ARC, PPD, AND BOREF

Ken Manuelian: ‘I wonder what you think is and will be happening with ARC? You made no mention of it in your June 20th investment review.’

☞ I should have acknowledged that clunker, down nearly 10% since I suggested it. I still hold some, thinking it could produce a modest gain and maintain its dividend. But I can’t say I’m particularly excited about it. Sorry about this one.

Meanwhile, PPD was up another two points yesterday, to $46, putting the intrinsic value of the VPXAE January 2007 $25 calls, for which we paid $12 or so two months ago, at $21 (the right to buy for $25 something you can sell for $46 being worth at least $21) – the kind of digital dyslexia that suits me fine. I will hold much of mine in the piggish hope that I am finally on the right side of a short squeeze . . . though one can never too often recall that on Wall Street, the bulls make money and the bears make money, but the pigs get slaughtered.

And then there’s old Borealis, which claims to have finished its side of the development of the Chorus Motor they believe will be able to drive jets around airports as if they were golf carts. Yesterday, stock in the Chorus Motors subsidiary closed at $16, and you will recall that each share of BOREF owns approximately one share in Chorus, so – at least in theory – $9 is not a bad price for a share of stock that, in turn, owns $16 worth of another company – plus stakes in five other wildly speculative subsidiaries as well.

AMERICA FIRST

David D’Antonio: ‘Charity begins at home. Perhaps I’ve missed something obvious but why is it the responsibility of the U.S. to feed, cloth, house, provide health care or anything else for people in other countries? Considering all the people in this country that lack those things, worrying about millions of folks in Africa seems a bit odd. What if they were white? I’d still think Americans come first (at least in America’s priority list).’

☞ I guess it depends on one’s definition of home. Some would limit that to their own, literal home. Some, to their hometown, home state, or country. Some feel we are all fellow passengers on spaceship Earth – and see self interest as well as moral benefit in helping tsunami victims or averting famine or genocide half a world away.

The self interest derives from the greater prosperity we will enjoy when more people around the world can afford our products and services . . . the greater security and international cooperation we will enjoy when more nations see us as the good guys we are . . . the greater likelihood of dealing successfully with diseases and environmental threats that don’t respect national borders . . . and the pride one can take from being part of a great and generous – and not just the richest – nation.

And this may be as good time as any to ask why we are the richest nation in the world? Much of it is because we work hard and compete aggressively (on that score, see Paul London’s new book) within a system of sensibly regulated (for the most part) free enterprise that’s second to none. And we attract a disproportionate share of immigrants who are more motivated and talented than the average bear (who is less likely to make the often extraordinary effort required to get here). But at least a smidgeon of our good fortune comes from our having appropriated a vast, resource-rich land from its original inhabitants, and then having cultivated a large portion of it for a couple of hundred years with slave labor. Not to mention whatever subtler things we may have done to exploit our power in more recent years.

But all that aside, why not help simply on moral grounds? And if you read Jeff Sachs yesterday, you saw he was arguing against feeding people – that just discourages local agriculture. Instead of feeding and clothing them, we should be helping to jump start their development with the technology and seed capital (literally) to launch a Green Revolution; with the infrastructure for clean drinking water to help break the cycle of disease and death that, perversely, leads to high birthrates and overpopulation; and . . . well, I’d urge you to re-read the Sachs interview from yesterday.

 

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