S J Seymour

Everyone is unique, but we are all infinitely more alike than we are different.

My site is meant to introduce you to my novels,
my opinions on current events, investment advice, 
and my genuine gemstone jewelry page at Etsy.


 Financial Preservation Advice from Michael Southam


Michael Southam of Rockcliffe Parners, based in Geneva, Switzerland, gave a talk in 2010 that had the catchy title "How to lose a billion."

Five major points in summary

1. Hold your position: The chances of having wealth in successive generations is remote, as lightning rarely strikes twice, and what created wealth in one generation might not necessarily work for the next. So it's important to develop strong wealth preservation strategies to position the family to take advantage of future opportunities.

2. Defend your position: Beware of all who would have you part with your money. All families interviewed by Southam had been victims of scams, thefts, bad investment decisions through dubious schemes, even from close advisers. 

3. Multi-generational truths: An even distribution of wealth among offspring will dismantle large fortunes over time, and multiple spouses have a "logarithmic effect." A conscious decision must be made to sustain the fortune whether in the descendants' quality of life or the continuity of the company that created it.

4. Focus on inter-generational flexibility: The majority of descendants won't contribute to sustaining wealth, but it does offer 'vocational freedom' or the opportunity to give back to society in form of philanthropy in arts, science, medicine, and so on. Since 19/20 members in Southam's study spent more than they made, 1 in 20 helped sustain the fortune, and only 1 in 50 created wealth, it's important to fast track the family business talent, maintain the non-business talent and isolate the 'dangerous' ones.

5. Educate and inculcate values and principles: Pragmatism, realism, and a strong sense of respect for themselves is a key factor in avoiding conflict. Perceptions of unequal treatment, personal grievances and divergent strategy can result in destructive conflict.

Words of wisdom we would all do well to aspire to internalize. In his talk, Southam described his 'glorious heritage' as descendant of two wealthy European families that commenced in businesses in the 1800s. 

Courtesy: Michael Southam, Rockcliffe Partners, with gratitude.

Jim Cramer's Ten Stock Picks for 2015: How did they do?

Just can't let the end of the year pass without taking advantage of the opportunity to critique Jim Cramer's stock picks. Here are the one year numbers and it's not looking great. 

                                                                              12/31/2014          12/31/2015          Percent Change

INTEL (INTC) in U.S.D.                                      $36.29                 $34.45                        -5.07%

UNITED HEALTHCARE (UNH) in U.S.D.        101.09                  117.64                     +16.37%

HOME DEPOT (HD) in U.S.D.                            104.97                  132.25                     +25.98%

CISCO (CSCO) in U.S.D.                                       27.81                    27.15                        -2.37%

TRAVELERS (TRV) in U.S.D.                            105.85                  112.86                       +6.62%

DUPONT (DD) in U.S.D.                                       73.94                    66.00                      -10.73%

MERCK (MRK) in U.S.D.                                      56.79                    52.82                        -6.99%

GOLDMAN SACHS (GS) in U.S.D.                    193.83                  180.23                        -7.01%

AMERICAN EXPRESS (AXP) in U.S.D.              93.04                    69.55                      -25.24%

UNITED TECHNOLOGIES (UTX) in U.S.D.     115.00                    96.07                      -16.46%

By the way, to find the percent change above (myself) this is the formula:

the smaller number was subtracted from the larger number (the result is X)

and X was divided by the first number from a year ago (Y) then the answer was multiplied by 100.

---- x 100

So, the final result of Mr. Cramer's year-long stock picks if the pluses and minuses are averaged is (drumroll, please):  -2.49%.

Many stocks endured severe bruisings. Sadly, not one did spectacularly well, but all balanced out in the end.

Now it could have been worse in a tough year but it could have been better. As Albert Einstein said, "The person who never made a mistake never tried anything new" and investing is always a "new" adventure, isn't it?

Jim Cramer's Stock Picks: End of Third Quarter, 2015

Let's take another look at Jim Cramer's 2015 ten stock picks now at the end of the third quarter, current stock price and percent change year-to-date.

INTEL (INTC) U.S.D. $30.51     -14.00%

UNITED HEALTHCARE (UNH) U.S.D. $118.83     +18.95

HOME DEPOT (HD) U.S.D. $117.81     +13.99%

CISCO (CSCO) U.S.D. $25.76     -4.57

TRAVELERS (TRV) U.S.D. $100.03     -3.83%

DUPONT (DD) U.S.D. $49.26     -28.44%

MERCK (MRK) U.S.D. $50.14     -9.55%

GOLDMAN SACHS (GS) U.S.D. $177.01     -7.79%

AMERICAN EXPRESS (AXP) U.S.D. $74.41     -19.22

UNITED TECHNOLOGIES (UTX) U.S.D. $89.77     -20.57%

Not certain whether or not he still owns all of them, sorry. In general, it's being mostly a down year for Mr. Cramer as far as these stocks are concerned.

