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Toyota executives, led by CEO Akio Toyoda, seek to revive the company's flagging image when they appear at congressional hearings this week.
By Ted Reed, TheStreet
That much is expected when Toyoda and other executives appear at two congressional hearings this week. Toyoda will testify before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, but other Toyota executives will attend the Tuesday session of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"It's not enough to say he's sorry," says Satish Jayachandran, associate professor of marketing at the University of South Carolina. "In Toyota's case, the issue goes to the root of the car, so they have to show clarity to explain the problem and to address what's being done."
Big profits and big bonuses have made the investment bank so unpopular, they've turned to a PR firm for damage control.
By Jim Woods, InvestorPlace.com
PR firm Public Strategies knows a thing or two about damage control. One of its headline clients in recent years was President George W. Bush, who saw his approval rating stumble to a historic low of 22% during the course of his presidency.
Now, the Texas PR giant has a new client that's as dubious as Dubya ever was -- much-maligned investment bank Goldman Sachs (GS). Record profits and billion-dollar bonuses at the Wall Street firm have really rubbed some folks the wrong way, and the company is concerned that its image problem could cause serious trouble if not addressed.
So Wal-Mart suffers a 'bad' quarter. But a deeper look at the numbers shows some not-so-bad results.
Sun fails to come up. Water no longer wet.
Time to add this company to my watch list for a buy some time within the next three months.
If you're looking for thin reeds (see this post), here's another one that says U.S. consumers are feeling better about themselves:
Investors are largely ho-hum about a proposal to limit increases to health insurance rates.
But even with this potential threat hanging over them, Humana (HUM), UnitedHealth (UNH) and other health insurance stocks were doing just fine Monday. Investors apparently don't think Obama's proposal will see the light of day, MarketWatch reports.
Adding fuel to the debate is a plan by one health insurer, WellPoint's (WLP) Anthem Blue Cross, to hike rates in California by as much as 39%. Obama is proposing to allow the Health and Human Services Secretary to block rate increases that are deemed unfair,
The CARD Act might help banks by making their lending businesses less risky over time.
By Lauren Tara LaCapra, TheStreet
New credit-card rules that go into effect today will make the industry less profitable, but also less risky, for the country's largest card lenders and issuers.
Credit cards had become cash cows for big firms like Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Capital One (COF). Credit cards provided $23 billion in fees alone last year, according to the advisory firm R.K. Hammer, and also have higher interest rates than most other types of consumer debt.
Those penalty fees soared 21% from 2008 while the average interest rate has climbed 2 percentage points during the past six months to 14%, according to CreditCards.com. Customers with the worst credit have been hit the hardest, with their average rate surging to 24.86% from 14.29% over the same period of time.
Nevada casinos lost money last year -- for only the second time in history.
To find one source of the problem, look no further than the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip -- home to major properties for Wynn Resorts (WYNN), Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and MGM Mirage (MGM).
Casinos there took the bulk of the hit, reporting a $4.1 billion loss for the year, according to the Las Vegas Sun. That's a 686% drop from the previous year.
Netflix faces stiff competition in streaming content from cable providers Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
By Jason Notte, TheStreet
Netflix (NFLX) is pushing the envelope it wants to escape, but the company's strictly digital future faces a very long wait.
Netflix's deal for new releases and streaming content with Warner Bros. announced in January, expansion of streaming service to all three major gaming consoles by spring and growth amid the misfortunes of its disc-renting counterparts all coincided with an 81% hike in Netflix shares during the past year. Netflix's earnings last quarter were just as rosy, as $444.5 million in revenue brought its 2009 take to $1.9 billion, or 22% more than 2008, and 1 million more subscribers swelled Netflix's ranks to 12.3 million.
Netflix, which aims to boost net income as much as 18% this year, is slowly moving away from its DVDs-by-mail business model that was a huge innovation when it was launched a decade ago. However, Netflix faces stiff competition in streaming content from cable providers Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC), which are looking for new ways to wrest money from millions of subscribers.
An auto worker decides to stay with GM -- even though that means working 500 miles away.
The Huffington Post has the story of Michael Hanley, who faced losing his job after GM shut down the Wisconsin plant he worked at. He could either look for a new job where there were few available, or track down a GM opening, wherever that may be.
He decided to keep his GM paycheck and health insurance, even though that meant working in Fairfax, Kan. Once a week, he drives back home to see his wife and children -- a round-trip journey of more than 1,000 miles.
I just don't think investors are willing to see another big slide without jumping in.
By Jim Cramer, TheStreet
You always need to fret when the S&P 500's proprietary oscillator breaches five, and when it soared to six and change after Friday's session I marveled that it could have gotten there so fast. Of course, a couple of weeks when the S&P roars 3% will do it every time, especially when a lot of it came when no one expected it.
