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Stocks

Alcoa is “reinventing the wheel” – potential to be a big multi-year investment theme

April 11, 2014
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Alcoa is “reinventing the wheel” – potential to be a big multi-year investment theme

Back-to-back posts on Alcoa (AA) to follow up on a powerful investment theme with the potential for outsized returns over several years. There is a time and a place for each individual stock investment, and the proper synchronicity is all the more important for out-of-favor / out-of-consensus investment themes like Alcoa. The classic elements for contrarian investors are aligning with AA, and big returns will ensue for investors who stick around until a healthier pricing environments for overall metals end-markets. In the meantime, CJF continues to focus on AA’s ability to evolve the business model to execute well during tough times which is driving the stock price higher despite a poor operating/pricing environment today. AA is growing EBITDA in today’s environment of  8% aluminum price declines; visualize the P&L...

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Alcoa (AA); well positioned and stock worth revisiting

April 7, 2014
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Alcoa (AA); well positioned and stock worth revisiting

Alcoa (AA) just hasn’t received respect over the past several years. This is in the process of changing today, and AA has the potential to continue its rally to the low $20s from $12-$13. AA morphed into a classic out-of –favor stock since the financial crisis but lackluster stock performance created value amidst horrible sentiment. The stock moved sharply over the past 6-months, rising from $8 (where it traded give or take for 5-years) to $12. Alcoa reached $40 pre-financial crisis and the shares were never permanently impaired by a meaningful amount of distressed equity issuance – one crude measure to demonstrate upside. Pre-crisis, times were different, with a more consistent appetite for commodity exposures in an environment of rising commodity prices. Contrast to recent developments: Commodity exposures have...

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Time to go global with hydraulic fracturing investments

April 1, 2014
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Time to go global with hydraulic fracturing investments

Ukraine is dependent on Russian energy sources; an unsustainable co-dependence, which is now set to change. In fact, Europe, more focused on green initiatives, is woefully behind the US with respect to energy independence.  Putting aside the environmental arguments, geopolitical events have a way of focusing policy actions, and just this past week, there has been gentle prodding of European leaders to do more from, take a guess….President Obama. Let’s give this a wow.  No, a double-wow! Russia’s aggressive posturing in, and around, Ukraine’s borders, highlight the need for Europe to come up with a plan to extract and benefit from its own 470 million cubic feet of potentially recoverable shale resources. Three countries have the majority of recoverable shale gas deposits with the potential for meaningful recovery of...

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How Heavily Shorted is Facebook?

May 30, 2012
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How Heavily Shorted is Facebook?

It is well known how the Facebook (FB) IPO is setting up to be the flop of the decade. Stunning that one of the profound technological/media companies of a generation is now such a historically awful IPO. There are plenty of negatives stemming from the debacle including: Continued disillusion from retail investors who heavily participated in the deal Additional mistrust of Wall Street as issues regarding conflict of interest and fiduciary duty get scrutinized Another instance of poor judgment at a Wall Street brokerage, Morgan Stanley, right on the heels of JP Morgan’s risk management, which was, well, “flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed, and poorly monitored.” A few items to think about for longer-term investors who are looking to a position in the shares: 1)  Facebook shares have...

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Heinz – An Emerging Market Food Leader

May 29, 2012
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Heinz – An Emerging Market Food Leader

Heinz (HNZ) had an Analyst Day on Thursday last week with about four hours of management presentations and Q&A posted on the investor relations section of the Heinz website. This presentation is a wonderful way to understand the Heinz business model and appreciate the strategic vision of the company. Heinz stock had a relatively strong run hitting new all-time highs around $55. Post-results the shares have pulled back based on fears relating to the extent of reinvestment into restructuring projects, weakness in the frozen entrée category, exposure to Europe, and a near-term reduction in sales expectations as the company is being hit by foreign exchange and focusing on some low hanging fruit margin opportunities. Despite the concerns, Heinz is very well positioned strategically with a number of positives within...

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Sears Holdings (SHLD) – Flawed Strategic Experiment Results in Retailing Train Wreck – AutoZone and Sears Comparison

December 28, 2011
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Sears Holdings (SHLD) – Flawed Strategic Experiment Results in Retailing Train Wreck – AutoZone and Sears Comparison

Sears Holdings pre-reported Q4 results which showed a rapid deterioration yesterday. The most alarming item in the press release was the rapid deterioration in sales trends at both Sears and Kmart. Sears comparable store sales trends ran -3.3% in the YTD period (which is a month away from the full year) while the trends through the first two months of the 4th quarter came in at -6.0%. Kmart sales slowed from -1.8% to -4.4% in the YTD to QTD period. Retailing is tough and you can’t run a retailer without regard for the shopping experience. Eddie Lampert attempted to replicate the magic formula he applied to AutoZone (AZO) with Sears Holdings. The experiment has failed in spectacular fashion. In order to understand what went wrong with Sears it is...

