Posts by Aaron Task

  • Ira Sohn 2015: The hidden gems

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 1 day ago

    By now, you’ve probably heard that David Einhorn trashed the frackers, Doubleline's Jeff Gundlach said "rates have bottomed" and Bill Ackman didn't talk about CSX at the Ira Sohn Conference in New York on Monday. The annual confab brings together some of Wall Street's best and brightest for a worthy cause -- the Sohn Conference Foundation has raised more than $50 million to fight pediatric cancer in its 20-year history. And while the "big names" (understandably) get all the press, I wanted to highlight some of the "hidden gems" of Ira Sohn...and by that I don't necessarily mean the picks below but the people behind them. Larry Robbins of Glenview Capital may not be a household name but he's a big name on Wall Street; the self-desrcibed "suggestivist" investor pulled in $570 million in 2014, making him one of the 25 highest-paid hedge fund managers, The NYT reports.

    Robbins' picks this year include:  

  • Jerry Stackhouse: What Dean Smith taught me about money

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 5 days ago

    Floyd Mayweather could earn as much as $200 million for Saturday night's fight with Manny Pacquiao, who is projected to make about $120 million for what is being billed as "The Fight of the Century". It seems (almost) pedestrian by comparison but Jameis Winston is looking at about $22 million, including a $14.5 million signing bonus, as the first pick in the NFL draft, according to reports. Lost in the eye-popping headlines is the fact that most professional athletes are about as good as managing their money as you and I are at their craft. Helping athletes deal with the financial windfall -- and responsibility -- of stardom is a "huge opportunity" for The Players' Tribune, according to producer (and former NBA All-Star) Jerry Stackhouse. "From a financial literacy standpoint we have to start early," he says. "Guys get to level where they feel they should know some things. It's ego. You're talking about some of best alpha males in the world. There's intuitive things we can do...be more creative so guys don't feel vulnerable and don't feel dumb. There's no blueprint for it." The conversation took a surprising turn when I asked Stackhouse, who played in the NBA from 1995 to 2013 and reportedly has a net worth of $60 million, about how he manages his own finances. "Coach [Dean] Smith put with a group Franklin Street [Partners]...and I've been there ever since," he says of the Chapel Hill-based trustee. Stackhouse remembers Smith calling him and telling him "you need to slow down a little" after seeing his financial statements during his rookie year. Until that moment, the player didn't know his former coach was even getting the reports. "Having that type of conversation with my dad about what to do with millions of dollars was out of his world, unrealistic," Stackhouse recalls. "So I had to trust [someone]. Coach Smith took it upon himself to be that person, to make sure protect me from myself. I'm so proud he took that initiative." Dean Smith, who coached at UNC from 1961 to 1997, passed away in February at the age of 83. "I miss him a lot," Stackhouse says. "He was a father figure to me." Watch the accompanying video to hear more from Stackhouse about The Players' Tribune, a new media platform founded by former New York Yankee's star Derek Jeter with a mission to give athletes a forum to speak directly to their fans.

  • "People want to indulge": How Cinnabon thrives in an era of 'healthy eating'

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 6 days ago

    'The ultimate indulgence awaits'. That's the text greeting visitors to Cinnabon's web site, accompanied by mouth-watering video of the company's famous cinnamon rolls and other delicious and delectable treats that definitely aren't on your diet.

    So how does Cinnabon continue to thrive in an era when 'everyone' says they're eating healthier? "As much as you talk about 'healthy, active lifestyle', there's no hummus chain sweeping the nation right now," President Joe Guith tells me in the accompanying video. "But there is a very real trend and something we need to address. How we have addressed it is by expanding our offerings to be more portable and different portion sizes." The Cinnabon Bite, which Guith says has been "a terrific hit for us" -- has around 90 calories per. Cinnabon also recently introduced CinnaSweeties, bite-sized donut treats that look suspiciously like Munchkins from Dunkin' Brands.

    Related: Boston Market aims to prove 'fast food' can be healthy too

  • Retailers, Amazon.com ripe for 'mobile disruption' says Rue La La CEO

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 9 days ago

    Retail stocks had been on a tear until very recently, rising with consumer confidence thanks to an improving job market and lower oil prices. But one retail executive believes the industry, particularly the fashion retailers, are facing a long-term threat that should give the bulls' pause. "Department stores and off-price merchants are in for a difficult time" as consumers increasingly shop on mobile devices, says Steven Davis, CEO of Rue La La, the online fashion merchant famous for its 'flash sales' of designer goods. According to Davis, fashion is a "late adopter" to e-commerce and predicts "the gravity for where consumers go to for a multiple-brand shopping experience will absolutely be online and not offline." If true, that would be bad news for retailers like Macy's, Nordstrom's, Target and TJMaxx. Online commerce destroyed the business of once-giant computer retailers like Computer City and CompUSA and electronic merchants like Circuit City and Radio Shack, as well as book-sellers like Border's Books and music shops like Tower Records and Sam Goody's; Davis believes the same fate could befell today's retail leaders. "I believe we're in the middle of a 25-year giant transformation of retail overall," he says. "Ultimately, what we'll find is the economics of continuing to run that traditional large-format fashion retail store - be it a department store or be it an off-price retailer will be really challenged over next 10 to 15 years." Of course, that may be self-serving for the CEO of an online retailer but Davis believes fashion stores will continue to thrive but mainly in the "mono-brand" or vertical brand format, citing Apple stores as the model for world's top designers and brands.

