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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The company didn't pay any US taxes in 2010. In fact, it got a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. With video updates.

By Kim Peterson Mar 25, 2011 2:02PM
Slogging through your taxes right now? Maybe you could hire someone from General Electric (GE) to help.

The company has beaten Uncle Sam. It paid no U.S. taxes for 2010, The New York Times reported. In fact, it received a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

It's not that GE can claim poverty. The company rang up $14.2 billion in profits last year, including $5.1 billion from U.S. operations.

How did GE do it? Through what the Times describes as "innovative accounting" and fierce lobbying, GE has been cutting its tax bill for years. In a stroke of genius, it hired a former Treasury official to lead its tax department and filled its team with former IRS employees and Congressional tax specialists. 

The struggling bookseller isn't getting much interest from buyers, so it may get taken private by its founder.

By Kim Peterson Mar 25, 2011 12:54PM
Credit: ((C) Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Caption: Barnes and Noble storeBarnes & Noble (BKS) put itself up for sale seven months ago but has found life a little lonely since then.

No one wants the bookseller. Shares have dropped 37% since it began taking suitors. It had to cut its dividend, and last week shares hit a 15-year low, Bloomberg reports. Barnes & Noble is the only major retailer trading at a discount to its net assets.

And why would anyone buy it? The large-scale bookstore business is finished, sadly. Barnes & Noble's major competitor, Borders, is in bankruptcy.

The next big hope for the industry is in e-books, but Barnes & Noble suffers in that area as well. The Kindle from Amazon (AMZN) has two-thirds of the e-reader market. There's also competition from Apple's (AAPL) iPad line. 

The bankrupt video-rental chain shows more signs of trouble.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 25, 2011 12:27PM

By Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet

 

Blockbuster (BLOAQ.PK), the bankrupt video-rental chain, told a court that it plans to cancel more than 150 leases.

 

Generally, when a company announces lease cancellations, it means it plans to shutter those stores or look to renegotiate rent. Blockbuster said in a filing that any property left in the stores "shall be deemed abandoned." The struggling movie retailer listed stores in New York, Texas, Florida and California, among others.

 

Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection in September after struggling to compete with online video services such as Netflix (NFLX). The company won approval earlier in the month to conduct an auction for the company. The starting bid will be $290 million, an offer the company received from a group of investors in February.

 

After months of sideways action, stocks look ready to be led higher by technology, materials and emerging markets.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Mar 25, 2011 12:20PM

The bulls resolved the stalemate that had developed over the past few days resolutely to the upside as the long list of troubles -- the dissolution of the Portuguese government, the Middle East turmoil and the Japanese disaster -- was set aside. People want stocks.

 

And for the first time in months, they wanted stocks in key cyclical sector groups, including technology, semiconductors and materials. Crude oil and gold both declined as the "risk trade" pulled back and unleashed a wave of confidence. Breadth and volume were solid Thursday as 87% of the stocks in the S&P 500 moved higher on 84% of total trading volume.

 

Technically, the big news was that the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) -- Wall Street's "fear gauge" -- sliced through its 50-day moving average in a big way for the first time since Feb. 1. Drops through the 50-day MA for the VIX have coincided with uptrend initiations lately. Examples include Sept. 2, Dec. 2, and Feb. 2. I think we're in the midst of another uptrend initiation right now.

 

Research In Motion's shares tumble 11% after a weak financial forecast and another delay for its superphones.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 25, 2011 11:48AM

By Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

Research In Motion (RIMM) pumped its PlayBook, but investors dumped the stock on a weak financial outlook and the delay of a superphone arrival.

 

RIM posted solid fiscal-fourth-quarter numbers after the bell Thursday but said higher costs for new products like the PlayBook tablet would narrow gross margins to 41% from 44% on lower-than-expected revenue.

 

The dim forecast knocked RIM shares down 11% and helped confirm suspicions that the BlackBerry maker isn't on a quick-turnaround path.

 

Betting with the billionaire John Malone.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Mar 25, 2011 11:38AM

By Jim Royal, Ph.D.

 

My Special Situations portfolio follows transactional events that create value for shareholders. And that's what I think I've found with Ascent Media (ASCMA).

