Friday, October 30, 2009

Continental Airlines' "Fly Right" Campaign Excludes Joey

Continental Airlines (CAL-$11.50) likes to brag that its Work Hard. Fly Right campaign reflects the philosophy of the world’s fifth largest air carrier. That – and its corporate culture –says the company, is what helped make Continental the most admired airline among FORTUNE Magazine’s 2009 list of "Most Admired Global Companies." This adulation, however, likely excludes dog lovers – given its policy of banning certain kinds of puppies from flying to their new foster homes. Just ask Joey, a four-month old pit bull…. Read More at BNET Travel.

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Netflix Eyes Wii Users Next

The distribution deal Netflix (NFLX-$55.32) signed with Sony is important because it not only ends the lock Microsoft had on the U.S. movie-rental service provider in the game console market — the Xbox 360 had previously been the exclusive videogame brand (the expiring agreement was recently extended to spring 2010 at Microsoft’s option) — but also because it broadens the number of TV sets already enabled to accept streaming Internet content. And, with about nine million PS3 users, Sony offers fertile ground from which Netflix can grow its own subscriber base.

Continue Reading at BNET Technology….

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not-So Friendly European Skies for American Airlines

AMR (AMR-$5.90), the corporate parent of American Airlines, continues to jettison unprofitable routes and shift more traffic capacity to hubs in Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Miami and New York, along with the city of Los Angeles. That said, AMR’s competitive global presence could be severely impaired — think loss of feeder traffic — if two cornerstone OneWorld carrier initiatives collapse.

AMR and fellow partners British Airways and Iberia are looking to expand their existing oneworld pact to include coordinated schedules and prices — figuring that jointly serving destinations will create operating efficiencies and is permissible under the liberalized flight policies of the 2007 U.S. – EU “Open Skies” agreement(intended to deregulate transatlantic markets and permit airline operators to enter into cooperative arrangements, including codesharing, franchising, and leasing). In September 2009, the European Union issued a “Statement of Objection” related to the proposed joint business proposal ….
Continue Reading at BNET Travel ….

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned n this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lethal Infection at Biogen Idec

Expect European regulators to likely recommend that the use of Biogen Idec’s (BIIB-$44.16) drug for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, Tysabri, include mandatory drug holidays after a determined length of use, as 23 cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) have been reported in those on therapy. How would this development impact recent sales momentum of Tysabri – e.g. for the first time since early 2008 Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) patients became the primary source of switches – and the growing importance of the MS drug to operating profitability?

Read more at BNET Pharma Industries….
Web Buzz: Biogen Idec Update – could there be a link between the seemingly higher prevalence of Tysabri-related PML cases in Germany and lack of oversight? Read More at BNET Pharma….

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned n this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Is Atheros Communication Too Optimistic on Growth Prospects?

At a glance, the financial performance of Atheros Communications (ATHR-$28.90) suggests the wireless chipset provider is weathering the downturn well, due to increasing acceptance for both newer 802.11 products (a set of standards carrying out WLAN computer communication in the 2.4, 3.6, and 5 GHz frequency bands) and its Ethernet solutions. A one-time income tax benefit, however, boosted net income from 11 percent (of net sales) to 25 percent, up from seven percent last year, according to the 10Q regulatory filing with the SEC.

Chief executive officer Craig Barratt boasts the the strength and diversity of the company’s products will enable Atheros to thrive in coming quarters. Could his ringing optimism have anything to do with personal interests to get the Board to revisit his annual base salary, which the Compensation Committee cut in February by 40 percent to $204,000?

Read More at BNET Technology Industries….

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned n this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Can Marriott Int'l Avoid Triggering Debt Covenant?

Marriott International (MAR-$28.04) learned the hard way that moving from a cash-based business like lodging to a financing-based business like timeshares wasn’t without risk – especially when consumers go bust and credit markets dry up. Going forward, the hotelier will no longer invest its own capital into new luxury-residential and new timeshare properties. Can the company avoid triggering the debt leverage covenant of its revolver credit line by selling off parts of its $1.5 billion in timeshare inventory? To read more about the near “junk status” of Marriott’s indebtedness, click on BNET TRAVEL industry….

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned n this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Future of Serada - Discussion With Depomed CEO Carl Pelzel

What does the future hold in store for Depomed’s (DEPO-$3.60) investigational non-hormonal therapeutic option for the treatment of menopausal hot flashes, Serada? In an exclusive interview, chief executive Carl Pelzel shared his thoughts with me on the higher-than-expected efficacy seen with patients given placebo and possible outcomes from a likely meeting with the FDA in December. Continue Reading at BNET PHARMA Industries….

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SEC Joins List of KB Homes' Watchers

KB Homes (KBH-$15.63) said on Monday the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating it for possible accounting and disclosure violations. As if the SEC were not enough of a distraction – if the homebuilder’s tangible net worth falls below the required maintenance covenant of $278.2 million, its bankers could be poking through its books, too:

Read More at BNET Financial Services….

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned n this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Insulin Shocker at MannKind Corp

As late as August 3, MannKind Corp (MNKD-$6.34) predicted a successful outcome to negotiations with Big Pharma to co-market its lead product candidate, the inhaled insulin product AFRESA. Unfortunately, after burning through more than $1.4 billion to develop the inhaler, still no deal. Notwithstanding credibility issues, the question remains whether the pulmonary route of delivering insulin is finished in the eyes of the FDA — or if MannKind’s inability to secure a marketing deal at this time with a deeper-pocketed pharmaceutical house was nothing more than financial posturing by the company to secure a better deal. Read More at BNET PHARMA….

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned n this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Can Gisele Bundchen's 'Rampage' Save Iconix Brand Group?

