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Jun 13

In The News:

Overrated…
Ford motor company (F) has admitted they overstating the fuel-economy ratings on six 2013 and 2014 models. The company has agreed to pay owners as much as $1,050 to compensate for underestimating their fuel costs. This is the second time within a year the Dearborn, Michigan auto maker has admitted to overstating. [Continue reading...]

Jan 7

In The News:

Boss napping…
On Monday morning, workers at a Goodyear plant in France captured two managers – the plant’s director and human resources chief and are not holding them hostage. Two Goodyear bosses who are being held captive by workers spent the night inside a factory in northern France that the company wants to close. The Goodyear plant, which the company has tried to sell or close for five years, has become an emblem of France’s labor issues and has had a contentious past. Goodyear’s attempts to close it have been stalled by violent protests with huge tire bonfires, government concerns and France’s prolonged layoff procedures.

You Go Girl…
On Monday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Janet Yellen as the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Ben Bernanke, the current Fed head, will finish his second term at the end of this month. Senators voted 56 to 26 in favor of Yellen with 11 republicans braking rank and voting their support. Janet Yellen will be the first woman to head the Federal Reserve in its 100 year history.

We Still Want You…
In the back and forth buying drama, Men’s Warehouse (MW) has raised its bid for rival Jos A. Bank (JOSB) to $57.50 a share in a hostile takeover. The previous offer of $55 per share by Men’s Warehouse had been rejected. As part of the bid, Men’s Warehouse would also get to nominate two directors for election to the Jos. A. Bank board. The offer will expire at 5pm Eastern on March 28.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets closed mixed on Tuesday. Weak economic data out of the US and anticipation ahead of Friday’s US job number had investors feeling cautious.

Europe:
European markets closed lower on Monday as investors tried to digest accelerating growth in Spain but continued weakness in France, the Eurozone’s second-largest member.

US:
US shares closed lower on Monday. Weaker than expected data out of the service sector showed a slowdown, no one saw coming, in December. DJIA: -44.89 16425.10 NASDAQ: -18.23 4113.68 S&P: -4.60 1826.77

In Dinner or Drink:

Pink Lady

1 1/2 oz. gin
1 tsp. grenadine syrup
1 tsp. light cream
1 egg whites

Shake ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.

If you like our drink today, click here for more.

Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but don’t quit” Conrad Hilton

Jan 6

In The News:

We Want You….
On Friday, Dallas-based AT&T (T) announced the company plans to offer customers of T-Mobile (TMUS) credit worth $450 to make the switch. According to AT&T, the second-largest wireless provider, T-Mobile customers can trade in their current smartphone and can receive a promotion worth up to $250 and an additional $200 per line if they leave T-Mobile.
Many are questioning the timing of the promo for several reasons. First, T-Mobile has surprised the industry over the past few months by adding significant number of new subscribers at the expense of some of its rivals. Second, the carrier is expected to make a major announcement at next week’s Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. Rumor has it that the announcement is a major media campaign that will go after the whole family instead of just individual subscribers. Last, Japan’s Softbank, who just recently acquired Sprint (S), is considering making an offer for the company soon.

Mining Your Music…
Pandora (P), the company that brings you the perfect song based on your choice of tunes is now going to bring the perfect advertisement to you as well. Using the same technology that the online streaming music machine uses to customize playlist – analyzing components of the songs you like then playing tracks with similar traits – is now looking into clues about the kind of ads you would engage in. Pandora, who has a free option which includes ads and a paid version without ads, is not only looking for new revenue streams but also looking to get its hands into ad revenue that traditionally has been reserved for TV. One way they can do both, providing advertisers a glimpse into your personality and potential buying habits.

We’re Out…
According to data released on Friday from Morningstar, in 2013 investors pulled out a net total of $41.1 billion from the world’s bond fund, Pimco Total Return Fund. The fund, which is run by bond guru Bill Gross, suffered eight consecutive months of investors divesting their money out of the fund, including $4.2 billion in December. The corresponding exchange-traded fund (ETF) lost $197 million to outflows in 2013. This is yet another example of one of the major trends of 2013: money moving out of bonds and into equities.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets tumbled on Monday as a downbeat services PMI (Producers Manufacturing Index) out of China because the latest sign China’s economy is headed for a slowdown.

Europe:
European shares closed out the week lower. Investors are become jittery as signs pointing to a slowing down in China are getting more frequent.

US:
US markets closed mixed on Friday. Light trading volume and Bernanke’s speech defending the last eight years of his reign as head of the Fed keep investors watching from the sidelines. DJIA: +27.17 16468.52 Nasdaq: -11.16 4131.91 S&P 500 -0.69 1831.29

In Dinner or Drinks:

Cold Comfort Coffee
3/4 oz. dark rum
3/4 oz. Southern Comfort® peach liqueur
1/4 oz. dark crème de cacao
4 Oz cold coffee

Shake and strain into a wine glass filled with crushed ice. Sweeten to taste.

Like our drink today, click here.

“Just know, when you truly want success, you’ll never give up on it. No matter how bad the situation may get.” – Unknown

Jan 2

Taking Stock of 2013

  • Nikkei (Japan’s stock market) was up 57%, the biggest gain since 1972.
  • Dow Jones had 52 record highs and was up 26%.
  • S&P had 44 record highs and was up 29.60%
  • The lone loser of the Dow Jones this year was IBM which was down 2%.
  • NASDAQ was up 38%.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 17% in 2013, the biggest annual gain since 2009.

The Top Sectors of 2013:

  • Consumer Cyclical (companies involved in automotive, housing, entertainment and retail industrials)- up 42.85%
  • Financial Services (companies involved in banking, insurance or Brokerage)- up 42.82%
  • Healthcare (companies involved in pharmaceuticals, hospitals or health maintenance organizations) – up 42.68 %
  • Industrials (companies involved in aerospace and defense, industrial machinery, tools, lumber production, construction, cement and metal fabrication) – up 14.44%

Worst Sectors of 2013:
• Real Estate and Utilities

New Year, New Shares…
On Friday, China security regulators approved five firms to be listed on mainland exchanges, ending a year freeze on initial public offerings (IPO) in the country. The IPO market has been frozen since last year as security regulators cleaned up wide spread fraud and improper conduct which was taking place in the process. The new IPO process, according to Chinese officials, will be more investor-driven as part of wider economic reforms. Regulators expect to add 50 firms to the IPO list by the end of January.

Testing, Testing, 123…
Netflix Inc. (NFLX), the largest subscription streaming service, in a move that could have some households paying more, is testing new prices based on the number of people who can use an account. Netflix is testing new customer’s plans which provide access on as many as four screens, letting household members watch different shows at the same time. The monthly prices range from $6.99 to $11.99, according to an offer posted on the company’s website. If successful, the pricing plans could be expanded to all customers. Netflix, with more than 40 million subscribers, is looking for ways to curb account sharing while providing viewers with more ways to watch the service. Netflix, the top-performing stock in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of 2013, has almost quadrupled as the company has beaten earnings estimates and outpaced analysts’ estimates for subscriber growth.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets were mixed on Thursday. Lower than expected manufacturing PMI out of China had investors wondering what the new year will bring to the second largest economy in the world. The Nikkei (Japan) was closed again due to public holiday.

Europe:
European markets finished out 2013 on a positive note as investors liked the economic data out of the US.

US:
US stocks were up on the final trading day of 2013 with the Dow Jones hitting record high #52. Investors looked towards the future concentrating on a better consumer confidence index instead of slightly lower Chicago manufacturing numbers. DJIA: +72.37 16576.66 NASDAQ: +22.39 4176.59 S&P +7.29 1848.36

In Dinner or Drink:

Americano

1 oz. Campari® bitters
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 twist lemon peel
1 twist orange peel

Pour over ice into a Collins glass. Garnish with lemon and orange twists. You may fill with some club soda.

Like our drink today, click here for more.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. – Mahatma Gandhi

Dec 31

Here’s What Is Happening In The World Of Business and Finance…

Cash Infused…

Crocs (CROX), the shoe company, is getting a $200 million bailout from private equity fund Blackstone. The deal gives Crocks a cash infusion for its $350 million buyback, while Blackstone gets two seats on the board. Shares of the company known for making clogs that are comfortable but ugly peaked above $75 in 2007. But the company hasn’t been able to add new products with the same popularity, causing shares to fall to around $1 in late 2008 before beginning a recovery. Crocs also announced its CEO, John McCarvel, is retiring and will be giving up his board seat at the end of April. McCarvel has been with
the company since 2005 and president and CEO since 2010. Investors cheered the news, sending the stock 21.08% higher, closing the day at $16.14.

Lemons Into Lemonade….
On Monday, Berkshire (BRKA) announced it will acquire a specialty chemical division of oil refiner Phillips 66 (PSX) that makes chemicals to improve the potential flow of pipelines. To pay for the deal, Berkshire will return about 19 million shares it owns in Phillips 66 . The exact number of shares it will take to accomplish the approximately $1.4 Billion deal will be determined by their price on the closing date.

Berkshire acquired its Philips 66 shares in a 2008 investment in ConocoPhillips (COP). Bought when oil prices were near their peak Buffet quickly realized it was a bad call. In the company’s annual report, Buffett called the investment a “major mistake,” taking full blame. Now Buffet is taking his lemons and purchasing a company which should blend well with Bershisre’s portfolio of companies.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets closed positive on Tuesday as investors got better than expected news out of the US. Japan Markets were closed for public holiday.

Europe:
European shares closed down on Monday as markets and investors took profits after closing at five-year high on Friday.

US:
US Markets closed mixed on Monday with the Dow Jones eking out one more record high. Light holiday volume and next to nothing in the way of economic data kept investors in vacation mode. DJIA:+25.88 16504.29 NASDAQ: -2.40 4154.20 S&P 500: -0.33 1841.07

In Dinner or Drink:

California Lemonade

12 oz 7-Up® soda
2 oz Absolut® vodka
1 1/2 oz Goldschlager® cinnamon schnapps
2 oz blended whiskey
juice of 1 lemons
juice of 1 limes
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp grenadine syrup
carbonated water

Shake all ingredients (except carbonated water) with ice and strain into a collins glass over shaved ice. Fill with carbonated water and stir. Decorate with slices of orange and lemon. Add the cherry and serve with a straw.

As we close 2013 we want to Thank You for your support of Before 24 in it’s first 6 months. We look forward to launching new products, many more daily digest, and helping our readers discover more about the world of business and finance in 2014. We wish you peace, health, and prosperity in the New Year!

