Applying to College: A Step by Step Guide to the Application
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yesterday
SSD Life Expectancy - YouTube
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3 days ago
Learn what's new in Gmail - Gmail Help
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Learn  what  is  new  in  Gmail  -  Help  |  20180810-1205  howTo  tips  and  Tricks 
3 days ago
Why Denmark is the Happiest Country - YouTube
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3 days ago
The $250 Biohack That’s Revolutionizing Life With Diabetes - Bloomberg
The $250 Biohack That’s Revolutionizing Life With Diabetes
DIYers used a security flaw to bypass the $8.3 billion insulin delivery business with a cobbled-together artificial pancreas.
More stories by Naomi Kresge
August 8, 2018, 5:00 AM EDT
When her daughter, Sydney, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 8, Kate Farnsworth stopped sleeping through the night. She’d set the alarm for 3 a.m. so she or her husband, Dave, could prick the girl’s fingers and check her blood sugar. If the results were worrisome, they’d adjust her insulin and keep checking every 15 minutes. At 6 a.m., another alarm went off to signal the next insulin dose, but by then, Kate had usually snapped awake again already. When Sydney got home from school each afternoon, Kate was there to check her glucose level. “Diabetes is one of the only diseases where you’re sent a prescription and have to adjust the dosage on your own” forever, Kate says. For Sydney, the biggest worry was “how I wouldn’t ever be normal again.”
Two exhausting years in, Kate found the beginnings of an alternative in an online forum. A loose confederation of do-it-yourselfers were working on a system that would eventually help link an insulin pump to a glucose monitor and connect both to a smartphone app. The idea was that the wearer—or her parents—could track and adjust her blood sugar, in person or from afar. That would mean fewer pinpricks, and far fewer alarms, because her blood sugar would stay out of the danger zone. Most of the time, the contraption would be able to regulate the wearer’s insulin itself.
Sydney Farnsworth (left) and her mother, Kate.
Photographer: Mark Sommerfeld for Bloomberg Businessweek
Two long years after that, Kate, a graphic artist in the Toronto suburbs, was able to follow the community’s step-by-step instructions and build her daughter what amounted to an artificial pancreas, the organ that regulates blood sugar. Suddenly, the Farnsworths could take a breath. Sydney, now 15, is still using an updated version of that DIY system, which, because a fellow DIYer donated the pump, cost only $250 to make. “I’m really happy with where I am now,” she says. “It’s so simple to just click a button and give insulin while I’m on my phone.” The app she uses, connected to a sensor under her skin, keeps monitoring her whether she’s sleeping, taking a math quiz, or doing jumps on her snowboard. “It has totally changed the way we manage diabetes,” Kate Farnsworth says.
Twenty years ago, internet utopians envisioned scientific innovation gradually becoming more open-source. Instead, most amateur “biohacking” has remained fringe-y and often focused on aesthetics—inserting lights under the skin as a fashion statement, for example. But like the prosthetic arm a teenager built himself out of Legos, the device keeping Sydney alive is a rare example of the idea working out, at least in microcosm. By some estimates, as many as 2,000 people around the world have used a home-built pancreas, cobbled together mostly via social media and the free-code clearinghouse GitHub. Tech support consists of parents and patients who use Facebook Messenger or email to help newcomers fix bugs or revive busted equipment. There are plenty of potential converts: In the U.S. alone, about 1.3 million people have Type 1 diabetes, and there are indications the technology could also help some sufferers of Type 2, the group that accounts for most of the world’s 422 million diabetes cases.
Although no users have reported a disastrous malfunction, trusting your life (or your child’s) to a DIY pancreas carries obvious risks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is years away from approving a comparably flexible and automated rig for sale. “You’ve got a group that is circumventing all of the controls that are in place,” says Hooman Hakami, president of the diabetes group at Medtronic Plc, the leader in the $8.3 billion market for old-school diabetes devices. “I can show you what a few of our engineers have put together over a weekend, and it would blow you away. But we don’t call that a finished product. We call that a prototype.”
So far, though, the rough-and-tumble version is way ahead of the market. Apple Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. have hired DIYers, and Medtronic’s latest FDA-approved product can now do most of the things the Farnsworths’ system can—for $7,000, before insurance. It’s not hard to understand why diabetics and their loved ones might opt for the Farnsworth model, says Courtney Lias, who oversees chemistry and toxicology devices at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “You can do everything on your phone except manage diabetes,” Lias says. “You should be able to do that, too.”
