Fellow Investors,

Thanks for joining me again this week at PowerTalk. If you’re new to the show, this is the place where I have one-on-one conversations with CEOs of public and private companies as well as other key people in business, politics and any sector that could impact our investing decisions. 

I’m your host Chris Versace, editor of the investment newsletter PowerTrend Profits and my goal with PowerTalk is to take you behind the scenes and in the know.

Can we count on the CEO?


I always get a bunch of questions from subscribers to PowerTrend Profits or at my public speaking engagements. But the one question that tends to crop up rather frequently is what do I think of this CEO or that CEO? Are they doing a good job running the company? Can we count on them?

My answer is that over my 20+ years of dissecting industries and companies, I’ve found that there are some great CEOs out there, but there are also some that should be gone. Take it from me,-- someone who sat across the table from a number of CEOs -- there are some who get it and then are some who don’t see the writing on the walls. 

Like many, I hold Steve Jobs the former CEO of Apple (AAPL) in high regard as well as A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Proctor & Gamble (PG), Jim Bezos at Amazon.com (AMZN) and Howard Schultz at Starbucks (SBUX) and a number of others.  

Each of these gentlemen have done fantastic jobs at each of their companies and I would argue that in their own right each recognized the power of PowerTrends to transform their companies.  

  • Steve Jobs clearly saw the impact of being Always On, Always Connected when he and his team were developing the iPod, iPhone, iPad and iCloud;
  • Howard Schultz is targeting growth outside the U.S. by capitalizing on The Rise and Fall of the Middle Class;
  • Naren K Gursahaney, the CEO of ADT Corp. (ADT) a Safety & Security company is seeing his business benefit from the rebound in housing, but is also looking to the future by bringing to market a number of connected services that will sweeten ADT’s revenue per customer. 

 Unfortunately for you and me, for each really good CEO out there, there are a number that, well, let’s face it -- need to go. Two examples in my view are Steve Ballmer at Microsoft (MSFT) and Andrew Mason at Groupon (GRPN). It seems that no matter what these CEOs do, the companies don’t seem to get any traction and that's not good for shareholders.

CEO’s and what you Need to Know


As you can imagine, evaluating a CEO and his or her team is necessary, if not crucial, for me to have a high degree of confidence in the team’s strategy and its ability to execute.  

If you can’t get behind what the management team is doing, you can’t get behind the stock. It’s a deal breaker plain and simple.

 That’s why I was thrilled to talk with Bob Kelleher, author of Creativeship, and founder of The Employee Engagement Group. Over the years, Bob has worked with Shell, the TJX Companies (TJX), Prudential, Abbot Labs (ABT), Fidelity, the Center for Disease Control, Balfour Betty, Unocal and dozens of others.  

Over the course of our PowerTalk, we discuss a number of key issues when it comes to being a successful leader and Bob shares his quadrant view on company performance, leadership and employee engagement. All told, Bob shares ways to identify those CEOs and others that are true leaders and charting the course ahead. 

As I mentioned earlier, identifying the CEO that can not only talk the talk but walk the walk is key.

Here are some other nuggets from my PowerTalk with Bob Kelleher:


  • It’s not just technology companies like Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) that are innovators. Proctor & Gamble (PG), Nike (NKE), General Electric (GE) and even well known denim company Levi Strauss are great examples of how a company can bring new products to market in and many cases create new product categories. I agree with Bob whole heartily on this and that’s why each of those companies are contenders for different PowerTrends. 
  • Innovation needs to be sustainable and not simply a one hit wonder like we saw at Motorola, now owned by Google, and Sears (SHLD). While a new product can create some great excitement at a company, if there is not follow up and follow through all that excitement can simply flame out.
  • We need to avoid those companies that are not recognizing the sand shifting under their feet. Bob mentions Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Dell (DELL) as two examples and as subscribers to PowerTrend Profits, I have voiced my concern over the direction of those two companies that lack a smartphone, tablet and connected device strategy. 


Yep, there’s a lot of ground to cover in this week's PowerTalk with Bob Kelleher so let’s get to it.


