PowerTalk (general)

Fellow investors,

Thanks for joining me this week on PowerTalk. I’m your host Chris Versace, editor of the investment newsletter PowerTrend Profits. If you’ve been here before, welcome back! As you know my goal with PowerTalk is to let you listen in on some of the conversations I’m having each and every week and to take you behind the scenes and in the know.

If your a new listener to PowerTalk, this is the place where I bring you my 1-1 conversations with CEOs of public and private companies as well as other key people in business, politics and wherever else might be impacting the stock market and our investing decisions. 

One of my Great 8 PowerTrends is Always On, Always Connected. That refers to the pervasive nature of the Internet and the connected society we live in. With more time being spent online from mobile devices, the combination the smartphone and tablet along with websites and apps like Facebook (FB), Twitter, LinkedIn (LNKD), Netflix (NFLX), Path, Amazon.com (AMZN), Pinterest and others are changing how we work, stay in touch with friends and family, digest news, watch movies and TV and shop.

But there’s a new way to shop and it’s one that let’s you make money from the closet full of clothes and accessories that you’ve built up over the years and buy the fashion items you have been seeking or wish you had. I’m referring to Poshmark, a company whose mobile app allows you to buy from the closets of Americans at affordable prices. Now you may hear that and be skeptical but with more than 1 million users that are uploading the equivalent of an entire Nordstrom’s store every few days, Poshmark is company that sits at the center of my Always On, Always Connected and the Cash Strapped Consumer component of my Rise and Fall of the Middle Class  PowerTrends. 

With me this week on PowerTalk is the Manish Chandra, the founder and CEO of Poshmark. Over the last two years, Manish and his team have focused on women’s fashion and built a user friendly platform that has some women making thousands of dollars a month. Recently Poshmark received a $12 million investment from venture capital firm Menlo Park Ventures. I suspect Menlo saw that Poshmark is tracking to have $350 million in inventory uploaded this year alone -- that’s head and shoulders above the $100 million it was expecting. 

That all sounds pretty good and after talking with Manish, it’s only going to get better because there are some big things planned for Poshmark in the months ahead. If you like buying designer brands online at Amazon.com (AMZN), Macy’s (M), Saks (SKS) or Nordstrom’s (JWN), wait until you hear what’s next for Poshmark.


Some of the key takeaways from my PowerTalk with Manish are:

  • Consumers continue to embrace technologies and platforms to look for value where they can. This began years ago with eBay (EBAY) and has benefitted Amazon.com (AMZN) tremendously with its 6PM.com and other initiatives. Poshmark is the latest in a line of e-tailors and builds on the growing mobile e-tailer landscape. 
  • Poshmark’s continued success is likely to pose problems for mid-to higher end retailers such as Nordstrom (JWN), Saks (SKS), Macy’s (M) and others should women continue to embrace mobile discount shopping for premium and luxury brands.
  •   As Poshmark expands its footprint the pressure its business model could join in on the pressure that is already being put on companies like Children’s Place (PLCE), Gap Kids (GPS) and others by the likes of Costco (COST) and Target (TGT).
Direct download: 04-05-13_POSHMARKPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Direct download: 03-29-13_REDTHREADPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:03am EST

Direct download: 03-29-13_MICHAELBROWNPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55am EST

Thanks for joining me this week on PowerTalk. I’m your host Chris Versace, editor of the investment newsletter PowerTrend Profits.   If your a new listener to PowerTalk, this is the place where I bring you my 1-1 conversations with CEOs of public and private companies as well as other key people in business, politics and wherever else might be impacting the stock market and our investing decisions. 

If you’ve been here before, welcome back! As you know my goal with PowerTalk is to let you listen in on some of the conversations I’m having each and every week and to take you behind the scenes and in the know.

Over the last few years we’ve seen the explosion in smartphones, tablets and ereaders from the likes of Samsung, Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), Amazon.com (AMZN) and others. Those devices along with streaming services, cable news, companies like Facebook (FB) and Twitter as well as apps like Flipboard are changing the way we consume news. That’s had a negative impact on the publishing industry, specifically the newspaper and magazine industries. 

