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Groceries are losing business to big-box chains and dollar stores. There's little room for strategy in a business with razor-thin margins.

By Kim Peterson Jul 16, 2012 1:20PM
Image: Grocery shopping (© Randy Faris/Corbis)The supermarket business is in steep decline. Last year, supermarkets sold only 51% of the nation's groceries, down from 66% in 2000, The Wall Street Journal reports. That huge drop is turning the traditional supermarket business on its head.

The grocery business has scattered. People can buy groceries from all kinds of places now, leaving supermarkets in the dust.

Wal-Mart (WMT) may be the biggest threat. The discount retailer has pushed hard on grocery offerings over the past decade, adding organic produce and matching or undercutting competitors' prices. Groceries now make up about 55% of Wal-Mart's U.S. sales, the Journal reports, up from 41% four years ago. 

Should the automaker gear up for some intense damage control?

By Benzinga Jul 16, 2012 12:47PM

Image: Los Angeles, Calif., traffic on Interstate 405 © VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesBy Katey Stapleton, Benzinga


Slamming on the brakes in a 2013 Ford (F) Escape Crossover may not be as easy as one would hope, which is exactly why the automaker has decided to call the new model back in for modifications. As of Sunday, Ford had recalled 10,000 Escapes because carpet padding might interfere with braking.


According to The Wall Street Journal, Ford is requesting that the redesigned SUVs be temporarily returned as safety issues have become apparent since their recent release. The carmaker has said improperly installed carpeting on the driver's side could interfere with the brake pedal and increase the risk of a collision.

 

Beating Wall Street's low expectations is nothing to brag about.

By Jonathan Berr Jul 16, 2012 11:45AM
Image: Wall Street sign (© Corbis/SuperStock)Shares of Citigroup (C) rose in early trading Monday after the Wall Street company reported better-than-expected quarterly results. The celebration, however, may be premature because the earnings were not great.

Net income at the New York bank fell 12% to $2.95 billion. Revenue fell 10% to $18.6 billion as investment banking revenue fell 21%. Excluding one-time items, earnings were $1, beating the 89-cent consensus Wall Street forecast. 
 
Tags: CJPM

Sirius XM is upgraded to 'equal weight' at Barclays, while Tim Hortons is downgraded to 'sell' at Goldman.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 16, 2012 11:34AM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Monday's noteworthy upgrades include:  
  • 3M Company (MMM) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
  • Brinker (EAT) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at Piper Jaffray
  • Anadarko (APC) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
  • Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
 

Companies can't hide weakness in the top line.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 16, 2012 11:03AM

By Thomas H. Kee Jr. Stock Traders Daily


As the U.S. economy weakens, Corporate America feels the pain. Although accounting tricks can be used to hide an earnings miss from time to time, lower revenue growth cannot be hidden.


The economy is relying on stimulus to support growth, but even that has been ineffective. Fiscal stimulus is not being supported by the price of gold either, which should be eye-opening to the would-be bulls who are praying for more support from Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke. But the Fed is out of bullets, and soon the printing presses will become inefficient as well.

 

If you're looking for big yields and are willing to stretch out your risk profile a bit, these are well worth a look.

By MoneyShow.com Jul 16, 2012 10:39AM

By Bryan Perry, Cash Machine


1. BGC Partners (BGCP
Yield 10.81% 
With all the derivative trading by global fund managers to protect assets, BGCP should post a good second-quarter report. The company's main business is to act as a clearinghouse, and it carries little overnight exposure.


2. Credit Suisse High Yield Bond Fund (DHY)
Yield 10.39% 
High-yield corporate bonds remain very attractive in the current landscape of low interest rates, low inflation, and moderate economic growth.

 

Research firm IDC says the company's computers sales fell in 2Q.

By Benzinga Jul 16, 2012 10:14AM

By Louis Bedigian

 

PC sales running Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows are not the only computer products that took a dive during the last quarter. Apple's (AAPL) machines, which include the iMac, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, are also feeling the burn of declining demand.

 

According to Computerworld, research firm International Data Corporation has announced that Apple sales dropped 1.1% during the second quarter that ended June 30. During this period last year, Apple sold 18.3 million Macs. This year, the company sold 18.1 million units, according to IDC.

 

The bank settles accusations that it charged certain minority groups higher rates and fees.

By TheWeek.com Jul 16, 2012 9:44AM

Last week, Wells Fargo (WFC) agreed to pay $175 million to settle charges that it discriminated against thousands of blacks, Latinos, and other minority borrowers between 2004 and 2009. The Justice Department had accused Wells Fargo, the country's largest mortgage lender, of charging minority borrowers higher interest rates and fees on home loans than it charged white borrowers with similar credit ratings.


