Friday, January 31, 2014

Target preps for Black Friday with multimedia d…

Less than a week before Black Friday, it was already Christmas morning at a Target store in Washington, D.C.

At 9 a.m. Friday, Target employees at the retailer's Columbia Heights location gathered in their daily morning "huddle." Holiday music played, and their boss exuded Christmas spirit: Sporting a Santa hat, merchandising senior executive team leader Matt Roy gave out tastes of Target-brand Christmas products, including pumpkin cheesecake cookies and chocolate mint milk.

"I marked the official start of the fourth quarter this morning by doing the eggnog in my car," Roy joked.

As the biggest retail event of the year approached, Target spirits were high as they attempt to bounce back from a record of lackluster Christmas sales. Last year's holiday numbers fell below expectations, partly due to disappointing returns from a partnership with designer collector Neiman Marcus.

So this year, the retailer is upping its strategy, bombarding consumers with a string of deals and promotions in-store and over multimedia channels, rolling them out in stages to keep customers buying throughout the weekend and the rest of the season.

And even with the store's shiny new promotion plan, it's harkening back to some old-school, family-based Christmas cheer.

At the two-story Columbia Heights Target on Friday, giant Christmas ball-shaped decorations hung from the ceiling above rows of shelves spilling with glittering ornaments, strings of lights, holiday candies and more. The store started "doing Christmas" in September and was "full throttle, 100 percent set for the holiday season" by the end of October, Whitlock said.

Like many other major retailers, Target's beginning its holiday sales earlier and earlier, partly hoping to offset potential losses from a six-day shorter shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Holiday deals kicked off Sunday with 15 daily online-only deals on On Thanksgiving, customers can shop online early in the day and come into th! e store at 8 p.m. to compete for doorbuster deals, many on popular electronics. And Friday offers a 20 percent discount off a storewide purchase the next week if customers spend at least $75.

"It's a startup to an event- the event is Black Friday, but that's really a starting point. It culminates with Christmas," said Target Washington, D.C. District Team Leader Jason Ramey. "The race is just beginning."

Demographics are changing as Black Friday starts earlier: Last year, 36 percent of Millennials- those between age 18 and 34- shopped on Thanksgiving Day, according to the National Retail Federation. With these young shoppers and a nation increasingly connected through smartphones, Target is adopting mobile full force.

For instance, a new "Cartwheel" smartphone app, available to anyone with a Facebook account, gives customers additional sales on specific items if they shop in-store. And Target will continue to integrate social media sharing site Pinterest into its marketing strategies, said Target CMO Jeff Jones.

"It's ultimately all about multichannel," said Target public relations manager Stefanie Mohr. "You have the guest who's… going to shop at home; she's going to shop on her phone; she's going to shop late at night on her iPad; she's going to be here with her kids, so it's really about that convenience factor- no matter where, no matter how, no matter when."

Jake Chapman, corporate strategies vice president at deal-listing website, said some Target bargains are very competitive, including a $229 Element 50-inch LED TV, an Apple iPad Air 16GB for $479 with a $100 gift card and Beats by Dre Solo HD Headphones for $119.

Target's overall strategy looks promising, especially its mobile aspects bringing in "a different demographic" and its later-purchase discount enticing consumers to keep shopping throughout the season, Chapman said. But Akshay Rao, University of Minnesota marketing professor, said Target's numbers might be "muddied" by the rollout of! its Cana! dian stores.

For months, stores have been prepping for their "Super Bowl" of retail, hiring workers, stocking warehouses and shelves, training employees in crowd control and perfecting their minute-by-minute plan for the hectic weekend. Thursday evening, employees will take their spots and open the doors.

"It's the excitement of 'It's here now,'" said Darran Whitlock, store leader of Target's Columbia Heights location in Washington. "You do all the planning, all the organization, [so] when you get to that day, it's like an athlete with a Super Bowl. It's finally here. You've done all this; now let's get in and have fun."

While munching on holiday treats Friday morning, Target managers spoke to their workers about the coming season, thanking some of them for taking on longer shifts and working more days a week.

For the season, Whitlock typically hires between 40 and 80 workers to add to the 300 at his store. Black Friday employees get paid time and a half and can choose break room movies and special meals, he said. He said it was exciting for his employees to work on Thanksgiving.

But Ross Steinman, a psychology professor at Widener University, disagreed, saying many employees now had to give up their holiday.

Target is preparing for more families to come shopping Thanksgiving night, Ramey said. Steinman said consumers were realizing early starts might not be "the worst thing."

"We can celebrate Thanksgiving, watch football, have somewhat of an early dinner and now we can involve the kids in this," he said. "Before, it might not be as much as an event for kids- getting up at 3 in the morning and waiting in the cold."

This year, consumers are also planning more and are less likely to make impulse decisions, Steinman added. At Target, customers will have access to more information before the doors open, including a map given out to people in line Thursday night listing additional sales and showing where they're located. Customers can also reserve specific pop! ular item! s in these lines to make sure they'll get one once they're allowed inside.

It's all to help with communication and crowd management, Whitlock said.

"[We're training employees] on controlling the lines, controlling the emotional response of 'maybe you're not going to get a TV,'" he said. "When people don't know where to go, then anxiety builds up. We want to limit the anxiety. So we tell them where to go and how to do it."

With competition from online-only platforms such as, managers hope that personal interaction will help bring people out to the stores. As Target winds down its Black Friday preparation and gets ready for deal-hunting crowds Thursday evening, it hopes to give customers more of a holiday experience- a new Thanksgiving tradition after the family has finished the last of the pumpkin pie.

Managers' advice to shoppers? Plan ahead.

"You have your map; you have your things; come in on Wednesday and walk around," Ramey said. "Be prepared. Do you have the gloves? Do you have the hat? We sell all that here, too."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nissan recalling 150k SUVs for brake problem

2013 infiniti jx 35

The 2013 Infiniti JX35 and 2014 QX60 are among the crossover SUVs Nissan is recalling. The closely related Nissan JX35 is also being recalled.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) Nissan is recalling approximately almost 152,000 Nissan and Infiniti SUVs due to a computer problem that could weaken brake performance.

In-car computers that control the anti-lock braking system may not respond correctly during light braking on rough surfaces. The result is that the vehicles can take slightly longer than expected to come to a full stop.

Anti-lock braking systems pump the brakes rapidly during hard braking to prevent the wheels from locking up, or skidding. When tires begin skidding across the pavement it becomes impossible to control a car so anti-lock braking systems are supposed to provide for safer, more controlled, stops.

Gallery - 8 collectible SUVs

The vehicles involved in the recall are some Nissan Pathfinders from the 2013 and 2014 model years as well as 2013 Infiniti JX35 and 2014 QX60 SUVs. Infiniti is Nissan's luxury division.

Can the Infiniti Q50 compete with the Germans?   Can the Infiniti Q50 compete with the Germans?

