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The end of a long, beautiful road? How to become a cryptocurrency billionaire. Weekend edition.

This is my favorite bricks and mortar retailer over the past ten years. 

HDTenYears

It’s up 20% a year over those ten years.  20% a year. A thing of beauty.

To achieve 20% a year over the next ten years? I’ve been pondering this.

My conclusion this morning is “Probably not.” How? More stores? More sales and expense tweaking? Less Amazon competition? It’s not getting easier. HD is now a very large company…

Here are words from Home Depot’s May 17 conference call, courtesy HD’s CFO.

Our company continues to generate strong cash flow. And we have a disciplined and balanced approach, when it comes to allocating our cash. In fiscal 2017, we generated approximately $12.3 billion of cash from the business. And we use that cash as well as $3.3 billion of net debt proceeds to invest $2.3 billion back into the business, pay $4.2 billion of dividends to our shareholders and repurchase $8 billion of outstanding shares. The power of our company can be seen in our cash flow.

Now let’s look at our outlook for fiscal 2018. We continue to believe that the U.S. home improvement market is healthy. That, coupled with the modest GDP growth in the United States, provides continued tailwinds for our business. Now fiscal 2018 will include a 53rd week, so the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018 will consist of 14 weeks. For the year, we expect our sales to grow by approximately 6.7% with the extra week adding about $1.6 billion in sales.

For the year, we expect our total comp or same-store sales to grow 5%, and we are planning to open three new stores. For earnings per share, we expect our 2018 diluted earnings per share to grow approximately 28% to $9.31. And as Craig will detail, while we’re accelerating investments in support of our strategic activities, our capital allocation philosophy has not changed. In 2018, we will invest in support of our strategic initiatives, while at the same time remaining laser focused on creating value for you, our shareholders.

Part of creating value for our shareholders is paying a dividend. Our dividend has increased double-digit every year for the past eight years. And in February, our board announced a 15.7% increase in our quarterly dividend, yielding an annual dividend of $4.12. We are pleased that our business performance and our commitment to return value to our shareholders has yielded a shareholder return over the past five years of approximately 247%.

I’m not selling my HD. But I’m mulling. The cloud offers tech stocks infinite growth. Bricks and mortar stores — liek HD, the best of them — don’t. Ditto for bricks and mortar banks. Hence my love for AAPL, AMZN, BABA, CRM, FB, MSFT, NEWR, NFLX, NVDA, and SQ.

Little is cheap in today’s stock market. We have to be very very selective. Which is one reason I’m glad I turned my readers onto LADR. It’s still yielding over 8% — in fact 8.2%. You can see their latest investor deck here.

The Most Over-hyped market 

This says it all:

BuyerBeware

You can read the Wall Street Journal’s extensive and excellent research here

The picks and shovels guys are doing well with crypto. From this weekend’s Economist:

Crypt

Click here.

The creativity that’s going into promoting bitcoin and other crypto-currencies could cure cancer and improve my backhand. Here are two clips from a gorgeous 16-page direct mail piece promotion for a newsletter called “Cashing in on Cryptocurrencies.”

crypto1crypto2

This is not going to end well.

Tips

+ It makes sense to get TSA Pre, which saves huge time going through TSA security at airports. For more, click here. Some credit cards like American Express will pay the TSA Pre fee for you. Great benefit.

+ You can now earn 2% on with an FDIC-insured savings account — but probably not at the bank you’re with today. Those guys are paying you nothing to park your hard-earned money in their bank. Click here. 

+ Citicards will give you 5,000 free airline miles — if you ask for them.

+ Call your cable company and ask for a higher Internet speed. I went from 32 to 100 Mbps by simply asking. To check your speed today, click here.

FYI. This is my speed this morning:

 todaysspeed

I don’t understand this “bargaining strategy”:

RippedOff

Favorite news

+ Argentina’s Football Federation is trying to contain a scandal after it handed out a manual that included advice on how to seduce Russian women during the World Cup.

+ Seven Seas Explorer is “spaciously intimate, breathlessly elegant and perfectly staffed to offer Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ special brand of all-inclusive luxury.” — Regent promotion material

+ No matter how big your moles are, they will fall off overnight . — Spam email I received yesterday.

The monastery and the vow of silence

He joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence: He’s allowed to say two words every seven years. After the first seven years, the elders bring him in and ask for his two words. “Cold floors,” he says.

They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him back in and ask for his two words. He clears his throats and says, “Bad food.” They nod and send him away.

Seven more years pass. They bring him in for his two words. “I quit,” he says.

“That’s not surprising,” the elders say. “You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here.”

