Wednesday, January 13, 2010

We are going to replaced

I just realized that our days as partners to the opposite sex are numbered. After reading a report from the Adult Video National Convention, on a news site not on a porn site so don't even. A sex doll with AI is on its way, she can be manipulated visually and will say what she is pre-programed to be pleasurable for you (a male doll will be available soon). Come on, as if we don't have enough to deal in life as a human.

I feel like this doll will be the Terminator of sex. It doesn't get tired, it doesn't say no, it never gets a headache, it doesn't feel pain, it doesn't need sleep it has one purpose and one purpose only please their owner.

At some point is there going to be a pleasure model of a trash compactor and which hole is appropriate for use? I mean are going to see headlines "Man dies today in a tragic blender accident when pleasure bot turned to frappe," is this the future?

Is porn and technology messing with our brains? Have we forgotten to embrace and love the disagreements and fights because in relationships there is a great deal WORK to become symbiants? Can a man or woman be replace by a system of requested responses? Could you marry a robot, how would those wedding photos look?

Okay so how is the related to Datingish, well simple...soon we will have a site botingish on how the manufacturers of dude/fem bots are poorly designed. But really, we won't have what is that is a part of the "human condition" we won't worry about others because our lives will be completely self-sufficient from other humans. Finally, in all honesty it is hope that one day we will put down anything that comes with batteries and pick a box of condoms for some sweaty, messy, and human contact.



Saturday, January 9, 2010

3 Signs of a Terrible Investment

3 Signs of a Terrible Investment
By Matt Koppenheffer

There's nothing wrong with fixing your focus on trying to find the next Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT). After all, isn't that what we're here for in the first place?

But before you go diving in after that hot new small cap you found, let's take a moment to remember some of Warren Buffett's priceless investment advice: "Rule number one: Never lose money. Rule number two: Never forget rule number one."

Maybe we should rename Warren "Captain Obvious."

But as obvious as Buffett's advice may seem, it's an important and often overlooked aspect of investing. So how do we avoid losing money? I've found a few great lessons from some of the past decade's worst investments.

1. Poor business model
In Buffett's 2007 letter to Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) shareholders, he described three types of businesses: the great, the good, and the gruesome. He described the "gruesome" type as a business that "grows rapidly, requires significant capital to engender the growth, and then earns little or no money."

Buffett's prime example of a gruesome business? Airlines. And he's not alone in thinking this. Robert Crandall, the former chairman of American Airlines, once said:

I've never invested in any airline. I'm an airline manager. I don't invest in airlines. And I always said to the employees of American, 'This is not an appropriate investment. It's a great place to work and it's a great company that does important work. But airlines are not an investment.'

So then it shouldn't be much of a surprise that AMR (NYSE: AMR), American Airlines' parent, would come up as a stock that has massively underperformed the market. Though American is the only legacy airline not to have declared bankruptcy, the business has performed only marginally over the years, and its voracious appetite for capital has gobbled up all of the company's cash and then some.

Investing large amounts of capital into a business isn't a bad thing in itself. However, investors need to be sure that there's a good chance that capital investments will actually translate into healthy shareholder returns.

2. Sky-high valuation
We can take our pick of overvalued stocks when looking back 10 years, but Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) seems to stick out as a prime example.

Yahoo! had a lot going for it back in 1999 -- it was a pioneer and leader in the Internet search arena, it was growing like a weed, and by the end of 1999 was actually profitable. And, in fact, Yahoo! continued to get even more profitable and managed to expand its revenue 12-fold by the end of 2008.

However, the 259 price-to-revenue multiple that investors awarded the stock at the end of 1999 was absolutely ludicrous. Even if Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) had never come along and pushed Yahoo! aside as the industry leader, it would have been nearly impossible for the company to live up to the expectations that Yahoo!'s 1999 valuation implied.

As Buffett has said, "It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price." And it's never a good idea to own even a great company at an absurd price.

3. Loss of focus
What exactly was it that made E*TRADE (Nasdaq: ETFC) so successful for so many years? That's simple: It was a leader in the online brokerage market, making it easier for Fools like us to buy and sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and options.

However, the need for speed on the growth front, along with the pre-crash excitement in the housing and credit markets, led E*TRADE to rapidly bulk up its lending activities and investment portfolio, including feasting on food-poisoning-inducing asset-backed securities. As it turns out, E*TRADE wasn't especially good at managing these areas, and when all hell broke loose in 2008, the company found itself on the brink of extinction.

