Archive for September, 2006

Lawsuits effect on the stock market

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

There are always a few tech companies suing each other over patents and things, and Merck is still in trouble over Vioxx, but it’s been a while since we’ve had anything like Phillip Morris or Altria seeing its stock decline like crazy thanks to huge lawsuits.

Are the lawsuits back? Designers are going after Ebay because people sell fakes on there. I would think the sellers should be responsible but I think Ebay will be held accountable. California is going after US and Japanese automakers. What’s next in the latest round of litigation?

If things get too complex consulting someone with a degree from a school of law might be your best bet.

Fired for taking care of my baby – any recourse?

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

Here’s a question someone I know asked recently about getting fired and advice from a couple of friends about lawyering up:

After 15 months of a very expensive custody battle and coming out on top, I thought everything was golden. Until 10 of 5:00 PM EST.

My boss, who is a complete idiot- She uses words like boughten it, instead of bought or purchased, ain’t none left etc, she has little computer knowledge, including asking me to find the columns on a spreadsheet that she “lost” somehow… Anyway, she has been pissed off at me for using my vacation time for my court hearings and appoints for my kids, so she began blasting me to the VP of Sales, saying I was always out and without notice.

When you say “Can I have Friday the 10th of August off?”, you are asking for permission and giving notice. But anyway, we were scheduled to have this sales conference this coming week, starting with a dinner Sunday night. The problem for me is that my wife is being sent to California for work, all week and I have all 3 kids (one of which just turned 1 August 17th). So I said I wouldn’t be able to make the after hours stuff (dinner Sunday and Boat Cruise Monday night) but would be at all the daily functions during the work week. Wow, one day later, BOOM—- Fired!

Advice from person #1: He can get an initial opinion for free. If his case has merit, he can get a very very good lawyer to take it on contingency. In any case, he will know up front how the fee structure will work. That’s by law. Under any circumstances he should go to a lawyer…even if he doesn’t have much of a case letting his employer know he is getting representation can influence the size of the severance agreement substantially. He should not sign a severance agreement, no matter how tempting until he has seen a lawyer…and understands just how much he potentially could get in comparison to what is offered. Thats what anyone in the same situation should do to protect themselves and their family.

Any reputable employment atty would gladly interview you. The lawyer would want you to bring any paper work you have (1) describing the conditions of your employment (2)anything in writing from the employer describing this special weekend sales meeting (3) payroll records.
Now, was anyone at a comparable work level excused from the weekend meeting? If so, why? If you are a white male, you are not a member of a protected group. More importantly, in the absence of a contract of employment, you can be terminated for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all.

Someone may mention the FMLA. I haven’t looked at in lately, but typically it requires that you or a family member have a serious health condition or for the birth or care of a newborn. I doubt sitting for your 1 yr old meets the test for ” care of a newborn” but it might. That would take 10 minutes to research.

But, there are severance pay, vacation time,COBRA and other issues where you might need some guidance. Most of that wouldn’t be handled on a contingency fee basis.You can probably handle those matters on your own.

I don’t know what state you live in, so maybe there is some labor laws that create a wrongful termination action that I’m unaware of. That term–wrongful termination–is truly over-used.It typically exists on a very limited basis. Firing someone for pursuing or reporting a work comp injury…whistleblower cases. But, absent a contract of employment, the law is very heavily in favor of an employer having the right to run his shop as he wants, provided the practices don’t violate federal discrimination laws.

Obviously we all wish this single-father the best of luck finding a new job and hope that his investment strategy left him with emergency funds.

Why I bought Ebay stock

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

As some of you already know, I like stocks with wide moats like the Washington Post. Ebay has lots of competition, but it’s kind of like the ‘zine’ I started in high school trying to compete with an established paper like the Washington Post. To really compete with Ebay is going to cost a fortune. The cost is so prohibitive, that Yahoo has all but given up on their auctions.

Yes, I remember a time when many Ebay sellers also used Yahoo because there was no listing fee. There were also no buyers so we quicly stopped wasting our time. Then Yahoo did begin charging a listing fee. I don’t know what happened to Yahoo auctions, but I guess they died.

So anyway, I like Ebay because it’s hard for new companies to compete. Ebay has been declining recently. At 28.5o right now, PE is close to 40 but forward PE is 22.63. PEG is a decent 1.32.

I also think that new deal with Google (where Google supplies ads to Ebay) will be a big success. People spend leisure time on Ebay, meaning that they are ready to take hours looking for things they want to buy. That’s the other key; they want to buy. Take someone who wants to buy, put ads in front of them for a few hours and I bet they start clicking.

As always, I can give you advice. But I can tell you what I’m doing so that you can go do your own stock research and decide for yourself.

Sirius and XM stock

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

Here’s a well thought out highly bullish article on Sirius and XM Satellite radio. The author owns shares of Sirius and it’s clear why. He thinks Howard Stern, NASCAR, and NFL will be big winners for Sirius and points out that there’s lots of room for growth with relatively few Americans subscribing now.