Beatniks are out to make it rich

Back in the days of the G-men, they had a terrible time with organized crime. They brought in an accountant and while they couldn’t get them for the actual crimes, they were able to prove ancillary crimes and it’s been working ever since. Al Capone went down on Tax Evasion. Martha Stewart didn’t get whacked for insider trading, they got her for inconsistencies in her story. Barry Bonds isn’t in front of the Feds for steroid use. They’re jacking him up on a perjury charge. The precedent is that if you don’t like what somebody’s doing, but you can’t jack them up for it, twist’em up for tax evasion, or perjury or reading a newspaper, because that’s all it is.

Must be the season of the witch

I love earnings season. Especially when gas is $4.13 a gallon, and Chevron reports record profits. Today, I’ve got the big three, I’ll have to see if Dinty Moore has posted yet. The Evil Empire came through with a Q1 profit. As a long time employee in the title industry, I don’t like Q1 profits as a rule. Traditionally, if you’ve turned a profit in Q1, you’ve cut too deep. Conversely, if you lost money in Q4, something really went wrong. The last two years have been all upside down, so really all bets are off. Last month when FAF announced that they were retiring two long time members of the board and adding five at the bequest of the hedge fund I asked a financial friend of mind:

“What do you think this means?”

“It means the hedge fund doesn’t like the way things are going.”

“Don’t they know we’re a title company?”

Business is cyclical boys. You made so much money in the last six years you were counting it with your tongues. Now we’re in another cycle. Make some adjustments and ride it out, because you don’t make money every single freaking quarter. Over at the Radical’s there’s a quote from a guy talking about an investment with no risk. (Rant on subject in the works) There is risk to every single investment because BUSINESS IS CYCLICAL. I’m not thrilled with the board move. The guys they retired were instrumental in building the largest behemoth in the business. Like it or not, they were the architects and I don’t know that you put the architects out to pasture. Ask Morgan Stanley. I suppose it will be good for Wall Street, but not so much for the staff and ultimately the customers. Wall Street has always had a disconnect between service and profits. Even Starbuck is navigating her way through this labyrinth right now. Yet, the move was good for Wall Street, and the earnings are out and they are decent. Let’s start with the Evil Empire. We’re using 3 month charts through today:

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FNF reported lower than expected earnings, yet I don’t think it was that bad. They reported .13 cents per share in Q1 of a down market. If they build on this, it could be a decent year in a crappy market. I really hate saying anything nice about them, but I don’t think it was that bad.

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Apparently Wall Street liked the board reshuffling. I don’t know why everyone’s upset about .32 cents per share. In a down market, in the first quarter, it was a decent performance. Actually, the best in the business. And the new guys weren’t on in Q1. The best part was the earnings call where they actually referred to their staff, rather than some corporate double speak acronym for human beings who do the job. Life would not be complete without a Ted Chandler ski jump chart.

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That’s like skiing off the Matterhorn or something. Whoo hoo Nascar Teddy! What a ride! LFG lost $1.60 per share. Wall Street expected .49 cents per share. A little discrepancy there. I haven’t listened to their call yet, but it’s got to be a regular yuck fest. How else would you explain away that sort of loss? Chuckles the Clown Ted Chandler, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of Executive Committee, Chairman of Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation, Chairman of Transnation Title Insurance Company, Chairman of Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company, Chief Executive Officer of Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation, Chief Executive Officer of Transnation Title Insurance Company, Chief Executive Officer of Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company, President of Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company, President of Lawyers Title, might have some ‘splaining to do Lucy. Life ain’t great over at Dinty Moore

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That’s the sort of chart that Ted totally digs. They lost $1.24 per share. That’s a ton for the little engine that could. Hope they make it, otherwise it might be time to put on the trustbuster superhero outfit.

Let’s check out Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

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Party on Bill, Party on Ted.

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