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News

Council seeks more options for community center

Council seeks more options for community center


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council approved an appropriation to examine options for a new community center to replace the aging Hillview facility.

The Los Altos City Council last week voted narrowly in favor of examining further opti...

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Schools

Local schools participate in  national Hour of Code activities

Local schools participate in national Hour of Code activities


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Himan Shu Raj, a volunteer from Microsoft, advises Los Altos High ninth-graders, from left, Serhat Suzer, Jamie Bennett and Chris Yang as they participate in the school’s Hour of Code Showcase.

Local schools participa...

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Community

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Town Crier staff made a quick cruise back through the newspaper's archives to find some late-December reading as inspiration for eating, drinking, decorating and more:

Beloved holiday books build the spirit of the season and staff at Los Altos’ Li...

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Sports

Pinewood poised for another title run

Pinewood poised for another title run


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Pinewood’s girls basketball team is receiving contributions from several new players, including freshman Stella Kailahi, above.

Complacency shouldn’t be a problem for the defending Division V state champion Pinewood S...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Ticket motorists for U-turns on Main Street

As I was walking downtown on Main Street recently, something came to me out of the blue. The town of Los Altos is missing out on a huge revenue stream. I realized that if all the cars – there were th...

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Special Sections

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


s in line to be mayor of Mountain View in 2015.

Mountain View anticipates the following changes in 2015:

• Beginning Jan. 1, Mountain View City Councilmembers will receive a raise to $1,000 per month as a result of the passage of Measure A in...

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Business

Your 2015 stock market game plan

It’s been a maddening month because of oil and gas, especially in stocks and bonds. Then, consumer spending pushed stocks higher Thursday, easing investors’ jitters about the global economy and prompting them to consider how to invest in ...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

Sangeeta Sachdeva, 55, wife of Subhash Sachdeva and mother to Natasha and Tanya, died at 8:54pm, Sunday, December 7, 2014 from respiratory failure.

Sangeeta was born on October 18, 1959 in Delhi, India. She was born to Moti Sagar and Raj Kapoor an...

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Travel

South Tahoe renovations enhance off-mountain seasonal fun

As any enthusiast knows well, there is more to the enjoyment of winter sports than skiing or snowboarding.

While many winter resorts make minor upgrades each season, the off-mountain attractions and amenities can be as enticing as the activities on ...

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Stepping Out

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday


courtesy of Aurora Singers
The Aurora Singers are scheduled to perform a seasonal concert Friday night in Palo Alto.

The Aurora Singers’ “Winter’s Musical Glow” holiday concert is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pal...

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Spiritual Life

Enter the superhero: Finding the God who loves you

In my life-coaching practice, I see a lot of pain. Much of it stems from fear and guilt, often expressed as low self-esteem, anxiety, a lack of forgiveness both for oneself and others, anger – and so on.

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Stock Report

The view from Omaha - Warren Buffett style

With the Dow Jones industrial and the Nasdaq composite experiencing huge daily volatility, this column will attempt to explain the philosophy of Warren Buffett and his investor theory on stock valuation.

Berkshire Hathaway's annual report arrived at the house the other day. What Warren Buffett has to say about the current stock market and its valuation is interesting.

Despite the carnage in the market over the past several months, Buffett feels the long-term prospect for equities is "far from exciting." Even his own holdings are mildly attractive and fully priced.

Berkshire's holdings consist of more than $1 billion in each of the following stocks: American Express, Coca-Cola, Gillette, Washington Post and Wells Fargo. (Note: no high-tech equities in his portfolio.)

The per share book value of Berkshire Hathaway outpaced the performance of the S&P 500 in 2000, and the book value has increased from $19 to $40,442 over the years.

Buffett has not invested in high-tech industry because the valuation is not there. Dividend yield, price-earnings ratios, and growth rates have nothing to do with valuation except in providing clues to the timing and amount of cash flow.

Buffett points out that for all the talk of "creating value" during the Internet boom, much of the activity was just transferring value on a massive scale. "By shameless merchandising, promoters moved billions of dollars from the pockets of the public to their own purses and now the company value is in shambles."

Buffett, even before the bubble collapsed, pointed out how silly valuations were becoming. However, most investors, deep down, probably knew this as well, but couldn't force themselves to leave the party. The unrealistic expectation - the apex of greed - should have been a clear sign of trouble.

After being scorned by investors as a doddering old-timer who didn't understand the new investing paradigm, Warren Buffett has reclaimed his title of "Investing Legend."

He regards a strong cash flow, a dominant market share and a superb return on equity as being vital. He cautions investors to ignore the daily - even month ly - price blips of a stock and try to determine if management is building value for the long haul. Finally, he urges investors to seek top-quality management and pay attention to the price of the stock.

As a suggestion, Buffett should look at Washington Mutual because it meets his criteria. Originally Palo Alto Savings and Loan, then Northern California Savings, Great Western Savings and now, the company is Washington Mutual (WM).

WM, the nation's largest savings-and-loan institution and the second-largest mortgage originator, has a branch office at Third and Main streets in Los Altos.

Each time the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates, mortgage rates fall leading to refinancing activity. Two-thirds of WM's revenue is generated from the net interest margin.

Priced at 52 with a 2.53 percent yield, WM is attractively priced for purchase and unless the California real estate market collapses, is a defensive equity most investors could like.

Noel, a seasoned investor, covers the stock market for the Town Crier.

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