Tag Archives: Standard Poor

Home Prices Take Biggest Jump Since 2006

By Kate Seamons

US home prices jumped 12.2% in May compared with a year ago, per the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of property values; that’s the biggest yearly gain since March 2006, reports the AP . The highlights didn’t stop there: Bloomberg reports that each of the 20 cities in the index showed… …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Newser – Home

Stock Futures Point Higher Ahead of Numerous Earnings Reports

By IBTimes

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Richard Drew/AP

By Sreeja VN

U.S. stock futures point to a higher open Wednesday, ahead of the publication of new home sales data and quarterly earnings statements from major American companies, including Facebook, Ford, PepsiCo, Qualcomm, Visa and Boeing.

Futures on the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) were up 0.2 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) were up 0.3 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.9 percent.

Investors are expected to focus on new home sales data for June, to be released by the Commerce Department, at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Analysts expect new home sales — the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month — may probably increase to 485,000 in June from 476,000 in the previous month.

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New home sales had recorded a better-than-expected gain in May, helped by a pick-up in demand, while existing home sales data for June, which was released Monday, showed a decline. Analysts attributed the fall to a recent hike in mortgage interest rates and believe new home sales could still increase in June.

“With the NAHB current sales index still rising strongly, we have penciled in an increase in new sales from 476,000 in May to 485,000,” Paul Diggle, an economist with Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.

On the earnings front, a number of major companies, including Caterpillar (CAT), Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY), EMC Corp. (EMC), US Airways Group, (LCC), Ford (F), PepsiCo (PEP) and Boeing (BA), will announce quarterly earnings before market hours. Visa (V), Western Digital (WDC), Qualcomm (QCOM) and Facebook (FB) are to announce their earnings after markets close Wednesday.

Markit Economics’ flash Purchasing Managers’ Index, or PMI, for the manufacturing sector in the month of July, is scheduled to be released at 9 a.m. Eastern time. The index, which measures the activity level of purchasing managers in the manufacturing sector, is expected to show a reading of 52.5 in July, up from the 51.9 recorded in June. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

European markets were trading higher Wednesday, as investor sentiments were buoyed after flash PMIs for the euro zone’s manufacturing and services sectors beat expectations. The 17-nation eurozone’s manufacturing PMI for July came in at 50.1 compared to 48.8 in the previous month. The services PMI registered a reading of 49.6 compared to 48.3 in June.

Germany’s manufacturing PMI came in at 50.3 in July, up from 48.6 in June while the nation’s services PMI was at 52.5 in July, up from 50.4 in June. Meanwhile, in neighboring France, while the …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Stock Futures Point to a Higher Open on Wall Street

By IBTimes

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Richard Drew/AP

By Sreeja VN

U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open on Wall Street on Tuesday, ahead of the publication of the House Price Index and corporate earnings statements from tech majors Apple, AT&T and Electronic Arts.

Futures on the Dow Jones industrial average(^DJI) were up 0.3 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) were up 0.1 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 index were up 0.3 percent.

Investors will also be turning their attention to the publication of the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index at 9 a.m. Eastern time. The index provides the monthly average change in house prices across the country or a certain area, using data provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The index is expected to nudge up to 0.8 percent in May, from 0.7 percent recorded in the previous month.

In addition, a number of major companies, including United Parcel Service (UPS), Altria Group (MO), Lockheed Martin (LMT), MGIC Investment (MTG), Wendy’s (WEN) will announce quarterly earnings before market hours. Altera (ALTR) and Broadcom (BRCM), along with Apple (AAPL), AT&T (T) and Electronic Arts (EA), will announce their earnings after markets close.

European markets were trading flat after climbing higher earlier Tuesday, as Asian markets rallied following recent reports from China indicating Beijing might take measures to support the country’s economic growth, and the Japanese government upgraded its outlook of the country’s economy for a third consecutive month.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.1 percent, London’s FTSE 100 was flat, Germany’s DAX-30 was up 0.1 percent and France’s CAC-40 was trading up 0.05 percent.

In Asia, Chinese stocks led a rally in the region’s markets, with the Shanghai Composite index surging 2 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index soared 2.3 percent. Shares jumped after several local media reported that Premier Li Keqiang, at a cabinet meeting last week, gave an assurance that the government won’t allow China’s economic growth to fall below 7 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei ended up 0.8 percent after the government said that the recovery in the world’s third-largest economy had turned self-sustaining, MarketWatch reported. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index rallied 1.3 percent, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent and India’s BSE Sensex was trading up 0.8 percent in late-afternoon trade.


