The future of food
I watched the movie (documentary) The Future of Food in the weekend, via the NetFlix “instance play” feature. This 2004 documentary is about the genetic engineered seeds, and its effect on farmers and our daily food. I remember a few years ago there was a lot talk about genetic modified food, and its resistence in Europe. The critism seems subsided recently due to the global food shortage. Agriculture chemical companies such as Monsanto (NYSE: MON), which is the top GM (genetic modified) seed maker in the world (also main subject in the film), are red hot on the Wall Street these days. The interesting thing for me, is how GM seed is changing the global agriculture industry, including many small family farms in developing countries, and at the same time, affecting our food safety and sustainability of farming.
Here is a 9 minutes introduction of the film on YouTube.
The following was done a while ago. Why I have not followed it in last two years, and missed this great agri boom? Because I followed all the hypes: Home Inns, Heelys and Crocs 🙁
Dec. 14, 2005
Dear Mr. John,
Both Monsanto and Sygentia are leaders in the agriculture business. Their financial fundamentals are solid. Both are profitable and have an R&D expense of about 10% of their annual sales. Since we are long term investors, we will look at the following ratios for year 2004 at first.
PE ratio: Monsanto’s 36.4 is significantly higher than Sygentia’s 6.3, which means the investors are more optimistic about Monsanto’s earning growth. We need to examine the expected growth is organic or will be materialize.
Buffett released his annual letter to shareholder last Friday, which I will discuss in next few days. First let me lay out my 5 year observations about Buffett and many other money managers.
1) Buffett will tell you his stock Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A and BRK.B) is expensive all the time (don’t buy it); while money managers will say anything you want to hear to manage your money (and earn the fees). They will do seminars, show their cool technologies, send you advertisement (Mail, TV, Internet), etc. All this reminds me of the promoters of stock trading software on Shanghai street 🙂
2) Buffett does not think too much of stock daily price, quote him “if you care about the daily fluctuations of a stock, you should not buy the stock at first place”; some money managers watched the market every day, every hour, every minute. This reminds me one thing: if somebody/something needs constant attention, and it’s not your baby, then something is wrong (notice Britney Spears getting media attention lately).
Tech for Silicon valley and agriculture for St. Louis.
Silicon Valley Stocks
We went to Sillicon valley for the holidays and obviously, stock is one common topic in family reunion and friends gathering. Note stock options makes up a significant portion of employee’s compensations for some of the technology companies there.
I happened to read the San Jose Mercury News Jan 1, in which it has a nice summary of how Silicon valley stocks did in last year. In summary, the big tech (GOOG, AAPL) and IPOs (VMW, NetSuite) lead the Silicon valley stocks to a fairly good performance. Here are two articles I read: tech titan’s year; Valley’s big year for Wall St. debuts.
St. Louis stocks
I tried to look up St. Louis stocks 2007 performance at stltoday, the web site of St. Louis Post Dispatch, but could not find any. So I just list St. Louis companies I know.
I believe Monsanto (MON), one of the largest agriculture company in the world, is the No. 1 performer last year. MON is enjoying the global farm booming, and in a way the oil boom too. By the way, I live right across the street from the company. ADM and Bunge, another two agri play, also did well.
St. Charles based solar play MEMS (WFR) also faired well very amid the all the solar boom. Note WFR is a leader in this area.