Akamai: Backbone of the Internet

It's high time for me to put in a good word for Akamai Technologies (AKAM:Nsdq). Akamai's business services a serious and vital necessity of life on the internet today. This is a company without which we wouldn't have streaming video content or be able to have seamless internet service. It hosts the infrastructural network architecture and security backbone of the internet; the product it delivers is better than television, and might in the future actually deliver streaming content online from networks, called "over the top" or OTT.

It's a company with great potential that has a history of rolling out streaming services on the internet, delivering a fast user experience, and making the internet better for everyone. It delivers higher quality, lower cost, and better performance than its weak competitors, doesn't face fast-lane regulatory scrutiny for this reason, and has strong propspects for the future. Scale, cost, and quality are important to the company, according to the founding CEO Tom Leighton.

With strong leadership, proven history of technical and corporate expertise, and an elite work force, Akamai rolled out streaming video beginnning in the late nineties and 2000s. It owns important servers and key patents many other companies would kill to have and the product it delivers offers consumers greater detail than television.

Akamai has lots of unique agreements with other companies, posts huge goodwill numbers, and hosts fake versions of many government websites to safeguard national security. For example, if Sony had been a customer of Akamai, it couldn't have been hacked by the North Koreans.

Akamai's stock price flew up to around $400 in 2001, and made a sharp drop when it was caught in the tailwind of the down draft that plunged most tech stocks off the cliff, but it didn't deserve to fall in tandem and shouldn't have. Isn't it time for common sense and basic know-how to prevail and return to tech valuations?

My point is that Akamai is worth much more than facebook, which is a stock that can be duplicated in many foreign countries such as China and Russia, whereas Akamai is unique. While facebook may be a leader in personal communications, arguably as pioneering as a magazine in its own way, facebook is a website that not everyone likes or uses, and for all its lofty valuation does have competition from mainstream and internet news services: Skype, Twitter, Pinterest, Craigslist, reddit, Instagram, Snapchat, and other constantly proliferating and mutating website services competing for everyone's attention.

Facebook, for example, isn't as integral or essential to the backbone of the internet as Akamai is, so why isn't Akamai valued a lot higher? By the way, I'm also a huge fan of facebook, as I am of many of its social media competitors. But in my mind Akamai is unique. There's nothing else anything like this company with the name that means witty or intelligent in Hawaiian. Without it, facebook and all the others might not exist. Everyone uses Akamai, like they use electricity and water. For more about Akamai, this video and this older one show founding CEO Tom Leighton, who was on CNBC yesterday.

New Skin Cancer Medications Show Promise

Skin cancer breakthrough: "The combination of T-Vec with anti-CTLA4 has already shown astonishing results" - Dr. Leonard Seymour, University of Oxford 


 The BBC had the first article I noticed about this important combined pair of new cancer drugs for melanoma: Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Opdivo (nivolumab). The stock of the drugs manufactured by Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY) is rising today (+3.65% at 66.96) and making news (although it fell 7% Friday, last trading day). On a human level, these are costly medications, yet according to the experts, they may work. Here's a link to another detailed article at Immuno-Oncology News.

Cramer's Picks

As probably everyone knows by now, the mighty pundit Jim Cramer in New York City puts himself and his stock picks out there aggressively on CNBC-TV and in his free online newsletter. I took a look at the latter from my inbox. Here are his ten stock picks for 2015 originally made on January 6th, 2015, with updated prices on April 6th, price change, and percent change.

Cramer’s Ten Stock Picks 2015
1. Intel (INTC): U.S.D $30.94 -5.48 -15.10%
2. United Healthcare (UNH): U.S.D $117.51 +16.27 +16.09%
3. Home Depot (HD): U.S.D $115.37 +9.57 +9.12%
4. Cisco (CSCO): U.S.D $27.10 -0.69 -2.46%
5. Traveler (TRV): U.S.D $108.29 +1.89 +1.79%
6. Dupont (DD): U.S.D $71.64 -2.55 -3.45%
7. Merck (MRK): U.S.D $56.95 +0.31 +0.55%
8. Goldman Sachs (GS): U.S.D $191.84 -2.28 -1.18%
9. American Express (AXP): U.S.D $79.68 -13.34 -14.34%
10. United Technologies (UTX): U.S.D$118.30 +2.13 +1.85%

These are all solid American companies. After the first quarter, United Healthcare and Home Depot win; Intel and American Express lose so far. The way I see these numbers, they're down in aggregate as of today year-to-date, according to these numbers by Morningstar. A dollar invested in each, so ten dollars last New Year roughly, would now be worth $9.88. All right, this may not be independent research; they're my own calculations, for sure, and might be incorrect (in warning). Let's just hope the remainder of the year improves for Mr. Cramer's predictions. 