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Dec 30

Here’s What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance…

Hold On To Your Pin Numbers…
Target (TGT) confirmed Friday that debit card PIN data was part of its recent massive security breach, revising its earlier statement that the codes were not part of the hacking. In a statement released on Friday, the company said, “We remain confident that PIN numbers are safe and secure. The PIN information was fully encrypted, remained encrypted within our system, and remained encrypted when it was removed from our systems.” Target also said that the PIN encryption can only be decrypted by the independent payment processor which holds the decryptions key. Target said that the decryption key was not part of the security breach. As a precaution, any Target customers who shopped during the security breach should contact their banks to request a replacement card and to change their PIN.

I’m Feeling Disconnected…
Several years ago, there used to be something called the “Wealth Effect.” Basically, when the stock market is higher, people’s 401Ks are better, then they feel like the economy is better and that they have more money. A new poll released on Friday may suggest that times they are changing. A new CNN/ORC poll showed that people feel pessimistic when it comes to the economy improving. Nearly 70% of those surveyed said the economy was generally in poor shape, and only 32% rated it as good. Two-thirds of the respondents also said that most of the economic news they have heard recently was predominantly bad news. Just half of the responders expect the economy to remain poor a year from now. So here we know:
• The stock market is surging with the Dow Jones hitting its 50th record high for the year on Thursday, and the NASDAQ is up nearly 40% since January 2013;
• Unemployment is at a five year low;
• Gas prices have dropped;
• GDP (Gross Domestic Product- a gauge of a country’s economic health) for Q3 was over 4% growth;
• The housing sector, which helped drag the economy into recession, is rebounding;
• The Fed thought the economy was doing well enough to start pulling back on its economic stimulus starting in January.
In full disclosure, the facts above are impressive and cheery; however, behind these figures are countless long-term unemployed and under employed. Many people couldn’t find work and have decided to completely drop out of the workforce all together. The survey shocked the people who still thought the wealth effect was still in existence while others didn’t find it too surprising as the stock market has been Fed-drunk for most of the year.
KJ’s Take: There is not a right or a wrong answer, or even opinion in this case. I see the survey as one more reason why the rally has been primarily fueled by institutional money instead of retail (a.k.a. average Joe’s) money. People across all walks of life were burned badly by the recession and a lot are still hurting. I personally think that the economy is getting stronger, but I am not foolish enough to think that there are still not hundreds of thousands of Americans out there who still struggle with their own economies. We, as a country, will get there, but it’s going to take time, patience and us helping each other however we can.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets closed higher on Monday. A quiet trading day had investors and markets looking ahead to a slew of economic data from the region starting mid-week.
Europe:
European share closed out the week positive. With no real economic news to sway investors’ minds the giddiness of another record high for the Dow Jones keep them buying.
US:
US markets closed mostly flat on Friday as investors took a breather after another week of weekly gains. DJIA: -1.22 16478.66 NASDAQ: -10.59 4156.59 S&P 500: -0.60 1841.42

In Dinner or Drink:

Baked Pasta Primavera
Ingredients:
• 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for greasing
• 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 small yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
• 2 small zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
• 1 large carrot, cut into 3/4-inch matchsticks
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
• 1 cup small cherry tomatoes
• 3/4 lb. gemelli pasta, cooked according to the package instructions
• 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
• 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
• 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

• 2 Tbs. cream cheese

• 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

• 1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and two-thirds of the garlic and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the yellow squash, zucchini and carrot, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are very soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook just until they start to soften but still hold their shape, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add the cooked pasta.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the remaining garlic and the lemon zest and sauté just until the garlic softens, about 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly add the milk and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the cream cheese and whisk until the cheeses melt. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the cream sauce into the bowl with the pasta and the vegetables and toss to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the mozzarella, the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and the bread crumbs.

Bake until the pasta is warmed through and the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Spoon onto plates and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma One Pot of the Day, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2012).

Need a new word to impress your friends with on NYE… check out our glossary.

“A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With a Single Step.” ~Lao Tzu

Dec 27

Here’s What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance:

Standup Airline…
On Thursday, some lucky fliers scored some really cheap flights on Delta Air Lines (DAL) due to a computer glitch. From approximately 10:00 am to noon EST, certain flights and their prices on the company’s website and other air booking sites were showing up incorrectly. Customers were able to pick up deals like a roundtrip ticket from Cincinnati to Minneapolis for February, for $25.05 or a roundtrip between Cincinnati and Salt Lake City for $48.41. Both of the tickets normally cost over $400.00. A spokesman for the airline said that the glitch has been fixed and that Delta will honor any fees purchased at the incorrect price.

Cut Off….
1.3 million Americans are set to lose their unemployment benefits Saturday as federal emergency benefits will end when funds run out for a program created during the recession to supplement the benefits that states provide. Initially the cutoff will affect 1.3 million people, but 1.9 million more will lose benefits by mid-2014 when their 26 weeks of state paychecks run out, according to the National Employment Law Project. The benefits average about $300 a week.

Wheels Up…
Textron Inc. (TXT), the manufacturer of Cessna aircraft, will expand its lineup of propeller-driven aircraft after reaching a deal to purchase Beechcraft Corp. for $1.4 billion, as the company seeks to counter a slump in business-jet sales.The Providence, Rhode Island-based company will purchase all outstanding equity interests in Beech Holdings LLC, the parent of Beechcraft. The deal, which includes the repayment of Beechcraft’s working capital debt, will be financed by a combo of available cash and around $1.1 billion in new debt.
Adding Beechcraft models, such as the twin-engine King Air, will complement Cessna lineup which ranges from two-seaters to the Caravan turboprop used to fly people and cargo to small airports. The market segment is less competitive than private jets, where Cessna has struggled since they don’t build large, long-range planes now favored by corporate buyers.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asia markets finished out the last trading week of 2013 on a positive note. A lowering of the rate Chinese banks charge each other provided relief for investors looking for liquidity (cash) in the market as companies and banks look to shore up their balance sheet before year-end.

Europe:
Europe continued its five session winning streak. A decrease in US jobless claims by 42K sent another sign to the world the US economy is moving in the right direction.

US:
US markets rallied on Thursday extending the Dow Jones record run to 50 record highs and continued its 6 session winning streak. A larger than expected decline in weekly jobless claims kept investors in the buying spirit. DJIA: +122.33 16479.88 NASDAQ: +11.76 4167.18 S&P 500: +8.70 1842.02

In Dinner or Drink:

 

Beach Party
1.5 oz. Malibu® coconut rum
1/2 oz. Midori® melon liqueur
1/2 oz. triple sec
pineapple juice
grenadine syrup

Pour rum, melon and triple sec and pineapple. Can be Blended or shaken and served over ice. Add just a small trickle of the grenadine over the top.

Like our drink today, click here for more .

We hope you have a wonderful last weekend of 2013.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

Dec 26

Here’s What’s Happening In The World Of Business and Finance:

 

Santa’s Delayed…
Some of Santa’s Christmas gifts didn’t make it in time this year due to shipping problems at the two biggest shipping companies, UPS (UPS) and FedEx (FDX). Bad weather in the past week on parts of the US and overloaded systems were blamed for the delays. Not helping the situation the holiday shopping period this year was shorter than usual, and Americans’ have a tendency to wait until the last second to shop. Neither company said how many packages were delayed but noted it was a small share of overall holiday shipments.

It’ll Cost You More…
On Tuesday, regulators approved a temporary price hike of 3 cents for a first-class stamp, bringing the charge to mail a first class letter to 49 cents. The hike will go into effect January 26. The higher rate, for the next couple years, will allow the Postal Service to recoup $2.8 billion in losses it suffered during the financial downturn. Bulk mail, periodicals and package service rates will also rise 6 percent.

You Led Me On…
American Express (AXP) has been ordered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to refund $60 million to its customers for using illegal credit card practices. The CFBP, who monitors how financial products and services work for consumers, alleges that the company engaged in unfair billing tactics and deceptive marketing practices when it illegally marketed identity protection products and charged customers without telling them that the services would only be provided after the client provided written consent. Customers also paid interest charges on these services, essentially paying the full fee without receiving all the advertised benefits and then charged unfair monthly fees, which resulted in exceeding their credit card limit, thus leading to additional fees.
As part of the settlement, American Express did not have to acknowledge wrongdoing. More than 335,000 consumers were affected, and the company already started refunding customers earlier this year.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets were mixed on Thursday. The Nikkei (Japan) continued its winning streak, closing above the psychological level of 16,000, on a weaker yen helping export stocks and PM Abe tackled some of the remaining doubt over his stimulus measures. The China’s markets, the Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite, tumbled after investors became disappointed the PBOC (Public Bank Of China) didn’t continue to injected money into its markets.

Europe:
European shares kept the streak of gains going on Tuesday closing up. Investors received another Christmas present with better-than-expected data on durable-goods from the US.

US:
US markets closed higher in it’s shorten trading session on Tuesday. The Santa Clause Rally continued as investors received another economic present better-than-expected durable-goods. DJIA: +63.26 16357.87 NASDAQ: +6.61 4155.42 S&P 500 +5.25

In Dinner or Drink:

Angels Delight Christmas Drink
1/4 cup whipping cream
7 scoops ice cream
1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
1 banana

Put all of these in a blender. Put whipped cream and nuts on top of glasses.

“I trust that everything happens for a reason, even when we’re not wise enough to see it.” -Oprah

Dec 24

Here’s What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance:

Scaled Down Bailout…
On Monday, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors unveiled a proposal that would limit its authority to bail out a large financial company on the brink of collapse through its emergency lending programs. Currently, the Fed has the power to extend emergency loans to “any individual, partnership or corporation” which meets certain conditions. The new proposal would limit the Fed to only providing funds from its emergency lending programs to help bolster liquidity to the financial system. What the new proposal will not allow is to provide aid to a failing financial company, helping it avert bankruptcy like they did during the height of the financial crisis. Monday’s proposal also includes the requirement of the U.S. Treasury secretary to sign off before the committee could extend any emergency loans. As it stands right now, an institution only needed five Federal Reserve Board members to say yes to tap into the emergency lending program.
The new proposal would implement a key provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform, which sought to prevent future big bailouts, like the over $1 trillion extended in emergency credit during the financial crisis. If you would like to comment on the new proposal, the fed is listening until March 7.

Not So Fast…
Lawyers at Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann spearheaded a lawsuit against Citigroup (C) claiming investors like the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Pension and Relief Fund and the City of Tallahassee Retirement System had been misled about the quality of mortgage-related bonds that the bank sold them from 2006 to 2008. Citigroup agreed this year to settle the lawsuit for $730 million. Some of the attorneys involved in the suit wanted to pay themselves $146 million. Judge Sidney Stein of New York judge told the attorneys not so fast and trimmed off $29 million off their proposal saying the attorneys had requested too much money.

