Monday, May 2, 2011

President Obama and the United States of America

We live in democratic times; and in a global economy that is interconnected by instant communications and shrinking dimensions of time and space... and with strong values for human rights for all inhabitants of this planet.

Mr. Obama is the right President and Commander-in-Chief for the United States in these times... because, he is intelligent, articulate, educated, has grasp for facts and details, logical thinker, has sharp cognitive shills, diplomatic, assertive, considerate, modest, quick decision maker, and above all a decent human being with compassion and care.

Alexander the Great was one of the greatest warriors of all time... for the barbaric times in our history.

President Johnson, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. are mostly responsible for the barbaric image of the US around the globe. President Carter may not have caused any barbaric acts during his watch... but manged to portray the US as babbling, bungling over-sized buffoons.

Given the time and opportunity, Obama can change many wrongs within the US shores and enhance our image as a superpower around the globe.

Mr. Obama's handling of Libyan crises [ making NATO spearhead the action] and eliminating Osama Bin-Laden [in collaboration with Pakistan] is proof positive that he has the right foreign policy and is the right President for the US in a fast approaching global democracy that values human rights... and enhance US image as the superpower it is in the hearts and minds of billions on this planet.

God bless President Obama and the United States of America.

Anant Goel

Thursday, April 7, 2011

MicroVision: Major Cost Cutting Measures or Death Spiral? Part2

We have known for some time that major cost cutting measures were underway at MicroVision.  And this fact was finally confirmed at the 4th Qtr earnings conference call held on February 15th.

Now, it looks like the reality of Picop projector market [and its limitations at this stage] have finally set-in at MicroVision. However, the pace of cost cutting may have picked-up momentum; to a point where “fat cutting” may be “slicing the bone” and cause structural damage to the integrity of the company.

Lately, there has been very little visible activity or news at Microvision.  And that makes you wonder: “What's up with no SHOW at the Displayland of laser based Pico Projectors?”

Here's the latest scoop and thinking based on some consumer feedback...

Fifteen lumen bright Pico projectors, regardless of the brand name or the underlying technology, are a toy as a standalone device... but the market is quite receptive to such devices in the $99 to $149 range.

Fifteen lumen bright Pico projectors, using panel or DLP/LED technology, use too much battery power and need constant focusing... and they will also have other gating [like size and heat] issues making into the mobile devices. If panel/DLP/LED technology gets past the mobile platform gating issues; at fifteen lumen, they will still be considered a toy... but the market is quite receptive to such devices in the $99 to $149 range... especially when someone else is paying for it.

Fifteen lumen bright Pico projectors, using MEMS/DGL technology, present a more favorable solution to the battery power issues and do not need constant focusing... and they will have far fewer mobile platform gating issues and will easily make their way into the mobile devices. However, at fifteen lumen, such laser based devices will still be considered a toy... but the market is quite receptive to such devices in the $99 to $149 range... especially when someone else is paying for it.

Bottom line is...

“... and more importantly, can Microvision make 15 lumen bright DGL based IPMs [for embedded Pico projectors] in millions; and make them cheap enough to be able to sell them in the $49 to $99 range; and manage to stave-off the financial death spiral by showing some net profit on each sale?”

A few dollars profit on each unit sold could easily translate into millions of dollars in profit when adoption rates accelerate into hundreds of million units in the next 2-3 years.

In my opinion, the answer, with some qualifications, is an astounding yes.

The last hand is in play... and over the next 30 days its the do or die time for Microvision brass.

Anant Goel

Monday, February 21, 2011

Transocean (NYSE: RIG): Expect to See Price Drop Around Earnings Release on February 23, 2011

Many of you that have traded stock and options on Transocean, since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill/rig blowout disaster, have done well... that is, if you managed to stay on the right side of the trade while the stock almost doubled from a low of $44 in June 2010.

However, with the stock trading at close to $84, the big question is where we go from here. Now that the options play before FEB expiration is over; and billionaire investor Paulson & Company have taken position in the last quarter of 2010, we should get ready to see some reality to set-in the PPS of RIG.