The DIY pancreas movement would never have happened if not for a Medtronic blunder. In 2011 a pair of security researchers alerted the public that the wireless radio frequency links in some of the company’s best-selling insulin pumps had been left open to hackers. Medtronic closed the loophole after the researchers warned of risks to patients, but it never recalled the devices, leaving thousands in circulation.
By then, Ben West, a programmer and diabetes patient in San Francisco, had decided to hack the pump. “This is not what I wanted,” he says. “This is all a last-ditch effort.” He says he’d been careful to use his existing pump as directed but still wound up in the hospital more than once when his blood sugar veered dangerously high or low. He despised needing to retreat to the corner of a party to prick his finger and test his blood sugar, and he couldn’t stand how his pump itched and came unstuck during yoga.
The Artificial Pancreas
Source: Loop Docs
Working evenings, weekends, and vacations for five years, West reverse-engineered the pump’s communications code, making it possible to send the device instructions. During that time, a group of DIYers calling themselves Nightscout figured out how to relay data from glucose monitors to a smartphone or watch, so parents could monitor kids’ blood sugar levels remotely. Theirs were the instructions Kate Farnsworth followed to build a homemade wireless link for Sydney’s glucose monitor and do the coding needed to create a custom display for the Pebble, an early smartwatch. Kate could then watch Sydney’s blood sugar move on her watch in real time during the day, texting her daughter if she saw any irregularities. And Sydney could watch her blood sugar move without drawing attention to herself in class.
In June 2014, West met Seattle couple Dana Lewis and Scott Leibrand, who had written an algorithm that could suggest insulin doses. The next step, they decided, was to automate the insulin pump using software. The three traded ideas on GitHub and at the Twitter office where Leibrand worked. By December, Lewis, who has diabetes, had hooked up her new artificial pancreas. At first, she intended to use it only while she slept, but it left her so well-rested that she kept it on during the day. “It has constantly surpassed my expectations,” she says.
West, Lewis, and Leibrand posted their work in early 2015. It was intimidating for nonprogrammers such as Kate Farnsworth to try to replicate, but when DIY coder Nate Racklyeft created Loop, a more user-friendly version for the iPhone, Farnsworth decided to try it out. Yet another DIYer gave her an old, hackable Medtronic pump, which she connected to a glucose monitor and the app using a tiny Bluetooth-equipped computer called a RileyLink. It was designed by Minnesotan DIYer Pete Schwamb, whose daughter, Riley, has diabetes.
In 2016, with the components spread out on the desk in her home office, Farnsworth decided to test the system with water and without Sydney, by then 13, attached. She filled the pump and aimed its tube into a napkin, watching it spit out tiny jets of faux insulin as the app showed her daughter’s blood sugar rise and fall. “I could see the logic of it,” she says. After two days, she was satisfied everything worked properly, and on a weekend when the family had no other plans, they tried it out for real. “That was the first night I slept through the night in years,” she says.
Kate applies the glucose monitor to Sydney.
Photographer: Mark Sommerfeld for Bloomberg Businessweek
Farnsworth set up a Facebook group called Looped to help other parents follow her lead. Today it has more than 4,000 members, and Farnsworth spends several hours a day answering messages from curious parents. “They know their kids the best,” she says, “and sometimes technology or medicine is slower and doesn’t know what we need as much as we do.” Loop volunteers have shipped about 2,000 RileyLinks, built by a Kentucky company that mostly makes parts for electric guitars, as far away as China and Sierra Leone.
Nightscout, the DIY group, has grown from five families in April 2014 to some 55,000 people in 33 countries. A European team recently created an app for Android phones and cracked the code in a popular pump from Roche Holding AG. About 50 people signed up for the Android system last month, says developer Milos Kozak.
On a warm weekend in late May, Kozak hosted about 20 DIYers from around Europe in Prague. Accustomed to conversing via Gitter, a chat platform for open-source coders, it was the first time many had met in person. The youngest of the group was 15-year-old Tebbe Ubben, who’d helped build his own artificial pancreas and had traveled by train from rural Germany. “If I can showcase something that results in a manufactured product changing, that’s exactly what I want,” says Jon Hudson, a U.K. software engineer who helped Ubben with his rig.