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Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Wall Street Beat: Software a bright spot as tech results bring gloom

Though software sales provided a ray of light in otherwise mixed results this week, gloom settled over the tech sector Friday in the wake of bellwether IT quarterly earnings reports.

The broad Standard & Poor’s 500 Index managed to close Friday at a record high of 1,692.09, but the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 23.66 points to 3,587.61, and the Dow Jones industrial average declined 4.65 points to 15,543.89. Of the five tech stocks on the Dow, only Intel traded up slightly, while Microsoft, IBM, Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard were down.

“Overall I’d say the earnings confirmed some common themes — software is going to do better than hardware and services,” said Forrester chief economist Andrew Bartels.

In Forrester’s latest forecast for the global tech market, issued last week, Bartels lowered expectations for spending on IT goods and services to 2.3 percent growth measured in U.S. dollars, from the January estimate of 3.3 percent. Calculated in local currencies, the forecast looks better, at a 4.6 percent increase, but recession in Europe and slower growth in China is putting a damper on tech purchases by any measure.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at PCWorld

Top EU diplomat heads to Egypt for talks with new regime

The European Union’s top diplomat was heading for Cairo Wednesday, a day after an interim government was sworn in to replace Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, toppled by the military two weeks ago.

Announcing the surprise visit, the office of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said her visit was to press the case for a swift return to democratic rule.

“I am going to Egypt to reinforce our message that there must be a fully inclusive political process, taking in all groups which support democracy,” Ashton said.

Both the Muslim Brotherhood, the influential movement from which Morsi hails, and the ultra-conservative Al-Nur party refused to take part in the new administration.

Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad immediately rejected the 35-member cabinet that was sworn in on Tuesday.

“We don’t recognise its legitimacy or its authority,” he told AFP.

The government is headed by liberal economist Hazem al-Beblawi.

Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general behind the popularly backed coup that overthrew Morsi, becomes first deputy prime minister and minister of defence.

Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony took place just hours after deadly clashes between the security forces and Morsi’s supporters in Cairo and nearby Giza.

Officials said seven people were killed and 261 wounded in the clashes. Hundreds of protesters were also arrested.

On Monday, US envoy Bill Burns — the most senior American official to visit since the July 3 coup — had appealed for an end to the violence rocking the Arab world’s most populous nation.

Within hours however, thousands of Morsi supporters were on the streets of the capital protesting at the president’s overthrow and his detention by the military.

Hundreds of them battled the security forces and two people died in clashes around the central Ramses area near Tahrir Square, while another five were killed in Giza, emergency services told AFP.

A security source cited by state media said 401 protesters were arrested in the Ramses area alone, and at least 17 security personnel were injured.

This was the first major violence in the capital since dozens of Morsi supporters were shot dead outside an elite army barracks early last week.

The United States condemned the violence. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said it made the transition “much more difficult,” but he insisted Washington was not taking sides.

Washington has refrained from saying Morsi was the victim of a coup, which would legally require a freeze on some $1.5 billion in US military and economic assistance to Cairo.

These latest deaths bring to more than 100 the number of people killed in the unrest since the coup, according to an AFP tally.

The caretaker government unveiled on Tuesday included three women ministers and three Coptic Christians.

Analyst Samer Shehata said Egypt’s budget deficit, reforming the interior ministry, establishing the rule of law and restoring security in the Sinai peninsula were among the pressing issues for the new government.

“How to deal with the protesters on the street at the moment is another very serious issue,” he added.

Standard & Poor’s ratings agency said Tuesday it would keep its credit rating for Egypt unchanged after Gulf states pledged billions to …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Fitch downgrades European rescue loan fund

Fitch Ratings has cut its credit grade for the European fund that provides rescue loans to Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

The agency says it lowered the rating for the European Financial Stability Facility — or EFSF — by one notch from AAA to AA+ as a result of its downgrade of France last week. The EFSF’s creditworthiness depends on that of the countries that provide its financing, which includes France.

Monday’s downgrade of the EFSF means the fund could have to pay higher interest rates to raise money. Fitch’s rivals Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have already downgraded it.

The EFSF has been taken over by a new, permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism. However, it still manages the rescue loans to Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

…read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Hike in Payroll Taxes Hasn't Halted U.S. Consumer Spending

By The Associated Press

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON — This year got off to a sour start for U.S. workers: Their pay, already gasping to keep pace with inflation, was suddenly shrunk by a Social Security tax increase.

