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Archive for the ‘Stocks’ Category

Hoping For Good Luck, On Friday The 13th

Posted by imrananwar on March 23, 2009

This has been quite an eventful week in New York. The previous few weeks of economic decline, bad financial news, increasing unemployment numbers and other news of global distress had been pushing the New York Stock Exchange consistently and constantly lower and lower.

Things were so bad that people would have preferred a return of the stress-filled yo-yo stock market days, where one at least had a 50-50 chance of making or losing money!

From a high of almost 13,000 the NYSE reached 6500 and there was talk of it even heading lower. There were fears that it might even fall below 6000 before all is said and done.

This decline continued while the flood of bad news also continued unabated. The only silver lining one could see around these ominous dark clouds was that most companies were choosing to do greater layoffs than they need and reducing costs as much as they can.

Even though each job lost is something that can mean the destruction of dreams of a family, sadly, for big businesses it is all a numbers game. Companies generally prefer to dish out all their bad news in one lump rather than dish it out piecemeal. It is generally easier to recover from a massive jolt and negative dip in stock prices over a few weeks or months. It is harder to get over the malaise that can cripple a company’s stock price if the bad news, no matter how small, just keeps coming every few weeks.

What’s that suggests to me, and keep in mind that I’m no financial adviser, is that most companies may be gearing up to have better than expected results at the end of the March quarter. Or, at least results that are less terrible than the market anticipates. Either one of these could potentially mean a rise in stock prices in April.

Even before the end of the quarter, a few pieces of good news have come out. One of them was that Citibank has been profitable for the last two months. This is the giant global behemoth that is one of those banks considered too large to be allowed to fail. This news came shortly after the bank’s stock was trading at as low as one Dollar per share, a far cry from nearly $60 per share it used to be.

Anybody who bought those shares at the ridiculously low price of one Dollar literally made a profit of 35% in one day, as investors suddenly found their greed outweighing their fear.

Financial company stocks in general benefited from this uptick in the stock market. Most major stocks have been rising consistently for the last few days, though I expect some drops as profit-taking starts again.

Even though it is far too early to claim that the market will not plumb new lows, but more than likely, one year from now economists and other so-called experts will analyse and say that the recovery had begun at an anaemic but measurable rate in these weeks.

President Barack Obama and his team have had most of their focus on the American economy – as well as the global recession that still imperils the world. But in the meantime other serious matters of the world continue to demand attention.

As is consistent with Pakistan and its self-destructive ways, once again American media and Pakistan bashers have gotten ample opportunity to raise the specter of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists – should the country spill further into anarchy.

The recent blatant and brazen terrorist attacks in the metropolitan city of Lahore, the despicable attempts to kill the Sri Lankan Cricket team and the evil murder of police officers and innocent bystanders there showed how almost no part of Pakistan is safe. This was an attack obviously not carried out by Taleban type thugs but by some well-organised but equally evil professionally trained gang of killers.

The Taleban continue to remain in the news, especially Pakistan ceding control of Swat and other regions to what are perceived as extremist groups. American drone and missile strikes continue to kill Pakistanis, innocent or otherwise, with disturbing regularity. India continues to rattle its sabers in the guise of demanding justice for the Mumbai attacks. In other words, there is no possible threat, internal or external, military, economic, political or social that Pakistan does not face.

Yet our shameless, spineless, gutless, clueless and witless politicians continue to fight over who sits at the head of the table – while this ship of state is rapidly sinking. Unlike even the Titanic, Pakistan is like a ship whose captain has been aiming it at every single iceberg he can see. On top of that, the ship has been torpedoed from behind. Its own crew is setting fire to cabins and furniture while others are busy looting what they can.

It is no wonder therefore that foreign powers, including America, find that the only way to control Pakistan, even to keep it from self-destructing, is to manage it not as friends but as masters. And, Pakistani politicians are quite OK with that.

From politicians, I want to shift to lawyers. Every country in the world has its share of lawyer jokes. For the last one year, and once again this month, it happens to be Pakistan’s lawyers and barristers, who have taken up the challenge to restore democracy and justice.

A profession that relies not on regular salaries but on almost daily work in the courthouse has once again stepped up, at great cost to its self, economically, professionally, personally. Today I must salute the lawyers and other professionals of Pakistan, not just for bringing down one dictator, but for ensuring that Pakistanis as a nation see that they can choose and control what the government can or cannot do when an elected person tries to act as a dictator.

Will democracy rule or will Pakistan sink into the abyss of chaos and anarchy?

