It became more difficult. For example, software engineers were often called on to customize field solutions. It was a nimble operation: 1 sales rep, 1 very good sales engineer, and me...quick, agile, and winning serious deals.
After IBM acquisition, an ARMY of less technical people had to be engaged. Trying to throw every product, seeing what stuck, hoping to charge as much as possible. Process oriented administrators wanted a formal SOW and project plan...taking many weeks to do what was once done in a few days. The worst was when administrators imposed a solutions approach, dominating the software engineers.
As for R&D, budgets were cut. Proposals to advance core technology blocked. These are things Google or Facebook would let you prototype with ease.
Like I said, IBM had better do something to reintroduce this spirit of technology initiative and creativity...and yes, treating key sales, marketing, and technology personnel with some perks.
Bottom line: too much administrative overhead and reporting to non-technical people. This degraded product development and field solutions for customers.
On top of that, benefits and perks don't match other bay area companies. They changed the nice 401k match to only 1x/year. You can't even get a free cup of coffee. Cynical. All this works to push away the best engineers, consultants, and sales personnel...whom have much better alternatives.
Google, Facebook, and even Oracle and SAP treat their employees much better, especially engineers. IBM still has a deep bench. But they better address this fast. Like I said, great people leave IBM for Google, not the other way around. It's a shame...because IBM have everything needed to turn it around...except, seemingly, enlightened management that fosters an optimal technology culture.
A top down culture driven by accounting and financial engineering has long eroded IBM. At some point, it became difficult to initiate and promote bottom up innovation. Not only in engineering, but from sales and marketing personnel.
Strict accounting and processes resulted in masses of people being pigeonholed into niche areas. Skills and even work habits degraded. Suffice it to say, especially in services, IBM did not foster a culture of self learning and adaptation...in a day and age of open source products that demand this.
So you're seeing a labor tragedy of sorts as IBM tries to turn itself around. Will it? I'm not sure. Not if Ginni and co remain in charge. No doubt, IBM still has world class engineers...but they're moving on...with no sign that the opposite is occurring in any significance. Engineers leave IBM for Google, not the other way around.
Until this settles, I wouldn't buy. I'm holding my shares...just because. In defiance of rationality. I hold hope that an iconic American machines company will endure this and stay around for another 100 years...although, like I said, I'm not feeling it.
I'll repeat what I said before. We got caught by an outlier oil price war. It happens.
I do agree that CBI management has not been proactively forthcoming. That is a sore point. And yet another judgement call. Not that it eases your pain, but they sure fooled a lot of top investors.
I will. For many years. I refuse to to materialize my current paper $11k loss on a $26k basis. I still believe $70 is fair value...and that we'll see this in 18 - 36 months.
As we discussed before, I'm not going to lose money unless forced. I doubt CBI bankrupts. I know I won't, due to diversification. Above all...I'm going to be wary of investing in commodity cycle exposed companies...although now that we're at a near bottom with oil...I might gamble a bit on MRO, COP, and add more to my XOM position.
Not a lot of bargains right now. You have to sift. Market overall is not cheap. Wars loom. Economies are pressed. I think this calls for keeping a lot of dry powder...unless individual stock value is assessed.
All the best.
I was up near 400% at some point. Now I'm break even. Sobering.
My mistake was in not understanding commodity cycles. I do now. That's why I'm going to buy more...and just wait. It will again surge. This PE is about the same as in 2008...at which buying would have been an 8x - 10x gain.
The stock is broken. Not the company. This can be fixed...save for an outlier legal judgement on the guardrail issue.
I'm preparing to put in another $10k in 1/4 positions. Let's see. This has been hard to bear emotionally...but I'm committed to value investing principles...and will stay the course.
