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Monday, March 03, 2008


Las Vegas Musings

Well finally, I got to visit Vegas. In fact, I am posting on the free computer at the Ritz Carlton at Lake Las Vegas as I kill time waiting for the cab to take me to the airport for the red eye home. Being some 20 miles away from the Stip has its advantages and disadvantages. It's beautiful here and blessedly tranquil compared to the non-stop racket at the Strip. On the downside, it is a $20 cab ride to the nearest poker room, $50 to the airport and about the same to the Strip, and since I am a low level player ($2-$4 limit is my speed), it was all I could do to grind out round trip cabfare in winnings. But the casinos are very friendly, and that goes for both the dealers and the players. The game was better here than in St. Louis.

Last night I did venture to the Strip and did a mini garbage run solo, which was moderately fun, particularly the piano bar at Harrah's and I saw a really good rock cover band at Margaritaville. I did not get to see any shows, which everyone says are great. On balance, I preferred Nashville to the Strip, though maybe I would feel differently if I stayed in a hotel down there and saw a show or two.

All those companies that bought back their own stock the last few years and overpaid must now be wishing they had kept that capital. I really hate buybacks. When considering an investment, buybacks are a negative for me, not a positive. Why reward the shareholders who are leaving instead of the ones who are staying? If you have no use for the money, pay a special dividend instead of a buyback. Of course, company managers listen to the analysts who tell them to buy back stock and leverage earnings per share. Even Cramer thinks buybacks are positive. But they are dead wrong.
If Hillary can somehow hold on in Ohio and eke out Texas, we are coming in close enough to dead even that she can raise the Michigan and Florida issues and keep the convention deadlocked. That will give the Dems a chance to remember they are a political party, not a democracy, and assure a victory in November by nominating Al Gore. This is a nightmare scenario for Republicans, and one this blog has feared for a long time. On the other hand, the media is agitating for a "democratic' result and that plays into Obama's hands. I think it's interesting that already, polls are showing McCain neck and neck with Obama. This is the dream scenario for Republicans who never believed they could be in such a good position so soon.

I've been doing all my buying in my IRA lately. On 2/25, I bought 200 more shares of Bryn Mawr Bank (BMTC) at 20.01 - I know, the formula says it should have been a 100 but it was a market order based on a closing price the previous session of 19.96.
On 2/27, I bought 20 shares of Precision Castparts (PCP), a new name at $114.01. This was a zero buy of course. Then today, I bought 100 more shares of CRDN at
31.02. This stock has been pummeled after a disappointing quarterly, a classic overreaction by The Street. it is now a value buy. Also, today brought news of a hostile bid for Diebold (DBD), which pulls one of my under water holdings into the black. Thank you United Technologies. There is some chance a slightly higher price might yet be negotiated.

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