 

After being spun off from Discovery Communications (DISCA) in 2008, Ascent is now in a transitional period. It recently disposed of its former media operations entirely and acquired Monitronics, a home security business, from private equity owners. Now Ascent's operations consist solely of Monitronics, and Ascent has left Montironics' managers in charge.

 

The business
Monitronics has an attractive business model in a recessionary-resistant business. The company uses a network of some 450 independent dealers to source customers, who sign multi-year contracts for ongoing service.

 

Durable-goods orders have dropped for 2 months in a row, but a key purchasing index tells a different story.

By Jim J. Jubak Mar 25, 2011 11:25AM
Jim JubakWhich data should you believe when looking at the direction of U.S. economic growth?

Durable-goods orders fell by 0.9% in February. Economists had expected a 1.8% increase in orders.

After supporting a reading that the economy was recovering through most of 2010, durable-goods orders have shown a confusing pattern since October. In the last two quarters, orders have declined in the first month of a quarter, before rebounding in the second and third months of the quarter.

But that pattern hasn’t held this quarter -- the 0.6% drop in February followed on the heels of a 3% decline in January.

The two consecutive monthly drops in durable-goods orders run contrary to an extremely positive increase in the ISM Purchasing Managers Index, to 68 in February. That’s the strongest ISM number since January 2004.
 

Howard Stern takes on Sirius again. RIM's late entry into the PlayBook game. Hackers climb over the New York Times' paywall. Banks remain on skid row.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 25, 2011 10:36AM

Here's some of the dumbest news from business this week:

 

5. Howard Stern suits up against Sirius XM

 

When it comes to Stern and his relationship with management, it's always a matter of when, not if, he'll turn on them -- something current employer Sirius XM (SIRI) may have forgotten.

 

They got a reminder this week when Stern filed suit against his company for allegedly failing to pay stock awards it owed the shock jock in exchange for helping the satellite radio company surpass its subscriber growth target. At the end of December 2010, the company had 20.2 million total subscribers, the highest number of net subscribers in its history. Stern, naturally, believes he played a not-so-small part in making that happen. Read more

 

Sooner or later, the US will embrace energy independence and will need more fuel from its vast reserves. For that, you'll need Enbridge.

By Jim Cramer Mar 25, 2011 9:01AM

jim cramerthestreetYou know oil should be lower. You know it because the second-largest oil producer in the world, Canada, is beginning to ship aggressively into the largest market in the world, the U.S., and it hasn't done anything to dent the price of crude.

 

Last night on "Mad Money" I talked to the CEO of Enbridge (ENB), a perennial 52-week-high builder of multibillion-dollar pipelines that has done more than just about any company to make our nation energy-independent. Unless you are a pipeline aficionado, the only way you might know of these guys is through their two oil spills last year, which have made siting pipelines a major chore.

 

The lack of pipeline is what's keeping all of that oil bottled up in Cushing, Okla. Enbridge is going to solve that. It's going to solve the lack of pipeline coming from the biggest oil discovery in a generation, the Bakken Formation. And Enbridge is going to solve the lack of pipeline out of Eagle Ford, another huge deposit.

 

Walgreen is acquiring one of the largest online retailers for $429 million in cash. With video updates.

By Kim Peterson Mar 24, 2011 2:54PM
Today is a good day to be a Drugstore.com (DSCM) shareholder. The stock has soared 112% to $3.80 on news that the online drugstore would be acquired by Walgreen (WAG).

Walgreen is spending $429 million in cash on the deal -- a 112% premium to drugstore.com's close on Wednesday. Since it's getting Drugstore.com's $20 million cash hoard, the buyout price is essentially $409 million. Walgreen's share price rose less than 1% to $40.09 in afternoon trading.

Why did Walgreen want Drugstore.com? First and foremost, Walgreen has a terrible online presence. Its website is unattractive and sluggish (check out its "clothing" link). Compare Walgreen's first-aid site with Drugstore.com's first-aid site, and you'll see why Walgreen needed to make this deal.

Check out this video of Drugstore.com's chief executive discussing her business: 

Online retailers make shipping charges a thing of the past. Will competitors follow?