Thank you Morningstar, and thank you Jim Cramer

Burlington Stores Stock Price Doubles

Courtesy: FINVIZ 

Another stock I wish I'd been in. The stock has doubled in the last year. The founder's grandchildren attended my children's school. So...founded by real people. Oh well. Read it and weep. Or visit a store. There's probably one nearby in the mainland U.S.A.
Post script: Three directors at Bain Capital profited to the tune of almost a billion dollars each (EACH!) -- $626K -- by selling stock last week.

Has Microsoft Stock Peaked Again?

Not happy with Microsoft, not at all, and not just me, but the entire mathematical community. We're down on Microsoft for closing the San Jose Microsoft Research facility in California on only one day's notice without explanation, although other Microsoft Research sites have remained open. The shocking one day closing of a major research facility by one of America's largest companies has been largely under-reported or ignored by major media outlets. 

Investing billionaire Warren Buffett thinks the long-term outlook is more important than short-term quarterly results, if Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM is to be believed from what she said on CNBC today (A disappointed IBM has just announced a new business plan to replace the old 5-year plan as well, after buying back its own stock).

With that ideally long-term outlook in mind, I think Microsoft is being hugely myopic. Scientific research is a long-term investment carried out by highly-skilled employees. If any company should understand that, it would be a company based on advances in computer science. Why was the company scared out of Silicon Valley?

Further pressing sentiment downward on Microsoft is the now viral attitude of new CEO Satya Nadella about women not needing to ask for raises because the hierarchical system of Microsoft can supposedly be trusted (shown in video, for example, at this site). I wonder how CEO Nadella could have advocated passivity for women? 

If working at Microsoft is all about "trust" then scientists and women around the world must surely have lost trust in the CEO of Microsoft, or the company as a whole, for that matter. 

An abrupt closing such as Microsoft Research in Silicon Valley is definitely not the norm for a top employer. Should major companies having hard times act like investment and real estate companies and close down scientific research branches on a day's notice? 

Maybe it's just gravity, age, and market necessity to swipe a death blow on highly skilled employees. If so, present Microsoft employees and future highly skilled Microsoft employees and their families are forewarned on the fragility of their jobs. It's a sad commentary on the economy.

Microsoft stock peaked around $60 in 2001. Could this last be another peak for Microsoft stock on a general trend down? What will save the company if that's the case? What will constitute the next wave of innovation?

For Investors To Keep In Mind

Harvard Business Review (hbr.org) has an article about which industries are more secure than others and which are chronically uncertain. Medical equipment and Pharma (top right quadrant below) top the list of uncertain industries, along with computers and software. The most reliable industries are in the bottom left quadrant, including precious metals, banking, utilities, even entertainment, surprisingly enough.

Demand and Tech chart

Here's a list of industries by rank:

Industry Ranking chart

Here's the full article:

Removing Any Doubt: Developed vs. Emerging Countries

As defined by Morningstar, the regions of the world are identified as these countries:

1. North America: United States and Canada

2. Latin America: Anguila, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bonaire, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands Antiles, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Venezuela 

3. United Kingdom: United Kingdom and Isle of Man

4. Europe Developed: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Svalbard, Sweden, Switzerland, and Vatican City 

5. Europe Emerging: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine 

6. Africa/Middle East: Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Benin, Botswana, Bouvet Island, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gavon, Gamvia, Ghana, Guina, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Reunion Island, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, St. Helena, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Ermirates, West Bank and Gaza, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

7. Japan: Japan

8. Australasia: Australia and New Zealand

9. Asia Developed: Brunei, French Polynesia, Guam, Hong Kong, Macau, New Caledonia, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan 

10. Asia Emerging: Afghanistan, American Samoa, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, Cook Islands, East Timor, Fiji, Georgia, Heard & McDonald Islands, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, Nepal, Niue, Norfolk Island, North Korea, Northern Mariana Island, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tokelau, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, and Wallis & Futuna Islands.

Shame on William O'Brien of BATS Trading

Listening to talking head William O'Brien, head of BATS Trading Exchange, shaming and making fun of "Flash Boys" author Michael Lewis on CNBC today made me angry (here's the video), and made him look like a stupid idiot. I also saw him picking on Brad Katsuyama and his new IEX exchange who is actually doing something about the corrupt American stock market. It used to be a secret until this book was published. O'Brien does appear to be part of the problem rather than the solution written about in Michael Lewis' "advertisement" in favor of fair market activity. 

