Federal Court of Appeal gives sword of transparency to air passenger rights advocate

Monday, 8 June, 2015
Dr. Gabor Lukacs pix on twitter in Fed Court of Appeal

Dr. Gabor Lukacs pix on twitter in Fed Court of Appeal

Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) took the position that its own “Public Record” is NOT “Publicly Available”. Dr. Gabor Lukacs, a Halifax-based Canadian air passenger rights advocate, disagrees and took the matter all the way to a judicial review and won the argument for all Canadians today.

A panel of three Federal Court of Appeal judges has unanimously agreed with Lukacs and concluded that the redactions of its Public Record (in this case, a dispute resolution proceeding between Air Canada and a family whose flight from Vancouver to Cancun was delayed) were “impermissible.” The panel held that since the documents sought by Lukacs were already on the CTA’s Public Record, they were Publicly Available, and thus the Privacy Act does not restrict their disclosure.

David vs Four Goliaths

The path to official recognition as a Canadian air passenger rights advocate by the court and the unanimous judgement did not come easy. Lukacs has spent over a thousand dollars of his own money, hundreds of hours of his spare time in research, documents filing, preparations, and moot courting with friends (one of the friends is a lawyer). All the hard work and money culminating in a March 17th, 2015 formal self-represented court room appearance (above picture) by Lukacs, a Mathematician, against four experienced lawyers representing the CTA, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and the Attorney General of Canada in front of the panel of three Federal Court of Appeal judges.

The judgment vindicates Lukacs, who wanted to view the complete file of the complaint to decide if the CTA’s decision was based on grounded reasoning or biased to benefit Air Canada. Common sense would lure people to believe CTA would not be so blatant in its bias to help Air Canada in a dispute resolution by redacting details such as the names of Air Canada’s lawyers. Yes, the names of the lawyers. Are those Air Canada lawyers 12 years old minors needing Of course, common sense is not common. And names of Air Canada’s lawyers were redacted under the pretext of compliance with privacy legislation.

Lukacs saw through the guise of “privacy” protection and challenged the redactions based on the fact that none of the documents were subject to a confidentiality order, and the open court principle, which requires adjudicative proceedings to be open and available for public scrutiny. “This principle has been hailed by the Supreme Court of Canada as one of the hallmarks of a democratic society, held to be tied to the freedom of expression and press guaranteed by the Charter, and is frequently invoked by the media to gain access to court documents.” states Lukacs.

Airlines’ dirty laundry, Cans of worms

Lukacs explains, “The CTA is a federal tribunal that adjudicates transportation-related disputes, such as passengers’ complaints against airlines. The CTA operates like a court, and its adjudicative members function like judges. According to the CTA’s own rules, all documents filed by parties must be placed on “public record,” unless a confidentiality order is granted.”

This landmark decision is like giving the advocate (and all Canadians) a can opener which may be used to open many cans of worms in CTA. Lukacs replied, “Certainly, I intend to open more cans of worms.” And tellingly, the official Air Passenger Rights tweeted, “CTA can no longer keep the airlines’ dirty laundry in secret.” Dirty laundry indeed should be Read the rest of this entry »

Google+ Hangout Technical Insights and Ideas to Reshape Newsrooms

Friday, 29 July, 2011


KOMU G-Plus Hangouts - pix 00a - Sarah Hill and Nina Moini

It has been my pleasure to attend a number of KOMU anchor Sarah Hill‘s interesting Google+ newsroom Hangouts since July 19, 2011. In this article, I will try to share some of my technical observations and insights. (note: For my general and business insights, you can read my previous article.)

Using G+ Hangout as a control room of 9 Electronic News Gathering (ENG) team


1) News anchor running G+ Hangout connecting to maximum of nine Electronic News Gathering (ENG) teams in the field.

2) Each of the nine reporters will have a notebook computer connecting to the internet via a 3G/4G data stick. And each reporter has a handheld SD/HD camera hooking up to the notebook as its camera. (note: SD or HD probably doesn’t matter here because the data will be compressed and you are transporting over 3G/4G network anyway.) (Aug 11 update: Currently, G+ Hangout doesn’t support external video cameras. I have reflect this request to G+ engineers.)

