Energy boom makes oil a safe haven
Oil becomes a surprising haven

The idea of US crude being a shelter from turmoil abroad may not be as far fetched as it seems.

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Bank of America missed estimates for first quarter earnings partly due to mortgage settlements and lower mortgage income.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 15, 2011 4:23PM

By Maria Woehr, TheStreet

 

Bank of America's (BAC) lackluster first quarter earnings performance can be summed up in two words: mortgages fallout.

 

The bank reported first quarter earnings of $2 billion, or 17 cents a share, missing Thompson Reuters analysts estimates of 27 cents a share.

 

Results were weighed down by a $38.5 billion settlement the bank reached with monoline insurer Assured Guaranty (AGO) that resolves its outstanding and potential repurchase claims against BofA. The agreement includes a cash payment of $1.1 billion to Assured Guaranty, and a loss-sharing reinsurance arrangement that has an expected value of approximately $470 million.

 

A better-than-expected report from Spanish retail bank Banesto reaffirms optimism in Banco Santander.

By Jim J. Jubak Apr 15, 2011 4:12PM
Jim JubakI own Banco Santander (STD) for its growth potential in South America—and for its healthy dividend. (That’s why the stock has been a member of my dividend income portfolio since May 2010.)

But I worry about the risk of something unexpected going wrong in the bank’s home market, Spain.

And that’s why the April 12 earnings report from Banesto, the Spanish retail bank controlled by Banco Santander, was reassuring.

Not that the news was all that great. But there weren’t any significant negative surprises, and the news was, in fact, better than expected.
 
First-quarter profit did fall to 169.5 million euros ($244.8 million) in the quarter, from 211.5 million euros in the first quarter of 2010 -- a 20% drop. But that still beat the analyst forecast of 149 million euros.
 

The chemicals giant builds on momentum from several quarters of strong earnings and hikes its dividend by 67%.

By Kim Peterson Apr 15, 2011 3:37PM
Image: House of bills (© Tetra images /Tetra images/Getty Images)Dow Chemical (DOW) has paid 399 consecutive cash dividends, starting in 1912. And it's not ready to stop anytime soon.

The company is raising its second-quarter dividend to 25 cents a share from 15 cents -- and the stock is responding with a rise of more than 2% Friday to $37.88.

The move was welcomed by investors who watched Dow cut its dividend for the first time in its history in early 2009. Dow slashed its dividend from 42 cents to 15 cents -- a move that helped the company pay for its $15.7 billion purchase of Rohm & Haas.

But Dow has surged on several quarters of strong earnings, building on other smart financial moves. The company has been serious about paying down its debt and growing earnings -- it repaid $2.5 billion, yes, billion, in the first quarter -- and analysts said it has gained more financial confidence. 

As apple juice grows in popularity, one exchange thinks companies will trade futures as a hedge against volatility.

By Kim Peterson Apr 15, 2011 2:26PM
Apple juice has come into fashion in a big way, making up for Americans' dwindling interest in orange juice.

Apple juice is so hot, in fact, that commodities traders may soon be able to place bets on it. The Minneapolis Grain Exchange is preparing to list apple-juice futures, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Prices for raw materials are rising across the board, and companies want to be able to hedge against volatility, according to the Journal. Apple juice futures are one way of doing that. The idea might sound ludicrous, but it's being championed by PepsiCo (PEP), which sells apple juice in its Tropicana and Ocean Spray lines.

The move also comes as people have lost enthusiasm for orange juice, which has become more expensive over the years, the Journal reports. There are fewer orange crops now as orchards get bulldozed for housing developments -- and that has pushed prices up.

Post continues after this interview with Dole Food (DOLE) about orange juice: 

Thursday's debacle was a huge black eye for Google. The new CEO's lack of leadership raises more doubts about his competence. Includes video.

By MSNMoney partner Apr 15, 2011 12:38PM

By Eric Jackson, Forbes


Google's (GOOG) shares were lower in this morning's premarket than they were even in last night's after-hours when they showed a 5% drop on a 46% rise in operating expenses in the quarter. Despite a 29% increase in net revenues, the rise in expenses clearly spooked Wall Street.

