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12-11-2016 , 02:46 PM

It's cold, grey, and snowy out today - so am just going to burrow in and putter around ... do some laundry, maybe try to do some shopping online, and look over more stock stuff

The MicroMillions is on, but usually don't really have the attention span for playing more than one tournament a day ... unless i bust out early Also, most of the tourneys seem to be $3.30-$5.50, so that's no small amount! May give the one starting at 3pm a try, and if that doesn't go so hot, guess that'll be it for the poker fun for today

Speaking of $5, actually won US$5 with the 'Jacks or Better' PS December Calendar promo the other day - normally might have been tempted to just turn around and spew the extra windfall at the tables, so am really glad to have decided to donate it beforehand instead. Guess CAD$5 is enough to buy a chicken for someone in need, although they're sold in packs of 3 - and Feed the Children has a donation match running, so was able to get 9 chickens with the Stars prize thanks to the donation match, and just CAD$8 of my own money.
Am kind of a frugal person by nature, since a penny saved is a penny earned and all that But guess a CAD$8 that doesn't mean so much to me can mean a lot more to others, if CAD$15 is enough to keep people fed for several years. And my portion is even tax deductible, so it's probably not even CAD$8 including the tax savings So was happy to be able to use some of my Stars prize money to do something other than just spew some more at the tables

May try to take a closer look at a couple of companies this afternoon?

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:26 PM.
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12-11-2016 , 05:14 PM
Closer Look at the Goldman Sachs (Possible?) Bubble

Am starting to get a bit nervous, wondering if things are on the right track ... wish there were more time to wait and see how things pan out in the long-term to see how things are going?

Am so curious to see what might be in store for Goldman Sachs in the coming year. Went back to take a closer look at the estimates for 2017 as well - they're further down the Yahoo Finance page, and here's the graph of earnings and stock price from GuruFocus ...

So the price of stocks are supposed to rise and fall in line with actual earnings for a company. And here they've diverged by quite a bit, which doesn't seem to be super common?

Guess expectations for the stock grew after Trump won the election on his platform of tax cuts and deregulation - so the rise over and above the expected earnings for 2016 were maybe because people are expecting the stock to do better in 2017?

It looks like analysts took that into account and revised their 2017 EPS estimates upwards after the election though - and it looks like they only thought the Trump policies were worth an extra $0.47 on average at first, although it looks like that's risen to about $0.80?

So analysts only seem to be expecting the Goldman Sachs to have about $17.98 of earnings in 2017 with the Trump policies in place - with the highest EPS estimate from an analyst being $20.40. And right how the price for Goldman Sachs is so high, it'd have to be more like $27 by the end of next year.

LESSON UNKNOWN: So guess it'll be interesting to watch GS next year to see what happens - maybe it's hard for the analysts to know how much the changes in policy might be worth, so maybe the estimates are too low? So maybe the estimates will continue to get revised upwards? Or maybe earnings will far exceed the estimates? Or maybe the bubble will burst and the price of the stock will fall to come more in line with actual earnings? Or maybe the bubble will last for a bit?

Wish there was more time to just sit on the sidelines and watch and get more reassurance with things - guess the 'long-run' with stocks can be several years though ... maybe better to try to pick stuff that looks like it has a pretty good chance of offering a positive return, and learn from the experience as we go?

Hopefully things go *okay*?

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:26 PM.
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12-11-2016 , 07:01 PM

Found a full version of that lovely Apple commercial from last year, with Stevie Wonder and Andra Day - so enchanting!
(starts at 26s)

Still playing and looking over stuff - may not be playing for too much longer though lol ...

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:27 PM.
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12-11-2016 , 08:04 PM
Advice From the Masters - Peter Lynch Suggests Knowing WHY a Company is Doing Well Before Investing in It

Guess it never hurts to take a moment to try and articulate what it is that will likely have a company continuing to grow over the long-term?

Lynch and another of the experts in my book Stock Market Investing were pointing out the kinds of things that can be helpful, like ...

1. Mid-Caps - have more room to grow than large established ones (like ULTA, the cosmetics company was looking at?)

2. Steady Demand - for a product will tend to lead to more steady growth than 'cyclicals' (like credit cards, over gold?)

