Thursday, October 25, 2007

Could This Be The Bottom?

Despite getting caught in the cross hairs of the mortgage and credit debacle of September new homes sales were up month over month. Sales in the west were up a remarkable 38% in September. Since the west led this housing recesssion, possibly it will soon lead the U.S. out...............

excerpts from WSJ

New-Home Sales Rose Last Month,But August Drop Revised Lower

........Overall, the median price of a new home increased by 5.0% to $238,000 in September, compared with September 2006. But the average price declined by 2.8% to $288,000 from a year earlier.

The ratio of new houses for sale to houses sold, an indicator of supply, fell during September, going to 8.3 from 9.0 in August. There were an estimated 523,000 homes for sale at the end of September, down from August's 531,000.

Regionally last month, new-home sales increased 37.7% in the West and 0.5% in the South. Sales decreased 6.6% in the Northeast and 19.5% in the Midwest.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Venture Capital Best since 2001

Venture Capital is the main leading indicator of job growth and strengh in the bay area economy. Also note that 2.52 billion dollars flowed into bay area companies last quarter which represents over 31% of all venture capital in the united states. California accounted for 44% of U.S. venture capital..........

U.S. Venture Capital Investment Reaches Highest Level Since Q1 2001, Rises 8% to $8.07 Billion in Third Quarter of 2007

Venture capitalists continued to put more money to work with entrepreneurial companies, as overall U.S. venture capital investment climbed 8% in the third quarter of 2007 compared to the same period last year to reach $8.07 billion, according to the Quarterly Venture Capital Report released today by Dow Jones VentureOne and Ernst & Young LLP. This marked the ninth consecutive quarter of gradual year- over-year growth in dollars invested and is the highest quarterly investment total since the first quarter of 2001.......

.......Two-thirds of all capital invested in the third quarter -- some $3.81 billion -- was put to work in 224 later rounds, the most invested in late- stage companies since 2001, while combined seed and first round investment remained steady year-on-year at $1.74 billion. These sizable later rounds helped to push the overall median for a venture capital deal in the third quarter to $7.92 million, a new record.

......California dominated the venture capital activity in the third quarter, representing 44% of both the nation's deal flow and its capital invested. ...........................

-AP Newswire

Full Story Link Here

Friday, October 19, 2007

More Jobs for Bay Area

Bay area is definitely on a roll with new job announcements....

One of the world's largest manufacturers of solar power systems has chosen San Francisco for its North American headquarters, a move that could bring hundreds of jobs and solidify the city's place at the forefront of clean energy.

Suntech Power Holdings Co. has subleased half of the eighth floor at 188 Embarcadero, said Roger Efird, president of Suntech America, its U.S. subsidiary. Up to 15 senior employees are expected to be working there within 30 days and more than 50 by the end of 2008. The company is "in merger and acquisition mode," Efird said, and depending on its success with that in the months to come, could easily employ "four, five, six times that many."

Based in Wuxi, China, Suntech rocketed to the top of the solar industry in a short time. Founded in 2001 by Zhengrong Shi, it employs 4,000 worldwide and maintains four factories in China. It listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005 and now has a market cap of $6.45 billion. Shi, Suntech's 44-year-old CEO and chairman, made Forbes' list of the world's billionaires this year with an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion.

Suntech America has been operating out of Olney, Md., and was heavily recruited by cities and states around the country, including Oakland. An announcement of its move to San Francisco is expected within days.......

-Excerpt from San Francisco Business Times - by Elizabeth Browne

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

MySpace Adding Jobs in Bay Area

Story from San Francisco Chronicle........

MySpace, the popular social-networking destination, is opening an office this week in San Francisco and plans to hire as many as 200 employees as it moves to redesign its site, introduce features and fend off rivals such as Facebook.

The San Francisco office, in the SoMa neighborhood near AT&T Park, will focus on enhancing MySpace's infrastructure, creating products and forging strategic partnerships - some of which are expected to be announced this week.

The move is the latest sign of growth for the Los Angeles company, which was acquired two years ago by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Most of the new hires will be engineers.