3) Any “newsroom” can probably set this up easily.

In fact, any team of volunteer citizen journalists may even be able create such a reporting setup with less trouble. All it takes is each individual citizen journalist to have a notebook computer, a fast 3G/4G data stick, and a camera. And these citizen journalists can work together depending on needs and events, etc.

4) Feed the G+ Hangout video stream out to the wider world using tools like Livestream for mass distribution.

5) Use cases: Will be quite cool to report on elections, street festivals, concerts, and live events.

Non-ideal use cases: Any major crisis, earthquakes, etc where the mobile 3G/4G networks are expected be extremely congested and overloaded. In these rare cases, old school dedicated microwave or satellite transmission will likely provide more stable transmission than overloaded mobile data networks.

KOMU Sarah Hill G-Plus Hangouts - pix 07 - Norway https link

Fixing the insecurity of G+ Hangout

At the moment, Google+ Hangouts is known to be insecure, in the sense that each hangout participant has the clear text “https://talkgadget.google.com/hangouts/…” link (see the top of the above photo) and can copy and then share with Read the rest of this entry »

Cisco shutdowns Flip Video

Tuesday, 12 April, 2011

Cisco kills Flip Video - pix 2

Today, on April 12th, 2011, Cisco shutdowns its consumer video division Flip.


Cisco kills Flip Video - pix 1

Kodak patent moment: $1 billion from Apple & RIM

Saturday, 26 March, 2011

Here is a $1 billion Kodak moment. Kodak has already settled with Samsung and LG for a combined $964 million over the same patent.

* Bloomberg, “Kodak Wins a Round in $1 Billion Apple, RIM Patent Dispute

“The patent covers a feature that previews low-resolution versions of a moving image while recording still images at a high resolution. Higher resolution requires more processing power and storage space. Kodak, which generated $838 million from patents last year, contends the image-preview feature is used in every digital camera and phone with a camera.”

* AP, “Kodak patent complaint against Apple, RIM revived

3twenty Solutions gives new life to old shipping containers – CBC Dragons’ Den

Friday, 4 February, 2011

3twenty Solutions‘ Bryan McCrea, Channing McCorriston & Evan Willoughby gave a wonderful pitch of their business on CBC Dragons’ Den. I love interesting use of containers, and I am impressed with the 3twenty‘s business and its tagline of “durable, stackable, transportable modular structures – give new life to old shipping containers”. Seem like a wonderful business idea with some good potentials. As a business, new entrants to the market can probably copy and compete with them without much difficulties but I trust the entrepreneurs will work very hard to ensure a good return for themselves and their investors.

Best of luck to the 3twenty team. Check out their Facebook, YouTube video, Twitter, and Flickr photos. Here is their pitch video on the Den.

Here is a CBC news video clip (posted in May 2010) about 3twenty going to the Den to ask for money with more details.

Feb 8, 2011 Update: See Financial Post article Anatomy of the 3twenty Solutions deal. Here is an excerpt,

The pitch Bryan McCrea, Channing McCorriston and Evan Willoughby first crossed paths with dragon and philanthropist Brett Wilson when they competed in and won the Idea Challenge, a competition at the University of Saskatchewan’s Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence in 2009. […] They used their winnings of $30,000 to launch Saskatoonbased 3twenty Solutions. […]

Mr. Wilson was on hand for the unveiling of the first container: “He walked in and said we should come on the show,” Mr. McCrea says. About a month before appearing on Dragons’ Den, 3twenty Solutions made its first two sales worth $70,000. The momentum was building, but they decided to take Mr. Wilson’s advice and enter the Den mainly to get a strategic partner.

“Many of our target clients watch the show. We knew if we could make our pitch on the Den we would be hitting the right market,” Mr. McCrea notes.

Honibe on CBC Dragons’ Den – The Business and Patent

Thursday, 3 February, 2011

Honibe pitched their dry solid honey “honey you can hold business on the Jan 19, 2011 episode of CBC Dragons’ Den. Although I haven’t tried the product and don’t know how good/bad it tastes, it seems like a good idea (even it may seem a bit pricey).