Nissan (NSANF) will ask owners of effected vehicles to bring their vehicles to a Nissan or Infiniti dealer to have the ABS computer chips reprogrammed. The service will be performed at no charge. No accidents or injuries have been reported due to the problem, Nissan said. To top of page

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stocks: How Big a Problem are Earnings?

With earnings season in full swing–and bellwethers like Microsoft (MSFT), Bank of America (BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) already reporting–its clear that earnings are still growing–just not as fast as some had expected.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Deutsche Bank’s David Bianco and team, for instance, lowered their earnings growth forecast in a report on Friday. They explain why:

We still think 4Q results will be the strongest S&P EPS and sales growth since 1Q12, but is unlikely to be double-digit as we were previously forecasting. We cut our 4Q13E EPS to $28.50, up 8% y/y from $29.00, up 10% y/y previously. 4Q results are healthy, but are softer than what macro data, particularly US and global PMIs suggested. Generating strong operating profit growth remains difficult given: 1) slow loan growth at Banks, 2) moderate capex growth  (Industrials healthy, Tech still slow), and 3) intense competition at most Consumer industries.

Hot Bank Stocks To Buy Right Now

Morgan Stanley’s Adam Parker and team don’t believe the rate of growth will matter to investors as long as earnings continue to grow:

With 31% of the S&P 500 market cap reported, aggregate earnings are tracking 4.5% ahead of expectations. Financials have had strong results, on net, with beats from both [Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase] (both in our portfolio). Exfinancials, the earnings upside has been 4.0%, driven in large part by technology ([Microsoft, Oracle (ORCL) (December), and SanDisk (SNDK)], among others). Our view is the recent market sell-off will abate as we doubt investors will worry about a real corporate earnings decline, something we think is required for a material market decline.

Shares of Microsoft have dropped 1.3% to $36.33 today at 2:21 p.m., while Bank of America has dipped 0.3% to $16.40, JPMorgan Chase has gained 0.6% to $55.44, Oracle has fallen 1.2% to $36.68 and SanDisjk is up 0.3% at $69.67.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Market Wrap For October 3: Dow Falls Below 15,000 On Debt Battle

No progress seems be made resolving the debt ceiling crisis as deliberations continue for day three.

Analysts speculate market losses can be attributed to the stalemate. Shots rang out on Capitol Hill this afternoon, sending it into lock down. On top of this, somebody tried to drive their car into the White House.

Breaking the recent down trend, volume leapt higher Thursday, adding weight to the move.

Major Averages

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 136.66 points, or 0.9 percent, to 14,996.48.

The S&P 500 dropped 15.21 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,678.66.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 40.68 points, or 1.07 percent, to close at 3,774.34.

The Russell 3000 fell 8.1 points, or 0.79 percent to finish at 1,011.54.

Jobless Claims

Initial jobless claims bounced high after last week's six year low of 305,000. At 308,000, claims are better than the expected 315,000. Continuing claims were worse than expected at 2.92 million while analysts were expecting 2.81 million.

Retail Sales

Eurozone retail sales for September were much better than expecting. The figure rose 0.7 percent month over month, up from 0.1 percent the month before. This is half a percent than economists anticipated.

Stock Movers

CalAmp (NASDAQ: CAMP) shot up 14.24 percent to $21.35 after the company reported upbeat fiscal second-quarter results.

HomeAway (NASDAQ: AWAY) was up as well, gaining 8.17 percent to $29.74 on speculation of takeover talks with (NASDAQ: PCLN).

ICG Group (NASDAQ: ICGE) rose 9.74 percent to $15.39 after the company announced the sale of Procurian to Accenture plc (NYSE: ACN) for $375 million in cash.

Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ: CLNE) were down 5.69 percent to $13.01. The company reported that it will be the first company to commercially distribute a transportation fuel made from waste.

Herbalife (NYSE: HLF) was also down 6.61 percent to $68.26 despite the New York Post reporting that Bill Ackman had converted 40 percent of his short position to put options.

Imax (NYSE: IMAX) was down 8.63 percent to $25.95 after Cormark Securities downgraded the stock from Market Perform to Reduce.

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) fell 4.61 percent to $172.64, continuing on yesterday's negative momentum.


Crude oil moved lower with the stock market on Thursday. Near the close of equities, WTI crude futures were down one percent to $103.06. Brent futures gave up 0.45 percent to $108.70. Natural gas fell four pennies to $3.51.

Conversely, precious metals futures were mostly unmoved on the day. At last check, COMEX gold futures were down 0.27 percent to $1,317.20. Silver contracts fell 0.79 percent to $21.73 near the close. Copper futures gave up 1.33 percent and were last trading at $327.20.


The U.S. dollar continues to fall after Wednesday's sell off. Near the close of equity trading, the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE: UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, was down 0.09 percent to $21.51.

The closely watched EUR/USD pair rose 0.31 percent on to $1.3621. Other big movers included the EUR/GBP, which rose 0.71 percent, and the USD/BRL which was up 0.44 percent on the day.

Volume and Volatility

Volume finally broke above the three month average with 149 million shares of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY) trading hands heading into the close. This compares to the ten day average of 117 million and three month average of 125 million.

The VIX measure of volatility continued to surge higher Thursday, up 4.7 percent to 17.38. The metric is up 23.61 percent over the past five days.

Global Markets

Chinese and Korean markets were mixed for national holidays today. After a volatile day of trading, Japan's Nikkei dropped 0.09 percent.

European markets were mostly flat on the day. The Euro Stoxx index, which tracks 50 euro zone blue chips fell 0.55 percent percent. London's FTSE rose 0.18 percent, and France's CAC dropped 0.73 percent.

Posted-In: Capitol Hill Debt CielingEarnings News Futures Commodities Forex Economics After-Hours Center Markets Movers Best of Benzinga

(c) 2013 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Insider Selling Isn't Always A Bad Sign

Insiders at public companies essentially have two options for buying and/or selling their companies' stock. The first is to conduct the transactions in the open market. That is, they can buy or sell securities through a broker just like any other retail investor. The second option is to conduct the transaction on a systematic basis through what is called a 10b5-1 plan. This Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule permits a systematic form of insider trading that is not only legal, but can also be beneficial for both the insiders (and their companies) and individual investors. Read on to learn more.

What is a 10b5-1 plan?
Rule 10b5 is one of the most important acts put forth by the SEC. This rule makes it unlawful to defraud, mislead or operate in any fraudulent manner in transactions of securities on national exchanges.

This rule was also enacted to prohibit the purchase or sale of a security on the basis of non-public information. Any trade made with material non-public information, or insider information, is deemed as insider trading and is illegal under Rule 10b5.

In 2000, the SEC made an administrative ruling, known as 10b5-1, or 10b5-1 (c), which allows for a defense against the insider trading rule as long as the individual can determine that no non-material insider information was used as the basis for the trade.