3. Competition Isn't Heavy -
(a) Brand Recognition (like Coca-Cola)
(b) Fills a Niche (like defense contractors Northrup Grumman)
(c) Unglamorous Product (like Waste Management )
(d) Patents/trademarks (pharmaceuticals, etc)

4. If Competition's Heavy - guess the following becomes especially important?
(a) Customer Understanding
(b) Adapts and Evolves, or Diversifies
(c) Cost Efficient

The tip about companies with heavy competition was interesting, because have had my eye on Domino's Pizza for a while, because their earnings have been sensational for the last 5 years or so ... but don't remember their pizza being especially good?
(the price seems to be in line with earnings, according to gurufocus)

So it's been kind of interesting to try and find out why Domino's might be doing so well - have found some things, and am still looking at some others. Will try to get to that tonight, after my tournament's over, and after dinner ...

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:27 PM.
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12-12-2016 , 12:19 AM
Exercise: Closer Look at Why Domino's Pizza (DPZ) is Doing So Well?

Can't remember the last time have had a slice of Domino's, but don't remember it being all that great? So was very surprised to see how well they're doing?
(red are earnings, and green is the share price - so they're rising at the same rate, as they should be)

So tried to doing a google search of 'why is Domino's DPZ doing so well' - and here's what the search returned ...

2009 PR Crisis - Youtube Video goes viral, Pizza called 'Cardboard'

Apparently Dominos hit a major rut in 2009, after a vid was made by employees sneezing on food in the kitchen (on purpose), and they asked for feedback on the taste of their food ...

2010 -

Guess their brand was so devastated, they had no choice but to start fresh with a new recipe to try and turn things around? New dough recipe, new sauce with more spices, real cheese (not sure what sort of cheese it was before lol ) ... and now some people even prefer it to their competitors, Pizza Hut and Papa Johns?

No Celebrity Endorsements Though

Looks like they're the only one of the big 3 pizza companies that doesn't use NFL players in ads? The second player is on all the time because he's dating Olivia Munn

Creative Use of Technology

The one thing that seems to stand out about Domino's is their use of technology?

Their app has voice ordering ...

Pizza can be ordered on twitter with a pizza emoji in the US ...

They designed delivery cars with a warming oven in the back ...

And they have an online pizza tracker ...

There was a US News article that was saying Domino's use of technolgy helped to increase their market share by 9-12%: Reasons Dominos Pizza Keeps Delivering Growth So now that the pizza's better, guess the technology is helping too?

Mid-Cap With Room to Grow Internationally?

MSN said they're doing quite well overseas - and the Zacks research reports said that as well, although was a bit skeptical about their claims that Dominos was really big in Turkey ... with shawarmas everywhere, people still want to eat Dominos?

Internationally, Domino's is often the only game in town and in some areas it's a well known, trusted brand. If you're vacationing in Cancun and get the pizza urge, who are you going to order from? And the app is right there on your phone.

Domino's opened up 316 new stores in the third quarter as growth is still out there. It recently opened its 1,000th store in India, which is its largest international market.
Apparently, they just opened their first store in Sweden recently too.

SUMMARY: So it sounds like ...
1. Improved taste
2. Techology innovations to make ordering easier
3. Mid-Cap with room still for growth internationally?

Maybe the next step will be to do a taste test? Usually prefer those thin crust pizzas, but guess it's hard to go wrong with pizza

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:29 PM.
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12-12-2016 , 09:51 PM
Time to Buy

Really wish there was more time to learn more things - but tomorrow or the next day is when the Federal Reserve said they were going to raise interest rates. And last year when they raised interest rates, a lot of stocks fell about 10% soon after (in January). Not sure if the same thing will happen this year, with everybody being so optimistic about things with Trump taking office? But guess for sure prices are likely to go up when Trump cuts taxes, so maybe best to try and buy stuff before he takes office next month?

Still marveling at how Apple exploded last decade ...

Originally Posted by TrustySam
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has grown by 67% over the last 15 years - but Apple's grown by 9206%. So guess $10k, invested 15 years ago ... would it be worth this much today (?)

Haven't seen any stocks whose prices have doubled or tripled over the past year - so it looks like that ship has sailed Was tinkering around with a compound interest calculator though, and was surprised to see this, with a litlte extra starting money, and more money added every year, this might actually be doable??

And there are actually a handful of stocks that have had price increases of 30% or more, year after year, for several years.

