Driverless car is no reason to buy Google

Malcolm Berko Modified: June 2, 2014 at 10:12 am •  Published: June 2, 2014
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DEAR MR. BERKO: What do you think of Google’s driverless car? Would you recommend Google’s stock based upon its expected success? I’ve read that the car will be commercially available by 2017.

Also, my son who is into bodybuilding tells me about a drug made by one of the big pharmaceutical companies that quickly builds muscle strength and muscle mass. It’s not on the market yet, but the product is available on the black market. If this is a good product, I’d like to buy stock in that company. Can you tell me the drug my son refers to and what company is making it?

DK, San Antonio

DEAR DK: Why in the world would anyone want to spend $247,000 to buy Google’s (GOOG-$552.70) driverless car when, for a much smaller sum, he could take the bus or a cab?

Now, I may be as wrong as the celebrated Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan, but the primordial delight of owning an automobile is the pleasures one gets driving the thing. And driving a driverless car is like drinking warm, flat beer or eating a steak without the taste. It is dumb, dumb and dumber and will probably be a dud in the coming few lifetimes.

GOOG is having fun with this thing; the car generates great publicity. But it doesn’t have a rat’s chance in a cat cage to be commercially profitable. There are 47 reasons to own GOOG, but a driverless car certainly isn’t one of them.

Novartis (NVS-$90.21), a $59 billion Swiss pharmaceutical company, may have an anti-aging drug on the market in less than three years, and it looks like a blockbuster. It doesn’t have a commercial name yet, but according to “my son the doctor” who keeps up on this stuff, it is called “BYM338” and is in latestage clinical testing for sarcopenia.

Sarcopenia is the agerelated degeneration of muscle mass and strength. Most of us begin to lose about 1 percent annually after age 30.

Myostatin is the naturally occurring protein in our system that regulates muscle strength, development and repair and is responsible for the loss of muscle mass as we become older. In clinical trials, BYM338 clearly blocked those areas in the body where myostatin is detected.