PowerTalk (general)

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

Fellow Investor,

Welcome to another edition of PowerTalk, where we bring you insightful conversations with key business people and other subject matter experts that take you behind the scenes and in the know. As always the goal is to arm you with an informed perspective and data points that lead to better investing decisions.  

I’m your host Chris Versace, Editor of the investing newsletter PowerTrend Profits - be sure to check out ChrisVersace.com for more on that and be sure to sign up for my free weekly e-letter while your there.

Joining me this week is NY Times best-selling author Daniel Pink. You’ve probably read his best selling books Drive or A Whole New Mind or caught him on CNBC, CNN or another network. Today we’re going to talk about his new book - To Sell is Human Not only is it a great read, but Dan brings together an astonishing amount of data and presents it in a clear and crisp fashion. Whether its talking about how we are all salespeople in one form or another or how technology -- smartphones and the Internet for example - are changing the role of sales and sales people, Dan addresses it all. He even has rechristend that famous Alec Baldwin saying in the hit movie Glenn Gary, Glenn Ross from “A - Always, B - Be, C - Closing” to “Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity.” All that and we also touch on what all of this means for companies like Tupperware (TUP), Herbalife (HLF), Nu Skin (NUS) and Avon Products (AVP) among other sales organizations.  

As always, we cover a lot of ground so let’s get to it and remember to pick up Dan’s new book -- To Sell is Human at a bookstore near you or download it from Amazon or Apple’s iBooks.

Direct download: 01-31-13_DANIELPINKPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:39am EST

Fellow Investor,

This week’s PowerTalk interview is with Patrick Sweeney, President and CEO of dwinQ, a social media product placement company.  He’s also the author of RFID for Dummies and a frequent speaker on technology’s impact on business and life.

Be it Facebook (FB), Instagram, LinkedIn (LNKD), Google+ (GOOG), Twitter, Pinterest or any other one you can name, social media is changing how we communicate and interact with family, friends, co-workers, products and brands. It’s making for some big business.  Research firm BIA/Kelsey forecasts U.S. social media ad revenues to reach $9.2 billion in 2016, up from $4.6 billion in 2012 - that’s a compound annual growth rate of 19.2%. Impressive but again that’s just in the U.S and social media is part of a global shift in behavior that is  a cornerstone of my Always On, Always Connected PowerTrend.

Patrick explains how dwinQ is showing companies like Disney, Cadbury, Vail Resorts, and Heineken how to leverage social media to build their brands and enhance their customers’ experiences.  He also shares his perspective on a number of companies being impacted by social media - companies like Costco (COST) and Amazon.com (AMZN) as well as Facebook (FB) and talks on the multiplier benefit associated with sponsored events and social media marketing. 

It’s a fascinating look at how social media and technology are combining to change the way companies do business. 

Direct download: 01-23-13_DWINQPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:43pm EST

Fellow Investor,

This week’s PowerTalk interview is with Keith Bliss, Senior Vice President at Cuttone and Company, one of the largest floor brokers on the NYSE.   Keith is an old friend of mine, and he shares what he sees from the trading floor these days.  He starts the conversation off by saying 2013 is shaping up to deliver a lot more of the same for investors as 2012 – mixed economic signals, political battles and all.

We also cover why the U.S. equity markets are still the best place to put your money, how to put ETFs to work for you, the risks investors face in 2013, the looming debt ceiling crisis and how you could be affected if Washington doesn’t get a deal in place, taxes, unemployment and more!

Finally, we take a look at the potential threats that Keith believes could derail the markets and the economy in 2013, including energy costs, politics and currency wars. 



