There are some picks in this sector that have excellent valuations and strong earnings growth.
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A change in bank policy sparks new worries about how China views its own economy.
Facebook hires a public-relations firm to wage a stealth campaign against Google's social-networking efforts.
The issue came to light after Facebook hired a well-respected public-relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, to suggest some ugly things about Google to reporters. Burson assigned two of its highest-profile employees to the job: former CNBC reporter Jim Goldman and former political reporter John Mercurio.
Two of them got to work, alerting reporters to Google's "sweeping violations of user privacy." The culprit? Google Social Circle, which builds a network of Gmail users' friends and contacts -- and their friends and contacts. Google culls public sites like Twitter and, yes, Facebook, for the information. You can read more about it here.
This cash cow remains the market leader in routers, switches and other advanced technologies. It also has an amazing balance sheet.
By Adam Stockmeister, Seeking Alpha
Today it sits at a lowly $96.5 billion valuation and is valued as if it were 2009 all over again. Expected margins for 2Q are 61% and FY of 62%. These are much lower than most expected, and the stock price has been unfairly punished. The products that Cisco sells have not changed, and they are going to be around for a long time, with demand staying flat or increasing in the future. I don't generally like a dividend, but I like the $0.24 dividend (paid quarterly) for about a 1.4% yield.
I believe Cisco's future is only looking up from here. Future dilution will likely stop (unless the share price increases 30%) since the average exercising price of the 732 million pending option shares for employees is $21.39, with nearly half of those options exercisable at prices 15% higher than current prices. This is good for outstanding share count as Cisco has approved up to $10B for buybacks on the current program. The company has bought back over $62B in shares in the company's history.
The food giant says it was able to cover a jump in costs for fuel and raw ingredients. With video.
But Kraft Foods (KFT) has managed to navigate those rough waters pretty well. Analysts say it could be the only food company so far this year to successfully raise prices enough to cover costs without sacrificing demand. Kraft's largest brands include Nabisco, Maxwell House and Oscar Mayer.
Kraft "may take the prize as the only (food) company to have offset inflation via pricing" in the first quarter, a Barclays Capital analyst told Dow Jones. "To the extent that pricing can continue to run in line (or slightly ahead) of commodity costs, Kraft should have all the more flexibility to continue to reinvest against its brands and support volume growth."
Wednesday's circus in the oil market will probably lead to further declines in both crude oil and stocks.
Though first-quarter earnings have been solid, there are new concerns that the momentum won't continue.
While job growth, housing and wages have all lagged during the economic recovery to date, corporate earnings have been the bright spot as executives leverage a vast pool of cheap labor, rising global demand and a focus on cost cutting to expand margins and deliver impressive profitability growth despite modest revenue growth.
As a result, corporate profits have pushed to record highs, lighting a fire under the stock market. We've seen this reflected in first-quarter earnings. Of the 443 S&P 500 companies that reported though the week of May 6, 267 beat analyst earnings estimates, 299 beat on sales and 198 beat on both.
That's all well and good. But there is increasing evidence that the profit tailwind is set to subside. And with stock market valuations looking stretched and the economic outlook darkening, this is likely to put added pressure on equities in the months to come. Here's why.
National Presto provides some risk, as well as a tasty hidden payout.
By Anand Chokkavelu, CFA
Now I'm putting my money where my mouth is, buying shares for my real-money Rising Star portfolio.
Why I'm buying
Long story short, National Presto pays out a small, regular dividend each year, equating to a 0.9% dividend yield at today's prices. But counting its special dividend (which increased slightly from the year before), that yield jumps to 7.4%.
The company has a lot of moving parts, and there are definitely risks (which I'll detail below) that could keep it from prolonging its dividend magic, but I like the stock at today's prices -- and I like it even more if the stock falls further.
Some of the biggest names in consumer sales are forgoing traditional e-commerce to push sales directly via their Facebook accounts.
That's the mind-set of some of the biggest names in retail, anyway, as more and more merchants move away from traditional e-commerce websites and integrate sales directly into their Facebook accounts.
Is this just a craze, or could social media wind up killing traditional online retail sites as we know them?