By InvestorPlace Mar 24, 2011 2:39PM

Everyone loves a good deal when shopping online. But everyone also hates to find a bargain, only to get gouged on shipping.


L.L. Bean hopes those two factors will work in its favor as it launches a marketplace where online shoppers no longer have to suffer a dime in shipping fees. Like Amazon.com (AMZN) and its dedicated shoe site Zappos, L.L. Bean hopes the lack of fees is offset by the new customers it will win over with the deal.

 

It's a bold move. The question now, of course, is how many online retailers are going to follow. The answer may surprise you: Many.

 

The company boosts its share price with a reverse split, opening its stock to new buyers. But no one's fooled.

By Jim J. Jubak Mar 24, 2011 1:49PM
Jim JubakIt's a cynical, totally transparent ploy -- but it’s our ploy. If you own the shares, as I do, I’m sure you hope it works.

Citigroup (C) has announced that it will engineer a reverse 1-for-10 stock split and then resume payment dividends at a rate of a penny a share.

The two moves will finally get the shares above $10 (they’ve been stuck at $5 for months), the cutoff level for some institutional investors. That, plus the new dividend -- some institutional investors can’t buy shares without dividends -- will expand the stock’s potential ownership pool.

Not that anyone is going to be fooled, by these moves, into thinking that shares of Citigroup are anything but the slowly-recovering equity of the U.S. bank that got the biggest taxpayer bailout.
 

Every major carmaker will feel the impact from the disaster, analysts say. Japanese automakers have been hit the hardest.

By Kim Peterson Mar 24, 2011 1:14PM
The earthquake and tsunami in Japan are still disrupting the auto industry worldwide, and it could be harder to find that car you want as a result.

Toyota (TM) says it will probably idle a truck plant in Texas because it can't get enough parts, according to Reuters. "It is likely that we will see some nonproduction days coming," a spokesman said. "At this point, we are still not sure of when those might hit or, if they do it, what the duration may be."

The entire sector is feeling aftershocks from the tragedy. Even American automakers are not immune, as they import parts from Japan. General Motors (GM) temporarily stopped production at a plant in Louisiana and laid off more than 50 workers at a plant in New York.

But the Japanese automakers are the hardest hit, with recovery efforts hampered by widespread power outages.

Post continues after video about Toyota and Honda production:
 
Tags: gm

Easter sales aren't as widespread as those of the winter holidays, but they give shoppers the sugar high they need to snap out of their cold spell.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 24, 2011 12:11PM

TheStreetBy Jason Notte, TheStreet

 

The Easter bunny may look fluffy and cute, but retailers know there's a lot of consumer-toned muscle beneath that fuzzy exterior.

 

Easter may not have the profile of other holidays, but the bunny is a retail beast. Easter brought in more than $14 billion last year, accounting for 6.1% of all holiday spending, according to IBISWorld. That  makes it fifth among its holiday cohorts, falling behind the winter holidays (59.2%), Thanksgiving (13.4%), Valentine's Day (7.5%) and Mother's Day (6.5%).

 

Last year, the 79.6% of Americans who celebrated Easter spent an average of $118.60. Most of that spending went into Easter baskets as food ($37.45), gifts ($18.16) and candy ($17.29). For such companies as Tootsie Roll (TR), Hershey's (HSY) and Kraft (KFT) -- which is on its second year of making Cadbury Creme Eggs -- Easter is a $1.9 billion basket of goodies, with candy sales second only to Halloween's $2 billion, according to the National Confectioners Association.

 

Higher margins and lower tariffs signal salad days ahead. With video of Chiquita's chief discussing the business.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Mar 24, 2011 10:44AM

By Alex Pape

 

Shareholders of Chiquita Brands (CQB) have been on a banana boat ride, bouncing all over the place. In the three short months since the Young Gun Portfolio bought shares in the banana master, we've seen shares jump 23%, give it all back, and then jump up another 5%. Such are the vagaries of short-term market prices.

 

I don't pay much attention to the short-term movements, but I do look to new information to strengthen or discredit my thesis. I recently did just that with the company's 2010 annual report.

 

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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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