Get ready for a flood of IPOs
Flood of IPOs land this week

If everything goes as planned, this week will be the busiest for initial public offerings since 2000.

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The company performs well in the first quarter despite challenges from rising commodity costs and foreign-exchange rates.

By Jim J. Jubak Apr 20, 2011 3:26PM
Jim JubakIf this is what qualifies as a tough year for Nestlé (NSRGY), I’ll take it.

The company faces a headwind from a strong Swiss franc, which makes its products more expensive for customers pretty much everywhere else.

Costs are also climbing, with increases in the prices of everything from corn to sugar.

And yet for the first quarter of 2011 -- despite what the company calculates was a 9.8% hit from foreign-exchange rates -- the company saw sales for its continuing business fall by just 1.2% from the first quarter of 2010.

Organic growth, a measure which excludes currency effects, climbed by 6.4%, as the company’s emphasis on growing its business in emerging economies paid off big. The volume of goods sold climbed by 4.9%, beating the 3.7% increase expected by Wall Street analysts.
 

The U.S. Treasury owns 500 million shares of General Motors, and is tired of waiting for the share price to rise.

By Kim Peterson Apr 20, 2011 3:05PM
Image: Car Accident (© Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Jupiterimages/Jupiterimages)How long do you hold on to a so-so stock? That's what the U.S. government is wondering about its massive stake in General Motors (GM).

The U.S. Treasury still owns about 500 million shares after the $50 billion rescue of the company in 2009. It would need to sell those shares at $53 apiece just to break even on its investment.

But GM's share price is nowhere near that amount. The stock hit a new low this week and is at about $30 today, down 19% year-to-date. The way fuel prices are moving, the chance of that stock hitting the $53 mark anytime soon are nil.

The government is likely just going to sell the stock at a loss to taxpayers, The Wall Street Journal reports. At GM's current price, taxpayers would lose at least $11 billion if the government sold its entire stake. But hey, what's another $11 billion to a government bleeding so much red it could pass for an extra on "Saw 3D"? 
Tags: gm

The company changes its business model to let fan response determine ticket prices. Will it work? With video interview.

By Kim Peterson Apr 20, 2011 2:42PM
After getting killed in last year's lackluster concert season, Ticketmaster is changing the way it does business. And it hopes scalpers lose out along the way.

Now Ticketmaster says it will adjust the price of sports and concert tickets according to demand. If shrieking girls can't get enough of a certain floppy-haired teen idol, for example, ticket prices will go up. But if, say, Rebecca Black launches a nationwide tour to slow demand, her ticket prices will drop.

It's a fundamental change to the traditional model for Ticketmaster, a division of Live Nation Entertainment (LYV). In the past, Ticketmaster worked with artists to set tickets at specific prices, and those prices didn't really change.

Post continues after this interview with Ticketmaster about the new pricing: 

The all-electric competitor to the Toyota Prius and GM Volt hybrids will be made in Tennessee.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 20, 2011 1:21PM

By Ted Reed, TheStreet

 

Kicking off the New York Auto Show, Nissan's top U.S. executive said the automaker plans to boost its U.S. production, including adding Leaf production in Smyrna, Tenn., by the end of 2012.

 

Carlos Tavares, the chairman of Nissan Americas, said the primary cause of the move is the strong yen, which has inspired a desire to ensure that a product "sold in the regions (is) 85% made in the region."

 

"That's the driver," Tavares said. He added that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan underscored the need for higher U.S. production, although all Nissan's Japan plants are now operating.

 

Slow iPhone sales, a surge in low-margin iPads, and parts shortages in Japan may crimp the company's forecast.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 20, 2011 12:33PM

the streetBy Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

Apple (AAPL) is looking sharp going into a tech earnings season that, until Tuesday afternoon, had been a dismal parade of dullards.

 

If Apple delivers on plan, it will be less like the streak of earnings disappointments from Google's (GOOG) profit-robbing spending splurge and Texas Instruments' (TXN) big miss Monday that somehow came in below the target it lowered last month.

 

Blowout numbers from Apple could put it in the class of upside surprises like IBM (IBM) and Intel (INTC), which both flew past analysts' targets with earnings reports Tuesday.

