8:30 AM Wednesday, June 8, 2005: Patience.
Cash is king. Every one of my bird-doggers -- real estate, stocks, private equity,
venture capital, LBO -- are seeking, but not finding. Everything is overpriced.
Go play tennis. Smell the roses.
This is called a tuberose. Do yourself the biggest favor. Go smell one today.
Hickey's latest buys: He
recently bought some longer-term put options on Toll Brothers, Countrywise
Finance, Capital One, Research in Motion, Dell and Best Buy. He's
long in AMD, Novell, Lawson Software, Borland Software and 3COM.
Fred, as you know, writes the monthly newsletter, The High-Tech Strategist,
which is usually bearish. Much of his money is in short-term US treasuries.
Much of mine is in triple tax-free ultra-short term floaters, which are now
yielding basically what 10-year bonds are yielding. The yield curve -- showing
short and long-term rates -- is remarkably flat.
do bubbles end? Usually with a wimper and no triggering event. That's
what bothers me about the housing bubble. Housing has been such an integral
part of our economy's recovery in the last three years. Of late, it has become
far too frenetic.
Icahn is a raider and a mensch.
From Sunday's New
York Times Magazine, a wonderful interview with Deborak Solomon:
a financier whose worth has been estimated at nearly $8 billion, why did you
bother to mount a proxy fight with Blockbuster this year?
salutary about a proxy fight, and I think a lot more proxy fights should be
done. If we can shake up management, we're going to be more productive in
this country. Our companies, by and large, are run abysmally. And the earnings
of C.E.O.'s are outrageous. They're getting 400 to 500 times what the average
Are you surprised
by the amount of corporate malfeasance out there?
I am surprised
that there hasn't been more of it. Shareholders don't stand up for their rights
for reasons that are hard to explain. What is a C.E.O.? Too many of them are
just guys who buy private jets without using their own money. They're using
our money, the shareholders' money, and they don't even let you ride on the
yourself sound like a do-gooder, but you became well known in the 80's as
a corporate raider who bought up stock in undervalued companies like Texaco
and Marshall Field's in the hope of making a quick killing.
all these pejoratives at you. They say, ''Oh, he's a raider; he just wants
to make money.'' But so what? I do not deny that I take risks to make money.
But shareholders have benefited from my involvement.
Are you concerned
that so many of the deals you're involved in just move money around and don't
That's the P.R.,
but it isn't true. I'm not closing the company down. I am making it more productive.
I am not taking money out, but bringing money in by buying stock. I don't
own a private jet bought with the company's money. I don't play golf.
What do you
have against golf?
I think it's
a waste of time. I work a lot. I work hard. I like to work. Maybe I like it
What do you
do when you want to relax?
point of having so much money if you can't enjoy it?
I'm sort of
an obsessive person. I think you have to be obsessive to be successful. You've
got to be willing to work hard. My father was never that much of a worker.
I don't know why.
your dad do for a living?
He was a lawyer,
but he didn't practice. He only cared about music. He liked to sing. He never
got into the Metropolitan Opera, but he became a cantor at a conservative
synagogue not far from our home in Queens.
him as an underachiever, but I would imagine that being a cantor is very rewarding
You don't understand.
He wasn't religious. He was an atheist. It was strange.
How did you
end up studying at Princeton University?
My mother always
told me that I was smart. In college I majored in philosophy. I wrote a thesis
called ''Explication of the Imperious Criterion of Meaning.'' Now when I try
to read it, I don't understand it.
recently give $10 million to have a stadium named after you and your wife,
Gail, on Randalls Island, off Manhattan?
I was approached
to do it. It helps the kids in the inner cities. The young kids deserve a
real chance in our society. We're losing them.
losing them to Blockbuster videos!
You think so?
It's possible. But if it's true, I hope that it's to Blockbuster and not Netflix.
I hear that
the company is now adding online rentals so it can compete with Netflix.
I think they
should have gotten into the online business sooner. They'll build that up.
They came in late.
can be done to turn a company around?
What I am thinking
of doing is setting up the shareholders' answer to the business round table.