Have tried to collect a list of companies that seem like they might have a chance of continuing to grow. But guess competition can be pretty stiff - so maybe after a couple of years of big growth, the competition may tend to catch up with a lot of companies? Am especially worried about Domino's - because their pizza to me still doesn't look particularly appetizing ...
ULTA (ULTA) - the cosmetics superstore
Google (GOOGL) - Google!
United Health (UNH) - guess this is like a privatized OHIP ... health insurance, is it?
Northrop Grumman (NG) - defense contractor
Domino's Pizza (DPZ) - pizza delivery
Home Depot (HD) - hardware superstore
Amazon (AMZN) - online superstore

And Jeff Bezos seems to be a bit of a wildman - Amazon's earnings actually don't look that great right now, but they're expected to rise quite a bit by 2018. Also, he had that twitter war with Trump

Trump's also been critical of defense costs, so people are unsure of how that might affect defense companies like Northrop Grumman?

Visa actually only seems on track to rise in price about 20% next year - it looks like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree right now, but by September of next year it should be in better shape, since they tend to surpass expectations every quarter ... so guess they seem like more of a sure thing than some of the others that might have a chance at a higher return?

Not sure what to do ...

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 11:00 PM.
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12-13-2016 , 12:52 AM
Learning Corner: P/E Ratio and Dividends

My book Stock Market Investing was saying that the lower the P/E the better, and the higher the dividends the better - and a lot of the Masters like to look at both. But my book also makes it sound like these are secondary considerations, and should only to be considered *after* finding solid companies that will grow over the long-term?

So the steps should maybe be ...
1. Find healthy companies whose earnings are growing steadily over time, and then the price of their stock will rise as well.
2. Only then should P/E ratio and Dividends be considered?

Examples of P/E Ratio and Dividend Yields

Guess younger companies with more room to grow may try to reinvest earnings in the company, while older companies may give some or all of the earnings back in the form of dividends? And these days, the only stocks with a low P/E and a high dividend don't seem to be growing very much any more?

Example 1. Verizon (P/E Ratio of 15, Dividend Yield of 4.5%, Average Annual Growth Rate (AARG) of 6% )

Example 2. 3M (P/E Ratio of 22.5, Dividend Yield of 2.5%, AAGR of 25%)

Example 3. Dominos (P/E Ratio of 40, Dividend Yield of 1%, AAGR of 78%)

Maybe there's companies that have had a rough couple of years that are on the verge of a turnaround that might have low P/E's with high dividends - but maybe that's too hard for a non-professional to find at home? So the only other time it'll maybe be possible to find companies with high growth potential that have low P/E's and high dividends might be during downturns of the market, like in 2008 - back then United Health had a P/E ratio of 8!

LESSON: Didn't realize all 30 companies that make up the Dow have dividends - quite a few of them have quite steady growth too, so it may be possible to have the best of both worlds, by sticking with something like United Health (average annual growth rate of ... 45%, is that right?)?

Dividends must be especially nice to have when the market takes a downturn - it must be nice to have some return to offset the losses? Also, guess if things start to actually grow, the dividends could really start to add up into something Would imagine that might be lovely to have, once the stock value starts to rise ...

Guess the big drawback to going with something like United Health is that it won't be possible to test it out as a customer - so have no idea what they might be like. They seem like they might be more likely to sustain larger returns for a longer time than Dominos, not sure?

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 11:01 PM.
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12-13-2016 , 06:36 PM

Just remembered it's garbage day - should get that to the curb, so can come back and snuggle up in my cozy jammies

Was going to go pick up a pizza today from Domino's, but guess their pizza's different from the wood-oven kind they usually serve at restaurants, with the homemade sausage and fresh mozzarella, and stuff?

Half the price though ... maybe equally tasty, but in a different way?

Will have to see how adventurous am feeling tomorrow Going to go bring the garbage and recycling out now ...

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 11:03 PM.
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12-13-2016 , 10:15 PM
Short List of Possible Picks

Went back to take a closer look at everything, and managed to spot a couple of things ...

Northrop Grumman - it looks like they've really only done super well the last couple of years, during Pres. Obama's second term? So maybe Donald Trump's comments about feeling like defense spending has gotten really bloated is real cause for concern, if there's been lots of years where spending's been less?

Home Depot - it looks like they *may* have had a little bit of a bubble ... that deflated a bit this year? But maybe still a bit left to go?

