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Stocks for kids

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I remember once my Accounting instructor told his father bought him a Kansas ulility stock when he was a kid (maybe 10 years old or so). The interesting part is everyday he would read the stock section of newspaper and check the price of his stock. One reason he chose accounting as his profession. I also believe everyone remembers his/her first stock purchase clearly, for me that’s also my first employer (a large state owned manufacturer decided to go public in early 1990s). For my kid, I am think of the follow stocks for “buy and hold”. Note this is mostly for fun, not trying to making money for kid’s college fund. That being said, those companies have excellent fundamentals and will be in the business for a long time, I think.

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McCafe Coffee review: second try

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Went to the nearby McDonald (NYSE: MCD) yesterday afternoon, and tried out the Iced Latte. Personal opinion: the latte at MCD is not as good as Starbucks ( Nasdaq: SBUX). Two things:

1) McDonald makes this mostly by machine, while in Starbucks the barista used some hand;

2) McDonald serves the latte not in a full cup, this never happened to me in Starbucks.

So in summary the latte McDonald (McCafe) looks cheap, although they can argue in “blind test” their coffee tastes better. As to the regular brewed coffee in MCD, it depends: it tastes better when it was fresh brewed. The coffee beans in those stores are similar, except SBUX are usually overly roasted (looks darker and tastes bitter).

Other stores

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This silly earning thing

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First Quarter earning reports for the stocks I own (as of this writing, it could change without notice). This is mostly for my own benefit, I want to collect them in one place rather than go to different IR web sites. Listening to conference call is a mixed experience, sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s boring. The most interesting part is the Q&A session, where the analysts and management goes back and forth: and I get the most out of things there (most of time).

US Bancorp USB beat slightly
Conference call (audio and slides)

McDonald MCD (barely according to CNBC)
Conferece call (for some reason it’s not working for me).

CNBC report (link).

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Multi-dimensional investing

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It’s the NBA playoffs season again, and I watched the two games between Phoenix Sun and San Antonio Spur lately. As you may know, I am a big fan of Phoenix Sun/Nash. But they disappointed me again this year: they lost 2 games in a row. The main reason is that Phoenix is pretty much a one-dimensional team: a fast tempo, “Nash passing, Stoudemire dunk” team. After the Spurs sealed the ball from Nash to Stoudemire, Suns lost its touch. I did not see meaningful contributions from other key players (Diaw, Barbosa, Bell), and Shaq is just a bit too old. So what’s my point? In the NBA, the team with the best balance of offense and defense wins (if we exclude referee, luck factor). A team can not win the championship simply by one strategy, one super star,…they need the supporting cast, the defense as well as offense.

Back to the investing. Yesterday we saw a huge disppointment from Starbucks (Nasdaq:SBUX) earning report. It says “it experienced the worst consumer enviroment”.

starbucks coffee cup size pic
(picture souce: will work for food)

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McCafe takes on Starbucks

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Last week I had the opportunity to try the latte at a new McDonald restaurant near my home, it was good. The middle size iced carmel latte cost $2.79 ($2.99 after tax), slightly cheaper than Starbucks. One caveats (as I understand), not many McDonald stores offer those espresso at this time, the new ones offering those are called McCafe.

The war on espresso is on.

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Back to St. Louis

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The AA 0288 flight from PVG to ORD yesterday was very much full. The airline offered $600 coupon if someone is willing to give up his/her seat, because the plane is overbooked. As usual I saw more American than Chinese, besides business people and college students, we saw a little girl played ballet in Shanghai, and got back. She (seemed) likes Shanghai.

Couple things I thought it’s interesting:

1) 10 years ago when I first came to the US from Shanghai Hongqiao airport (SHA), at that time there is no Pudong airport (PVG), I noticed St. Louis Lambert airport (STL) is much bigger than SHA. But compare STL with PVG, obviously PVG is much bigger and it’s still expanding.

I believe PVG will join the status of NRT (Tokyo) or Hongkong (HKG) some day, as a important hub for commercial flights.

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McCafe tries to eat starbucks’s lunch

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in Japan. I read this news from MSN that McDonald is going to open McCafe stores in Japan. Quote the news:

“The Japan unit of U.S.-based McDonald’s Corp. will launch 15 pilot “McCafe” stores in the Tokyo area on August 29, according to a company release. The stores, the burger chain’s first foray into the coffee shop business, will offer low-priced beverages to lure more families, the release said. McDonald’s said it will consider opening McCafes across Japan in the next fiscal year.

The cafe business in Japan has been shrinking and stood at 1.052 trillion yen ($8.61 billion) in 2006, down 5 percent from the previous year. Still, sales at specialty coffee shops like Starbucks have soared. The Seattle-based coffee chain, which first opened a store in Japan in 1997, has almost 700 stores across the country and saw sales jump 16 percent last year to 78.9 billion yen ($646 million).”

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