Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What Hospitality Company to Invest Money In

In the afternoon, Bob LaFleur, a stock market analyst, spoke to our class via Skype about the hospitality industry. Mr. LaFleur reported that the recovery of the hospitality industry is not robust and that the growth is lackluster. After explaining how supply is the total amount of rooms available on any particular night, demand is the people wanting a hotel room, and speaking about the macroeconomics of   vvvthe hotel industry, Mr. LaFleur began to speak about specific companies he follows.

Marriott: Marriott is trading at about $39.00 and Mr. LaFleur says this stock has a "Buy" rating because it should be traded at about $43.00. It is a good buy because Marriott has products from all parts of the hotel industry and is mirroring the current growth of the industry which is 8% over the last 6 quarters.

Wyndam: According to Mr. LaFleur, Wyndam is a stock that has a "Buy" rating. In previous classes, Reneta has raved about how well Wyndam has done and how happy she is that she followed Mr. LaFleur's advice to buy Wyndam which has done wonders for her portfolio.

Hyatt: Currently, Hyatt has a "Hold" rating meaning that it is currently performing at about as well as it can be expected to be performing during this market.

Starwood: Like Hyatt, Starwood is currently assigned the "Hold" rating.

Host Hotels and Resorts: This is the REIT I did my presentation on. Mr. LaFleur explained that despite the fact that he does not think any REIT has a portfolio better than Host's and loves Host's management team he still thinks Host deserves a "Hold" rating because he thinks that the company stock is fairly valued.

In addition, Mr. LaFleur spoke about how the hospitality industry recovers from a recession. He said there are two stages. In the first stage, it is wiser to invest in more upscale hotel brands while in the latter stage it is wise to invest in hotel company's that feature midsize hotels. Currently, Mr. LaFleur believes that the market is in a transition period between the two stages. To throw in my own conclusion, I think it would probably be a good idea to invest in a company like Choice Hotels which franchises midsize hotels. Not only does the fact that it features midsize hotels look like it will produce well in the future, Choice Hotels franchises which means regardless how bad the economy is, the franchiser makes money because it will always get a split of the profit. The expenses of each individual hotel doesn't affect Choice as directly as it affects the owner of that hotel.

The Last CHESS

I started off my last Tuesday here with my final CHESS simulation with Reneta. My group already had an Excel data sheet planned with all the expenses ready to put on our hotel simulation. It didn't make the minimum goal of $70,000 a week, but it was a great start. In the end, we managed a little above $50,000. We finished off our work with a presentation on Excel from Mark. It was long, but it was cool because almost everything we did was new to me.

After we finished our daily lectures and work, we Skyped with our guest lecturer, Bob LaFleur. The webcam was very intriguing. It was facing the front of the class, and there were buttons on each desk. When someone clicks it, the webcam automatically zoomed toward the person. It was very unusual to see one of our classmates on full screen on the projector we used to Skype. 

He discussed about the hotel industry, like how Marriott's stock should have been higher than it actually was. He was extremely knowledgeable about what he does, as he was very specific in his lecture to our class.

After class, we only had about 2 hours of free time before office hours at 7 PM, I took full advantage of it by playing basketball. I went with my Chinese friends and played a quick game. Then, we played a 5 on 5 with some strangers, in a game to 11. We lost by a few points, but it was fun, nonetheless. It was very intense, and my back was like a river of sweat, soaking up my t-shirt. I had to even take a shower before office hours.

Office hours concluded our routine day. Thinking back, it's surprising that last week went passed very fast. After only 3 more actual days, we will be flying off. Time passes fast!

Communism and Copyrights

Today we began our lessons on Carl Marx. It was interesting seeing an unbiased (or less biased) view of Marx, as his theories are usually expressed in an antagonistic manor due to their communistic nature. I agreed with most of what he said. His arguments are very persuasive, and it occurred to me that studying him would make me a better persuasive writer. Unfortunately I do not have time in this class, but I will definitely pursue this in the future. Marx made several interesting arguments, the most significant (to me at least) was his theory that wage labor dehumanizes people. It makes their basic necessities: eating, drinking, and procreating seem like freedoms, and turns the whole spectrum upside down. This is a vast simplification, but I still think it conveys the point. Our discussion time, as always, delved further into the subject at hand and gave me a much better understanding of both the text and Kramnick's lecture.

After lunch we had our final guest lecture, which was a reminder of how close to the end we are. The speaker, Alan Mittman, was another friend of Professor Kramnick's and an attorney in charge of labor relations at Cornell. He talked to us about copyright laws, and the specific case of Häagen-Dazs vs. Frusen Glädjé. It was an excellent final guest lecture, and I learned a lot about the intricacies of copyrights, trademarks, and patents. If I ever invent something or start a business I will know exactly what to do in order to protect myself! 

I attended a brief (and optional) discussion with Professor Kramnick.  Today the subjects at hand were ice cream, Kramnick's doctorate, then the more serous matters of clarifying Burke's views, and relating Plato's ideas to modern politics.  I really appreciate the time he takes out of his day to stay and just talk with the students about whatever we bring up.