Which raised a worrisome question: Would consumers stop spending and further slow the economy? Nope. Not yet, anyway.

On Friday, the government said consumers spent 3.2 percent more on an annual basis in the January-March quarter than in the previous quarter — the biggest jump in two years. It highlighted a broader improvement in Americans’ financial health that is blunting the impact of the tax increase and raising hopes for more sustainable growth.

Consumers have shed debt. Gasoline has gotten cheaper. Rising home values and record stock prices have restored household wealth to its pre-recession high. And employers are steadily adding jobs, which means more people have money to spend.

“No one should write off the consumer simply because of the 2 percentage-point increase in payroll taxes,” says Bernard Baumohl, chief economist at the Economic Outlook Group. “Overall household finances are in the best shape in more than five years.”

Certainly, spending weakened toward the end of the January-March quarter. Spending at retailers fell in March by 0.4 percent, the worst showing in nine months. And more spending on utilities accounted for up to one-fourth of the increase in consumer spending in the January-March quarter, according to JPMorgan Chase (JPM) economist Michael Feroli, because of colder weather.

Higher spending on utilities isn’t a barometer of consumer confidence the way spending on household goods, such as new appliances or furniture, would be.

Americans also saved less in the first quarter, lowering the savings rate to 2.6 percent from 3.9 percent in 2012. Economists say that was likely a temporary response to the higher Social Security tax, and most expect the savings rate to rise back to last year’s level. That could limit spending.

But several longer-term trends are likely to push in the other direction, economists say, and help sustain consumer spending. Among those trends:

Wealth Is Up

Home prices rose more than 10 percent in the 12 months that ended in February. And both the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) and Standard & Poor’s 500 (GSPC) stock indexes reached record highs in the first quarter. As a result, Americans have recovered the $16 trillion in wealth that was wiped out by the Great Recession. Economists estimate that each dollar of additional wealth adds roughly 3 cents to spending. That means last year’s $5.5 trillion run-up in wealth could spur about $165 billion in additional consumer spending this year. That’s much more than the $120 billion cost of the higher Social Security taxes.

Debt Is Down

Household debt now equals 102

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

The Trouble With Earnings: Good Profits, Bad Revenues

By The Associated Press

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By MATTHEW CRAFT

Procter & Gamble had been on a tear.

The company’s stock had climbed 22 percent since the start of the year as the maker of Tide detergent and Crest toothpaste turned in better profits for two quarters in a row. Last Thursday, P&G reported even higher earnings. And its stock immediately dropped 6 percent.

What happened? Like so many other big companies reporting results recently, P&G hit its target for earnings but missed on revenue. Nearly halfway through the first-quarter earnings season, Corporate America is still reporting solid profits, with seven of every ten big companies hurdling over Wall Street‘s expectations. Sales, however, are another story.

Nearly the same proportion of big companies – six out of ten – have fallen short of revenue targets, according to S&P Capital IQ. The tally so far looks grim: Revenue has shrunk 2.4 percent compared with last year.

“The norm is becoming, beat your earnings, but miss on revenue,” says Scott Freeze, president of Street One Financial.

Two problems persist: Europe‘s ongoing recession and slower economic growth in China. Because nearly half of revenue for Standard & Poor’s 500 companies comes from abroad, it would seem logical to think the problem is just overseas. But many companies with a U.S. focus have also reported disappointing revenue.

Freeze says that revenue presents a more accurate picture of Corporate America‘s health. “You can play with the earnings numbers and have them skewed,” he says. “But you can’t mess with the revenue numbers – they are what they are. If people are not coming in droves to buy your products, your revenue’s going to miss even if your earnings beat.”

Aside from Apple’s falling profit and some other high-profile flops, the headline numbers for first-quarter earnings appear solid. So far, 271 companies in the S&P 500 have said earnings are up 5 percent over the year before. And 189 of them have cleared Wall Street‘s estimates.

Investors say that’s no surprise. They believe companies set the bar so low that it’s easy to jump over it. The 3.6 percent earnings growth analysts expect to see after all the results are tallied works out to $26.36. That’s just $1 more than the same period last year.

As one company after another turned in weak revenue results last week, analysts, investors and economists started raising concerns about the prospect for future profits.

Some of the biggest names in Corporate America have disappointed, including Google, JP Morgan Chase and IBM, which posted its first drop in revenue in three years. In the past week, AT&T, Xerox and Safeway joined their ranks.

Of the 22 corporate giants in the Dow Jones industrial average that have reported results, 15 have missed their revenue targets, according to the data provider FactSet.

