I have felt that the oil market has been unnecessarily inflated (due to the capital speculating in the space) for a number of years. In fact, I am fortunate that I didn’t make a move to short oil when I felt we were beyond a level that seemed right. As they say, don’t fight the tape.
Once oil cracked $55, it felt way overvalued, beyond $70, a bubble. This oil market that we are in comes with the support of a LOT of capital. The capital appears to be providing an artificial prop for the price of oil and this trend doesn’t look to be changing. That being said, if I am your contrarian indicator, now is the time to jump in and short oil.
Paul Tudor Jones on Oil
Paul Tudor Jones has this to say about the state of the Oil market:
Q: Is the price of oil high for fundamental reasons, or are hedge fund managers and Wall Street driving it up?
PTJ: It’s a very bullish supply-and-demand situation, and the peak oil theory is probably correct. But the run-up in prices is now bringing in an enormous amount of speculative, nontraditional capital such as pension funds and university endowments — principally through index products. Commodities have been the worst-performing asset class behind stocks, bonds and real estate for the past 200 years, but Wall Street doesn’t highlight that long history when selling commodity index instruments today. Instead, it shows a chart of the bull market of the past 12 years to rationalize why some pensioner should be long cattle futures in the derivatives markets as part of a basket. I am sure they were using similar logic about tulips three centuries ago. Oil is a huge mania, and it’s going to end badly. We’ve seen it play out hundreds of times over the centuries, and this is no different. It’s just the nature of a rip-roaring bull market. Fundamentals might be good for the first third or first 50 or 60 percent of a move, but the last third of a great bull market is typically a blow-off, whereas the mania runs wild and prices go parabolic.
Take it for what it is worth. Is oil artificially inflated, I believe so.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has submitted plans to build a new 150-acre campus in Cupertino, California, saying it could create “the best office building in the world.” This building would hold 12,000 people in one location. The total square footage would be 3.1 million! They are after an environmentally friendly 12,000 square foot structure that is more desirable than a traditional campus.
Steve Jobs Presentation
Jobs presented the concept of the new campus yesterday at Cupertino City Hall. It seems a little odd that that he would be the one in front of the city council. My hunch is that there might be a little push back for approval of this project. The appearance of Steve Jobs at the meeting will very likely help the approval of this. Jobs seemed rather nervous at the start of his pitch. This is obviously a project that means a lot to Steve Jobs. He took the opportunity to tell a nice story of reaching out to Bill Hewlett (yes, of Hewlett-Packard) and Mr. Hewlett gave the teenage Steve Jobs a summer job.
Jobs also took the opportunity to throw a subtle dig in towards the current HP. I quote: “…as Hewlett Packard has been shrinking lately, they decided to sell that property, and we bought it.”.
Jobs states that they are using their retail experience to build the structure. He claims they “know how to make the biggest pieces of glass in the world for architectural use”.
They are converting this piece of land that is covered with structures and asphalt. The intention is to move parking underground and create a space that is 80% landscaping rather than the 20% landscaping that it is now.
The building will include an energy center that will provide the primary source of power (cleaner and cheaper) and then will use the grid as their backup.
Jobs discusses that they put on presentations and that they have to go to San Francisco to do them. They will include an auditorium in this complex. I would have to assume that this would mean that Apple’s future conferences and presentations will happen on their own campus. This will surely peek the interest of the tourism board in Cupertino. 5,000 developers at the WWDC probably provide a nice bump for any municipality. Keep in mind, 5,000 is where they cap it. They sell out nearly instantly and could expand this. Apple holds a number of events each year.
The video below is about 20 minutes long, but it is much more fascinating than the public access town board meetings that you might normally see. Jobs must have had his iPhone in his pocket because there is some feedback that comes in at around the 5:08 mark. I know this sound all too well. I thought it was just my iPhone after being dropped 42 times.
Apple's futuristic campus
I was discussing Apple’s cash hoard with a colleague the other day. With around $80 billion in cash and marketables, they are able to spend money on projects like this. It is hard to question Jobs’ vision. Look what they beautiful Pixar campus puts out. Hit, after hit, after hit.
During the Q&A jobs addressed a few points.
Apple is the largest taxpayer in Cupertino and would like to remain that way. He insinuated that Apple could leave Cupertino if this was not approved. It wasn’t a threat, but he made it clear that the biggest taxpayer in town could leave.
Apple has 20 biodiesel buses running currently to help move their employees. Affluent employees who make Cupertino their personal home.
One council member mentioned free WiFi from Apple for the people of Cupertino. In classic jobs form he threw it back stating that he is a simpleton and feels that we pay taxes and the City should do those things. That is why we pay taxes. He stated that if we could get out of paying taxes, he would be glad to provide free WiFi. “I think we bring a lot more than free WiFi”.
One of the members was a 35 year HP employee. This project certainly hits home with him and he would like to see this former HP space put to use.
Employees at infinite loop will remain at that location.
Timeline for this building would be as follows. Breaking ground in 2012 an completion in 2015.
During the meeting, the fact that there is not an Apple store in the Cupertino community. Jobs mentioned that the location simply doesn’t have the traffic. You have got to love the way Jobs answers questions that he doesn’t really feel are worthy of a thorough response.
With the applause at the end of the meeting, I felt like I was watching a presentation at a conference. A lot of fans in that room, and rightfully so.