Mon09222014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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