At least one big device maker has given up on the artificial pancreas. Johnson & Johnson shut down its project last year, saying it could no longer charge enough for its hardware to make further research and development worth its while. Despite shrinking profit margins, however, the DIY projects have helped stir industry … [more]
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4 days ago
These 5 tech stocks are in a dot-com-like bubble (and they aren’t all FAANGs) - MarketWatch
These 5 tech stocks are in a dot-com-like bubble (and they aren’t all FAANGs)
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Spot the micro bubbles.
Although the overall stock market looks reasonably valued, there are pockets of extraordinary risk where stocks with 2000-bubble-like valuations lurk.
Specifically, there is a “micro bubble” in certain tech stocks, where valuations reflect expectations for future cash flows that would require unrealistically high margins, growth, and market share. These expectations might not be so “bubbly” if not for the fact that the current margins and cash flows of these companies have trended at very low or negative levels for years.
5 tech stocks in a micro bubble
Figure 1 lists the five tech stocks we put in our first micro bubble. They share a few key characteristics:
• Low or negative return on invested capital (ROIC) and free cash flow
• Unrealistically high valuations: all 10 companies either have negative economic book values, or they have a PEBV above 20
• Expectations that they achieve heretofore unseen dominant market shares
These are five of the largest micro-bubble companies. Briefly, here’s what makes each of these companies part of the micro-bubble.
Amazon
Fun fact: Amazon’s AMZN, +0.20% $885 billion market cap is higher than Walmart WMT, +0.45% Home Depot HD, +0.69% Oracle ORCL, -0.39% and Disney DIS, +0.53% combined. Investors are betting that Amazon can grow to dominate multiple industries while earning significantly higher margins than it does now.
Amazon has finally shown an ability to earn a profit, but it still must grow net operating profit after tax (NOPAT) by 30% compounded annually for 19 years to justify its current valuation. See the math behind this dynamic DCF scenario. For comparison, only six companies in the S&P 500 SPX, +0.28% managed to grow NOPAT by 30% compounded annually for just the past 10 years. Maintaining that growth rate for nearly double that time frame would be an extraordinary feat.
Amazon prefers to point investors to free cash flow, but its reported free cash flow numbers are an illusion. In reality, the company continues to experience significant cash outflows.
Investors who focus on understanding true cash flow and fundamentals know the disconnect between actual cash flow and the market’s expectations for future cash flows borders on the absurd.
Netflix
Netflix NFLX, +0.16% has become one of the leading creators of original content, but it’s done so with an unsustainable cost structure. As this excellent video from The Ringer explains, Netflix earns an accounting profit, but only because its reported content costs understate its actual content spending by about 50%. The company continues to lose billions of dollars a year and grows increasingly dependent on the high-yield debt market.
Felix Salmon of Slate recently published a piece titled “Netflix Can Either Become the Dominant Media Monopoly of the 21st Century or Go Bust.” The market values Netflix as if it will be that dominant monopoly when, frankly, there’s a very good chance it goes bust. Risk/reward for this stock is so bad that no investor with any respect for fundamentals can own this stock in good conscience.
Salesforce.com
Salesforce CRM, +1.21% has racked up losses for years while pursuing growth at any cost. The theory behind this strategy is that the company will eventually be able to cut back heavily on its marketing and R&D costs while maintaining its recurring revenue stream.
Even if this strategy does work, which is far from certain, the company is currently valued at 10 times revenue, or double the valuation of Oracle. This hasn’t dissuaded bulls, as Salesforce generates classic tech bubble-style headlines like “Ignore Salesforce’s Valuation.” In other words, they want investors to ignore fundamentals.
Tesla
Tesla TSLA, -1.09% currently has a higher market cap than GM GM, -0.05% despite selling about 1% as many cars in 2017. What’s more, GM is already ahead of Tesla in self-driving technology and rapidly catching up when it comes to electric vehicle production.
Elon Musk keeps promising that Tesla will revolutionize the auto industry, but so far Tesla hasn’t shown an ability to navigate the manufacturing logistics that the established auto makers figured out decades ago. The company’s valuation is blind to fundamentals and seems entirely focused on the cult of personality that has built up around Musk.
Read: Tesla confirms intention to go private, sending stock up 11%
Spotify
Spotify Technology SPOT, -0.24% wants to disrupt the music industry, but so far it remains beholden to the Big Three record labels that own 85% of the music streamed on its platform. The market thinks of Spotify as a trendy tech company, but as we wrote in our report on the stock, the economics of its business are more similar to the movie theater industry.
