This post was supposed to go live just after midnight Sunday, to be up all Monday.  WordPress lets you schedule them that way — a nice feature.  But it will sometimes simply “miss the schedule” for undisclosed reasons and, rather than try again a few minutes later, or at the very least send an email alerting the blogger to its failure, it . . . does neither.

I just noticed now, 23 hours after the scheduled post time, when I got off a plane, that WordPress had decided not to post Monday’s column — oops! — so I post it again, now.  Anybody know someone at WordPress who might want to fix this?


. . . fall on the same day this year, November 28, as noted here last week (“plan ahead“).  Turns out, this as has happened only once before in the history of the world — 1888, according to this and this — and then only then because Thanksgiving had not yet been changed from the last Thursday of the month to the fourth Thursday.  And it actually will never happen again.  Unless you imagine we will still be celebrating both holidays more than 3,000 generations from now.


Jeff Schwarz:  “Re your post that ‘Watson may soon take over your medical care‘ . . . Is Watson going to be paid by the procedure or will he (or she — it?) get a fixed salary to keep me healthy?”

☞ The latter, for sure, if enough folks read my pal David Goldhill’s brilliant book, Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father — And How We Can Fix it, or my pal Steve Brill’s game-changing 24,000-word cover story in this week’s Time — well worth the full read.  (Guess who turns out to be the efficient penny-pinching hero.  Medicare!)


Here’s a new speculation, completely risky, only for a little money that you can truly, truly afford to lose.  ETRM was $4 when its minimally invasive but surgically implanted weight-loss device was pending approval from the FDA.  Presumably, people were hoping the data would be good, the device would be approved, and the stock would rise.  Instead, the trial missed its primary end point and the stock crashed immediately to $1.30, drifted down to $1.12 in the ensuing week or two, and then dropped finally (or perhaps not finally, which is the risk) to close Friday at 90 cents.

That might normally be the end of the story, but as I understand it — distilled from smart people who actually DO understand it — the company may submit their data anyway, and for a variety of reasons apparent to at least some FDA watchers, the FDA just might approve it.  In other words, this could be a situation where the broad market sees failure but could be surprised by success, if the FDA decides that, in hindsight, the primary endpoints were set too high, and the attained results are actually “good enough.”  If this were to happen — a huge IF — the stock probably goes back to $4 and perhaps a good bit higher.

The company probably has the cash to see this through — the reason ETRM dropped that extra leg down late last week was announcement that cash had been raised at a price that, giving weight to the value of warrants that were attached to the deal, was in the 80-to-85-cent range.

This is purely a gamble.  Heads, the device is approved and we make several times our money.  Tails, it’s not, and we lose it all.  As I often repeat, this is for money you can truly afford to lose . . . perhaps as one of half a dozen little speculations that in the aggregate make up $30,000 of the $350,000 (say) you’ve chosen to expose to the stock market, with the rest invested via, for example, equally-weighted or fundamentally-weighted index funds.  The advantage of this $30,000 carve-out being, first, that you get to control the taxes, which means you can come out ahead even if you just break even: selling your losers to lower your income tax; using your winners, once held for a year and a day, to fund your charitable giving via the Fidelity, Vanguard, or Schwab charitable gift funds.  And the second advantage being that, who knows?  We could get lucky and do better than break even (or unlucky, and do worse).

Speaking of which, how have we done so far?

The answer would not be easy to pin down, even if you had all the time and data needed to do it.  What methodology would you use?

Well, for you personally, it would be easy: you’d just look to see how you did with all the hare-brained suggestions I’ve scattered through four thousand posts.  Some of you are reasonably pleased; others have long since fled.

But a collective score?  One of you, with my encouragement and profound thanks, has put in a great deal of time building a spread sheet to try to answer exactly that.  But the assumptions he will use can sway things quite a bit.  How much of each item does he assume you bought?  Did you buy more each time I mentioned it?  When and how much did you sell if I was less than explicit?

(“It would be reasonable to make profits here but I’m holding much of mine for the long-term” — what the hell does that mean?)

We had hoped to have at least a first pass of this months ago, but there are a slew of somewhat obscure questions he’s tossed back to me to answer before he can finish.

For example:  “I have the initial Calton Homes buy and sell but what about the subsequent ones? Did the buys of 8/22/2000 and 6/1/2001 get the $5 dividend? What happened after that? Maybe a chance to sell at some price after that?”

Yikes.  I have a feeling each of the queries could take an hour to research, and I keep not finding those hours.


In addition to Calton Homes, Patrick asks:

+ What happened to El Paso Energy Partners? Did they get taken over? Any dividends/splits/spinoffs in the meantime?

+ I have that you said sell most of your TXCO on 2/7/2006 but did anything happen to the rest of it? Any dividends? [NO!]  Also do you have a price 3/15/2007 when you re-recommended it?

+ Purchase price for ARC the reit? And while we are at it, dividends and the price where you sold it 1/3/2006?

+ I don’t get what happened with Korea Fund. Was there a split in there somewhere? My data seems faulty on this one. Help!

+ The Commerce Bancorp recommended 9/30/2005 got bought out. Any dividends between the purchase date and the sale date?

+ I have a note that you bought more Lear at 18. Do you have a date for that? Sometime in 2005/2006?

+ What happened to Landry’s Restaurant? I see a buy price but no sale. Did it get taken over? Any dividends?

+ Did JAV go bust? If so when? Any dividends?

+ Same question for BRCI.  [Ooo!  Ooo!  I know this one!  It was a total bust.  No spin-offs, no dividends, just well-intentioned disaster.]

+ I think I am missing something about CRME. The prices and dates I see look totally different from what you describe in the recommendations. Do I have the wrong stock? What happened with CRME. Price paid? When did you sell and at what price? Any dividends?

+ Help me with AMRN. I was finding completely conflicting info to what you talk about in the recommendation so I’m afraid I have the wrong stock. Can you give me everything about this one? Buy price, sell price and dates. Any dividends?

+ What happened to the DNDN 2011 $20 puts recommended 10/19/2009? Did they get exercised at expiration?

+ I can’t find anything on MYGLF. Can you give me prices for the 4/11/2011 and 3/21/2012 buys? Any news on the stock? Is there a price on May 4 2012?

+ Can you walk me through the price paid and what happened to some of the warrants? The Aldabra warrants became GLDD warrants and stock but I don’t have a ratio. Can you give me what happened there?

+ What about the HAPN warrants? Price? When they were bought? What happened? Did they get sold?

+ Aldabra 2 became Boise warrants/stock? Can you help me with the purchase price and what happened to them?

+ The NRDC NAQ? Became ROIC warrants/stock? The only thing I have on ROIC warrants is you mention selling about a third to play with house money 3/13/2012 but I’m lost as to how NRDC NAQ converted to ROIC warrants, at what price, and what happened to the rest of them. I guess there is still 2/3rds of the ROICW position? What about any ROIC stock? help!

+ I have BZ warrants bought for 2 cents 10/23/2008. What price for the warrants mentioned 7/28/2009?

+ What is the price and what happened to INHI warrants mentioned 11/2/2009?

+ Can you help me with the WMT leaps?  Date?  Price paid?  What leaps were they?  Date and strike price?


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