O'Brien certainly managed to offend my sensibilities. As an individual investor, I prefer to invest in a fair rather than an unfair or rigged market, and I didn't like the way he verbally insulted Michael Lewis and Brad Katsuyama. It wasn't polite or nice, and his insult didn't help capitalism in general. Michael Lewis has written a number of bestselling novels, and as an author I appreciate the effort that went into that as O'Brien probably does not (not as successfully as Michael Lewis if he's written a book). Michael Lewis wrote bestsellers including Liar's Poker and Moneyball. 

I propose William O'Brien of BATS is one of those middlemen who fleece single investors. He is clearly in favor of having airline tickets all of different prices as they are now, or of going to the market and having items individually priced. That would be the epitome of chaos in the market, as airline tickets are at this point an example. I hope his stance comes back to haunt him sometime. Here's an article about the book, and here's a video on "60 Minutes."

In the war between fairness and unfairness, the fair will sadly not always win. But fairness is always worth supporting in life.

King Digital, Creator of Candy Crush, Goes Public

King Digital goes public in an IPO on March 26, 2014, and it has a genius game with Candy Crush Saga. The game itself is free and has over 500 levels. King is surprisingly profitable according to CNN Money:

"The U.K. based company, which will list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol 'KING'..."King had annual revenue of $1.9 billion and a profit of about $568 million in 2013, according to its prospectus."

The numbers may be moving targets but how did King make profits?

I'll admit I enjoy Candy Crush, I've tried Farm Heroes Saga, will try Pet Rescue Saga, and King has many more I haven't had time to try. Downloading and playing are free and it's possible to move up an incredible over 500 levels faster by paying to get more playing time.

King has a large inventory of refreshingly and welcomed harmless games. It's family entertainment for all sexes and ages. It makes money from players extending playtime to win and proceed to the next level, not up front. Tips for playing each level are given free online. The detail in Candy Crush is mind-boggling. I'll admit I'd rather play Candy Crush than eat a second helping of dinner or my dessert (and it's helped me diet so I have physical proof of its usefulness!).

On the other hand, they're in the entertainment space, great entertainment and excellent distractions. Admittedly, games aren't the main focus of life to many of us, but it's surprising how addictive King digital games are, especially perhaps to those with a genetically addictive predisposition like I have.

2013 Was An Awesome Year for the S&P 500

Looks like a lot of people did well with their investments in the U.S. last year even if they invested just in S&P index funds. Sometimes it's the waiting that does it, as the saying goes.

Here are my lazy last year's results: 46.67% and 65.66%. Luckily (and it's really just a matter of luck), I had more in FBIOX and wish I hadn't diluted the funds for safety, but "pride cometh before a fall" and maybe it's time to re-think.

Chart not available

Average Annual Returns
as of 12/31/2013

Average Annual Returns
as of 12/31/2013
PeriodFSAVXS&P 500
1 YearDown46.67%Down32.39%
3 YearDown10.97%Down16.18%
5 YearDown34.73%Down17.94%
10 Year/LOFDown7.47%Down7.41%

Average Annual Returns
Chart not available
as of 12/31/2013
PeriodFBIOXS&P 500
1 YearDown65.66%Down32.39%
3 YearDown38.80%Down16.18%
5 YearDown26.98%Down17.94%
10 Year/LOFDown14.25%Down7.41%

Spectacular Stock Charts

Two of Elon Musk's companies, Solar City (SCTY) and Tesla Motors (TSLA) have risen amazingly since last April, 2013. Solar City last April was in the teens then and is now around $66 USD, and Tesla Motors was $40-ish then and has more than tripled now at around $151 USD. Did you participate or favor one more than the other? Please comment.

T-Mobile and Sprint At a Glance

After closing Friday afternoon, Dec. 13, 2013, the Wall Street Journal announced Sprint might buy T-Mobile next year in this articleCNBC ran the story as well.

T-MOBILE (TMUS) Market Cap:

SPRINT (S) Market Cap: $32.05B 

The other two of the current "big four" U.S. phone carriers are Verizon and AT&T. 

Market Cap: $136.91B
Current Price: $47.84

Market Cap: $178.73B
Current Price: $33.85

We'll see whether the American government allows this purchase or merger to happen. 

Social Media Stocks

Here are a few of my favorite social media site stocks that I actually use and are publicly traded, and believe they're strong in their niche, but buyer beware. All are wedging up nicely as of this writing.

Ranked in descending order of profitability since inception:

Amazon (owner of Good Reads)

Linked In