John Padavic: ‘Did I miss a recommendation? What about SYM? Did you sell?’

☞ No. We got a $1-per-share dividend a couple of months ago, in effect lowering to ‘a hair under $7’ what we paid February 16, 2004. So closing at $14.30 last night, it’s a little more than doubled. I’m holding mine, because the idea is that at some point the company may be sold for the value of its underlying real estate, which could be several dollars higher. But if you’re getting nervous, why not sell half so the rest is ‘free?’

I’m sure there are others I forgot to mention as well. One of the completely unsuccessful ones (so far, and very possibly forever) is ILA, almost exactly where it was when I first mentioned it. What good is that? You could have done better in a savings account – and with no risk. I’m holding onto it, but it is because I’m stubborn, not because I’ve done my homework.

Meanwhile, for those watching PPD, there’s – what isn’t there on the web? – Full access requires a subscription, but you can get the basics just by entering a stock symbol. Or just wait for me to post Glenn’s periodic e-mails . . .

Glenn Hudson: ‘The short interest, per Bloomberg, was 5,061,649 shares, meaning that only 68,542 net shares were covered during the period 5/13/05 to 6/15/05 while PPD’s share price increased $6.10. The shorts are definitely trapped and the more investors that pile on, the more likely PPD’s share price will skyrocket. After a 6-7 month period getting rid of the weaker longs in the $36 to $38 range, with the right momentum, this stock could double that range.’

☞ This is exactly the kind of ‘investing’ I normally avoid. Either I go short and get trapped myself – flummoxed by my certainty that ‘in the long run, value will determine a stock’s price’ (and forgetting that in order to get to the long-run you have to survive the short-run) – or else I sit on the sidelines feeling superior for not engaging in something so crass. But heck, a little speculative piling-on never much hurt anybody (except the pile-ee), and if you are playing with no more money than you can truly afford to lose . . . well, think of what it saves on plane fare to Las Vegas.


Gray Chang: ‘In the past year or so, short-term interest rates have risen about two percentage points, while long-term interest rates have fallen to new record lows. Now 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages have the about same annual percentage rates (APRs). If you shop around, you can get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5.25% for a conforming loan or 5.5% for a jumbo loan, with 0 points. Financially conservative homeowners who plan to live in their homes for a long time ought to consider refinancing their adjustable-rate mortgages to lock in the current low interest rates for 30 years.’

☞ Good advice. Bloomberg shows the 30-year rate at a hair under 5.25% (though it shows the 1-year adjustable rate at 3.64%). If you think you may own your place for at least several years, why not sleep tight with a fixed-rate mortgage?


Bill Andrews: ‘Your morals apparently move you to take my money and redistribute it to anyone you deem appropriate, while retaining most of your own. My morals leave you free to give away as much of your money as you like while leaving me to decide how to spend mine. I like mine better.’

☞ This makes sense if you want to live in a country that takes no collective action. But collective action cries out to be taken, and I want to be proud of my country for taking it. I respect your point of view, but hope more people vote my way than yours. (Incidentally, Tony Blair’s request worked out to about $8 per American per year, on average. So I wouldn’t be taking all your money.)

Susan Young: ‘I am really tired of the conservative conventional wisdom holding that ‘throwing money at a problem’ is a bad thing. Personally, I find that throwing money at a problem works quite well. Like, right now I’m hungry and don’t have much food in the house. I am gonna go throw some money at that problem and fix it right up! Amazing, isn’t it! I wonder how such a sensible practice got such a bad name.’

Anne Speck: ‘A pledge of $674 million dollars to feed and care for an entire continent of people suffering under a disease that we have withheld treatment for while promoting the very things that fuel its spread – lack of condoms, lack of sex education, male entitlement to secrecy about sexual behavior, and shame about having the disease – well, that’s not sufficient. That’s shameful.’

☞ Well, David told us yesterday that ‘charity begins at home.’ Yet as another of you pointed out, that doesn’t mean it ends at home.

Brett Kurashige: ‘Jeff Sachs would love this non-profit organization, recently featured on 60 Minutes.’ (Give a family a yak.)


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