Category Archives: Stocks

The iPhone development provision problem

I got this problem 2 days ago, exactly same as it being described at Stackoverflow. My environment: Xcode 3.1.4, iPhone OS 3.1.2, Mac OS 10.5.8 (yeah, I am a little old school).

Struggled a bit, tried creating new certificates, using old certificates, blah blah blah. Nothing, still see the same message after I added the provision (downloaded from iOS dev center) to Xcode: “A valid signing identity matching this profile could not be found in your keychain”

I read that Stackoverflow carefully, also looked at the Apple Offical Q&A 1688. Finally I figured it out: I need to download the dev certificate approved (automatically) at iOS dev/provision center, double click it (to install on Keychain). It initially complained about “two certificates using same name” or something like that. I deleted the old dev certificate in Keychain. After that I fixed the provision for my apps, and download the relevant provisions, then drop those to Xcode => Organizer. I no longer see the error. Subsequent build and install worked beautifully.

A small battle was won.

Barnes and Noble: a declining book selling empire?

I started writing this post a while ago, after I bought Barnes Noble nook (e-reader), and Barnes Noble stock (NYSE:BKS). BN recently changed its brand of e-reader app on Android from BN to nook (it already use nook on iPhone and iPad), so nook is more than an e-reader, it’s at the center of BN’s digital book.

What’s up with Barnes and Noble stock
Stock was under heavy selling pressure, after announcing price cut of Nook e-reader, and fiscal 2010 Q4 result (2011 Q1 and full year outlook), before the announcement of potential “taking private” and Ron Burkle (its second largest shareholder) proxy fight. The stock bounced from as low as about $12 to $17 in couple months since the announcement.

But the fundamental problem facing the company: transition from traditional book to ebook is too high a mountain for BN to climb. Back in “printed book” days, BN can use its scale to get better rate from publishers and commercial real estate companies, beating a lot of mom and pop stores on the way. Now physical stores become a liability. Compared to Amazon (kindle) and more recent Apple (iPad), nook is not standing out (both hardware and software, read this Mossberg review on 3 e-reader apps for iPad), and can not win from scale, even presence at BN book store does not overcome Amazon Kindle’s TV commercial and Target store presence. Target is going to carry iPad soon. BN does have presence at Best Buy, but Kindle is coming to Best Buy soon.

Burkle criticized BN founder and largest shareholder Riggio almost anything (Riggio did the same to Burkle). At the dispute is the recent transaction of BN buying College bookseller (valuation discussion below). Valuation aside, I think Riggio is trying to salvage his empire by banded the retail stores with more stable business – college book store. College book stores are perceived as more stable because students have to buy textbooks. As long as college enrollment does not decline (this usually holds as nowadays college degree is necessary for most white collar jobs). The only thing is here digitization is happening too. BN does have some initiative, Amazon Kindle DX was trying to make a dent here (was not successful), but Apple iPad is posing a serious player. This is causing more problem for BN.

So who should you vote in the Proxy fight? As I said earlier both sides accuse the other side as totally moron. I think the truth is somewhere in between. I don’t think Burkle has a magic bullet here, and I don’t think Riggio really understand this facebook era. I can see Kindle has a facebook page, and BN has a facebook page, but NO facebook page for nook. WOW. Notice BN does not air commercial on TV as well (this is more understandable because they don’t have deep pocket as Amazon and Apple). But NO free facebook page (for marketing and brand awareness). Something is broken in the BN management.

more readings at WSJ.

College bookseller buy valuation

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Valuation of Yahoo’s Alibaba stake

Yahoo buys US$1 billion stake in Alibaba (2005-8-11, China Daily): $1 billion for 40% stake of Alibaba Group (parent company of Alibaba, Taobao and Alipay). Taotao and Alipay is Chinese equivalent of eBay and Paypal, repectively.

Yahoo sells direct stake in Alibaba.com (cnet, 2009-9-14). Quote:
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Yahoo has sold 1 percent of its stake in the Chinese-based business-to-business trading site Alibaba.com, the company said on Monday. Reuters first reported on the story.

