Weekend Reading

I ventured outside today for a total of about an hour, it’s brutally cold and nasty out.  I can’t remember the last time we saw a massive snow storm in NYC, the past few years have been crazy warm.  Believe me, I’m not complaining, I hate the snow unless I’m snowboarding.  For the retailers this is a major disaster, the weekend before Christmas and the whole northeast is snowed under.  How much else can go wrong for the brick and mortar stores this year.  The consumer still has no cash, and no job, but at least their IRA is a little higher.  Amazon $AMZN is eating their lunch, and although the economy is still stuck in neutral, $FDX and $UPS are on a roll thanks to the online retailers.

I saw two more empty store fronts on the upper east side today a few blocks down the street.  Madison Avenue is a disaster, once the home to overpriced upscale boutiques, now retail vacancies all over the place.  Between 65th and 68th I counted 10 vacant lots.  This was the PRIME retail space serving the uptown ladies who lunch a few years back.  Even the richest still aren’t spending, unwilling to spend 500$ on a pair of sunglasses or 2,000$ on a suit.  When stores stop disappearing from Madison and start filling those empty windows, I’ll start believing the consumer is back.

I hate saying I told ya so, but did you see the $PALM numbers this week, uuuggggllllyyyy.   Sales are down year over year, and this is after releasing the Pre and Pixi.  The smoke is lifting and the mirrors are being shattered.  This company is royally fubar.  $RIMM killed earnings and sold one hell of a lot of phones, frankly this took me by surprise.  I wasn’t on board with the $RIMM doom and gloomers, I see them more like I see $MSFT, stuck in neutral, piling up cash with no real vision of the future.  Remember, in this business, if you’re not inventing your dieing.  The Bold is an excellent device, and enterprise users love it.  But on the retail side they are falling behind $AAPL and the soon to be released $GOOG Nexus.  The Storm is a piece of crap, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t wish they had gotten an iPhone instead.  Look for the $AAPL numbers to be out of this world, if they’re not, oh boy, can you say blood bath.

Into the new year I still like certain consumer goods companies who sell excellent products at decent prices.  People still need to buy shit, they are just buying smarter.  Here are your winners, all good investments: J-Crew $JCG, Urban Outfitters $URBN, Ralph Lauren $RL, Whirlpool $WHR, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters $GMCR, Tupperware$TUP,  Lululemon Athletics $LULU, Treehouse Foods $THS, Diamond Foods $DMND, Amazon $AMZN, Costco $COST, Colgate $CL, Whole Foods $WFMI, Apple $AAPL, and a host of foreign retailers.

Here is your weekend reading:

If you read one this this weekend, read the mobile internet report from (Morgan Stanley)

Has Exxon $XOM finally woken up to the reality of depleting oil reserves (Gregor McDonald)

This is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve read in a long time (Chris Nelder)

To all of those who believed we went to Iraq for the oil, you people were cynical idiots (Washington Post)

Has China embarked on its own green power moon shot (New Yorker)

Here it is, the $GOOG Nexus, the first phone that will take a bite out of $AAPL iPhone (TechCrunch)

What happens if the banks need another bailout down the road (Washington Post)

The military and state department realize the issues in AfPak, now do they have a strategy to deal with them (Thomas Barnett)

Goldman Sachs $GS is betting on global warming, rule #1, don’t bet against Goldman (New Republic)

I can’t believe how badly the treasury screwed the pooch on their Citibank $C sale, oyyyy (The Atlantic)

Glass-Steagall needs to be reinstated, I am 100% for it (The Big Picture)

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