New Mouseketter…
Disney announced on Monday, it will be welcoming a new tech savvy Mouseketter to its board. Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter and CEO payment processing company Square, will join other tech guru’s like Facebook’s Sheryl Sanderg and Blackberry’s interim CEO John Chen. Dorsey, if elected by the Board on March 18 at the annual meeting, will replace Judith Estrin. Estrin, a former chief technology officer at Cisco, cannot stand for re-elections as she reached Disney’s 15 year limit on board service.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets closed higher on Tuesday with the Nikkei hitting a six month high. A solid hand off from Wall Street along with the PBOC (People’s Bank of China) infusing money into the Chinese markets had investors feeling Christmas cheer.

Europe:
European stock markets closed higher for the fourth straight days on Monday. Investors were giddy after receiving upbeat US consumer-sentiment data and the IMF raising their growth target for the US.

US:
US shares closed at all-time highs on Monday extending their record run in 2013. An increase in consumer-spending data reinforced the idea the economic recovery is set to accelerate in 2014. DJIA:+73.47 16294.61 NASDAQ: +44.16 4148.90 S&P: +9.67 1827.99

In Dinner or Drink:

Candy Cane Martini
3/4 oz. vanilla vodka
3/4 oz. Godiva® white chocolate liqueur
1/2 oz. peppermint schnapps
3/4 oz. half-and-half
grenadine syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Drizzle some grenadine along the inside of a frosted martini glass. Shake and decant ingredients into the glass. The grenadine should swirl with the rest of the drink. Garnish with a candy cane.

Like our drink today, click here for more.
We wish all of you and your families a safe and wonderful Christmas!
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”
― John Lennon

Dec 23

Here’s What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance:

Open Sundays… Kinda
On Sunday, JP Morgan Chase (JPM) opened select branches around the country after the bank capped spending limits on debit-card customers whose data was possibly compromised during the 20-day security breach at Target (TGT) stores. The bank, on Saturday, announced that it had temporarily limited total daily spending to $300 and$100 cash daily withdrawal from ATMs. The restrictions did not apply to the banks credit card customers. Additionally, customers could cancel their debit cards on Sunday and have them reissued if they were concerned about a possible compromise.
Citibank (C) also began last week to lower some cardholders’ limits, block transactions and reissue cards if the bank sees any suspicious activity. Moves by both banks were the first signs of damage control by major credit card issues after 40 million credit card and debit cards were affected by the security breach at Target.

Growing By Leaps and Bounds…
The final reading of Q3 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came in higher than expected on Friday. The U.S. economy grew at a 4.1% annual pace, up from the first reading of 3.6%, according to the Commerce Department. The 4.1% pace was the fastest in almost three years. Last quarter’s reading (Q2) came in at 2.6%. Below is how the individual segments came out:

  • Business spending on equipment was revised up to 0.2%. It had previously been reported as being flat.
  • Domestic demand rose at a 2.3% rate, instead of the 1.8% pace that the government reported earlier this month.
  • Export growth was raised up by 0.02 percentage points to a 3.9% pace.
  • Residential construction spending was lowered by 2.7 percentage points to 10.3 % rate in Q3.

KJ’s Take: As I always say, growth of any kind is always a good thing, but growth up over 4% is an amazing thing! Most experts agree that the number should be sustainable through Q4. I, personally, am a teeny tiny bit skeptical. Remember, consumer spending is 2/3 of the GDP number, and we already know holiday shopping numbers have already been hit by the winter weather that has hit the country.

Headed For The Clouds…
On Friday, Oracle Corp (ORCL), the world’s no. 2 business software maker announced that it is buying Responsys Inc. (MKTG), the web-based marketing software maker for $1.39 billion. Responsys makes cloud-based software that businesses use to manage their marketing campaigns across all mediums, like email, mobile and internet. Some of their customers include LinkedIn (LNKD) and Southwest Airlines (LUV).
The acquisition will help bolster the company’s cloud computing offering, which has been a major initiative. The four decade old Oracle was late to the cloud party and has been trying to catch up ever since. The company recently has been trying to fend off rivals, such as Salesforce.com (CRM) and Workday Inc. (WDAY), which are more nimble and offer web-based products at prices which often undercut Oracle pricing.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets started their week out higher on news the PBOC (People’s Bank of China) injected money into the markets to help sooth jittery investors. The Nikkei was closed today for a national holiday.

Europe:
European stock markets posted gains on Friday after an amazing GDP report provided further evidence the US economy is making a comeback and German confidence figures point to a better 2014 for the country.

US:
US stocks ended the week positive after Q3 GDP report showed the economy is on the road to solid and stabile recovery. DJIA: +42.06 16221.14 NASDAQ: +46.61 4104.74 S&P: +8.72 1818.13

In Dinner or Drink:

Blue Cloud Cocktail

1 oz. amaretto almond liqueur
1/2 oz. Blue Curacao liqueur
2 oz. vanilla ice cream
1 oz. whipped cream

Pour the amaretto and blue curacao into a blender. Add vanilla ice cream. Blend until smooth. Pour into a brandy snifter, and top with whipped cream. Garnish with a maraschino cherry, and serve.

Like our drink, click here for more.

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
Confucius

Dec 19

Here’s What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance:

Taper Time…

After months and months and months of wondering when the Federal Reserve would stop or scale down its asset-buying program (a.k.a. taper), we finally got the answer on Wednesday. The Federal Reserve announced yesterday that beginning in January 2014 they will lower the amount of bonds it is buying by $10 billion and will cut purchase of treasuries by $5 billion.

Here’s what else Bernanke had to say during his press conference:

  • The decision to continue to taper/scale back the Fed’s buying spree will be month to month. If the economic data shows the economy is sliding back into recession the Fed could reverse its stance and go back to buying more assets.
  • The Federal Reserve is confident gains in the labor market will continue.
  • Inflation is still a concern for the committee and they will act if it doesn’t return to the target that the committee set.
  • Bernanke has closely consulted new Fed head Janet Yellen in the past, and she fully supports today’s actions.
  • The Fed will keep rates unchanged well past the time the unemployment rate drops to 6.5% or below. They also predicted unemployment will dip as low as 6.3% next year.
  • The Fed estimates economic growth next year to range from 2.8% to 3.2%

The markets for at least Wednesday loved the Fed’s decision to begin tapering. The Dow Jones closed up nearly 3oo points.

Look Mom What I Bought…

Facebook (FB) announced Wednesday that they have acquired SportStream. The company, a San Francisco startup, analyzes the mentions of sports on social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The company then sells the data to sports teams to use on their websites. Terms of the deal were not disclosed however, SportsStream raised at least $3.5 million when it was founded in 2012 and was backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s venture capital fund. In their official announcements, neither Facebook nor SportStream gave any hints of what Facebook plans to do with the new technology. Keep checking your news feed; maybe we will all have a sports surprise soon.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot…

Target (TGT) was hit with an extensive and brazen theft of customer’s credit-card and debit- card data over the Black Friday weekend. The theft was national in scope and happened in stores only. Target speculates 40,000 card devices at store register could have been breached meaning millions of cardholders could have been compromised. The Secret Service, who often investigates significant hacks to credit card data, has been called in to help investigate the breach.

In The Markets:

Asia:

Asian markets closed mixed on Thursday. The Nikkei (Japan) climbed triple digits on news of the Fed taper. Both the Hang Seng (Hong Kong) and Shanghai Composite (China) were down as continued liquidity concerns weighed on investors’ minds.

Europe:

European markets closed higher on Wednesday as investors waited to see what the Federal Reserve had up its sleeve.

US:

US markets soared Wednesday on news the Federal Reserve would begin to taper its bond buying. DJIA: +292.71 16167.97  NASDAQ:+ 46.38 4070.06 S&P 500: +29.65 1810.65

In Dinner or Drink:

Christmas In A Cup

1 oz. spiced rum
1 oz. Aftershock® Hot & Cool cinnamon schnapps
2 oz. Dr. Pepper® soda

 

Add Dr. Pepper and spiced rum, stir, then put Aftershock in and let it mix by itself.

Read more: Christmas in a Cup recipe http://www.drinksmixer.com/drinkvw13179.html#ixzz2nvTpX5wh

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison

Dec 17

What’s Going On In Business and Financial News:

Let’s Share…
On Monday, General Motors (GM) announced 5 of the company’s factories in three different states will share in a $1.3 billion investment, allowing them to manufacture higher-quality pickup trucks, new fuel-efficient engines and transmitions. The money will go Detroit, an assembly plant in Flint, Michigan, an engine plant in Romulus, Michigan, a transmission factory in Toledo, Ohio, and a casting plant in Bedford, Indiana. Here’s the scoop:

  •  $600 million, nearly half of the money, will go to the factory in Flint, Michigan to add a new paint shop and other upgrades. The plant currently makes Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks.
  • $493 million will go to upgrade the Romulus engine plant so it can begin building new V6 engines and 10-speed automatic transmissions. Both products will make vehicles more efficient.
  •  Around $121 million will go to the Detroit factory to set up a manufacturing logistics center.
  • $31 million will go to the Toledo transmission plant so it can crank out more automatic transmissions.
  • The final $29.2 million will go to the Bedford plant to make the parts for the new 10-speed transmission and components for the 6-speed transmission.

The improvements should take about two years to complete and will create 1,000 positions.

Clean Bill…
Herbalife (HLF) was given a clean bill from its new auditor on Monday. PricewaterhouseCooper, which took over as the company’s auditor in May after the last auditor resigned due to a conflict of interest, completed its reaudit of the nutritional-supplement company financial statements from 2010-2013 with no material changes. The news, while initially causing the shares to halt for a few minutes, sent the company stock upward 6%, closing at $74.83.

Video Killed The Facebook Star...
Facebook Inc. (FB) will begin selling video advertisements on Thursday. The ads, which will play automatically in users’ news feeds, could help Facebook capture a share of the $66.4 billion advertisers could spend on U.S. television this year. One of the first ads to run in our Facebook newsfeeds a short tease, exclusive to Facebook, for the upcoming film “Divergent.”

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian shares were higher on Tuesday as better economic data from the U.S. and Europe lifted investor confidence ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting.

Europe:
European markets closed higher on Monday. Investors’ road the positive wave of economic news out of the US instead of concentrating on lower manufacturing data out of China and the Eurozone.

US:
US stocks closed higher on Monday. The S&P 500 halted a four-session losing streak while the Dow Jones and NASDAQ are on a two day winning streak. Equities were helped by upbeat European manufacturing data and a stronger-than-expected report on U.S. industrial production. DJIA: +129.21 15,884.57 NASDAQ: +28.54 4029.52 S&P: +11.22 1786.54

In Dinner or Drink:

Celebration Punch
12 oz. frozen orange juice
12 oz. frozen lemonade
24 oz. frozen cran – raspberry juice
1 cup water
3 liters club soda

Combine juice and water and pour into punch bowl over ice ring. Slowly add Club soda.