This ruling created a situation where insiders could create a trading plan in advance of a trade if they set a specific date or price at which to effect a transaction (either a purchase or a sale). When that event transpired, it triggered the trade. These trading plans are known as 10b5-1 plans.

For example, executives may want to purchase shares throughout the calendar year. To do so, they (under the plan) purchase a fixed number of shares at specified dates, such as the first trading day of the month. The transaction is automatic. The insider will be safe even if he or she has insider information at the time of the sale, as long as the plan was set up when no material non-public information was known.

Conversely, if an insider wants to diversify his or her holdings but doesn't want to sell a large portion of stock at any one time for fear that it might send the wrong message to the investment community, the individual may set up a plan that liquidates 1,000 shares per month over the next year. Again, the trades are automatic and take place at a set point in time.

Benefits for Insiders
There are several benefits of 10b5-1s for both insiders and individual investors:

A Better Appearance
Because a 10b5-1 is a pre-set systematic method of accumulating and/or disposing of shares, the possession of insider information becomes essentially irrelevant. By definition, this will help stem accusations of insider trading and/or front running after a trade is consummated. In short, for executives at high profile companies that are frequently the target of shareholder suits and almost always subject to scrutiny from the investment community, this system can be invaluable.

Windows and Blackout Periods Don't Matter
Many - if not most - companies have established trading windows, or time periods when an individual executive may conduct a transaction in the stock. Many companies have also established blackout periods where, during a certain time period, absolutely no transactions in the company stock may be effectuated.

However, a 10b5-1 renders both of these strategies moot. That's because the trades are systematic and take place regardless of whether the individual has inside information or the company is about to report good or bad news.

Eliminates the Need to Read Into Insider Data
When an insider buys or sells stock on the open market, the law states that the company/insider must make the trade details public. When this data is reported to the SEC, major news wires and/or market data providers will then disseminate it widely to their readership or client base (particularly if the transaction was effectuated by an individual at a well-known company). Furthermore, in many instances the data may also be interpreted and used by journalists in their articles.

Unfortunately, when data is released in this manner it is sometimes wrongly interpreted. In other words, when an insider sells his or her stock, some may interpret the transaction as though he or she no longer stands behind the company, when in fact the transaction may represent only a small portion of the individual's assets.

Conversely, small insider purchases are sometimes construed as an indicator that the current price offers a terrific buying opportunity, when in fact the insider intends to make purchases in the future at numerous prices.

The Benefits for Investors
Limits Incorrect Interpretations and Makes Intentions Known
Insider data is sometimes wrongly interpreted by individual investors and/or large institutional shareholders, which can lead to mass selling or mass buying. However, when an executive consistently buys or sells shares each month (or quarter, or at some other pre-established period), the investment community becomes aware of the plan and will not typically react with such blind emotion.

Also, when an insider sells stock on the open market, investors typically look just at the transaction. They tend to ignore other characteristics of the trade and/or evidence of why the insider may have initiated the purchase or sale.

For example, if an insider sells 5,000 shares of XYZ stock, the only thing that most investors will hear or see is the date the stock was sold, who sold it and at what price. But they won't know, for example, whether the sale of 5,000 shares makes up only a tiny portion of what the executive continues to hold and believe in.

When a systematic plan is in place, investors will be able to see the insider's intentions more clearly. For example, when certain insiders liquidate shares at consistent points throughout the year, investors are more apt to be aware of and understand that an insider is simply diversifying his or her holdings, and that the remaining sizable position in the stock implies confidence in the company.

Investors Know What to Expect and When to Expect It
Part of the problem with insider data reporting is the time it takes for such information to reach the average investor. While the SEC mandates that Form 4 (filings that must be made when changes in ownership occur) must be filed within two business days of a trade, it sometimes takes a week or more for that data to circulate to the average shareholder through news services or some other data provider.

Data/trade information may also come to investors at an inopportune time - like on a Friday afternoon when many traders like to go home "flat" (or without any long positions). When this happens, it could exacerbate the normal selling. That said, when a systematic plan is used investors know, or should expect to see, sales (or purchases) at given points in time. This is comforting to many shareholders.

Bottom Line
Systematic investment plans are much more beneficial for both insiders and individual investors than transactions effectuated on the open market. A 10b5-1 plan allows executives to diversify their holdings without creating a stir in the investment community, and allows investors to keep an eye on executives' sales of shares.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Australia’s Surprise Bout of Inflation

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While Canada’s central bank grapples with the conundrum of persistent disinflation, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) must now contend with the opposite problem: a surprise rise in inflation.

This week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), climbed 0.8 percent sequentially during the fourth quarter, while the core CPI, which strips out volatile components such as food and energy, increased by 0.9 percent. According to data aggregated by Bloomberg, economists had expected the aforementioned numbers to rise by 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

On a year-over-year basis, the CPI rose 2.7 percent, while the core CPI rose 2.6 percent, with both figures showing that in the short term at least, inflation is trending toward the higher end of the RBA’s targeted annual range for inflation of 2 percent to 3 percent.

In previous quarters, by contrast, inflation had come in toward the lower end of that range, affording the central bank considerable scope for monetary easing. The RBA has been on a rate-cutting cycle since late 2011, lowering its benchmark cash rate on eight separate occasions until it reached an all-time low of 2.5 percent in August.

One of the key aims of the central bank’s policymaking has been to help force the exchange rate lower. The Australian dollar’s relative strength has been a major headwind for the country’s exporters, and with a decline in mining investment underway, the RBA hopes one of the non-resource sectors will find its footing and drive the economy.

Although the Australian dollar traded above parity with the US dollar for much of 2011 and 2012, it fell sharply last year following the US Federal Reserve’s announcement that it was planning to curtail its extraordinary stimulus. The aussie currently trades near USD0.87, down nearly 21 percent from its high during this cycle.

Although RBA Governor Glenn Stevens would like the currency to trade as low as USD0.85, concerns that the country’s real estate market could be in danger of overheating have thus far precluded the bank from cutting rates again to achieve that end. Instead, Mr. Stevens has resorted to “jawboning,” or talking the currency lower.

But with the sudden jump in inflation, many economists believe that another rate cut is now completely off the table for the remainder of 2014. However, Westpac Chief Economist Bill Evans has an altogether different take. He believes that the latest CPI reading was almost entirely due to the lower exchange rate, particularly in areas such as overseas travel and imported goods, such as audio and visual equipment and fuel. Mr. Evans argues and that this effect likely peaked during the fourth quarter, and that weak domestic demand will contain the currency’s impact on inflation in subsequent quarters.

If the RBA abandons its easing bias, at least temporarily, then the exchange rate could rise modestly and further dampen inflation. And should subsequent data prove that the jump in inflation is indeed transitory, then Mr. Evans believes the RBA could cut rates again as soon as August, assuming the growth in the real economy remains sluggish.