The fact that things have come to this stage in itself is a tragedy. For the first time in more than 60 years we had an opportunity to establish state institutions. This was a historic opportunity because so many forces lined up in a once in a century series of events. The sacrifice of Benazir Bhutto, the professionalism of General Kayani, the sensibility of some political leaders and the great courage of Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhry and fellow judges. Rarely had so many forces lined up to restore true democracy to Pakistan. And, sadly, rarely have historic opportunities of such greatness been grasped in Pakistan.

As I am writing these lines in New York – on this 13th of March – I am hoping for some good luck for Pakistan. The only positive news is that some sort of compromise may be in the works in Islamabad. I, like millions of Pakistanis, can only hope and pray for that miracle and some Good Luck, today, on Friday The 13th.


This article was in client publications on Friday the 13th, 2009.

Imran Anwar is a New York based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, inventor, writer and TV personality. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com and imran@imran.com . You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar

Posted in 2009, America, Americans, Army, Asif Zardari, Assassination, Bailout, Bank, Banking, Barack Obama, Benazir, Benazir Bhutto, Bhutto, Constitution, Democracy, Dictatorship, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, Free Speech, Freedom, Future, General, Hypocrisy, Imran, Imran Anwar, IMRAN.TV, ImranAnwar, In My Humble Opinion, Justice, Musharaff, Nawaz Sharif, New York, News, Newspapers, Pakistan, President, Stocks, Supreme Court, Terrorism, Washington | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Playing Games With The Future

Posted by imrananwar on November 21, 2008

Part 2: Playing Games With The Future

By Imran Anwar

In the previous column we were analyzing how the Republican Party and defeated politicians play the blame the media game. Even though President-elect Barack Obama has won the election, there are many months before he can even more into the White House. He is busy putting together his team and trying to arrange for a smooth transition from the current administration.

We are looking forward to seeing capable, strong, respected, intelligent and competent people to get lots of Cabinet and administrative positions. In other words, we are expecting from the Obama administration what we did not have in the Bush administration!

In the meantime, lame duck president George W. Bush cannot seem to wipe the glee of his face in that his disastrous presidency is coming to an end. He still does not seem to understand the serious damage he has done to America, Americans, the world and America’s standing in the world. He is just acting as if a juvenile, who had been given the responsibility for managing a dorm for a few weeks, is glad that he can go back to partying and having a good time. Texas ranch, here I come!

His team of incompetent, and sometimes corrupt, officials continues to wreak havoc on the nation and the global economy. Secretary Hank Paulson in particular has been spectacular in his inability, apparent poor judgment and lack of good decision-making. It seems that every time he opens his mouth the stock market will drop 200-500 points. Call that the financial equivalent of Hurricane Katrina, another Bush disaster legacy of rewarding failure and incompetence.

As I have written before, the world faces grave financial crises, which need both liquidity and a return of credit and consumer confidence. Paulson does not seem to know how to provide either one. First he disagreed with the good decisions that were being made by other central bankers around the world. Then he agreed with them and said he would follow them.

Then he announced that the government would use the bailout money from taxpayers to buy bad assets, or bad loans, from banks and financial institutions. In effect, he proposed rewarding poorly managed companies run by greedy and crooked executives, while saddling the taxpayer and the American economy with trillions of dollars in liabilities.

When the market had finally adjusted to this, dumb as it was, idea – he roiled the markets again. He did this, in effect, by saying, oops, that’s not what he was planning to do. He then proposed finding some new way to give the money not to the financial institutions that are melting, and could sink the entire global economy with them, but consumers who have high credit card debt.

As was to be expected, the bank stocks that were starting to stabilize took a massive new beating. The entire stock market dropped precipitously again. Thanks, Hank.

An interesting news item related to this financial crisis is that opinionated, big mouth, gold and daring movie producer Michael Moore (who had done great exposes on Bush, 9/11, the war on terror, the US auto industry, US health-care, etc.) has announced that he will be making another movie.

This time he will follow up to his previous successes with a movie exposing the games and players that made up the current financial mess. Hopefully, he will expose their endgame as being something that America and the world cannot afford to play.

News reports still continue to comment on how major American corporations, financial institutions, and insurance companies that have their hands stretched out asking for taxpayer bailout still continue to shamelessly spend money on unbelievable expenses.

AIG is the worst culprit of them all. There have been documented cases of more than one expensive, unnecessary and in your face lavish events that this company has continued to hold for its executives.

