E Brokerage Problems Again

My first horror tale has hit with the Schwabians who are now my main brokerage. I received from San Francisco in an envelope marked “Personal and Confidential”. It contained a letter saying that there was something I needed to know followed by a colon and a blank line and nothing more. Then Schwab thanked me for being their customer and gave a number for more information.

I naturally called the number on the letter to find out what that was all about and after being on hold for 45 minutes got a human. He named a Canadian stock I and my readers had tendered which was being taken over. Asked what about this new, he said he would look into it and call me back. I explained that he needed to call my home rather than my office and thanked him.

Nobody called after that until my bedtime. Naturally nobody called before I went to work (from the west coast). So I called again. The message was trivial. The tender offer had been extended until Sept. 6. As I had already accepted and opted for cash or stock in the acquiring firm there was absolutely no reason to write.

If the company felt the need to do so, the news was not that private or confidential and required no action of my part. All these people keep saying “great” and promising to “reach out to you” which sets my teeth on edge.

But just to be safe I called Schwab again this morning and they looked into it and just called back. After all that effort it turned out that the stock in question was a totally different one, from Germany, and there really was an important change. However I had already learned about it by reading the FAZ.com website and then checking in with Reuters.

The previous week, PM Theresa May told journalists she had no plans to resign, and would fight the next parliamentary election on behalf of her Tory Party. This is what the French call “un pari stupide”. On Thursday, also the Sinn Fein of UK-run Northern Ireland, the local arm of the same movement in Ireland itself, said Ireland should block talks about future ties between the two bits of the Emerald Isle between Britain and the European Union. They cited not only the open border between Ulster and Ireland but also the need for continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice on the human rights clauses of the treaty.

After she lost her Parliamentary majority in the June election, Mrs May was able to stay at 10 Downing Street only thanks to the support of the Protestant Democratic Unionist Party's seven Members of Parliament in Westminster.

*Magal Security reported a Q2 loss of 14 cents/sh vs a loss of 12 c/sh a year ago on revenues which fell 3% (adjusted to 2.2%) to $13.3 mn and cash flow (EBITDA) which came to minus $1.2 mn. The number of shares out was raised by nearly 50% in the prior year with a secondary issue.

MAGS, an Israeli maker of smart walls patrolled by robots, gained from the y/o/y comparison as it actually had meager earnings later last year. Its share plummeted at the opening by nearly 20% reflecting the panic in tel Aviv before recovering to be down only 10.46% now. It is rather widely held by institutions for a small cap (capitalization is $111 mn) and Israel is now full of bears.

The poor showing was in part from non-cash financial expenses of $1.3 mn based on the strength of the shekel and because of two acquisitions completed in Q2 in Canada, for Aimetis and Senstar. Both these factors are unlikely to repeat in H2. Gross margins at MAGS are over 50%. Dollar weakness also hurt the the MAGS cash pile which closed Q2 still at a whopping $47.9 mn or $2.21/sh. So it is trading at barely 2x its cash on hand at $4.3337.

*Australian Orocobre reports on its first full year of operations in US$s. Its net profit after tax came in at $19.1 mn boosted by some one-off asset sales but mainly because of rising production of lithium at its mines in Argentina. OROCF is also traded as ORL in Canada.

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