  • Fossil fuel divestment push hits Harvard...and beyond

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 19 days ago

    In the 1980s, pressure from student groups over apartheid forced many universities to divest from South Africa. Today, activists are targeting a far larger target: The fossil fuel industry.

    The accompanying video is a from a live 'town hall'-style event I hosted on Friday featuring students on both sides of the debate, representatives from 350.org, a pro-divestment organizing group, and the independent Petroleum Association of America, an industry lobbying group, as well as other experts. 

    You can watch the entire town hall on the divestment movement here.

    Aaron Task is Editor-at-Large of Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter at @aarontask or email him at atask@yahoo-inc.com.

  • GOP pushes to repeal the estate tax: Misplaced priorities and bad politics

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 21 days ago

    The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on a bill to repeal the federal estate tax, a 40% levy on the heirs of estates worth over $10.9 million per couple and $5.43 million per individual. Given the White House will almost certainly veto any estate tax bill that gets through Congress, the vote is largely a symbolic one. But symbolism has meaning, especially in politics. Many conservatives refer to the estate tax as the "death tax" and say the law hurts the families of small business owners, notably farmers, and amounts to a "double tax" on income already levied by Uncle Sam. Liberals say the estate tax is necessary to prevent "a permanent aristocracy" as Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) told The Associated Press. The reality is the estate tax will only hit about 5,400 estates this year, or roughly 0.2% of all deaths in the U.S., according to The AP. Without offsetting spending cuts, which the House bill does not have, a repeal of the estate tax would add $269 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade. While repealing the estate tax certainly appeals to the Republican base, you have to wonder about the political wisdom of this vote, given the current economic backdrop: Income inequality is at its highest levels since the 1920s, the average U.S. CEO makes around 300 times the average worker, upward mobility has stagnated (along with wages) and many Americans increasingly feel the "American Dream" is out of their reach.

  • Jim Rogers LOVES the U.S. dollar -- for now

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 21 days ago

    Jim Rogers has long criticized the Federal Reserve for excessive money printing and warned massive U.S. government deficits will ultimately cripple America's economy. Many people think of him primarily as a commodity bull and gold advocate. But Rogers is a trader above all else and is "delighted" by recent strength in the U.S. dollar. "It's my largest currency position," he says in the accompanying interview. "I own it not so much because of the central bank but because they'll be more currency turmoil -- all sorts of turmoil. And in times of turmoil people flee to safe havens and many people still think the U.S. dollar is a safe haven." For the record, Rogers does not believe the dollar is a 'safe haven' -- but "since people perceive it as a safe haven I own the U.S. dollar. Of course, if the U.S. central bank is a little tighter than some of the other people, that too will add to the strength of the dollar."

  • Jim Rogers "absolutely" still bullish on China

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 22 days ago

    A lot of water has gone under the proverbial bridge since 2007, when legendary investor Jim Rogers moved his family to Singapore, citing the region's huge potential. Of late, China's economy has stumbled badly even as its stock market has surged. Rogers is "absolutely" still as bullish on China today as he was back in 2007 when he published A Bull in China, one of his many books. "Whatever happens, my children are still speaking Mandarin," he says. "They're not going to stop speaking Mandarin and learn Danish or something." Overnight Wednesday, the Chinese government reported first-quarter GDP growth of 7% vs. the consensus estimate of 7% and 7.3% in Q4. The World Bank recently cut its 2015 forecast for Chinese GDP to 7.1%, roughly in line with the "new normal" President Xi Jinping discussed last year.

  • As good as it gets: Has the U.S. economy already peaked?

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 22 days ago

    If this is it, please let me know. If this ain't love, you gotta let me go. - Huey Lewis & The News

    The U.S. economy hit the brakes at the start of 2015 by almost every measure. On Tuesday, the Commerce Departerment reported retail sales rose 0.9% in March, the first gain in fourth months but less than the consenus estimate for a gain of 1.1%. Retail sales excluding autos were also weaker-than-expected.

    In the face of all the dismal data, estimates for first-quarter GDP growth have fallen precipitously: the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model is now forecasting zero growth in Q1, down from 2.3% in mid-February.

    Of course, we saw a similar drop in 2014 and the economy surged back in the second half of last year. In other words: Remain calm, all is well.

    But what if the consensus is wrong, as is so often the case? What if we've already seen the peak of the recovery as the charts below suggest?

     

     

     

  • 'All-Stars' of financial fraud: Tarkenton, Dykstra, Schlichter (oh, my!)

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 27 days ago

    Former NFL cornerback William "Will" Allen was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission this week with running a Ponzi scheme. Allen co-founded Boston-based Capital Financial Partners, which raised $31 million from investors and allegedly used the funds to pay for personal expenses and misled investors about terms of the loans.

    Professional athletes are often the target of financial scammers, but Allen joins a growing list of former stars who've been accused of perpetrating financial frauds, including:

    Fran Tarkenton

    The NFL Hall of Fame QB agreed to pay more than $154,000 in 1999 to settle SEC charges that he directed an accounting fraud at KnowledgeWare Inc. The former Minnesota Viking agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and $54,187 in restitution. Tarkenton, an elusive scrambler duing his playing days, did not admit any wrongdoing.

    Lenny Dykstra

    Art Schlichter

    Jim McMahon

    Willie Gault

    Doug DeCinces

    Tate George

    Daniel Ruettiger

    Christian Laettner