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Facebook Considers a Spring 2012 IPO at a $100 Billion Valuation

November 29, 2011
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Facebook Considers a Spring 2012 IPO at a $100 Billion Valuation

We all knew it was coming, a spectacular IPO at a high valuation, for one of the world’s most innovative and intriguing companies. After many years of capturing young people’s internet time around the world, Facebook is moving closer to an IPO, reportedly valued at a $100 billion. The company may potentially file before year-end and go public between April and June according to Bloomberg. Facebook would likely raise $10B, effectively listing 10% of the company. Facebook is a company and brand that investors are intimately familiar with. Many investors have uploaded wide expanses of personal data to the company’s servers and have also been regular members for a number of years. We even have feelings about the corporate history through the venture capital phase due to the success...

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Walt Disney (DIS) Results Strong – Outside of Europe the Global Economy is Solid

November 11, 2011
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Walt Disney (DIS) Results Strong – Outside of Europe the Global Economy is Solid

Long live Mickey Mouse! Walt Disney reported strong results last night which reflected broad strength across the economy. Disney has diversified exposure to discretionary spending with its parks, media properties, and international businesses. A consistent theme through earnings season has been broadly solid corporate earnings and DIS is another example of this from a large capitalization blue-chip multinational. Walt Disney produced the enviable combination of results demonstrating solid top line sales growth, margin expansion, and tremendous EPS growth as cash flow was used to repurchase shares. Disney’s revenues grew 7% this quarter with strength from the parks division, media properties, and product royalties. Developing markets such as Russia, China, and India were all called out as strong on the earnings conference call. Disney’s cable and media properties are expanding...

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Lyondell Bassell – Diversified Manufacturing Exposure with 25% Upside

October 21, 2011
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Lyondell Bassell – Diversified Manufacturing Exposure with 25% Upside

Lyondell Bassell Industries is a manufacturing company which produced chemicals, fuels, and polymers used for clean fuel, construction materials, automotive parts and medical equipment. LyondellBasell announced a shareholder-friendly $2.6B special dividend ($4.50/share). I believe this reflects management’s confidence in the company’s financial condition and substantial free cash flow in the medium and long term. Management indicated in its filing its intent to seek an investment grade rating over time. These actions demonstrate why the shares deserve to trade at a higher valuation. At present there is extreme value with the shares trading at sub-4x EBITDA. The company has substantially deleveraged and the risks are nowhere near the same as during the financial crisis. The cash tender offer is for $2.8B of secured notes which are due out in 2017....

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McRally – McDonald’s Posts Excellent Results with no Slowing in Europe

October 21, 2011
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McRally – McDonald’s Posts Excellent Results with no Slowing in Europe

McDonald’s posted an excellent set of results this morning and the quality of the reported earnings was very high because it came at an abnormally high tax rate. McDonald’s global same store sales came in at 5.0%. The results continue to confound many analysts and investors who fear that McDonald’s growth is not sustainable – in short it is sustainable. McDonald’s posted 4.9% same store sales in Europe and also indicated that September comp sales in Europe were up 6.9%. This strength of McDonald’s business is in Europe is rather stunning given all that is going on in the world. Perhaps the French are trading down from the brasserie and the German’s from the schnitzel and sausage houses (but I believe there is more to it than this). McDonald’s...

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Intel (INTC) – Strong Results Driven By Emerging Market PC Adoption

October 19, 2011
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Intel (INTC) – Strong Results Driven By Emerging Market PC Adoption

Intel has turned into a polarizing stock that most technology investors have a strongly positive or strongly negative opinion on. Taking a step back, Intel was clearly a premier growth stock of the 1980’s and 1990’s. An investment in Intel in 1986 at a price of $0.40 (not a typo) appreciated 100x by the end of 1999. Intel experienced a fleeting rally from $40 to $75 during the technology craze in 2000 and subsequently crashed during “tech wreck” down to about $20. The shares have remained around $20 for the next 11 years. For perspective on the de-rating Intel has experienced, shares earned $0.46 in 2002 while estimates are now around $2.50 for next year. While the Street has gravitated towards the bearish case that nothing at Intel is...

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Big Blue (IBM) Posts Solid Q3 Results – Adamant That Macro Isn’t Slowing Meaningfully

October 18, 2011
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Big Blue (IBM) Posts Solid Q3 Results – Adamant That Macro Isn’t Slowing Meaningfully

IBM posted a solid third quarter result that exhibited 16% earnings per share growth and enabled the company to slightly raise full year guidance (from $13.25 to $13.35). IBM has been beating quarterly consensus results by some 2-4% in consistent fashion. The 1.8% beat for the third quarter is likely causing most of the sell-off in the after-market (shares down 4.5% from yesterday’s close). I watch IBM closely because their tentacles stretch deeply into the global economy and the stock is one of the largest weights in the Dow Jones which is a price weighted index. IBM’s quarter saw solid constant currency sales growth in both major markets (developed) and growth markets (emerging). The developed markets grew 1% in constant currency but emerging markets grew 13% at constant FX....

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