Spotify’s leverage against the record labels is further weakened by the rapid growth of competitors like Apple Music AAPL, -0.08% It’s hard to see how Spotify can justify the growth expectations implied by its valuation unless it could pull off the unlikely feat of taking over ownership of its content from the labels while holding off competition from other streaming services (all without having to overspend like Netflix has).
Again, we see a company where the valuation reflects the best-case scenario with little to no tether to fundamentals.
How to bet against the micro bubble
Investors that want to bet against these micro-bubble stocks can short them directly, but that can be expensive and risky for these momentum-driven companies. As the saying goes, the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.
Another way to profit from the busting of this micro bubble is to invest in the incumbents from which these companies must take major chunks of market share. When these micro-bubble stocks fall back to earth, a great deal of capital should be reallocated to the incumbents.
Macro bubbles vs. micro bubbles
Today’s market has some micro bubbles, or smaller groups of overhyped stocks trading at ridiculous valuations.That makes it very different from the tech bubble, which was a macro bubble, a marketwide phenomenon that distorted the valuation of the entire market.
A few new features are shaping the market now and explain why today’s bubbles are unlikely to spread to the entire market, at least for the foreseeable future:
• Politicians and policy makers are focused on preventing macro market crashes. Today’s politicians and policy makers are heavily shaped by both the housing bubble of the mid-2000s and the tech bubble of the late 1990s. They will likely do everything in their power to prevent recurrence of such cataclysmic events on their watch.
• Rising influence of noise traders. Noise traders, who make investment decisions based on noise and have no regard for fundamentals, are an increasingly influential force in today’s market. Roughly a quarter of all U.S. adults with internet access are retail online traders. That’s around 50 million investors who don’t have professional trading (much less investing) experience and might be more susceptible to buying into “story” stocks without understanding the fundamentals. There’s power in those numbers.
• Overhyping “transformative” technology. The splintering of online media has led journalists to overhype nearly every new technology and trend in a relentless competition for clicks. For example, despite the “Retail Apocalypse” narrative, brick-and-mortar sales still account for 90% of retail sales, and Walmart earned nearly three times more revenue than Amazon last year. In reality, very few new technologies are as transformative as we like to imagine.
• Value transfer vs. value creation. Too many investors overestimate the value-creation opportunities for new technologies. Even when technologies are transformative, predicting who will reap the benefits of these technologies is difficult. Often, most of the value accrues to end users/consumers and not corporations. When it does accrue to a company, it’s usually at the expense of another company. During the tech bubble, bulls believed the internet would make our economy radically more productive and allow the GDP growth rate of around 5% in the late 90’s to persist for many years. When this utopian future failed to materialize, the market collapsed. By contrast, today’s micro-bubble companies compete against firmly established incumbents from which they must take large chunks of market share to survive. Instead of adding value, these companies aim to take value from existing players. Even if they succeed, we think much of that value will eventually pass to consumers.
This last point is key. In 1999, investors gave Microsoft MSFT, -0.10% its absurdly high valuation because they believed its software would create enormous amounts of value and growth for thousands of other companies. On the other hand, Tesla’s sky-high valuation implies it will take market share away from General Motors and Ford F, +0.50% which decreases the valuation of those companies.
These modern-day micro bubbles reflect the zero-sum nature of today’s crowded and more mature competitive landscapes.
Why we’re not in a macro bubble
Figure 2 sums up the difference between the tech bubble and today’s market pretty clearly. It shows the price to economic book value (PEBV) of the largest 1,000 U.S. stocks by market cap going back to 2000. PEBV compares the current valuation of a company compared to the zero-growth value of its cash flows, i.e. NOPAT, so a higher PEBV means the market expects more future cash flow growth.
While the market’s PEBV has more than doubled since 2012, from 0.7 to 1.5, it’s nowhere close to its tech bubble level of 5.7.
There are definitely some outrageously valued companies out there, but those high valuations … [more]
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6 days ago
5 Stocks That Should Start Paying Dividends
5 Stocks That Should Start Paying Dividends
August 6, 2018, 9:37 PM EDT
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Investors tend to be drawn to hot technology and biotechnology stocks for their growth prospects - not for the cash they return to shareholders. But several well-known tech and biotech stocks could afford to invest in their businesses, buy back their shares and pay dividends, if only they chose to.