A unique 'rental' plan providing Chrome computers to students could help fend off the iPad craze.
There's no doubt Apple (AAPL) and its runaway success with the iPad are taking a bite out of the laptop market. But for some folks, the flash of a tablet isn't worth the expense, and the comfortable old click of a keyboard is just plain faster for writing longer documents.
That's why Apple's Silicon Valley competitor Google (GOOG) is pushing forward with an ambitious plan to offer ultra-cheap laptops using its Chrome operating system. The gadgets go on sale for as little as $349.
But the real sales potential, according to a rumor first reported by Forbes, is that the Chrome laptop -- complete with Internet access can -- be "rented" for just $20 a month.
The People's Bank may raise interest rates at least twice more this year.
While the world's largest companies can seem boring, they are historically cheap and may catch up to their small- and mid-cap counterparts in the months ahead.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
Although mega caps such as these are often viewed as boring, this slice of the marketplace could prove attractive in the months ahead.
For one, companies in this mega-cap segment appear noticeably cheap. This week, both the Economist and Barron's cited an analyst report from Morgan Stanley that noted that, relative to the broader market, mega-cap companies are currently at their cheapest levels in a quarter century.
The sell-offs in silver, oil and stocks are necessary for markets to go higher on the basis of reality.
Looks like total end-of-the-world alert time. Let's spin it: Commodities prices are collapsing because there is a sudden cessation in demand, brought about by skyrocketing commodities prices. Because gasoline (which is going down now) had gone up so much, the consumer doesn't have enough left to spend. And because food prices (which are going to plummet) went up so much, households don't have enough left from their paychecks to buy anything.
When we see the prices of the big metals come down, something that the Chinese government has been waiting for so it can stop tightening its economy, then we have to sell stocks, because the Chinese government is tightening.
Housing prices, which are being kept down by aggressive selling of foreclosed homes, as the most recent existing-home sales numbers tell you, will keep going down because the foreclosed homes are weighing on pricing. Of course, the fact that even with all of the foreclosed homes being sold pricing is only off about 5% doesn't matter. Housing is crashing!
This week's corrections have turned the outlook for the markets almost upside down, at least in the short term. A big rally will be needed soon to get the uptrend back on track.
The top executive at Philip Morris International tells shareholders that smokes aren't so addictive.
Perhaps it was this person that Philip Morris International's (PM) chief executive was thinking about recently when he said that it's "not that hard to quit" cigarettes. Louis Camilleri was asked about the issue at the company's annual shareholder meeting. A nurse said that one of her patients told her it was harder to quit cigarettes than crack, cocaine or methamphetamine.
Camilleri acknowledged that cigarettes are harmful and addictive. "Whilst it is addictive, it is not that hard to quit," he told the nurse. "There are more previous smokers in America today than current smokers."
But this time it might succeed. Private equity and eBay, which still owns 30% of Skype, could sell.
When I wake up in the morning and check news for the companies I own, I worry. I don't worry that my companies missed their quarterly guidance by a few pennies – running a business is an art, and things don't usually work out in a precise, linear fashion. The companies that have a "deliver the quarter" culture often just play their financial statements as a musical instrument.
No, I am not worried about that. What worries me is that a company in my portfolio will pull a "Microsoft" – announce a stupendous, "transformative" acquisition, like the $48 billion takeover of Yahoo that Microsoft announced in 2008, but that Yahoo's management was too ... (fill in the blank) to accept. (I spent some time looking at Yahoo last week. Its stock is at $18, almost half the price that Microsoft offered, and I find the company only mildly undervalued if you give a significant value to the assets alibaba.com and Alibaba Group that Yahoo acquired in 2006 and which were not worth nearly as much in 2008.)
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[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices closed out the month of August on a modestly higher note. The Russell 2000 (+0.6%) and Nasdaq Composite (+0.5%) finished ahead of the S&P 500 (+0.3%), which extended its August gain to 3.8%. Blue chips lagged with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) spending the bulk of the session in the red.
The final week of August represented one of the quietest stretches for the stock market so far this year. The first four sessions of the week produced the ... More
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