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Ballard Power Systems Inc. Message Board

groundhogsteve 39 posts  |  Last Activity: Jan 25, 2015 11:12 AM Member since: Jan 29, 2000
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  • Reply to

    The price of oil

    by blueflamedave Jan 25, 2015 4:51 AM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Jan 25, 2015 11:12 AM Flag

    Too bad there isn't an effective way to short the housing market around Wiliston, ND......

  • Reply to

    The price of oil

    by blueflamedave Jan 25, 2015 4:51 AM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Jan 25, 2015 11:07 AM Flag

    I think that's about right. As I understand it, drill rigs in the Bakken area are booked and paid for through basically April, but after that, nobody is interested. So the last wells will come on line around then, and the natural decline rate will cause about a 250,000 bpd drop in production by the end of the year. Add some demand increase for China and the idiots who are buying larger cars, and that'll be when the price edges back up.

    BTW, the price of 87 octane hit $1.82 here, but it's back at $1.89. Winter gas of course.

    What's going to be more interesting for me is the price of covered hopper railcars. The frac sand business has been sucking up all of them, including the 4650 cu ft (too large for frac sand) square wheel specials, jacking the price up from $10,000 to the high $30,000's. Then, there's a lot of brand new 3250's being offered for spring delivery. When the frac sand business declines, those large ones are going to be the cars that will be dead on the market. It will be interesting.

  • Reply to

    Republicans are after your soc. security

    by redshoe77 Jan 20, 2015 11:16 AM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Jan 24, 2015 9:45 PM Flag

    The beauty of social insurance is that it is actuarially unsound.

    Social Security isn't that bad off. Right now, it will run out of money (assuming Congress repays the part of the fund they borrowed....) around the late 2030's. It doesn't take much of a tweak (such as raising the maximum income that is taxed, or means testing) to make it solvent for the 75 year planning horizon. Especially if the tweaking is done now, instead of waiting until the last minute.

  • Reply to

    Republicans are after your soc. security

    by redshoe77 Jan 20, 2015 11:16 AM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Jan 23, 2015 3:37 PM Flag


    SS is not structured like a Ponzi scheme. A true Ponzi scheme would require an exponential growth of the number of participants in order for it to work.

    SS is more like a transfer from the younger generation to the elder generation. You don't need an exponential growth of payers to make it work - only about a constant 4:1 ratio of payers to beneficiaries. Think 40 years of working (payers) against 10 year of average retirement (beneficiaries) before you die.

  • From the story:

    The Japanese auto giant said it had received more than 1,500 orders for its "Mirai" sedan since its launch in mid-December. It had planned to sell 400 in Japan over 12 months.


    Well, it's time to send GulliBill in for the rescue, and make sure everybody understand these things cost millions and millions of dollars. Or was it superdupergazillions of dollars? Bill, what's the price of a fuel cell car up to now?


  • groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Jan 14, 2015 4:34 PM Flag

    I grew up in the Bay Area myself, and I never heard anybody refer to SF as Frisco.

  • groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Jan 14, 2015 11:18 AM Flag

    Besides, he showed his true colors when he said "Frisco". That is pretty much a big time no-no if you are from that area.

    Unless of course, he is referring to Frisco, TX.

  • groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Jan 14, 2015 10:37 AM Flag

    These are certainly not liberals!!!!

    And that is certainly not a derogatory stereotype, is it, GulliBill?


  • Reply to

    Completely OT: GE debt

    by longfcell Dec 29, 2014 1:24 PM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Jan 6, 2015 2:02 PM Flag

    IMO you have to buy stuff when people hate it and hold it for 10 years.

    So true. My first ventures into capitalism was buying railroad stocks back in the 1970's after the first fuel crunch hit. Wall Street hated railroads, clumped them all together and stereotyped them as bankrupt . I figured as fuel prices rose, railroads would do well due to their fuel efficiency, and I picked the ones that were reinvesting in themselves - MoPac, C&EI, and ATSF and a couple of leased lines that were paying close to 10%. instead of the ones that were diversifying like IC, MKT, SP. Although the amounts were small,I figured out my ROI was something like 18% over the next ten years.

  • Reply to

    Why not get 4.5 Mil$ and then sue them?

    by longfcell Jan 3, 2015 5:15 AM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Jan 3, 2015 11:49 AM Flag

    Unless they are rapidly cloning Ballard's IP, it just may not be worth suing them. Where is venue? Presumably the contracts stated venue, jurisdiction and applicable law, but if it's in China, it's probably close to worthless to sue for just $4.5 million. Vancouver - probably easy to sue, but still difficult to collect.

  • Reply to


    by farfenugenager Jan 2, 2015 8:22 AM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Jan 2, 2015 10:48 AM Flag

    I agree, and IIRR, I agreed with you when these were announced.

    The Chinese industrial system is so corrupt that I really wonder if it's worth doing business with them.

    Buddy of mine from the curling club owns a business that machines cams for VW and Hyundai. VW recently came to them and asked if they would take over the entire production for their engine plant in China. China had required X% parts made in China, but the Chinese manufacturers were only turning out parts that met the specs about 50% of the time, wheras this guy's plant in the US meets spec something like 99.95% of the time. VW had to go to the Chinese government for dispensation to buy them 100% American.

    They had to do a couple of shipments by air freight (10,000 pounds each - ouch!) in order to fill the pipeline, but now they firmly have the business. Score one jobs takeback for good old American quality.