So have narrowed my list down to:
Visa (V)
Amazon (AMZN)
Google (GOOGL)
Domino's (DPZ)
United Health (UNH)

May go back and re-read all the research reports for each - and then may try to read the actual annual reports for each as well?

My book Stock Market Investing was saying those can be helpful sometimes for more than information - because companies can vary with how frank they'll be when presenting results, with some being quite creative with spin? Was immediately reminded of Amaya when reading that - have never read any of their full earnings reports, but oftentimes their summary sheets make it sound like poker is actually growing ... and in a fairly convincing way!

Have so many things swirling around in my head - had a bunch of other things typed out, but guess going in those other directions didn't seem as helpful? So will give the annual reports a try

Be back in a bit

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:32 PM.
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12-14-2016 , 01:17 AM
Annual Report: Domino's Pizza (DPZ)

What an eye-opener!

The big mystery to me was how Dominos was making so much money from selling cheap pizzas, in a pretty competitive environment - but maybe it's more accurate to describe them as being in the business of selling franchises, and charging rake?

Was reading in their annual report that they only actually own about 5% of their own stores, which they keep primarily for testing out new ideas. They make money from the other 95% of stores from:
  • selling people franchise rights $$ (sold by region Internationally)
  • then selling them the equipment $$ (optional, with a rakeback offer)
  • and also sell them the food they need to make the pizzas $ (optional, with a rakeback offer)
  • THEN take a cut of the profit $$ on top of all that!

Got reminded of Amaya again, wondering if everybody's doing all the hard work, and Domino's is taking the bulk of peoples' money? It says they charge 3-5.5% of sales, and then the franchises have to pay an extra 6% of sales for national advertising costs, so they have to pay for any local advertising out of pocket ...

Oh, and there's another parallel to poker - they were saying that it's most common for people to own 6 stores, although some own only 1, while a couple own as many as 50. It reminded me of multi-tabling?

And then guess Domino's handles the technology stuff, like the ordering system - and it sounds like they've done a good job of trying to make sure they're making it easy for people to order ...

Something interesting to hear was that a lot of the franchise owners are actually former employees - so guess they have experience, and this gives them a chance to be owners and share in the profits?

But does this sound a bit contradictory?
In contrast to the U.S., international pizza delivery is relatively underdeveloped, with only Domino’s and two other competitors having a significant global presence. We believe that demand for pizza and pizza delivery is large and growing throughout the world, driven by international consumers’ increasing emphasis on convenience, and the proven success of our 30 years of conducting business abroad.

Our Competition

The global pizza delivery and carryout segments are highly competitive. In the U.S., we compete against regional and local companies as well as national chains Pizza Hut®, Papa John’s® and Little Caesars Pizza®. Internationally, we compete primarily with Pizza Hut®, Papa John’s® and country-specific national and local pizzerias. We generally compete on the basis of product quality, location, image, service, technology and price. Our business and those of our competitors can be affected by changes in consumer tastes, economic conditions, demographic trends and consumers’ disposable income. We compete not only for customers, but also for employees, suitable real estate sites and qualified franchisees.

Maybe they see opportunities in new areas like Cuba, but once they get there, they have to compete with Pizza Hut and Papa John's, or something?

One other thing that stood out - guess they were saying that last year's earnings were a bit lower last year because they did a share buy-back and increased dividends ...

And they said they've been opening up 1,000 new locations a year for the past 4 years, and they're hoping to do it again next year - but that there's no guarantee that they can replicate the same returns, since any number of things could change at any time ...

Can see much more clearly how they're making their money now though - maybe worth a shot?

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:33 PM.
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12-14-2016 , 01:33 AM
Only wound up reading 1/5 of one report And am all exhausted from it too lol ...

Saw some disparities in earnings between the Yahoo page and my gurufocus graphs - so it looks like some of the future estimates might be off? Will have to look at those more carefully tomorrow, and try to continue reading more annual reports.

Some articles have come out predicting there won't be any drop tomorrow after the interest rates get raised, so maybe there won't be any discounts to be had after all. Although, all the tech CEOs are supposed to be meeting with Trump tomorrow, so will be interesting to see how that goes ...

