The Ticker


February 2009


Andrew Lo On Fixing Finance

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Andrew Lo, hedge fund manager and director of MIT's Laboratory for Financial Engineering, is a long-time student of investor behavior, especially the sort that belies the notion that markets move with cool efficiency. Particularly today, he sees animal spirits lurching about in some worrisome ways ...

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We're All Bankers Now

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Just finished Richard Florida's interesting take in The Atlantic on how the current crisis might alter America's geography (economic and otherwise). The whole thing is worth a read, so check it out.

One bit jumped out: New York may be America's financial capital, but it's not the only place ...

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Where Not To Spend Stimulus Cash

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WalletPop culls the oddest of nearly 8,400 requests for stimulus cash sent to Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's office. Lots of the proposals make sense. A few get points for creativity including:

  • $200,000 to train the economically challenged as Ultimate Impact Wrestlers. "We would need to obtain a ...
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    Stimulus Plans Can Work: Goldman Sachs

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    Goldman Sachs takes a look at the 2008 stimulus plan (remember that check from the government?) and finds that, yes, stimulus has an impact on consumption. It gets a bit wonky, but according to Goldman's models based on data dating back to the early 1960s, actual real consumption growth in the ...

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    Fertilzer Wars: Agrium Bids For CF Industries

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    Canada's Agrium is offering $3.6 billion for CF Industries, or $72 a share in cash and stock. The offer, a 30 percent premium to CF's Tuesday closing price, is the latest twist to the ongoing consolidation of the fertilizer industry where demand for potash, nitrogen and other chemicals boosted ...

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    First Solar Stumbles

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    First Solar, the thin-film solar panel maker considered by many to be the best name in solar stocks, can't escape the realities of the economy and credit markets. That's the message this morning after the Tempe, Ariz.-based company's earnings report, which included some generally healthy guidance ...

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    Ritz Camera Files For Bankruptcy

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    Today's bankruptcy filing by Ritz Camera Centers shows just how tough it is out there for companies facing both a wary consumer and long-time challenges from shifting technology. The lucrative photo finishing business has been declining for some time, but the holiday season appears to have gotten ...

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    Economy To Get Worse This Year: NABE

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    There's good news and bad news about the economy in today's survey from the National Association of Business Economics.

    First the bad: 2009 is going to be a tough year all the way through. Economic growth is expected to drop by 0.9 percent in 2009 as the current recession isn't expected to end until ...

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    Stocks Still Aren't Cheap

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    Over at the NYT, David Leonhardt reminds us that stock prices still look rich by some measures even as we hover near November's lows. That's because price-to-earnings ratios may be sinking, but they're still barely cheaper than long-term averages. Based on historical 10-year averages of S&P ...

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    About That Santelli Rant . . .

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    Rick Santelli's rant today on CNBC about the Obama Administration's housing bailout is weird enough, but what really makes it special is the promo that airs before the clip. It's an ad for CNBC's upcoming special NEWBOs: The Rise of America's New Black Overclass.

    So there you go: We now inhabit a ...

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    Priceline Bucks A Bad Economy

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    Is naming your own price recession-proof? Shares of Priceline.com jumped nearly 17 percent this morning above $80 a share on  earnings that barely noticed ongoing pain in the rest of the economy.

    Fourth-quarter earnings of $1.29 a share were well above Wall Street consensus of $1.05. U.S. bookings ...

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    5 Reasons Housing Stocks Are Still In Trouble

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    Is anyone out there still trying to catch the falling knife that is shares of U.S. home builders? It's tempting to watch the stocks drop like rocks and think, "I'll get back in when the damage is done." Well, investors have been saying that (and getting burned) for a good chunk of the last year.

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    Stanford Group: Madoff II?

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    Robert Allen Stanford, head of Stanford Financial Group, looks like he's about to replace Bernard Madoff in the financial scandal headlines. His "massive ongoing fraud" in selling some $8 billion worth of high-yielding certificates of deposit from an Antigua-based bank has regulators coming after ...

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    Valentine's Day Stock Roundup

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    Nothing says "romance" like reviewing your portfolio, but with Valentine's Day just a few hours away (you already made reservations, right?) take a minute to check out some investing ideas that might just help you pay for it.

