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Normally articles about big oil spending tons of money wouldn’t surprise me but this stat jumped off the page:

WSJ: Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell spent more than $120 billion in 2013 to boost their oil and gas output—about the same cost in today’s dollars as putting a man on the moon.  (emphasis mine)

Woah.

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Below is a chart of the 50 biggest companies that spent the most on R&D – courtesy of the The 2013 EU Industrial R&D Scoreboard.

I was a little surprised to see Volkswagen at the top.  I was also surprised to see Apple come in at #46.  I suppose it is more expensive to make advancements on large durable goods like cars than consumer hardware & software (but Microsoft is #3…).  It’s also worth noting that this only shows how much was spent – not how much was gained or returned on that investment.  For many this could be a case of “all thrust and not vector”.the 2013 eu industrial r&d investment scoreboard

 

Found via Business Insider

Interesting read from the WSJ about how horizontal drilling technology is breathing new life into an old Texas oil field.  I especially like their graphic…

I still want to know how on earth you drill horizontally but I don’t have time for an extended wikipedia worm-hole session today.

From the WSJ: Second Life for an Old Oil Field

One of Texas’ oldest oil fields, in decline for decades, has become one of the hottest places in the country to drill for crude, as energy companies create clusters of wells with layers of horizontal branches.

The Permian Basin—86,000 square miles centered on Midland, Texas—has been pumping oil since the 1920s, though production peaked at about 2 million barrels a day in the early 1970s. For decades, geologists have known that oil could be found in different layers of rock piled up like a stack of geologic pancakes.

But now drillers are starting to tap those layers simultaneously from a single site—and are committing billions of dollars to do so.

 

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I’ve posted this quote before but it bears repeating:

“For as long as I can remember, veteran businessmen and investors – I among them – have been warning about the dangers of irrational stock speculation and hammering away at the theme that stock certificates are deeds of ownership and not betting slips… The professional investor has no choice but to sit by quietly while the mob has its day, until the enthusiasm or panic of the speculators and non-professionals has been spent. He is not impatient, nor is he even in a very great hurry, for he is an investor, not a gambler or a speculator. The seeds of any bust are inherent in any boom that outstrips the pace of whatever solid factors gave it its impetus in the first place. There are no safeguards that can protect the emotional investor from himself.”

Source: John Hussman by way of Value Investing World 

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An interesting article on TechCrunch, written by the folks at Cowboy Ventures – they put together a in-depth profile of startups that are now valued at $1B or more, referring to these mythical creatures as “Unicorns”.

Below are some highlights I found interesting.  Be sure to check out the rest of the article here.

Fun Unicorn Facts:

  • There are currently 39 Unicorns
  • Only 0.7% of venture backed companies (from ’03-’10) have grown up to be Unicorns
  • On average four Unicorns were born per year from 2003 -2010
  • It has taken seven plus years on average for these Unicorns to reach a liquidity event and a third of Unicorns are still private
  • There are more consumer oriented Unicorns than enterprise oriented Unicorns
  • BUT enterprise Unicorns have delivered more value per private dollar invested (26x total capital raised vs. 11x for consumer)
  • Average age of a Unicorn founder is 34 and there were on average three co-founders at each Unicorn
  • 90% of founding teams either worked together previously or went to school together
  • 80% of Unicorns had at least one co-founder who had previously founded a company
  • Few companies are the result of a successful pivot; ~90% of companies are still working on their original product vision

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I’m currently reading The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, Third Edition and while I’m tempted to repeat every little tidbit of wisdom on this blog I’ve thus far been successful at not completely plagiarizing the author’s work.  Below is a fantastic little excerpt on Gold.

Today the world’s gold stock is about 170,000 metric tons. If all of this gold were melded together, it would form a cube of about 68 feet per side. (Picture it fitting comfortably within a baseball infield.) At $ 1,750 per ounce— gold’s price as I write this— its value would be $ 9.6 trillion. Call this cube pile A.

Let’s now create a pile B costing an equal amount. For that, we could buy all U.S. cropland (400 million acres with output of about $ 200 billion annually), plus 16 Exxon Mobils (the world’s most profitable company, one earning more than $ 40 billion annually). After these purchases, we would have about $ 1 trillion left over for walking-around money (no sense feeling strapped after this buying binge). Can you imagine an investor with $ 9.6 trillion selecting pile A over pile B?

— Cunningham, Lawrence A.; Buffett, Warren E. (2013-03-01). The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, Third Edition (Kindle Locations 2516-2522). Carolina Academic Press. Kindle Edition.

As a side note I’ve whole heartedly adopted the Kindle app as my e-reader of choice (I have an iPad & a MacBook Air).  While I like iBooks I find the books on Amazon to be generally cheaper than iTunes and there are more ways to access your books (Kindle app for ipad, the internet, and a Kindle app for OSX).  Although I’ve heard that Mavericks will have an iBook app when it is released later this year so stay tuned.