Like our drink today, click here for more.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. -Robert Louis Stevenson

Feel Smarter… help a friend out send them the daily digest.

Dec 16

What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance:

Do I or Don’t I…
Sprint (S) is considering making a bid for rival wireless carrier T-Mobile (TMUS). Sprint is currently studying any possible regulatory concerns and could launch a bid in the first half of next year. A potential deal could be worth more than $20 billion, depending on the size of the stake in T-Mobile that Sprint would like to buy. Any bid would cap a period of consolidation in the U.S. wireless markets, coming only months after SoftBank acquired Sprit and T-Mobile merger with MetroPCS. The merger would likely face a tough road with antitrust authorities, who worry that consumers could suffer without a fourth wireless competitor to keep competition intact.

It’s Not A Good Thing…
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) announced that it had laid off around 100 employees. Shares of the “all things domestic” company rallied Friday by 18 percent on the news. The company started by the Domestic Queen herself Martha Stewart has been in a free-fall for years, losing readership and ultimately viewership, and only posted a profit in one of the last 10 years. The layoffs were designed to make the company leaner and more entrepreneurial, causing some to wonder if the company will try and put itself on the market.

Mr. Roboto…
On Friday, Google confirmed it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon. Boston Dynamics, based in Waltham, Mass., has gained an international reputation for machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and become cheetah like aka. run faster than the fastest humans.
The new acquisition is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the last half-year. The company’s other robotics acquisitions include companies in the United States and Japan which have pioneered a range of technologies including software for advanced robot arms, grasping technology and computer vision. The deal is clearest indication so far that Google is intent on building a new class of autonomous systems that might do anything from warehouse work to package delivery and even elder care.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian shares started their week down as China’s PMI (Purchasing Manufacturing Index) hit a three month low.

Europe:
European stock markets closed down on Friday for a second-straight week. As the Fed meeting gets

US:
US markets closed out the week flat on Friday. With no real economic news all investors could concentrate on was this weeks Fed meeting and the possible Christmas surprise it could bring. DJIA: +15.93 15755.36 S&P500: -0.18 1775.32 NASDAQ: +2.57 4000.98

In Dinner or Drink:

Something Good

1/3 oz. Southern Comfort® peach liqueur
1/3 oz. amaretto almond liqueur
1/3 oz. Captain Morgan® spiced rum
1/4 oz. Blue Curacao liqueur
7-Up® soda

Add Southern Comfort, Amaretto, Captain Morgans and Blue Curacao with ice to shaker tin… top off with Sprite/7-UP and shake…

Pour into Collins Glass or strain for shot.

If you like our drink today click here.

“If there is something you really want to do, make your plan and do it. Otherwise, you’ll just regret it forever.”
—Richard Rocco (PostNet franchisee, Entrepreneur Magazine 12/2006, b. 1946)

Dec 13

Here’s What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance:

You’re Going with Me…
On Thursday, the top wireless carriers committed to allow consumers to keep their cellphone when they switch provides, in a voluntary move backed by federal regulators. Sprint, AT&T (T), and T-Mobile (TMUS) signed the agreement, which requires carriers to “unlock” devices or request the manufacturers to do so within two days of a consumer’s request. The move legalizes what many cellphone providers already have adopted and responds to calls from consumer groups who have long argued that users shouldn’t be locked into using their phone with a single provider.

You Left Me Out In The Cold….
J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) is expected to pay more than $1 billion in penalties to the Justice Department, ending a criminal probe into whether the bank provided adequate warnings about Bernard L. Madoff. Prosecutors have been looking into whether the bank, despite numerous red flags, failed to alert regulators. At the center of the Justice Department’s probe is why JPMorgan Chase didn’t provide a formal report to the U.S. regulator, even after filling one with the authorities in the U.K.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets closed out the week mixed as investors become more and more jittery the closer the Fed meeting gets.

Europe:
European shares closed down sharply. Not even a higher-than-expected rise in U.S. jobless claims could quash investors’ fears over the potential soon start of Fed tapering.

US:
US markets hit the skids for a third day with the Dow Jones down triple digits again. Investors weighed a mixed batch of economic data and its effect on the Fed’s decision to alter policy in its rate-setting meeting next week. DJIA: -104.10 15739.43 NASDAQ: -5.41 3998.40 S&P 500 -6.72 1775.50

In Dinner or Drink:

Cold Comfort Coffee
3/4 oz. dark rum
3/4 oz. Southern Comfort® peach liqueur
1/4 oz. dark creme de cacao
4 oz. cold coffee

Shake and strain into a wine glass filled with crushed ice. Sweeten to taste.

Like our drink today, click here for more.
Happy Friday the 13th!
Have a wonderful weekend, Ya’ll!

“You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” Oprah Winfrey

Dec 12

Here’s What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance:

You Can’t Afford Me…Wait, Now You Can.
MasterCard Inc. (MC), the second-biggest bank-card network, recently announced its decision to split its stock 10-to-1, boost its dividend 83% and buy back another $3.5 billion of common stock. The deft move positions MasterCard stock more favorably and accessible to retail stock buyers looking to own, trade and capitalize on previously premium MC stock, which hit its 52-week high of $769.10 Tuesday.
MasterCard will split its stock 10-to-1 effective after market close on January 9, 2014. Shareholders will then receive nine shares for each one they already own on January 21, thereby driving down the stock price to potentially $80, if using Tuesday’s after-hours closing price of $763.61, and increasing total shares outstanding from 120 million to 1.2 billion.
The company also announced an 83% increase to its quarterly dividend to $1.10 per share, or a split-adjusted 11 cents per share, which is up 60 cents per share currently. The higher dividend is set to be paid on February 10 to shareholders of record as of January 9. This move is commonplace with companies whose improved earnings have left them with large cash piles.
Finally, MasterCard issued a new $3.5 billion share buyback program, which will take place after the company completes its current program that has $514 remaining as of December 5.
Currently, MasterCard has the 3rd highest share price in the S&P 500, behind Google (GooG $1,084.66) and Priceline.com (PCLN $1,188.92). Only three additional stocks trade over $500: Graham Holdings, Apple (AAPL $565.64) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG $521.53). After the move, MasterCard stock will be more attractive to everyday investors by being less expensive to buy individual shares.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets were lower on Thursday as lending data from mainland Chinese’s banks had investors worried a liquidity crisis maybe around the corner.

Europe:
European markets closed down on Wednesday as investors become more cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve’s meeting next week.

US:
US stocks tumbled on Wednesday, suffering their worst lost in more than a month. The new budget deal and it’s sequester repeals had investors betting the Fed could start to scale back its bond-buying program as soon as next week. DJIA: -129.60 15843.53 S&P 500: -20.40 1782.22 NASDAQ: -56.68 4003.81

Special Thank you to James Burleson-Porras for guest writing today’s Daily Digest.

Dec 11

Here’s What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance:

New Rules…
On Tuesday, the Volcker Rule was approved by five financial regulatory agencies. The “Volcker Rule” is a broad, new government rule to limit risk-taking by Wall Street. The Rule will force banks to rethink virtually every aspect of their trading activities. The 953-page edict, part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, lays down restriction on how and when banks trade securities. It curbs a bank’s ability to bet with its own capital and forces them to draw flashing light lines separating trades for clients from that of a bank trading for its own benefit. In addition, the Volcker Rule limits a bank’s ability to trade with its own cash, restricts banks from investing in risky hedge and private-equity funds, and imposes rigorous compliance requirements on the firms.

A New Sheriff in Town…
The long history of American automakers has included innovations and firsts; now, it will include a female chief executive. On Monday, General Motors (GM) announced Mary Barra will become the company’s next CEO, after current CEO Dan Akerson steps down next month. Barra is a home grown General Motors insider who currently is the executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain. She is taking over the helm of GM just in time for the automaker to start its new chapter of a life without the government’s help. The removed government stake allows the CEO greater flexibility to deal with price competition, other U.S. automakers and Japan.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets were down on Wednesday as investors worried what effects China’s latest step in move toward less-restricted interest rates will have on the countries bank’s bottom-line.

Europe:
European stock markets closed lower on Tuesday after investors had to digest a mixed bag of data from both China and inside the Eurozone along with a heaping spoonful of taper speculation.

US:
US shares closed lower on Tuesday bring the two day winning streak to a halt. With no major economic data on the calendar, investors had only the U.S. budget talks ongoing speculation tapering will be announced at the Fed’s meeting to think about. DJIA: +52.40 15973.13 S&P 500: -5.75 1802.62 NASDAQ: -8.26 4060.49

In Dinner or Drink:

The Chief
30 ml Jagermeister® herbal liqueur
30 ml vodka
Sprite® soda
twist of limes
ice

Half fill glass with ice. Add lime twist. Add Jagermeister. Add Vodka. Fill with sprite then mix and finally garnish with lime wedge.

Like our drink today, click here for more.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

Dec 10

Here’s What’s Happening In The World Of Business Finance:

Have Your Cake And Eat It Too…
On Monday, Sysco (SYY) announced that it will buy rival food supplier U.S. Foods for $3.5 billion in stock and cash, creating one giant food-dominating company with a projected $65 billion in annual revenue.
The combined company will now have increased leverage selling and distributing food goods from manufacturers to restaurants, hospitals, hotels, schools and other institutions, as Sysco alone has around 425,000 customers worldwide. Last year, the two companies together collected about 27% of the revenue in the U.S. food distribution. Sysco Chief Executive Bill Delaney said that the deal will provide the new Sysco an increase in purchasing power, enhanced innovation ability and cost savings.
Sysco is ready for the antitrust regulators, acknowledging that the company might need to sell parts of its business to satisfy them. The markets liked the new union; Sysco stock was the top gainer in the S&P 500 on Monday.

Free At Last…
Almost five years after General Motors Co. (GM) first received government aid, the company is officially free from U.S. taxpayer ownership after the Treasury Department sold off its remaining stake in the nation’s largest automaker. The sale marks the end of “Government Motors,” as GM was labeled after the company required bailouts from George W. Bush and Barack Obama, which helped GM to avoid liquidation and reorganize into the giant it has become today. The only small grey cloud of this success story: The U.S. (i.e. the taxpayers) did lose about $11 billion on its investment of about $50 billion in GM.