    First off, there's a pretty good chance that a post-Valentine's boost ...

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    Friday the 13th: Stock Market Edition

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    Friday the 13th may be the unluckiest day of the year, but it's not generally a terrible day for stocks. Below is a bit of history on how markets move on the most superstitious of trading days.

    Bespoke Investments looks at the last 183 Friday the 13ths going back to 1900 and the performance of ...

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    RIM: Consumer Woes Bust BlackBerry Boom

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    Shares of Research in Motion (RIMM) fell 17 percent this morning after the smartphone maker lowered forecasts for earnings and profit margins despite relatively healthy sales. Formerly expecting earnings midway between 83-91 cents a share with gross margins of 40 percent 41 percent, the Waterloo,

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    Sirius XM: Bankruptcy On The Way?

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    Shares of XM Sirius Satellite Radio could be headed for nickel territory today on news that it's preparing to file for bankruptcy. The NYT said yesterday the company is working to prepare a possible filing less than a year after XM Radio and Sirius completed a difficult merger. Still, the threat ...

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    IPO Market: Still Terrible

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    Given the ongoing weakness in stocks right now, it's no surprise that the IPO market is still on the ropes. Ernst & Young took a look at companies still holding out hopes of going public, and finds they're few and far between. Some highlights from its latest U.S. IPO Pipeline study:

    • The number of ...
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      Kindle 2: Will It Boost Amazon's Shares?

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      Kindle fans (and there are a surprising number of them) have reason to get excited today with the latest version of Amazon's reader. More storage, faster page-turning features, and now Stephen King all give readers another reason to shell out $359 in order to shun all those old paper-and-glue ...

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      Ken Lewis Buys $1 Million In BofA Stock

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      CEO Ken Lewis made more than $20 million last year, so buying almost $1 million worth of Bank of America stock isn't really much of a risk to his fortune. But they symbolism didn't go unnoticed, nor did the nod from BofA's board which seems to be backing him for now. Lewis is on CNBC today, and his ...

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      Harry Markopolos Gets His Day With The SEC

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      Harry Markopolos is mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore! The man who tried to warn the Securities and Exchange Commission back in 2005 about Bernie Madoff's massive $50 billion fraud (he called Madoff's company "the world's largest Ponzi Scheme") has been testifying today before a ...

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      Ticketmaster, Live Nation May Merge: WSJ

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      Ticketing giant Ticketmaster is reportedly set to buy rival Live Nation in a deal that would create the world's largest concert promoter and the dominant name in event ticket sales.

      While specifics of the deal are still sketchy Morgan Joseph analyst David Kestenbaum sees a lot to like in terms of ...

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      Costco Warning: Slowdown Trickles Down

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      Costco shares are down about 8 percent this morning after the discounter said second-quarter earnings would be "substantially below" Wall Street estimates of 70 cents a share. The company will weather this downturn on its recession-proof food business, but it's the non-food category that's hurting ...

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      Warren Buffett Goes Wild For HOG

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      Shares of Harley-Davidson (HOG) are revving up today on news that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway bought $300 million worth of the firm's senior unsecured notes. (Davis Selected Advisers, Harley's biggest shareholder, bought another $300 million). The stock jumped nearly 23 percent before ...

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      Avon Pops On Earnings

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      Avon Products (AVP) shares jumped nearly 9 percent in late trade after the beauty company announced an 80 percent gain in first-quarter earnings. Lower costs helped offset slumping revenue, which fell 9 percent from a year ago.

      That doesn't mean Avon will buck the terrible retail environment we're ...

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      Is GM's Buyout Insulting?

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      Should General Motors workers be annoyed at the latest buyout offer from the struggling automaker? The latest offer is offer $20,000 and a voucher for a free car worth $25,000. Some folks aren't happy. There are good reasons why:

      • It's worse than last year, when GM offered a $70,000 cash package.
      • It's ...
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        Bouncing Along The Bottom

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        As we kick off trading in February, stocks are still mired in bearish territory. Investors are enduring a tough earnings season while waiting idly for the newly-passed stimulus package to have some (any?) sort of impact. The good news is more analysts seem to be saying stocks aren't destined for ...

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