In November 2007, Yahoo invested approximately $100 million in Alibaba.com when it went public on the Hong Kong Exchange. Writing in an e-mail, a company representative said that Yahoo’s “sale of its shares in Alibaba.com is expected to generate pre-tax proceeds of approximately $150 million.”
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According to Yahoo, it maintains approximately 40 percent interest in the Alibaba Group. “Alibaba Group owns approximately 70 percent of Alibaba.com,” Yahoo wrote in the e-mail, “and as such, Yahoo continues to own an approximately 28 percent indirect interest in Alibaba.com.”
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1% of Alibaba.com (1688.HK) = $150 m
28% of Alibaba.com = $150 m * 28 = $4,200 m = $4.2 billion

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Joined Bank of America Keep the Change Program

(Update 05-07-2010) I just found out some more details on how it works. Per BoA’s FAQ of the Keep the Change Program, “The matching funds will be credited annually to your savings account. This will take place within 8 weeks after the month of your enrollment anniversary for the Keep the Change® savings service.”

(Update 04-04-2010) I found US Bank “Start” saving program also to be interesting. I may join them after I “kept” enough changes from BoA in the initial 90 days.

(Original) I heard about it for a long time, today I took the plumage: I went to the local BoA branch and opened a Savings account, and because I already have checking account and check card with them, I enrolled into the Keep the Change program. Quote BoA:

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We’ll match your Keep the Change savings for the first 3 months, to the penny. After that, we’ll continue matching 5% a year. The maximum total match is $250 per year.
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So it looks like the offer is less generous than the old one, where they match penny by penny until hit annual limit ($300?). In other words, there is no 3 month sweeten deal, then 5% match thing. It’s more like I missed the hot deal :-(

But look at another way, I need the Savings account regardless, the Keep the Change is just ice on cake.

Is PALM here to stay: II

I sold my few shares of Palm Friday morning shortly after opening. Palm (Nasdaq:PALM) share dropped 29% on Friday after horrific earning outlook (marketWatch). Palm is increasingly likely to say “bye bye” to its loyal customers in a year or two. Quote sobelmedia:

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I’m never going to forget my very first Palm Pilot in 1998…how cool…it was everything I needed and wanted in a handheld device…addresses, notes, contacts everything…and it had the ability to sync with my computer to keep it up to date. Over the years the company changed owners, management, operating systems and the competition heated up all at the same time. Now it appears as though Palm is at the end of the rope and Wall Street is ready to say goodbye.
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I think PALM has to blame itself for the recent problem (since webOS based Palm Pre launch at Sprint network last July). I saw the following problems:

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Ruth’s Chris Steak House

My old friend, high end restaurant with family appeal, and a legendary founder (company web site). I traded it (Nasdaq:RUTH) back in 2005 shortly after its IPO. Obviously with the recession, high end was hurt badly, RUTH was no exception. To make matter worse, RUTH bought a seafood chain in early 2008 using debt. The company changed name to Ruth’s Hospitality Group to reflect the broadening of offerings. The following is a profile video of RUTH.

Valuation calculation done on a napkin:

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Bought some Developers Diversified Realty DDR

Got some Developers Diversified Realty (NYSE:DDR) shares. A bit late. But as an old saying goes “better late than never”. Why I said “late”? Because the smart money already bought a boat load of this in Feb this year (Developers Diversified Enters Into Agreement to Sell 30 Million Shares to the Otto Family). Quote:

it (DDR) has entered into a binding purchase agreement with Mr. Alexander Otto for the sale to Mr. Otto and certain members of his family (“Otto Family”) of 30 million of the Company’s common shares and warrants entitling the Otto Family to purchase an additional 10 million of the Company’s common shares. When completed, the share purchase will increase the Otto Family’s ownership from 6 million shares to 36 million shares, which is in excess of 20% of the common shares outstanding, making the family the Company’s largest individual shareholder.

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FFO, LaSalle Hotel Properties LHO

(Aug. 06, 2009) Strategic Hotels misses estimates, sees local revenue fall, quote:

A closely watched measure of REIT financial performance, FFO is net income excluding gains or losses from property sales, plus depreciation and amortization.

(May 1, 2004) Table Is Set for New Round of Hotel IPOs, quote:

Historically, stocks in the sector traded at price/FFO multiples between 4 and 11, with the average being 7, says David Bulger, CFO of Innkeepers USA Trust. Now, many stocks are trading at 12 times FFO.

LaSalle Hotel Properties (NYSE:LHO) audio archives (webcast at its investor relations page)

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