General Motors Still Screwed Up. Mary Barra is proving it. $GM #marybarra

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Forbes magazine did a quasi puff piece on Mary Barra SVP global vehicle development at General Motors (NYSE:GM). They celebrated her and I think inadvertently told us just how screwed up GM still is. When an executive can confidently state in the business press that their employer is still losing $1 billion a year because of poor planning practices you know GM is still a very sick puppy.

A worldwide staff of 36,000 designers and engineers is still being described as a stubborn bureaucracy. That gives Mary Barra the opportunity to fix big problems on a big scale. 36,000 highly paid but sluggish troops do not create shareholder value.

Disclosure:George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. Full disclosure policy in effect.

$MF Global Halloween Trick or Treat. Primary Dealer Sacrificial Lamb.

Jon Corzine

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MF Global (NYSE:MF) shares have been halted pending their bankruptcy proceedings. I’m surprised it took so long. I’m surprised that this Europe thing took so long to bite some one hard enough that they have to use the B word.

Jon Corzine after a successful run at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) should have stayed in the Senate and taken care of business. The poker tell was when he tried to be a Governor and people held him accountable. Then he flops back to Wall Street and gets into the latest mess Europe.

The question becomes how much personal wealth does he loose? Or was this a slick 1% deal.

Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. Full disclosure policy in force.

Hewlett Packard is the old Apple. Innovation anyone $HPQ $AAPL

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My thesis is that Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is the old Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) HP used to innovate and delight its customer base. Started life in a garage HP built stuff that enabled people. Then they just built it real good and people appreciated the durability and value.

Now…how are they delighting customers. Apple look at HP; this is what happens when you lose it. It’s not pretty.

Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. I hold no positions in stocks mentioned in this post. I have no plans to initiate new positions within the next 72 hours.

Meg Whitman punches Larry Ellison in the nose $HPQ $ORCL

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Meg Whitman is on the job at Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ). She is keeping the PC’s and the printers. They are all commodities which means low margins and mercurial demand from mercurial customers. Meg Whitman is not a stupid executive. So why reverse the decision to get out of a product line that may not create shareholder wealth?

Two major reasons.

Firstly the exit cost is huge. So lets avoid that OK. Jury is out on that one.

Secondly Oracle (Nasdaq:ORCL) read Larry Ellison and Mike Hurd covet Hewlett-Packard especially without the PC stuff. By keeping the PC division a take-over becomes very difficult. Read less attractive. Keeping the PC division becomes a defensive poison pill.

Meg Whitman may have lost her Senate bid but she knows a thing or two about a fist fight.

Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. I hold no positions in stocks mentioned in this post. I have no plans to initiate new positions within the next 72 hours.

#AAII High Valuations = Greater Expectations = More Downside Risk

American Association for Individual Investors www.aaii.com just released their latest weekly newsletter. Leading off Charles Rotblut, CFA AAII Journal Editor included this bit of common sense which is not common enough 

“High Valuations = Greater Expectations = More Downside Risk “

The risk of error is much higher with high PE stocks with high expectations. Eventually management has a problem and everyone heads for the exits. Not enough caveat emptor within the market psyche.

Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. I climb the wall of worry.

#Timhortons double double troubles $THI #occupytimmies $RXI $IYK $KXI $AXDI $ AXSL #WTF

Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons (NYSE:THI) long a successful purveyor of coffee and donuts has a silly little problem. Apparently one of their franchisee’s asked a lesbian couple to leave after another very straight-laced customer complained when she saw them kissing on the premises which means in public. The manager complied and asked them to leave. Now a lesbian group is going to protest. The manager did not get kissed but probably could use a hug.

Tim Hortons with several outlets in NYC Time Square area  has executed a fairly successful expansion in the North East. They are famous for the double double which usually means two sugars and two creams. You occasionally hear someone ordering a triple triple.

Just goes to show you how hard it is to maintain your brand. The incident is supposed to have occurred in Chatham Ontario which is very close to Michigan.

Corporate exec’s are moaning over the new guidelines they surely will have to issue. The stock is trading near its 52 week high and there is more important work to be done.

Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. I usually drink my coffee black and my espresso double, twist of lemon and no sugar. I do not own any positions in any stocks mentioned in this post. I do not have any plans to initiate new positions within the next 72 hours. I will have coffee tomorrow. There is an excellent chance it will be a Tim Hortons.

#zerowater vs #smartwater why consumer is confused $IYK $KXI $AXSL $AXDI $RXI #ows

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Consumers are confused about the water supply. In one glass you have Zero Water which promises to be free of impurities. In the other glass you have Smart Water which has stuff added. Zero Water Smart Water. Most people have a hard enough time trying to pick a presidential contender. But when you have branded water that is soooo confusing.

My suggestion is to drink beer. Remember when beers had competing bikini teams. That was branding. You could see  err taste the difference. But this smart vs zero. There is something fundamentally wrong with this choice.

I don’t believe occupy wall street can handle this one. But hey its a great idea for an alternative occupy movement. Something without a drum circle.

Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. I just thought I would poke fun at modern-day marketing this time. I do not hold positions in any securities mentioned in this post. I do not have any plans to initiate any new positions within the next 72 hours.

#NorthropGrumman admits share repurchase program drives share price $NOC #sharebuyback

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Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) Wes Bush, chairman, chief executive officer and president may have placed too much emphasis on the share repurchase program when in the first paragraph of the Q3 earnings release he reportedly said

 “…The combination of performance and share repurchases continues to produce strong earnings per share growth despite top line pressures…”  

The share repurchase programs can only go on for so long. Northrop has substantial debt and if you believe the fed’s will cut back spending then defense will be curtailed. Is the president signalling to the market that perhaps share re-purchase will not be as aggressive in the future?

Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. I hold no positions in stocks mentioned in this post. I have no plans to initiate new positions within the next 72 hours.

#Caterpillar good results but no #dividendsignal $CAT #dividends read why

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Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) recently announced some attractive earnings and the market bid the price up. I always look for confirmation of earnings with an increased dividend. The dividend signal is one of the best tools that management can use to create confidence. So far they do not want to pull the trigger.

Therefore we have a no signal signal. Following the hype of the earnings release and the cleverly worded press release management is still not sure.

Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. I hold no positions in stocks mentioned in this post. I have no plans to initiate new positions within the next 72 hours.

#NIRI warns membership #occupytheboardroom #OWS $XLF $GS $MS $WFC $C $BAC $JPM

The most recent newsletter for NIRI (National Investor Relations Institute) is sounding the alarm about a web site www.occupytheboardroom.org . They have a point it seems to be a tool to harass senior officers and board members of major financial institutions.

More unfocused street fighting which will not resolve anything. I am beginning to think this is all about anarchy and not changing for the better.

Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. I hold no positions in stocks mentioned in this post. I have no plans to initiate new positions within the next 72 hours.