 

Citi's (C) Mark Mahaney is out this morning with a cut target of $650 from $750. His language is coded to complain about Larry Page, Google's new CEO: "With limited management disclosure suggests lack of discipline in a growth/competitive environment that simply isn't as open-ended as it was for GOOG prior to the recession."

 

Translation: "A 38-year old's now in charge, and we're concerned with him running up wacky expenses like driverless cars and a new Google space program."

 

Taking advantage of patience and fear.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Apr 15, 2011 12:26PM

By Jim Mueller

 

A month ago, I lamented the fact that the share price of Power-One (PWER) , a maker of DC-to-AC inverters for the solar and wind industries, had dropped well below $8 and then rebounded before I had a chance to buy. Of the 10 different companies my Messed-Up Expectations portfolio owns, I believe this one has the most growth opportunity and I wanted a really good price for my last purchase.

 

Well, the opportunity has arisen again -- given the volatility of the stock, I figured it probably would -- thanks in part to reaction to an announcement the company made last week. First, some background.

 

Latest sector analysis shows consumer staples and health care could be the new star performers. Also keep an eye on energy and technology, and avoid lagging financials.

By MoneyShow.com Apr 15, 2011 11:55AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

The main market averages have declined steadily since early April, as the S&P 500 is down 1% for the month and is almost 2% below the highs. 

The selling has been selective, however, as some sectors have clearly bucked the trend and are outperforming the major averages.
 

The Oracle of Omaha has shown interest in a variety of energy trades.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 15, 2011 11:24AM

the streetBy Don Dion, TheStreet

 

During his illustrious career, Warren Buffett has ventured into a vast number of market sectors.

 

With generous exposure to companies including Wells Fargo (WFC), Coca Cola (KO), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Wal-Mart (WMT), the Oracle of Omaha has built an investment portfolio that will allow him to not only profit during times of prosperity, but also weather economic storms down the road.

 

Energy is a major component of Buffett's empire. Two clear examples of Buffett's foray into the energy industry can be seen through his investments in Exxon Mobil (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP). The exposure to these two firms has given Buffett direct access to the global oil markets.

 

Cisco shutters the Flip video camera. A new government budget makes no bleep on the radar despite earlier hoopla. GE bounces back from fake press release.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 15, 2011 11:20AM

Here is this week's roundup of the dumbest actions on Wall Street.

 

5. Cisco flips out

 

Cisco (CSCO) finally faced up to the reality of its shortsighted $590 million bet on the Flip video camera this week.

 

The decision to shutter Flip was faintly praised by Wall Street, only because burning $590 million on Flip in the first place was such a headsmacker to anyone who has owned a cell phone. They've been around for quite a while, and cameras were certainly not a new feature to phones when Cisco thought buying Flip was a great idea less than two years ago.

 

Co-founder Larry Page wants to boost revenue through networking, along with mobile and display ads. With video on reaction to Google's quarterly financial results.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 15, 2011 10:57AM

TheStreetBy Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

Google (GOOG) shares took a nosedive Friday, falling more than 6% after the search giant reported first-quarter earnings that fell short of forecasts.

 

Google, whose new CEO led the company's conference call for two minutes, reported earnings of $8.08 a share, which fell short of expectations by 2 cents. Sales rose to $6.5 billion from $5.07 billion a year ago. Analysts had expected sales of $6.32 billion. The shares were down 6.7% at $539.53 at 10:37 a.m.

 

Google co-founder and new chief Larry Page had few words -- 389 to be exact -- for Wall Street during the company's first-quarter earnings call, but his spending strategy spoke volumes. Page's plan calls for a bold spending attack on Facebook and an urgent expansion into social networking, along with mobile and display ads.

 

We're in an absurdist moment now as the market swings too far against everything.

By Jim Cramer Apr 15, 2011 9:29AM

jim cramerthe streetTough crowd, these bank followers. I couldn't believe the dive that Bank of America (BAC) stock took when only half the headline had first come out, as if the earnings per share of any bank -- let alone one with charge-offs and gains galore -- could be trusted.

 

But such is the lot of a banker in an era when people seem to want banks to be Internet companies. But not "slowing" Internet companies like Google (GOOG)!

 

We are in an absurdist moment right now. The companies showing the best growth in my whole universe aren't financials, they aren't techs, and they aren't biotechs for that matter.