Thomas Perez, an assistant attorney general at the department, slammed Wells Fargo for levying the equivalent of a "racial surtax." People "should be judged by the content of their creditworthiness and not the color of their skin," he said. 


Here, a guide to the case:

 

Some contrarian plays have paid off, and one has bounced back.

By InvestorPlace Jul 16, 2012 9:32AM

By Tom Taulli

 

Well, at least one area in the financial world has seen growth for the past few years: negative news.

 

Unemployment continues to be bleak. Europe is on the verge of implosion. China is slowing down. So is it any wonder that average Joes have been staying away from the markets?

 

Still, if you check out the mutual fund industry, you can find a few signs of hope. Even amid the markets' volatility, a number of portfolio managers have generated impressive returns. Here's a look at seven funds that have been surprisingly strong performers this year.

 

A report from Wells Fargo reveals a booming mortgage business -- and a U.S. economy in fine shape.

By Jim Cramer Jul 16, 2012 9:22AM

Beginning this week we won't have time -- at least most of us won't -- to do enough work on individual quarterly reports as they happen. The next three weeks will be sheer hell, and I am always amazed when generalists have claimed they've seen more than just the cheat sheet of the reports -- the CliffsNotes, so to speak.

 

But last week was different. If you took the time out to read the report of Wells Fargo (WFC) -- and, believe me, there was time to do it -- you would have been pretty much stunned at how much business it's doing and at how strong the mortgage business is in the U.S.

 

The bank reports better-than-expected earnings, and the pharmaceutical agrees to be acquired by TPG.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 16, 2012 9:03AM

By Michael Baron, TheStreet.com


Citigroup (C):

Citigroup reported second-quarter earnings of $2.95 billion, or 95 cents a share, on revenue of $18.64 billion. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for a profit of 89 cents a share on revenue of $18.76 billion. Excluding one-time items, the bank earned $3.08 billion, or $1 per share, in the latest quarter.


"Our core businesses performed well in a difficult environment and are generating solid returns," said Vikram Pandit, Citigroup's CEO, in a press release. "We had strong growth in both loans and deposits, showed resilience in our markets-facing businesses, and saw record revenues in Transaction Services. We reduced Citi Holdings to approximately 10% of our balance sheet while our capital strength and liquidity continue to be among the best in the industry. We remain focused on execution, managing our expenses and our risk, and serving clients as only we can."

 

The cost of derivatives trading gone wrong is at $5.8 billion and counting.

By The Fiscal Times Jul 13, 2012 4:39PM
By Suzanne McGeeThe Fiscal Times

In one of the most anticipated earnings releases and conference calls of the second-quarter earnings season, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon offered some fresh insight into the whale-size losses incurred in the bank’s London investment office. Fittingly, the bank set aside a full two hours for the call, to allow Mike Cavanagh, the head of treasury and securities services, to fill everyone in on the investigation that he has been conducting into what went awry.

Anyone looking for reasons to remain faithful to the House of Dimon probably came away with plenty of ammunition in the shape of repeated assurances from Dimon that the trading loss was an aberration, that controls have been strengthened, that the bank’s balance sheet remains a "fortress" and its operations are solid. On the flip side, anyone already concerned about what the risk management failures say about the bank probably didn’t walk away feel significantly more upbeat. 

The Berkshire Hathaway CEO has benefited from a recent rise in the retail giant's stock.

By GuruFocus.com Jul 13, 2012 2:26PM

 Walmart copyright Bloomberg/Getty ImagesFor about ten years, from 2002 to the end of 2011, Wal-mart (WMT) shares went virtually nowhere, remaining in the upper $50 range. In fact, a year ago FPA Capital Adviser's Steven Romick called the company an "infinite duration bond with a rising coupon."


Recently, however, investors have jumped on the Wal-Mart bandwagon. The stock has increased 21% year-to-date, approaching fair value and making Warren Buffett a richer man.

 

The collaboration will help the operator of the world's largest futures market expand its services.

By Trefis Jul 13, 2012 1:59PM
TrefisIn preparation for the regulatory mandate requiring over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives trades to be cleared through central counterparties (CCPs), CME Group (CME) has announced the establishment of a clearing link in collaboration with Bloomberg.

Nondeliverable forward (NDF) trades that are electronically executed on Bloomberg's foreign exchange platform, FXGO, will be cleared through CME's clearing brokers.  
Tags: cmeMSNYX

Don't count on it. Things could get uglier for the world's largest direct seller of beauty products.

By Gene Marcial Jul 13, 2012 1:42PM
You might think that Avon Products (AVP), after falling more than 50% since October 2011, would be an enticing opportunity for bargain-hunters and aggressive contrarians.

Wrong!

Instead, the world's largest direct seller of beauty products could become the next Research In Motion (RIMM). 
Tags: AVPRIMM

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