Long known as the unlucky kid brother of fashion designer Kenneth Cole, critics have long alleged that Neil Cole, chief executive of Iconix Brand Group (ICON-$12.34), has a history of overpaying for acquisitions -- in his eagerness to add breadth to Iconix's portfolio of apparel, footwear, and household related-accessories. As the recession stumbles along, if licensees of Iconix's clothing and footwear brands, such as iconic names Joe Boxer, London Fog, and Candies, fail to deliver on mandated royalty streams, what will this mean to the company's financial health and growth prospects going forward?

Cole has built Iconix on a novel, licensing-only business model with guaranteed royalty streams from 15 direct-to-retailer distribution partnerships, with such well-known stores as Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, K-Mart, Kohl's, and Lowes. The attractiveness of this business model, says management, is that it shifts all the cost-risks of inventory, manufacturing, and distributing goods to the licensing partners, which pay Iconix guaranteed royalties of up to 10 percent.

To date, Neil Cole has proven his detractors wrong, as sales increased from $80.7 million in 2006 to $216.8 million in 2008, largely resulting from acquisitions and licensing deals. Nonetheless, this growth has not come cheaply. Cole has spent more than $800 million in the last three years acquiring trademarks of long-lived brands that had fallen on tough times -- with the goal of resuscitating their growth prospects through licensing arrangements and marketing campaigns with leading global retailers. Nonetheless, concerns still linger that Neil's entrepreneurial reach might exceed his managerial grasp.

Iconix's revenues are primarily dependent on the recurring royalty streams from its licensing agreements -- which in most cases provide for guaranteed, minimum payments from its retailing partners (up to $500 million under existing contracts). However, a substantial portion of revenue is concentrated with a limited number of retailers: Target, Wal-Mart, Kohl's, and K-Mart represent approximately 17 percent, 15 percent, seven percent, and five percent, respectively, of total revenue.

Not to rain on the company's successful picnic, but could nimbostratus storm clouds be forming on the horizon? Target's U.S. licenses for Mossimo, Fieldcrest, and Waverly Home-branded products expire in January 2012, July 2010, and January 2011, respectfully; license agreements with discount, retailing powerhouse Wal-Mart for Ocean Pacific and Danskin expire in June 2011 and December 2010; and, Candies and Joe Boxer-branded product categories trademark agreements with Kohl's expire in January 2011 and December 2010, according to a recent common stock prospectus. If these retailers fail to re-up, or negotiate new agreements at less-than favorable terms to Iconix, future revenue and cash flows could be adversely affected.

The real scorcher to Iconix's financial health, however, could be the material impact changes in the amount of goodwill and other intangible assets, including trademarks, would have on the company's growth prospects. Goodwill represents almost $152 million, or 11 percent of total assets, and trademarks and other intangibles account for approximately $1.06 billion, or about 76 percent of total assets! The 10Q Detective finds it troubling that despite uneven comparable store sales at the company's key customers in the last three years -- e.g. Joe Boxer-branded sales at K-Mart dropped sequentially from $19.4 million in 2006 to $10.8 million in 2008 -- the company did not believe any impairment write-downs of its brand names were warranted.
Could the fact that asset impairments often signal a weakening undertone of fundamentals -- and reinforce industry watchers possible uneasiness with baby brother Neil Cole's continued ability to lead -- explain the reluctance to move forward with this financial litmus test? That said, asset write-downs could decrease shareholder equity, increasing financial leverage, and borrowing costs of future debt.

A read of the company's regulatory filings with the SEC shows that debtors of $328.9 million in asset-backed loans hold liens on trademarks acquired in connection with the debt borrowings. Ergo, violations of debt covenants or debt default would enable the lenders to foreclose on valuable assets such as Mossimo, Candies, Bongo, Joe Boxer, Mudd, and London Fog. Luckily, this debt, however, does not come due until 2012.

Iconix anticipates five percent organic growth for fiscal 2009, although it said in a recent press release that underlying operations will not be strong enough to offset dilution from a recent $153 million stock offering and changes to licensing terms of its Rocawear women's lines. The industry trade group, National Retail Federation, is predicting the all-important holiday retail sales season will record its second consecutive decline this November - December, too, which suggests apparel and retail clients of Iconix are not out of the winter's woods just yet.

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned n this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Friday, October 02, 2009

If Only Raser Tech Could Power Generators With "Hot Air!"

Raser Technologies (RZ-$1.40) still maintains that the five production wells drilled to date are viable geothermal resources, with demonstrated flow temperatures in “commercially productive” ranges of approximately 240° Fahrenheit to 300° Fahrenheit, and bottom-hole temperatures in excess of 350° Fahrenheit. Never mind questioning previous statements by management supporting the economics of its technology at “lower temperatures.”

Given Raser’s
checkered history, I wouldn’t pin my hopes on the company solving its geothermal power problems. Management will likely stumble onto other revenue pathways to profitability:

Read More at BNET Energy….

Heinz Sticks with Brand Name Pricing Strategies

Remarkedly, even with the highest unemployment rate in 27 years, H J Heinz (HNZ-$38.69) continues to maintain its pricing power in the United States. Chief financial officer Art Winkleblack told analysts on the earnings call that 88 percent of total U.S. retail sales were sold off the shelf at full price. That said, fears about consumers buying more store brands or trading down to discounters seem mostly overblown:

Cabot Oil & Gas' Fracking Problems in PA

Cabot Oil & Gas (COG-$33.94) estimates that production from developed (producing) reserves will decline sequentially at projected rates of 21 percent, 17 percent, and 12 percent during the years 2009 -2011. Ergo, development of Marcellus Shale leaseholds will grow in importance to Cabot: in addition to known reserves, the region offers longer-life wells with attractive economics. How will suspension of activity in PA affect total additions to reserves?

Read More at BNET Energy….