Too tired to post any extra holiday cheer - night everybody ... zzz
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12-14-2016 , 09:26 PM

Even when there's time to prepare for the possibility of a downswing, they still kind of suck

Last year when they raised interest rates, it looks like things took about a 3 or 4% dip, then went back up by the end of the year, until they went back down again in the new year and kept going down until all the annual reports got released in January? So guess maybe it's possible something similar might happen again this time around, since Trump's not going to be in office until that time anyways?

And when Pres. Obama first got elected in the midst of that market crash in 2008, it looks like things kept dropping even after Pres. Obama took office, and only started turning around after the big stimulus package got passed a month later? So maybe there's a chance of something like that happening too?

So maybe there's still time to look things over more closely - which would be lovely, since my head's still feeling so overloaded Guess there's all the info to take in - and then there's also the learning curve, and stuff like trying to become more comfortable with buying low when it seems like that'll be kind of unpleasant in the short-term?

So, still uncertain about what to buy, how many/few of each to buy, and when to buy them - going to keep reading the annual reports, and hopefully learn more new interesting things, and see how that goes ...

Also watching the Survivor finale!

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:33 PM.
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12-15-2016 , 02:28 AM
Some Quick Notes About CEOs

Warren Buffett was saying one of the most important things to look at after earnings is the CEO. And after reading the portions of a couple of Annual Reports where all the CEOs write intros, can see how drastic an influence the top person can make on what becomes the focus, and how well things are executed, and stuff like that?

ULTA's CEO Mary Dillon

This is the CEO of ULTA, on Fortune's list of top CEO's of 2016, coming in at #3 between Amazon and Google!

She believes focusing on trying to make customers and sales associates happy is the key to the company's success, along with having the good fortune to be in a growing market. Guess that comes from her background in marketing and branding?

Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos

So he was #2 on Fortune's list - and this afternoon he met with PEOTUS Trump and sat next to #4 Larry Page ...

And he too attributed his company's success to luck - and also other stuff which seems to be very true, like actually caring about the customer, having a passion for ingenuity, and paying attention to the details.

This passage was so great - couldn't help but wonder if he's ever played poker?
One area where I think we are especially distinctive is failure. I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment.

Most large organizations embrace the idea of invention, but are not willing to suffer the string of failed experiments necessary to get there. Outsized returns often come from betting against conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is usually right. Given a ten percent chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time. But you’re still going to be wrong nine times out of ten.

We all know that if you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out a lot, but you’re also going to hit some home runs. The difference between baseball and business, however, is that baseball has a truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1,000 runs. This long-tailed distribution of returns is why it’s important to be bold. Big winners pay for so many experiments.

Domino's CEO Patrick Doyle

Domino's CEO attributes their success in part to the high-quality of their food Although he does add that he's been bold, which was maybe closer to the mark?

LESSON: Kind of an interesting mix of different styles - was reminded again of poker, and how maybe there's several different ways to succeed?

1. aggression (winning with mediocre holdings) - Domino's
2. people reads (to find relative strength) - ULTA
3. value and creative lines - Amazon

The CEO's for ULTA and Amazon sound so gifted. Although it sounds like Amazon would definitely need to be a long-term holding, with their passion for trying out new things?

The ULTA CEO seems to feel like it should be possible for the company to both expand and grow market share because they're just getting started - so this sounds like a really strong pick for the next 5 years or so?

Not so sure how much room Domino's still has left to grow, when there's so much competition? Also, they have quite a bit of debt, while ULTA has none.

My book Stock Market Investing was saying that it makes sense to diversify if there's a handful of sticks that all seem to have the potential to generate the same return - because then if one doesn't do as well, then there's the others. But if there's a couple of stocks that look like they have a strong chance of making more, then diversifying with stocks with a lower return might wind up adding more of a negative than positive?

Maybe no need to take a risk on Domino's if ULTA sounds like they have more room to grow? And should maybe sell my Visa too, if it'll be possible to get a larger return with ULTA?

Way past my bed-time, but was watching the Survivor finale - will continue reading more Annual Reports tomorrow ... night everybody ...

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:34 PM.
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12-15-2016 , 07:28 PM

What a Wintry day today! Feel like taking a nap, but would like to look at Google's annual report tonight, and read more of my book.


Sold my Visa today - can't figure out how to get the box in Yahoo to show it, but it looks like my poker money wound up making $144, or about 2%. Had to pay $20 in commission - and bought a monthly subscription to Gurufocus too, so that all adds up. Although guess it was supposed to be a long-term purchase - just wound up finding something more promising as we went along ...