It’s important to note that, among its peers, Westpac seems to be in the minority with this assessment. However, their rationale is well reasoned and merits consideration.

Other economists believe the country’s structural issues are a significant contributor to inflation. For instance, Deutsche Bank Chief Economist Adam Boyton, notes that inflation isn’t solely the product of a lower exchange rate, but that there’s also been a significant rise in “government inflation,” resulting from environmental taxes and higher prices for essential services, among other areas. He says government-induced inflation is running at an average annual rate of 5.7 percent, well in excess of other areas.

Overall, we’d certainly prefer the central bank to have the flexibility to lower rates until the economy rebounds. But even if it doesn’t, rates remain at historic lows, the currency has declined to a more sensible level, and the Australian government is now led by a party that wants to lower taxes in certain areas. Now all we need is a truly resurgent global economy.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mid-Morning Market Update: Markets Open Lower; Procter & Gamble Profit Beats Estimates

Following the market opening Friday, the Dow traded down 0.75 percent to 16,075.65 while the NASDAQ tumbled 0.98 percent to 4,177.55. The S&P also fell, dropping 0.84 percent to 1,813.09.

Top Headline
Procter & Gamble Co (NYSE: PG) reported a better-than-expected second-quarter net profit.

Procter & Gamble's quarterly profit declined to $3.43 billion, or $1.18 per share, from a year-ago profit of $4.06 billion, or $1.39 per share. Its core earnings fell to $1.21 per share.

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Its sales came in at $22.28 billion versus $22.18 billion. However, analysts were projecting earnings of $1.20 per share on sales of $22.36 billion.

Equities Trading UP
Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) shot up 6.85 percent to $27.79 after the company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results. Barclays upgraded the stock from Equalweight to Overweight and lifted the price target from $29.00 to $34.00.

Shares of Open Text (NASDAQ: OTEX) got a boost, shooting up 12.23percent to $101.70 after the company reported upbeat Q2 results and announced a 2-for-1 stock split.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) was also up, gaining 3.70 percent to $37.39 after the company reported stronger-than-expected fiscal second-quarter results. Credit Suisse raised the price target on the stock from $40.00 to $42.50.

Equities Trading DOWN
Shares of Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) were down 15.66 percent to $98.91 after the company reported downbeat Q4 earnings.

International Game Technology (NYSE: IGT) shares tumbled 11.44 percent to $15.63 after the company reported weaker-than-expected fiscal first-quarter results. Sterne Agee downgraded the stock from Buy to Neutral and cut the price target from $21.50 to $18.00.

First Niagara Financial Group (NASDAQ: FNFG) was down, falling 11.17 percent to $9.19 on Q4 results. The company issued weak FY14 earnings outlook.

In commodity news, oil traded down 0.03 percent to $97.30, while gold traded up 0.42 percent to $1,267.60.

Silver traded up 0.67 percent Friday to $20.15, while copper fell 0.02 percent to $3.29.

European shares were lower today. The Spanish Ibex Index declined 2.36 percent, while Italy's FTSE MIB Index tumbled 1.04 percent. Meanwhile, the German DAX fell 1.24 percent and the French CAC 40 slipped 1.54 percent while U.K. shares declined 0.99 percent.

On the economics calendar Friday, there is no important data due out.

Posted-In: Earnings News Guidance Eurozone Futures Forex Global Econ #s Economics Intraday Update Markets Movers Tech

(c) 2014 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014


We know that buying stock in a tobacco company is not for everyone, cautions David Fried, editor of The Buyback Letter. Nevertheless, he considers this tobacco play his favorite income idea for 2014.

The performance and dividend of Lorillard (LO) is something that you need to know about! Indeed, if I could only buy one stock for dividend income, this would be it.

Lorillard is the third largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the US; Newport is its flagship brand. Founded in 1760, Lorillard is the oldest continuously operating tobacco company in the US.

In addition, in April 2012, the company acquired bluecigs, the top-selling electronic cigarette company in the United States.

Lorillard's US market share has increased for ten straight years, to over 14% in 2012, from less than 9% in 2002. Management has hiked the dividend every single year since going public, raising it an average of 12% a year.

It also returned money to shareholders by buying back shares, taking a quarter of the shares off the market in the past five years.

The company has over $2 billion in cash and another $1 billion in cash flow annually. This cash will enable the company to continue to buyback stock and raise dividends in the future, if they so desire.

The company started paying a quarterly dividend in August 2008 of $0.30667 per share. Since then, quarterly dividends have grown an average of about 12.4% a year, as have earnings. LO targets a payout ratio of about 70%.

A $500 million share repurchase program was announced on March 8, 2013; then, in May, Lorillard's Board of Directors amended the program to authorize an additional $500 million in repurchases.

The $1 billion would decrease the shares outstanding by about 6.1%. LO has been a great investment since it started trading in 2002.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Nasdaq Fixes Another Malfunction With Price Feed

For the second time in two weeks, a malfunction in a price feed overseen by Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. led to a trading halt of some of the companies it lists.

Nasdaq's securities information processor had a "hardware memory failure" at 11:35 a.m. New York time today, the company said after a preliminary review. The issue was resolved six minutes later. Direct Edge Holdings LLC, another U.S. exchange operator, briefly stopped transactions for some Nasdaq-listed shares, according to a statement.

Nasdaq halted trading in thousands of its stocks for three hours on Aug. 22 out of concern a connectivity issue in the feed, known by its initials SIP, would cause uneven dissemination of prices in the market. The disruption underscored how quickly the integrity of the U.S. market can be subverted as orders to buy and sell shares are matched on more than 50 exchanges and alternative electronic venues.

"We are not inspired by the fact that this has become a recurring issue," Peter Sorrentino, a senior vice president who helps manage about $15 billion at Huntington Asset Advisors, said by phone from Cincinnati. "This type of thing does an awful lot to kill investor confidence in the markets."

Backup System

Last month's market disruption snowballed when a software flaw prevented Nasdaq's backup program from kicking in. This time, the affected system "successfully failed over," according to the company.

"Any piece of software, even if it's run for 100 percent for 10 years, there's still flaws in it," Nasdaq Chief Executive Officer Robert Greifeld said in an Aug. 29 interview with Bloomberg News. "Whatever you have, it's a question of what unique set of circumstances happen to reveal that."

The Aug. 22 flaw was revealed when NYSE Arca, one of the exchanges that sends price and trade data directly to the SIP, sent more than 20 "connect and disconnect sequences" and a stream of quotes for inaccurate stock symbols, according to a Nasdaq summary released Aug. 29. The amount of data "vastly exceeded" the capacity of the processor, Nasdaq said.

The SIP will manually block connection attempts the next time it's deluged with data, according to a separate statement today based on a review by the 15-member committee that oversees the feed. The group also plans to review today's issue.