Direct download: 02-28-13_CREATIVESHIPPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:57pm EDT

 Fellow Investor,

We've been busy here at PowerTalk, sharing my conversations with key players at public and private companies as well as other institutions of influence. I started PowerTalk to share with you the kinds of conversations that mutual fund and hedge fund players are having with the same  kinds of people. In other words, I wanted to bring you behind the scenes and in the know on some of the key topics of the day that investors and traders are facing.

It's been so successful that listeners have been asking for more. And that's what we're about to do.

Starting today, I'm adding a second weekly installment to PowerTalk that will share my conversations about the latest happenings over the last several days that are driving the stock market. Be it economic data, politics, or specific company news that is driving the stock market higher or pushing it lower, I'll be talking about it each week with Keith Bliss, Senior Vice President of Cuttone & Company, right from the floor of the New York Stock Exchanges

This week Keith and I dish on the rise in both gas prices and taxes and what it means for the consumer following Walmart's (WMT) weak start in February; the most recent Federal Reserve minutes that hint at a back peddling in QE3; the pick up in M&A activity; and of course what the sequestration could mean for the economy and investors. 

As tends to be the case with PowerTalk, there's a lot of ground to cover so let's get to it.

Chris Versace
Host, PowerTalk
Editor, PowerTrend Profits
Editor, ETF PowerTrader 

Direct download: Versace_Bliss_02212013.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm EDT

Fellow Investor,


In the PowerTalk series, I speak with a number of prominent figures from the CEO of Smith & Wesson (SWHC) to key players at General Motors (GM) and the Consumer Electronics Association and others. The goal is to bring you behind the scenes and in the know when it comes to some of the key issues on investors minds. 

I’m at it again this week when I talk about currency and the much discussed currency war that we may or may not be in at the moment. Joining me to talk about this and more is Bernard Lietaer, who was named “the world’s top currency trader” in 1992 by BusinessWeek. Bernard has also been central banker, a fund manager, and a university professor. He has recently added author and has a new book out -- “Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity Into Prosperity.” 

The interview stems from how over the last few months, finance ministers from Russia, Thailand, Turkey, South Korea and other countries have been pointing their collective fingers at what they call a “currency war.” This time those folks are not pointing at China, but rather at Japan as it has devalued the yen in order to jump start its economy. And how during the 2012 US Presidential Debates, Mitt Romney labeled China a currency manipulator just as some countries like Brazil and others have complained about Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s easy money policy saying it will unleash a “monetary tsunami.”

Over the course of my conversation with Bernard Lietaer, we discuss:

  • the realities of what currency really is and how there are more forms of currency than just money;
  • the economic drivers behind a currency war; and
  • Bernard’s view that a new concept of money and currency, not the redistribution of wealth, increased conventional taxation, bond measures or enlightened self-interest from corporate entities, will stop the race toward “global self-destruction”.  


From an investor’s perspective, I drew several conclusions from my PowerTalk with Bernard:

The devaluation in the yen bodes well for US imports of Japanese products, such as autos from Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC) as well as heavy construction equipment manufacturer Kubota (KUB). That means a tougher environment for US based companies such as Ford (F), General Motors (GM), Caterpillar (CAT) and Deere & Co. (CAT)

A strong US dollar on a relative basis will have a negative impact on US exports or foreign imports of US goods and services. That was one of the factors that curbed growth in the US economy last quarter. The impact of recent currency devaluation combined with higher gas and food prices, the payroll tax holiday expiration and sequestration related cuts will drive continued slow growth in the first half of 2013. 

Lastly for world travelers, a relatively stronger US dollar buys more imported goods and services here at home, but also lowers the cost of international travel for Americans. That is likely to be good for companies like Priceline (PCLN) and Starwood Hotels and Resorts (HOT) that has been expanding its footprint in Asia and Latin America. The flip side of that is it makes travel to the U.S. more expensive for foreign visitors and that could be additional pressure on retailers like Coach (COH), Guess? (GES), Aeropostale (ARO) and True Religion (TRLG) among others.

Subscribers are sure to notice how the interview touches on several of the PowerTrends found in my newsletter PowerTrend Profits and how it prepares us all for more successful investing.

