Monday, January 30, 2017

Payless ShoeSource Will Close 132 Stores in Austrailia

Payless ShoeSource plans to close 132 stores in Australia in February and let go of 730 staff there, The Courier Mail of Brisbane, Australia reported.

Payless ShoeSource has struggled to stay afloat in Australia. The retailer went into voluntary administration in late November for the second time in three years. Voluntary Administration is a process where an insolvent company is placed in the hands of an independent person who can assess all the options available, and generate the best outcome for a business owner and for creditors. Payless acquired the Australia division in March of 2013.

Many retailers are struggling today for various reasons. Consumers are able to buy products online, reducing the need for brick and mortar storefronts. eBay, Amazon and other online e-tailers have taken a lot of business away from traditional retailers. The Buckle (BKE), a teen fashion retailer, has been suffering from a lack of traffic in its stores. The company had traditionally improved its same-store sales for many years, but 2016 was very hard on the company, with same-store sales falling 10% to 15%. Same-store sales in December were down 15%. The Buckle remains pretty strong financially, the company had $163 million cash, $49 million in short term investments and no debt. The Buckle has a long history of operating with a very conservative and strong balance sheet, lots of cash and no debt.

That's not the case at Payless, where the owners have bled the company of its cash and loaded up the balance sheet with debt. In 2012, an investor group, including Golden Gate Capital, Blum Capital Partners and Wolverine Worldwide, acquired Collective Brands in a $1.32 billion buyout, with the Private Equity firms taking control of Payless, and the remaining footwear brands going to Wolverine.

Since the company’s leveraged buyout in 2012, Payless's sponsors have taken out nearly $350 million in dividends, representing over 130% of the $270 million initial equity contribution, according to Moody’s reports. Payless has about $665 million in debt, plus owed $223 million on a $300 million revolver, secured by inventory and accounts receivable. Payless's $520 million senior loan is being quoted at about 52 cents on the dollar, and its $145 million junior loan is being quoted at about 16 cents on the dollar, according to Reuters

Payless is struggling to pay its vendors. Payless ShoeSource loans are considered "distressed," after the discount footwear retailer fell short of its 3Q16 EBITDA forecast, according to sources familiar with the company's debts. Payless has also been slow paying its vendors, while factoring support for new orders has been limited. 

For 3Q16 ended in October 2016, the Kansas-based borrower generated $46 million of EBITDA, up 6.5% from the $43 million booked in the prior-year period. However, the quarterly figure missed guidance that called for $62 million in EBITDA. Quarterly revenue eased to $583 million, as compared to $622 million in the prior-year period. Global comp-store sales skidded by 6.3%.

Payless announced earlier this month plans to lay off 165 employees. About 110 people in Topeka lost their jobs. Payless has about 25,000 employees. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Canada Pot Companies Raise Millions for Growth

CanniMed Therapeutics raises $60 million.
Recreational weed market in Canada is worth $22 billion annually.
Several Canadian marijuana companies have raised substantial amounts of cash in order to prepare for tremendous growth. Millions of dollars in capital will allow these companies to expand production and make acquisitions from the ever expanding world of marijuana products and services.
These cannabis companies are raising capital through debt and equity financing, private placements and public issues of stock.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Money Not Required For The Soul

"Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul." -- Henry David Thoreau

The soul is settled with peace and love but despairs in chaos and horror. The soul desires connection to God, the Universe, Nature, Music and Humanity. What is the cost to pay for these desires? We may stop doing what we are doing, wherever we are, and pray. Pray without ceasing, always be pleading for love and peace and hope, for the betterment of friend or foe, family or stranger. If we respect another person, we may learn from him or her. As Willie Nelson once said, "we are all the same, people are the same, they love music." Music feeds the soul, it is nourishment for life, says Dereck Higgins, Omaha musician. I sing in church, not because I have a good voice, no. I sing to connect to God, to know Him is to Love Him. And to know him is to love his people. I embrace his people, I sit with them, I pray with them, I display my sincere affection for them and we share our lives together. The loving embrace of humanity is priceless, the renewal of the spirit gives us hope. The song of the cardinal in my garden shows us nature's musical celebration. The songbird may lift our soul, yet sitting in nature is free. I remember once traveling with two dear friends, all three of us are creative talk-heads, so here we are traveling through town and talking nonstop all at the same time. All that talking and passion was a funny bit of chaos. We pulled into Gage Park and climbed up the hill where the train tunnel is located. We laid down on the ground on our backs while holding hands in a triangle. We looked up at the clouds and smiled. We had connected with the universe, the ground at a our backs, the sky above us. The soul is lifted in that moment, feeling a sense of transcendence, guiltless and free.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Stock Market Correction Starts Inauguration Day