Tape C

Top 5 Warren Buffett Companies To Own In Right Now

Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange, the venues where almost all U.S. companies go public, each operate SIPs that receive quotes and trades from around the country and disseminate them in three groups, known as tapes. NYSE operates Tapes A and B, and Nasdaq runs Tape C.

Today's disruption affected Tape C stocks with symbols from "PC" to "SPZ," Nasdaq said. The exchange operator's shares briefly erased gains following the issue, declining as much as 0.9 percent, before rising 0.7 percent to $30 as of 4 p.m. New York time.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White plans to meet Sept. 12 with the heads of exchanges and other self-regulatory organizations to discuss the Aug. 22 halt.

"As is our practice, we're in contact with them and monitoring developments," John Nester, an SEC spokesman, said regarding today's Nasdaq outage.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Top 10 Low Price Stocks To Buy For 2014

U.S. policymakers have dragged their feet on a�definitive�answer for liquefied natural gas, or LNG, exports for quite a while, and several countries are taking advantage of the delay. With over $150 billion at stake, companies in Australia, Canada, and Papua New Guinea have made a strong push to build out LNG export terminals to capture the lucrative Asia-Pacific market.

In this video, contributor Tyler Crowe explains how the concentration of possible LNG export�facilities along the U.S. Gulf Coast will not help the country capture this market, and how there are several companies that are betting on better success on other shores. Investors shouldn't completely fret, though, because many American companies are the ones setting up shop overseas.

The growing production of natural gas from hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling is flooding the North American market and resulting in record-low prices for natural gas. Enterprise Products Partners, with its superior integrated asset base, can profit from the massive bottlenecks in takeaway capacity by taking on large-scale projects. To help investors decide whether Enterprise Products Partners is a buy or a sell today, click here now to check out The Motley Fool's brand new premium research report on the company.

Top 10 Low Price Stocks To Buy For 2014: Gerdau SA (GGB)

Gerdau S.A. (Gerdau), incorporated on November 20, 1961, is a producer of long rolled steel. Gerdau operates steel mills that produce steel by direct iron-ore reduction (DRI) in blast furnaces and in electric arc furnaces (EAF). In Brazil, the Company operates four integrated steel mills, including its mill, Acominas mill, an integrated steel mill located in the state of Minas Gerais. It has a total of 60 steel producing units globally, including joint ventures and associate companies. The joint ventures include a unit located in the United States for the production of flat rolled steel and another unit in India. The associate companies are Aceros Corsa in Mexico; Corporacion Centroamericana del Acero in Guatemala, and Industrias Nacionales (INCA) in the Dominican Republic. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, the Company also engages in other activities related to the production and sale of steel products, including reforestation, electric power generation projects; coking coal, iron ore and pig iron production, as well as fab shops and downstream operations. On August 12, 2010, Gerdau acquired the remaining 49.1% interest in the Cleary Holdings Corp. On October 21, 2010, Gerdau, through its wholly owned subsidiary Gerdau Ameristeel acquired TAMCO Steel.

Gerdau offers a range of steel products, which are manufactured according to a variety of customer specifications. Its product mix includes crude steel (slabs, blooms and billets) sold to rolling mills, finished products for the construction industry, such as rods and structural bars, finished products for industry, such as commercial rolled steel bars and machine wire and products for farming and agriculture, such as poles, smooth wire and barbed wire. The Company also produces specialty steel products utilizing technology and normally with a certain degree of customization for the manufacture of tools and machinery, chains, locks and springs, for the automotive and mechanical industries. As of December 31, 2010, the Company operat! ed 19 steel production units in the United States and Canada through its principal entity, Gerdau Ameristeel Corporation. Gerdau operates in four business segments: Brazil (Brazil Business Operation), includes Brazil�� operations, except specialty steel; North America (North America Business Operation), includes all North American operations, except Mexico and specialty steel; Latin America (Latin America Business Operation), includes all Latin American operations, except for Brazil, and Specialty Steel (Specialty Steel Business Operation), includes the specialty steel operations in Brazil, Spain and the United States.

Crude Steel (Billets, Blooms and Slabs)

Crude steel products include billets, blooms and slabs. Billets are bars from square sections of long steel that serve as inputs for the production of wire rod, rebars and merchant bars. They are the main product of the Acominas mill. Blooms are used to manufacture products, such as springs, forged parts, heavy structural shapes and seamless tubes. Slabs are used in the steel industry for the rolling of a range of flat rolled products. Slabs are mainly used to produce hot and cold rolled coils, heavy slabs and profiles. Crude steel products are produced using either the continuous casting or conventional process.

Common Long Rolled Products

Common long rolled products represent a major portion of the Company�� production. The Company�� main long rolled products include rebars, merchant bars and profiles, which are used mainly by the construction and manufacturing industries.

Drawn Products

Drawn products include barbed and barbless fence wire, galvanized wire, fences, concrete reinforcing wire mesh, nails and clamps. These products are not exported and are sold to the manufacturing, construction and agricultural industries.

Specialty Steel Products

Gerdau produces specialty and stainless steel used in tools and machinery, chains, fasteners! , railroa! d spikes and special coil steel at its Acos Villares and Piratini units in Brazil, at Corporacion Sidenor units in Spain and at the MacSteel units in the United States. In the United States, Gerdau Ameristeel produces special sections, such as grader blades, smelter bars, light rails, super light I-beams, elevator guide rails and other products that are made on demand for the Company�� clients, which are mainly manufacturers. It is a joint venture with the Kalyani Group in India, in which Gerdau has a 73.2% interest in the joint venture.

Flat Products

Gerdau�� Acominas mill produces slabs, which are rolled into flat products, such as hot and cold steel coils, heavy plates and profiles. In addition, the Company�� distribution subsidiary, Comercial Gerdau, resells flat steel products manufactured by other Brazilian steel producers. Gerdau Ameristeel also supplies flat steel to its customers through its joint venture Gallatin located in Kentucky. Gallatin is a joint venture with ArcelorMittal, Canada, a flat steel producer, and has nominal installed capacity of 1.4 million tons of flat steel per year.

The Company competes with Commercial Metals Company, Nucor Corporation, Steel Dynamics Inc., ArcelorMittal Inc., ArcelorMittal Brasil, Usiminas Group and CSN.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Jeff Reeves]

    Gerdau (GGB) is one of the best ways to play this trend if you believe in a commodities shift. The Brazilian steel company trades for a forward P/E of about 5, and a price/sales of just a bit more than 0.7. That�� an incredible valuation.

Top 10 Low Price Stocks To Buy For 2014: Yelp Inc (YELP)

Yelp Inc., incorporated on September 03, 2004, connects people with great local businesses. Its users have contributed a total of approximately 36.0 million cumulative reviews of almost every type of local business, from restaurants, boutiques and salons to dentists, mechanics and plumbers. Its platform provides local businesses with a range of free and paid services, which help them to engage with consumers at moment when they are deciding where to spend their money. The Company generates revenue from local advertising, brand advertising and other services. As of December 31, 2012, the Company was active in 53 Yelp markets in the United States and 44 Yelp markets internationally. Effective July 18, 2013, Yelp Inc acquired SeatMe Inc, which is a developer of restaurant and nightlife categories reservation applications.

