OK, so took a little time today to dig deeper into the Clerk of Court records...I'd definitely be short this stock, or for a safer risk/reward, long the September Puts (since that's the first month for which options are available after the next earnings release in Aug, and those upcoming earnings numbers will shockingly disappoint anybody who's expecting numbers near the estimates.) Why? Let me count the ways: JOE is nothing now but a land play (835,000 acres, almost all in NW FL), their land is not selling anywhere close to the past few years nor to what would be required to meet analysts' estimates, and there's really no near-term prospects for a significant upturn in performance. JOE might be a decent stock over the long-term, since FL, and even the redneck boondocks of NW FL, will continue to grow, but in the near-term, no. I grew up in NW FL and have a vacation home 5 minutes from 1 of JOE's most well-known beach resort properties (WaterColor, near Seaside and Destin), where I spend about 50% of my time. The unsold current inventory and upstream inventory currently under construction in that area is staggering, and nothing is moving. I've spoken with many real estate brokers in the area and they all lament how dead the market is (although they usually say it's a needed correction after what was way-too-crazy speculative fever from '03 to '05.) Interest rates show no sign of coming back down, the flipper/speculator fuel for the 2nd home real estate market in FL has burnt out, and for the coastal communities where JOE has much at stake, it's nearly impossible to even get insurance (and if you can, it's at much steeper rates now -- mine was cancelled by Allstate and now I'm lucky to be paying 2-1/2x more with another firm, after lots of hunting.) If NW FL gets hit with even 1 more hurricane this season, things will go in the crapper even worse, although storms or no storms, the market is taking what should be a prolonged breather. Here are some stats to chew on, from the Walton County Clerk of Courts online records database: St Joe Warranty Deeds (excluding internal sales to St Joe entities): Q1 2005: 17 Deeds totalling $12,905,498 ($759,147 avg per) Q2 2005 (thru 6/12/05): 11 Deeds totalling $10,701,990 ($972,908 avg per) Q1 2006: 6 Deeds totalling $6,468,936 ($1,078,156 avg per) Q2 2006 (thru 6/12/06): 6 Deeds totalling $3,977,854 ($662,976 avg per) 2nd Qtr '06 to Date St Joe Avg Price per Transaction is 68.1% of the same period last year. 2nd Qtr '06 to Date St Joe Total Sales for Walton County is 37.2% of the same period last year (due to fewer sales and at lower prices.) Leon County and Bay County sales, yr over yr, are holding up better, but I've seen enough to convince me that JOE is going down before it heads back up (if it does.)yes, the stock's already way down from its peak, but IMO still has a ways to go before it gets down to the mid to low $30s where it probably belongs for the near-term future.
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