The S&P 500 is up 232% since March 2009. The index is up 8.7% to 2267 since the Nov. 8, 2016, election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. The rally was quick and fast. Investors were optimistic a businessman in the Oval Office would spur the U.S. economy, increase corporate profits and create jobs.

The rally is over for now. We will not see Dow 20,000 in the near term. We will likely see a correction in stocks, probably starting on Friday on Inauguration Day. I expect this correction to be around a 10% decline, wiping out all the gains since November. Why will this happen? Longtime investors know that the stock market is fully valued by most measures. The S&P 500 is trading at a 26 Price/Earnings Ratio, substantially higher than the average of 15. Many quality stocks hit new highs in December and January, but haven’t produced record earnings.

Financial stocks hit record highs in December and January, but are banks doing anything different? I asked one banker why his bank was worth 15% more today than on Nov. 8? He said, “We are doing the same thing today as we were doing yesterday,” he said. “We haven’t changed a thing.”

All of this Trump exuberance was tempered when Trump held his first press conference last week. It was extremely painful to watch. I had never heard a president come down so hard on the press. “Buzzfeed is a failing piece of garbage,” Trump said. When CNN’s reporter asked a question, Trump said, “Not you, your organization is terrible. You are fake news.

That press conference was a wakeup call. It shows how difficult Trump will be as a leader. Protests are growing against Trump. Some Clinton supporters still will not call him their president. She won the popular vote, but he got the Electoral College support.

It is obvious Trump is an outlier. He is a tough negotiator, he usually gets what he wants. He might be able to save taxpayer money on military weapons. He already said he would like to negotiate better terms for fighter jets. Trump says his top priorities are corporate tax reform, job growth, immigration and health care. These are immense challenges. A Republican president and a Republican-led Congress should be able to work together to get things done. But will they? We really don’t know until we see their actual accomplishments.

Does this mean investors should get out of stocks? No. Not necessarily. I’m staying in. I’m taking all dividends in cash and leaving the cash on the sidelines and not reinvesting.

We will soon know how well Trump performs as president. In the meantime, I am prepared for a selloff in stocks. It is quite possible the correction will be fast and furious with a quick rebound. For those staying in the market, hold on tight, we may be in for a wild ride. If Trump can prove that he can run the country and grow the economy, the stock market will eventually rally to new highs. But if Trump fails to lead, the stock market may not recover and the US may enter a recession. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Aphria Is A Greenhouse Pot Leader

Aphria Is A Greenhouse Pot Leader
About: Aphria Inc. (APHQF)Includes:TWMJF


Aphria is low cost producer with high margins.
Aphria has four consecutive quarters of profits. Some pot companies have no revenues yet.
Aphria’s founders have 30 years experience in operating greenhouses in Ontario. Growing pot is a perfect match for them.
One of the reasons I like Aphria Inc. (OTCQB:APHQF) is its deep expertise on its board of directors. Most particularly I am impressed with the expertise of Aphria co-founder John Cervini, who is a fourth-generation grower in southwestern Ontario with hydroponic agricultural experience, and a co-founder of produce wholesaler Lakeside Produce; and Cole Cacciavillani, Aphria's co-founder, an industrial engineer with 35 years of experience in the agricultural and greenhouse industry.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Kansas Pet Food Company Sold To ADM

Crosswind Industries has operations in Topeka, Sabetha and Hiawatha, with corporate office in Parkville, Mo. 

