This week on PowerTalk, I’m doing a deep dive on a subject that is literally ripped from the headlines -- insider trading. Over the last few years, a number of government agencies including the Securities Exchange Commission, the Justice Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation among others, have targeted hedge funds, expert networks and other sources of insider information.

Over the last three years, the SEC has filed more insider trading actions (168 in total) than in any three-year period in the agency's history. Last week, headlines were rampant over insider trading and what it may mean for the SAC Capital, one of the most successful hedge funds around, and its leader Steve Cohen.

Joining me to take you behind the scenes and in the know on these efforts over the last few years is award winning journalist and author of the new book Circle of Friends, Charles Gasparino. I’m sure your more than familiar with Charlie and his reporting on the Fox Business Network and the Fox News Channel, where he focuses on major developments in the world of finance and politics. What you may not know is Charlie has won a number of awards for his work, including the prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for his book The Sellout

After reading Circle of Friends, I can easily say that if you liked or loved Barbarians at the Gate, Den of Thieves, or Liar’s Poker then Charlie’s new book is a must read. The only bigger thrill than reading Circle of Friends was talking with him about it.

Direct download: 07-29-13_GASPARINOPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:36am EST

Water - so simple and something that, if your like me, you tend to take for granted. But a report recently released from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that $384 billion in improvements are needed for the nation’s drinking water infrastructure to continue to provide safe drinking water. But as you’ll soon learn, that $384 billion is only a drop in the bucket when it comes to what’s ahead for water and the water industry.

It’s a big topic and its the focus of PowerTalk this week. I’m your host Chris Versace and once again we’re taking you behind the scenes and in the know -- this time on water and the looming water crisis.  It’s a big issue and huge pain point -- so much so that it’s been a key theme in my investment newsletter PowerTrend Profits. 

Over the last week, we’ve had a huge reminder of how important water is -- I’m talking about the heatwave that hit the Easter United States. But like I said, that was just a reminder as to how bad the drought situation is here in the U.S.

While we tend to think of water as abundant, it’s not -- in fact only a small percentage of the world’s water is reachable and usable -- to me that says it’s really a scarce resource.

Joining me to day to talk about this is Debra Coy, Principal at Svanda & Consulting and an advisor at XPV Capital. While those are Debra’s current titles, she been following or involved with the water industry for more than 25 years as an equity analyst at firms such as Janney Montgomery Scott, The Washington Research Group, HSBC Securities and others. 

Debra’s give a great overview on the water industry and its many facets -- from equipment companies like Xylem (XYL) to water utilities such as American Water Works (AWK) and Aqua America (WTR) to name a few. . We also talk about the looming water crisis, water’s role not only in the home but in industrial and other manufacturing uses (such as semiconductor manufacturing and pharmaceuticals), and how more and more companies around the globe are making critical decisions, such as where a new facility may or may not be located. That’s right, access to water is becoming a key consideration in economic development and that means jobs.

While water may be something you’ve have taken for granted, the looming water crisis is something you can’t afford to ignore any longer.

Direct download: 07-22-13_COYWATERPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:20pm EST

Investing can be fun and profitable at times, but it can also be a tricky thing. There are hundreds if not thousand of companies to choose from in dozens and dozens of industries. Some are new and thriving like wireless, broadband and social media. That’s great for companies like Qualcomm (QCOM), Entropic (ENTR) and Facebook (FB) and their shareholders. Others like newspapers such as the NY Times (NYT), book publishers and retail book stores like Barnes & Noble (BKS) are feeling the pain as their industry adapts to what I call the Always On, Always Connected society. 
The economy and industry fundamentals are not the only thing to watch and listen to with your investing eyes and ears. One other aspect is the regulatory environment and more specifically new regulations. As we know, business has been saddled with a number of them over the last few years, but none have the ability to impact a businesses’s cost structure like the Affordable Care Act. You know that far better as Obamacare. 
We’ve done a few PowerTalks already that have looked at the implications of Obamacare and other regulations. This week, we’re taking a different take and talking about how you can profit from these regulations. 
Joining me this week on PowerTalk are George Abraham and Sumesh Sood of Veda Healthcare Partners  Veda is a hedge fund that has been in operation for more than two and a half years and invests in healthcare. From biotech and pharmaceuticals to managed care and generic drugs, these guys are looking at all of it with an eye toward delivering profits for their investors. 
Healthcare investing can be a tricky thing, but when we look around and see just the shifting demographics -- living longer, a heavier population, nutritional concerns and more -- it’s apparent that there are a number of pain points to be had. Pain points mean opportunity for the prepared investor.
Let’s listen to what George and Sumesh see as remedies for not only these issues but also for your wallet. 
Direct download: 07-15-13_VEDAHEALTHCAREPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:18am EST

