Los Altos, California

I finally got the chance to see an Apple store as we ventured to Palo Alto to see the University Avenue shop. (Additional comments on what I saw in the Mac section.) The store wasn’t quite as big as I anticipated, but there was a lot of walk-in traffic and it’s undoubtedly a good location. The layout is clean, and everything is open and easy to find. It’s no trouble at all to hop on any type of machine that Apple offers and start fiddling. Lots of product got moved while I was there (on a mid-Thursday afternoon) so hopefully that bodes well for the financial success of these outlets. Now if only we could get a few in the Northwest.

Erin, Liz, and I visited the headquarters of Sunset magazine in Menlo Park where we toured their elaborate grounds and admired the gardens. They’ve developed their backyard in sections so that one area holds, say, only plants from the Northwest, another from Southern California, and so on. Helpfully they’ve labeled everything so aspiring gardeners can easily determine exactly what plants in which they’re interested.

We met with our friend Jennie for dinner (at Armadillo Willy’s—yum!) and caught up on life. Jennie’s working for a Bay Area company and telecommuting from Washington D.C., in some ways getting the best of both coasts since she flies in to San Francisco frequently. Her significant other Jon—who we’ve unfortunately not met yet—is a major Mac guy at National Geographic and has his own web site in addition. Thanks to Jennie for the wonderful evening!

I would be remiss if I didn’t make some comments on a day that saw Aquila’s share price drop by 55 percent to close at $2.40 a share. I vainly searched the Internet looking for news of why the shares saw such significant and worrying price drop, and, finding almost nothing, I can only assume they are being tainted by association with Dynegy who yesterday said that they may declare bankruptcy. So far as I know Aquila’s liquidity is fine, their earnings more than cover their reduced dividend, and a Dynegy bankruptcy would not have an impact on their business. If the market is punishing them for once being an energy trader, an activity they’ve since stopped, $2.40 is an insane buying price. That’s a dividend yield of something like 25 percent. 

I am keenly aware, however, that maybe somebody knows something I don’t know (despite my research), because a 55 percent drop in a single day usually has a precipitating event, and in this case I’d say that if it’s the Dynegy thing, great, time to buy more stock. If it’s something else, maybe Aquila’s been the wrong horse. Right now, I think it’s time to buy more stock, but again, this is not a core holding. This is a flyer I think will do very well in the 3- to 5-year time span.