Direct download: 02-20-13_BERNARDLIETAERPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:58pm EDT

Fellow investor,

Over the last year or so, you've probably heard a lot about “the cloud” but ask anyone what it is and you get a half baked description. The reality is there’s a lot to consider when you put our digital content in the cloud and choose a cloud provider be it for music, movies, personal documents or ones for work. Whether its Apple (AAPL) and iCloud, Microsoft (MSFT) and Skydrive, Google (GOOG) and its Drive solution or DropBox, there are shortcomings with each of them. Because the cloud is a key aspect of my Always On, Always Connected PowerTrend I wanted to do a deep dive on the subject with a mover and shaker in the space.


Joining me this week on PowerTalk as I discuss all things cloud with Yorgen Edholm, CEO of Accellion, a leading enterprise cloud file sharing company. We particularly focus on security concerns and how mobile technology will transform the cloud. Because Accellion serves more than 11 million customers across 1,700 of the world’s leading companies like Proctor & Gamble (PG), Kaiser Permanente, the U.S Securities & Exchange Commission, but the company is also profitable, Yorgen is a person worth talking to about the cloud, its drivers and benefits  as well as its short comings.


Here are some tidbits from my conversation with Yorgen: 

  • He sees mobile and the shift toward bringing your own device (BYOD)  to work as key drivers of cloud adoption;
  • Yorgen is a firm believer in the death of the PC, which means bad things for Dell (DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), and he sees no slowdown in businesses adopting Apple’s devices, particularly the iPad.
  • Security features and other tools in the cloud environment will be the key differentiators between those cloud providers that are successful and those that are not be it with individual or enterprise customers. 
  • Amazon’s (AMZN) Web Service is a key partner for Accellion, which should serve as a reminder that there is more to Amazon than just Internet based shopping;
  • Lastly, there are a number of cloud providers out there and not only does Yorgen sees a wave of consolidation coming, but we talk about what you should consider when choosing your cloud solution.

From an investor’s perspective, I drew several conclusions from my PowerTalk with Yorgen. First, demand prospects for data center companies will remain robust as people and companies continue to shift into a cloud-based environment. That confirms my thesis behind adding Digital Realty Trust(DLR) to the PowerTrend Portfolio last October. Second, it affirms that demand for Apple’s mobile products -- smartphones and tablets -- remains strong. That not only vouches for my long-term view on Apple and its shares, but makes me feel even more comfortable about adding more shares to the portfolio over the last several weeks. Lastly, it confirms something that I have suspected for some time - there is little reason to own shares of either Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) or Dell (DELL) as neither has figured out how to monetize let alone compete in the non-PC world of smartphones and tablets. 

Direct download: 02-13-13_ACCELLIONPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38pm EDT

Fellow Investor,

This week’s PowerTalk  is with Tom Stemberg, the founder and former CEO of Staples and the Managing General Partner of the $300 million Highland Consumer Fund.  He’s also a member of the Job Creators Alliance.

It’s no secret that job creation has been challenging - 155,000 per month on average over the last 25 months - frustratingly slow.  As we learned recently, the January unemployment rate ticked back up to 7.9% With gas and good prices climbing, plus the expiration of the payroll tax holiday - it doesn’t paint a favorable picture for consumers, particularly those that have been part of the long-term unemployed.

Now we’re hearing that tax revenues are back on the table when it comes to solving the country’s debt problem. As it stands today, there’s more than $52,000 in debt per citizen and more than $146,000 debt per taxpayer. 

All of this plays right into the Rise and Fall of the Middle Class PowerTrend that subscribers to my PowerTrend Profits newsletter hear me talk about so much.

In the interview Tom and I discuss unemployment and the January jobs data.  We also take a look at why Congress and the President are struggling to create jobs (hint: they can’t get out of their own way), the impact of regulation on small and medium sized businesses, what to expect from consumer spending in 2013, the types of companies Tom sees delivering growth in this economy and more!


Chris Versace
Editor, PowerTrend Profits
Founder & Host, PowerTalk 


Direct download: 02-07-13_STEMBERGPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:22pm EDT