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Diversify away from tech. Drones have huge new uses. No one is buying in bricks and mortar retail stores

Hot technology stocks are weak again today.

Hence good to have some diversification: banks (JPM, BAC, KEY) health care (UNH), pet stocks CENT, ZTS), insurance companies (e.g. CB, CINF, TRV).

Dont touch Wells Fargo (WFC). To my mind, it’s a cockroach stock. Latest:

Even as Wells Fargo was reeling from a major scandal in its consumer bank last year, officials in the company’s mortgage business were putting through unauthorized changes to home loans held by customers in bankruptcy, a new class action and other lawsuits contend.

The changes, which surprised the customers, typically lowered their monthly loan payments, which would seem to benefit borrowers, particularly those in bankruptcy. But deep in the details was this fact: Wells Fargo’s changes would extend the terms of borrowers’ loans by decades, meaning they would have monthly payments for far longer and would ultimately owe the bank much more.

Any change to a payment plan for a person in bankruptcy is subject to approval by the court and the other parties involved. But Wells Fargo put through big changes to the home loans without such approval, according to the lawsuits.https://www.nytimes.

Drones are in big-time

If I were looking for a new career, I’d focus on drones and their software. Tell your kids.

We haven’t scratched the surface of what drones are useful for: Real estate sales, agriculture, weddings, inspection, public safety, civil engineering and construction.

The Economist has a huge report on them in its June 10th issue. Tom Standage did the report. He’s really good. Here’s a tiny excerpt:

Paul Xu of DJI (th leading drone maker) lists photography as one of five areas of opportunity for commercial drones, along with agriculture, construction, inspection, and public safety and other civil-government uses. Once you have a flying camera, there are lots of things you can do with it. Agriculture, and measuring the health of crops in particular, was identified early on as a promising market for commercial drones. Crop health can be assessed by taking pictures using special multispectral cameras which “see” more than the human eye. By measuring the relative intensity of colour in particular frequency bands, they can identify undernourished or diseased crops. This can be done by satellite, or by sending people into fields with clipboards, but drones can do it more cheaply. A GPS-equipped tractor can then precisely spray water, fertiliser or pesticides only where needed, increasing yields and reducing chemical run-off.

Various industries have woken up to the potential of drones

In a report published in 2013 the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), an industry body, identified precision agriculture as by far the most promising market for commercial drones. But enthusiasm for drones in agriculture has cooled lately. In part, that is because at the time of the AUVSI report most civilian drones were of the fixed-wing variety, ideally suited to flying over large areas; the rapid progress made since then by multirotor drones, which have a shorter range but can hover, opened up other markets that are now seen as more promising.

Encouraging farmers to adopt drones also proved harder than expected, notes Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics. The agricultural use of drones sounds good in theory—feed the world, save the planet—but is difficult in practice. The market is very fragmented and conservative, with many subsidies and distortions, and some of the social goods that flow from using drones, such as reducing run-off of chemicals, do not benefit farmers directly. The agricultural market “is littered with struggling technology companies that have tried to break in”, says Jonathan Downey of Airware.

Mr Anderson believes that the most immediate opportunity lies in construction and related industries. Most big construction projects go way over budget and end in a lawsuit, he says. Mistakes made early on in a project may not be noticed until much later, and cost time and money to rectify. . Buildings are designed in a flawless digital environment but must be constructed in the much messier real world. “It’s all an information problem,” says Mr Anderson. So the industry has been pursuing the idea of “reality capture”, using technology to measure buildings precisely during construction and track the use of raw materials on site to ensure that everything is going according to plan. Drones are ideally suited to the task. Thousands of aerial photographs are crunched into a 3D site model, accurate to within a few centimetres, called a “point cloud”, which can be compared with the digital model of the building. And safety worries that hamper the use of drones in other fields are kept to a minimum because construction sites are closed areas, workers wear hard hats, and drones fly within line of sight.

Andrew Kahler of John Deere, a maker of agricultural and construction machinery, explains how drones can also streamline the process of grading—preparing the ground for constructing a building, road or railway. This involves measuring the original topography, which by conventional methods might take several weeks for a large site; using bulldozers and other equipment to move large quantities of earth; then “fine grading” the site to within an inch or two of the desired final shape. The great benefit of drones, says Mr Kahler, is that they can carry out a topographic survey in half an hour, and the 3D model is ready the next day. That makes it possible to resurvey the site frequently and make any necessary changes. Mr Kahler’s company recently struck a partnership with Kespry, a startup, to provide drones and related software and services.

The Economist headlined its drone technology report:

droneheadline

You can read the Economist’s Drone Report here. Better yet, get yourself and the kids a subscription to this great magazine.

