The Ticker


December 2008


The Shipping News

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Shipping stocks have been absolutely beaten up during 2008, but will 2009 be the year of the rebound?

Sensitive to both the global economic slowdown and the drop in energy prices, shippers may still be suffering. But keep them in mind as an early play when the economy (hopefully) recovers sometime ...

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2009 Prediction Roundup

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It's prognostication week for market watchers as we limp toward the finish of a terrible year.

Predictions -- fun to read, but most often wrong -- are rarely as difficult to formulate as they are right now. Investors are struggling to assess a continually jarring mix of terrible economic data and ...

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Housing: Better Than Stocks In '08

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Did house-flippers in economically depressed areas like Detroit or overheated markets like Tampa still make better investments than your average index fund holding equity investor last year, provided they kept their payments up and their properties out of foreclosure? Maybe.

Today's Case-Shiller ...

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2008: Worst Market Since Hoover

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With just over two full trading days left, 2008 is on track to be the worst year for stocks since 1931 when Herbert Hoover was in office and the Great Depression raged.

From the AP:

The ongoing recession and global economic shock pummeled stocks this year, with the Dow Jones industrial ...

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Sina: $1 Bil For Focus Media Assets

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Remember Chinese Internet stocks? Think back on the heady days of 2007 when companies like Baidu were being heralded as the Google of the East...

Obviously, that was before the crash and even though Chinese shares suffered some of the worst damage of all during this global bear market, investors ...

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Even Odds On a Christmas Stock Market Rally

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Investors wishing for a slightly less-awful portfolio for Christmas have just a fifty-fifty shot despite the fact that December is traditionally a good month in markets, according to Merrill Lynch strategist Mary Ann Bartels. She writes:

... S&P data shows that, despite the fact that December and ...

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Madoff's Red Flags

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It's been all over the place today, but you've got to read the Harry Markopolos' letter.

He once worked for a Madoff rival, and called Madoff Securities "the world's largest Ponzi Scheme" in a letter to the SEC.

In 2005.

Link is here from the WSJ.

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What's Up With Stimulus Stocks?

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Stocks are bouncing around today despite news the Obama Administration is considering an absolutely huge stimulus package that could be worth some $850 billion.

A bit of context from Bloomberg:

Barack Obama may ask Congress next year to approve a stimulus plan of around $850 billion, an ...

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Apple: Downgraded On 'One Scare Too Many"

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Steve Jobs won't give his keynote address at the Macworld conference and Oppenheimer's Yair Reiner


draws a line in the sand:

We don't know why Steve Jobs has pulled out of his annual address at Macworld on January 6. Maybe he's not feeling well, or maybe he just has nothing new to say. Whatever the ...

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Barclays to Investors: Stay Liquid

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Barclays stays cautious in its global outlook for December:

We are in the midst of the most severe global recession since at least the early 1980s, if not the Great Depression. It is difficult to find an economy anywhere in the world that is not being hit hard, and the downward momentum underway ...

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Fear Calms a Bit Among Fund Managers

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In its monthly survey of fund managers, Merrill Lynch says fear among fund managers has pulled back from the brink. From the report:

Ingredients for a rally in place; fiscal policy is the trigger

After the extreme pessimism of the past two months there is evidence of investors pulling back from the ...

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Fed Slashes Rates!

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Wall Street was expecting an unspectacular announcement from the Federal Reserve today. Instead, Ben Bernanke & Co. decided to pull out all the stops with a full three-quarter point rate cut and an unusually specific commitment from the central bank to keep interest rates low "for some time" as ...

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The Week In Wall Street Scandals

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Do Wall Street cops have a year-end quota? Or is widespread financial damage finally exposing fraudsters? And what's going on In Canada? Illinois may have a bit of a track record as a cesspool of graft and insider dealing, but who would've suspected our tidy neighbor to the north?

Whatever it is,

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Damage Report 2008: Household Wealth Down $10 Trillion

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Merrill Lynch has been among the more gloomy forecasters lately, and today economist Sheryl King point to another reason why.

She writes that household balance sheets shed almost $3 trillion in the third quarter, thanks in large part to a decline in stock prices. That loss, the largest 3-month ...

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Auto Bailout Fails In Senate!

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Asian markets are selling off hard after the $14 billion bailout for U.S. automakers fell apart Thursday night.

So far:

Japan's Nikkei 225 is down 4.6 percent to 8318.30

The Topix Index is off 3.6% to 818.56.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 6% to 14675.41.

Also, the dollar hit a 13-year low against ...

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Pimco's El-Erian: Zero Growth In '09

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Pimco's co-chief investment officer Mohamed El-Erian told the at the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit in New York that 2009 will "unambiguously a year of sluggish or zero growth." From Reuters:

"It puzzles me that people feel confident to declare the bottom," he said. "What we're looking ...