If the trend continues, experts see a number of consequences:

– Earnings estimates for the coming

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

How Almost Always Being Wrong Has Changed the Wall Street Analyst

By Morgan Housel, The Motley Fool

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In hindsight, everyone saw the financial crisis coming. The crazy lending, the high leverage, the soaring home prices. It all made so much sense.

In reality, few did. Some saw troubles, or imbalances. But very, very few truly foresaw the magnitude of what would occur in 2008.

And the surprise of 2008 wasn’t … a surprise. Wall Street analysts and economists have missed nearly every significant market turning point for as long as anyone can remember. In an interview two years ago, Yale economist Robert Shiller told me:

In particular, if you look at the Great Depression of the 1930s, nobody forecasted that. Zero. Nobody. Now there were, of course, some guys who were saying the stock market is overpriced and it would come down, but if you look at what they said, did that mean a depression is coming? A decade-long depression? That was never said.

I have asked economic historians, give me a name of someone who predicted the depression, and it comes up zero.

The proof of how bad we are can be just sad. Economists Ron Alquist and Lutz Kilian once looked at all the fancy math models and forecasts analysts use to predict the price of oil one month, one quarter, and one year out. They found that simply assuming that whatever the price of oil is today is what it will be in the future is one of the best predictive strategies. Is it a good strategy? No. But it was better than most forecasting techniques highly paid analysts and consultants use.

In another study, Dresdner Kleinwort looked at Wall Street‘s predictions of interest rates over a 15-year period and compared them with what interest rates actually did in, with the advantage of hindsight. It found an almost perfect lag. If interest rates fell, Wall Street would wait six months and then predict that interest rates were about to fall. When interest rates rose, Wall Street would wait six months and then declare that interest rates were about to rise.

“Analysts are terribly good at telling us what has just happened but of little use in telling us what is going to happen in the future,” the report concluded.

From 2003 to 2007, Standard & Poor’s predicted that 0.12% of a certain type of mortgage bond would default. In reality, 28% did.

In 2008, analysts predicted the S&P 500 would earn $94 per share. In reality, it earned $15 per share.

In 2008, oil giant Gazprom’s CEO predicted that oil would soon hit $250 a barrel. Instead, it soon hit $33.

For more fails, see here and here and here and here.

We live in a world engulfed by predictions and forecasts. Yet very few ever stop to ask the pertinent question, “What is the evidence that we’re any good at it?”

Those who have looked at it invariably come to the same answer: There is none. But we still lap predictions up, putting our faith in them to

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Moody's, S&P settle lawsuits over debt ratings

Ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and investment bank Morgan Stanley have settled two lawsuits dating back to the financial crisis that accused them of hiding risky investments.

The lawsuits from King County in Washington state and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank claimed that the ratings agencies and Morgan Stanley hid the risk of investing in a fund that purchased bonds backed by subprime mortgages.

Judge Shira Scheindlin dismissed the lawsuits on Friday, in federal court in New York, with prejudice, which means they can’t be filed again.

Spokesmen for the McGraw-Hill Cos., which owns S&P, Moody’s Corp. and Morgan Stanley confirmed the settlements but did not disclose terms.

McGraw-Hill spokesman Jason Feuchtwanger said the cases were settled without any admission of liability or wrongdoing.

Ratings agencies came under intense scrutiny following the 2008 financial crisis for giving top-notch ratings to investments backed by subprime mortgages. As defaults and losses mounted in the housing market, especially among subprime loans, the value of bonds backed by the bad debt plummeted.

As the mortgage market collapsed, the ratings agencies sharply lowered their ratings on the investments.

With the value of such investments declining, funds that purchased the bonds filed for bankruptcy. King County and Abu Dhabi sued the ratings agencies and Morgan Stanley claiming the banks misled them about the safety of some investments that were part of a structured investment vehicle.

A structured investment vehicle is a fund that borrows money by issuing short-term securities at a low interest rate and then lends that money by purchasing long-term securities at higher interest. That process can make a profit for its investors from the difference.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox US News

South African Miners No Longer Willing to Pay to Play

By Rich Duprey, The Motley Fool

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Considering the work stoppages and violent clashes that have become the norm at South African precious-metals mines, perhaps the miners were wondering exactly what they were getting for their money. An expose by South Africa‘s Daily Maverick has uncovered a system where miners such as AngloGold Ashanti and BHP Billiton surreptitiously paid for the salaries of the heads of the local mining unions to keep the mine workers in line, and it’s only because the miners sought to end the “uncomfortable arrangement” with the unions that the matter came to light.