This company is getting some of the biggest handouts in corporate, financial and global history, already exceeding the $100 billion, yet its executives are dining out on $400 steakhouse dinners, staying in two-storey resort bungalows – while having massage and spa treatment instead of attending the so-called necessary conference costing nearly half a million Dollars! I wonder where I can apply for one of these jobs. I love steak, my shoulders are tight and I sure could use some R&R at taxpayer expense.

I have to give credit to my fellow media professional, the respected TV anchor, Lou Dobbs of CNN for not letting go of the story – despite the bold-faced explanations of the AIG CEO on the lame Larry King Show.

There is one story, however, that I do not think anyone is investigating at least now. It would be so great if CNN, the New York Times or the Washington Post – all the great American institutions – would spend some resources on investigating, in-depth, the major stock trades that took place during the last few months.

I do not have any proof to level a formal complaint or accusation, yet. But, I have a hunch that all was not as it appeared.

I hope that future historians, investigators, and congressional committees will investigate what I am going to say in more depth. I wonder, no, I ask: Was the stock market being manipulated by M/s Paulson, Bush officials and their cronies? What do you think?

While it seems hard to imagine, I do not put it past the friends of evil genius Karl Rove to let the United States economy fall into a new great depression.

Students of the Great Depression and its causes, including Secretary Paulson, and Karl Rove, know that it can take four years or more for an economy to come back from a giant depression.

That means, conceivably it is possible to sabotage an Obama presidency even before he takes office! They could do this while setting the stage for the economy to still be in bad shape when the Republicans make the next bid for the White House in 2012.

I hope I am wrong, but American politicians have been guilty of far worse crimes, against their own people.

Imran Anwar is a New York and Miami based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, inventor, writer and TV personality. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com and imran@imran.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar

Posted in America, Bailout, Barack Obama, Bush, CNN, Crisis, Economy, Finance, Future, George Bush, Imran, Imran Anwar, Movies, Obama, Paulson, Stocks, Treasury | Leave a Comment »

Profit From The Meltdown: Part 1 – As The World Averts Financial Disaster

Posted by imrananwar on October 17, 2008

Profit From The Meltdown:

Part 1 – As The World Averts Financial Disaster

By Imran Anwar

As I sit writing these lines in New York, on this October day, fall weather is upon us. The view outside my window is a curious mixture of an early (native) "Indian Summer", as well as autumn. Much of the shrubbery in my backyard nature preserve has already turned red, with some shades of green and orange adding a magical glow in the reflected light of the setting sun. A few trees have changed color to shades of golden and red, though most have simply taken the dreary shortcut to demise and desolation – from bright, shiny, green to dull, dry and dead – their leaves falling off at the slightest breeze. A chill is in the air at night, and careless people, or countries, can catch cold.
At this stage in history, as America is sneezing, the rest of the world is catching flu this time. Pakistan is facing an economic pneumonia on top of that. Once again “mareez ko dawa kay saath saath dua kee bhee zaroorat hai”. (“The patient needs medicine alongside lots of prayers”). In this case, whether Pakistanis get “ilm” (knowledge) from China or not, we are desperately seeking economic medicine (read Cash) from China. Ironically, in this Pakistan is not alone. Facing the winter of (voter) discontent, and an economy shedding more jobs than a tree in New England, America is facing its own economic autumn, and looking for a Chinese ((Spring) Roll?) dough! {Sorry for the triple bad pun!}.

It is interesting how the weather in the Northeast (of America) right now is symbolic of the state of the United States of America – as a nation, as a global superpower, and as a nation whose economy is still facing serious meltdown. Of course, the United States is not alone, as the rest of the world is also in the midst of the potential total economic meltdown.

On the one hand, the roller coaster moves of the New York Stock Exchange in particular, and others around the world in general, could easily give a run for the money to any adventure ride that Disney or Six Flags can offer. On the other hand, just like the falling leaves and desolation of winter are always followed by the spring of new opportunities, this is absolutely the most incredible buying opportunity for anyone with a bit of money to invest.

Sure, I have no guarantee that the market has hit bottom yet. But there is no way that I can believe that we are not already touching the lower extremes of the fluctuations of 2008. I am no economic adviser or investment guru, but I strongly feel that a strong recovery will start in 2009.

Thus, a historic buying opportunity actually exists in almost every segment of the market, especially in America. For example, if I had $1 million to spare, I would most definitely start buying up stocks in financial institutions like Citibank, Bank of America and others. America and other world governments just cannot afford to let such big banks go under. The US government is already an equity investor in them, and will continue to be as needed. The opportunity for others to step in is huge.

