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Unless Congress acts, the wealthiest taxpayers will see a sudden spike in dividend taxes.

By Kim Peterson Oct 15, 2012 2:24PM
Image: Mature couple calculating expenses -- Abel Mitja Varela, the Agency Collection, Getty ImagesOn Jan. 1, dividend taxes are going up. And they may be going up a lot -- so much so that The Wall Street Journal is calling it the "dividend cliff."

How bad is it? Right now, the maximum dividend tax is 15%, the same rate as long-term capital gains. But for the wealthiest investors -- those making more than $200,000 a year or filing a joint return of $250,000 or more -- that rate could soar to 43.4%.

Those rate increases could kick in if Congress does not act. But there is the very strong likelihood that after the November elections, Congress will extend the current tax system for a year in order to figure out some more sensible changes. Right now, everything is in flux. 
Tags: GEWMT

The former head of the FDIC warns that the financial system remains far from stable.

By The Fiscal Times Oct 15, 2012 1:49PM
Bull, copyright Photographers Choice RF, SuperStockBy Suzanne McGeeThe Fiscal Times logo

Sheila Bair, the former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, has five recommendations that she'd like to put to this year's presidential candidates, whether during Tuesday's debate or as they campaign in the final weeks before the election.

Bair has had a lot of time to think about what went wrong in the time leading up to the financial crisis and in the years we have spent struggling to emerge from its shadow. The long story can be found in her newly published book, Bull By the Horns. You’'l want to read this -- or at least, even if you don't want to, you probably should. 

But in the meantime, it's worth pondering the reforms that she feels President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, are overlooking or oversimplifying.
 

Stocks are higher as report shows surprisingly strong retail sales in September.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 15, 2012 1:27PM
logoImage Wall Street sign copyright Corbis, SuperStockInformation provided by Theflyonthewall.com

 Japan's SoftBank (SFTBF) confirmed a deal to purchase a 70% stake in Sprint (S) for about $20 billion. 

Shares of Sprint were down fractionally after the details of the previously speculated arrangement were publicized. However, shares of Sprint partner Clearwire (CLWR), rose 11% though Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said he would not speculate on what Sprint will do with its new-found financial flexibility.

Shares of Citigroup (C) jumped nearly 5% as its third-quarter earnings beat expectations after its write-down of the value of its remaining stake in Smith Barney and some other adjustments were excluded.
 

Third-quarter earnings point the way for Alcoa, Intel, Infosys, and Johnson & Johnson.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 15, 2012 1:17PM

thestreet.com logoStock market copyright ComstockBy Richard Saintvilus

 

Aside from M&A speculation, nothing gets Wall Street more anxious than earnings season.

 

This is a time when investors receive confirmation or denial that they have placed the right bets.

 

As we go through earnings season, we are going to look at a few companies that are heading in three separate directions.

 
Buy Alcoa

The recent earnings of aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) demonstrate not only how undervalued the stock is, but also just how overly cautious investors have been.

 

Alcoa reported a loss from continuing operations of $143 million, or 13 cents a share. This included a payout related to an environmental lawsuit totaling $175 million. Excluding one-time items, the company earned $32 million, or 3 cents a share.

 

These 3 sectors are poised to do well regardless of how the presidential election turns out.

By TheStockAdvisors Oct 15, 2012 12:51PM
People putting political symbols in box copyright Comstock Images, Getty ImagesBy Jim Powell, Global Changes & Opportunities Report

Since the presidential race could go either way, the smart way to play the election is to focus on investments that will appreciate no matter which candidate wins.

Fortunately, there are several powerful trends in the world today that are largely independent of politics. Here's a look at  three timely investment areas: natural gas, technology and housing.

Natural gas
No matter who wins the presidency, the development of cheap North American natural gas (NG) will continue to accelerate.

The best companies in the NG industry will deliver billions of dollars in gains to investors who take positions now and hang onto them. In my opinion, NG will be a long-term slam dunk profit maker. 

As earnings season gets under way, watch these heavy hitters in the medical devices industry.