A number of newspapers and magazines have folded while others are have reduced the number of days they publish and shift their business model increasingly online. The crux of the problem is the business model of old -- advertising -- is very different in the online world than it was in the print one. That’s forced companies like The New York Times (NYT), News Corp.’s (NWSA) Wall Street Journal and others to adopt new business models. 

Joining me this week to discuss all of this and talk about some of the latest strategies being put to work to help revitalize the news industry is Andrew Nachison, one of the founders of WeMedia, a global agency, studio and idea incubator for the digital age. Clients include publishers, marketers, startups, investors, media companies and educations institutions the world over. 

During our PowerTalk, we dish not only on the challenges facing these institutions, but also why legendary investor Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) has been scooping them up over the last year. Andrew also dishes on those properties that are doing right and he even shares the emerging business model that could help digital publishers and disrupt Google’s (GOOG) Adsense advertising platform.  

Several key takeaway that I came away with from my conversation with Andrew include:

  • Newspaper and magazine publishers like The New York Times Company (NYT), Gannet Co. (GCI), The Washington Post Company (WPO) and others continue to struggle with the shift in advertising dollars to digital platforms and away from print. While there are some success stories in the print medium, the publishing companies continue to struggle with how they compete with online properties.
  • Publishers are experimenting with new business models, such as the paywall seen at NewS Corp’s Wall Street Journal. Several online properties, such as Business Insider and Buzz Feed, have embraced a native advertising model that includes the “advatorie”, a hybrid advertising and content that meshes well within the online property’s content offering.  This model is evident inside of other platforms, like Patagonia and other media-product providers. 
  • The “advatorie” business model poses a threat to Google’s Adsense text and banner advertising model.
  • Tablets, such as Apple’s (AAPL) iPad and others will pressure the text book industry. Already new libraries are popping up that don’t have any books. Companies to watch on this front include News Corp., Amplify and Scholastic. 
Direct download: 03-21-13_WEMEDIAPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:12am EST

Fellow investors,

Thanks for joining me this week on PowerTalk. I’m your host Chris Versace, editor of the investment newsletter PowerTrend Profits.  

If your a new listener to PowerTalk, this is the place where I bring you my 1-1 conversations with CEOs of public and private companies as well as other key people in business, politics and wherever else might be impacting the stock market and our investing decisions. 

If you’ve been here before, welcome back! As you know my goal with PowerTalk is to let you listen in on some of the conversations I’m having each and every week and to take you behind the scenes and in the know.

It’s no secret that job growth has been a disappoint during the current economy recovery. No matter how you look at it and irrespective of the metric you choose, it’s been consistently and persistently weak recovery compared to others.  With wages under pressure, millions of American out of work and thousands continuing to drop out of the work force each month, it can be a depressing picture. That’s before factoring in the millions of American that have ballooned the food stamp program. Worse yet, some economists are even saying the current recovery is getting a little long in the tooth. 

It may look a little bleak out there, but there’s reason to think there is some hope for job creation in this country. 

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Beth Solomon, the President and CEO of the National Association of Development Companies (NADCO). Development companies take several forms and work with different financing types including working capital loans, asset based financing and private equity. Examples of companies that do that include Main Street Capital Corp. (MAIN), Apollo Investment (AINV), and PennantPark Investment Corp. (PNNT) among others. The National Association of Development Companies or NADCO as it’s known is the trade association for companies certified by the Small Business Administration to provide financing for small businesses under the SBA 504 program.

Beth hammered home the fact that small businesses are the lifeblood of job creation. Despite the industry providing more than $6 billion in capital during 2012 to nearly 10,000 U.S. small businesses, access to capital remains the greatest challenge to small businesses and job creation. In the franchise industry alone, that resulted in 94,000 jobs not being created last year. 