All those factor that could effect the PPS are aligned against Transocean stock...
  • Lower earnings this quarter compared to the same quarter last year (98 cent expected vs the $2,29).
  • We are seeing declining revenues and earnings every quarter for the last six quarters since the quarter ending September 2009. Seems like “bloom is off the this rose”.
  • We are seeing declining day rates with increasing number of rigs going on standby rates after the accident in the Gulf of Mexico... and most recently, the political turmoil in the Middle East.
  • Recently, the company announced over a billion dollar charge resulting from the impairment of the Standard Jackup fleet.
  • There is still the specter of criminal and civil liabilities from the GOM accident.
  • Cost of doing business has increased dramatically for the off-shore drillers.
  • Legal expenses are escalating after the GOM accident.
  • Oil at around $85 and staying flat. However, political turmoil in the Middle East may increase the short term price of oil but that does not effect the rig engagement prospects in the short term.
  • More and more majors are demanding lower day rates in the politically troubled Middle East and some majors are even forcing “ Force Majeure” clause in their contracts.
  • Increasing number of deep water rigs are being built on spec and coming on-line in search of contracts. 
  • Dividend payment at Transocean is still in limbo and the decision is currently tied-up in Swedish courts. 

    Offshore Drilling May Not Be as Strong as Expected... and that includes RIG
Here's a recent Wall Street article on the subject...

All the above scenarios point to flat to lower PPS for Transocean in the days ahead. 

Despite higher oil futures due in part to intensifying protests in the Middle East and a federal judge ordering the Obama Administration to make a decision on five offshore drilling permit requests in the next 30 days, the Offshore Drilling Stocks Index is Flat.

While the Obama Administration has lifted a moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that was put in place following the April 2010 accident, it has yet to approve permits for new drilling operations. Ensco (ESV) is trying to get five permits, some submitted as far back as April 2010, approved and Judge Martin Feldman on Thursday ordered the Interior Department to approve those applications within 30 days, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The Obama Administration says there is no specific timeframe mandated by federal law to render decisions on offshore drilling projects, according to the Journal.

Now, let's talk about Paulson & Company taking a stake in Transocean...

Arguably the most successful investor in the world, Paulson & Co. reported its end-of-year holdings to the SEC recently. I'm little surprised at his stake in Transocean during the fourth quarter of 2010. Paulson is a bit late to the party with this new position... because, there were much better opportunities to buy the shares of Transocean in the third quarter without taking appreciably more risk; when the Gulf oil spill was front-page news every day. Indeed, another value investor, Bill Miller, made a very profitable case for Transocean last June... when the stock was still trading in the mid 40's.

The most recent run-up in Transocean PPS to $83.40 can be attributed, in my opinion, to the FEB options expiration and Paulson & Co taking stake in the RIG stock during the fourth quarter of 2010.

With these two events behind us, the reality of Transocean business must play out its due course with flat to lower stock prices in the short term. There are some very profitable options strategies that you can use to take advantage of this flat to somewhat declining stock price in the short term.

Anant Goel

Saturday, February 12, 2011

MicroVision: Schedules Conference Call to Discuss 2011 Strategy and Preliminary 2010 Results

Press Release
Source: MicroVision, Inc.
On Friday February 11, 2011, 8:00 am EST

REDMOND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- MicroVision, Inc. (NASDAQ:MVIS - News), a leader in innovative ultra-miniature projection display technology, today announced it will host a conference call to discuss its 2011 business strategy and preliminary financial and operating results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2010 on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 8:30 a.m. ET / 5:30 a.m. PT.
Here's the link...

It comes as a surprise that 4th Qtr earnings conference call is being held on February 15th at 5:30am PST. It is much earlier than the usual first week of March and always after the market close at 4:30pm EST. Some folks would speculate; and take this as a sign of something good... and for a change, they may just be right.

It is quite apparent that the 5:30am PST conference call [at 8:30am EST] is being intentionally organized to conclude before the US markets open at 9:30am EST... while it is still early pm in the Kingdom of Japan; ̶the home of Pioneer Corporation. In my opinion, the decision to hold the CC this early in the morning; is not only to accommodate what Pioneer Corp may have to say... but also to influence the MVIS stock activity in the US financial markets.

Make sure to pull-up your shorts... because there is news on the tab that could impact your financial health in the “short run”.

With the conference call timing issue out of the way, let's now focus on the subject of the CC...

“... to discuss 2011 strategy” as it says in the headline to the Press Release.

I expect most of the CC time being spent here on the subject of 2011 strategy...

