

In the meantime, the Genie has been keeping you busy with BS like "keep looking at the avatar for 20 secs" and more useless insanity like that. Its purpose was to make you defocus from the first set of six cards and make believe that the genie had some extraordinary powers to guess your selection.

Imagine your surprise when you checked the new set (shown here to the right), after scrolling down and losing the view of the original set. Only thing your mind keeps focusing at right now is the fact that the missing card from the set (third one at the bottom row) is indeed the 7 of diamonds! WTF?! How come? I'll be damned!

Again, the clue of the story is that the only card any normal person would remember by the time he/she got to this point would be the one he/she picked initially, the 7 of diamonds, right? At this point he/she ASSUMES the other cards shown in the set were the same cards that were shown in the original set, right?

As a matter of fact, that's totally WRONG! Because the smart cookies who deviced the trick knew all this about the human mind. Focusing and only remembering his/her selection, and assuming the rest of them cards remained unaltered. Well, I am sure there are 'sick' minds out there who I believe got it right the first time.  The fact that not a single one of the 5 cards appearing in the second set is identical to any of the cards in the original set! So, no matter which card you picked from the original set, you'd still not gonna be able to find it in the second set.

What have we learned today, class? First and foremost, that the human mind is bleedin' lazy, that's a fact! It assumes far too easily and in a heartbeat. We trust the genie 100%, and we're ready to believe there is some supernatural magic, rather than simply think the genie was full of shite. At the end of the first round the genie invites the naif reader to start again by uttering: "Scary, ain't it?". You feel like an idiot and try again, and again, while the genie guesses correctly the outcome each and every time. Holly shite! You look like you just discovered your braincells were made of hay.

Now, double digit IQs may spend a lot of cycles wondering about the 'secret'. Basically, you can guess someone's IQ by counting the cycles that he/she needs to figure this out. Cool shit, innit? Do this test upon your in-laws and have some good laughs. You can even shoot their portraits while they are doin' it and send them to me to post in my 'world's leading idiots' Flickr set...

The number of times I told my staff to assume nothing, especially those dreamy salesmen of ours fantasizing about a slum dunk deal based on shedloads of wishful thinking... I used to hang banners on their office walls:

ASSUME means you make an ASS of yoU and ME! or,

But like I said. Our mind is darn lazy and it usually assumes it is also far too smart, without the shadow of a doubt! And then we all look kinda surprised when the really smart cookies play tricks upon us.

BTW, there's an excellent replay of a Magic Show on BBC iPlayer if you can get hold of it. Called Derren Brown: An evening of Wonders. 
Well?! THAT is scary!

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Apple a day... or, will it ever hit a trillion bucks?

Couple years ago, when the Apple stock was trading in the $200s, I read a geek's note in a user forum claiming the stock would hit 1000 bucks one day, bringing the company's market cap close to a trillion dollars. Despite my ever lasting obsession and geekism about the company, I couldn't help thinking "a trillion bucks? You wish, dude" and get a big sarcastic smile all over my face.

Mind you, more than 10 years ago there has been a bunch of much 'smaller' companies than Apple is today, who had crawled over the $500B mark of market cap and stayed there for quite a bit of time, until the bubble burst. Sometime after the millennium turn, it was. A few months later. Microsoft, Intel, and... Cisco of all people, all three managed to be there, a select group of outliers and top technology performers, when the sky didn't use to be the limit. I remember the day when the media announced that Bill Gates was the first man ever worth more than 100B greenbacks. That was probably the day he also decided to quit Microsoft and leave it to Monkey Boy (also a Steve), become a benefactor and seek the Peace Nobel Prize courtesy of his Bill/Melinda Foundation related work...

At 200 bucks a share the trillion dollar mark seemed pure insanity back then. We all knew and hoped they'd hit the $500B market cap point real soon, perhaps not before His Jobness passed, but pretty soon after that. Well, we are almost there. The stock has been flirting today with the $500 a share point, which puts them at cruising altitude to hit it pretty soon anyway, or say, in the next couple of trading days. With 932 million shares outstanding, you then realize that only a few percent points value growth will be sufficient to bring them over the incredible $500B market cap point. Today, they were even valued more than Monkey boy's and Largey's companies put together (that's Microsoft and Google, I guess)!

How about that trillion then? Well, if they continue to deliver numbers like those they did in this last quarter, they'll have set aside approximately $150B sometime at the back end of this fiscal, growing it probably to more than $200B by the end of next year. That's a lot of dough, mind you. Add to it the market value of their brand names (iPod, iPad, iPhone) and consider the future business prospects of their products in countries like China, where everybody wants to own a genuine iPhone, and Bob's your uncle. MSFT, INTC and CSCO hit the $500B market cap point with relatively much lesser fundamentals and multiples. Why couldn't Apple hit the trillion bucks eventually with its far better ratio's and future profit prospects? Are they now, all of a sudden, going to perform badly for a change? Just because His Jobness passed? Will they lose their flare and ability to scale? You better not believe that. Besides, a stock is being pushed upwards by other factors as well. For instance, today's rally resulted, they said, from a speculation that Apple might be unloading some of their cash mountain real soon in the form of paid-out dividends. Jobs was always against this. But sadly, Jobs is no more, and the new kids look far 'humanly weaker' than he ever was. In other words, they'd hugely benefit too if dividends were paid, as they're also holding shedloads of stock in their pockets. The biggest impact on the share value though remains the probability of pension funds coming in if the dividends fable proved real. Because, as the savvy among you already know, that's a condition for pension fund managers to take a position in a given company's share capital. The return of dividends. Pension funds need hard dollar income coming in regularly. Value growth alone won't cut it. And then, when demand for a company's stock suddenly increases from new entrants, the share price knows only one way to move. And that's a two letter word!

Some also suggested today's rally was partly due to alleged plans for announcement of the iPad 3.0, scheduled for early March. But that would be the last possible factor to explain today's almost 4% rise. The high jump was most probably due to the dividend rumor and the company's current multiples and fundamentals, especially their mountain cash, enough to help the Greeks out of their misery for ever.

Well, is Apple gonna be valued at more than a trillion, eventually? Better believe it... sure thing! Sounds kinda peculiar but it's sure seems like being within range, even today. Before we know, Apple will be making the best part of $300B in annual revenues and $100B in annual profit. Already operate in more than 40% margins! Your Jobness Almighty, St-Steven, bless us from above! And the geek in the forum, who predicted this years back, and probably had no clue what he was talking about, will eventually prove prophetic beyond belief. Wasn't that the way it happened with St-John the Baptist? 2000 years ago? Give and take?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A walk in the snow...

A walk in the snow..., a set on Flickr.

Went out for a cold walk, not far from the house. This is what I saw and captured. The river is the Schelde, that ends up in Antwerp and is part of the famous port of the city