Knowing I won’t have time in the next while to write a more detail article about Honibe, let me share with you what I’ve found so far. Here are links to Honibe’s Canadian trademark (TMA729391) and patent (CA 2649936) for interested readers. I had tried but was unable to find Honibe’s US patent filings (to me, US patent is important to have since US is a much bigger market than Canada). For those that are new to patents, one can learn a lot about about a business from its patents (in this case, Honibe’s patent).

National Post has an article “Sweet deals buzzing around honey firm” about the pitch and the business and provided an update of the deal. News from CBC, “Dragons’ Den offers $1M deal to P.E.I. company

There is a press release from the governments,  “Federal and Provincial Governments Congratulate Island Abbey Foods on Winning International Award” when Honibe won the prize for Best in Canada 2010, Best of Sweet Grocery Category 2010 and Best New Food Product in the World 2010, the Global SIAL d’Or, at the Paris-based awards.

Here is a video of Honibe Dragons’ Den pitch.

Ricky Gervais – The funny business with Golden Globes

Friday, 21 January, 2011

I love frank and engaging interviews and Piers Morgan had a great chat with Ricky Gervais, one of my favourite comedian, especially after Ricky’s Golden Globes performance. In case you missed Ricky’s performance, here is his Golden Globes 2011 – Opening Monologue and maybe you can see what some of the fuzz was about. The night got better or worst depending on who you talked to.

When was the last time a host got so much attention to Golden Globes a week after the show? I agree with Seattle Pi, Bring back Ricky! Also check out Ricky’s blog for his takes on things.

* Hollywood Reporter, “VIDEO: Ricky Gervais Funny, Revealing, Joyfully Unrepentant on Piers Morgan’s Show – Great hour of talk; Morgan less cocky, more likable and Gervais thoughtful.”

* CNN (with video clips), “Ricky Gervais offers no apologies for Golden Globes jokes”

* Seattle Pi, “Bring back Ricky!

* Gawker.tv, “Ricky Gervais’ Targets Come to His Defense” (with video clips)

* UK Press Association, “Cruel? I was doing my job: Gervais”

* Hollywood Reporter, “Ricky Gervais: If I’d Been Too Nice at Golden Globes, It Would Have Been ‘Nauseating'”

* ABC News, “Ricky Gervais: The Couldn’t-Care-Less Comedian – On ‘Piers Morgan Tonight,’ Ricky Gervais Refused to Apologize for Golden Globe Remarks”

* By the way, I think the following exchange between Ricky and Piers Morgan was very revealing of Ricky as a person. Hollywood Reporter, “Ricky Gervais: It’s the ‘Right Thing’ for Steve Carell to Leave ‘The Office'” Here is an excerpt (emphasis added).

“”I sent him an email saying I think you’re doing the right thing,” Gervais — who serves as an executive producer on the NBC hit after originating the ditzy boss role in the U.K. version — said on Piers Morgan Tonight Thursday. […]

As a producer, I was expected to try and stop him because he’s a big part of it,” continued Gervais. “[But] you know, it can survive. Whether it should or not, I don’t know. I’m just an adviser and he’s done an amazing job. He’s done his time. It sounds like a prison sentence, doesn’t it?””

Congrats 5468796 Architecture: Emerging Architecture Award (The Cube in Winnipeg’s Old Market Square)

Sunday, 17 October, 2010

5468796 Architecture - pix 1

I want to congratulate the team at 5468796 Architecture Inc. for winning a prestigious international award, for The Cube, a venue for performing arts in Winnipeg’s Old Market Square. Members of the firm will travel to London in November to pick up the award. [Oct 24th update: Great, here is a link to my video interview with co-owners and principal architects Sasa Radulovic and Johanna Hurme from 5468796 Architecture.]

Here is a interesting/telling description of the firm (from the winners’ list in Dec 2009 Canadian Architect, emphasis added),

5468796 Architecture Inc. is a Winnipeg architecture studio with a diverse range of interests and design expertise. The firm was established in 2007 to challenge convention at all scales, from branding, architecture and design, to detailing and engineering systems.

Here are more photos from 5468796 Architecture Inc. about the project.