While many think restaurants like Subway and the like when they hear the work “franchise”, you’d be surprised to learn that assisted living, child care, retailers and hotels are others account for a big portion of the franchise industry. That means companies like Hilton, Marriott International (MARR), RadioShack (RSH), Assisted Living Concepts (ALC), Sunrise Senior Living (SRZ) and others.

While commercial banks like Citigroup (CITI), Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and others are seeing their credit freeze start to thaw, Beth and I talk about a number of programs and other initiatives that small businesses can tap into right now to get the capital they need and put Americans back to work. 



Direct download: 03-13-13_NADCOPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:25pm EST

Fellow investor,

Thanks for joining on this edition of PowerTalk, where I, Chris Versace - editor of the PowerTrend Profits investing newsletter, dish with good friend Keith Bliss of Cuttone & Co. from the floor of the NYSE. Each week we’ll be breaking down the latest goings on in the market and talking about what’s moving it. We also share what data and events we’ll be keeping our eyes on next week. 

This past week was an interesting one to say the least. From the start of the sequester and the would be snowquester on the east coast to the latest economic data that points to a firmer domestic economy. Despite a better than expected February Employment Report, there are reasons to be think that this could be an outlier rather than the real thing. Not only did the Challenger Grey Job Cuts report point to a 37% increase in job cuts during February, but sifting through this week’s Fed Beige Book reveals restrained hiring given the implications of the Affordable Care Act. Factor in the expected impact of the sequester on defense companies and related contractors and odds are job creation in March will abate. 

That’s not to say the February Employment Report was all bad. The pick up in construction jobs boosts the case for homebuilders, like Toll Brothers (TOL), Ryland Group (RYL) and Lennar Corp. (LEN) among others as well as homebuilding materials companies like USG (USG) and Sherwin Williams (SHW)

Amidst all of this, the stock market continued to grind its way higher this week with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at a new high and the S&P 500 not far behind. One concerning point in this move higher is that the leaders have not been the ususal suspects. That is, it’s not tech, financials or consumer discretionary that are leading the way, but rather defensive sectors like consumer staples, utilities and the like. 

On our radar next week is the February economic data that will start to reflect the jump in gas prices. More specifically that’s inflation figures a la the consumer and producer price indices as well as retail sales figures. Already a number of companies including Rite Aid Corp. (RAD), Ross Stores (ROST), Zumiez (ZUMZ), The Buckle (BKE), Fred’s (FRED) and Cato Corp. (CATO) have announced negative February same store comparisons. With gas prices up 11% on average for the month and a hefty 14% year to date, odds are there will be more disapponting retail figures to be had. 

Be sure to come back next week, when Keith and I will be break it all down again as we wrap the week and look ahead. 

Direct download: Versace_Bliss_03082013.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:17pm EST

Thanks for joining me again this week on PowerTalk. If your new to the show, this is the place where I bring you my 1-1 conversations with CEOs of public and private companies as well as other key people in business, politics and wherever else might be impacting the stock market and our investing decisions. 

I’m your host Chris Versace, editor of the investment newsletter PowerTrend Profits My goal with PowerTalk is to let you listen in on some of the conversations I’m having each and every week and to take you behind the scenes and in the know.

There’s been a lot of bluster over the recently enacted sequester spending cuts, which are really cuts in the rate of spending growth than true reductions in dollars spent. While there will be sectors of the economy that feel the impact more than others -- defense and government contractors like Lockheed Martin (LMT), Northrop Grumman (NOC) and others -- the underlying economy is in far better shape given the rebound in the housing and manufacturing economies. 

Offsetting those favorable economic factors are the impact of higher gas prices and the January tax increase that is putting less money in the average paycheck. Another factor that I am closely watching is the impact of the Affordable Care Act, which is better known as ObamaCare. We knew it would have an impact on business and this week’s Fed Beige Book, which tracks anecdotal economic information from the Fed’s 12  districts, confirms that. In my experience, rising costs -- be it fuel or healthcare costs or both at the same time -- can restrain business investment and hiring. 