When it comes to returning cash to shareholders, corporate management often prefers stock buybacks to dividends because it gives them flexibility. A company can adjust its share repurchases according to business and market conditions. A dividend is a commitment. The market often exacts severe and swift revenge if a company cuts or suspends its payout.
The initiation of a dividend can also be taken as a sign that a company or stock's best days are behind it. A quick look at Apple's (AAPL) performance shows that's not necessarily the case. The company reinstated its dividend in 2012 after a 17-year hiatus. Between price appreciation and payouts, Apple stock has delivered a total return of about 170% since March 2012, when it announced plans to reinstate its dividend later that year - the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index is up about 130% over the same span, including dividends.
The following five stocks don't yet offer dividends, but they should ... and could. Each has the cash-generation ability to start a regular payout without giving up on share repurchases and investments in future growth.
SEE ALSO: 53 Best Dividend Stocks for 2018 and Beyond
Adobe Systems
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Market value: $124 billion
Analysts' opinion: 15 strong buy, 1 buy, 7 hold, 0 sell, 0 strong sell
Adobe Systems (ADBE, $253.28) has long been dominant in its niche of providing software for designers and other creative types. Photoshop, Premiere Pro for video editing and Dreamweaver for website design are just some of its hit products, and its shift to delivering them through cloud-based subscription services is generating tremendous growth.
Revenue is forecast to rise 22% this year and 19% next year, according to a survey of analysts by Thomson Reuters. Earnings are expected to increase at an average annual clip of 24% for the next half-decade.
Investors aren't clamoring for a dividend with that sort of torrid growth on the horizon. And it's not like Adobe isn't returning cash to shareholders already. It spent $1.6 billion on stock buybacks over the 12 months ended June 1, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. But it could afford to give them more.
Even after share repurchases and interest payments on debt, Adobe generated free cash flow - the mother's milk of dividends - of $2.6 billion during the 12 months ended June 1.
SEE ALSO: 39 European Dividend Aristocrats for International Income Growth
Alphabet
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Market value: $861.4 billion
Analysts' opinion: 24 strong buy, 4 buy, 2 hold, 0 sell, 0 strong sell
Alphabet (GOOGL, $1,238.16), the corporate parent of Google, is another technology giant with such outsize growth prospects that it can get away with not paying a dividend.
But the fact remains that it easily could - even after European regulators hit it with a record $5 billion antitrust fine.
The search giant's revenue is forecast to increase 23% this year and 19% next year, according to Thomson Reuters data. Earnings are expected to increase at an average annual rate of 18% for the next five years.
Alphabet is plowing investments into the next big things. It has artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality in its sights, and it's already a major player in cloud-based services. But it's still swimming in cash.
The company had $102 billion in cash and short-term investments as of June 30 and just $3.9 billion in long-term debt, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Alphabet bought back $6.3 billion of its own shares over the 12 months ended June 30, and still generated $22 billion in free cash flow, so it clearly has the financial means to initiate a dividend without risking its R&D.
SEE ALSO: The 10 Best Dividend Stocks of All Time
Biogen
Courtesy Citizen Schools Photo via Flickr
Market value: $69.0 billion
Analysts' opinion: 17 strong buy, 1 buy, 7 hold, 0 sell, 0 strong sell
It might be time for Biogen (BIIB, $344.21) to start paying a dividend.
It wouldn't be the first big biotechnology stock with slower growth prospects to do so. After all, peers such as Amgen (AMGN) and Gilead Sciences (GILD) pay dividends with yields of 2.7% and 2.9%, respectively.
A dividend also could help smooth out some of the volatility that BIIB investors have had to deal with. Mixed results from a mid-stage clinical trial of Biogen's promising Alzheimer's drug made July a month to remember. Biogen rose more than 30% between June 29 and July 25 ... but the stock is down by double digits ever since.
Expected top-line growth isn't as explosive as Alphabet and Adobe, at just 7% this year and 3% next year. Annual long-term earnings growth is promising, though, at nearly 8% for BIIB, according to Thomson Reuters.
Biogen bought back $3 billion of its own stock over the 12 months ended June 30, while generating $3.9 billion in free cash flow even after paying interest on debt. Biogen certainly can afford to return more cash to shareholders.
