Under the Radar

This Monday morning, which was just a dreary and cold mid-Atlantic day, there wasn’t too much to cheer about.

Over the past three years, I’ve been drafted into the culture of football and now find myself, somewhat uncharacteristically, actually caring about games.

Culture. Football. Talk about oxymorons.

Just a few short years ago my only foray into football would have been to watch about a half’s worth of the Super Bowl and take the occasion to excuse the non-stop ingestion of deep fried anything.

I looked at the Super Bowl as being Saturated Fat Sunday.

Now, I even have four pro football games under my belt, although if given the opportunity to go to a game, the weather is still a factor in my decision process, as well as who’s going to be singing the National Anthem.

I’m still far from a fanatic. I even turned off the New York Giants game last night during overtime and never even bothered to go down to the basement and turn on the big screen TV to get a more real-life feel.

It’s not as if I had to be up early the next morning, it’s just that I was probably depressed because Simpsons episodes had been pre-empted in favor of the football game and I’d already seen that eposode of Chappelle about 300 times.

I did take the Baltimore Ravens loss harshly, though, particularly knowing that my kids are big Ravens fans. The manner in which they lost the opportunity to tie the game and force it into overtime was especially hard to accept, as an easy field goal was not as advertised.

The big news this morning was that loss and the resignation of the co-CEO’s of Research in Motion and the subsequent appointment of a new CEO.

The two items are not in any way related, but then did become so.

Under the RadarThe question of the day on CNBCm tied it all together as they asked who likely got more sleep last night, Billy Cundiff, the Raven’s kicker or Thorsten Heins, the new RIMM CEO?

Ordinarily, being named new CEO is a pretty positive thing, unless you’re Leo Apotheker.

In this case the market didn’t react terribly kindly to the announcement of Heins’ ascension, especially since he was considered to be somewhat of an insider who may have also been asleep as the ship was sinking.

Oh, and the accent didn’t help either as the prevailing joke was that RIMM hired Leo Apotheker’s son.

I don’t know what kind of jokes are circulating today regarding Cundiff’s miss, but I doubt that there are many. People take their football more seriously thatn they do their stocks.

One was tragic, the other just business going about business.

Today would have been a good day for both of those guys to have stayed under the radar.

I’ve always liked that philosophy, although as I’m getting older, I tend to be moving toward the draw of the radar’s waves.

In fact, what a great opportunity to remind you that there’s still time to vote for me, repeatedly, in the “Finance” category of the “Shortie Awards.” Earlier today I was tied with Suze Orman, so I’m hoping that with your help I can pull ahead and parlay the victory into my own branded debit card.

One of my sons is reading Orwell’s “1984.” about 35 years after I read the book and truly felt the fear of that kind of future society. I don’t think that he senses the invasion as much as those of my generation who actually valued privacy and even anonymity.

Too much attention can never be a really good thing, despite the adage that “there’s no such hing as bad publicity.”

I certainly understand why there are times in life that you do want to elevate your profile, as you can’t win a popularity contest unless people know who you are.

Jon Huntsman?

Even Buddy Roemer didn’t know who Jon Huntsman was.

I suppose that it is possible to win a popularity contest if people just check the wrong box, but who’s to say that Patrick Buchanan and Ralph Nader weren’t wildly popular amongst elderly Jewish voters in Florida?

Maybe Mitt Romney will be hoping for that kind of Florida repeat in Florida. Maybe he should tell people that he’s Jon Huntsman and then offer to check the boxes on their ballot for them.

When it comes to stocks, I don’t particularly like it when the limelight is on a stock that I own.

Nothing good comes of it and if it does, it’s just a set up for a fall, so best to abandon ship. Good news is a good time to bail and take profits.

These days that easier to rationalize as we’ve learned that captains no longer need to feel bound to go down with the ship.

Although I don’t like the spotlight to be on my shares, I definitely don’t want the ones that dwell with the mushrooms in the basement. It’s hard to sell options on shares of companies that no one really knows about, so there has to be a balance.

Stick with boring household names.

Earnings season always represents a problem, even for these boring household names, in that you just know that the spotlight is coming and there are often irrational reactions to the news. After last week’s wild reaction to Google’s disappointing numbers, I took that as a good opportunity to pick up shares today, once attention was diverted elsewhere.

Like RIMM.

Of course, I did learn a lesson following the previous earnings season when in complete arrogance, which comes with being on the radar screen, I purchased shares of Amazon, Netflix and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, all in advance of their earnings reports.

Although the losses on the underlying shares were really softened by the repeated options sales, I conveniently disregarded opportunity costs, when I could just as easily have foregone the excitement and invested in old favorites, like Microsoft or JP Morgan.

What I particularly don’t like is when an analyst gets on the air and spouts an opinion and then you see an immediate impact on the streaming ticker.

Once their on air, they don’t really care terribly much about the inherent worth of their recommendation. What they care about is the inherent worth of their appearance and how much additional value is added to their personal brand.

As an analyst, the more you’re on the radar screen, the less important is the content that you provide.

As a one time educator, I can tell you that as I got older and better known, my presentations were more about story telling and increasing brand value, than in adding worthwhile content and knowledge.

If you’re expecting to get some really timely news, It seems highly unlikely that an analyst, who’s being paid for his research and reasoned opinions is going to offer an opinion, but have his appearance preceded by a “Breaking News” banner.

Chances are pretty good that whatever that opinion is, whether it’s valid or not, it’s already well established on the radar screens of those that own the radar.

In keeping with the totally unrelated Heisenberg Principle, the attention paid to the shares creates a new reality. Sooner or later the real reality has to return, but for the individual investor the reality is often the opposite of the dream and the anticipation.

This an example of just how wrong the expression “why pay, when you can get the milk for free?” is, at least in regard to investment advice.

“The best things in life are free”?

Sure. In that case, I need to start an outrageously high subscription charge to read this blog.

Someday, probably someday soon, the heat and attention will be off Billy Cundiff. Like with the late Joe Paterno, it seems a sad trickle down of our very basic human nature that the most recent event occuring in someone’s life paints the majority of the picture.

We have probably heard the last of Billy Cundiff as a Baltimore Raven. For him, the radar scrutiny will soon be a thing of the past.

For Heins, it’s just beginning.

Looking at it from that perspective, I suppose that if we had to be on the radar screen it’s best to still have a long future of scrutiny ahead or at least to be able to choose at what point the rader will be turned off.

But for me? I’ll save you the trouble.

I’m right here, sitting on my La-Z-Boy and plan to be here for a long time to come.




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