 

But Apple's guidance is a whole other game, and there's reason to think the outlook in Cupertino, Calif., may not be a winner.

 

Investors looking for exposure to non-dollar-denominated assets may choose from two liquid currency ETFs set to benefit from growth of the Chinese currency.

By MoneyShow.com Apr 20, 2011 11:45AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

Monday’s plunge in global equity prices briefly boosted the dollar, giving some hope that it was finally bottoming. The optimism didn’t last long, however, as the dollar gave up most of its gains on Tuesday.

The negative technical outlook for the dollar is in agreement with the bearish fundamentals, and S&P’s recent downgrade of its US debt outlook is likely to add further downward pressure over the next few months.

The downgrade of US debt may have accelerated plans by the Chinese government to make the yuan more of a global currency. A Tuesday Wall Street Journal interview with a Hong Kong monetary official hinted that discussions were underway to make it easier to bring yuan funds raised overseas back into China.

This would open up the Hong Kong debt markets to many companies, and they would be able to invest in China without converting to dollars. Under current guidelines, large transfers of all currencies coming into China must be approved by the government.

Recent data suggests that the yuan is already becoming more global, as 7% of the foreign trade in the first quarter was in yuan, which was a sharp increase from just 0.5% last year. 
 

New funds allow investors to gain exposure to small companies in Brazil, Russia, India and China.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 20, 2011 11:39AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

The BRIC nations are popular for both investors and fund providers. The ETF industry offers a wide collection of products that tap into Brazil, Russia, India and China from a number of perspectives.

 

The field of BRIC-related ETFs expanded last week with the launch of Van Eck's Market Vectors Russia Small Cap ETF (RSXJ). The first fund of its kind, RSXJ provides investors with exposure to a diverse collection of small companies based in Russia.

 

So far, the fund has seen limited interest and is still vulnerable to liquidity issues. I urge investors to hold off on RSXJ until it gathers steam.

 

This pharmacy-benefits manager has a much brighter future than its current stock price implies.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Apr 20, 2011 11:19AM

By Bryan White

 

About $14 billion in annual sales of brand name drugs have come off patent annually since 2008, but that was just the beginning. Starting in December of this year through the end of 2012, approximately $35 billion worth of sales more will lose patent exclusivity, including Lipitor, Plavix, and Singulair. One industry positioned to profit from the wave of new generic launches is the pharmacy benefits managers, or PBMs.

 

Born in the 1980s, PBMs work for health-care payors such as insurance companies, employers, and government agencies which outsource prescription drug plan management and claims processing. PBMs are responsible for developing and maintaining the formulary, contracting with pharmacies, and negotiating discounts and rebates with drug manufacturers on behalf of their clients, the health-care payors.

 

Your decision depends on your appetite for risk. At any rate, GM should be on investors' watch lists. With video on GM's prospects.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 20, 2011 10:59AM

By Jake Lynch, TheStreet

 

The new General Motors (GM)went public in November, collecting proceeds of $23 billion, which ranked as the second-largest offering in US history. The automaker was assisted by lead book-runners JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Morgan Stanley (MS).

 

Although GM's stock -- initially valued at 7.8 times forward earnings, a sizable peer and market discount -- appeared cheap, it has tumbled from $33 to just over $29, as of Tuesday's close. The stock has tumbled 24% from a recent high around $39 to a fresh post-IPO low. What happened?

 

Momentum-driven stocks that are plagued by skepticism have a tendency to rise into a positive earnings report.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 20, 2011 10:44AM

By Ali Meshkati, TheStreet

 

A few months ago, I wrote an article that said Netflix (NFLX) would outperform Apple (AAPL) during any market correction. What I should have written, at that time, was that Netflix would outperform Apple, period.

 

The point of the article was missed by most. I take full responsibility as I probably mixed in too many distracting points and topics. It's not about an Apple vs. Netflix war of technology, executives or each company's place within this technology-driven world.

 

The point of the article was that market psychology drives stock price, irrespective of fundamentals. When a momentum-driven trend begins in a company that is under a tremendous amount of scrutiny and doubt, it creates a support dynamic for the stock. It allows the stock to continue to a share price and market cap that not even the founders of the company could have imagined would be possible.