By Stock Traders Daily Oct 15, 2012 12:29PM

Image, Surgery copyright CorbisBy Billy Fisher, Stock Traders Daily

 

The third-quarter earnings season will be in full swing this week, which means there will be an array of opportunities for traders to take advantage of. As we approach mid-week, the heavy hitters in the medical device industry will get ready to report their quarterly results. Here are four names in particular to keep an eye on.

 

On Wednesday after the market close, Stryker Corporation (SYK) will release its Q3 earnings. The consensus among analysts is that the company will announce a 7.7% year-over-year uptick in earnings per share (EPS) on a 2% improvement in total revenue. The company notched similar games last quarter as it benefitted from increased volume and acquisitions.

 

Berkshire Hathaway's large stake in the bank puts it in the position of fighting the Fed.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 15, 2012 12:14PM

TheStreet.com logoBank sign copyright John Foxx, Stockbyte, Getty ImagesBy Antoine Gara

 

After Wells Fargo (WFC) posted generally mixed third-quarter earnings and a drop in key interest-rate-based revenue that augurs poorly for 2013, the bank's largest investor, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A), faces one of his biggest post-crisis investing challenges.

 

Should the Oracle of Omaha stick it out with Wells Fargo -- the top lender to the recovering U.S. housing market -- and fight the Federal Reserve over the impact of falling interest rates on bank earnings? Or should Buffett begin to cash in his chips on what's been a successful bank stock recovery trade that's outperformed other highly watched financial sector investments?

 

Even without an imminent management shakeup, this consumer staples giant provides a healthy dividend while you wait.

By InvestorPlace Oct 15, 2012 12:11PM

iplogo

Cory Docken Spots Illustration JupiterimagesBy Charles Sizemore

 

Bill Ackman doesn't look like the kind of guy who would make a corporate titan tremble. The principal of Pershing Square Capital Management is a polite, mild-mannered gentleman.

 

Yet he is also one of the most feared activist investors in the business. Ackman has a track record of taking large positions in "broken" companies and agitating for change, often through management shakeups or major company restructurings (GuruFocus has his current portfolio here). He usually gets his way. So when Ackman singles out a CEO for underperformance, that CEO is justified in feeling like a marked man.

 

The telecom giant has been stuck in a weak third place behind AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Will this new deal gain it some ground?

By Jonathan Berr Oct 15, 2012 11:45AM
Pair of wedding rings copyright Fancy, AlamyWhen Daniel Hesse was named as the CEO of Sprint (S) in 2007, he promised to "lead Sprint to the forefront of the wireless industry." The company has fallen well short of that lofty goal and has been left with little choice but to sell a 70% stake in itself to Japan's Softbank.

Sprint, whose shares are rising on news of the deal, has been gun-shy ever since its disastrous 2005 acquisition of Nextel, which lead to a $30 billion write-down. That deal fell apart because the wireless industry changed from being voice-based to data-based, according to independent telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan. 

The company has been mired in third place behind larger rivals AT&T (T) and Verizon Wireless (VZ) and has had little hope of gaining traction, which is why the Softbank deal is so critical. 
 
Tags: STVZ

Weyerhaeuser is upgraded to 'outperform,' and Hasbro is downgraded to 'sell.'

By MSN Money Partner Oct 15, 2012 11:04AM
stock marketfly logoInformation provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Monday's noteworthy upgrades include:
  • Clearwire (CLWR) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Macquarie
  • Credit Suisse (CS) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Exane BNP Paribas
  • Lowe's (LOW) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
  • New Oriental Education (EDU) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
  • Sprint (S) upgraded to Hold from Underperform at Jefferies
 

You can't just park your money and forget it. You need an active risk-management strategy.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 15, 2012 10:03AM

Couple in Home Office -- Radius Images, Radius Images, Getty ImagesBy Dave Moening

 

It is probably a safe assumption that most people invest in the stock market with a goal of creating wealth over time. And I'm guessing a fair number of people -- especially those seeking investment guidance on the Internet -- would prefer to get rich sooner rather than later.


This is not meant in a derogatory manner. I'm simply suggesting that most investors likely have an investment time frame of 10 to 15 years as opposed to 40 or 50 years. As such, those looking for their portfolios to work within 10 to 15 years don't necessarily have time on their side.