Now that am not holding anything, am really hoping the market falls some more, so that prices will come down! Unfortunately some things seem to be going in the opposite direction still, so will have to wait and see ...

And then guess after buying stuff for next year, will have to start looking more at warning signs of a slowdown - it seems like maybe like with poker, the more tricky and more important part of investing might be loss minimization?

Anyways, going to go have my din now - feel like having soup and a sandwich ... hopefully that perks me up

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:35 PM.
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12-16-2016 , 01:15 AM
Goodie Corner - Holiday Edition

It's back!

For anyone else in the blog section who may also be trying out new things, hope you enjoy this sweet little message ...

'Anything' might be stretching it a bit lol - but guess it's always nice to see words of encouragement

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:36 PM.
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12-16-2016 , 02:32 AM
Final List - Quick Notes

Am still hoping prices will drop, so guess there's no hurry to buy, and can still keep reading through the annual reports. But will probably buy these three stocks for next year for my poker fund, RRSP, and TFSA ...

1. Amazon (AMZN) - for the long-term
2. ULTA (ULTA) - for 5 years or so
3. Google (GOOGL) - for just next year

1. Amazon (AMZN)

Didn't realize Amazon served business with a web and cloud service - their three core areas are:
  • Prime
  • Marketplace
  • Web Services (AWS)

They actively try to find ways to have customers sign onto Prime, because that encourages people to come back to buy from them. So they've done things like added free Twitch subscriptions, and access to award-winning shows and movies. They're currently nominated for 11 Golden Globes.

And here's a description of a new idea they had for Prime 1hr Delivery, along with a description of how they got the service up and running in a couple of months:
Prime Now offers members one-hour delivery on an important subset of selection, and was launched only 111 days after it was dreamed up. In that time, a small team built a customer-facing app, secured a location for an urban warehouse, determined which 25,000 items to sell, got those items stocked, recruited and on-boarded new staff, tested, iterated, designed new software for internal use – both a warehouse management system and a driver-facing app – and launched in time for the holidays.

Today, just 15 months after that first city launch, Prime Now is serving members in more than 30 cities around the world.


Amazon allows others to sell alongside their products, and so in exchange for a fee, sellers gain access to the Amazon customer base - here's an idea they had for finding and signing new vendors:
Last year we ran a program called Amazon Chai Cart where we deployed three-wheeled mobile carts to navigate in a city’s business districts, serve tea, water and lemon juice to small business owners
and teach them about selling online. In a period of four months, the team traveled 15,280 km across 31 cities, served 37,200 cups of tea and engaged with over 10,000 sellers.

Through this program and other conversations with sellers, we found out there was a lot of interest in selling online, but that sellers struggled with the belief that the process was time-consuming, tedious and complex. So, we invented Amazon Tatkal, which enables small businesses to get online in less than 60 minutes. Amazon Tatkal is a specially designed studio-on-wheels offering a suite of launch services including registration, imaging and cataloguing services, as well as basic seller training mechanisms. Since its launch on February 17th, we have reached sellers in 25 cities.


They started off as an online storage service like Dropbox, and now provide Cloud and other web stuff for businesses big and small, like McDonald's, General Electric, and Johnson & Johnson.

They add several hundred new features a year, to try to stay ahead of the curve - here's an example of a feature they offer:
Our approach to pricing is also driven by our customer-centric culture – we’ve dropped prices 51 times, in many cases before there was any competitive pressure to do so. We even roll out and continuously improve services like Trusted Advisor, which alerts customers when they can save money – resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for our customers. I’m pretty sure we’re the only IT vendor telling customers how to stop spending money with us.

In Search of a Fourth

A couple of years ago, Amazon tried to break into hardware with a mobile phone that was considered a flop, and wound up getting canned - that was the year Amazon stock fell 25% ... yikes!

They've also got other things going that might be more in the development phase, like:
  • Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge - it will provide 40% of AWS's energy needs this year
  • Amazon Lending - that provides venture capital, although there may be a requirement that the companies have something that they can sell on Amazon?

Guess there's always a chance that there could be a drop on any given year that they try out something new - although it's kind of reassuring to see that they were able to bounce back so well the next year?

So will keep regular watch, but hopefully they'll continue to do well for many years to come ...

2. Google (GOOGL)

Their earnings have been quite steady, although for some reason their share price doesn't always seem to follow?