  • Reply to

    Completely OT: GE debt

    by longfcell Dec 29, 2014 1:24 PM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Dec 31, 2014 3:33 PM Flag

    I think the question is who is the ultimate bag holder on all those aircraft leases - the banks/insurance companies lending to GE or GE itself? Without access to the terms of the lending documents, we don't know if they are recourse or non-recourse loans.

  • Reply to

    Completely OT: GE debt

    by longfcell Dec 29, 2014 1:24 PM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Dec 31, 2014 3:28 PM Flag

    I haven't looked at them lately, but as soon as I'm done with my end of year stuff I will.

  • Reply to

    Completely OT: GE debt

    by longfcell Dec 29, 2014 1:24 PM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Dec 30, 2014 8:30 AM Flag

    I should say it's been 10 years or so since I dug into GE's statements. I do know they sold off their proprietary credit card business, which I thought was the squishiest portion of their asset portfolio.

    It's kind of amazing - last time I checked they owned about 10-12% of the North American railcar fleet, and nobody knows about it.

    As far as aircraft, that's where I see the problem. Although the consolidations are certainly helping the industry and allowing them to raise yields, as soon as the US and Saudi Arabia have finished off Putin by overpumping oil, there's going to be one heck of a price jump in fuel price, which will force capacity shrinkage in the airlines. To a certain extent though GE has buffered against that problem, as the airline industry declines due to fuel price increases, the rail industry ascends as rail transport looks more attractive compared to trucking.

  • Reply to

    Completely OT: GE debt

    by longfcell Dec 29, 2014 1:24 PM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Dec 29, 2014 9:23 PM Flag

    Much of their debt load is associated with GE Capital, and it is backed with hard assets such as railroad cars, wind turbines, and airplanes, not squishy assets like derivative swaps, etc.. GE Capital is how GE Corp avoids paying taxes by buying and leasing out long-life capital goods, and using the accelerated depreciation to cover their earnings generated by other portions of the company with paper losses.

    So essentially, you have to evaluate whether or not you think railroad cars, wind turbines, and airplanes, etc. are good assets to be backing debt with. I certainly think they are better than financial instruments.

  • Reply to

    Biggest lie of the year

    by redshoe77 Dec 18, 2014 2:03 PM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Dec 21, 2014 10:48 PM Flag


    And you're probably a big fan of G. Gordon Liddy, one of the guys who tried to destroy our democracy.

  • Reply to

    NEA grads doing OK, thanks!

    by jaketen2001 Dec 6, 2014 11:51 AM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Dec 7, 2014 11:30 PM Flag

    ".... paid back over 20 to 25 years..."

    Sounds like when Wall Street analysts thought they were really smart and went on Louis Rukeyser's show to make recommendations based on projected P:E ratios for projected cash flows 5 years down the road.

    A lot can change in just five years.

  • Reply to

    OT: Oil prices going down

    by nmcotwpv Nov 28, 2014 3:12 PM
    groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Nov 29, 2014 9:22 PM Flag

    If the growth in US production slows down due to low price deferring drilling, then when China wakes up again and kicks up the demand, the price spike will be higher.

  • groundhogsteve groundhogsteve Nov 29, 2014 5:58 PM Flag

    I just finished an exchange of emails with that consultant - profitability issues make the nonstop/one stop decision a lot more complex than it initially appears. He does say this though:

    "While two takeoffs are involved, the higher first-half hour takeoff/climb fuel burn rate to initial cruise is offset by the last half-hour flight-idle descent from top of cruise burn rate, so the overall burn rate per hour is close to the same, first to last hour. And it will be closest when the stage length are shorter, the fuel weight is less (full fuel is not required). "

    The 40% "fuel to carry fuel" figure applies to really long flights - think Chicago to Beijing.

    However, shorter stage length allows greater payload (cargo in addition to the passengers) since less fuel is needed and the max TOW can be better utilized with more revenue pounds instead of non-paying (and actually costing) fuel pounds.

    The tradeoff is service - the highly profitable business traveler that the airlines seek would rather have the non-stop flight than a one stop flight. The price conscious traveler of course is willing to make that tradeoff. There's also cost tradeoffs - aircraft, gate, and crew-on-duty time plus gate and ramp personnel vs. reduced overall fuel burn if you make a stop halfway across the continent.

    Reading some of his writings, it's obvious that he considers business travel to be the only thing that keeps airlines profitable, he derisively refers to the seats sold cheaply as "byproduct" and advocates smaller planes, since their cost per seat-mile has come within range of equalizing with larger aircraft, but you can provide service with a greater proportion of business traveler butts in the seats, and a lesser proportion of 'byproduct'.

    He noted that Southwest only flies a few 6 hour stage length flights per day and focuses on a lot of 4 hour stage length flights to keep them out of having to make payload for fuel tradeoffs.

  • A few years ago, I said that airlines may at some point stop doing non-stop cross country flights because of the fuel it takes to lift fuel and carry it in flight.

    GulliBill said I was full of "it", taking off and climbing twice would negate the savings from lifting and carrying.

    Here's quote from an article about Iceland's WOW Air:

    "But Wow Air's biggest advantage might be its headquarters. Iceland is ideal, because it gives airplanes a midpoint where they can stop to refuel. That allows the airline to fly passengers to and from Europe in smaller planes, which it can more consistently fill with passengers. It also helps the airline save money on fuel. "About 40 percent of the fuel airplanes carry is used to ferry the fuel to the final destination," said Bob Mann, an aviation industry analyst at R.W. Mann and Co. Consulting. "As you go shorter and shorter distances, you can ferry less fuel, and save money.""

    So there may be some truth to what I said. YMMV, of course.

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