Joining me this week on PowerTalk is Ron Shaich, the Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Panera Bread (PNRA). As tends to be the case with these 1-1 conversations, we cover a lot of ground during our time together including the strategies that has led to strong growth in Panera’s revenues and stock price over the last several years. Focusing on the customer experience, transparency, and as Ron says simply “doing it right” are some of the strategies that led to that significant growth at a time when most competitors like Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc. (BAGL), Cosi (COSI) and others were been struggling. Ron and his team also successfully navigated the rise of many alternative eating styles -- Atkins, Paleo, raw and others -- by offering the customers a wide selection of products, including my favorite -- bear claws.

Besides being a leader in the business community, Ron is  an advocate for getting our political leaders to work better together. He’s a part of No Labels, a growing citizens’ movement of Democrats, Republicans and everything in between dedicated to promoting a new politics of problem solving. Their slogan is a great one -- Stop Fighting, Start Fixing.

If your tired of nothing getting done in Washington, frustrated by the lack of progress and the blame game in DC or want to learn more about how Ron and his team delivered over the last few years, get a bear claw and listen up. 

Direct download: 07-08-13_PANERABREADPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:51am EST

This week we’re going on a ride. Not a magic carpet ride but rather a plane ride with the Founder, President and CEO of BlackJet, Dean Rothchin, to talk about how his company is helping change the aviation industry. 

Here at PowerTalk, each week I bring you my 1-1 conversations with not only CEOs of public and private companies, but also those from the up and coming companies and disruptive apps that are likely game changers. That makes them potential disruptors in the world that I call PowerTrends. We’ve seen this time and again and that’s why I keep a close eye not only on publicly traded companies, but also venture and private equity backed ones as well. 

If your a frequent traveler or even just an occasional one, you already know what a hassle traveling has become. Getting to the airport hours before your flight to face long lines and or flight delays or cancellations are just the start of it. It seems the airlines like American Airlines (AAMRQ), United Continental (UAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL), US Airways (LCC), Spirit Airlines (SAVE) and others are nickel-and-diming you all the way. 

Want to check a bag? Pay more.

Want to get a snack on the flight? Pay more.

Want to watch a movie? Pay more.

There’s even talk of passengers having to pay to bring carry-on luggage on board the aircraft.

Don’t forget, you still have to get there hours ahead of time so you can have some up close and personal time with the TSA. 

Did you know that there are a number of smaller airfields that have private plans flying in and out of them all the time?

Often times, those private planes aren’t full and that means the operator is leaving money and profits on the table.

That’s where BlackJet comes in. 

Through its app and website -- BlackJet.com -- the company matches excess seating on private planes with those folks that are looking for a better way to travel. That’s just the start, as CEO Dean Rothchin explained to me there’s far more flexibility when traveling with BlackJet than with a conventional airline. Some have called it the Uber of the airline industry, 

While some may scoff at this, I can tell that BlackJet is gaining ground and a following. I know this because the company is launched in five cities -- San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, South Florida and Las Vega -- and is expanding to five more -- Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

After listening to this PowerTalk with Dean, you’ll not only see how BlackJet is turning the aviation industry on its head, you’ll understand there are alternatives out there that can make you feel like your worth a few million dollars even if you don’t have that much.

Direct download: 07-01-13_BLACKJETPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50am EST