Went back and triple-checked earnings against share price, and it looks like the share *should* be at least $950, because they've had their best year in years ...

Something that's worrisome is that they mentioned that the competition's gotten extremely intense, so there's a ton of pressure to be the most advanced technologically, to secure ad revenue which is the way they make money. Not so much for web browsers, but because people are using phones more - so there's Safari, and also stand-alone apps that cut out the step of needing to use a browser to reach a certain site.

Am still reading, but guess the big allure of this stock for right now is that it seems underpriced - and it sounds like things went *okay* with Trump yesterday? So maybe people just took money out of Google to go buy Goldman Sachs instead?

Here's how they've done in the past:


This store's really special, because they sell cosmetics all the way from the cheap end to the high end, which no one else does. They also have a line of their own stuff ... and they have a salon and spa in every store, with Redken and Dermalogica products. So it's a drug store, department store, Body Shop, salon, and spa rolled into one - it's ever girl's dream!

The CEO's really savvy too - she was speculating that the reason higher end cosmetics might be doing so well these days is because people feel pressure to be camera-ready for selfies. And she tries to open up new locations next to Whole Foods and Trader Joes, where people who might like higher end goods would tend to go? They've also started using software to custom-tailor suggestions to peoples' prior spending patterns if they've signed up for the store's loyalty program. And next year, they'll be opening up their first store in Manhattan.

Am sure they'll do well wherever they open up

Will keep reading more reports tomorrow though - night everybody

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 11:04 PM.
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12-18-2016 , 04:36 PM

It's a nice day to stay indoors, because it's bright and sunny out but super cold ... so, nice to be able to enjoy the sunshine without the wind-chill

Played a couple of hyper-turbos, and then called it a day - guess the $ doesn't last too long when each game is over in about 2 min So am reading through my stuff on warning signs a company may have hit a rough patch, and things are coming along ...

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:38 PM.
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12-18-2016 , 07:02 PM

Wound up going outside after all ... definitely not a very nice day, especially once the sun disappeared, but felt like making a little cheeseburger for dinner and had to get some ground beef ... should be worth the trip

Didn't wind up getting much more done though, d'oh! Will maybe do a bit more reading before making dinner, then try to post some stuff later on?

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:38 PM.
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12-19-2016 , 12:50 AM
Learning Corner: Warning Signs of Rough Times Ahead ... Decreasing Earnings, Increasing/High Debt

So far, have been focused on trying to find:
1. healthy companies
2. steadily growing over time

Guess the opposite is:
1. an unhealthy company
2. that's not steadily growing over time

By the time a company's in danger of going under, guess oftentimes there'll be quite a few signs of distress - so maybe the impending doom will tend to be more obvious?

But maybe there's still lessons to be learned from looking at a company in deep trouble, when they may at one point have been healthy, and the decline was gradual over time?

Example of a Company in Crisis - Sears

Gosh, Wikipedia says Sears has been around since 1886! And the Sears Tower in Chicago is *that* Sears. They're still the 5th largest store in the US by sales too - although they've been struggling to distinguish themselves from Walmart and Amazon in recent times.

It looks like they declared bankruptcy in 2005 - and a lot of people are speculating that another one may be in store for Sears in the coming year ( - here are some signs of an 'unhealthy' company that's not 'growing' in the way that investors care about ...

(a) Declining Share Price

(b) Declining (Negative! ) Earnings, and Increasing Debt

(c) High Levels of Debt (from Yahoo Finance)

(d) Short-Sellers (from Nasdaq - usually, it's less than 2 ... although Amaya's is even higher lololl )

Not sure how they've been managing to stay in business? Guess people have still been lending them money? Am not surprised to see they're having trouble staying afloat - they're stuff's not that nice, and it's not even that cheap. Maybe it can really sometimes help to be able to see a business through the eyes of a consumer?

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 11:05 PM.
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12-19-2016 , 01:08 AM
Oh fiddlesticks - just noticed we need to be Silver Star to buy Gift Certificates from the store ... boo!
What should i do - just get cash? Really enjoy being able to get things at Amazon from playing poker ... so disappointed

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:41 PM.
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12-19-2016 , 01:14 AM

Still a couple of hundred starscoin short anyways - so guess will go play now while it's a Card Match day, and continue looking at more stuff tomorrow ...