Discussing all of that and more with me this week on PowerTalk is Stephen Moore, an editorial board member and senior economics writer at the Wall Street Journal. I’ve enjoyed his editorials in the Journal for a long time and it was a pleasure to speak with him. Even though we talked over a number of issues from overhauling the tax code, the rampant use of food stamps and tax inspired migration to Texas and other states from California, Stephen expressed his long-term optimism for the United States and its economy. All that and we also touched on his new book Who’s The Fairest Of Them All? 

Stephen and I both agree that the political conflict in Washington has held the U.S. economic engine in check at a time when the Federal Reserve is supply low cost gas to get the economic fire going. Near-term, the average consumer will continue to be The Cash Strapped Consumer that is found in my Rise and Fall of the Middle Class PowerTrend. 


Direct download: 03-06-13_STEPHENMOOREPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:54pm EST

Fellow investors,

Thanks for joining on this edition of PowerTalk, where I, Chris Versace - editor of the PowerTrend Profits investing newsletter, dish with good friend Keith Bliss of Cuttone & Co. from the floor of the NYSE. Each week we’ll be breaking down the latest goings on in the market and talking about what’s moving it. We also share what data and events we’ll be keeping our eyes on next week. 

This past week was an interesting one to say the least. From the Italian elections and sequester to the essentially flat 4Q 2012 GDP revision, it paints a picture of increasing risk. Yet, the major indices continued to move higher and in some cases closing in on all time highs. As we saw with today’s Personal Income and Spending data, however, we are only beginning to see the impact of the payroll tax exemption expiration and higher gas prices. With gas prices continuing to climb, it’s a pretty good bet that the consumer and retailers like J.C. Penny (JCP) and casual dining restaurants like Red Robing Gourmet (RRGB) and others will feel it on the chin in the coming weeks. 

For the stock market, while most pros expect a pullback in the coming weeks, don’t expect a massive correction as the Fed has overtly stated that they will keep the ‘punch bowl’ filled for as long as it takes to get unemployment down below 6.5% (February employment situation will be reported on March 8th); which has the effect of keeping asset markets frothy.  But beware, at some point weak economic data will begin to trump fed action.  A weaker consumer may just be the first indication that there is danger ahead for the U.S. economy…and the U.S. equity market.

While the sequester is on investor minds this week -- and it should be given that those automatic cuts are set to take effect at 11:59 PM tonight -- there is another shoe to drop. That is the March 27th deadline to raise the country’s debt ceiling. Put it all together and March is shaping up to be a far more volatile month than January or February combined. 

Listen to Keith and I break all this and more down - 

  • A number of companies announced higher dividends this week, like The TJX Companies (TJX), and that follows big dividend increases from the likes of Walmart (WMT) and Coca-Cola (KO) last week. 
  • The 2013 Mobile World Congress was held and a number of new mobile products and services were announced. One of the most interesting ones to me was Qualcomm’s (QCOM) Wi-Fi enabled coffee pot. Talk about a compelling set up for the connected home. 
  • This morning we learned that factory activity in China slowed during February as the official PMI reading slipped to 50.1 from 50.4 in January.
  • Apple (AAPL) held its annual shareholder meeting and to much chagrin the company did not announce any new initiatives to use is $137 billion cash war chest. 
  • Struggling daily deal company Groupon (GRPN) announced the departure of CEO Andrew Mason. Even though the shares rallied after the announcement, Keith and I both agree this was a decision that was long-time coming. 
  • There were some bright spots in the domestic economic data this week. There was strength in housing and below the durable goods headline -- machine tool orders up 13.5% in January. That means good things for homebuilders like Toll Brothers (TOL), Ryland Group (RYL) and others as well as key suppliers, such as USG (USG), Sherwin Willliams (SHW),   and service providers like ADT Corp. (ADT). 

Be sure to come back next week, when Keith and I will be break it all down again as we wrap the week and look ahead. 

Disclosure: Subscribers to PowerTrend Profits were alerted to add shares of USG (USG) and ADT Corp. (ADT) at $29.19 and $46.54, respectively.


Direct download: Versace_Bliss_03012013.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EST

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 EST

 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 EST