November 21, 2012 Comments

Research in Motion was up another 5.5% today to $10.23. It is only a week ago that I had bought 700 shares at $8.48. And I probably should buy some more but I always find it hard to buy higher. And of course it is a speculative pick.

There are many who have predicted RIM is toast. And possibly they will be proven correct. But it is a dangerous business to predict the direction of markets.

You may notice I never mention target prices. I simply try to buy what seems like good value. I try to buy good companies at good prices. I have some hope of doing well over the long term. I certainly make no claim that I will do well every week, every month or even every year. Many people seem to think markets and stocks are predictable in the short term. Maybe they are at times. But mostly not.

I took a quick look at the Board members of HP. It appears to be top heavy with private capital type people. Also perhaps top heavy with prima donna former CEO types. There appeared to be little representation from the brainy PhD’s who ought to be the heart of HP’s soul. There were only two members who have been on the Board since prior to 2009, one was 2009, one from 2010 and the other six only since 2011. For whatever reason this Board has not been able to rectify the same horrible mistakes HP has been making for years.

Of course the proxy statement has all the usual useless garbage about corporate governance and director independence. Just a load of useless drivel.

I find it telling that the proxy does not list the academic credentials of the Board members. That is an insult to all the highly educated people who really built HP. The founding Hewlett and Packard families must shudder to look at what these clowns have done.

Incredibly enough, this company now has a tangible net worth on the balance sheet of far less than zero. The net value of the company is in goodwill, which they have busily writing off. Their long term debt is about equal to their equity. With that amount of debt it is not inconceivable that they could go broke. Or at least that the debt investors could end up owning the company. Monstrous incompetence! They are however still generating significant cash flows and so perhaps are not in any dire straights.

This Board ought to be tossed holus bolus. Maybe let the CEO stay and get a new Board consisting in good measure of long-time employees and some representation from the founding families. Some representation from LONG term shareholders as well. They need to look up the criteria that Warren Buffett has described for selecting directors.

I am glad I don’t own any shares.

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