Night everybody

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:41 PM.
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12-19-2016 , 08:48 PM

Am only 350vpps away from Silver Star - maybe will just finish off the year getting the starscoins and get the gift certificate in the store?

Poker just doesn't seem to pack the same 'zip' it used to though, with the way Amaya keeps trying to suck every penny out of the system for themselves - have only been playing about an hour so far, and it's truly been a grind ...

Hot show alert!

Maybe the America's Got Talent Holiday Spectacular will perk me up - saw a preview online and it looks excellent! Kind of hard to see what's happening in the pic, but they're going to be having a doggie in a Christmas sweater jumping over a skipping rope

Guess will pick up with the studying tomorrow

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:42 PM.
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12-20-2016 , 07:47 PM

Oh boy, the lines are still so long everywhere - ho ho nooo

Feel like crawling under the covers and relaxing, but still have to go out and grab a couple of more things too - then hopefully will be able to finish off shopping with a free trial of Amazon Prime (with 2 day shipping)

There's supposed to be more holiday specials on NBC tonight, so hope to be back by then

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:42 PM.
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12-21-2016 , 12:31 AM

One thing about internet shopping - with those custom recommendations that pop up on sites like Amazon, it's twice as hard to avoid the temptation to start shopping for myself

Tempting lol ..

jk Have been using my new Tim Hortons Credit Card to do my internet shopping - it's the one where the 'cashback' is rewarded with credit that can only be used in their store, so something extra they give out as well is a bonus freebie on weekends ...

Next month, the weekend bonus is a muffin, yum! Will have to watch and see how quickly the credit starts adding up - have only had the card for a couple of days, and already have enough to get a free coffee or two ... so that didn't take long. Guess there's a chance things could add up faster than am expecting - with stuff like car insurance, guess things can start to add up pretty quickly. So will have to see how things go, but probably it shouldn't wind up adding up to so much Tim Horton's food

Someone in the 'Cheap Luxuries' thread was mentioning getting a credit card with a fee for the first time ...
Originally Posted by Johnny Truant
ETA one more. My boss who is a young rich VP put me onto the chase sapphire reserve card. I never considered a card with a fee before, and this one is $450, but it is worth it and has already paid for itself the first 6 weeks.

-$300 travel credit every year
-free tsa pre reimbursement
-free airport lounge membership
-3x points on travel or restaurant
-price match on all purchases
For Amazon heads if you put all your purchases in your cart after you buy them it will inform you of price drops
-all kinds of travel insurance for lost bags, cancellation protection, blah blah blah
-extra year on manufacturers warranty on anything you buy
-purchase protection for anything you buy including if you break it or lose it yourself. My boss got a brand new phone after dropping his and shattering it.
-if you spend 4K in the first three months you get 100,000 points also which is $1500 in travel

There is more stuff too. Maybe a lot of the ballers ITT already know about this stuff but it surprised the crap out of me. I already got 4 of my fellow pleb friends to sign up for it.

Have never bothered to look at any credit cards with a fee - some of the fees are less than $100 or so ... wonder if the benefit might make them worth the price, even for someone like me who's kind of on the cheap side?

Anyways, still shopping ...

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-28-2017 at 07:43 PM.
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12-21-2016 , 01:31 AM

So the specials on tv tonight were a Michael Buble concert and a Tony Bennett birthday special - some lovely singing, but not super holiday-ish ... not like yesterday

Those are million dollar dogs, because they actually won America's Got Talent a couple of years ago - it's true! You know who else, is reportedly a millionaire ...
It kind of seems all the money that used to get spent playing poker is still out there - but maybe others are doing a better job than Amaya of grabbing everybody's attention, and getting a larger share? With stuff like entertainment, tweets, custom advertising, etc.

Guess putting money on a company like Amazon is maybe a way to grab a piece of the 'fun player' cash that's probably still very much out there, but is just being spent in a different way now? As well it seems like it should be a lot more fun to follow Amazon's progress next year as they continue to experiment and grow, rather than try to compete with Amaya for a sliver of pie that's getting smaller with each passing year ...

Still haven't bought my shares yet, but am looking forward to watching how things go for Amazon and Google, and ULTA from the 'rail' - hopefully everything goes *okay* ...

Going to go play the Card Match for a bit, then turn in - night everybody

Last edited by TrustySam; 08-29-2017 at 12:11 AM.
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