Mining in mineral-rich South Africa has been contentious for years, but in recent months, clashes have become particularly violent, with a strike last August at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine leaving 44 people dead and bringing the crisis to the forefront.

Much of the violence is said to be a result of the unions’ competition to represent the workers as the new Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union seeks to unseat the powerful National Union of Mineworkers, which is closely tied to the African National Congress political party. AngloGold Ashanti paid the salary of NUM‘s president, while BHP paid the salary of the deputy president. The Lonmin clash was in part a result of workers who no longer wanted to be represented by NUM, as they saw a conflict of interest between the union representatives and the miners.

Mining operations have long been subject to the vagaries of strikes and violence in South Africa. Harmony Gold suspended its operations at Kusasalethu because of security concerns, Gold Fields lost 35,000 ounces of production and had its credit rating reduced by Standard & Poor’s because of labor unrest (and reduced its full-year production forecast by 200,000 ounces), and Xstrata has had to halt activity several times as a result of union violence.

From Barrick Gold to Kinross Gold, miners have been looking to exit from their South African holdings — partially as a result to bring costs under control as commodity prices have plunged, but also as a means of insulating themselves from the vagaries of the country’s labor problems.

The Daily Maverick indicated that jealousy over the payouts may have been a contributing factor to the violence, as unions on the outs wanted in on the lucrative stipends the others were receiving. Since the payments were said to be originally enacted to create a more harmonious relationship with the unions, the escalating level of clashes may have left the miners wondering what they were getting for their money.

It was a relationship that was bound to be problematic considering the inherent conflicts of interest, and ending the system may help to ameliorate, even if it doesn’t eliminate, the violent and bloody protests of labor unions.

Looking for more commodities-based ideas? Download the free report “The Tiny Gold Stock Digging Up Massive Profits.” The Motley Fool’s analysts have uncovered a little-known gold miner they believe is poised for greatness; find out which

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Oil prices slips but remains above $88

The price of oil was down slightly Wednesday as some stability returned to commodities markets after wild swings.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was down 7 cents to $88.65 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 1 cent to settle at $88.72 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.

Crude was down almost 3 percent Monday, part of a broad sell-off in commodities that included gold recording its biggest one-day drop in 30 years. Gold and industrial metals fell hard after China reported that economic growth slowed unexpectedly in the first three months of the year. The world’s second-largest economy grew by 7.7 percent over a year earlier, slower than many forecasts.

Separately, the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday said it was lowering its outlook for world economic growth this year to 3.3 percent, down from its forecast in January of 3.5 percent. It expects U.S. economic growth of 1.9 percent this year, down from its January estimate of 2.1 percent. It expects that the combined economy of the 17 euro countries will shrink 0.3 percent in 2013.

Lorraine Tan, director at Standard & Poor’s equity research in Singapore, said that a “pretty sluggish” global economic recovery, increasing energy production in the U.S. and slightly slower growth in China are putting pressure on oil prices.

“The drivers for oil prices to go higher aren’t really there,” she said.

Brent crude, which is used to price oil used by many U.S. refiners to make gasoline, rose 28 cents to $100.19 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 1.3 cents to $2.787 a gallon.

— Heating oil rose 0.3 cent to $2.809 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 2.3 cents to $4.183 per 1,000 cubic feet.

From: http://feeds.foxnews.com/~r/foxnews/world/~3/WDq7Ey3asXw/

Why Aren't These 4 Stock Giants in the S&amp;P 500?

By Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool

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The S&P 500 Index includes 500 of the biggest companies in the U.S. market. But for various reasons, some large companies have gotten left out of the benchmark index. Let’s look at four of the largest ones and try to figure out whether Standard & Poor’s will remedy their omission in the near future.

Facebook
With a market capitalization of more than $65 billion, Facebook erupted onto the public markets last year to great fanfare and even greater disappointment. Yet despite the social-media giant’s woes, the company has been slowly getting itself onto some major market benchmarks, most notably the Nasdaq 100 index.

For Facebook to get into the S&P, current standards require that the company be “seasoned for six to 12 months.” With the company coming up on its one-year IPO anniversary, Facebook should expect to be in investors’ index portfolios in the very near future.

Las Vegas Sands
As a worldwide casino gaming giant, Las Vegas Sands has a $46 billion market cap, which would easily be enough to put it into the top 100 companies, let alone the top 500. But during the 2008 market meltdown, the stock traded as low as $1.38 per share, bringing its market cap down to small-cap territory.