Local Business

The Company enables businesses to create a free online business account and claim the page for each of their business locations. Business representatives can verify their affiliation with the business through an automated telephone verification process, which requires that they be reachable at the phone number, which is publicly displayed for their business listing on its platform. With their free business accounts, businesses can view business trends, message customers, update information and offer Yelp Deals. Its listing solution eliminates search advertising from the businesses��profile pages and allows them to incorporate a video clip or photo slide show on the pages. It allows local businesses to promote themselves as a sponsored search result on its platform or on related business pages.

The Company�� Yelp Deals product allows local business owners to create promotional discounted deals for their products and services, which are marketed to consumers through its platform. Yelp Deals have a fee structure based solely on transaction volume with no upfront costs, and it earns a fee based on the discounted price of each deal so! ld. It processes all customer payments and remits to the business the revenue share of any Yelp Deal purchased. It offers both e-mail deals, which are focused on demand generation and deals on its platform that are focused on demand fulfillment where businesses can target intent-driven consumers who are specifically searching for a product or service on its platform.

The Company�� Gift Certificates product allows local business owners to sell full price gift certificates directly to customers through their business profile page. The business chooses the price points to offer, and the buyer may purchase a Gift Certificate in one of those amounts. The Company earns a fee based on the amount of the Gift Certificate sold. The Company processes all consumer payments and remit to the business the revenue share of any Gift Certificate purchased.

National/Brand Advertisers

The Company offers its advertising solution for national brands that want to improve their local presence. These solutions consist of search and display ads (both graphic and text) on its Website, which are typically sold to advertisers on a per-impression basis. Its national advertisers include brands in the automobile, financial services, logistics, consumer goods and health and fitness industries.

Transaction Partners

The Company�� partnership, through a written agreement, with OpenTable provides consumers the ability to reserve seats directly on the business listing pages of restaurants, which participate in OpenTable�� network. Its partnership, through a written agreement, with Orbitz allows consumers to book rooms directly on the business listing pages of hotels, which affiliate with Orbitz.

The Company competes with Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Benjamin Pimentel]

    Other social media stocks were up. Facebook (FB) �rose a fraction to close at $49.01, while LinkedIn (LNKD) �gained 4.3% to close at $231.06 and Yelp Inc. (YELP) � added 5.2% to close at $70.77.

  • [By Stone Fox Capital]

    In fact, that generation is leaving for Instagram, which Facebook has yet to monetize even though it has a user base of over 100M. That user base matches with the 102 MAUs that Yelp (YELP) reported and it already has a revenue base heading towards $200M.

Hot Tech Companies To Invest In 2014: CSG Systems International Inc.(CSGS)

CSG Systems International, Inc. provides business support solutions primarily to the communications industry. Its suite of solutions comprises Advanced Convergent Platform, a billing and customer care, and business optimization platform; Singleview suite, an integrated customer care, billing, and real-time rating and charging solution; Total Service Mediation (TSM) framework supports offline, and real-time mediation requirements, as well as service activation; and Wholesale Business Management (WBM) solution, a wholesale settlement and routing solution that handles various types of traffic consisting of voice, data, and content. The company?s solutions also include customer interaction management solutions that deliver interactive voice, SMS/text, print, email, Web, and fax messages on behalf of clients; analytics and intelligence services suite delivers an approach for enhancing the customer experience, increasing sales opportunities, and optimizing business; and Content Direct solutions, which enable content providers to manage subscriber preferences and offer digital content. It also licenses software products, such as WBM solution, TSM, and Singleview products; and offers professional services to implement these software products. The company also provides its services to financial services, healthcare, utilities, entertainment, and content distribution industries. It operates in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific. The company was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Englewood, Colorado.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Telecom industry services provider�CSG Systems (NASDAQ: CSGS  ) announced today�that it would initiate the payment of a quarterly dividend to investors, marking the first time in company history it has done so.

Top 10 Low Price Stocks To Buy For 2014: RealNetworks Inc.(RNWK)

RealNetworks, Inc. provides network-delivered digital media products and services to manage, play, and share digital media in the United States, Europe, and internationally. It develops and markets software products and services that enable the creation, distribution, and consumption of digital media, including audio and video. The company?s Core Products segment develops and provides software as a service (SaaS) services, including ring-back tone, music-on-demand, video-on-demand, and messaging services for mobile carriers; and e-commerce services, such as business intelligence, subscriber management, and billing for carrier customers. It also licenses Helix server software that allows companies and institutions to broadcast live and on-demand audio, video, and other multimedia programming to users over the Internet. In addition, this segment provides professional and systems integration services; and SuperPass, a subscription service, which provides consumers with acces s to a range of digital entertainment content. Its Emerging Products segment offers RealPlayer, a media player software, which include features and services that enable consumers to discover, play, download, manage, and edit digital video. The company?s Games segment is involved in developing, publishing, licensing, and distributing casual games, such as board, card, puzzle, word, and hidden-object games for PC?s, social networks, mobile handsets, and smartphones through digital download, online subscription play, third-party portals, social networks, and mobile devices. It distributes games principally in North America, Europe, and Latin America through the company?s own Websites, which are operated under the GameHouse, Zylom, and Atrativa brands, and through Websites owned or managed by third parties. RealNetworks, Inc. was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Carol Hymowitz]

    CEOs who aren�� comfortable around technology and digital trends will have difficulty setting strategy for the future, said Dawn Lepore, former CEO of and a director at AOL Inc., TJX Cos. (TJX) and RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK)

Top 10 Low Price Stocks To Buy For 2014: Jones Soda Co.(JSDA)

Jones Soda Co., together with its subsidiaries, develops, produces, markets, distributes, and licenses premium beverages primarily in the United States and Canada. The company provides Jones Soda, a carbonated soft drink; Jones Zilch, a zero calories product in black cherry, pomegranate, and vanilla bean flavors; WhoopAss Energy Drink, an energy supplement drink; and WhoopAss Zero Energy Drink, an energy supplement drink with zero sugar. It also offers various products, including soda with customized labels, wearables, candy, and other items online. The company sells and distributes its products through its network of independent distributors and national retail accounts. Jones Soda Co. was founded in 1986 and is based in Seattle, Washington.

