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Archive for June, 2008

Peter Lynch once said that sometimes the best stock to buy is the one you already have. That’s certainly what it looks like for me. Over the last few months, my portfolio along with the entire sectors I’ve been investing in have taken a beating. Nearly everything in it is really undervalued from my point of view, but there are a couple of truly amazing bargains I see in the bin of what I’ve already got:

TINY

Harris and Harris (TINY) is down to only 1.1 times its NAV. Wow. On top of this, the company, which has millions in the bank, recently sold some of its shares, even at their currently depressed prices. Understandably, some have found this to be a disturbing move. I, on the other hand, suspect that means they have found something they want to buy NOW. With the current business climate so inhospitable to IPOs, it may be a long time before Harris and Harris and its portfolio of nano-tech companies makes a move. When it does, though, I expect it will have been well worth the wait.

SNDA

Shanda’s stock has taken a tumble since their last earnings report, in which they posted a 47% gain in revenue, and a 39% increase in operating profits. Earnings per diluted American depositary share (ADS) didn’t match those of last year, but this was entirely due to the fact that Shanda took a huge gain last year after selling its stake in SINA. How they could be expected to match that artificially bloated number is beyond me.

GIGM

I’ve seen nothing but good news about Gigamedia (GIGM) over the last several months. Even if the US doesn’t change its online gaming rules and Gigamedia’s new Majiang game flops in China, their earnings should still be more than enough to justify the current stock price.

Honorable Mentions

Everything else in the portfolio. Seriously. I don’t have any money to buy anything more now, but the gears are sure turning.

Be sure to see the disclaimer!

Last week, I encountered a dilemma of the sort that I’m really not qualified to deal with… and yet I had to. A new virus has been all over the news in Taiwan. To me, it doesn’t seem like much more than a particularly nasty flu, but a few children have already died from it. Some of the more excitable newscasters have even compared it with SARS. While I fully understand the need to effectively quarantine outbreaks, I felt that the media and the populace at large panicked to an undue degree during the SARS outbreak a few years ago.

One of my students’ schools closed her classes down for 10 days. She wasn’t sick herself; it was a precautionary measure. I hadn’t even been aware of this fact, until some of my other students’ parents started suggesting that we not let her come to my classes for a week and a half. I thought this was ridiculous. If they felt the risk was that high, they could keep their own kids at home. Barring any occurrence of conclusive symptoms in her, or a fever at the very least, it seemed unfair to bar her from my class.

Without my knowledge, the secretary called her parents and said something to the effect that all the parents would need to meet before the next class and decide what to do with her. Her parents mistook that to mean that we didn’t want her there, and decided to pull her completely. They were wounded at the idea that everyone thought of their daughter as a “disease carrier” or something to that effect. The speed at which these events happened was pretty shocking. Others seemed likely to pull their own kids if she weren’t kept out of the class. Virtually as soon as I knew anything was wrong at all, parents were taking sides and passions were flaring.

What a mess. In the end, a great deal of talking and smoothing of ruffled feathers (along with a drop in media coverage of this flu) smoothed everything out. We really should have a standard set of procedures to deal with this sort of problem.

to be filled in soon…

(06/21/08) I’ve been buried under a mountain of work, once again. I can’t even remember what, exactly, I had been planning to write in this post. The key point, though, was that Franc (AKA “Prince Roy) became my best buddy in Taiwan during the later part of his tour, he left, and I’ll miss him dearly. I hope we meet again in Laos, PR!

Update: Prince Roy has a much more detailed entry about his departure. So does Poagao.

To be updated once people give me my pictures…

So, I did a “walkabout” for my birthday. Basically, it was a celebration of many of the wonderful things about living in Taiwan, and a chance to hang out with some good friends. The plan was to meet up at the 鍋貼 restaurant by Yongchun MRT and walk from there to the Jingmei nightmarket, hitting 7-11’s on the way for snacks, beer and whatever else it would take to sustain us for the several hour walk.
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