Here’s why you shouldn’t own most retailers

Signs like this are appearing in virtually every block in New York. I biked around yesterday. It’s depressing.

Forlease

I walked the new $4 billion Transportation Mall at the World Trade Center. It has a huge Westfield retail mall. The shops are empty. There are also very few of them. They’re hard to get to. Walking from one side of the mall to the other is painful. The only “thing” I bought was a $6 shoe shine. It was good. The shoe shine man had no business. Everyone is wearing sneakers.

Westfield’s stock is uninspiring. Here it is over 10 years.

Westfield

Look at Kroger Co.

Krogers

There’s a discount on everything these days

+ Hotels will discount their rooms, if you ask.

+ Retailers will discount their stuff if you sign for their credit card or ask for the latest promotion.

+ Airlines have vastly different prices — on time of day, in advance, etc.

Trip insurance is pricey, but useful

A dear friend was scheduled for a boat trip around Turkey. The boat trip got cancelled. She got stuck with an air ticket she couldn’t cancel.

Trip insurance can be pricey. Trip insurance can ridiculous. You can buy trip insurance on Amtrak. But there’s also no penalty for cancelling — if you take a credit towards your next train trip!

When I ran a company, we self-insured — except for catastrophes. It was cheaper and better. It also allowed us to focus on wellness programs, like paying our employees to give up smoking.

I usually self-insure our air travel, knowing we’ll definitely go. If in doubt, I’d insure. Otherwise I’d take the hit and chuck the tickets. At this point in my life, I’m way ahead not buying travel insurance.

Some airlines will change your booking without 24 hours of you making it online, so long as you book with them, on their site. And tell them you made a mistake.

Bitcoin uses

Bitcoin is used to pay ransomware, to make transactions you don’t want anyone (like the government) to ind out about, like buying drugs on the deep web (also called the dark web). Bitcoin is also bought by speculators.

It’s not for me.

Don’t stay in place when there’s a fire

They told the unlucky residents of the London rise “to stay in place.”

Those who ignored the warning and fled survived.

In short, wrap a wet towel around you, your spouse and your kids and get out.

Australia’s prime minister has fun mocking Mr. Trump

In a closed-door speech Wednesday night to journalists and lawmakers at Australia’s equivalent of the White House correspondents dinner, Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister, imitated Trump speaking about online opinion polls:

“They are so easy to win. I have this Russian guy…believe me, it’s true, it’s true.”

9News

You can watch it here.

Careful what you ask for

Twenty two years ago, my friend told his mother-in-law he’d liked the shirt she bought him for Christmas. It was nicely embroided with his initials.

DWF1

Twenty two years later, he now has 22 identical shirts, one from each Christmas. His kids call them the “DiWooFy” shirts.

He can’t bring himself to tell his mother-in-law how much he hates the shirts.

I don’t make this stuff up. You can’t.

The logic of yogurt

This is the world’s best yogurt. It comes in two sizes. This one is 7 ounces and costs $1.69 on sale.

Frage

This one is 35 ounces an costs $7.29.

FageBigSize

Yesterday I saw an intelligent fellow with 12 of the 7 ounce containers. I asked why? He said they were “on sale.”

I asked why he didn’t buy the bigger container. He answered, “They never go on sale.”

Makes sense.

HarryNewton
Harry Newton, who’s pleased to see Australia kicking a**. From BusinessInsider Australia:

Australia’s jobs report smashes expectations again

Australia’s May jobs report has yet again smashed expectations, with employment growth lifting strongly and unemployment tumbling to a multi-year low.

Australia’s been without a recession for over 25 years. It’s the top performing developed country. It’s also on sale. The Australian dollar is 76 cents. Take a trip. It’s a nice place. And it has a prime minister with a nice sense of humor.

  • 1st ammendment

    Little baby

  • 1st ammendment

    Wow. So no mention whatsoever about the massacre attempt against Republican congressmen by a fanatical left wing Democrat. Nothing. Interesting. The whole Nation is talking about it, but not Harry. He’s rejoicing with his goddess Maxine Waters. Harry is too busy attending the free NYC play in the Park where Trump gets assassinated. Good, finally got one of those evil white bigoted racist deplorable Republicans. Now of course if it was the other way around, you would be shouting from the rooftops. You would be updating your website every 5 seconds with your vitriolic hate. Are you able to handle some rebuke?

  • Dman

    Harry, the insane liberal Hodgkinson who shot at the republicans yesterday reminded me of you.

    ……Harry you are nothing but an evil leftist scum bag.

    ……Trump is a winner, not a lazy fucking liberal.