 

They are oil and gas plays. EOG Resources (EOG), Whiting Pete (WLL) and Continental Resources (CLR) -- all three Bakken plays -- are clean-up hitters. Their numbers are remarkable. I had Carrizo (CRZO) on my show this week, just another plain-vanilla oil and gas company, and it is putting up high double-digit growth in some fields. Of course, it is all technology -- horizontal drilling exploiting old fields for new gains.

 

The bank's investors may have been skittish about revenue weaknesses, especially in this lending market.

By Jim J. Jubak Apr 14, 2011 5:23PM
Jim JubakSo how did investors react to getting their hopes and fears confirmed by JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) first-quarter earnings report Wednesday?

Not all that well, it turns out. The stock was down nine cents a share the day of the report, and is closed Thursday down 2.8%.

The bank, the second largest in the United States by assets, reported earnings of $1.28 a share for the first quarter. That was an increase of 73% from the first quarter of 2010, and 12 cents a share better than Wall Street had projected.

Wall Street had been expecting an increase in earnings on lower levels of reserves against bad debt, and that’s exactly what it got on the bottom line.

On the other hand, revenue fell 8.5% from the first quarter of 2010, to $25.79 billion. That was slightly above the $25.27 billion in revenue projected by Wall Street analysts. Wall Street had been expecting a drop in revenue on weakness in the investment banking and trading units.
 

Technology writers say it's too early to buy the PlayBook tablet, which is missing some key features. With video.

By Kim Peterson Apr 14, 2011 2:49PM
I wouldn't call the PlayBook a make-or-break product by Research In Motion (RIMM), but it's close. The company desperately needs the tablet to help revive its flagging market share and restore its reputation.

The PlayBook goes on sale April 19, and unfortunately the early word isn't completely positive. The tablet is getting praised for a gorgeous screen and solid hardware, but reviewers have hammered the PlayBook for shipping without complete features (like the ability to handle email -- email! -- on its own.)

Walt Mossberg, the go-to source for gadget reviews, says he can't recommend the PlayBook over a fully standalone tablet, except maybe for people whose BlackBerry devices never leave their sides. That's because you need a BlackBerry phone in order to do basic tasks on the PlayBook, such as checking mail, looking at your calendar or chatting over the Messenger system.

Post continues after this fun video review of the PlayBook: 

A 2-year investigation into Wall Street's part in the financial crisis points fingers at Goldman and its chief executive. With video.

By Kim Peterson Apr 14, 2011 1:58PM
Shares of Goldman Sachs (GS) dropped more than 2% Thursday after the bank was targeted in a blistering U.S. Senate report about Wall Street's involvement in the financial crisis.

And now some findings in the 639-page report could lead to criminal or civil prosecution by the Justice Department and regulators. You can read the report here (.pdf download).

A Senate panel has finished a two-year investigation into the financial crisis, looking at internal memos, emails and employee interviews, according to The Los Angeles Times. There's plenty of blame to go around here. Investigators found "heedless risk-taking," conflicts of interest and oversight failures.

There are also plenty of bad guys, and Goldman is at the top of the list. The panel's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Goldman misled its clients and Congress.

Post continues after this video about the Senate report: 

Given the strong technicals, we can define a good entry and exit strategy for each.

By MoneyShow.com Apr 14, 2011 1:23PM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

Even though the dollar has attempted to stabilize this week, there are no signs yet of a sustainable bottom. The euro closed above the long-term downtrend in the area of $1.44 per euro last week, with next resistance in the $1.46-$1.48 range.

A weak dollar does have some positives for the US economy, as it makes our exports cheaper, and those companies that derive a majority of their business from global sales will benefit more if the dollar remains low.

Three large multinational companies I like are United Technologies (UTX), McDonald’s (MCD), and Danaher Corporation (DHR). These three companies derive anywhere from 55% to 65% of their business from overseas, and all three look positive technically.
 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market began the last week of July on a quiet note with the S&P 500 ending less than a point above its flat line. Like the benchmark index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) also posted a slim gain, while the Russell 2000 (-0.5%) and Nasdaq Composite (-0.1%) lagged throughout the session.

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