SEE ALSO: 10 Double-Digit Dividend Growth Stocks to Shield Your Portfolio
Booking Holdings
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Market value: $98.4 billion
Analysts' opinion: 15 strong buy, 4 buy, 8 hold, 0 sell, 0 strong sell
Booking Holdings (BKNG, $2,029.71), the online travel website operator formerly known as Priceline.com, has sturdy growth prospects, but it's not like they're accelerating anymore.
Analysts expect earnings to increase at an average annual rate of 14.7% for the next five years. That compares with average annual earnings growth of 15.6% over the past five years - in other words, good, but slowing down. Revenue is forecast to rise 19% this year and 12% in 2019.
Booking's strategy of growth through acquisitions and investments hasn't precluded it from buying back its own stock - or generating ample free cash flow. The company repurchased $2.3 billion in BKNG shares in the 12 months ended March 31. It also generated $3.4 billion in free cash flow after paying interest on debt.
Booking's shareholders aren't clamoring for a dividend, but it absolutely could afford to initiate one. That would ensure a little extra total return and perhaps tamp down what historically has been a relatively volatile stock.
SEE ALSO: The 7 Highest-Rated Dividend Aristocrats
Facebook
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Market value: $515.9 billion
Analysts' opinion: 25 strong buy, 3 buy, 2 hold, 0 sell, 0 strong sell
Facebook (FB, $177.78) set a record for the most market value wiped out in a single trading session when the stock lost 19%, or $120 billion, on July 26. That came on fears that it has entered a new era of slower revenue growth and narrower profit margins. Shares have drifted lower ever since.
Earnings that have grown at an average annual rate of 64% for the past five years are now expected to rise "only" 21% a year for the next half-decade. Revenue is forecast to increase 37% this year, but "just" 25% next year.
If Facebook's days of outrageous growth (relatively speaking) really are over, one thing it could do to sweeten the pot for its stock is to start paying a dividend. It has more than enough firepower to do so and still pour resources into acquisitions, research and development.
Facebook had $42.3 billion in cash and short-term investments as of June 30 - and no long-term debt against it. It bought back $6.7 billion of its own stock during the 12 months ended June 30, while generating $11.3 billion in free cash flow. Returning some more of that cash to shareholders could go a long way toward rebuilding faith in Facebook stock.
SEE ALSO: 8 Great Dividend Stocks Yielding 8% or More
EDITOR'S PICKS
53 Best Dividend Stocks for 2018 and Beyond
Millionaires in America: All 50 States Ranked
20 Best Small-Cap Dividend Stocks to Buy
Copyright 2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors
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7 days ago
Fwd: How to make your iPhone videos look like Hollywood movies
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7 days ago
Google Maps popular times shows you wait times
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7 days ago
TOTO Washlet: Meet the TOTO WASHLET ; competitor bidet
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8 days ago
How to Install a Safety Grab Bar with the World's Strongest Fastener - YouTube
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10 days ago
Sharab Cheez Hi Aisi Hai (cover song) by Junii Zeyad feat. Maria Wasti YouTube needsEditing
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13 days ago
10 Reasons Why I'm Selling All of My Apple Stock
10 Reasons Why I'm Selling All of My Apple Stock
This Fool thinks it is finally time to cash out on one of his biggest winners of all time.
Brian Feroldi
I've been an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) fanboy for nearly two decades, so this is a bittersweet article for me to write. In my house, you'll find two iPhones, three iPads, an Apple Watch, an Apple TV, and an iMac. My three young children literally have no clue how to use Microsoft Windows.
My love affair with Apple's products convinced me to become a shareholder in February of 2010. I made several more purchases in the ensuing years. My average cost basis is about $35 per share. With the stock currently hovering around $193, buying and holding Apple ranks as one of the smartest financial decisions that I've ever made.
And yet, despite my long-term devotion to Apple's products and stock, I've concluded that it's finally time for me to move on. Here are 10 reasons why I've decided to cash in all of my chips.
Image source: Apple.
1. The megacap multiplier obstacle
Apple's market cap is $949 billion as I type this. That makes it the most valuable publicly traded company in the world. Long-term shareholders like me have already won big by owning this stock.
The downside to Apple's gargantuan size is that it's going to be extremely difficult for the stock to produce multibagger returns from here. Fool co-founder David Gardner coined the term "the megacap multiplier obstacle" to describe this principle many years ago. The idea is that it becomes harder and harder for a company to double in value as it increases in size.