Namaste…
Lululemon (LULU), the maker of popular yoga pants, founder is stepping down as chairman, clearing the way for a new chief executive to move past recent supply problems and expand overseas. Dennis “Chip” Wilson founded Lululemon in 1998 after attending a yoga class. He has been its chairman and largest individual shareholder, making him a “presence” for executives tasked with running the company. Wilson plans to vacate the chairman’s post shortly before the company’s annual meeting in June. He will retain a board seat.
Mr. Wilson built Lululemon into a $1.4 billion retailer with a devoted following by adhering to an unconventional playbook. The company’s yoga gear has been kept in tight supply and priced at a premium. Some might say he cultivated an unusual corporate culture, urging rank-and-file employees, executives and directors to attend self-help sessions at the Landmark Forum and complete the Grouse Grind, a 1.2-mile trek up Grouse Mountain near the company’s headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian stock markets declined Tuesday as Chinese economic data failed to wow investors into buying.

Europe:
European markets closed up on Monday as investors picked better-than-expected Chinese export data over an unexpected drop in German industrial productions.

US:
US markets closed slightly higher on Monday sending the S&P 500 to another record high. The markets had been holding steady most of their trading session but lost some ground after Richard Fisher, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President, said the Fed should begin to pull back on the pace of its asset purchase program at its earliest opportunity. DJIA: +5.33 16025.53 NASDAQ: +6.23 4068.75 S&P 500: +3.28 1808.37

In Dinner or Drink:

Jack Daniel’s Lynchburg Lemonade
1 part Jack Daniel’s® Tennessee whiskey
1 part sweet and sour mix
1 part triple sec
4 parts Sprite® soda

Add ice and stir. Garnish with lemon slices and cherries.

Like our drink of the day, click here for more.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Dec 6

Here’s What’s Happening In The World Of Business and Finance…

Jobs,Jobs,Jobs….
On Friday, the NFP (Non-Farm Payroll) report gave us another Christmas present. The economy added 203,000 jobs in the month of November. Also, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.2%. We will have more details on the jobs number in our Monday edition.

We’re Growing…
On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported that the gross domestic product (GDP) grew in Q3 at a rate of 3.6%, revised upward from the 2.8% pace initially reported. The third-quarter pace was the fastest since the first quarter of 2012 and marked an improvement over the 2.5% growth rate for Q2. During the 3rd quarter, businesses accumulated $116.5 billion worth of inventories, which was the largest increase since the first quarter of 1998.

Cutting Corners…
Dell Inc. (DELL) has offered to buy out a portion of the company’s roughly 110,000 employees. Dell Inc. has offered buyouts to a portion of the company’s roughly 110,000 employees. The computer maker announced the voluntary separation program to its employees this week, giving employees until December 20 to opt for the buyout packages.
Last month, the deal to take Dell private by founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners closed and the days of Dell being a public company came to an end. Employee cuts had not been a part of the original game plan; however, according to a Dell spokesman, “A critical element of our strategy has been, and always will be, about improving our cost structure and freeing up capital to make the investments in growth areas that matter to our customers.”

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets closed out the week mixed. The Nikkei (Japan) stabilized following the government’s announcement of a $54 billion stimulus package. The Hang Sang (China) was slightly positive while the Shanghai was lower as investors wait for Friday’s jobs number.

Europe:
European stock markets closed lower on Thursday after a strong GDP growth number stirred taper fears and no signal of easing measures from the European Central Bank.

US:
US markets closed down on Thursday. Both the S&P and Dow Jones were down for a 5th straight day as better-than-expected readings on employment claims and GDP boosted bets stimulus reductions could come as soon as this month. DJIA: -68.26 15821.51 NASDAQ: -4.84 4033.16 S&P 500: -7.78 1785.03

In Dinner or Drink…

Bourbon Maple Smash
1/2 ounce pure maple syrup, preferably Grade A Dark Amber
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
4 dashes of Angostura bitters
1/2 orange wheel
2 ounces bourbon
Ice
1 1/2 ounces chilled seltzer

In a rocks glass, combine the maple syrup with the orange juice, lemon juice and bitters. Add the orange wheel and lightly muddle. Add the bourbon and stir well. Fill the glass with ice and top with the chilled seltzer.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend, yall!

Dec 5

Here’s What’s Happening In The World Of Business and Finance…

We’re Hiring…
On Wednesday, the monthly ADP private sector jobs were released. Merry Christmas! The private sector added 215,000 in the month of November, the strongest hiring in a year. The ADP jobs report showed that small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees) accounted for 102,000 of the new jobs, and large businesses (those with more than 500 employees) added 65,000 positions. In the past few months, both the ADP and the Labor Department (a.k.a. NFP job report) has been improving despite other indicators that show economic growth still remaining slow. On Friday, we will learn how many jobs the overall economy added in the month of November when the NFP is released.

Finally Together…
China Mobile Ltd. has signed a long-awaited deal with Apple Inc. (APPL). The deal would allow the company to offer iPhones on its network. Also the deal will provide Apple access to a subscriber base that is seven times the size of Verizon, the U.S largest carrier. The rollout of the iPhones on the world largest mobile carrier by uses is expected to start later this month.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets closed down on Thursday as investors remain cautious ahead of the Non-Farm Payroll job number out Friday.

Europe:
European shares were down on Wednesday as investor became increasingly nervous tapering is on its way after the ADP report said the private sector added 215,000 new jobs.

US:
U.S stocks finished Wednesday lower, with the S&P and Dow Jones both extending their losing streak to four. Upbeat private sector jobs reinforced investor’s taper worries. DJIA: -24.27 15890.35 NASDAQ: +0.80 4038.00 S&P 500: -2.30 1792.85

In Dinner or Drink:

Harvey Wall Banger
1 oz. Stolichnaya® vodka
1/2 oz. Galliano® herbal liqueur
2 oz. orange juice
ice

Pour the Vodka, Galiano, and orange juice in to a shaker with ice and shake until well mixed. Then strain into appropriately sized glass filled with ice and serve.

 

Dec 4

Here’s What’s Happening In The World of Business and Finance…

Clearing the Way…

A federal judge cleared the way for the largest public bankruptcy in the history of the U.S. On Tuesday, almost five months after the city filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, the judge cleared the city, declaring it eligible for a fresh start. The judge approved a plan that will, among other things, allow the city of Detroit to reduce their pensions, something most municipal workers in America once thought could never happen.

Auto Sales Soar…
On Tuesday, major automakers reported their best U.S. sales numbers in six and a half years. U.S. auto sales in November rose 8.9 percent, beating the year-to-date increase of 8.4 percent. November sales were helped by aggressive discounting by the automakers and continued popularity of pickup trucks. According to industry research firm Autodata, the industry’s annual U.S. sales pace reached 16.41 million vehicles last month, the best monthly showing since February 2007, and easily beat expectations for a rate of 15.75 million.

KJ’s Take: Why do we care about auto sales? Auto sales are a good indicator of how people feel about their economic futures. If you don’t feel like your job is secure or your economic future isn’t bright, chances are you aren’t going to go buy a car.

Cyber Monday Success…

Cyber Monday online sales this year rose 21% driven by strong growth in mobile sales, according to IBM who crunches the number for the yearly event. Mobile sales increased 55%from a year earlier, accounting for about 17% of total online sales. The better online sales figures came after the retail industry main trade group reported that spending dropped for the first time in the last seven years over the Thanksgiving weekend. Estimated total spending over Thanksgiving weekend fell to $57.4 billion, down 2.7% from a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday as investors cautiously position themselves before Friday’s big NFP jobs number from the U.S.

Europe:
European markets tumbled on Tuesday. Investors started pressing the panic button a bit concerned the US Fed might start tapering faster after a string of solid economic data.

US:
US shares dropped on Tuesday with the Dow Jones and S&P falling for third consecutive session. Investor uncertainty about the when taper will begin and fears the market is overdue for a pullback sent investors running for the sidelines. DJIA: -94.15 15914.65 S&P 500: -5.75 1795.15 NASDAQ: -8.06 4037.20

In Dinner or Drink:

Fiery Blue Mustang
1/2 oz. banana liqueur
1/2 oz. Blue Curacao liqueur
1/2 oz. Everclear® alcohol

Dec 3

Here’s What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance:

Settled…
Late Monday Bank of America and Freddie Mac reached a $404 million settlement to resolve claims stemming from mortgage loans the bank sold to Freddie over the past decade. The settlement will resolve disputes over defaulted mortgages that Bank of America sold to the mortgage giant between 2000 and 2009. The payment will be fully covered by existing reserves.

The settlement should protect Bank of America from any further claims of crisis-era loans sold to Freddie or Fannie Mae. The settlement also brings the grand total to $14.8 billion that Fannie Mae has received from four separate settlements relating to claims stemming from the financial crisis.

Social Life….

Apple has added another company to its family. Apple acquired social-media firm Topsy Labs Inc. for more than $200 million. The company is one of a handful of partners that twitter allows to have access to the “fire hose” – the full stream of tweets since 2006. Topsy then analyzes this information and resells it to customers. It is unclear how Apple plans to use however the speculation has already started. The most creative so far Apple could use the new insights recommend songs, movies and TV shows to iTunes users.

Hotel For Sale…

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (HLT)  plans to raise as much as $2.4 billion in its U.S. initial public offering, the most ever for a hotel company.  On Monday the hotel operator made it official filling the necessary regulatory paperwork.  The McLean, Virginia-based hotel operator and existing shareholders plan to sell 112.8 million shares for $18 to $21 each.  Hilton, the world’s largest hotel company with more than 4,000 properties, is planning to sell 64.1 million of the total, using the proceeds to help repay $1.25 billion of debt. The company is currently owned by the Blackstone Group LP (BX), which purchased the lodging chain in 2007. Blackstone will not be selling any of its stock in the company as part of the IPO.

In The Markets:

Asia:

Asian shares closed mixed on Tuesday. Chinese markets had a case of split personality with one market closing up and the other closing down. Both were reacting to a government official comments that due to the high risks of a property bubble the government will continue enacting cooling measures for the sectors.
Japan’s market closed higher as the continued decline of the Yen helped boost export stocks.

Europe:

European stock markets declined on Monday as investors digested a mixed round of purchasing manufacturing numbers for China and other euro-zone countries.

US:

US markets closed lower despite encouraging economic data. News that the US manufacturing sector expanded at its fast pace in 2 ½ years had some investors back playing the “ When Will Taper Start” game.   DJIA: -79.31 16007.10 NASDAQ: -14.63 4045.26 S&P -4.98 1800.83

In Dinner or Drink:

Apple Blossom

1 oz. brandy
2 oz. apple juice
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 dash vodka

 

Pour ingredients into a mixing glass almost-filled with ice. Stir, and strain into an old-fashioned glass over ice. Garnish with fruit, and serve.

Click here for more on our drink of the day.