"We literally planned out all the products we're going to build in the next year or two. We don't have enough engineers to do what we want to do," MySpace Chief Executive Officer Chris DeWolfe said. "Clearly, San Francisco and Silicon Valley attract the top engineering talent in the world. ... It's going to allow us to develop incredibly rapidly."

By Ellen Lee, San Francisco Chronicle

For Full Story Link Here

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bright Spots in Real Estate

It's not all bad out there in the residential real estate world. Areas with less for sale inventory and lower supplies of land have faired quite well this last year despite national woes. Areas such as Portland, Seattle, and some trophy areas of California. I was especially intrigued by this relatively recent article in Wall Street Journal regarding America's Riviera, Santa Barbara, and the strength of its housing market..............

The New Gold Coast
One Stretch of California Defies Housing Slump;

Median Sale, $1 Million

CARPINTERIA, Calif. -- Other than an 18-foot-tall rooftop Santa Claus visible from the highway, this middle-class beach town used to be but a blur for wealthy vacationers speeding toward tony Montecito and Santa Barbara, about 10 miles up the road. Today, the statue is gone, and a clutch of the megarich have made Carpinteria an unlikely stop for buyers who can afford any ocean view in the world.

Public records show that New York billionaire hedge-fund manager Bruce Kovner spent $83.3 million this year to amass 15 bluff-top acres, including a luxury villa, near the end of a highway exit ramp. He also has agreed to buy part of Kevin Costner's field of dreams next door: Last year, the actor acquired 17 grassy acres dominated by a polo field for $28.5 million. Just down the road, a beachfront house on a mere quarter-acre is listed for sale at $24 million.

Carpinteria's arrival on the luxury-estate scene illustrates how California's gold coast is defying the downdraft in the national housing market. Eye-popping sales are spreading along a 40-mile stretch of southern Santa Barbara County, through sprawling ranch lands and past hillside homes, to the enclave of Carpinteria. In July, when existing-home sales slumped by 9.3% nationally and plummeted 23% in California compared with a year ago, sales along the county's southern coast soared nearly 28%, according to the California Association of Realtors. It also was the only region of California where the median sales price surpassed $1 million.

Estates in the exclusive Hope Ranch and Montecito communities set the standard in an area long prized by tycoons and Hollywood players for its mild climate, natural beauty and low-key sophistication. Indeed, at Oprah Winfrey's Montecito fund-raiser tomorrow for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, more than her political firepower will be on display. Ms. Winfrey's 40-acre hillside estate, bought six years ago for around $50 million, has swelled in value to $84.7 million, according to public county-assessor records.

Santa Barbara's high-end housing market is set for its best year ever, according to Wendy Gragg, chief executive of the Distinctive Real Estate agency. Just counting properties with a value of at least $10 million, the area notched more than $195 million in sales so far this year, putting it on track to beat last year's local record of $219 million............


For rest of article click here

Monday, October 01, 2007

Keep Cutting

Below are some excerpts from and excellent article by James C. Coooper from the October 1 issue of Businessweek. He makes a strong case (and I concur) that the Fed definitely has further to go on rate cuts......

Rate Cuts: The Fed May Just Be Warming Up
The half-point reduction isn't enough to erase the risk of recession Score one for the Fed.

Facing both deteriorating financial conditions and new risks to economic growth, the Federal Reserve stepped up to the plate on Sept. 18 and hit more than just a solid single. This one went for extra bases. The Fed's half-point cut in its target interest rate, to 4.75%, was well beyond the quarter-point reduction most Wall Streeters were expecting. And the policymakers left the door cracked for further trimming "as needed." The question now: Will more be necessary?

Probably. The big cut lessens, but does not eliminate, the chance the Fed will cut again at its Oct. 30-31 meeting. The Fed sounded as uncertain about how the recent credit turmoil will play out as anyone, so much so that it avoided offering its usual assessment of whether economic growth or inflation was its primary concern.Nevertheless, as long as uncertainty and fear continue to prevent the proper functioning of the credit markets, economies in the U.S. and abroad will be at risk. The Fed's action will go a long way toward restoring confidence in businesses' access to the funding they need to operate, but even a half-point decrease won't quickly thaw out frozen markets or reverse the downdraft already hitting economic activity........

Full Story Article Link Here