Another key reason Las Vegas Sands hasn’t regained admittance to the S&P 500 probably has to do with CEO Sheldon Adelson’s substantial insider stake in the company. S&P prefers that companies have ample shares constituting the public float in order to meet index-fund demand, and with less than half of its outstanding shares actually available for trade, Las Vegas Sands may get left off the benchmark index for a while unless Adelson decides to divest himself of his big holdings.

General Motors
GM‘s bankruptcy in 2009 resulted in a huge reorganization that included having the U.S. Treasury hold a substantial stake in the automaker’s new stock. Although the Treasury has made some sales of stock, it still owns nearly $8 billion in GM — not quite a fifth of the automaker’s overall market cap. Other parties to the bankruptcy proceeding, including auto unions, also hold big share positions.

The result is that of GM‘s outstanding shares, barely 40% are available to investors. Until the Treasury and other parties sell off more of their positions, GM is unlikely to gain admittance to the S&P 500.

VMware
Cloud-computing giant VMware is an example of how corporate structures can give individual-stock investors opportunities that index funds lack. As a roughly 80%-owned subsidiary of EMC, VMware lacks a substantial float, which makes it unlikely that the stock will ever get into the S&P as long as EMC retains its stake.

Keep your eyes on Facebook
Of these four stocks, Facebook is the most likely to find itself part of the S&P in the near future. As lockup expirations have increased its float, its high market cap and importance in

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/14/why-arent-these-4-stock-giants-in-the-sp/

Stocks Rise for Fourth Day in a Row, Led by Retail

By The Associated Press

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By MATTHEW CRAFT

NEW YORK (AP) – Rite Aid (RAD), Ross Stores (ROST) and other retailers surged Thursday after turning in better sales, and major stock market indexes rose for a fourth day straight.

The discount chain Ross Stores jumped 6 percent, the best gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. The company said stronger sales in March will likely push profits above its previous estimate this quarter. The stock jumped $3.56 to $63.80.

A surprising drop in claims for unemployment benefits last week gave investors more encouragement. Analysts said it could mean a slowdown in hiring last month may have been temporary.

“The numbers today make it seem like that March report was an anomaly,” said David Heidl, a regional investment manager at U.S. Bank’s wealth management unit. “It’s another reason for optimism.”

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 62.90 points to close at 14,865.14, an increase of 0.4 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 5.64 points, also 0.4 percent, to 1,593.37.

Rite Aid soared 18 percent to $2.12 after the drugstore chain said higher sales of generic drugs and lower costs helped it post better earnings than analysts had expected.

Makers of computer hardware and software sank following a report that first-quarter shipments of PCs dropped 14 percent worldwide over the past year. That’s the steepest fall since International Data Corp. started tracking the industry in 1994.

“The IDC report is much worse than anyone expected,” said David Brown, director of Sabrient Systems, an investment research firm. “That’s obviously shaking up the tech sector, but everything else is resuming the climb.”

The three companies in the Dow that deal in PCs held the index back. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) dropped 6 percent to $20.88, Microsoft (MSFT) lost 4 percent to $28.93 and Intel fell 2 percent to $21.82. Without them, the Dow would have gained 25 more points.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 2.90 points to 3,300.16. That’s just 0.09 percent, far behind the Dow and S&P 500. Of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500, information technology was the only one to fall.

It was a different story on Wednesday, when technology stocks surged on optimism that businesses would step up spending on computer systems. That pushed the Dow and the S&P 500 index to their third straight day of gains as well as record highs.

The stock market has soared this year, clearing record highs and recovering losses from the financial crisis and Great Recession. For the year, the Dow is up 13 percent, the S&P 500 index 12 percent.

Brown thinks the market can keep climbing. Measured against earnings, the stock market doesn’t look expensive, he said. And compared to the alternatives, like bonds or money-market funds, stocks in many big corporations offer a better source of income. The average stock in the

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/11/stocks-rise-for-fourth-day-in-a-row-led-by-retail/

FOCUS: With Equities At Record Tops, Market Watchers Cite Caution For 2Q

By Kitco News, Contributor (Kitco News) – Equity markets continue to post record gains, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average both touching all-time highs on Wednesday and then again Thursday, erasing all the losses seen following the weaker-than-expected March U.S. employment data from April 5.