You could have shareholders meet regularly to air their views and report company
abuses. You call it the shareholders' ''square table.''
Just maybe shareholders
will get a square deal.
this ever end? Four times since Pakistan allied
itself with the United States campaign against terrorism, a KFC (Kentucky Fried
Chicken) outlet in Pakistan has been attacked. Each time, the owner, Rafiq Rangoonwala,
dutifully cleaned up and reopened for business. This time, with six of his employees
dead, he's not so sure, reports The New York Times. A mob, believed to
be led by outraged Shiites, stormed Mr. Rangoonwala's KFC outlet, dousing its
floors with gasoline, setting it ablaze and then blocking the entry of rescue
workers. Six hours later, the six bodies were hauled out. Four had been burned.
Two had frozen to death in the walk-in freezer; their bodies were found only
after a mobile phone belonging to one of the men rang. The dead had all worked
at the KFC. They were all local men in their mid-20's.
crisis is coming late for my 60+ friends.
My friend is buying a Ferrari F430. Others are loading up on Porsches,
BMWs and Mercedes. This Ferrari will do 0-62 in four seconds, sports 490 hp
and a top speed of over 196 mph. The idea is to take your Ferrari to a local
track and race it. The problem is that recently two of my Ferrari's friends
were killed on the track. "At some point, your reactions are no longer
there," he mourns. He won't be racing his new Ferrari. Still, it is
a pretty car, has lots of leg room and costs only $200,000 -- less than half
a Mercedes-Benz SLC McLaren (see
I hate PayPal: But there's
no other effective way of paying for eBay junk. EBay overpaid more than $1 billion
to buy PayPal. In its desperate search to recoup its overpayment, eBay makes
PayPal hold your money for a week or so before it transfers it to the seller
you bought your latest junk from. This week allows PayPal to earn interest on
your money. You can link PayPal to your bank account or your credit card. It
doesn't make any difference in time. That's been my experience. God fobid you'd
want your item more quickly.
Anne Bancroft, 73, dies: She played Mrs. Robinson
in The Graduate and achieved immortality in my brain. Many remember the movie
for the older woman/younger man plot. I remember it because Dustin, the graduate,
was pointed to plastics for his future. The year was 1967. Long before PCs,
VCRs, cell phones, the Internet, dot-coms, biotech and a zillion other places
a young graduate could have found riches. As the ultimate irony, employment
in the plastics industry is down by 40%. Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson.
leg in "The Graduate," as she slowly peeled off a nylon stocking
under the glazed gaze of Dustin Hoffman. The scene became a classic.
Robinson, you are trying to seduce me," said a wide-eyed Hoffman. The
movie had wonderful music by Simon and Garfunkel. Boy, am I dating myself.
plans to cut 25,000 jobs -- 23% of its U.S. work force. It
will do this through 2008. It will also shut several North American factories.
GM has been seriously mismanaged for longer than I've been driving cars -- over
45 years. In all those years, I've never owned a GM. All the fun, expensive
cars I've been writing about in recent days -- Mercedes, BMW and Ferrari --
have all been foreign. So sad. How could management have had so little
imagination for so long. How could they have allowed the unions to hold them
up for so long?
union and the brothel:
A dedicated Teamsters worker was attending a convention in Las Vegas and decided
to check out the local brothels. When he got to the first one, he asked the
Madam, "Is this a union house?"
she replied, "I'm sorry it isn't." "Well, if I pay you $100,
what cut do the girls get?" "The house gets $80 and the girls get
$20," she answered.
at such unfair dealings, the union man stomped off down the street in search
of a more equitable, hopefully unionized shop. His search continued until finally
he reached a brothel where the Madam responded, "Why yes sir, this is a
union house. We observe all union rules."
The man asked,
"And if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?"
get $80 and the house gets $20."
like it!" the union man said He handed the Madam $100.00, looked around
the room and pointed to a stunningly attractive blonde."I'd like her!"
you would, sir," said the Madam. Then she gestured to a 92-year old woman
in the corner, "but Ethel here has 67 years seniority and she's next."
This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't
give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities,
which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday
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called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage
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