I also consider technology stocks to be the forerunners of the next economic upturn in America. This includes lots of new companies that are being created by entrepreneurs as well as existing innovative companies.

So, I would invest a large sum of money in the stocks of Apple, which appears to be firing on all cylinders. This includes a huge sales opportunity in the Christmas buying season for its latest and greatest models of the iPod music player, which commands almost 75% of the MP3 music player market here. Then they have the hottest gadget of the year, the iPhone 3G (which has already sold Ten Million units). Add to that the rapidly growing market share of the Apple laptop and desktop computers, which was raising revenues, profits, market share and respect for the company – even before the launch of the sexy and truly exciting new line of laptops, this week.

But, these are not the only companies or stocks that are desirable. I dare say almost anything (which has sound fundamentals, and a strong market presence) that is off more than 35 to 40% off its highs from last year is a huge buying opportunity.

If I had $1-5 million to invest, or if I were an institutional investor (or a large organization with a large bank account earning next to nothing in the bank), I would be targeting the huge opportunity that now exists in real estate.

Yes, there had been a bubble. Yes, we may have not seen the bottom. Yes, things will go down a bit at least until through part of next year. But, very few of us can be sure we can perfectly time the market and only buy at the lowest possible point.

Even with some downside potential, some significant short term volatility, there are significant long term opportunities to buy excellent pieces of property now, while they are depressed, and sell them at a profit when the market turns around in the next year and more.

Of course, I would not encourage anybody to invest in real estate indiscriminately or without significant research. I would not suggest betting your last Dollar or Rupee on it, if you don’t have financial cushion for one year.

My opinion, and it’s only an opinion, not financial advice, is that there are special or particular kinds of real estate that are always going to be the first ones to recover. What I am talking about going after initially are the types of land and properties always in high demand, regardless of the kind of market we are in.

In particular, having spent a significant part of my life living on or facing the water, I have always been partial to waterfront property, especially if it happens to be bay front or oceanfront. In that sense, possibly the state of Florida offers the best opportunity to invest in waterfront or oceanfront real estate, including condos, that can be purchased at great bargains. Other places to look include Las Vegas and even California, where the next technology boom will again take place in 2 years.

The reason I would personally not jump into the condo market right now is because there is still a possible great risk of a builder or a building going into foreclosure, because many of its homeowners go into foreclosure.

On the other hand houses, standalone, or single-family homes as they are called, especially if they are on the water, or facing the ocean or come with any kind of lifestyle element are great investment opportunities. They are very desirable to those with disposable income, or those who will have disposable income more than others or before the rest of the market, so they would be great investments when the market is down about one third from its peak.

The way the market and many current investors, including small investors, in the stock market are responding is as if the Great Depression of 1929 is upon us again. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Yes, there is a risk that the United States, and the rest of the world, could go into a painful recession, which could last a long time. But, even at its worst, it’s not going to be anything like the Great Depression of 1929.

This is not some Version 2.0 of that great depression, when it took the stock market in America nearly 25 years to recover to pre-crash levels because no one knew what to do.

We are living in a very interdependent and very communicative world. We are now citizens of the World far more than any time in history. The speed of communications and the rapid response of citizens to their governments’ actions and inactions ensure that even incompetent leaders in any capital, Washington or Islamabad, Delhi or London, are quickly questioned and challenged.

That makes it far more likely that by design or by accident, coordinated problem solving approaches come from around the globe, all meant to save the world from falling into total financial ruin. That has started happening. Even Communist countries are following Capitalist policies, while hubs of Capitalism like America are literally “nationalizing” banks (actually a “recapitalizing” in exchange for equity stakes, with a potential upside), and injecting liquidity into the markets at a shocking but needed rate.

Just like the end of George H. W. Bush’s lame Presidency and Bill Clinton’s ascendance to power saw a bad recession turn into the biggest economic opportunity for everyone, nearly 16 years ago, I foresee the end of the George W. Bush’s absolutely disastrous and embarrassing Presidency as the start of a massive recovery in 2009.

Are you going to be ready to take advantage of it when it happens soon? Let me know.


To Be Continued

Imran Anwar is a New York and Miami based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, investor, writer and TV personality. He is not a financial adviser and doesn’t even play one on TV. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com and imran@imran.com

Posted in Apple, Bush, Economy, Florida, Imran, Investment, iPod, Lifestyle, Miami, Ocean, Pakistan, Real Estate, Stocks, USA, Waterfront, Wealth | Leave a Comment »

 
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