 

Dec 2

Here’s What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance:

Content is King…

Yahoo (YHOO) has announced a new addition to its team – Katie Couric. Couric, who has hosted high-profile programs on all three major U.S. television networks, will head a team of global correspondents to help the internet giant to shape its news coverage. Couric will join Yahoo next year as global anchor while continuing to host her talk show on the ABC television network.

Katie Couric is just one of several high profile journalists that have jointed Yahoo recently. Prior to Couric, New York Times tech columnist David Pogue and New York Times political correspondent Matt Bai joined the team. From outward appearances it appears that Mellissa Mayer, head of Yahoo, is committed to building out its news division in an effort to drive visitors to the yahoo site for more than search purposes.

KJ’s Take: Analysts have already weighed in on the move, calling it risky because of Yahoo’s demographics. It should be interesting to see if Yahoo can indeed shed its search functionality-only skin and rebrand itself into something more.

Big Deals, Less Shoppers…

For the first time in seven years, retail spending over Thanksgiving weekend dropped according to the industry’s main trade group. Earlier opening hours and a blitz of deals and apparently failed to pry more dollars out of the hands of budget-conscious shoppers.

According to early data sales spiked on Thanksgiving Day and online, but at the expense of business on Black Friday. Estimated showed spending over Thanksgiving weekend fell to $57.4 billion, down 2.7% from a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation. The group said it still expects total holiday sales through year-end to rise by 3.9% from a year ago.

In The Market:

Asia:

Asian shares closed mixed on Monday as investors reacted to the news from China‘s securities regulator it will end the countries halt on IPO and revealed new rules on how IPO will be allowed to come market.

Europe:

European stocks ended the final trading day of November flat. Markets shrugged off weak retail sales for Germany and the news S&P lifted its debt outlook on Spain.

US:

U.S stocks closed November out lower as the markets erased gains in the last hour of trading. Investors taking some last minute gains of the table had more impact on the markets as trading volumes were lower due to the holiday shortened trading session. DJIA:-13.36 16083.97 NASDAQ: +15.14 4059.89  S&P: -1.58 1805.65

In Dinner or Drink:

Black Day in Alabama

1 oz. amaretto almond liqueur
1 oz. Black Haus® blackberry schnapps
1 oz. sloe gin
1 oz. Southern Comfort® peach liqueur
7 oz. orange juice

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into glass

Like our drink today, click here for more.

 

 

Nov 27

In Business and Financial News:

Different Buyer, Different Suit…
First, Jos A. Bank wanted to buy Men’s Wearhouse and was turned down flat. Now the tables have turned and Men’s Wearhouse (MW) has offered to buy Jos. A Bank (JOSB) for $1.5 billion or $55.00 a share. Men’s Wearhouse director Bill Sechrest said in a statement that the acquisition has strategic logic and would benefit its shareholders, workers and customers.

Goodbye, Bro…
The New York Stock Exchange is losing another top executive: Larry Leibowitz. Larry is the guy known around Wall Street as the chief operating officer of stock exchange parent NYSE Euronext, and everywhere else as the brother of “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart. NYSE Euronext was bought this month by rival from Intercontinental Exchange Group Inc. Leibowitz, is one of several top executives leaving the company for green pastures after the merger is completed. He will leave the combined company at the end of the year. Hmmm Jon Stewart might have a new sidekick on his show????

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday. Chinese markets (Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite) were higher on continued hopes of financial reforms, while the Nikkei (Japan) was down as investors took profits.

Europe:
European shares fell on Tuesday after data from the U.S. painted a mix picture of the economy.

US:
US markets closed higher on Tuesday despite lower than expected November consumer confidence number. DJIA: 16073.63 +1.09 NASDAQ: +23.18 4017.75 S&P 500: +0.40 1802.88

In Dinner or Drink:

Turkey Lasagna
Ingredients
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
• 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
• 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 pound lasagna noodles
• 15 ounces ricotta cheese
• 3 to 4 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
• 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
• 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
• 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.
Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one 1/3 of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

We are thankful and grateful for your support of Before24 the last six months.
From our family to yours we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Nov 26

In Business and Financial News:

Wave Your Hands…
Apple (AAPL) confirmed Monday that it has indeed purchased PrimeSense, the 3D sensing company behind Microsoft’s Kinect sensor, for approximately $330 million. The company, best known for powering the gesture control used by Microsoft Xbox 360 game console, is also used in 3D scanners, iRobot’s Av, and the Asus Xtion. The company’s technology could be used in any number of Apple’s actual and hypothetical products in development, including the long-rumored Apple television set or an Apple-made smart watch. We will have to wait to see what Apple has up its sleeve. [Continue reading...]

Nov 25

In Business and Financial News:

Book by Tweet…
Loews Hotels will let you make reservations for your next stay by tweet. You can now send a tweet to @Loews_Hotels and include the hastag #BookLoews. A reservation specialist will reply to your tweet with a link to a chat window, where you will lock in your reservation. After switching to a secure window you can finalize everything by inputting your credit card info. Loews Hotels, however, is not taking bookings via Twitter 24/7. The twitter function shuts down for the evening around 10 p.m. PT. So if you have a need to book after that hour, you will have to do it online by yourself or wait till morning. [Continue reading...]

Nov 21

In Business and Financial News:

Paper Cut…
Tribune Co. (TRB) announced Wednesday that as part of the company’s initiative to bolster its digital operations it will cut nearly 700 jobs associated with its publishing business. The reduction, which did not involve front-line reporters, represents only 6% of the media company’s overall workforce and will be spread across the company’s newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. As part of the realignment the company will unify the non-editorial parts, like marketing, advertising, digital media and manufacturing, under the same leadership.
The restructuring announcement came only four months after the company said it would spin off publishing assets into a separate company, enabling more focus on the more profitable broadcast TV business. Tribune announced earlier this month that they turned a profit in the third-quarter. Shares of the company were down in Wednesday trading. [Continue reading...]

Nov 20

In Business and Financial News:

And We Are Done…
On Tuesday, JPMorgan Chase and the US Department of Justice finally shook hands and finalized a record $13 billion settlement of multiple investigations over toxic mortgage investments. The kind of toxic mortgage investments that helped spark the 2008 financial crisis. Under the deal, the bank agreed to pay $9 billion to settle federal and state civil claims by various entities related to the mortgage securities. It also includes a $2 billion non-tax-deductible fine to the Department of Justice. JPMorgan Chase will provide $4 billion in the form of relief to aid consumers harmed by improper mortgage actions of JPMorgan and the two subsidiaries, Bear Sterns and Washington Mutual.

The agreement included a statement of facts. In the statement the nation’s largest bank admitted that it knew that residential mortgage-backed securities that it marketed did not comply with underwriting guidelines and weren’t fit for sale. The bank has denied any wrong doing. The agreement ends civil mortgage-related probes that have recently dealt a financial black eye to the leading bank survivor of the financial crisis, and to its CEO, Jamie Dimon. [Continue reading...]

Nov 18

In Business and Financial News

Exploration…
On Friday, Forbes Media, the family-owned business magazine publisher, sent a letter to employees saying that the company has hired Deutsche Bank (DB) to explore a possible sale of the company. In recent years, print media has suffered severe losses of both readers and advertisers to online media.

Forbes media was started by B.C. Forbes in 1917. His son Malcolm succeeded him as publisher and handed it down to his son Steve, who is still chairman and editor in chief. Two years ago, Mike Perlis was brought in as the first non-family member to serve as CEO of the company. Additionally, the Forbes family also sold a minority stake in the company to investment firm Elevation Partners, which includes rock star Bono as one of its partners, in August 2006. [Continue reading...]

Nov 15

In Business and Financial News:

Stay the Course…
Janet Yellen reiterated in a Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing that the Fed’s QE and stimulus measures will continue to make a “meaningful contribution to economic growth and to improving the outlook.” In fact, Yellen maintained that under her leadership, no significant changes would be made to the central bank’s low interest rate policy and that ongoing support for the Fed’s massive monthly bond buying of government and mortgage-backed securities, while risky, is crucial as the economy moves to more solid ground. At the same time, Yellen dismissed any sort of rhetoric that implied the creation of bubbles.

Her confidence fueled investor optimism this morning in Asia, as key indexes across Asia gained and built upon Thursday’s S&P 500 and Dow Jones’ record high closing numbers. Yellen is widely considered the forerunner to officially succeed Ben Bernanke as Fed Chief, thereby making her the first woman to head a major central bank. [Continue reading...]

Nov 14

In Business and Financial News..

We Want Part of You…
On Wednesday, Fairholme Capital Management stated that it would like to buy parts of bailed-out mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In a letter sent late Wednesday to federal regulators, Bruce Berkowitz, Fairholme’s chief investment officer, made the formal offer to buy the mortgage finance giants from the government in a recapitalization valued at $52 billion. The proposal, which faces very long odds, could raise the need for a mortgage-market overhaul to the forefront.

Fairholme has been hard at work building interest in its proposal with other preferred shareholders, including hedge funds Perry Capital LLC and GSO Capital Partners, owned by Blackstone Group. A spokeswoman for the FHFA declined to comment. A spokesman for the Treasury Department, which has invested $188 billion in Fannie and Freddie, also declined to comment. [Continue reading...]

Nov 13

In Business and Financial News:

Cleared For Take Off…

After months of court dates and negotiations, the government has finally given its nod to the marriage of U.S. Airlines (LCC) and American (AMR). On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that it had reached an agreement which will allow US Airways and American Airlines to complete their $11 billion merger. The agreement requires both airlines to scale back operations at airports in Chicago, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, and several other big cities. In a letter to its employees the airlines said that the merged carrier will have to give up more than 52 landing slot pairs at Washington’s Reagan National, 17 slot pairs at New York LaGuardia and additional gates and other facilities at various other cities. [Continue reading...]

Nov 12

In Business and Financial News:

At It Again…
Our favorite activist investor Carl Icahn is at it again. Last time we saw him he was trying to stop Michael Dell from taking his company private, and this time he is after oil driller Transocean (RIG). Icahn, a minority shareholder in the company, for months has been pushing the company for a $ 4 per share dividend and cutting the number of directors. The company said Monday that it has agreed to support a dividend of $3 per share and will reduce its board to 11 directors from 14. In addition, Transocean will also look at boosting margins by $800 million through cost cutting. [Continue reading...]

