Achtung Baby’s Monday News & Notes

Twenty years ago this week, U2 released their seminal album Achtung Baby.  After the failure of the film and accompanying double album Rattle and Hum, U2 ventured to post-Wall Berlin to record and ended up reinventing themselves.  The album sold more than 18 million copies and led to the massive Zoo TV tour setting the stage for the multimedia spectacles favored by pop acts today. Its hard to believe now but in the 90s, U2 was the Apple of the music world- enormously popular but also on the cutting edge. Achtung Baby led to more experimental projects like Zooropa and Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1. The band has since settled into a comfortable Microsoft-like existence selling millions of decent, but predictable albums in the 2000s. But today we salute U2 for creating one of the all-time great LPs in rock history.

Once again, Germany is center stage for a reinvention of sorts- that of the European Union. As Greece and Italy teeter on the brink of default, volatility has been the norm for the stock market. Where can values be found? Check out these links for ideas.

Of potential concern for the U.S. is the level of debt maturing over the course of the next five years…
Compared to many other countries, the percentage of short term debt maturing in less than five years is largest for the U.S.

Yikes!

After scaring us with the debt crisis post, Horan Capital gives us some ideas on places to look for some protection.  Thanks guys!

… or a well-capitalized value play. Some very good value investors are sniffing around materials stocks.  If you’re starting research into that arena, Andrew’s detailed report on Eagle Materials is a great place to start.

A reader of my blog asked me what I think about shipping companies.  Like housing related businesses, they will come back. Where I struggle when I look at these is figuring out when we get back to normal. Richard Beddard’s article (the 2nd link) has some nice historical info on timing the cycle.

there’s a decent chance that at some point in the future the financial system as a whole is going to get its act together and put together something which actually works and which people are happy to adopt. At which point, the online ad industry will face a major threat.

I’ve been looking at publishers and advertising agencies recently and found both of these articles very interesting. What once were some of the widest moat industries around now face potential threats everywhere.  How much will their stock prices need to fall to make up for the deteriorating competitive advantages?

Growing up as a gadget nerd in the 1990s, there was no brand as exciting as Sony. Yes, Apple made great computers, and that’s what we used. But almost everything else, I wanted from Sony.

Speaking of deteriorating moats… The picture of the Discman brings back memories though.  In fact, I think I first listened to Achtung Baby on that exact same piece of hardware.

Finally our elected officials can be good for something. Forget sifting through 13Fs for ideas, we should just follow the top Congressional picks.

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