Here is my TRN investment over the years:
date shares total_price
17-Aug-2007 300 $4,958.95 $16.53 basis
31-Oct-2007 0.59 $10.50 $17.92 div
28-Nov-2007 400 $5,241.95 $13.10 basis
31-Jan-2008 1.79 $24.52 $13.68 div
30-Apr-2008 1.58 $24.58 $15.56 div
31-Jul-2008 1.45 $28.16 $19.42 div
31-Oct-2008 3.41 $28.22 $8.27 div
30-Jan-2009 4.84 $28.35 $5.86 div
30-Apr-2009 3.77 $28.55 $7.57 div
31-Jul-2009 4.05 $28.70 $7.08 div
30-Oct-2009 3.31 $28.86 $8.72 div
29-Jan-2010 3.65 $28.99 $7.95 div
30-Apr-2010 2.28 $29.14 $12.79 div
30-Jul-2010 2.87 $29.23 $10.17 div
29-Oct-2010 2.58 $29.34 $11.35 div
31-Jan-2011 2.12 $29.45 $13.88 div
29-Apr-2011 1.64 $29.53 $18.03 div
29-Jul-2011 2.27 $33.30 $14.68 div
31-Oct-2011 2.41 $33.40 $13.88 div
31-Jan-2012 2.12 $33.51 $15.82 div
30-Apr-2012 2.29 $33.60 $14.70 div
31-Jul-2012 2.91 $41.20 $14.15 div
31-Oct-2012 2.65 $41.36 $15.61 div
31-Jan-2013 2.11 $41.50 $19.71 div
30-Apr-2013 1.99 $41.62 $20.87 div
31-Jul-2013 2.53 $49.31 $19.47 div
31-Oct-2013 2.29 $57.09 $24.93 div
31-Jan-2014 1.93 $57.26 $29.61 div
30-Apr-2014 1.5 $57.41 $38.22 div
31-Jul-2014 1.74 $76.69 $44.06 div
10-Oct-2014 150 $5,425.45 $36.13 basis
31-Oct-2014 2.102 $76.87 $36.57 div
30-Jan-2015 3.355 $92.08 $27.45 div
30-Apr-2015 3.222 $92.41 $28.68 div
31-Jul-2015 3.579 $102.01 $28.51 div
30-Oct-2015 3.957 $102.40 $25.88 div
29-Jan-2016 4.995 $102.84 $20.59 div
It is what it is. The markets can be irrational. Basically we all agree that the stock, not the company, is broken.
Once again, this is a situation for Buffett patience and faith in the market being a short term voting machine vs a long term weighing machine...and we have to stay solvent longer than the market can stay irrational. I'm prepared to wait. Grimly so.
If I hadn't invested in energy, I'd really have a superior investing record. As I wrote before, I'm one of the many investors getting burned by the Saudi oil price war and China associated commodity crash. Fortunately, diversification in value is keeping me yet above the S&P500 overall...if not for these past 16 months.
I'll say it again: I envy those who can buy into energy now, with a clean slate.
I actually did with XOM. About a 10% gain on ~$7500. Doesn't make up for the CBI, NOV, RDS-B, and DVN...where I'm taking a hiding...but I'll slowly keep buying into majors on dips. My relatively recent bets in WFC, JNJ, & DOW continue to do well.
My eyes remain on DOW, INTC, WFC, DIS, BA...all which are solid right now.
Still, I haven't significantly deployed cash reserves. My gut says we'll go down further...although 1/4 positions in the above stocks would work now. That was indeed my mistake with the energy companies...I should have stayed disciplined with the 1/4 position investing...and been more aware of commodity cycling.
I am expecting that in 3 - 5 years, CBI will significantly gain. Probably beating the S&P500 over the same time horizon. Again, I'm counting on the management to be competent, honest, and disciplined...as otherwise this is a good business, working through, as you said it, a perfect storm of events.
I share your frustration. But CBI management has let us down. They weren't as forthcoming with accounting as they could have been. And the nuclear acquisition was not necessary, something being unraveled.
Plus, as we keep bringing up from time to time, there's the specter of an oil price war, making this a perfect storm for CBI. I'm down huge, some 45% on a $26k basis. But I'll hold on...as I don't want to bear a loss and still have some confidence the business will right itself.
BTW: as for Buffett, I deeply respect him and apply what he and Benjamin Graham teach. However, I keep in mind that he now invests at a different scale. As he famously once said: there's a structural disadvantage in having too much money.
He has to move capital where it can scale. CBI doesn't really move the needle in this context. No, Buffett has to make large scale bets on the likes of IBM, WFC, and PSX...where his fortunes are mixed.
All the best.
Investment history generally repeats itself. Tulips. Trains. Cars. Electronics. The internet. Now social, mobile, and cloud computing.
I've long learned to heed Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett's truism: price must eventually track earnings.
LinkedIn is an modernized resume store. It is not revolutionary in any way. At the end of the day, if you want a hire, a qualified human still must vet a candidate. LinkedIn is just another piece of data characterizing a person.
And yeah, LinkedIn doesn't make money. The same old pro forma reporting, of course, attempts to hype this differently. It's new. It's the future. It's different.
Yeah right. Once again, retail investors get fleeced. Yet another pump and dump. As are Splunk, Tableau, SalesForce, ServiceNow, and such names. None who make much money, if at all.
I'm buying WFC, DOW, JNJ, AAPL, INTC, CSCO, and such on dips. At