From: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kitconews/2013/04/11/focus-with-equities-at-record-tops-market-watchers-cite-caution-for-2q/

Campbell Soup Company Named to Top 10 Best Corporate Citizens for Third Consecutive Year

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool

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Campbell Soup Company Named to Top 10 Best Corporate Citizens for Third Consecutive Year

CAMDEN, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– For the third consecutive year, Campbell Soup Company (NYSE: CPB) has placed among the Top 10 of all large-cap Russell 1000 companies on Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens List, regarded as the top corporate responsibility ranking based on publicly-available information.

“We are honored to be recognized for our corporate social responsibility and sustainability efforts in the communities where we live and work,” said Dave Stangis, Campbell’s Vice President, Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility. “At Campbell, we are focused on delivering business value by reducing our carbon footprint, promoting a sustainable environment and making a meaningful contribution to the workplace, marketplace and community.”

Launched in 2000, the 100 Best Corporate Citizens List is based on over 318 data points of publicly available information in seven categories: environment, climate change, human rights, employee relations, governance, philanthropy and financial performance. The 100 Best Corporate Citizens List’s open and transparent methodology is governed by a Methodology Committee of the Corporate Responsibility Officers Association. The full list is available at www.thecro.com.

Campbell addresses sustainability and corporate social responsibility as an important component of the company’s cultural framework. The company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies are intended to make positive impacts in four key areas: Our Consumers, Our Planet, Our Employees and Our Community. To learn more visit www.campbellsoupcompany.com/csr.

About Campbell Soup Company

Campbell Soup Company is a manufacturer and marketer of high-quality foods and simple meals, including soup and sauces, baked snacks and healthy beverages. Founded in 1869, the company has a portfolio of market-leading brands, including “Campbell’s,” “Pepperidge Farm,” “Arnott’s,” “V8” and “Bolthouse Farms.” Through its corporate social responsibility program, the company strives to make a positive impact in the workplace, in the marketplace and in the communities in which it operates. Campbell is a member of the Standard & Poor’s 500 and the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. For more information, visit www.campbellsoupcompany.com.

Campbell Soup Company
Carla Burigatto, 856-342-3737

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  New Jersey

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The article Campbell Soup Company Named to Top 10 Best Corporate Citizens for Third Consecutive Year originally appeared on Fool.com.

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/11/campbell-soup-company-named-to-top-10-best-corpora/

Aspen announces adjustment to the Conversion Rate on its 5.625% Perpetual Preferred Income Equity Re

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool

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Aspen announces adjustment to the Conversion Rate on its 5.625% Perpetual Preferred Income Equity Replacement Securities (Perpetual PIERS)

HAMILTON, Bermuda–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Aspen Insurance Holdings Limited (“Aspen”) (NYS: AHL) announced today an adjustment to the conversion rate on its 5.625% Perpetual Preferred Income Equity Replacement Securities (Perpetual PIERS) in connection with its previously announced dividends payable on May 25, 2012, August 28, 2012, November 26, 2012 and March 7, 2013. As a result of these dividends, the conversion rate was adjusted to 1.7121 shares of Aspen’s ordinary shares per $50 liquidation preference of the Perpetual PIERS. The adjusted conversion rate is equivalent to an adjusted conversion price of $29.20 per share. The original conversion rate was 1.7077 of Aspen’s ordinary shares, equivalent to an original conversion price of $29.28.

About Aspen Insurance Holdings Limited

Aspen provides reinsurance and insurance coverage to clients in various domestic and global markets through wholly-owned subsidiaries and offices in Bermuda, France, Germany, Ireland, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. For the year ended December 31, 2012, Aspen reported $10.3 billion in total assets, $4.8 billion in gross reserves, $3.5 billion in shareholders’ equity, and $2.6 billion in gross written premiums. Its operating subsidiaries have been assigned a rating of “A” (“Strong”) by Standard & Poor’s, an “A” (“Excellent”) by A.M. Best and an “A2” (“Good”) by Moody’s Investors Service.

Application of the Safe Harbor of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995

This press release contains “forward-looking” statements regarding future results and events, including, without limitation, statements regarding the Company’s securities and their conversion into ordinary shares. Forward-looking statements include all statements that do not relate solely to historical or current facts, and can be identified by the use of words such as “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “project,” “anticipate,” “seek,” “will,” “estimate,” “may,” “continue,” and similar expressions of a future or forward-looking nature.