Press Release
ADM Invests in Expansion of Pet Food Business with Purchase of Crosswind Industries

• Addition of five new facilities, including four extrusion plants and a highly efficient packaging facility, significantly increases company’s capabilities in fast-growing pet food market

CHICAGO, Jan. 10, 2017—Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM) announced today that it has signed an agreement to acquire Crosswind Industries, Inc., a Kansas-based producer of dry-expanded, dual-texture, semi-dry and semi-moist treat products for pets.
“The global pet food industry represents a strong opportunity for strategic growth, especially for a company with the global resources of ADM,” said Brent Fenton, president of ADM’s Animal Nutrition business. “ADM already sells more than 50 ingredients and commodities that are used by more than 70 percent of all pet food companies in North America. Now, we’re taking the next step with the addition of Crosswind Industries to our global network. With five production facilities and a wide range of successful products, Crosswind represents a strong opportunity to expand our capabilities, and a great fit not just with the Animal Nutrition business, but across ADM’s wider portfolio of ingredients, colors and flavors for pets. We’re looking forward to combining Crosswind’s operations and products with our own to provide customers an even broader array of products and services.”
Crosswind Industries is an industry leader in the manufacture of contract and private label pet treats and foods, as well as specialty ingredients. Its 300 employees operate five processing lines across five Kansas facilities, with nine “ready for retail” packaging lines.
“Since early 2015, we have announced or completed several organic growth and improvement projects for our Animal Nutrition business across the U.S., as well as overseas,” Fenton continued. “We’ve also been active on the M&A front, with the acquisition of Lyrco Nutrition and the creation of our Alliance Liquid Feeds joint venture. Now, with the addition of Crosswinds, we are continuing our efforts to grow our business so as to set the industry standard and ensure that we are continuing to meet growing customer needs for quality animal nutrition products.”
ADM anticipates closing the deal in the coming weeks.
Forward-Looking Statements
Some of the above statements constitute forward-looking statements. ADM’s filings with the SEC provide detailed information on such statements and risks, and should be consulted along with this release. To the extent permitted under applicable law, ADM assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements.

About ADM Animal Nutrition
ADM Animal Nutrition is a leading manufacturing, nutrition and marketing business offering a wide range of innovative products for the animal nutrition market. Known as a global leader in amino acids, ADM Animal Nutrition also offers consistent, high-quality feed products, supplements, premixes, custom ingredient blends and specialty feed ingredients designed to provide leading-edge solutions, enabling our customers to meet and optimize animal health and nutrition goals. Learn more at
About ADM
For more than a century, the people of Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM) have transformed crops into products that serve the vital needs of a growing world. Today, we’re one of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers, with more than 32,300 employees serving customers in more than 160 countries. With a global value chain that includes 428 crop procurement locations, 280 ingredient manufacturing facilities, 39 innovation centers and the world’s premier crop transportation network, we connect the harvest to the home, making products for food, animal feed, industrial and energy uses. Learn more at

Archer Daniels Midland Company
Media Relations
Jackie Anderson

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Three Stocks Thriving In Canada Pot Market


Canada moves faster than USA toward full legalization of marijuana.
Canopy Growth and Aphria have shown profits in recent quarters.
A look at the U.S. Market and Donald Trump.

While U.S. states have been passing medical and recreational marijuana laws, Canada is moving along faster toward legalization of cannabis than in the United States. The legal framework in Canada is much more supportive of the Canadian companies operating there, while those in the U.S. may operate legally in their state, but fear the mighty hand of the U.S. federal government.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Sure Thing

I consider myself a conservative investor. I want the sure thing, and if I can’t get the sure thing, I want a margin of safety, I want to know the worst case scenario.  For example, I remember when Bruce Newberg told me to buy Apple at $14 per share when it had $12 per share in cash on the books. This was shortly after the great tech crash of 2000-01, when Bruce was looking for deals in broken technology. Worst case scenario, he said, if they liquidate the company, you get $12 per share in cash. I bought Apple stock immediately with 200 shares. Bruce Newberg was spot on and I should have named a child after him for his timely wisdom and insight. It was perhaps the best call of my lifetime. I made a lot of profit but sold Apple too early.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Is Turnaround Year For Railroads

Modest growth in commodities will help railroads.
Donald Trump's mission to improve economy will improve traffic.
Railroads face strong dollar, weakness in coal.
Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP) will enjoy better comparable metrics in 2017 after suffering a 7% decline in volumes in 2016. With an uptick in manufacturing, railroads should see an increase in the shipment of metals, petroleum, iron, steel, scrap and lumber. President-Elect Donald Trump's mission to improve America's economy will likely have a positive impact on the rails.
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