5468796 Architecture - pix 2

5468796 Architecture - pix 3

5468796 Architecture - pix 4

Here are some cool photos of The Cube I found on flickr: here, here, here, here (closed up, or the back?), here, here, and here.

By the way, I don’t know if this is a fair comparison yet but I want to say, for the beginning years, people have  ridiculed I. M. Pei‘s spectacular Louvre Pyramid which turns out to be not only beautiful but very functional.

Here is a clip of The Cube in action at night. Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition – Noah Pred

More news about the project or the firm:

– “Setting the stage for art in the Exchange“, Winnipeg Free Press, June 2010 [HT Karenia@Flickr]

– New ‘cube’ stage impresses, Winnipeg Sun, June 2010

– The Cube steals the show at arts forum – Candidates sound off about project’s lack of consultation, Winnipeg Free Press, Oct 2010

– Winners of the 2010 Prairie Design Awards announced, Aug 2010, Canadian Architect

– “Maligned Cube wins international award“, Winnipeg Free Press, Oct 16 2010. Here is an excerpt with emphasis added,

So how big a deal is it to win an Emerging Architecture Award? Very big, according to Manitoba Association of Architects president Art Martin.

Martin said the EAs, which were founded in 1999, are considered one of the world’s most popular and prestigious awards for young architects. He said this year’s competition attracted about 300 entries worldwide.

“For a Manitoba firm to get this award is really something. All (Manitoba) architects can share in that pride.”

– Architectural firm earns accolades, Winnipeg Free Press, Feb 2010

Cube stage rocks in the rain, Winnipeg Sun, June 2010 (this article is cool as it puts The Cube in context in use in a real life situation.)

youCube, Dec 2009, Canadian Architect

2005 & 2007 articles:

– An older Winnipeg Free Press 2005 article “Behind the design” when both Sasa and Johanna were architectural intern at Cohlmeyer Architects.

– Here is an insightful 2007 Winnipeg Free Press article “By design” where the then newly founded firm was hired “to develop a communications strategy for the association [Manitoba Association of Architects (MAA)]“.

Stephen Colbert congressional subcommittee opening statement

Friday, 24 September, 2010

Stephen Colbert testified today on Capital Hill about the plight of illegal farm workers in US but in his TV funny man character. Here is a video of Stephen‘s congressional subcommittee opening statement. Read more reports from Toronto StarNYT, CNN, and AP.

Bernard Callebaut’s financial details

Tuesday, 10 August, 2010

3 lessons as chocolatier Bernard Callebaut enters receivership

From Calgary Herald “Bernard Callebaut determined to claw his way back from receivership” (emphasis added),

“Last Tuesday, Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut was placed in receivership by ATB Financial, which alleges in court documents it is owed roughly $3.9 million by the company. […]

Callebaut is candid about the issues. One crux is a $5-million land purchase west of Calgary made during the boom — a 78-hectare expanse Callebaut dreamed one day would house a factory and warehouse facility and would feature an organic dairy farm to round out his chocolate production.

He recently tried to sell that land, but was only offered $2 million.

The head office building on 1st Street by 13th Avenue S.E. was sold during the boom to raise capital, he says. It did that, but also saddled the company with an expensive lease signed with the new owner during the height of the market.

Then the economic downturn brought sliding sales. In June 2009, the company temporarily reduced its workforce to a skeleton crew. But Callebaut says when people saw the headlines, they believed the chocolaterie was closed, leading to an immediate 15 per cent drop in business.”

See also my previous article, “3 lessons as chocolatier Bernard Callebaut enters receivership“.

Oct 4th, 2010 Update: “Chocolatier Bernard Callebaut making final bid to regain company

Apr 11th, 2011 Update: “unLovemark: Bernard Callebaut the businessman and the two brands

Inventors Eye from USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Friday, 26 February, 2010

If you are an inventor or cares about the business of inventions and patents, I highly recommend you subscribe to the Inventors Eye from USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). Here is the intro info from Inventors Eye (emphasis added),

“Welcome to the first issue of Inventors Eye, a new electronic publication by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Inventors Eye is for and about America’s independent and small entity inventor community. It is a community that has always been a vital and vibrant part of America’s invention heritage.