Top 10 Low Price Stocks To Buy For 2014: CBS Corporation(CBS)

CBS Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a mass media company in the United States and internationally. The company?s Entertainment segment distributes a schedule of news and public affairs broadcasts, sports, and entertainment programming; produces, acquires, and distributes programming, including series, specials, news, and public affairs; produces and distributes theatrical motion pictures across various genres; and operates online content networks for information and entertainment. Its Cable Networks segment owns and operates multiplexed channels that offers subscription program services, including recently released theatrical feature films, original series, documentaries, boxing, mixed martial arts and other sports-related programming, and special events; and CBS College Sports Network, a 24-hour cable program service related to college sports. This segment also owns and manages Smithsonian Networks, which operates Smithsonian Channel, a basic cab le service in the United States. The company?s Publishing segment publishes and distributes adult and children?s consumer books in printed, audio, and digital formats. Its Local Broadcasting segment owns 29 broadcast television stations; owns and operates 130 radio stations in 28 U.S. markets and related online properties; and owns local Websites that combine television and radio local media brands online to provide the latest news, traffic, weather, and sports information, as well as local discounts, directories, and reviews. The company?s Outdoor segment sells advertising space on various media, including billboards, transit shelters and other street furniture, buses, rail systems, mall kiosks, stadium signage, and in retail stores. CBS Corporation was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in New York, New York.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Mass media giant�CBS� (NYSE: CBS  ) �announced yesterday�its second-quarter dividend of $0.12 per share, the same rate it paid the last three quarters, after raising the payout 20%, from $0.10 per share.

Top 10 Low Price Stocks To Buy For 2014: Caterpillar Inc.(CAT)

Caterpillar Inc. manufactures and sells construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives worldwide. It operates through three lines of businesses: Machinery, Engines, and Financial Products. The Machinery business offers construction, mining, and forestry machinery, including track and wheel tractors, track and wheel loaders, pipelayers, motor graders, wheel tractor-scrapers, track and wheel excavators, backhoe loaders, log skidders, log loaders, off-highway trucks, articulated trucks, paving products, skid steer loaders, underground mining equipment, tunnel boring equipment, and related parts. It also manufactures diesel-electric locomotives; and manufactures and services rail-related products and logistics services for other companies. The Engines business provides diesel, heavy fuel, and natural gas reciprocating engines for Caterpillar machinery, electric power generation systems, marine, petrol eum, construction, industrial, agricultural, and other applications. It offers industrial turbines and turbine-related services for oil and gas, and power generation applications. This business also remanufactures Caterpillar engines, machines, and engine components; and offers remanufacturing services for other companies. The Financial Products business provides retail and wholesale financing alternatives for Caterpillar machinery and engines, solar gas turbines, and other equipment and marine vessels, as well as offers loans and various forms of insurance to customers and dealers. It also offers financing for vehicles, power generation facilities, and marine vessels. The company markets its products directly, as well as through its distribution centers, dealers, and distributors. It was formerly known as Caterpillar Tractor Co. and changed its name to Caterpillar Inc. in 1986. Caterpillar Inc. was founded in 1925 and is headquartered in Peoria, Illinois.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Laura Brodbeck]

    Earnings reports expected on Wednesday include:

    Caterpillar, Inc. (NYSE: CAT) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $1.70 on revenue of $14.40 billion, compared to last year�� EPS 0f $2.54 on revenue of $16.44 billion. Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) is expected to report EPS of $1.54 on revenue of $21.65 billion, compared to last year�� EPS 0f $1.35 on revenue of $20.01 billion. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $0.44 on revenue of $4.02 billion, compared to last year�� EPS 0f $0.41 on revenue of $3.74 billion. Motorola, Inc (NYSE: MSI) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $1.02 on revenue of $2.13 billion, compared to last year�� EPS 0f $0.84 on revenue of $2.15 billion. The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated (NASDAQ: CAKE) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $0.52 on revenue of $469.16 million, compared to last year�� EPS of $0.49 on revenue of $453.82 million.


Top 10 Low Price Stocks To Buy For 2014: VCA Antech Inc (VCA)

VCA Antech, Inc., incorporated on May 4, 1987, is a national animal healthcare company operating in the United States and Canada. The Company provides veterinary services and diagnostic testing to support veterinary cares. The Company operates in two segments: animal hospital and laboratory. Its all other category includes Vetstreet and Medical Technology operating segments. The Company sells diagnostic imaging equipment and other medical technology products and related services to the veterinary markets. The Company's animal hospitals offer a range of general medical and surgical services for companion animals, as well as specialized treatments, including advanced diagnostic services, internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology and cardiology. On January 31, 2012, it expanded its operations into Canada with an increased investment in Associate Veterinary Clinics (1984) Limited (AVC), which operates 44 hospitals in three Canadian provinces. On February 1, 2012, it acquired ThinkPet's, Inc. (ThinkPets). In 2012, it acquired 79 animal hospitals, including 44 with the acquisition of AVC, one laboratory and ThinkPets.

The Company provides various communication, marketing solutions and other services to the veterinary community. The Company's network of animal hospitals is supported by more than 3,000 veterinarians and had approximately 7.4 million patient visits during the year ended December 31, 2012. The Company's network of veterinary diagnostic laboratories provides testing and consulting services used by veterinarians in the detection, diagnosis, evaluation, monitoring, treatment and prevention of diseases and other conditions affecting animals. The Company's network of veterinary diagnostic laboratories provides diagnostic testing for over 16,000 clients, which includes standard animal hospitals, large animal practices, universities and other government organizations. The Company's medical technology business sells digital radiography and ultrasound imaging equipment, provid! es education and training on the use of that equipment, and provides consulting and mobile imaging services.

The Company's Vetstreet business provides services to veterinary practices, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the pet owning community. The Company's services to veterinary practices include subscriptions to the Company's Pro Pet Portals. The Pro Pet Portal provides an online platform for the veterinarian to offer secure individualized portals for pet owners, as well as practice Websites that are branded to the individual veterinary clinic. The Company also sells appointment reminder notices that are sent to pet owners on behalf of their clinics. The Company's services to manufacturers involve targeted marketing programs to animal hospitals whom are subscribers to the Company's Pro Pet Portal.

Animal Hospital

As of December 31, 2012, the Company operated 609 animal hospitals serving 41 states and three Canadian provinces. The Company's Animal Hospital revenue accounted for 78% of total revenue in 2012. In addition to general medical and surgical services, the Company offers specialized treatments for companion animals, including advanced diagnostic services, internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology and cardiology. The Company also provides pharmaceutical products for uses in the delivery of treatments by its veterinarians and pet owners. Many of the Company's animal hospitals offer additional services, including grooming, bathing and boarding. The Company also sells specialty pet products at its animal hospitals, including pet food, vitamins, therapeutic shampoos and conditioners, flea collars and sprays, and other accessory products.