Chris Versace

Direct download: 01-18-13_BLISSPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm EST

Fellow Investor,
This week I’m talking with Greg Martin from General Motors. Greg’s an Executive Director of Communications Strategy and News Operations as well as an easy person to talk to. He reminds us that while the auto industry may appear simple, there are many layers to it from manufacturing the cars, competing with Ford, Chrysler and others to dealing with car dealerships and the end consumer. 
Over the next while, we talk about those things as well as the rebound in auto demand, the auto bailout and issues that caused the company to be called Government Motors; how the company has remade itself over the last few years and what lies ahead given a significant portfolio overhaul and several new technologies. 
In some ways, it’s a nice follow up to my talk with Gary Shapiro of the Cosumer Electronics Associatin because Greg confirmed that auto and consumer electronics will be a big deal at the upcoming consumer electronics show. He even mentioned that GM is working with Apple (AAPL) and its Siri voice interface.
It’s a insight ful talk and Greg Martin was a pleasure to talk with. Hopefully we’ll be able to talk again in several months to follow up on GM product. revamp and a number of other things.
Direct download: 12-26-12_GENERALMOTORSPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:11am EST

Smith & Wesson CEO & President James Debney

Welcome to PowerTalk, where we talk with CEOs, COOs and other key business people at public and private companies as well as other subject matter experts.

This week we’re talking with Smith & Wesson President and CEO James Debney, who is leading the company to impressive new growth. Smith & Wesson is in the perfect position to profit from my Safety and Security PowerTrend.

In the interview we cover:

  • how Smith & Wesson is profiting from strong firearm sales and shifting gun ownership demographics
  • the growing demand for firearms, as evidenced by the chart below

Total NICS Background Checks

  • their strategy for continuing to improve margins and grow earnings
  • Plus how they plan to increase market share

It’s a great conversation with James so lets lock and load and get right to it!
In case you missed it, click here to listen to last week’s PowerTalk interview with Mobile Payment expert Matt Jacobson.

For more on Chris Versace and PowerTrends, click here. Or visit www.ChrisVersace.com

Press Contact:

Alberto Rojas


Direct download: 12-11-12_SMITHWESSONPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:51pm EST

Mobile Commerce with Matt Jacobson of Acta Wireless

Welcome to PowerTalk, where we talk with CEOs, COOs and other key business people at public and private companies as well as other subject matter experts.

This week we’re talking with someone I’ve known for some time -  Matt Jacobson, Venture Partner at Acta Wireless. Matt’s expertise is in mobile. mobile payments and mobile commerce.  In the interview we cover:

  • how people are paying with their mobile devices – be it with PayPal, Square, their Starbucks mobile app, Google Wallet and a host of others.
  • the Cashless Consumption PowerTrend shift including the companies offering payment apps as well as companies like Verifone and Ingenico that make the point of sale equipment.
  • Plus integrated mobile commerce like couponing and Apple’s Passbook offering.

As you’ll hear, Matt thinks we’re in the early innings of mobile commerce and a lot is going to happen…. Click here to play the interview

For more on Chris Versace and PowerTrends, click here. Or visitwww.ChrisVersace.com

Press Contact:

Alberto Rojas


Direct download: 12-05-12_JACOBSONPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:15pm EST

Fellow investors,

I recently spoke with Bahram Yusefzadeh, Chairman and CEO of Red Lambda, and William Ronca, EVP - Global Sales, Marketing and Business Development at Red Lambda, about the use of Big Data and Cyber Security. In information technology lingo, big data is a loosely-defined term used to describe data sets so large and complex that they become awkward to work with using on-hand database management tools. Difficulties include capture, storage, search, sharing, analysis, and visualization

Yet Red Lambda has harnessed the power of big data to move Cyber Security from being reactive to being proactive. As I say, you react with a good defense, but to be secure you have to be proactive and Red Lambda is using that to differentiate its solutions from others including Sourcefire (FIRE), Symantec (SYMC),  Fortinet (FTNT) and others. With cyber attacks hitting institutions of all sizes - from Google (GOOG) to Northrop Grumman (NOC) the stakes are high as we increasingly move into the digital world and migrate more of our data into the cloud be it with Apple (AAPL), Google, Amazon.com (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) or others.  

Listen up.

Press Contact:

Alberto Rojas


Direct download: 05-24-12_REDLAMBDAPOLICYCALL.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:20pm EST