Inventors Eye will appear every other month. Each issue will feature information you can use, tips on working with the USPTO; events, organizations and meetings of interest to the community; issues that impact independent and small entity inventors; and stories about people like you who have become successful inventors.We also want to hear from you with your ideas for stories and features that will enable us to better serve you through this publication.”

You can start off by reading Under Secretary of Commerce and USPTO Director David Kappos’s “Open Letter to the Independent Inventor and Small Business Communities – Patent Reform: Good for Independent Inventors and Small Businesses“.

And read about “Protect Your Innovation: Avoid Scams“.

By the way, as part of my management consulting services, I work with entrepreneurs with cutting edge patented technologies. Having good patented technologies don’t guarantee success but it is a good start.

[HT Dennis]

Amanda-lic Anonymous Membership – Amanda Lang & Kevin O’Leary in Lang and O’Leary Exchange

Tuesday, 16 February, 2010

Amanda Lang @ CBC Lang and O’Leary Exchange

I am a member of AA (Amanda-lic Anonymous) because I am an Amanda-lic (more difficult to cure than an alcoholic). If you look up the words cute or beautiful in the Canadian Oxford Pictionary, you will see a picture of Amanda Lang.

When I first read that Lang and O’Leary Exchange will be extended to a full hour, I was happy of the news and wrote,

I think this is a good change for the viewers (and CBC ratings).

I like Amanda. And I believe she will, in the fullest of time, become a better reporter. I just hope the fast-talking-little-thinking style in the “Lang and O’Leary Exchange” format doesn’t infect too deeply the raw talent that I see within Amanda.

But now, less than a week later, I realized I need help. I have an Amanda-lic problem and I’ve joined my local chapter of Amanda-lic Anonymous.

Here is my new comment left at insideCBC (emphasis added),

Got around to watch most of Amanda and Kevin today. I believe my already low IQ has now been significantly lowered from watching Kevin arguing with Amanda. I think the critical thinking part of my brain is being slowly damaged as a result.

Amanda’s beauty and cuteness is so addictive that I can’t help but keep watching the program which I know is causing me brain damage. But what can I do??? I need to attend AA (Amanda-lic Anonymous).

P.S. Note to Amanda. If you are reading this, I am sorry. Please don’t tell me to go “X myself”, because if you do, I am sure I will do “X” to myself, and that may not be too funny (for me anyway).

P.P.S. Watching Amanda and Kevin fight reminded me of CNN Crossfire, the episode where Jon Stewart appeared [see YouTube clip below]. OK, we are not that bad yet, but one day, who knows …

Note: The “debate” between Amanda and Kevin, sometimes contain so much rhetoric that is hard to extract any useful information. (I am generous in using “sometimes” in the last sentence.)

Businesses in Canada and worldwide are going through some serious tough times. BUT paradoxically, this can also be a good time to start investing in some quality companies at rock bottom prices IF you do the homework and don’t overpay. OK, the rockbottom prices happened some months ago, but some prices are still attractive and within reasons. The problem I have is that Exchange is NOT helping me as much as I hope in understanding deeper issues in businesses and finding investment opportunities.

Disclaimer: You should know that if I ever have a chance to meet Amanda in person, I will immediately get my camera out and ask to have a picture with her like Brett. And then dutifully turn my brain into mush and melt away. :) How can I not? To me, logic and reason will give way to beauty, which is why I cannot look at a picture of Amanda while I write this article (my brian will be too mushy to write anything logical).  :)

WIND Mobile cares about their services vs. Bell Mobility cares about my money

Tuesday, 26 January, 2010

Wonderful to see WIND Mobile really care about customers AND will DO SOMETHING about the problems reported by customers.

In great contrast, the problems I reported to Bell Mobility over and over (e.g. dropped calls) have routinely been ignored. And worst, 9 out of 10 times, they don’t even care enough to call to followup on a problem report.

I am ready and eager to dump Bell Mobility. With WIND Mobile, I know at least if I have problems, they will try to fix it. Whereas with Bell, they won’t give a “beep” about my problems and dropped calls.