Nov 11

In Business and Financial News:

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs…
On Friday, we learned how many jobs were added to the economy in October and what a pleasant surprise it was. The economy added 204,000 jobs in October, amazing everyone including highly trained analysts who had expected last month’s government shutdown to somewhat damage the labor market. Also as part of the NFP (Non-Farm Payroll) report, the U.S. Labor Department said that the unemployment rate edged up to 7.3% from 7.2% due to the 16 day fiscal standoff in Congress. So, if you’re scratching your head on this one, here’s the backstory. The Department of Labor census takers conduct a survey of a sampling group once a month. They call each of the sampling households and ask questions, including if they worked last week. They do not ask questions like, are you unemployed or how long you have been unemployed? They then take the “no’s” and “yes’s” and formulate the unemployment rate. During the 16 day shutdown, thousands more people were at home and not technically employed, potentially raising the numbers of “no’s” in the survey. [Continue reading...]

Nov 8

In Business and Financial News:

Unlike…
Facebook (FB) is changing its “Like” button around the web. On Thursday, the world’s largest social network unveiled its new, fresh design for its Like button. The company’s famous “thumbs up” is all but gone replaced by a little “f”. Facebook also introduced its new share button, which allows users to comment as well as share. Additionally, Facebook made the logo a darker shade of blue and changed its font. In addition, it is giving websites the option of lumping the like and share buttons together. Change is good?? [Continue reading...]

Nov 7

In Business and Financial News:

From Battlefield to Barista…
On Wednesday, Starbucks (SBUX) announced that it will hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years, as part of an aggressive push to hire vets returning to the civilian work force. Starbucks also announced that they have plans to open five new stores on or near military bases. The new stores will share their profits with local communities. The company will also provide vets and their spouses a free tall brewed coffee on Veteran’s Day (Monday, November 11).
The unemployment rate for veterans who have served since September 11, 2011 is a staggering 10.1%, compared to that of the general population which was 7.2% in September. Other major US companies have also started to launch ambitious plans to hire veterans including UPS (UPS), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wal-Mart (WMT), who has said they expect to hire 100,000 veterans by 2018. [Continue reading...]

Nov 6

In Business and Financial News:

Open Up…

On Wednesday, Samsung (SSNLF) will offer investors and analysts a rare public viewing, as the world’s largest smartphone and television maker attempts to boost its fledgling stock price. The company will hold its first analyst day in eight years and will feature presentations by all the heads of business units, from mobile devices to appliances and even TV sets. Attendees of the event will have a chance to raise issues that have weighed on their minds, like when the company will raise its historic low dividend or when the company might come out with an ADR (American Depository Receipt) and be traded around the world.  [Continue reading...]

Nov 5

In Business and Financial News:

Abandon…

Monday was supposed to be the day that someone would ride in on a white horse and save Blackberry. Instead, the company abandoned a tentative $4.7 billion plan with the front runner Fairfax Financial, kicked the current CEO out, hired a new one, and got a $1 billion infusion from a current stock holder. Not bad for the little Canadian phone maker who everyone thought was down and on their way out. The phone maker tapped John Chen, former chief executive of enterprise software company Sybase Inc., to succeed Chief Executive Thorsten Heins on an interim basis to help lead the search for a new CEO. The company also named Chen to be executive chairman.

The company has a long way to go after losing considerable market share to competitors like Samsung and Apple. Some Wall Streeters think that the company may finally have a game plan for helping the fledgling company crawl back into the smartphone space. [Continue reading...]

Nov 4

In Business and Financial News:

Auction Anyone?

The deadline to buy Blackberry is Monday, and bidders are still expected to come out of the woodwork. Here’s a list of the potential buyers for the struggling cell phone company:

  • Fairfax Financial Holdings (FRFHF) was the bidder to beat since they already have a signed deal with Blackberry; however, according to sources, the company still hasn’t lined up the money to pay the $9 a share promised.
  •  Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin, cofounders of Blackberry in 1984 but who no longer work at the company, have been in talks with mobile phone chipmaker Qualcomm (QCOM) and Cerberus Capital Management LP to submit a bid.
  • Lenovo Group, who in October signed a non-disclosure to look at Blackberry’s books, is said to be planning a merger possibility worth $4.7 billion.
  • Facebook: Rumor has it a couple weeks ago Mike Lazardis and Doug Fregin meet with Facebook to talk about a potential deal; however; no one has a heard a beep as to any such deal. Since the founders have spoken and could be in a deal with others, we think it’s highly unlikely that Facebook is even remotely interested.

With the deadline fast approaching, we will have to stay tuned to the crackberry soap opera to see just who the winner bidder will be. [Continue reading...]

Nov 1

In Business and Financial News:

Will You Help Me, Pleeeaase…

The agency overseeing the new Obamacare site announced Thursday that they have asked experts from the leading tech companies to create so-called tech surge to fix the struggling HealthCare.gov website. Experts from Google and other prominent tech companies have been called in to help fix the struggling HealthCare.gov website after it crashed for over 36 hours. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the surge includes “dozens” of people with expertise in the site’s key issues: reliability, stability, and large-scale operations. The surge will be made up of government employees and employees from top tech giants, such as Google (GOOG), Red Hat (RHT), and Oracle (ORCL). [Continue reading...]

Oct 31

In Business and Financial News:

Stay the Course…
Wednesday, Federal Reserve officials emerged from their two-day meeting with their easy money program still intact and no clear indication when they would begin to start the pull back. In a statement after the policy meeting wrapped up, the central bank said that it will keep buying $85 billion a month in bonds to keep long term interest rates low and encourage more borrowing and spending in the economy. The Fed said that the U.S. economy still needed its support of the low interest-rate policies, as it is growing only moderately. The only real notable change from the committee’s policy statement in September was the panel’s thought that the housing market has slowed somewhat in recent months.

More Strain…
On Friday, retailers and grocers get a new strain on the bottom line to worry about. Friday is the day that the temporary boost in food-stamp benefits expires. The change in benefits will leave 48 million American with less than an estimated $16 billion to spend over the next three years.
On the business side, the cut will impact the grocers, discounters, dollar stores and gas stations that depend heavily on low-income shoppers. Weaker spending from the already stressed low-income shopper has already had an impact on retailers, including Walmart and Target, as the chains have lowered their sales forecast for the rest of the year ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Less Jobs…
ADP announced its monthly private sector jobs report for October on Wednesday. The report showed U.S. businesses added 130,000 jobs, way under the 150,000 jobs economists had forecasted. The 16-day partial government shutdown slowed an already weak job market. The report also included a revision for September from 166,000 to 145,000 jobs that were created, showing the job market was already weaker before the shutdown on Oct. 1. The September revision of 145,000 jobs created was the fewest jobs created for the ADP survey since April.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Shares in Asia were down on Thursday. Investors were spooked by lower earnings and the Fed staying status quo because of continued weakness in the US economy.

Europe:
Europe closed mostly flat on Wednesday as investors waited to see if the Fed would keep QE going.

US:
US markets closed in the red Wednesday. After the Fed’s statement showed little change in wording investors are back on the speculation train. Will taper start this year or next year? DJIA: -61.78 15618.57 S&P: -8.66 15618.57 NASDAQ: -21.72 3930.62

In Dinner or Drink:

Black Witch

1/4 oz. apricot brandy
1/4 oz. dark rum
1 1/2 oz. gold rum
1/2 oz. pineapple juice

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Like our spooky drink, click here for more.

 

Oct 30

In Business and Financial News:

Stop Trading…
The $24.9 billion buyout of Dell (DELL) by Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners has been completed. The computer company announced Tuesday that its shares will stop trading at the end of Tuesday, closing out a 25 year era of being a public company. Michael Dell, company founder, hopes to turn around the struggling computer maker as a private company.
Under the buyout deal, Dell stockholders got $13.75 a share for each share of common stock held. That, in addition to a special cash dividend of 13 cents per share, bought the share price up to $13.88 a share.

No Cookies…
The end of cookies, those tiny pieces of code that marketers deploy on web browsers to track your online movements to serve you with target advertising , could be coming soon.
Facebook (FB), Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) are in the mist of developing systems to plug into and control the river of data in ways that will bypass the more than a thousand software companies that place cookies on websites. The trio, who between them produce email, browsers and operating systems, will position themselves with the new system to potentially learn far more about people’s activities than cookies ever could. If the three companies are successful and get rid of cookies, it would radically impact the $120 billion global digital ad industry.

Visitor Visa or Work Visa…
The US government is prepared to slap Infosys Ltd. with the largest immigration fine ever. Accusing the Indian outsourcing giant illegally placed workers on visitor, rather than work, visas at big corporate clients across the U.S.
Expected to announce Wednesday, the government will fine Infosys about $35 million, according to sources. An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department found the company used inexpensive, easy-to-obtain B-1 visas meant to cover short business visits-instead of harder-to-get H-1B work visas-to bring an unknown number of its employees for long-term stays.
The probe came amid the debate, earlier this year, over whether foreign workers, particularly in the software sector, are displacing qualified Americans because they are cheaper. This practice would have enabled Infosys to undercut competitors in bids for programming, accounting and other work performed for client. Infosys clients have included such giants as Walmart and Goldman Sachs. The investigation has spurred the government to say it intends to tighten regulations that critics say allow employers to abuse the immigration system.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets rallied on Wednesday as global investors place bets the Fed will keep QE going for the near future.

Europe:
European stocks move higher on Tuesday as investors were received encouraging earnings reports and look ahead to the US Fed’s two-day meeting.

US:
US stocks closed higher on Tuesday as investors bet the Fed will keep its foot on the QE pedal after a mixed bag of economic data was released. DJIA: +112.26 15681.19 NASDAQ: +12.21 3952.34 S&P 500 +9.90 1772.01

In Dinner or Drink:

Grandma’s Cookies
1 oz. cinnamon schnapps
1.5 oz. DeKuyper® Buttershots liqueur
1.5 oz. Bailey’s® Irish cream

Pour all ingredients into a shaker of ice. Shake until cold, pour through strainer into martini glass. Must be shaken, not stirred!

Like our drink today, click here for more.

We apologize for the late edition of the Daily Digest yesterday. We left AJ in charge and unfortunately technology was not kind to him.

Oct 29

In Business and Financial News:

Good News, Bad News…
The good news: Apple (AAPL) reported its earnings after the bell on Monday. The company reported revenue of $37.5 billion and a net profit of $7.5 billion, or $8.26 a share. Both revenue and profit beat analyst expectation.
The bad news: Apple’s latest earnings topped analyst expectations but the company’s profits were down 8.6 percent from a year ago. Most of this quarter’s sales growth was likely due to the popularity of its more expensive new iPhone models. By contrast, sales of iPads were flat and fewer people bought the company’s Mac computers.
Apple shares fell 1.8 percent in after-hours trading, to $520. Should be interesting to watch the price during Tuesday’s trading session to see which side of the news investors will take.