This is not to say that investors can't "get rich quick" these days. Despite the relatively crummy performance of the stock market over the past 12 years, there have been opportunities for profit. The question is whether average investors are up for the task.

 

Although small, the income will be a key component in the media company's future earnings.

By Trefis Oct 15, 2012 9:14AM
Frare Davis Photography Brand X CorbisThe affiliate fee income earned by Viacom (VIA) from its media networks has been growing at a healthy pace for the past few years because of continued growth in fee per subscriber and the total number of subscribers for its key networks, such as MTV, Nickelodeon and VH1. However, a notable portion of its growth can be attributed to digital licensing fee.

The growth in video streaming has prompted media companies to license their content to distributors such as Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN) and Hulu. This has helped them better monetize their existing content, thereby improving their margins.

 

I've never seen anything like it, and it makes me want to sell some shares.

By Jim Cramer Oct 15, 2012 9:06AM

TheStreet.com logoJacqueline Veissid, Photodisc, Getty ImagesNow I remember why I like the stock market so much -- because sometimes companies do really stupid things and you can make a lot of money from their inanities.

 

That's how I felt after listening to the weird, out-of-body "Softbank to buy Sprint (S)" press conference Monday morning. The whole exercise reminded me of those old Godzilla vs. Mothra movies. This time, Earth's cellphone markets are at stake!

 

Let's just tick down how strange this whole thing has been.

 

1. We have heard absolutely nothing from the always-candid Dan Hesse, the chief executive of Sprint Nextel and one of my favorite CEOs. He has not bothered to respond to my many reach-outs, other than to say, through his people, that he's not talking. Maybe that will change now, because Hesse did say at the press conference that he wouldn't necessarily buy Clearwire (CLWR). He said he would use the new money for something -- maybe to pay down debt, maybe to expand. Who knows?

 

The shoe retailer has been expanding its store base aggressively.

By Zacks.com Oct 15, 2012 8:40AM

Fuse Getty ImagesBy Zacks Equity Research

 

DSW Inc. (DSW), a leading footwear and accessories retailer, has been expanding its store base aggressively over time. Recently, it announced two more store openings -- one in Modesto, Calif., and another at St. Petersburg, Fla.


Earlier this week, DSW announced five store openings -- one each in Maplewood, Minn.; Providence, R.I.; Gurnee, Ill.; Washington, D.C.; and another in Wisconsin Avenue Northwest.


The company is in sync with its strategic policy of opening about 26 stores in the fiscal third quarter of 2012 (ending October 2012) and one in the fiscal fourth quarter, bringing the total number to 39 in fiscal 2012. With the latest openings, the company will soon achieve its target.

 
Tags: DSWJCP

Pimco's Bill Gross has been cutting his holdings of Treasury securities for the last three months, while BlackRock's investment strategist takes a more positive view.

By The Fiscal Times Oct 13, 2012 11:10AM
U.S. savings bonds -- Corbis , SuperStock By Suzanne McGeeThe Fiscal Times

Looking for guidance on how to play the bond market in this low interest rate environment? Don’t look to the pros -- even they can’t seem to agree which is the worse threat, interest rate risk or credit risk.

On the one hand, Pimco's Bill Gross has been cutting his holdings of Treasury securities for the last three months. In his view, the risk is that the country's fiscal problems and the endless flow of stimulus money from the Federal Reserve will ultimately come back to haunt us in the form of inflation -- and much higher interest rates -- in the long run and erode investor confidence in Treasury bonds in the meantime. Unless the country addresses its fiscal situation, Gross argued in his October investment outlook, bonds will get "burned to a crisp and stocks would certainly be singed; only gold and real assets would thrive within the 'Ring of Fire.'" 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished an upbeat week on a mixed note. The S&P 500 shed less than a point, ending the week higher by 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) cemented a 1.7% advance for the week. High-beta names underperformed, which weighed on the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) and the Russell 2000 (-1.3%).

Equity indices displayed strength in the early going with the S&P 500 tagging the 2,019 level during the opening 30 minutes of the action. However, ... More


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