Your second estimated quarterly estimated tax is due today . . . click here for forms and instructions. And thanks, thereby, for helping to lower our deficit by $700 billion since George W. Bush handed it off to Barack Obama! It’s now approaching manageable levels again. Our S&P bond rating outlook has been upgraded from negative to stable. And if we would only do a few common-sense things blocked in Congress for so long now — mainly, investing in the infrastructure we so badly need, which would employ people who so badly want to work — we’d get the economy booming and the deficit lower still. (And when better than now, when the real cost of long-term borrowing is near zero?) But all the Republicans can do is vote over and over to end Obamacare (37 votes and counting); vote to prevent universal background checks 90% of the country favors; block scores of appointments; and pass laws at the state level to force women to undergo government-mandated invasive procedures that neither they nor their doctors want. (Well, and pass laws to restrict voting rights — “The Voter Suppression Project,” as Chapter 6 of Jonathan Alter’s The Center Holds is titled.) All this to thwart a Marxist fascist Kenyan-born President who hates America and Big Business . . . yet has somehow managed to have averted depression and allowed corporate profits and the Dow Jones Industrial Average to hit record levels. Imagine how far along we’d have been with a loyal opposition.
But I digress.
I have no idea how much credence to give this — “Three Stocks to Buy for the Next 20 Years.” But I don’t mind that as his third pick, alongside Berkshire Hathaway and Google, the author has chosen SODA. Not the worst company to be in. Pun intended.
The Paris Air Show is underway. It is the debut for WheelTug’s main (only?) competitor, Honeywell/Safron. Here is Aviation Week on that debut. And here is the Wall Street Journal’s Friday post, also focusing mainly on the demonstration that H/S is about to do. The Journal chose not to mention this video of WheelTug’s doing the same thing a year ago. Or WheelTug partners like $12 billion Parker Hannifin. Or the names of specific WheelTug airlines like KLM, Alitalia, and El Al. But it did report that WheelTug now has letters of intent from 11 airline partners and referenced some possible advantages to a system like ours that is located in the nose wheel instead of the main wheels and . . . well, read it (sorry; seems to require a WSJ subscription), or just trust me when I say I sure would have hoped for more.
Then again, it’s now pretty clear that e-Taxi is coming, most likely from WheelTug or H/S or both. That will be good for travelers and the environment and for the profits of the early airline adopters. (Eventually, when most airlines are realizing these savings, competition will cause those savings to be passed through to passengers in the form of lower fares.)
And I did love the Journal‘s line that “. . . the [H/S] joint venture’s contingent of roughly 200 engineers is scrambling to keep up with rival WheelTug . . .” That suggests some pretty remarkable innovation on the part of our much smaller, much less well funded team. Maybe we’re struggling Apple, decades ago, to Honeywell/Safron’s IBM or Microsoft? (Okay: now even I will admit I’m getting carried away.)
How the competition between WheelTug and Honeywell/Safron will drive down potential profits remains to be seen, both in terms of their competing for airlines by offering the sweetest deals and also in terms of their competing for cooperation from Boeing and Airbus by perhaps cutting them in for a share.
There is also the very real risk, that as with the Betamax, the inferior “VHS” format will prevail.* Then again, (a) it may not (would you want to carry an extra 400 pounds on every flight if you didn’t have to?); (b) WheelTug has a slew of patents that could require some sort of settlement from Honeywell/Safron; (c) however it plays out — with WheelTug winning the spoils, sharing the spoils, or getting Betamaxed — there remains the possible application of our electric motor technology beyond airplanes (to cars, perhaps?) and the possibility that some of the other technologies Borealis has been working on (and its possible mineral wealth) have value as well. So even if H/S were to win a monopoly with its inferior technology (and why would it?), Borealis could still have value.
All speculative, but at its current $60 million market cap . . . less than half the price of a nice Picasso . . . an irresistible lottery ticket for money you can truly afford to lose.
*Complicating this analogy is the dispute over whether VHS really was inferior. For the purposes on the analogy, I’m just accepting the common wisdom that it was. Although the analogy may be better because of that dispute — because some will surely dispute that WheelTug’s approach system is superior. They will agree that it’s smarter to use the main landing gear — though according to this article, Lufthansa once believed the same thing and, after tests, concluded otherwise. Or they will note the H/S claim of “440 pounds,” not much more than the 300 pounds I;ve seen estimated for WheelTug’s system. But I;m not sure that 440 pounds includes the whole system — it may be just the motors — which is how their previous mention of numbers more like 800 pounds lead me to think their system may weigh 400 pounds more than ours. But, truly and for sure, I do not know.
Quote of the Day
I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year.~The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957
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