All forward-looking statements rely on a number of assumptions, estimates and data concerning future results and events and are subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside Aspen’s control that could cause actual results to differ materially from such statements, including our ability to consummate the transactions contemplated by the terms of the accelerated share repurchase agreement, the share price and share volumes which may impact timing of repurchases, changes …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Stock Market Logic

By Pamela Rosenau, Contributor “If you knew what was going to happen in the economy, you still wouldn’t necessarily know what was going to happen in the stock market.”  Warren Buffett’s quote argues that there is a weak correlation between the performance of the economy and equity markets.  Essentially, even if economic forecasters could make accurate predictions, it wouldn’t really help your portfolio.  In fact, an analysis by Ned Davis Research has found that the correlation between GDP and the S&P 500 is rather low.  Although many have seen the stock market as a good “predictor” of the economy, the correlation is even worse (actually slightly negative) when adjusting real GDP ahead two quarters, which defies this “stock market logic.”  According to Ned Davis, this suggests that stocks are “more likely to go in the opposite direction” of GDP.  Although many may want an accelerating economy, it may also “mean less Fed liquidity”, whereas a decelerating economy may encourage more Fed easing.  Market strategist Barry Ritholtz recently stated that “even though more than half of the 41 OECD nations are currently in a recession, the present cyclical bull market dating back to March 2009 is the sixth-best rally since 1929.”  The Economist also noted that “this rally in the Dow has been accompanied by the weakest GDP growth of all the bull markets since the second world war.”  According to Strategas Research, “more than 40% of the time over the last 62 years, stock prices and earnings have moved in opposite directions in any given year.”  Again, the economy is not driving this equity bull market – a market that continues to show its strong legs.  As Paul Lim of the New York Times recently wrote, certain characteristics tend to surface when the stock market is near a peak.  For example, “unemployment tends to fall below 5 percent, as companies race to hire; around 60 percent of investors say they are “bullish,” according to sentiment surveys; and the price-to-earnings ratio for the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index jumps above 18.”  However, as Lim notes, U.S. unemployment is at 7.7 percent, the AAII survey shows less than 40 percent are bullish, and the trailing P/E ratio is below 16x.  Needless to say, we have not hit levels of overconfidence that are typically inherent near a stock market peak.  Furthermore, although money flows into equity funds have improved this year, bond funds are still enjoying inflows, a reflection of how investors have not fully rekindled their love with stocks.  …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest

Can Pitney Bowes Remain a Top Dividend Stock?

By Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool

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Investors have always been interested in stocks that pay dividends, but lately low interest rates on bonds and other fixed-income investments have made solid dividend payers even more valuable. For years, Pitney Bowes was among the most promising dividend stocks in the market, as one of the few exclusive companies to make the list of Dividend Aristocrats. In order to become a member of this elite group, a company must have raised its dividend payouts to shareholders every single year for at least a quarter-century. Only a few dozen stocks manage to make the cut, and those that do tend to stay there for a long time.

With the company having had to make a massive shift to its business model in recent years in order to adapt to changing industry conditions, Pitney Bowes made many investors extremely nervous about whether it could remain among its Dividend Aristocrat peers. Last year, it finally got taken off the Dividend Aristocrats list, but not because it stopped increasing its payouts. Rather, it failed to meet Standard & Poor’s minimum market capitalization requirement of $3 billion. Let’s take a closer look at Pitney Bowes to see whether it can sustain its long streak of rewarding dividend payouts to investors.

Dividend Stats on Pitney Bowes

 

 

Current Quarterly Dividend Per Share

$0.375

Current Yield

10.1%

Number of Consecutive Years With Dividend Increases

30 years

Payout Ratio

68%

Last Increase

February 2012

Source: Yahoo! Finance. Last increase refers to ex-dividend date.

The latest on Pitney Bowes
Pitney Bowes was once the undisputed giant in the global mail-services industry. With huge market share in sales of its postage meters and other business mailing essentials, it was an integral part of how both large and small businesses reached out to their customers.

Lately, though, the company has realized that the writing was on the wall for its legacy mailing business. As more delivery services went online, upstart Stamps.com and Newell Rubbermaid‘s Endicia took away some of Pitney Bowes‘ dominant position in the industry.

In response, Pitney Bowes has turned to a dramatic restructuring, moving in the direction of broader-based business services, with a focus on business analytics and data management. That’s an extremely crowded industry, but it also has a lot more growth opportunities than its legacy business. With the rise of the Big Data initiative, Pitney Bowes has plenty of room to use assets like its geocoding software to open doors to new customers.

Looking at its most recent dividends, Pitney Bowes has been getting by on just token payout increases for a long time now:

Source: PBI Dividend data by YCharts.

Pitney Bowes has also been finding other uses for its free cash. Just last week, it said that it had accepted about $400 million in tendered notes from bondholders to retire debt due in the next three years. That may …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance