The Ticker


January 2009


Remember What A 'Bad Bank' Really Is

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Second verse, same as the first. The idea to create a "bad bank" to buy up those pesky billions worth of bad assets still on the books at big banks is the latest twist in our long bailout saga. Estimates for what it might cost ( up to $4 billion) and whether creating such an institution to sort ...

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GDP Report Is Bad For Stocks, But Earnings Are Worse

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Everybody expected the latest GDP report to be bad, and it was (though not nearly as terrible as a lot of folks had feared). Growth fell at a 3.8 percent annualized rate, better than the 5.5 percent drop economists were expecting. That's the good news. Unfortunately, capital spending and ...

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TARPGate! Cuomo Subpoenas Thain Over Bonuses

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New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is trying to figure out exactly who knew what regarding some $4 billion worth of bonuses hastily shoveled to Merrill Lynch employees ahead of its merger with Bank of America (and just as BofA was asking the government for another $20 billion in TARP money to ...

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Peter Schiff: Right On The Crisis, Wrong On Investing?

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There's no doubt that Euro Pacific Capital's Peter Schiff has struck a chord among the legions of angry Americans looking to make sense of the financial crisis. He's a constant and controversial presence on cable news shows, and over the past few years has built his free-market, hands-off ...

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Pfizer Buys Wyeth For $68 Billion

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It's a $68 billion cash-and-stock deal, with Wyeth shareholders getting $50.19 a share - $33 in cash and 0.985 a share in Pfizer stock. That's 29 percent above where the stock closed last Thursday before the WSJ reported a deal was in the works.

The big question is this: Does this deal get Pfizer ...

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Geron Jumps: Is Stem Cell Investing Back?

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Shares of Menlo Park, Calif.-based biotech Geron Corp. (GERN) are up more than 50 percent today after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration appeared ready to clear the way for human trials of its treatments derived from embryonic stem cells.

For investors, the real story is the FDA's decision to allow ...

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Warren Buffett: "Nobody Knows" If Gov't Fixes Will Work

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Susie Gharib interviews Warren Buffett tonight on Nightly Business Report. The interview includes some good advice and a few unsettling views on markets and the economy (bold is mine):

SUSIE GHARIB, ANCHOR, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT: Are we overly optimistic about what President Obama can ...

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John Thain Goes, Leaves His $87,000 Rug

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John Thain was a Goldman Sachs golden boy, held up as the NYSE's savior, and the architect of Merrill Lynch's last stand. Now he's out after the Ken Lewis Bank of America finally figured out what it was really buying (a $15 billion loss that sent BofA running back to the government for even more ...

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Apple Shines, But Mum On Steve Jobs Health

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On Friday, I was sitting around a table with six people. Four of them had iPhones, and the remaining holdouts (myself included) weren't even thinking about upgrading to anything else (not a Blackberry, not a Palm Pre). We obviously weren't alone, as Apple posts another blowout quarter.

The ...

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Saudi Prince Burned By Citigroup

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The fate of oil-rich billionaires doesn't often elicit much sympathy among everyday investors but the waning fortunes of foreign buyers of U.S. assets are worth watching closely. That's because foreign demand for American assets is waning as problems at U.S. banks continue to tarnish America's ...

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Fund Managers Cheer Up, If Only A Bit

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In its January survey of fund managers Merrill Lynch says investors are still bound by the global recession and expected weakness in the year to come, but their terrible mood did improve a bit when it comes to the threat of deflation and profit expectations. "Investors are talking a more positive ...

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Palm's Pre Is A Huge Bet

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On a day when stocks are selling off hard on further concerns in the banking sector, Palm shareholders are likely asking a few questions of their own. Specifically, is the hype surrounding the Palm Pre, its new handset, for real? With shares up more than 150 percent for the lucky few who picked ...

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Direxion Leveraged ETFs Win Fans

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Leveraged ETFs are among the more exotic options for traders right now, and it looks like they're proving more popular at a time when market volatility continues to rage. From the WSJ:

The funds "have gotten extremely fast pick-up in terms of trading and people talking about them," says ...

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Will Obama Be Better Than Bush For Stocks?