The Company operates a veterinary diagnostic laboratory network serving all 50 states and certain areas in Canada. The Company's Laboratory revenue accounted for 16% of total revenue in 2012. The Company service a diverse customer base of over 16,000 clients, including animal! hospital! s the Company operates, which accounted for 16% of total laboratory revenue in 2012. The Company's diagnostic spectrum includes over 300 different tests in the area of chemistry, pathology, endocrinology, serology, hematology and microbiology, as well as tests specific to particular diseases. As of December 31, 2012, the Company operated 55 veterinary diagnostic laboratories. The Company's laboratory network includes primary hubs that are open 24 hours per day and offer a testing menu, secondary laboratories that are open 24 hours per day and offer a testing menu servicing large metropolitan areas, and short-term assessment and treatment (STAT) laboratories that service other locations with demand sufficient to warrant nearby laboratory facilities and are open primarily during daytime hours. In 2012, the Company derived approximately 85% of its laboratory revenue from metropolitan areas, where the Company offers twice-a-day pick-up service and same-day results. In addition, in these areas the Company generally offers to report results within three hours of pick-up. Outside of these areas, the Company typically provides test results to veterinarians before 8:00 a.m. the day following pick-up.

The Company competes with IDEXX Laboratories, Demand Force, and ePet Health.

Top 10 Low Price Stocks To Buy For 2014: RUUKKI GROUP OYJ NPV(RKKI.L)

Ruukki Group Plc operates as a natural resources company with mining and minerals business in southern Europe and southern Africa. It engages in the production and sale of ferrochrome and other metal alloys that are used as raw material in the steel industry. The company also involves in mining, beneficiation, smelting, and processing chrome ore and concentrate, silico manganese, and chromium-iron-nickel alloys in Turkey, Malta, Germany, and South Africa. Ruukki Group Plc was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland.

Top 10 Low Price Stocks To Buy For 2014: Semgroup Corporation(SEMG)

SemGroup Corporation provides gathering, transportation, storage, distribution, blending, marketing, and other midstream services primarily to independent producers, refiners of petroleum products, and other market participants in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States, Canada, and the West Coast of the United Kingdom. It also purchases, stores, and sells natural gas liquids in the United States; provides natural gas gathering and processing services in Canada and the United States; offers refined products and crude oil storage services in the United Kingdom; and purchases, produces, stores, and distributes liquid asphalt cement products in Mexico. The company owns, contracts, and leases various pipelines, gathering systems, storage facilities, terminals, processing plants, blending facilities, and other distribution assets. It operates approximately 1,400 miles of natural gas transportation, gathering, and distribution pipelines in Kansas, Oklahoma, T exas and Alberta, Canada. The company was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Holly LaFon]

    In early August SemGroup (SEMG), an owner and operator of oil and gas midstream assets, including pipelines and storage and blending facilities, closed on an opportunistic purchase of assets from Chesapeake Energy. The assets nicely complement SemGroup's existing core assets that stretch from Colorado to Oklahoma. While SemGroup will have to spend money to complete the assets��oney that financially distressed Chesapeake likely could not justify��e view the expenditures favorably given their high return characteristics.From Third Avenue Management's fourth quarter 2013 commentary.

  • [By Aimee Duffy]

    At this point, it's not really news when Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK  ) reports that it's selling assets to anyone who will buy them. The company's quest to scrape together $4 billion to $7 billion to cover its budget shortfall this year has it in the news seemingly every other week. In this video, contributor Aimee Duffy discusses Chesapeake's most recent divestiture, and why the real winner in this $300 million deal is the buyer: Tulsa's SemGroup (NYSE: SEMG  ) .

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Understanding your true net worth!

5 Best Penny Stocks To Own Right Now

An accurate understanding of one's financial well being is of utmost importance at every stage of life. So, whether you are a student, fresher into the job market or a veteran - assessment of personal financial health is important in order to make good financial decisions. For example, even if are purchasing a car, purchasing a home, taking a student loan, liquidating an investment or making a risky investment  - all these decisions can be made only if you know your financial status well.

An individual's financial health is computed by means of his personal net worth. In simple terms, personal net worth is the net asset value of an individual. Personal net worth is calculated as follows:

[Total Assets] less [Total Liabilities]

One must assess his / her net personal worth on a regular basis. This is because corrective measures can be taken in time if the net personal worth starts declining. It is much easier to recover at early stages than once you find yourself in deep financial crisis. Your net personal worth will also give you an idea about how financial institutions perceive you as a borrower.  For example, Deepak, an IT consultant with a software company wants to purchase a car. He has set his eyes on the Toyota Corolla. The car dealer informs him that the on road price of the car will come to Rs.11.25 L.  If he takes a car loan, he will have to pay a monthly EMI of Rs. 15,000 towards repayment of the car loan and pay an amount of Rs. 1.0 L as down payment. Deepak's monthly salary is Rs.0.9L and the EMI as well as the down payment seems easily affordable. However, Deepak should assess whether he can afford to buy this car at present by considering all his liabilities and assets. His personal net worth should give him a fair idea of his current financial status and whether he can afford to buy the car.

Computation of Deepak's personal net worth


Rupees in '000

Current Market Value of his apartment


Market Value of his TVS Scooty (two - wheeler)


Value of Fixed Deposits


Market Value of shares held by him


Market Value of Mutual Funds owned by him


Market Value of Jewellery


Value of NSCs


Amount in PPF


Cash in bank and in hand


Total Assets (A)






Outstanding home loan


Outstanding loan on TVS Scooty


Outstanding student loan


Outstanding credit card bills


Total Liabilities (B)




Personal Net worth (A-B)























Assuming that Deepak's monthly outflow towards EMIs of outstanding loans is Rs. 35,000/- and looking at his personal net worth, a corolla is a viable option. This is because he has a positive net worth of Rs.18.73 L. Further he is able to make payments of EMIs with ease considering his current income and should also be able to pay the EMI on the new car loan.

Note that knowledge of current personal net worth is essential to make financial decisions. It is important to reevaluate personal net worth while making any important financial decision as the value of assets and liabilities is likely to change. Also, net worth should not be considered in isolation. It is a good idea to consider factors like current and future income levels, future liabilities etc. For example, if Deepak has to bear the expenses of his sister's wedding which costs him approximately Rs. 9 L and he has to sell off some of his investment to meet the wedding expenses, his personal net worth will look different. Further, if the market value of assets declines, his personal net worth will also take a hit. Let us take a look:

Deepak's Personal Net worth if he has to bear his sister's wedding expenses and if the economy takes a down turn:


Rupees in '000

Current Market Value of his apartment


Market Value of his TVS Scooty (two - wheeler)


Value of Fixed Deposits


Market Value of shares held by him


Market Value of Mutual Funds owned by him


Market Value of Jewellery


Value of NSCs


Amount in PPF


Cash in bank and in hand


Total Assets (A)






Outstanding home loan


Outstanding loan on TVS Scooty


Outstanding student loan


Outstanding credit card bills


Total Liabilities (B)




Personal Net worth (A-B)























Clearly, in the above situation, Deepak should not purchase a car at present and should concentrate on improving his personal net worth.

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