I expect Microvision and Pioneer Corp [to be present in some way or form] and lay the foundation for a total makeover and a fresh start for Microvision... with its CEO “in tow” to pitch the financial orgy of last four years as just a bad dream.

In the name of  “... 2011 strategy”, I expect to hear about major changes announced [which could be an on-going process] in all business aspects of Microvision... with Pioneer's finger prints, influence, and involvement being quite visible.

Here's business aspects that are expected to be discussed and significantly influenced , hopefully for the better, in my opinion...

* More visibility to Pioneer relationship and agreement
* New organizational structure
* Staffing levels and re-assignments
* Cost cutting [and cost sharing] measures
* Current and new funding source(s) and structure
* Diode Green Laser program and the role of SHG green laser
* Inventory write-downs and losses
* Significant drop in cost of "bill of materials" for SHOWwx line 
* Ramp-down SHOWwx production to parallel inventories 
* HEMP OEM coming out party
* New products in the pipe line with garbled time-lines as usual

We should see more confidence in CEO Tokman's voice after years of babbling and garbled communications. It takes gumption [and some charisma] to let go the “VP of Sales, Marketing and Business Development”... and still manage to survive as the CEO of the company.

Microvision will survive; and will do just fine under the virtual “halo” of big brother Pioneer Corporation of Japan.

Anant Goel

Sunday, February 6, 2011

MicroVision: Major Cost Cutting Measures or Death Spiral?

We have known for some time that major cost cutting measures were underway at MicroVision.

Now, it looks like the reality of picop projector market [limitations at this stage] has finally set-in at MicroVision... and the pace of cost cutting may have picked-up momentum; to a point where “fat cutting” may be “slicing the bone” and cause structural damage to the integrity of the company.

The most recent [and visible] casualties of this cost cutting measure, assuming that's what they are...

First, Matt Nichols... Director of Communications and former VP of Marketing at MicroVision (November 2010)
Then, Ben Averch... Global Product Manager (January 2011)
Now, Michael Fritts... Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Business Development (February 2011)

There are no public announcements of Mr. Fritts leaving the company. So far, the only way we are able to conclude that he is no longer with the company; is from his profile being taken down from the “Management Team” at the company web site, as well as, his name that no longer appears as part of the management team in the Media Kit.

Here's some links...

The current management team looks like...

Alexander Tokman: CEO and president
Jeff T. Wilson: CFO
Joe O’Sullivan: Vice president, global operations
Sid Madhavan: Vice president of research and product development
Thomas M. Walker: Vice president general counsel & secretary

No matter how you spin-it, the fact is: it's not an error or an act of omission by any length of imagination that Mr. Fritts' name just got dropped from the “Management Team”. There is no doubt that Mr. Fritts has left the building. However, the big question now is: why there was no formal announcement of his resignation [or termination], and most importantly, why on earth there is no replacement announced by the CEO or BODs at MicroVision?

Regardless of what a company does for business, sooner or later, every single company out there in the real world recognizes the need and value of “Sales, Marketing and Business Development”... and as such, there always is, as a matter of fact, an executive level position for VP Sales, Marketing and Business Development” included in the corporate hierarchy.

This entire episode of missing “VP Sales, Marketing and Business Development” is “bizarre”... to say the least.

What makes MicroVision business model so different that they can get-by without a VP of Sales, Marketing and Business Development?

More importantly, why there is no public announcement of any or all news associated with this bizarre episode of the missing VP of Sales, Marketing and Business Development... not only the missing executive but also the missing position [title] as part of the executive management team?

Here's the question for the CEO and BODs of MicroVision...

“After four years of financial orgy that produced insignificant amount of sales [of anything] but involved dozens of highly paid managers [and support staff] in the PR, IR, Sales, Marketing, Business Development, Administration, Global Product Management, etc... are you now “cutting fat” so deep that it may be “slicing the bone” and cause structural damage to the integrity of the company.”

Investors of MicroVision want to know?

Anant Goel

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Internet & Mobile Technology: Spurs Human Rights Movement Around the Globe

Impact on Human Rights of the People of the World

The world is stepping into unknown territory of instant global communications, global social networking, global commerce, and the rapid spread of unrest from country to country, propelled by the Internet and mobile technology.