Consider this: Even after factoring in hundreds of billions in additional stock buybacks, Apple's market cap would probably have to reach $1.7 trillion or so for the stock to double from here.
2. My upgrade cycle has been getting longer
I vividly remember buying my first iPhone. I happily switched from a BlackBerry Storm -- which was a piece of junk -- the day that the iPhone became available on Verizon Communications' network.
Switching was an amazing experience. The iPhone was fast, intuitive, and extremely useful. I was so happy with my decision that I convinced my wife to become an iPhone user soon after.
We both happily jumped on the iPhone upgrade cycle. We were happy to pay up to get our hands on the latest iPhone as soon as we qualified for an upgrade.
Unfortunately, the charm has worn off. We eventually realized that we use our iPhones primarily for text messaging, taking pictures, browsing the web, posting to Facebook, and listening to podcasts. Our current iPhone 6s handles all of these tasks just as well as a brand-new iPhone X. Paying hundreds to upgrade every two years now just seems like a waste of money.
It's a similar story for our other Apple products. Our iPads, Apple TV, and iMac were all purchased years ago and continue to function flawlessly.
Our revised upgrade strategy is to buy used Apple products that are at least two generations old off of sites like eBay, glyde.com, or gazelle.com. Aside from a few small hardware differences, we can barely tell the difference between these new-to-us models and our old products. They are functionally identical.
I have no doubt that millions of other loyal Apple users have reached the same conclusion. If my assumption is true, then it will act as a major drag on unit sales volume growth for many years to come. That's a big problem since the vast majority of Apple's revenue is generated from the sale of brand-new products.
3. Average selling prices on iPhones could be peaking
While Apple's portfolio has become more diversified over time, the iPhone still accounts for more than 60% of total revenue. That means that top-line growth will be driven by two primary levers for the foreseeable future: iPhone unit volumes and average selling price.
I have a hard time seeing the company producing meaningful unit volume growth from here. The company sold 217 million iPhones in the last 12 months. Since there are only so many consumers around the world that can afford to buy a brand-new iPhone in any given year, moving this number higher is going to be very challenging. That's especially true since Mary Meeker's must-read 2018 Internet Trends report just showed that worldwide smartphone shipment volumes were flat in 2017.
This likely means that Apple's most important lever for driving iPhone revenue growth is the average selling price. On this front the company is currently doing phenomenally well. Last quarter Apple reported unit volume growth of just 3%, but total iPhone revenue actually grew by 14%. The big difference between those two numbers is largely owed to surging average selling prices thanks to the recent launch of the ultra-premium iPhone X.
This leads to the question: Will Apple still be able to sell enough ultra-premium iPhones to keep its average selling price so high? It's possible, but I think that skepticism is warranted since iPhone X demand appears to be weaker than the company was expecting.
If iPhone average selling prices do flatline (or fall) and unit volume growth stalls, then Apple is going to struggle to move its top line higher.
4. The repatriation tax catalyst is over
Apple bulls have been pointing to the company's massive overseas cash hoard for years as a potential catalyst. The idea was that Congress would eventually change its repatriation tax policy that kept the vast majority of Apple's cash trapped overseas. Once the law was changed, Apple would be finally able to use its mountain of cash to reward shareholders.
Well, now that the lower repatriation rate has been announced, Apple CFO Luca Maestri recently said that the company's goal is to become cash neutral over time. Getting there will require spending hundreds of billions on buybacks, which is great news for shareholders.
However, since this news is so well known, I think it is reasonable to assume that this catalyst has already been priced in.
5. Apple is behind in the home-speaker market
While Apple has a history of slowly entering new markets -- there were plenty of other smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches available before the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch were introduced -- I think there are reasons to worry that Apple won't be successful with its delayed entry into the home-speaker market. This market is already flooded with popular products made by Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG)(NASDAQ: GOOGL). These companies sell a range of cheap products that are supported by vast ecosystems that make them highly attractive to consumers.
Will the superior sound quality of the HomePod prove to be enough to convince consumers to pay a big premium to own it instead of the current market-leading devices? While that can't be ruled out, the early signs are not very encouraging.
6. The Buffett bump
Warren Buffett recently took investors by surprise when SEC filings showed that his Berkshire Hathaway he had been buying Apple's stock hand over fist. In fact, it's bought so much Apple stock that it has officially overtaken Wells Fargo as Berkshire Hathaway's largest publicly traded stock position.