But how worried should we be? Now that we have seen the fourth quarter of so many companies -- a quarter that got stronger throughout the market -- it's not clear that the worry includes more than a fear that a 15 multiple on future earnings might go to 14, with 13 always a possibility but not a likelihood when you consider that so many estimates are based on the economy continuing to stumble along both here and in Europe, the latter being a source of weakness for just about every company.
What really struck me, though, is how low the multiple is for so much of tech. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) had one of the best quarters out there and it is selling for 11 times earnings, for heaven's sake. What is that all about? With more than $2.5 billion in stock bought back and a positive outlook for so many of the company's businesses, I find that multiple unfathomable. But Intel (INTC) and IBM (IBM) have very similar multiples and these companies are throwing off cash and coming off remarkable quarters too.
The Tiger saga is supposedly costing billions, but his faith can help you make money in the market.
It is hard not to be cynical regarding the Tiger Woods saga, but the golf king’s recent press conference included subtle insight that investors can use to beat the market.
Perhaps this story is worth watching after all.
Tiger’s misdeeds are the latest in a long line of boorish celebrity behavior followed by the obligatory public apology. It really is an old story.
So too is Tiger’s solution.
Your guess is as good as mine to explain why the market does what it does. I'm just here to report the facts as I see them.
First let's visit the Conference Board's report on the Leading Economic Index -- LEI. You'll remember that this is a once a month report I use to get a quick gauge on the state of the economy. The LEI was up .3% for the tenth month in a row with the Coincident Economic Index up .2% and the Lagging Economic Index is still declining at .1% but slowing. That makes 2 up and the Lagging slowing -- good signs of good things happening.
Now on to my 3 Barchart indicators that I follow:
The Value Line Index -- contains 1700 stocks so it's broader than the S&P 500 and the narrower Dow 30 -- up 3.45% for the week which is the second week in a row of price appreciation
The Federal Reserve's technical move of the discount rate will not help income investors, but these dividend stocks might.
After the market closed on Thursday, the Federal Reserve increased the discount rate by 25 basis points. The nominal move may be the beginning of the end of the easy money policy that has been used to lift the U.S. economy out of recession.
Let’s not get too excited about what the central bank is now saying is merely a technical move. While all expect rates to rise eventually the timing of real increases in rates is still far down the road.
Interest rates even with Thursday’s move are still essentially zero and the yield curve remains quite steep. (10 stocks benefiting from a steep yield curve)
Such an environment has been quite the challenge for those investors needing income from investments for retirement living expenses. Bank CD’s and Treasuries simply won’t cut it.
What does cut it in this environment? Dividend stocks are clearly the big winners.
Several of the market gurus I follow -- including the great Peter Lynch -- are seeing big opportunities in stocks
A federal deficit crisis is looming, unemployment remains high, and the Federal Reserve has increased one of its key interest rates. But, while concerns linger about the economy, the investment gurus I keep an eye on have been sounding bullish on stocks over the past week.
Most notable among the top strategists who spoke out was mutual fund legend Peter Lynch, one of the investors upon whom I base my Guru Strategy computer models. Lynch, who retired as manager of Fidelity's Magellan fund in the early 90s after producing one of the best track records of all time, doesn't give a lot of interviews these days. But this week he opened up for the Israeli publication Globes, and he said that the so-called "lost decade" for stocks hasn't soured his view of stocks.
"The significance of the lost decade is very simple,” Lynch said. “Companies earn more than they did ten years ago, and they are traded at lower prices than they were then. There’s an investment opportunity here. There are companies on the market with good balance sheets and wonderful reputations, that make better profits today than ten years ago, and will continue to grow. This is an extraordinary period for investment.”
Mouse House touts comic company's library of 5,000 characters, but it will have a hard time turning many into moneymakers
Sure, "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" racked up billions at the box office. But film rights to those characters are parked at Sony (SNE) and Fox, respectively, keeping them off limits to Disney, except for a small percentage of the profits.
What's more, those movies centered on heroes already firmly implanted in the popular culture lexicon long before they ever hit the multiplexes.
They aren't pretty, but they're getting more popular. And banks are getting more comfortable with them, too.
Short sales are soaring in the distressed real estate market. Under Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they nearly quadrupled in the first nine months of last year, according to The Los Angeles Times. Other mortgage lenders report a 165% increase.
These kind of sales make realtors -- and buyers -- groan. They're complex and time consuming. But they're a way out of an underwater mortgage.
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The home improvement company believes the housing market is recovering, but the Fed chief isn't so sure about the economy.
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- July crude oil traded in negative territory today following China's HSBC Flash Manufacturing PMI data that showed a first contractionary reading in seven months. The energy component dipped to a session low of $92.21 per barrel in morning action but managed to erase most of the earlier losses as prices rallied to a session high of $94.35 per barrel heading into the close. Crude oil settled just 0.1% lower at $94.14 per barrel.
- June natural gas opened floor trade in ... More
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