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A little market history for you this morning care of the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000, the broadest measure of U.S. stocks. President Obama may have a troubled economy to deal with, but as the Bush team exits the White House they've set the bar low for the performance of equities compared to the past ...

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CF Industries Bids $2.1 Bil For Terra

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It's well below freezing in Sioux City, Iowa today but a lot of portfolios in the hometown of fertilizer maker Terra Industries look scorching today after Deerfield, Ill.-based rival CF Industries made an unsolicited $2.1 billion all-stock bid for the company that could kick off a wave of ...

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Circuit City Liquidates, Best Buy Bounces

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Shares of Best Buy are up almost 9 percent this afternoon after its closest rival, Circuit City, said it would liquidate all of its 567 U.S. stores. There's not much good news in the story, especially for Circuit City's more than 30,000 employees, but once some $2 billion worth of inventories are ...

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Can Obama Boost Wind Stocks?

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In his proposed stimulus package, Barack Obama is including some love for the wind sector.

Jefferies backs its "buy" ratings on European wind giants Gamesa and Vestas thanks to the inclusion of a multi-year extension of the production tax credits, plus some means of making such credits "refundable."

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Nintendo Wii Leads Gaming Strength

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Video games appear to be holding their own against the worst retail climate in memory. Nintendo sold nearly 10.2 million Wii game consoles in the U.S. last year, and nearly 10 million more Nintendo DS handhelds. That means Wii sales accounted for 55 percent of all video game console sales in the ...

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Bethany McLean on the Daily Show, Fannie Mae

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In an exhaustive piece in the February edition of Vanity Fair, Bethany McLean (who broke the Enron story) parses the Fannie Mae problem and uncovers a wealth of troubling details. Hard-charging executives steamrolled virulent government critics for years, much of the action taken leading up to ...

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The Bailout Game

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Can you beat Bernanke at his own game? Keep the banking sector from imploding? Outrun the recession? And if you can't, is it really time to "Ask a Greenspan"?

Save some companies, save America. It's The Bailout Game.

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5 Reasons To Like Church & Dwight

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Today Standard & Poor's upgrades Church & Dwight, the company behind OxiClean, Aim toothpaste, Arm & Hammer baking soda and a growing list of popular household products, to "buy" from "hold." S&P calls C&D "one of the few companies in our coverage where our '08 EPS revisions were all to the upside ...

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Unemployment Is Up. Don't Let It Scare You Out of Stocks.

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Today Jim Paulsen, Wells Capital Management’s chief investment strategist, takes a look at past downturns and reminds investors that it's a bad idea to wait for a recovery on Main Street to before getting back into stocks. That's because stocks historically recover well before rising jobless ...

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Sell Your Low-Quality Stocks: Merrill

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Brian Belski, Merrill Lynch's U.S. sector strategist, says low-quality stocks have been among those leading the climb since the S&P 500 made its latest bottom on November 20. That's not a sign market weakness has healed. He says tight lending is still a big risk for stocks, especially in the bits ...

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Wipro Falls On World Bank Ban

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Shares of Wipro are off nearly 8 percent today after the company disclosed that in 2007 the World Bank banned it from contract bids from 2007-2011 and included it on a list of firms "providing improper benefits to bank staff."

Wipro said in 2000 it allowed employees and clients to buy shares at its ...

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World Markets Shudder

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Before the open, analysts at Leavitt Brothers run down the latest damage from around the world. They write:

Good morning. Happy Thursday.

Every single world market is down, and most markets are down a bunch.

In Asia/Pacific, Taiwan lost 5.3%, Japan and Hong Kong lost almost 4%, Australia, China and ...

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Wal-Mart Takes A Hit

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Even the biggest and best in retail aren't immune from the frightened consumer.

Wal-Mart's December sales rose just 1.7 percent in December, below the 2.8 percent consensus and earlier guidance from the company that sales would be in the high end of its 1-3 percent forecast.

In the fourth quarter,

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Sell Wal-Mart in '09?

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Wal-Mart was the darling of the S&P 500 in 2008. It returned almost 17 percent during the year as the as the rest of retail tumbled.

But will ending the year as the S&P 500 leader bring bad luck for the stock in the 2009?

Birinyi Associates says the laggards -- not the leaders -- from the S&P 500 are ...

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