VERIO

This page has been up and down lately thanks to the bizarre workings of our host, Verio.  I often can’t even get their sales team on the phone, so their service must either be wildly popular (perhaps people like its unreliability) or they’ve pulled sales reps over to the crisis-management side of the call center or they’re just screwed up.

I’m sure they’re working hard to resolve their issues. In the meantime, I’m extending everyone’s subscription a month by way of recompense.

VERIZON

Not to be all grumpy — am actually having a great day — but are you familiar with this company?  Their wireless service is generally more robust than AT&T’s, at least in the places I roam,but they seem to have gone out of the copper-wire end of the business, based on my inability ever to get anyone on the phone to report that I have no dial tone. They are always “experiencing unusually heavy call volume” and are “busy assisting other costumers” and suggest calling back later.  One time I waited on music hold (calling from my Verizon cell phone) for 45 minutes before giving up.

As a Verizon shareholder since first suggesting it here six years ago,* I’m heartened by this, because I take it to be a graceful exit from the labor-intensive 20th Century “wire” phone model, as Verizon (and its competitors) come ever closer to being fully automated service providers each consisting of one highly paid CEO, one COO who interfaces with the outside legal team, and one guy watching to be sure that the self-generating software continues to write new code, as needed, to keep the network functioning and the automated customer signups, billing, and so forth, humming.

Eventually, no one else will be needed . . . which is why, long-term, we proponents and beneficiaries of capitalism are going to have to find better and less controversial ways to spread the wealth that technological progress and efficiency produce.

Which is a lot to think about, but try calling Verizon to report a problem, or cancel your account, and you’ll have plenty of time to ruminate.

*The stock is up only 18% but there have 5%-ish annual dividends along the way, so not bad, given the rocky road since 2006.

HATS OFF TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF CALIFORNIA . . .

. . . for contributing $1,140,909 to stand with Philip Morris against the American Cancer Society. Here’s the list of the main contributors on the two sides.

BUTT KICK

An update from Chris Brown (whose Aristides fund slipped less than 1% in May, versus the 6+% drop for the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000; up 8% year-to-date, net of fees, double and triple the other two):

The price of BKUTK makes no sense at all here. At a $340 ask, that’s less than 7x trailing earnings per share, and less than 0.54 times the tangible book value (adjusted for net unrealized gains on held-to-maturity securities) of $633. We added Friday and today. Dividend yield is 2.85%, but could easily be much higher given the level of earnings. Tangible common equity as a % of assets is absurdly high at approximately 16%. As long-term interest rates have fallen dramatically and the company’s average maturity of assets is short, they are going to face a choice of reinvesting capital at very low interest rates, or else buying back their stock. They should buy back stock. I don’t know whether they will, but they should. This is the most attractive value stock I am aware of.

It trades very lightly, but if you did buy some when first suggested, hold on. And if you put in a good-til-canceled order to buy 10 shares or 25 shares (or whatever) at some firm price ($340? $325? $360?) you might get it.

 

 

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