Friday, May 18, 2012

Top 10 beach cities of the world

Following are the top ten finest beach cities in the world,

1.      Barcelona, Spain
2.      Cape Town, South Africa 
3.      Honolulu, Hawaii 
4.      Nice, France 
5.      Miami Beach, Florida 
6.      Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

7.      Santa Monica, California 
8.      Sydney, Australia 
9.      Tel Aviv, Israel 
10.  Vancouver, British Columbia 

Facebook and other companies comparision

As Facebook is finally going public and it would be worth about $104 billion when it debuts at $38 a share, and there's guaranteed to be a pop once it starts trading.

That means that the total value of Facebook, an eight-year-old company, is more than some of the largest, most successful companies in the world that have been around for decades.

Here are some of the most interesting ones:

1.       Hewlett-Packard, one of the largest PC makers in the world, is smaller than Facebook. It's worth $44 billion — less than half of Facebook's titanic $105 billion valuation. HP also just laid off about 25,000 employees.
2.       Facebook is four times larger than Dell, another super-giant PC and server maker. Dell has a market cap of about $26 billion. It's still trying to find its way in the post-PC era.
3.       It's bigger than, a company that is more or less partially responsible for the cloud computing revolution. Salesforce is only worth around $20 billion — and its interns end up as high-ranking officials from time to time.
4.       Starbucks, the coffee chain that literally appears twice on every corner. Starbucks is worth about $40 billion — less than half of Facebook. We hear plenty of horror stories about Starbucks.
5.       The New York Times, one of the most prestigious content publishers in the world, is a blip compared to Facebook. Sharing is apparently worth 105 times more than some of the best content available on the Internet. The New York Times is worth slightly less than $1 billion. A bunch of New York Times staffers are actually planning to quit.
6.       Target, a huge big-box retailer similar to a higher-end version of Walmart, is worth less than half of Facebook. Target has a market cap of about $37 billion — well short of Facebook's expected valuation. Target actually raised its guidance this week, raising its value.
7.       Facebook barely edges out Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world. Amazon is worth about $100 billion, while Facebook is worth just a smidge more. Amazon'sKindle has been a bit of a bust so far.
8.       Disney is worth about four-fifths of what Facebook is worth. The owner of ESPNand a ton of other properties is worth about $80 billion. Disney could soon be replaced by Rovioas one of the biggest media properties in the world.
9.       Facebook is worth twice as much as eBay. eBay has a market cap of about $50 billion.
10.   Facebook is worth about 10 Nokias put together. Nokia, one of the largest phone manufacturers in the world (not smartphone), is worth about $10 billion. The Nokia Lumia 900 isactually pretty nice, though.

It is not surprising that the Facebook is paying much better to its engineers as compared with the other companies in Silicon valley, thereby attracting the best of the talent.
But Facebook still isn't bigger than the typical tech giants: Google, Microsoft and Apple. Microsoft is worth about $250 billion, while Google is worth $204 billion and Apple is worth about $500 billion.

Let us wait and watch the story of facebook at the stock exchange

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is it better to rent than to buy a house?

The origins of this article can be traced to a meet with 5 television editors (to be fair, their boss was on my side) who were shocked when I mathematically proved it is better to hire, than to buy. This is true of cars, vacations, or homes! Here we are talking homes.
So let us see what I do which worries, surprises, shocks, my editor friends.
Even though I do write articles on portfolio planning, portfolio construction and occasionally even stock picking, my own money is with a portfolio manager – and he is urging me to index! It took me a long time to understand that ego of stock picking need not interfere in the more important task of wealth creation.
So the stock picking happens as a hobby and the money gets managed by an extremely competent and diligent portfolio manager – and to use today’s modern language he is “just a broker”. He has been handling our family portfolio for the past 30 years.
We attended each other’s wedding, and now his daughter is ready for marriage. No I do not call him my “relation-ship manager”.
I rent an apartment, despite having enough money to buy a house. I plan to keep renting for as long as I can. I’m not just holding out for better prices. Renting will make me richer. Businesses are great investments while houses are poor ones, so I’d rather rent the latter and own the former.
Shares of businesses return 7% a year over long time periods. I’m subtracting for inflation – gradual price increases for everything from a loaf of bread to a root canal surgery. (After-inflation or “real” returns are the only ones that matter.
The point of increasing wealth is to increase buying power, not numbers on an account statement. Shares have been remarkably consistent over the past two centuries in their 7% real returns.
In Jeremy Siegel’s book, “Stocks for the Long Term,” he finds that real returns averaged 7.0% over nearly seven decades ending 1870, then 6.6% through 1925 and then 6.9% through 2004.
How much does investing in a house return?

The average real return for houses over long time periods might surprise you. It’s zero. Shares return 7% a year after inflation because that’s how fast companies tend to increase their profits. Houses have their own version of profits: Rents.
Tenant-occupied houses generate actual rents while owner-occupied houses generate ones that are implied but no less real: the rents their owners don’t have to pay each year. House prices and rents have been closely linked throughout history – except for bouts of bull / bear runs- and related to inflation.
A house, after all, is an ordinary good. It can’t think up ways to drive profits like a company’s managers can. If land, cement, steel, and money are all commodities, how can a combination of all these not be a commodity?
Robert Shiller, a Yale economist and author of “Irrational Exuberance,” which predicted the stock price collapse in 2000, has recently turned his eye to house prices.
Between 1890 and 2004 he finds that real house returns would have been zero if not for two brief periods: one immediately following World War II and another since about 2000.
Even if we include these periods houses returned just 0.4% a year, he says.
The average pundit, planner, lender or broker making the case for ownership doesn’t look at returns over long periods of time – it is embarrassing to say the least! Sometimes they reduce the matter to maxims about “building equity” and “paying yourself” instead of “throwing money down the drain.” If they do look at returns they focus on recent ones. Those tell a different story!
Aauthor P V Subramanyam