Aftermath of food tampering at Calgary Co-op Oakridge Centre store (with customers video interviews)

Tuesday, 19 January, 2010

Calgary Co-op Oakridge Centre storeCalgary Co-op Oakridge Centre store (bakery area)

CBC reports “More pins found in Co-op grocery products” (emphasis added),

A Calgary grocery store has discovered more pins in its products, this time pushed into plastic juice bottles.

The Calgary Co-op store at Oakridge Centre in the city’s southwest was closed for several hours Monday after pins were found in some bakery items. A sweep of the store by employees turned up more pins in bulk food items and in cheese.

On Tuesday morning, employees uncovered more of the pins.

“Before our centre opened this morning at Oakridge we did another sweep and we did find a couple of more products that have the metal objects in them. Those included some of our fresh juices in our produce department,” said spokeswoman Sarah Boutron.

She doesn’t know if the pins, which she describes as the kind used in sewing, were missed during Monday’s sweep or are new.

Although there are no official words from Calgary Co-op whether business at the Oakridge store is impacted, customers at the Calgary store all seem very understanding. To immediately alert the press and the public, Calgary Co-op appears to have done the right thing for the customers and for itself in the long run.

Here are comments from customers at the Oakridge Calgary Co-op (see attached video),

“No [our purchase decisions won’t be impacted]. It [food tampering] happened in the States too.”

“I rarely buy bulk [bread] anyway. […] If I did, I will probably check it out really well first. Cut it open.”

“I buy grocery here for over 30 years and I never had any problem. […] Yes [I will still come here and buy things].”

“Honestly, I couldn’t really care less. I am sure whatever in there, they taken care of it. […] Yes [I will still shop here].”

“Well, it can happen anywhere, so what can we do? […] I think they’ve checked it throughly. I don’t think they will be allowing customers in if there are more danger to be worried about.”

Note: repeated calls and voices mails left for Calgary Co-op press contacts have not been returned at press time.

Kraft to buy Cadbury for $19 billion

Tuesday, 19 January, 2010

From BBC “Kraft and Cadbury: How they compare” (emphasis added),

The boards of Cadbury and US giant Kraft Foods have agreed a deal which will see Kraft takeover the British chocolate maker in a deal valuing the company at £11.5bn [~US$19.5 billion].

It means that the world’s second-biggest confectionery company will form part of the world’s second-largest food company. This is how the two firms currently stack up.

From NYT “Behind Kraft’s Raise, a Glimmer of Bigger Savings” (emphasis added),

Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft’s chief executive, partially justified the higher price on an analyst conference call by announcing that she expects her company to reap an extra $50 million in annual cost savings through the merger. That brings the total figure to $675 million.

At a standard 10 percent discount rate, Kraft was essentially authorized to spend around another $500 million today for Cadbury, which is a little less than a fifth of what they ended up shelling out extra for the company.

From NYT “For Britain, Cadbury Takeover Isn’t Easy to Swallow“,

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said at a press conference that his government was “determined that the levels of investment that take place in Cadburys in the United Kingdom are maintained,” and, “at a time when people are worried about their jobs, that jobs in Cadbury can be secure.”

Cadbury employs 6,000 people in Great Britain, and more than 46,000 worldwide.

During its conference call Tuesday, Kraft reiterated that it would keep a strong presence in Britain and would be a “net importer” of jobs in the country.

And for those who has paid attention to the deal and Warren Buffett‘s public opinion of the deal, Alice Schroeder (biographer of Buffett) made some insightful observations in “Buffett Orchestrates Kraft-Cadbury Deal” (emphasis added),

[…] why did Buffett make his announcement that Berkshire would vote against a deal that included more stock? Why didn’t he just tell Irene Rosenfeld that in private? Why set off a frenzy of rumors about a rift between the two of them?

True, lines drawn in the sand in public are taken more seriously than warnings made in private. And Buffett’s message was sent to all parties concerned – especially, perhaps, the arbs and Cadbury.

How to Run a Meeting Like Google

Wednesday, 30 December, 2009

An excerpt from “How to Run a Meeting Like Google” (emphasis added),

Mayer holds an average of 70 meetings a week and serves as the last stop before engineers and project managers get the opportunity to pitch their ideas to Google’s co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Eight teams consisting of directors, managers, and engineers—all at various stages of product development—answer to Mayer.