 

Though housing prices have dropped to new lows, folks aren't sure a home is a solid investment anymore.

By Kim Peterson Apr 19, 2011 2:02PM
Image: House with coins (© Digital Vision/Getty Images)Houses are dirt cheap right now. In fact, homes are more affordable than at any time since the National Association of Realtors began measuring the data back in 1970, Bloomberg reports.

But people aren't buying. The economy and the tightened lending market have all but removed the possibility of homeownership for some. But there's another interesting sentiment developing: More and more people just don't want to buy anymore.

The percentage of people who think of a home as a safe investment has dropped to just 64%, Bloomberg reports. That's the lowest ever reported in the national housing survey from Fannie Mae, and down from 83% in 2003.

So many people have turned away from homebuying, in fact, that we may be seeing a culture shift. Maybe the house with a white picket fence is no longer part of the American dream. 

DirecTV plans to offer on-demand movies just two months after their theatrical release. But the rental is pricey.

By Kim Peterson Apr 19, 2011 1:25PM
Image: Hollywood (© Comstock/SuperStock)Would you pay $30 to rent "Just Go With It," an Adam Sandler movie that critic Richard Roeper calls "a pile of steaming crap"? Me neither.

But that's what DirecTV (DTV) has chosen to launch its premium on-demand video service this week. The service plans to offer movies just two months after their release in theaters, and DirecTV thinks people will pay more money to take advantage of this early window.

The service is set to launch Thursday with "Just Go With It," available for a 48-hour rental, Bloomberg reports. It will reportedly get movies from Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox.

Other movies coming in the next few months include "The Adjustment Bureau," "Cedar Rapids" and "Hall Pass," Bloomberg reports. 

The Verizon iPhone and a rush to prepaid plans have Ma Bell on the ropes. With video on the telecom sector.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 19, 2011 11:41AM

By Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

Apple's (AAPL)iPhone made all the difference for AT&T (T) last quarter.

 

As big phone rivals AT&T and Verizon (VZ) square off this week on first-quarter earnings, Wall Street awaits the numbers from Ma Bell's wireless unit now that the iPhone sells at Verizon.

 

Analysts expect that the loss of Apple iPhone exclusivity took the steam out of AT&T's wireless growth. The number of new so-called post-paid-contract customers AT&T added in the first quarter fell uncomfortably close to zero, according to at least one analyst.

 

Investors who avoid overreacting to recent headlines will find favorable opportunities in a number of promising ETFs. Here are several risk-controlled buy set-ups.

By MoneyShow.com Apr 19, 2011 11:23AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

It has been a rough week for many of the world markets. A week ago, we had the Goldman Sachs (GS) sell signal for crude oil and other commodities. 

That was followed this week by Standard & Poor’s cautionary note about the future of US debt, which caused a new round of panic selling on Monday.

I have always been skeptical when there is a widespread reaction to the opinion of one analyst, firm, or country. Most veteran traders questioned the motives of Goldman Sachs, especially after crude oil plunged 3.5% and copper declined 1.7% the following day. Goldman has earnings due out Tuesday; I wonder if they showed a profit?

The market’s reaction to S&P’s cutting of its outlook for US debt hit the US stock market hard on the opening. Selling on the opening in reaction to almost any news is a bad idea because typically prices will bounce in the next few hours, even in a bear market.
 

The company hopes to hire 50,000 workers today in an effort to put the burger-flipping stereotype to rest.

By Kim Peterson Apr 19, 2011 11:18AM
McDonald's (MCD) is the home of the original "McJob," though that's not a term the company particularly favors. The word even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary as "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects."

Good luck hiring with that stereotype. But that's exactly what McDonald's is doing today in a push to hire 50,000 new workers. "We're proud of our food, and we're just as proud of the jobs we create," the company says about what it has called its National Hiring Day. 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages are mixed at midday with the Nasdaq Composite (+0.3%) and Russell 2000 (+0.3%) holding modest gains, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.3%) and S&P 500 (-0.1%) underperform.

Equity indices opened the midweek session on a strong note after the advance GDP reading pointed to a 4.0% expansion during the second quarter. In addition, a batch of better than expected earnings also factored into the early strength.

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