While it is great to see such a huge vote of confidence from Buffett, I think that his interest in the stock is at least partially responsible for Apple's recent P/E ratio expansion to a five-year high.
AAPL PE Ratio (TTM) data by YCharts.
Will Buffett's blessing allow Apple to sustain its higher valuation in the years ahead? It's possible, but that theory didn't hold up when Buffett took a meaningful position in IBM a few years ago.
7. Apple deserves to trade at a below-market multiple
Apple bulls will point out that even after the recent run, shares trade for "only" 18 times trailing earnings. That seems to be low when considering that the average company in the S&P 500 currently trades for about 25 times trailing earnings. The mismatch makes no sense to many investors since Apple is clearly a better company than the average business.
For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why the market wouldn't award Apple an above-average multiple either. However, I've since changed my tune and now fully agree that Apple deserves to trade at a below-market multiple.
Why? The reason is that Apple is a tech hardware company at its core. The vast majority of the company's revenue and profits are made from selling brand-new iPhones, iPads, iMacs, and other electronic products. This means Apple has to continually refresh its product lines with brand-new features that continually convince customers to stay loyal and upgrade. If new products fail to capture the public's attention -- or even just don't sell as well as a previous model -- then Apple's revenue and profits would fall hard.
Thus far Apple hasn't had any problems convincing millions of customers to buy its new products in droves as soon as they come out. But will this still ring true three, five, or 10 years from now? That's awfully hard to say since the tech world moves fast.
This omnipresent uncertainty is likely to be a major reason why Wall Street consistently keeps Apple's P/E ratio so low. Since this situation won't change anytime soon, I have a hard time believing that Apple's current P/E ratio of 18 means that its stock is "cheap." In fact, I think there's an argument to be made that today's valuation is actually quite generous, especially when compared to what this company's P/E ratio has been over the last five years.
8. Dividends and buybacks don't excite me
There's no doubt that Apple has become one of the most shareholder-friendly companies in the world since Tim Cook became CEO. Under his watch, Apple has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on stock buybacks and dividends
I love dividends and stock buybacks as much as the next investor, but I have a hard time getting excited about owning a business that relies heavily on financial engineering to drive earnings growth.
9. I've got plenty of other FAANG exposure
FAANG is an investing acronym that stands for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (Alphabet). These super-high-quality tech … [more]
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14 days ago
Apple and FANG could lose a third of value, market watcher warns
Apple and the FANG stocks could lose at least a third of value, market watcher warns
Keris Lahiff
Wall Street's crown jewels, the FAANG stocks, have lost their shine lately.
Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet are selling off again Monday after losing a combined $185 billion over the previous two sessions.
Ahead of Apple earnings scheduled for Tuesday evening, Larry McDonald, editor of the Bear Traps Report, warns to stay away from what has been one of the hottest areas of the market this year.
"These are stocks you want to run away from," McDonald told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Friday. "I see potentially 30 percent to 40 percent downside on the FAANGs."
A 30 percent decline would turn Apple and Alphabet lower for the year. Facebook is already negative for 2018 and currently trading in a bear market having fallen more than 20 percent from its 52-week high.
Netflix is close to a bear market, but would still be positive for the year if it fell 30 percent from current levels. Amazon would also remain higher for 2018, but would be pulled into a bear market.
McDonald sees a brewing crisis in passive investing, a method where capital is placed in market-weighted indexes over individual stock picks. The FAANG names make up a large portion of a number of popular indexes.
"About $6 trillion has come into passive management in recent, say, last five to 10 years, and all of that money has to go into the FAANG stocks," said McDonald.
Apple is the largest holding in the SPY S&P 500 ETF with a 4 percent weighting. Alphabet and Facebook make up a combined 5 percent, while Amazon makes up 3 percent. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Netflix made up nearly 40 percent of the QQQ Trust.
McDonald's call on Apple is a contrarian one. Bill Baruch, president of Blue Line Futures, is bullish on the iPhone maker, alongside the majority of Wall Street analysts.
"Apple will be a buy at about $189 to $190.25. That's where I think you've got to step in and look to be buying that," Baruch said Friday on "Trading Nation." "I think we'll find Apple higher than this by the end of the year."
Sell-offs in Apple over the last two days have put the shares within Baruch's range. By midday Monday, it was trading at $189.90 a share.
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