In a shop like Google (GOOG), much of the work takes place in meetings, and her goal is to make sure teams have a firm mandate, strategic direction, and actionable information, while making participants feel motivated and respected. Mayer’s six keys to running successful meetings follow:

1. Set a firm agenda.
Mayer requests a meeting agenda ahead of time that outlines what the participants want to discuss and the best way of using the allotted time. Agendas need to have flexibility, of course, but Mayer finds that agendas act as tools that force individuals to think about what they want to accomplish in meetings. It helps all those involved to focus on what they are really trying to achieve and how best to reach that goal.

[HT O’Reilly Radar]

Avatar IMAX 3D box office success means it is time to buy IMAX stocks?

Wednesday, 23 December, 2009

Avatar - pix 1

Avatar is an awesome film that looks great and, I think, is best seen in IMAX 3D. Now with a worldwide gross box office of $285 million as of December 22 according to LA Times report, are there some money to be made in buying IMAX stocks since Avatar IMAX 3D tickets seem to be the first ones to be sold out first?

Well, to make any informed investment decision, one should study the financial reports of a company and get to know about the industry first. In the case of IMAX, you can find many of the financial reports in the investor relations area.

One area that may send off additional signal is the insider trading activities of a company, that is whether the senior executives of a company are buying or selling stocks. Here is an insightful excerpt from September 2009 CNN Money article “Insiders sell like there’s no tomorrow” (emphasis added),

But against that improving backdrop, one indicator has turned distinctly bearish: Corporate officers and directors have been selling shares at a pace last seen just before the onset of the subprime malaise two years ago.

While a wave of insider selling doesn’t necessarily foretell a stock market downturn, it suggests that those with the first read on business trends don’t believe current stock prices are justified by economic fundamentals.

It’s not a very complicated story,” said Charles Biderman, who runs market research firm Trim Tabs. “Insiders know better than you and me. If prices are too high, they sell.

According to the IMAX’s insider trading records, you can find from Nov 23rd to Dec 22nd, 2009, there have been a number of insiders’ transactions. If you read the details, you will find almost all insiders have been selling IMAX shares including co-CEOs of IMAX, Mr. Richard L. Gelfond and Mr.  Bradley J Wechsler. It is worth noting that Messrs. Gelfond and Wechsler have adopted “stock appreciation rights automatic exercise plans” on November 16, 2009 (rule 10b5-1 trading plans) so Mr. Gelfond can sell up to 720,000 shares in equal monthly installments over a 12-month period, and Mr. Wechsler can sell up to 900,000 shares, in equal monthly installments over a 10-month period. To be fair, if the combined 1.62 million shares were to be sold throughout the duration of the plans, Mssrs. Gelfond and Wechsler would “continue to own approximately 65% of their combined share ownership in the Company” as stated in the press release.

IMAX stock price has increased substantially in three months (US$9.00/Sept 23rd, 2009) and one month ($10.48/Nov 20th, 2009) to yesterday’s close of $12.79, which amount to increases of 42.1% in three months and 22% in one month respectively.

Many moviegoers, including this reporter, have been rightfully impressed by Avatar IMAX 3D and see tremendous potentials in IMAX 3D. Therefore it is not surprising to see people wishing to invest in IMAX as we can see from recent IMAX stock trading volumes,

  • 1.93 million shares on Dec 11th, 2009, a day after the Dec 10th London premiere
  • 1.29 million shares on Dec 18th, world premiere
  • 1.08m on Dec 21st
  • 1.62m on Dec 22nd

The above volumes are high when comparing to the average trading volume of 586,000 shares and the recent low of 58,387 shares on Nov 27, 2009 (data from Google Finance).

If you aspire to be a long term value investor like Warren Buffett, it is prudent to understand the industry and analyze a company’s financial reports first before making any investment decisions. For IMAX’s financial reports, you can find them in IMAX’s investor relations area. The annual reports and the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis” sections are good place to start reading.

(note: This article is cross-posted in examiner.com)

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