E*TRADE competitors like optionsXpress and Charles Schwab (Nasdaq: SCHW) have either stuck to their knitting or never let their noncore operations get out of control. As a result, their stocks have held up much better through the market turmoil.

Successful companies tend to be successful because they're good at their core business -- online brokerage services in E*TRADE's case. Is it possible for a company to branch out in a related area and be successful? Absolutely, but investors should always be on high alert when a company charges full throttle into uncharted waters.

The best of both worlds
Keeping these lessons in mind when evaluating an investment will help you avoid some of the next decade's worst investments, but they may also help you achieve the goal that we started with -- finding the next Wal-Mart. After all, Wal-Mart is a company with a great business model and a laser-like focus on its core low-priced-retail strategy, and it's been a fantastic investment for those who bought at a fair price.

The investing team at Motley Fool Hidden Gems focuses all of its time sorting through the world of small-cap stocks -- the prime hunting ground for tomorrow's Wal-Marts. By looking for the very best businesses and recommending them when the price is right, the newsletter has uncovered big winners for subscribers.

If you'd like to check out what the Hidden Gems team is looking at today, you can take a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of optionsXpress and Berkshire Hathaway, but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Berkshire Hathaway, optionsXpress Holdings, and Charles Schwab are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Berkshire Hathaway and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Fool's disclosure policy has never once been caught with its pants down. Of course, it doesn't actually wear pants ...


Health-Care Reforming

Health-Care Reform: Two-Thirds Finished

The U.S. Senate voted this morning to pass the health-care reform bill, moving us closer to capping off the long process that's weighed on health-care stocks this year. If it's made into law, the $871 billion bill will represent the largest expansion of health-care coverage since the creation of Medicare in 1965.

Of course, we're not quite done; the Senate's bill must be merged with the House version before it can become law. Here's a look back at the health-care-reform debate, and a preview of what to expect in January, once the fight heats up again.

The disappearing, reappearing option
Considering how many times it flip-flopped in and out of the Senate bill, the public option would make a mighty fine politician. In the end, a government-sponsored plan ended up out of the final Senate version, but in the House version.

I expect this will be the biggest sticking point in the negotiations between the two houses. Liberal members of the House will fight to keep it in, but if the combined bill contains a public option, the Senate may not have enough votes to end debate and pass the bill.

Expect health insurers like UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH), and WellPoint (NYSE: WLP) to use their clout to fight against the public option. The companies are worried about competing with a nonprofit entity, which might compress their already thin margins.

I don't have much confidence in the government running anything efficiently, so I'm not convinced investors should be worried about whether the public option ends up in the final bill. Insurers are a resourceful bunch; they'll figure out how to make it work.

Insurance for all (whether you like it or not)
Both the House and the Senate bills contain provisions that require most Americans to carryhealth insurance or pay a fine. The requirement doesn't exactly follow the tradition of American freedom -- in fact, some Republicans are trying to question its constitutionality -- but I think it's the best part of the bill.

Getting everyone, even the relatively healthy, into the insured pool allows health insurers to spread the costs around. In exchange, health insurers are required to cover everyone, regardless of preexisting conditions. Americans will no longer be tied to their employer for health insurance, because they'll be free to get health insurance on their own if they choose to leave their jobs.

The other advantage to requiring coverage is that it could actually cause health insurance premiums to go down. Currently, insured people indirectly pay for the expenses incurred by the uninsured. Since hospitals can't deny emergency coverage, the money that they can't recover from uninsured patients ultimately gets paid through higher costs for those who do have insurance. According to the president, your bill runs about $1,000 a year. Ouch.

A taxing endeavor
Someone has to pay for this thing, and it's been interesting to see who has the most clout in Washington. Pharmaceutical companies negotiated early. Medical-device companies likeBoston Scientific (NYSE: BSX) and Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) looked like they were going to get a big hit, but managed to whittle down their tax considerably. And cosmetic treatments like wrinkle removers and breast implants made by Allergan and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) managed to get their proposed tax removed altogether. Tanning salons (and their customers) apparently don't have that great of a lobby; they've been slapped with a 10% tax, which will raise an estimated $2.7 billion over the next 10 years.

The only question now is whether the companies will end up being able to pass the costs along to consumers. Will investors have to pay for health-care reform with their portfolios or their pocketbooks?

All I want for Christmas is my conference committee
While it's been exciting watching health-care stocks trade at the whim of legislators' latest idea to overhaul the industry -- not unlike AIG (NYSE: AIG) and Citibank (NYSE: C) -- I'm looking forward to going back to valuing health-care companies based on fundamentals. Let's just hope the conference committee doesn't drag too far into 2010.

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