HarryNewton
Harry Newton. I’ve long wanted to write a blog called “You are are your own worst enemy.” I started to write one yesterday about the car salesmen who aren’t calling me — despite my urgent need for a car to replace the one we recently totaled. Then I read this piece by Bret Stephens and I remembered a dear friend who donated $1 million for a greenhouse for use by the Palestinians — only to find it trashed the moment the Israelis pulled out of Gaza. He was distraught. Read on:

Gaza’s Miseries Have Palestinian Authors

By Bret Stephens, Opinion Columnist, New York Times, May 16, 2018

For the third time in two weeks, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have set fire to the Kerem Shalom border crossing, through which they get medicine, fuel and other humanitarian essentials from Israel. Soon we’ll surely hear a great deal about the misery of Gaza. Try not to forget that the authors of that misery are also the presumptive victims.

There’s a pattern here — harm yourself, blame the other – and it deserves to be highlighted amid the torrent of morally blind, historically illiterate criticism to which Israelis are subjected every time they defend themselves against violent Palestinian attack.

In 1970, Israel set up an industrial zone along the border with Gaza to promote economic cooperation and provide Palestinians with jobs. It had to be shut down in 2004 amid multiple terrorist attacks that left 11 Israelis dead.

In 2005, Jewish-American donors forked over $14 million dollars to pay for greenhouses that had been used by Israeli settlers until the government of Ariel Sharon withdrew from the Strip. Palestinians looted dozens of the greenhouses almost immediately upon Israel’s exit.

In 2007, Hamas took control of Gaza in a bloody coup against its rivals in the Fatah faction. Since then, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in the Strip have fired nearly 10,000 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel – all the while denouncing an economic “blockade” that is Israel’s refusal to feed the mouth that bites it. (Egypt and the Palestinian Authority also participate in the same blockade, to zero international censure.)

In 2014 Israel discovered that Hamas had built 32 tunnels under the Gaza border to kidnap or kill Israelis. “The average tunnel requires 350 truckloads of construction supplies,” The Wall Street Journal reported, “enough to build 86 homes, seven mosques, six schools or 19 medical clinics.” Estimated cost of tunnels: $90 million.

Want to understand why Gaza is so poor? See above.

Which brings us to the grotesque spectacle along Gaza’s border over the past several weeks, in which thousands of Palestinians have tried to breach the fence and force their way into Israel, often at the cost of their lives. What is the ostensible purpose of what Palestinians call “the Great Return March”?

That’s no mystery. This week, The Times published an op-ed by Ahmed Abu Artema, one of the organizers of the march. “We are intent on continuing our struggle until Israel recognizes our right to return to our homes and land from which we were expelled,” he writes, referring to homes and land within Israel’s original borders.

His objection isn’t to the “occupation” as usually defined by Western liberals, namely Israel’s acquisition of territories following the 1967 Six Day War. It’s to the existence of Israel itself. Sympathize with him all you like, but at least notice that his politics demand the elimination of the Jewish state.

Notice, also, the old pattern at work: Avow and pursue Israel’s destruction, then plead for pity and aid when your plans lead to ruin.

The world now demands that Jerusalem account for every bullet fired at the demonstrators, without offering a single practical alternative for dealing with the crisis.

But where is the outrage that Hamas kept urging Palestinians to move toward the fence, having been amply forewarned by Israel of the mortal risk? Or that protest organizers encouraged women to lead the charges on the fence because, as The Times’s Declan Walsh reported, “Israeli soldiers might be less likely to fire on women”? Or that Palestinian children as young as 7 were dispatched to try to breach the fence? Or that the protests ended after Israel warned Hamas’s leaders, whose preferred hide-outs- include Gaza’s hospital, that their own lives were at risk?

Elsewhere in the world, this sort of behavior would be called reckless endangerment. It would be condemned as self-destructive, cowardly and almost bottomlessly cynical.

The mystery of Middle East politics is why Palestinians have so long been exempted from these ordinary moral judgments. How do so many so-called progressives now find themselves in objective sympathy with the murderers, misogynists and homophobes of Hamas? Why don’t they note that, by Hamas’s own admission, some 50 of the 62 protesters killed on Monday were members of Hamas? Why do they begrudge Israel the right to defend itself behind the very borders they’ve been clamoring for years for Israelis to get behind?

Why is nothing expected of Palestinians, and everything forgiven, while everything is expected of Israelis, and nothing forgiven?

That’s a question to which one can easily guess the answer. In the meantime, it’s worth considering the harm Western indulgence has done to Palestinian aspirations.

No decent Palestinian society can emerge from the culture of victimhood, violence and fatalism symbolized by these protests. No worthy Palestinian government can emerge if the international community continues to indulge the corrupt, anti-Semitic autocrats of the Palestinian Authority or fails to condemn and sanction the despotic killers of Hamas. And no Palestinian economy will ever flourish through repeated acts of self-harm and destructive provocation.

If Palestinians want to build a worthy, proud and prosperous nation, they could do worse than try to learn from the one next door. That begins by forswearing forever their attempts to destroy it.

The original article, with photos and hyperlinks, is here.