More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

ANOTHER SENSELESS DEATH

It was a strange experience for me to see my mother on the 10 o'clock news last night on our local Fox station, channel 6. But there she was nonetheless. The situation that got her there was a tragic auto accident that happened on Friday around 6:30 PM that left four bodies and a mangled mess of a car on my grandfather's front lawn.

The car had been speeding along W. Morgan Avenue around 67th St. when the driver hit a curb, lost control and crashed into a tree. They rolled at least three times according to police before finally coming to rest inches before the flagpole my grandfather has had in his front yard for years. On impact all of the occupants were ejected from the vehicle. One of them, an 18-year old, was killed instantly. Clearly none of them had seat belts on, and there's a strong indication as well that alcohol may have been a contributing factor, as beer cans were scattered all around the scene of the crash.

What concerns me is the reckless abandon with which teens continue to pursue their lives. Tragedies like this are a dime a dozen, and this is a story that has been told time and time again. Things like this do not have to happen.

I'm quite aware that kids are going to be kids, and I think we can all certainly relate to the feeling of invincibility that goes along with being young. Yet that still doesn't make it okay. It doesn't take away from the pain the mother of that 18-year old that died will feel for the rest of her life, knowing that her son will not be there anymore.

Hopefully this tragic moment serves as a reminder and saves a couple extra lives. Kids are going to at least think about it. Talk about it. Some will give a second thought before drinking and driving, or perhaps even speeding recklessly. And maybe they'll also see the importance of wearing a seat belt. Perhaps the 18-year old would have survived had he been wearing one at the time of the crash.

This story serves as a wake up call. Unfortunately though, the effect will only be temporary, and therein lies the real tragedy. This story will undoubtedly be told again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

HQ SUSTAINABLE TAKES A TUMBLE

There are times when one feels he's quite clearly inserted his foot into his mouth. The staggering 34% nose-dive that HQ Sustainable Maritime Industries (HQS) took today would mark one of these fabulous occasions. The stock I've recently been touting here at The Springboard closed at the end of today's trading at $7.86. That's still higher than the stock's 52 week low of $7.01, but falls horribly short of its $16.45 high which it reached back in July.

Still, I think this stock has plenty of upside, and today's drop is simply a short-term setback which also happens to provide an interesting opportunity to add more shares for the patient investor. As far as I can tell, the fundamentals are still strong and today's drop is clearly a severe overreaction on the part of nervous investors in a market that still incites a jitter or two here and there.

In response to an email I sent off to HQ Sustainable's CEO Norbert Sporns, he told me that the company is experiencing a "temporary speed-bump," and that the company is in great shape going forward. "We have improved our buyer base and expanded our fish by-product sales network," said Sporn. According to Sporns this will result in additional sales and profitability. "This quarters results were affected by rapidly rising costs which rose faster than we could pass them along."

It's not an unfamiliar story lately. And the fact that HQS does its farming in Hainan, China to export to the US, the weaker dollar may have had an impact on profits. Going forward, a strengthening dollar will also help to give them a little boost. That, and the fact that farm-raised fish continues to be of interest to consumers will help HQS to improve its margins and return to profitability.

I'd wait until HQS reaches around $10 a share again before buying any more, though.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

OIL'S DOWN AND THE MARKET IS A BUY

I'm sticking to my guns with regard to this market and the stocks I like best. If one thing holds true, you have to believe in your plan and stick to it, and that's exactly what I'm doing. Oil is coming down as I predicted, though its happening much sooner than I could have hoped for. We're now teetering around $119 a barrel and we've seen more declines in the price of crude in the past month than we've seen gains. This bodes well for consumers who get a brief break in the price of gas at the pump, and bodes well for investors who will see their portfolios rise as consumer confidence and spending also rises.

But before we get too excited, I'm not so sure we're quite out of the woods yet. As I see it, oil could simply be taking a little breather before it rockets back up for a little while to then finally take it's fatal plunge back into the $100 a barrel territory. Will it see the $150 or $160 range we all thought it might? Maybe not. In fact, probably not. The recent price hike in oil has been surprisingly effective in actually changing peoples habits. We've reduced driving miles by the billions of miles, and we've seen record declines in interest for gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. It's by no means an overstatement to say that many of these large vehicles are rottting where they lay on the lots, and in fact just the other day I drove past a sign along the highway offering Dodge Ram's for 40% off. Even at these giveaway prices SUVs and large trucks are far from flying off the lots. So, oil could probably jettison up to around $135-$140 a barrel before we head back down if we see another run up in the price. Of course I'm no expert and I've clearly stated this before. But I do consider myself to be obervant.

What stocks am I buying right now? I'm still a buyer of HQ Sustainable Maritime Industries (HQS) which operates in Hainan, China. They mainly deal in farm-raised fish and distribute both under their own brands and co-pack for other companies as well. With people having a growing interest in the benefits of Omega-3, and with many wild caught fish being riddled with contaminants, such as mercury, HQS has lots of wiggle-room to grow its business. I also like Marcus Corporation (MCS). I'm banking on the premise that in bad economic times people will escape to the movies. Marcus also manages a number of resorts which I think stand to benefit when the economy eventually rebounds.

Western Union (WU) is one to watch as well, and while I haven't bought yet I'm thinking about it. It's currently up 13% since I started watching it back in July and I think it's a $32 stock. I'm waiting for a slight pullback and then I'll start buying.

Target Corporation (TGT) also continues to interest me (though I do not currently own this stock). I think they will have a strong position going forward when the economy does finally break free from its current circumstance as people who have been strapped for cash, and who have been patronizing the discount stores like Dollar Tree (DLTR), Big Lots (BIG), and of course the behemoth, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), in order to stretch their wheezing dollars, are going to want to treat themselves. Target Corporation enjoys a sort of middle ground between the low-end discount stores and the higer-end like Kohl's (KSS) and Boston Store (BONT). I'll wait to start buying into this one when oil gets closer to $100.

It's my opinion that we have seen the market bottom, right about the time we teetered around the 10,000 territory on the Dow Jones, and so I am a buyer right now, even if we may still have some pullbacks such as today's 200 point drop. The Dow will likely still see shakiness, especially if oil does start to work its way back up, but I don't think we'll see the numbers drop below 11,000 points before the end of the year. A couple of key points here is whether the Fed can keep inflation at bay and whether the credit markets can see a clear path to recovery. Housing prices need to stabalize as well, and in fact I think we may have seen a bottom there also.

Again I stress patience. The best is yet to come.