Internet and mobile technology will bring about major changes in all aspects of our lives. However, the most significant changes would be the human rights movement around the world where people gather in the Internet and mobile communications forum to finally recognize, organize and demand their basic human rights.

Human rights are "rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled." Proponents of the concept usually assert that everyone is endowed with certain entitlements merely by reason of being human.

Egalitarianism, is a trend of thought that favors equality of some sort. Its general premise is that people should be treated as equals on certain dimensions such as religion, politics, economics, social status, and culture. Egalitarian doctrines maintain that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or moral status. It is defined either as a political doctrine that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights or as a social philosophy advocating the removal of economic inequalities among people or the decentralization of power.”

Already, there has been civil unrest in countries such as Greece that have been sparked by their recent financial problems.

The lesson from unrest in Egypt, Greece, and regime change in Tunisia are very profound and clear.

“People will no longer accept oppression, particularly when oppression is married with rising food prices, a lack of employment and the destruction of hope for a young generation.”

Incidents of civil unrest that are already breaking out around the world are just a foretaste of what is to come, perhaps even to the United States.

In response to the civil unrest in Egypt, President Obama said in his recent communique to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak...

"I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters," Obama said.

The U.S. president also said protesters in Egypt have a responsibility to remain peaceful. "Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms they seek," Obama said.

Obama called on Egypt's government to reverse actions it has taken to "interfere with access to the Internet, to cellphone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century."

The suspension of the Internet is one of Egypt's latest moves in halting online communications amid unrest.

As the Technology blog reported, on Thursday the government blocked Internet data for BlackBerry smart phones and on Tuesday social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were unavailable to Egyptians as well. Mobile phone service in Egypt was cut off on Friday too.

The Web, and in particular social media sites, have been an invaluable tool for activists seeking political and social reforms in Egypt, said Charles Hirschkind, an associate professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley.

"The Egyptian government, they're hoping that these communication methods are a lifeline for the protests and activists and they're hoping that cutting off access will help lead to stopping the demonstrations," Hirschkind said. "But it's also apparent from the number of people in the street that people have plenty of ways to communicate outside of the Internet as well.

"The social networks in activist and in protest movements like this are social networks that extend beyond the Internet. The Internet is a tool but not the social network itself."

Last year, there were 60 million mobile phone users in Egypt. In Egypt, there were 17 million Internet users as of December '09... that is 21% of the Egyptian population, according to the ITU.

There were 20 million people in Egypt that live below the poverty level... so I guess, they must be the one's without a mobile phone and are probably the ones demonstrating on the streets. I'm sure those demonstrating come from all walks of life and all socio-economic levels except for the elite.

"What has happened in Tunisia, is happening right now in Egypt, but also riots in Morocco, Algeria and Pakistan, are related not only to high unemployment rates and to income and wealth inequality, but also to this very sharp rise in food and commodity prices."

In Egypt alone, food prices soared 17% -- in part because of the worldwide surge in commodities prices but also because of local supply imbalances.

However, the bigger problem in Egypt, Greece or Tunisia lies not in just prices, but in the fact that when citizens are unhappy, they have little opportunity for political recourse... so they take their frustrations to the street in the form of protests and riots.

"In the U.S. if you're unhappy about who you've elected to the public office, you vote them out in the next election. "But it doesn't work that way in Tunisia or Egypt."

When it comes to the role of Internet and mobile technology, need I say more than what the President of United States has said about the Internet, mobile communications, and social networking as being the basic human rights of people of the world.

Just in case you forgot, Senator Obama raised close to a billion dollars for his Presidential campaign in 2008... and won the Presidential election on the back of Internet, social networking and his Blackberry mobile phone.

Communications has always been an important part of any successful person or business, and ways to communicate have certainly progressed over the past 100 years: from postal mail to e-mail, from telegraph to the telephone, from landlines to mobile smartphones, from written communication on paper to terabytes of data on finger tips, and from fax broadcasts to web-casts.

However, the most significant development has been the emergence of social networking sites, made possible by the Internet and mobile technology, as a forum for people to meet, exchange information, organize, and execute actions instantaneously in a dynamic mode.

We live in some very exciting and dangerous times... where events can gather momentum rapidly, and changes that took decades to emerge; can happen now in days and weeks.

What a difference a few strands of fiber and a prism of light can make to change the destiny of human race in the new millennium.

Anant Goel