Archive for April, 2010

Be wary of your mouse: bullets can kill……….

April 30, 2010 6 comments

  • A recent article in the New York Times quotes Gen. James Mattis of the Marine Corps as saying, “Powerpoint makes us stupid.”
  • General  H.R. McMaster has banned PowerPoint presentations by likening them to an internal threat.  He says, “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.”
  • General McMaster has no problem with the chart shown above. He has a problem with rigid lists of bullet points.


Rocky’s been known to put his “foot(note) in mouth,” and shoot off a few bullet points from time-to-time. However, unlike his computer-savvy daughter, he never uses animation during a Powerpoint presentation.

He suspects that so-called “death by PowerPoint” may be a Communist (or Google) plot to undermine Microsoft.  Rocky suggests that banning PowerPoint is the wrong solution. Instead, he suggests that the meeting should be canceled.

It’s ironic when a General suggests that some problems in the world are not “bullet-izable.”  That’s the sort of language one expects from a dovish politician. Not a military commander. Also, since the word “bullet-izable” is not in the dictionary, their mite be a grane of  trooth to the beleef that Powerpoint makes peeple stoopid.

[Disclosure:  At the time of writing, Rocky owned shares of Microsoft Corporation. He also just purchased a new copy of “Office 2007 Basic”which includes Excel and Word — but lacks Powerpoint. Alas, Rocky already suffers from Powerpoint-induced brain damage. Hopefully, the damage is reversible]


What’s a Grecian Urn?

April 21, 2010 1 comment

With the Greek stock market down about 22% year-to-date, Rocky pondered the riddle, “What’s a Grecian Urn?” and poked around the Greek stock market for some values.

The ASE Index has 49 members and Rocky had three simple criteria:
(1) A strong balance sheet — (i.e. not a lot of debt).

(2) A reasonable return-on-equity over the past few years.

(3) Some evidence of earnings growth over the past 8 years.

Amazingly, out of 49 stocks (Hellenic Coca-Cola excluded,) only two stocks passed these pathetically undemanding tests:

Metka S.A. — a manufacturer of heavy equipment used in mining and ports. Unfortunately, this stock is actually up 3% year-to-date, so the market knows this is a decent company.

Jumbo S.A. — a chain of retail stores that sells toys and baby products. (Rocky rarely pays retail. He likes wholesale.)

Iaso, SA, a company that provides obstetrics and gynecological services did not make the cut, however, it might have been a pairs trade with Jumbo SA. (Short the OB/GYN, long the baby toys?)

[Disclosure: Rocky never gives investment advice. However he concludes that while the Greek stock market may rally on a resolution of their debt crisis, he doesn’t see any compelling investments…and the country seems to lack any listed world-class enterprises.  As to the question, “What’s a Grecian Urn?” the answer is around $30,000 per year. But that’s evidently tax free, with an early retirement too.]

Times are tough: a traffic cone theft

April 4, 2010 3 comments

From the Wayne Independent Press (Honesdale, PA):

“Approximately 76 orange PVC traffic cones were removed from the Cadosia Valley Lumber parking lot on State Route 191 in Dreher Twp., Wayne County. The theft occurred overnight between March 25 and March 26. The traffic cones belonged to Asplundh Tree Trimming Service, and cones are marked with the company logo. Anyone with information on helping to solve this crime is asked to contact State Police in Honesdale at (570)253-7126.”

Since the cones are marked with a company logo, Rocky speculates about the thief’s possible intentions:

1) Ransom: “Hello, I’ve got your cones. If you want them back alive, leave a bag filled with unmarked $100 bills in the alley. Make sure that you cone alone.”

2) Landscape Decoration: Pink Lawn Flamingos and  Lawn Jockyes are passe.  But a yard filled with orange pylons “reflects well”  and the owner can honestly say,  “My yard is shovel-ready for stimulus dollars…”

3) College Fraternity Prank: What fun can a group of frat brothers have with 76 orange pylons and rush-hour traffic on I-95? Can traffic really go in circles?

4) Maybe the Godfather was tired of canolis, and he told his boys to bring back some orange  sherbet cones for dessert, and well….

A million Oreos per day….

April 1, 2010 3 comments

As a shareholder of Kraft Corporation, Rocky just finished reading his annual proxy statement. He rubbed his eyes after noting that CEO Irene Rosenfeld’s 2009 compensation was valued at an eye-popping $26,345,201. Since an 18oz Oreo package retails for $3.29 and contains 46 cookies, Ms. Rosenfeld’s compensation equates to 368,352,354 cookies. That’s more than one million Oreos per day!

Wall Street trader compensation increasingly includes deferred stock — as they are required to “eat their own cooking.” It is unrealistic to expect Ms. Rosenfeld to consume over one million Oreos per day, hence a more reasonable compensation package should also include Chips Ahoy and Fig Newtons.

Rocky further notes that Kraft stock performance has badly lagged its peers over the past five and ten years, and has roughly matched its peers over the past twelve months.

[Disclosure: Rocky always unscrews his Oreos before dunking in milk.]