I met with Ulas briefly during office hours to make sure I knew what he wanted from my paper. It was very helpful, and as always I left feeling much more prepared. I am starting to think that the final draft of my paper will turn out very well. After I finished with office hours, I met up with Calvin and Hannon and while we waited in Donlon for Alex I finished up my readings for tomorrow. When Alex arrived we hung out for a little longer then went to dinner. We played a few games of pool after dinner, as is seeming to become a daily tradition. These daily games are a part of Cornell I will dearly miss when I return to the West Coast. Alex, Calvin, Hannon, and I hung out until check in, after that, until I went to sleep, I was focused on paper revision mode. I feel like I accomplished a lot today, and tomorrow finishing my final paper revision will be an easy task and leave me plenty of time to start studying for the final. Although I am happy with my A-, I am aiming for a solid A as a final grade in the class.

Tomorrow will be a busy day of revising, reviewing, and (finally) having lunch with Professor Kramnick.

Socialism With a Side of Ice Cream

Today, we all seemed to wake up a little later than normal. We all reached the dining hall about 10 minutes late. However, we still had enough time to enjoy our breakfast. After breakfast, we headed off to class.

During the lecture, we entered the world of socialism through the writings of Marx. Professor Kramnick mainly talked about the ideals of Marx's version of socialism (Professor Kramnick used communism and socialism interchangeably). During our discussion session, we broke down the socialist structure to its bare-bones.

In the afternoon, we had a guest speaker, Alan Mittman, who was an attorney and is now working in Labor Relations at Cornell. We learned an abundance of information concerning economic freedom, such as protection of intellectual property. The main case we learned about was the ice cream controversy of "Haägen-Dazs vs. Frusen-Gläjé." it was interesting learning about different types of protection of property; everything from the wording on a product to the shape of the container. A fun aspect was when Mr. Mittman made us become law firms and decide the final ruling. Interesting enough, Mr. Mittman was talking to Eric, Alex, and I for a little bit and we learned that he lived in El Cerrito when attending UC Berkeley for law. In fact, he lived right next to the Baskin Robins on Moeser and San Pablo Ave. What a coincidence! 

After class, we decided to relax a little in my dorm. Afterwards, we went to dinner. The food seems to be getting better because it seems that there are alumni visiting this week. After dinner, we ended up watching the movie "Stick It," which was about gymnastics.

I can't believe that the three weeks are almost up, but for now, I need to work on my paper.

It's a Small World!

Today was the first day of Marx. We started with defining the differences between Socialism and Communism and later moving into Marx's life and philosophy. He believed that in the era of industrialism the machines were taking way the humanity of the workers. Marx is most easily compared to John Locke, except in a different time period. As Locke strongly believed that anything that you input labor into became an extension of yourself, making it your own. Marx believed that the reliance and domination of the machines takes away your right to private possessions through the minimal wages. Professor Kramnick reinforced this point by stating that a worker is now "selling their time," no longer gaining what they produce through their labor.

During the discussion section we further broke down the idea of Marx. In the lecture we primarily covered the Communist Manifesto, which published Marx’s troubles with economic class structure and capitalism, while in the discussion section we analyzed Marx's idea of estranged labor, why factory work is dehumanizing the people (through low wages and a theoretical ownership of all belongings by the bourgeois class).   

The afternoon guest speaker was Alan Mittman, an attorney now based in Cornell. Remember Hannon, our classmate who goes to Albany High two blocks away? We never thought there would be a chance that we would meet somebody from the Bay Area while on the East Coast. How about two? Today's speaker was enrolled in law school at UC Berkeley, and lived in El Cerrito for three years, our home town! 

He talked about a case involving economic justice, featuring Haagen-Dazs ice cream. There was a conflict between Haagen-Dazs and another emerging ice cream company, Frusen-Gladje, regarding intellectual property theft having to do with the name and design of the product. This economic perspective on freedom and justice provided a new look at equality in modern day terms, and was interesting of course, because it had to do with dessert!

After school I went to see Ulas for extra help on my Plato essay. This meeting was particularly helpful to help me clearly present my thesis statement and organize my thoughts; I feel a lot more prepared for the Thursday due date. The evening was spent playing pool and doing homework before going to sleep. 

Everyone's Tired on Tuesday....

Day 2 of the final week. Today we had a lot of lab work. Mark showed us how to make a pay-off matrix while Reneta had us analyze our final CHESS data. The pay-off matrix wasn't too bad - I'm starting to get used to Excel and its strange ways. Analyzing data was also easy; all of our charts are done, and now all we need are our room contribution statements so we can easily calculate transient displacement for groups and make predictions for a hypothetical week at our hotel. We also had a guest lecture via Skype today from a hospitality stock market analyst. He was very knowledgeable and interesting to listen to. He went into detail about the hotel companies that he tracked - including Mariott and Starwood - and answered questions afterwards (I asked about the benefits a company could experience by going public).

Even though it seems like an easy week, everyone is still tired. We don't get home until late, and many of us ingest caffeine either during lunch or dinner to stay awake during class, so it's hard to fall asleep early. I try to avoid it, but when the lecture is particularly important, I succumb to the lures of Diet Pepsi. Today, though, was my last time; I'd rather be tired and doze off a few times because that's what my body needs than stay awake using stimulants, chemicals, and syrup. 

Thankfully, my group has already started writing our report. I noted a few points we could keep in mind when looking at our rooms contribution statements, and wrote the introduction tonight. Alva has started on the market analysis and transient displacement calculations, while Ryan and Colleen manipulated data to fit into a pay-off matrix and several graphs. I know tomorrow and Thursday will feel a little stressful, but I feel confident that we can get this done with little hassle, and no all-nighters. Colleen and I agreed that as long as we just wrote it section by section, it would feel much easier. Like the last report, this final analysis was not meant to kill anyone. Until then, though, I have a quiz to study for.