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China Stocks Rally

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This morning I pointed to China's weakening economy as a growing concern for investors and while it remains so, Chinese stocks -- among the biggest losers during this downturn -- appear to be staging a comeback.

While it's still down almost 45 percent year-to-date, the iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 ...

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Office Depot: Retail Casualty

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Office Depot ( ODP) is the latest office supply retailer to take a hit as small business customers and everyday consumers cut back on everything from paper clips to copy paper.

Today, the Florida-based firm said it would close 112 stores, mostly over the next three months plus an additional 6 ...

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Today In Bill Miller

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Value investors today get the WSJ's version of what hurt the legendary Bill Miller, whose Legg Mason Value Trust outperformed markets every year from 1991 to 2005 before falling almost 60 percent year to date:

Mr. Miller was in his element a year ago when troubles in the housing market ...

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Before The Bell

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A quick note before the open on this week's so-far-not-discouraging trade care of Leavitt Brothers:

It’s a big day for the market. It must prove the mini rally we’re in has legs or else it could fail fast. Monday’s gap can fill, but weakness beyond that tells us the Nov 24 gap up which ...

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Damage Report 2008: IPO Edition

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It was a dismal year for taking your company public, as Ernst & Young's year-end global IPO report shows. For the year through November:

  • 2008: 745 IPOs worldwide, raising $95.3 billion.
  • 2007: 1,790 IPOs worldwide, raising $256.9 billion.
  • That's the lowest total since 1995, and full-year figures are ...

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    Covanta: A Safe Name In Cleantech

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    Jefferies & Co. analyst Paul Clegg this morning initiates coverage on Covanta ( CVA), which operates energy-from-waste (EfW) facilities that burn garbage as fuel to generate electric power.

    The gist:

    We believe investors should view Covanta (CVA) as a "safety name" in the clean tech ...

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    God Is In The Retails

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    Minyanville runs down something I've always found weirdly fascinating: Companies that print religious messages on their products.

    True Religion Jeans, Forever 21, In-N-Out Burger, and Alaska Airlines all put a little proselytizing alongside their products (Forever 21 prints John 3:16 on shopping ...

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    FedEx Earnings: A Sign Of The Times

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    FedEx ( FDX) is one of those "whole economy" stocks that let you know where we stand on several fronts, including measures like demand for deliveries and just how fuel costs are affecting major customers.

    So listen up when the Memphis-based shipping giant slashes its guidance for 2009.

    FedEx ...

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    ETF Watch: 3X Rising

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    In the current issue of U.S. News, I took a look at some of the more exotic ETFs on the market including a new breed of leveraged ETFs from Direxion that promise returns equal to three times the market's daily move. For the most part, leverage isn't a good idea for most investors (see this ...

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    Saut: Stocks Are Cheap

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    Jeff Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James, says now is not the time to be heavily short stocks because they finally do look cheap:

    Verily, for the first time in my 10-year stint at Raymond James I can finally say that stocks, in the aggregate, are “cheap.” Cheap on a price-to-earnings ...

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    Will Obama Revive Your Alt-Energy Stocks?

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    Green stocks have had a terrible year, and now it looks like the withering economy has some experts rethinking the value of investing in alternative energy.

    From USA Today:

    [S]ome economists, such as Vincent Reinhart, a former Federal Reserve Board official now at the American Enterprise ...

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    Zandi: $34 Billion Is Not Enough for Automakers

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    Just so you know, the Big 3 can't get out of bankruptcy for $34 billion.

    Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com says it'll cost $75 billion to $125 billion to keep the staggering auto industry out of bankruptcy. He's still for it.

    Video of his testimony is here (sorry, no embed link).

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    Stocks: Your New Favorite Investment?

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    Another interesting point made today by Goldman’s Abby Joseph Cohen (see previous post): Public equity markets may be returning to favor among investors who got burned badly in riskier corners of the market.

    The thinking goes that one of the lessons from this crisis is that liquid, transparent ...

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    Bullish Rumblings

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    At the CFA Institute’s Global Financial Crisis Roundtable this morning, some prominent Wall Streeters got together to parse all that’s gone wrong over the last four months, and what it means for 2009.

    Their verdict was broadly bearish on the economy, but surprisingly upbeat for stocks.

    In a ...

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    Big Stocks Under A Buck

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    Douglas A. McIntyre at 24/7 Wall Street rounds up a sobering list of big-name stocks that have fallen below $1 a share, plus a few that could be headed that way. His list, their recent prices, and their 52-week highs below.

    • Thornburg Mortgage. (TMA) Current price: 26 cents. 52-week high:

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