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Independent Security Analysis. Technical Analysis. Fundamental Analysis. Watchlists. My Portfolio.

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Calling All Uranium Investors: Get Ready For A Bumpy Ride

By The Wall Street Fox → Friday, August 23, 2013

Uranium is the one commodity that has been consistently receiving bad press, and for good reasons. Between the horrific disaster that struck Japan in March 2011, and the resulting aftereffects, uranium can't catch a break -- and neither can its spot price. The price has practically been cut in half when compared to pre-Fukushima spot prices, currently hovering around $35.

Because of so many different factors affecting the spot price, it's difficult to keep up to speed with the constant news flow that affects the price of the yellow cake, let alone predict where the price will be one month from now. Many analysts thought that uranium bottomed when it hit $49 last year. Regardless of the negative press that has been hampering the confidence of uranium investors for more than two years, and the industry as a whole, I believe now is the time to jump in and invest. There are too many positive developments occurring that will inevitably put upward pressure on this depressed energy source.

First, The Bad News

On Aug. 7, a startling revelation was made with regards to the clean up efforts at the Fukushima Daiichi facility. The Japanese government revealed that the ruined nuclear facility has been leaking up to 300 tons of toxic water into the Pacific Ocean every single day. The government could not rule out that this has been happening every day since the disaster occurred. That means its possible that more than 275,000 tons of radioactive water have leaked into the Pacific Ocean since the nuclear disaster occurred. And when looking at the map below, the realization hits that as terrible as this is for Japan, it may be even worse for America.

The consequences of nuclear debris inevitably hitting America's West Coastmay be profound. From food production to health complications and the overall economy, this is very bad. If you'd like to further dive into material that makes "Food, Inc." look like a bedtime story, click here. On top of this, it was announced just this week by Tokyo Electric (TKECF.PK), the operator of the Daiichi facility, that a storage tank holding 300 tons of radioactive water leaked into the ground. Another tank leaked 120 tons of radioactive water into the ground back in April, too. All of these embarrassments do not bode well for uranium, or the nuclear industry in general.

At the same time, it is hard to gauge how much of an effect these recent developments will have on the future of nuclear power and the spot price of uranium, and when exactly this effect will occur. If public awareness of this problem increases and becomes mainstream, then expect increased pressure on developed countries to phase out their nuclear power plants. Japan, Germany, and France have already begun this process.

This development is just one piece to the ever-growing puzzle. There are so many factors that can hinder or boost the development of nuclear power and the price of uranium. Every long-term uranium/nuclear investor should continue being bullish, however, they should keep the map posted above in back of their minds, and be aware that this negative press, and the severity of this problem, can send uranium spot prices to new multi-year lows.

And now the good news...

The Snowden Effect

Notorious NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been all over the news since he leaked classified information back in June. The closely watched saga that ensued led to Edward Snowden standing on Vladimir Putin's front doorstep. With tensions already high between America and Russia, Putin ultimately decided to grant Snowden asylum (to be renewed on a yearly basis).

Edward Snowden has effectively put a kibosh on America's last possible chance at extending the soon to expire Megaton to Megawatts agreement, with President Obama canceling a meeting between Putin and himself shortly after Snowden was granted asylum. The program, which provided America with low enriched uranium from Russian Cold War missiles, will effectively take up to 24 million pounds of uranium off the market. Thank you, Edward.

Decreasing Supply

The basic principles of supply and demand apply to the uranium market just like any other, though it should be noted that the spot price acts more like an indicator of sentiment. Most uranium transactions are dealt through long-term contracts, so a majority of the uranium is not traded on the open market.

The large surplus of uranium that has been on the market due to reduced usage by Germany, France, and Japan has led to incredibly low spot prices. These low spot prices have crushed uranium miners, who usually have to see uranium prices above at least $40 in order to make a profit. This has led to consolidations in the uranium market recently, and has caused some miners to halt production until the prices go back up. About 50% of global production does not make money at these current levels, and the shut down of miners will lead to an eventual shortfall in supply. Combine this with the removal of 24 million pounds from the open market, and the spot price will surely see some upside.
Just this week, a three-week rally in the uranium spot price ended after an expected deal to buy one million pounds of uranium fell through. If a one million pound transaction of uranium has that much pull on the spot price, just think of the potential impact 24 million pounds would have on the market. The potential is even bigger when considering the looming production halts.

Increasing Demand

We need nuclear energy. In 2011, 13.5% of the worlds electricity was generate from nuclear power. The energy produces nearly zero emissions, and new facilities are smaller, safer, and more efficient, especially when compared to the majority of plants world wide that were built more than 40 years ago.

As of March 2013, there are 435 nuclear power plants in operation. There are at least 63 new plants under construction in 13 different countries. At least 30 of them expect to be completed by 2014. Currently there are 160 planned nuclear power reactors, and 320 proposed power reactors, worldwide. A majority of the growth is coming from China, India, Russia, and America. You can get all of these numbers from the World Nuclear Association.

Uranium provides affordable, clean power that is necessary for any economy to grow and develop. Burning coal and gas can take a toll on the environment, especially when dealing with densely populated cities, like in China. These cities have been devastated by terrible air pollution, which takes a toll on the health of its inhabitants. Nuclear energy provides a clean, cheap solution to the problem.
China will be a main source of growth. Currently, the country operates 17 nuclear reactors, has 28 under construction, and has plans to commence more constructions. Only 2% of China's electricity production is derived from nuclear power.

Japan and Germany have realized how hard it is to run a country with minimal nuclear energy. Both countries now sport some of the highest electricity costs, which is weighing down on their economy. It's not sustainable. Both countries have increased their imports of natural gas, and Germany's coal produced electricity has increased by 16.8% from 2011 to 2012. The countries are feeling the effects. Japan is planning to start up more reactors in the imminent future, and there is mounting pressure on Angela Merkel to reign in these costs. The potential for Germany to follow suit is highly likely.

Don't Forget The Risks

There are several factors every investor needs to keep in mind, including the first part of this article. While the Fukushima disaster was a once-in-a-lifetime tragedy, the effects of a meltdown are devastating, however rare they may be. And this will lead to public opposition, and more pressure to shut down nuclear reactors across the globe. Nuclear power plants are capital-intensive projects that require billions of dollars in funding and take years to build. Therefore, any cash strapped country may defer projects later into the future.

Natural gas was the double whammy that knocked down uranium spot prices back in 2011. Natural gas prices were at an all time low, required less capital investment, and therefore was more attractive to producers. If natural gas prices manage to drop down to lower levels, or if natural gas truly becomes the driving force behind this country, nuclear power may get battered. However, I don't think this is likely, and the nuclear growth overseas would outweigh this problem.

How To Play

You can play a long-term run-up in uranium prices by buying any company that is related to the element. Explorers, miners, power plants -- you name it. Cameco (CCJ), based in Canada, might possibly be one of the purest plays. Other names include Uranium Energy Corp. (UEC), Ur-Energy (URG), Uranerz Energy (URZ), Denison Mines (DNN), Uranium Resources, USEC (USU), Paladin Energy (PALAF.PK), Rio Tinto (RIO), Market Vectors Nuclear and Uranium ETF (NLR), and many others. Please do your own due diligence when choosing companies.


With uranium prices at yearly lows, impressive worldwide growth plans, and an impending shortfall in the supply of the yellow cake element, now seems like the perfect time to gain some exposure to uranium. I believe the risk/reward ratio is quite compelling for the long-term-oriented investor. There are bound to be plenty of bumps along the way, so fasten your seat belt.

Nokia To The Rescue: Microsoft's Last Ditch Effort To Save RT

By The Wall Street Fox → Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Microsoft's (MSFT) recent write off of $900 million worth of inventory attributed to its slow selling Surface RT device, and the recent price cuts for both the RT and Pro version of its tablets, paints a crystal clear image of the success related to these devices ... zip, zilch, nada. Microsoft has yet again failed at another hardware venture, selling an estimated 1.7 million units, compared to 57 million iPads, since the release of Microsoft's tablet last year. However, the stubborn software behemoth is showing no signs of giving up on Steve Ballmer's baby, and is committed to continue pushing out and promoting more Surface RT devices based on ARM's (ARMH) mobile architecture.

Last week pictures leaked showing a purported Nokia (NOK) RT tablet that is rumored to launch this September. As both a consumer and an investor, I was extremely disappointed. I was looking forward to purchasing my first tablet in September, and my first Nokia product since the ill-fated N-Gage. But if the rumors are true, a Nokia RT tablet would not fit my needs and wants, and I would be forced to continue waiting patiently, twiddling my thumbs until Nokia releases a Pro Tablet. As fellow contributor Andreas Hopf emphasizes, content is king, and since Windows RT cannot run legacy applications, there is a huge shortfall when comparing the versatility between the RT and Pro.

As a Nokia investor, I'm extremely worried about the prospects of a Nokia RT based tablet, especially after Microsoft's almost $1 billion loss attributed to the device. But after days of digesting this news, reading every reported article about the device, and continuously asking myself why Nokia would go through with Windows RT, I have come to realize, as an investor, that there are several bullish details regarding this device that I believe are being overlooked.

Finally, The Tablet Is Here

First, it may be smart to start with a quick overview of Nokia's rumored development of Windows based tablets. More than two years in the making, I've created a timeline to help illustrate the following paragraph.

The first hint of an upcoming Nokia tablet came in 2011 when Stephen Elop became CEO of Nokia and shared his view of tablets and the opportunity they present for the ailing cell phone manufacturer. Shortly after, in March of 2012, rumors broke that Nokia was planning to release a RT tablet with a 10' screen and a dual core Qualcomm chip for Q4 of 2012. Then in June of 2012, Microsoft unveiled its Surface tablet and Nokia reportedly delayed the release of its own tablet. Then came rumors in December of 2012, stating that Nokia was planning to go through with plans and release a 10' Windows RT tablet in February at the Mobile World Congress. While that rumor didn't materialize, a tablet was reportedly being tested on AT&T's network in June of 2013, and in July and August, pictures were leaked of Nokia's two different tablet prototypes. Because of Nokia's upcoming scheduled events in both Moscow and New York in the coming weeks, it's safe to assume that the updated tablet, leaked just last week, will be announced at one of the events.

Why Analysts And Investors Are Pessimistic

Most analysts and investors have their doubts with a Nokia RT tablet, and most have their doubts with the Windows RT ecosystem as a whole. Who doesn't? Microsoft took a $900 million hit for the devices, there is very little developer support, and several manufacturers, including Samsung, Asus and HP, have abandoned future plans for the ecosystem and are focusing solely on Windows 8 Pro tablets. Even Nokia ditched plans for an RT device in favor of a pro device at one point (or so we thought).

On the surface (pun intended), it seems like Nokia is making a terrible mistake by investing in Windows RT and following Microsoft's dead money. But Nokia is different. Nokia is the only manufacturer who can push Windows Phones in volumes thus far. Nokia has value adding applications and camera hardware that differentiates them from other Windows 8 manufacturers. With manufacturers abandoning Windows RT, Nokia will have virtually no competition in this space. And abroad, it has a particularly strong brand. Microsoft understands that Windows RT is on its last lifeline, and I believe they asked, if not begged, Nokia to go through with the RT tablet and help revive the RT ecosystem. If this were the case, I'd imagine Microsoft gave Nokia some type of financial incentive to go through with the RT device that other hardware manufacturers have not received. Here, the ball is in Nokia's court.

Say It With Me, Diversification

In my first article, I explained that Nokia was a buy because of its profound product (and business) diversification. Well, again, Nokia stands to benefit from even more diversification. Not only is it diversifying its product offering into a completely new market, tablets, but it is also diversifying within that market by eventually releasing both an RT tablet and a Pro tablet. With the help of RT, Nokia will be able to release several different tablets at several different price points, just like its phones.

Nokia has had major success with its cheapest smartphones. The Lumia 520 is the best selling Windows 8 smartphone, and the low priced Lumia 625 just sold out of pre orders for one major retailer in India. It makes sense for Nokia to follow its success with the lowly priced Lumias by entering the tablet market with a low-priced RT tablet. If Nokia manages to release a competitively priced tablet, with Microsoft Office and all of the Nokia applications included, this tablet may be a compelling buy for consumers around the world.

Where's The Camera?

My main reasoning behind the idea that Nokia's upcoming RT tablet will be its entry level tablet is due to the fact that there is no camera on the back of the device. For a company with a main selling point that is camera quality, you would think Nokia would throw one on the back of all of its devices. Again, it must be noted that these are leaks and 100% pure speculation, and it is more than likely that a camera will be added to the end product.

But if it is true that Nokia's upcoming RT tablet is the one leaked in the pictures, without a camera, then it is clear to me that Nokia's first tablet will be competitively priced, and that Nokia has many more tablets in the pipeline that will sport impressive cameras and Windows 8 Pro.

The Potential In India And Abroad

If this tablet is competitively priced, then I think its impact on the company can be profound. This tablet will most likely be a dud in the US, but for countries where the Lumia 520 is selling like hotcakes, this tablet will most likely be a success. Especially in India. I truly see this upcoming Windows RT tablet as the ultimate companion to the Lumia 520, and for countries like India, where the Lumia 520 has more than 30% of Windows Phone market share, many consumers will see the synergies between the two devices and opt to share the same ecosystem on their mobile devices.
India's tablet market is currently bursting at the seams with low-cost tablets dominating the scene. Therefore, it is imperative that Nokia's upcoming Windows RT tablet is super cheap. From 2011 to 2012, only 360,000 tablets were sold in India. From 2012 to 2013, that number jumped to 1.9 million tablets, representing a 424% growth year-over-year. Still, only 1.9 million tablets have been sold in India in a full year, and analysts estimate that the tablet market in India will grow to 7.3 million units by 2015-2016. This means the market potential for a low cost Nokia tablet is massive, especially in regions where the tablet market is in early stages of development, and where Nokia's brand is strong. Now is prime time for Nokia to jump into the tablet market, especially India's.

It's A Verizon Tablet

Since the introduction of the Lumia 900 back in 2012, Nokia has been quite fond of AT&T. Nokia has inked exclusive deals with the telecom giant for almost all of its flagship phone releases. First the 900, then the 920, and most recently, the 1020. Nokia gets to enjoy exclusive advertising and product promotion from AT&T, but at the same time limits its total available market. It seems like Nokia is beginning to shift away from the exclusiveness platform, and instead opt to release products for multiple carriers at the same time.

The Lumia 900 was exclusive to AT&T for its entire life cycle. The Lumia 920 was exclusive to AT&T for six months. And now, the Lumia 1020 is rumored to be an AT&T exclusive for only three months. This trend should continue with Nokia's leaked Verizon tablet, and if both an AT&T and Verizon version of the Nokia tablet are available on launch day, it will be good news for investors and a good sign that future Nokia devices will drop carrier exclusivity and be available to a much wider audience from the get go.


It seems to me that the majority of investors and commentators seem to be overlooking the potential benefits of a Nokia RT tablet and are overwhelmingly bearish about the product. While it makes sense to have these thoughts, with the RT being a massive failure so far, there is hope for a successful Nokia RT tablet, especially overseas. Nokia has the opportunity to learn from Microsoft's past mistakes, and will most likely act extremely cautious when it comes to the supply of this device, making sure not to over produce like Microsoft did and avoid a massive write off. Now is the time for Nokia to jump into the tablet market, and I wouldn't write off Windows RT just yet.

5 Speculative Stocks Backed By Dr. Phillip Frost

By The Wall Street Fox → Friday, August 16, 2013

Investing in companies that have the backing of a prominent billionaire is always reassuring to the individual investor. Dr. Phillip Frost has built his fortune by identifying and advising highly undervalued, overlooked companies that have the potential to rise significantly. Particularly, Frost has been most successful in the pharmaceutical Industry. Frost began to build his fortune with Key Pharmaceuticals, which he sold in 1986, receiving $100 million for his share. Thereafter, Frost was the founder, Chairman, and CEO of IVAX, which sold for $7.4 billion in 2006 to Israel-based TEVA (TEVA) Pharmaceuticals. Currently, Frost is the CEO of Opko Health (OPK), which has appreciated more than 50% in 2013. Frost has been very successful in the medical/pharmaceutical industry and Opko seems to be his next big success story.

Currently, Opko is sitting right below its 52-week high, with Frost continuing to purchase shares in the open market almost daily. There seems to be a lot of room left for this stock to run, but in this article I'd like to focus on Frost's other investments that have the potential to become multi baggers, just like Opko. These micro cap companies are extremely speculative, highly illiquid, and some of them are not even generating revenue; therefore, only investors who have an appetite for risk should consider these stocks.

Safestitch Medical Inc

Safestitch Medical (SFES.PK) was founded in 1988 and focuses on developing FDA registered medical devices. More specifically, the company focuses on the development of medical devices that manipulate tissues to treat obesity, hernia formations, and any other abdominal abnormalities through minimally invasive surgery. Here is a video from the company's website that demonstrates the use of its AMID Hernia Fixation Device, which Safestitch began selling in 2012.

Currently the company is trading at just under a dollar, with a market cap of nearly $60 million. Technically speaking, the stock price is sitting well above its 50-day and 200- day moving average. The bullish "golden cross" occurred back in April. Phillip Frost owns more than 13 million shares of the company, and his most recent purchase occurred in March of 2013 when he purchased 2 million shares at an average price of $0.25. While the stock has more than tripled since then, there is still plenty of room for growth. The company recorded sales revenue for the first time in 2012, though it continues to burn through an alarming amount of cash, losing more than $6 million in 2012.

As of this writing, Safestitch announced they would be merging with TransEnterix, a privately held medical device company with advanced technology in the use of devices and robots for minimally invasive surgery. This merger will give Safestitch the necessary resources to continue developing devices and to begin marketing them. Dr. Frost will join the new company as a director. Current shareholders of Safestitch will receive 35% of the newly formed company. The deal is expected to close later in the year, and will continue trading over the counter with the same ticker for the time being.

Non-Invasive Monitoring Systems Inc.

Non-Invasive Monitoring Systems (NIMU.PK) was founded in 1978 and is focused on developing computer assisted, non invasive diagnostic monitoring devices and related software that is designed to detect abnormal respiratory, cardiac, and other medical conditions through sensors placed on the body. Frost owns more than 10% of the company and purchased two million shares at an average price of $0.05 in April. Currently the stock is trading at $0.20 and has a market cap near $20 million.
Like Safestitch, this company has weak financials, having lost more than a million dollars every year from 2008-2011. However, NIMU is showing signs of a turnaround, consistently shedding its losses, down to half a million in 2012. The company lost one cent per share in 2012, compared to losing four cents in 2009.

From a technical perspective, the stock price is sitting above both its 50-day and 200-day moving average, with the bullish "golden cross" occurring back in April. This company is similar to Safestitch in that it is providing an alternative to normal practices in the medical industry by focusing on being non-invasive to the patient.

The Bigger Picture

Safestitch and Non-Invasive may seem like two run of the mill penny stocks that deserve no attention, but I believe these two companies are part of a larger, long-term strategy Dr. Frost is pursuing.

These two companies offer many synergies and may be prime take over targets down the road by Opko Health. Both of these companies offer a compelling selling point, minimal invasiveness when it comes to procedures that normally require tons of medical invasiveness. When thinking long term, these two companies offer products that have compelling selling points and benefit both the patient and doctor by reducing costs, pain, and recovery time. Safestitch is working on treating obesity, hernias, and other surgery intensive procedures with minimal invasive procedures. NIMU is developing a product that you lay down on and is able to diagnose your over all health, detecting problems within your body just through external sensors. What would normally require blood shots, X-rays, MRIs, and other invasive procedures would now require the patient to lie on a bed instead. If these two products don't sound like the future, what does? The potential market for these products could be massive, and focusing on non-invasive technology is a unique selling point that can pick up momentum as the products continue to be fully developed.

The reasoning behind the idea that Frost may down the road plan on acquiring these two companies is based on the fact that both companies have products that would complement and diversify Opko Health's business, and the fact that all three of these companies have the same exact headquarters. Go ahead, look it up.

4400 Biscayne Boulevard
Suite 180
Miami, Florida 33137
Castle Brands Inc.

Castle Brands (ROX) is a beverage company that develops and markets soda and alcohol under many different brands. Its most notable brand is Gosling's Rum and Gosling's Ginger Beer. It also markets premium whiskeys, vodkas, tequilas, wines and more. The company headquarters is in New York.
The company's biggest seller continues to be Gosling's Rum and its trademarked, ready to drink cocktail, Gosling's Dark 'n Stormy, which is a mix of its ginger beer and rum. It is a very tasty drink, and its popularity is exploding. The company recorded impressive growth figures in its latest quarterly filing, released this week. For the quarter ended June 30, 2013, the company saw:

Net sales increased 7.2% YoY to $10.4 million
Gosling's rum sales increased 19.7% YoY to 28,000 cases sold in the U.S. (in only three months time)
Whiskey revenues increased by 26.1% YoY
Gosling's Stormy Ginger Beer sold 50.1% more cases YoY, selling more than 104,000 cases.
General and administrative expenses were reduced 4.7%
EBITDA improved by 54.9% to a loss of ($0.2) million

Source: SEC

This company is experiencing extraordinary growth. The stock is sitting at $0.35 as of this writing, about 8 cents off from its 52-week high, and has a market cap of approximately $40 million. The stock has been in a free fall since its IPO of nine dollars a share back in 2006. I believe this is an overlooked company that has experienced management at the helm and is experiencing tremendous growth. Frost owns more than 10% of the company, is a director, and has purchased shares as recently as July, for an average price of $0.35. He also bought shares in March and February of 2013 at an average price of $0.27. Castle Brands presents an opportunity to get into a company at the same price level of many insiders. This company is shedding losses and growing fast; this is a turnaround story in the making.

Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc.

Ladenburg Thalmann (LTS) is an investment banking and brokerage company. The company offers a wide variety of financial services and has many different subsidiaries.

Ladenburg Thalmann has a market cap of more than $300 million and its stock price is sitting at $1.66 as of this writing. Its 52-week high is $2.02. The company has been experiencing robust revenue growth, but has been struggling to operate profitably. The company's revenue more than doubled in 2012 to $650 million, up from $273 million in 2011. The company has total client assets of more than $75 billion, and manages more than $30 billion. The company has a solid balance sheet and is financially healthy.

This company also shares close headquarters with the first two companies mentioned. 4400 Biscayne Boulevard, though it is located on the 12th floor. Phillip Frost owns more than 10% of the company, is a director, and most recently purchased shares in April at an average price of $1.45. This company has seen strong insider buying over the past year at levels hovering around $1.50. This is a strong operating company that has the backing of Frost and should continue to grow for years to come.


Following smart money is a smart way to identify interesting stocks and to begin research. I believe Frost has been buying a diverse group of companies that are extremely cheap right now, but he clearly sees plenty of room for growth. Consider the fact that Opko Health traded under a dollar, in the range of NIMU and SFES from 2002 to 2007. While the companies listed above may still be in the development stage, I believe each offers compelling future growth in the long term, and may even end up being acquired down the line. Phillip Frost is a patient investor, and for other patient investors who would like to open a small speculative position, these companies may be a good place to start.

Microsoft And Nokia: A Match Made In Heaven

By The Wall Street Fox → Friday, August 9, 2013

Microsoft (MSFT) and Nokia (NOK) go together like lamb and tuna fish … or perhaps you prefer spaghetti and meatballs? In any case, Nokia's partnership with Mr. Softie, inked back in 2011, places the lagging smartphone maker in a unique position to greatly benefit from Windows 8 and its growing ecosystem for years to come. Recently, many investors have questioned the partnership between Microsoft and Nokia, and accuse Microsoft of throwing Nokia under the bus. First it was Microsoft's revelation that Windows 7 phones would not be able to upgrade to Windows 8, leading to a massive campaign blunder for Nokia (need I remind you of these ads?). Then it was Microsoft supporting other phone OEMs and promoting them in advertisements. And now it's the revelation that the phone version of Windows 8.1 Blue is being delayed until early 2014. Even Nokia came out swinging at the software giant and stated their displeasure with Microsoft's ability to keep up with the app gap between their two main smartphone rivals, Google's (GOOG) Android and Apple's (AAPL) iPhone. While some investors and commentators may view these events as a cancer killing Nokia, I'd describe them as a case of the hiccups that take a long time to get rid of. In the end, Nokia's Windows powered devices will enjoy continued growth thanks to the continuous evolution of Windows 8 and its ecosystem, and Nokia's large exposure to Microsoft and their enormous customer base.

The Windows Blue Update

Windows 8 has yet to turn a year old, and already a massive update is scheduled to hit tablets and PCs later this year. The Windows Blue update adds features that users have been begging for since the release of Windows 8, most notably, a start button. I believe a large amount of Windows 7 users have been on the fence with Windows 8, and have been waiting to make the switch until an update addressed their concerns. The Windows Blue update will jumpstart sales for Windows 8 and commence the great migration from Windows 7 to Windows 8. When this transition does take place, more and more consumers will be tempted to share the same user interface and integration between their PC and mobile devices and therefore, will have a more compelling reason to make the switch to Windows Phone.

The Windows 8.1 phone update will not be released until early 2014, which is unfortunate for all Windows Phone users and OEMs alike. The much-awaited update will include key features such as a notification center, true multitasking, VPN, and support for 1080p resolution and quad core processors. However, instead of hanging Windows Phone OEMs out to dry, the company will be releasing a GDR3 update in the fall of 2013. The Windows Phone GDR3 update will support 1080p resolution and quad core processors.

Nokia seems to be taking full advantage of the updates that are about to hit Windows 8 devices. With a two-day event scheduled for late September in New York, it only makes sense that Nokia will unveil two flagship products. This has led many to speculate that Nokia will show off both a tablet, and a 5-6-inch phablet that would compete among the likes of the Samsung (SSNLF.PK) Note series and Sony's (SNE) Xperia Z. With an ever-expanding product line, Nokia will continue to benefit from their diversification efforts.

The Xbox One

The unique selling point of Windows 8 is the ease of integration between mobile devices and PC's thanks to the shared user interface. Microsoft is in the midst of building up its ecosystem, attempting to copy Apple by making it "sticky" for customers to leave said ecosystem because of their connected devices and accounts. Microsoft is attempting to create the stickiest ecosystem yet to be seen. PC's, tablets, and smartphones currently serve as the medium for Windows 8, but soon one device will take over the living rooms of millions and run Windows 8, the Xbox One.

Microsoft's Windows 8 is attempting to lasso in TV's, and with full integration between mobile devices, the Xbox One will act as another selling point to pick up a Windows Phone device. Once the gaming system reaches millions of gamers and households worldwide, more people will be exposed to Windows 8 and become more accustomed with the "metro" user interface. I believe Nokia investors overlook the potential impact the Xbox One will have on the Windows 8 ecosystem entirely, and while droves of gamers won't be rushing to buy a Windows Phone after they get an Xbox One, it will give the ecosystem more exposure and give consumers just one more reason to switch over to Windows Phone.

The Enterprise

Perhaps the greatest source of growth for Nokia and Windows Phone lies with business customers. Microsoft is becoming more business oriented; with productivity apps such as the Office suite, improved security, and a buildup of the cloud, Microsoft is attempting to dismantle BlackBerry's (BBRY) customer base, and they're succeeding. The trend of businesses switching their company phones from BlackBerry to Windows is just beginning, and Nokia's diversified product line makes it possible and affordable for a business to choose different phone models to meet the specific needs of their employees.

Microsoft has made a compelling case for businesses to switch to Windows Phone, and Nokia is the handset maker who will continue to monetize on this switch. Windows Phone offers businesses seamless integration between enterprise applications, Microsoft Office, Skype, and Exchange.

Microsoft recently made two decisions that will help reel in more business customers. The company announced that they are doubling the support life cycle for Windows Phone 8 from 18 months to 36 months, and they've included a suite of enterprise applications and enhancements that will be included in the Windows 8.1 Phone update. Doubling the support life cycle gives businesses relief that they won't be left in the dust after switching to Windows Phone until at least January of 2016.
Companies that have recently ditched BlackBerry and their associated enterprise fees in favor of Nokia and Windows Phone include, Brivtic, Telefonica (TEF) and their subsidiary 02 in Germany, the Mall of America, and Sara Lee. As a Nokia investor, I applaud Microsoft at their attempt to lure away BlackBerry's main customer base, and as time goes by, I believe we will see more and more businesses switch over from BlackBerry to Windows Phone.

There is one date in my mind that may potentially act as a catalyst to drive more businesses over to Windows Phone, and that's April 8th, 2014. On this day, Microsoft will end its extended support for Windows XP, which will entice thousands of businesses to upgrade their computers operating system. Because businesses are generally one operating system behind consumers, many expect the current Windows XP users to upgrade to Windows 7. I would argue that the push to go mobile is stronger than ever, and as more businesses realize this, more businesses will decide to skip Windows 7 and opt for the mobile friendly operating system, Windows 8. And when more businesses adopt Windows 8, more businesses will discover the synergies between Windows 8 and Windows Phone, and begin to adopt the latter.

The App Case

Isn't it ironic that the largest software manufacturer in the world is suffering from a lack of software applications in their own app store? This is most likely the biggest criticism Microsoft has received since the inception of Windows 8. With the bulk of smartphone users split up between Android and Apple's iOS, it makes sense that developers focus on where the money is. While I agree that a lack of applications is holding back many consumers from making the switch to Windows, it is assuring to know that Microsoft is listening. Microsoft has stimulated app growth by handing out incentives to developers, and through backroom deals to get companies to port their popular apps to Windows. Though Microsoft's 160,000 app offering pales in comparison to the almost one million apps found on Android and iOS, the development of applications is growing at an extremely fast pace. More than 300 apps are added daily to the Windows Phone, up from around 100 during the first few months of 2013. Developer interest has picked up, and as more and more people switch to both Windows 8 and Windows Phone, so will developers.

While Microsoft is clearly playing catch up, they are still missing out on some blockbuster applications, including Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat. This is holding back consumers from making the switch, and I don't blame them. What's the point of sporting the best camera phone ever made if you can't even share your pictures and video on Instagram.

From my point of view, the lack of Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat is already baked into Nokia's stock price, but what is not baked into Nokia's stock price is the inevitable release of these apps on Windows Phone. When news breaks that Instagram will be released on Windows, Nokia is surely to see an increase in share price. I view these app shortcomings as potential catalysts to boost Nokia's already depressed share price once they are released on the Windows Store.

Microsoft's Customer Base

Nokia and its investors need not forget the enormous installed customer base Microsoft possesses. In early June it was revealed that Microsoft adds 1,000 new businesses to its Azure Cloud services every single day. There are more than 48 million Xbox live subscribers, 300 million active Skype accounts, and 250 million SkyDrive accounts. Nokia will only benefit from these figures as Microsoft continues to build up its ecosystem.
The big number however, is 1.4 billion. That's the number of computers worldwide that are running some version of Windows. Using NetMarketShare's latest install base figures, this means there are 520 million Windows XP users, 621 million Windows 7 users, 64 million Windows Vista users, and 71 million Windows 8 users (up from 58 million in April). Please note that these are active users. Just because Microsoft sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses does not mean consumers picked them all up off the shelves. Windows 8 has tremendous potential to grow, and the upcoming Windows Blue update and drop of support for Windows XP will act as catalysts to speed up the adoption rate of Windows 8 and help build up Microsoft's ecosystem.


There is no doubt that the relationship between Nokia and Microsoft has been a bumpy one, which has been heavily documented by tech enthusiasts and investors alike. While many people are unhappy with Microsoft's commitment to Nokia, I believe the current issues are being blown out of proportion and will be viewed as minor hiccups in the grand scheme of things. Microsoft is building up a competitive ecosystem thanks to its upcoming Xbox One launch, they are luring away BlackBerry's core customers from all over the globe, and they are investing in the development of applications at an alarmingly fast rate. With a commanding 81.6% of the Windows Phone market share, Nokia is the handset manufacturer that stands to benefit in the long run from all of Microsoft's efforts and endeavors with regards to the growing and evolving Windows 8 ecosystem.

Go Long Ithaca: Buy This SmallCap Bank Stock For Its Consistent Growth And Location

By The Wall Street Fox → Thursday, August 8, 2013

When looking to invest in regional banks, it only makes sense to begin your search by looking for banks that have exposure to economies that are experiencing robust and stable growth. You want to be invested in a location where the money is constantly flowing. My search has brought me all over the country, from Charleston, to San Antonio, to Seattle. All of these cities sport an above average growth rate that is expected to last well into the future. But one banking company I recently stumbled upon that has called my name (and wallet), is Tompkins Financial Corporation (TMP).

Headquartered in Ithaca, NY, this small cap bank is a well-diversified financial services company that has been in constant growth mode for decades and is poised to benefit from the more than stable economy of Ithaca, the diversification of its branch locations, and the possibility of future mergers and acquisitions.


Tompkins Financial Corporation was founded in 1836. The company operates four subsidiary banks and has 66 branches throughout the central, western, and Hudson valley region of New York State. 21 of these 66 branches are located throughout the suburbs of Pennsylvania cities Philadelphia, Reading, and Allentown, thanks to the $109 million acquisition of VIST Financial that closed in 2012. Tompkins Financial controls $4.9 billion in assets, and has more than $3.9 billion in deposits. Total equity stood at $440 million as of 2012. Tompkins Financial is ranked in the top 5 banks for largest deposit share in nine different counties. The company has merged with 10 insurance agencies since 2000, to create Tompkins Insurance Agencies, and acquired AM&M Financial Services in 2006 to create Tompkins Financial Advisors. Tompkins Financial is a locally focused bank that's products include retail banking, corporate banking, insurance, and asset management. Currently Tompkins Financial has a market cap of $670 million and is 8% off from its 52-week high of $49.85.


Tompkins Financial Corporation belongs in every long-term investors portfolio. The company has been profitable for 59 consecutive years, has increased its revenue for 56 consecutive years, has paid cash dividends for 132 consecutive years, and has increased its dividends for 24 consecutive years. Not too many companies can say that, and I challenge any reader to find a company that can outshine those metrics.

Here are a few more impressive financial statistics when compared to the company's peers. The peer group consists of 89 public banks nationwide that have assets between $3 billion and $10 billion.
TMP's EPS has a 10-year compound annual growth rate of 4.9%, compared to 3.3% for its peers.
TMP's core return on average equity has a three-year average of 12.1%, compared to 5.4% for its peers.

Tangible book value growth has a five-year CAGR of 7.1%, compared to 2.0% for its peers.
TMP's dividend has a ten-year CAGR of 6.2%, compared to 1.6% for its peers.
TMP had non-interest income of 29% in 2012, compared to 23% for its peers.
Source: Company SEC Filings

Tompkins Financial's constant growth that has helped the company outperform its peers comes from two sources, the sustainable and growing economy of the county it's headquartered in (Tompkins), and the successful acquisitions of small banks in contiguous geographies that have compatible cultures and are focused on long term, sustainable growth.

A recent article in the New York Times helped solidify my decision to invest in Tompkins Financial. Ithaca, which I'm proud to have called home for the past five years, is a small city nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes region. Ten square miles surrounded by reality. Sitting at the bottom of Cayuga Lake, Ithaca's economy has managed to outshine other cities in the region thanks to two private universities that sit atop opposite hills, Cornell University and Ithaca College. The college town's population doubles from 30,000 to 60,000+ during the academic year, and the city is expanding. Walk around the downtown area and you will see what I mean. The downtown commons is being redeveloped in a multi million dollar project, two hotels are being built, two separate apartment complexes are being built, and a large three story office building is being built. And one thing almost all of these construction projects have in common: Variants of these signs are at the construction sites.
Tompkins Financial will continue to grow and develop as they're buoyed by this education-based economy. Tompkins County continues to post the lowest county unemployment rate in New York State, which sat at 5.7% in June of 2013.

Ithaca has attracted more than $200 million in funds for city development since 2012 and most upstate New York venture capitalists and investors concentrate their money in Ithaca. Both colleges have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy and many business startups have popped up from Ithaca graduates. All of this bodes well for Tompkins Financial, who is fully exposed to this growth and opportunity.


Tompkins Financial first expanded outside of Tompkins County in 2000 when they began to acquire several small banks that were locally oriented and shared the same culture as Tompkins. These strategic acquisitions have helped strengthen the balance sheet of Tompkins Financial, and diversify its business in a geographical sense. The recent buyout of VIST Financial added $1.5 billion to its total assets, and $1.2 billion in deposits. Tompkins also operates Mahopac National Bank, which is located in several suburbs of New York City, and The Bank Of Castille, which operates throughout western New York. Tompkins is strategically acquiring banks that operate in tight knit areas that have a strong sense of community. These acquisitions give the company immediate scale in attractive markets. Further acquisitions of solid operating banks with a similar culture will continue to expand Tompkins Financial's balance sheet and bolster its growth.


Tompkins Financial Corporation is a regional bank that has a proven track record of delivering leading results against its industry peers. The company's disciplined credit culture has spared it from losses during the 2008 financial crisis and the company managed to grow profits to all time highs. This should ease investors who are worried about investing in a bank that engages in risky lending. The company is clearly committed to creating long-term shareholder wealth, and after 132 years of consecutive dividend payments, I don't see this trend stopping anytime soon. The company is coming off of 52-week highs and probably has more room to fall, though RSI is approaching 20, which may signal the stock has been oversold. Although the stock has been moving sideways since the early 2000's, I believe the company is poised to experience impressive growth figures and is a solid buy for long term investors. The share price will appreciate overtime and catch up with the company, until then sit back and collect the ever growing, 3.3% dividend.