Slam Dunk…
Samsung Electronics announced Monday that it has signed a wide-ranging $100 million deal with the National Basketball Association to bring technology courtside at their games. Samsung, as the official provider of tablet and televisions, will supply the courtside monitors that referees use to review close calls. The three year deal will make Samsung one of the most visible companies out there. It is expected that the league will customize video content for Samsung devices, including their television, allowing Samsung to set itself apart from rivals by building unique offerings around a company’s or entity’s needs.
This is not the first time Samsung and the NBA have crossed paths. Miami Heat forward LeBron James endorsed Samsung’s Galaxy Note II smart phone last year.

Tweet a Gift…
Starbucks (SBUX) said Monday that customers can now “tweet-a-coffee” to their friends as long as both have accounts on Twitter and Starbucks. Customers of the coffee chain can tweet a $5 gift card that the recipient can redeem by printing it or showing it to a Starbucks barista on his or her mobile device. Starbucks hopes that this collaboration will cause their customers to develop the habit of spontaneously e-gifting each other.
This is not the first time Twitter has ventured into e-commerce. Earlier this year, Twitter partnered with American Express, allowing Amex members to buy products by tweeting out a corresponding hash tag, creating a kind of virtual shopping cart.

In The News:

Asia:
Asian stocks closed mixed on Tuesday as investors anxiously wait for Wednesday’s Federal Reserve meeting and a mixed bag of corporate earnings.

Europe:
European markets closed lower Monday. A broker downgrade of car makers and caution ahead of the Fed meeting Wednesday had investors in a selling mood.

US:
US shares were mixed on Monday. Investors wait anxiously for Wednesday’s Federal Reserve meeting. Lower than expected home sales has investors betting there will be no taper surprise out of meeting.

In Dinner or Drink:

Slam Dunk
1 1/2 oz. Southern Comfort® peach liqueur
2 parts orange juice
1 part cranberry juice

Start with a rocks glass filled with ice.

Add southern comfort. For the mix, add 1 can of cranberry juice with half a can of orange concentrate into a pitcher. Use this mix to fill the glass.

Like our drink today, click  for more.

 

Oct 28

In Business and Financial News:

Play It Again, Sam…
2013 just isn’t going to be a great year for JPMorgan (JPM). On Friday, the U.S.’s largest bank agreed to a $5.1 billion settlement with mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The deal unveiled by the Federal Housing Finance Authority will settle accusations that the bank lied about the quality of some 129 securities, which the two mortgage giants bought, totaling $33 billion. The $5.1B settlement included about $1 billion from claims filed against JPM itself, $1.2 billion from claims against Washington Mutual (JPMorgan bought them in 2008), and about $1.8 billion from claims filed against Bear Stern. What was not part of the deal? … JPMorgan admitting to any wrongdoing.

Up and Away…
United Parcel Service (UPS) announced Q3 earnings on Friday of $1.16 per share, modestly beating expectations of $1.15. The company reported Q3 revenue of $13.52 billion, barely missing expectations for $13.59 billion. Stronger growth in Europe helped UPS deliver over 1 billion packages in the third quarter, an increase of 4.6% year over year.
UPS also announced on Friday its predictions for Christmas. Like its rival FedEx, the company expects to break records during the season, starting with 32 million packages delivered thanks to Cyber Monday, December 2. The only thing that could spoil the two companies’ wishes of a great Christmas: the weather. Thanksgiving is the last Thursday in November; therefore, not only is the holiday shopping season a week less but it is also a week closer to December, and the possibility of a winter storm hitting is greater.
KJ’s Takeaway: UPS is thought of as a bell weather stock because they deliver globally and across all different industries. A shorter Christmas season this year has the potential to have ripple effects across a number of industries, like the big box retailers, restaurants and of course our time management for gift shopping. We will all have to tune into Q4 earnings next year to see just what effect the shorter season will have.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do…
On Friday, McDonald’s Corp (MCD) announced plans to end its 40-year relationship with H.J. Heinz Co. (HNZ), maker of ketchup. Heinz is now being led by Bernardo Hess, the former chief executive of rival Burger King Worldwide (BKW). The ketchup switch will be more apparent overseas than in the United States, as only Pittsburgh and Minneapolis serve the branded ketchup. Most Mickey Ds handout ketchup packets with only the word’s “fancy ketchup” on them, and in-store dispensers are not branded. One happy hamburger that could benefit is Heinz’s rival Hunt’s, owned by ConAgra Funds (CAG) and Del Monte (FDP).

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets started out the week positive. A good hand off from the US and no real news to get in the way had the markets and investors seeing nothing up green.

Europe:
European markets ended the week slightly positive taking a breather from its record breaking run. Better GDP numbers from the UK helped calm investors and give them a little reassurance the country’s economy is back on the right track.

US:
US markets closed in the green on Friday with the S&P hitting another all-time high. An increase in durable goods along with better corporate earnings from Microsoft and Amazon had investors pushing the buy button. DJIA: +61.07 15570.28 S&P 500: +7.70 1759.77 NASDAQ: +14.40 3943.36

In Dinner or Drink:

Wild Pitch
•1 oz. Bulleit® Rye
•0.5 oz. earl grey infused sweet vermouth
•2 dash(es)bitters
•1 piece(s) orange zest

GLASS: Rocks Glass
Combine BULLEIT® 95 Rye Whiskey, infused vermouth and bitters in a rocks glass over ice.
Express the orange zest over and around the rim of glass and place it on top of the drink.

Oct 25

In Business and Financial News:

Bucking the Trend….
Microsoft (MSFT) bucked a recent trend among major sellers of technology to corporations when it announced on Thursday that it posted double-digit percentage increases in both revenue and profit last quarter. Microsoft reported for the quarter ending September 30 revenue from software and other services sold to corporations—which generated roughly two-thirds of Microsoft’s gross profit—increased 10% compared with the same period a year earlier. The company also said its “cloud” business sales more than doubled, though it remains a small piece of the overall revenue of the company.Microsoft did have less success selling to consumers. Revenue from products and services sold to consumers, which include PCs and the company’s Surface tablet and Xbox videogame systems, rose 4%. Microsoft said that it sold more than twice as many Surface devices than it did the prior quarter, an important development for a product that had a rocky sales start. If you remember, last quarter the company took a huge write off for its failed first attempt in the tablet world. Overall, Microsoft posted a net income of $5.2 billion, or 62 cents a share, beating analyst expectations of 54 cents a share.

Microsoft still faces several big challenges in new computing areas, including the web, tablets and smartphones. The company is also trying to diversify its business away from PCs and servers; however, the shift isn’t coming easy. We will have to stay tuned in three months for the next report card to see if Microsoft has found the right track.

Housing Cuts…
Bank of America (BAC) announced that they are cutting about 4,200 jobs by the end of the year as the bank responds to changes in the housing market, echoing moves by other banks. The country’s second largest bank laid off 1,200 this week, primarily from the unit that handles mortgage origination, after the mortgage industry across the board experienced a significant drop in refinance applications. The other 3,000 jobs will be cut by year end. The bulk of the losses will be in the bank’s units that handle troubled mortgages, like foreclosure or loan modifications. According to the bank, many of the cuts affect contractors who were hired during peak demand. Bank of America declined to specify in what part of the county the job cuts would take place.

In The Markets:

Asia:
Asian markets closed negative the last trading session of the week. Continuing cash crunch fears in China had investors leaving the markets and starting their weekend early.

Europe:
European equity markets were higher on Thursday. Encouraging Chinese manufacturing data and better auto sales offset disappointing Eurozone economic news.

US:
US markets closed in the green Thursday on better earnings, hopes the Fed taper is delayed, and stronger economic data from China. DJIA: +93.37 15506.70 NASDAQ: +21.89 3928.96 S&P 500: +5.61 1751.99

In Dinner or Drinks:

The Smashing Pumpkin

2 ounces pumpkin and star anise infused 10 Cane Rum
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
3/4 ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
3/4 Massanez Ginger Liqueur
3/4 ounce Saffron Syrup
2-3 Dashes Cardamom Bitters
1 ounce fresh Meyer Lemon juice

Shake and strain into martini glass. Rim glass with spice mix of sugar, ground ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Float orange wooden pumpkin in drink as garnish.

Did you like our spooky drink, click here for more.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend, Yall!

Oct 24

In Business and Financial News:

A Zen Starbucks…
At a Starbucks (SBUX) store you can get a cup of tea, but you can’t get a cup of coffee at the chain’s first teahouse, Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar. The new tea bar opens its doors on Thursday in Manhattan. Patrons expecting the new tea bar to be a clone may get disappointed. According to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in a phone interview the difference between a Starbucks coffee shop and a Teavana teahouse “is like night and day,” describing the new tea bars as much more Zen-like. The store looks very different from Starbucks with fashionably gray walls, light wood and museum-esque lighting. The most striking feature visually in the store is the Teavana “Wall of Tea,” with a range of loose-leaf teas and tea blends. It’s a high-profile baby step into the $90 billion global tea market for the coffee brand.

Starbucks is scheduled to open a second Teavana in Seattle around Thanksgiving. Starbucks hopes to open at least 1,000 more of its own Teavana bars in North America and many more outside the U.S. in the next 5 years. [Continue reading...]

Oct 23

In Business and Financial News:

Sluggish Growth:
On Tuesday, the government finally released the September NFP (Non-Farm Payroll) Jobs report, after the closure delayed the U.S. Labor Department’s latest employment report by nearly three weeks. According to the report the economy added only 148,000 jobs in September, short of the 185,000 experts had projected. The job market seemed to have cooled last month even before the economy went into a freeze due to the government shutdown. Over the last 12 months the economy has added on average of 185,000 jobs per month.

The jobless rate dipped to 7.2 percent in September, down from 7.3 percent in August and 7.9 percent in January. The “official” unemployment rate, derived from a different survey than the payroll numbers, is falling as many discouraged workers have stopped looking for a job. September’s NFP report also showed job growth earlier in the year was more uneven than previously thought. Employers added 193,000 jobs in August, above an initial estimate of 169,000, however July’s data were revised downward to 89,000, from a first estimate of 104,000, the slowest pace of job-creation in more than a year. [Continue reading...]

Oct 22

In Business and Financial News:

First Child…
Nokia handset division, soon to become a part of Microsoft, will unveil six new devices Tuesday, including its first tablet computer and bigger smartphones designed to better compete with Samsung. The company, hosting an event for telecom operators and media in Abu Dhabi the same day Apple announces its new line up, will launch most of its new products in time for the holiday shopping season. In addition to its first tablet and two new phablets-smartphone-tablet hybrids, Nokia will unveil three new handsets under $100 for its more basic mobile-phone lineup. Here’s what we know about some of the new products:
• The Lumia 2520 will have a 10-inch screen and run Windows RT, a special version of Microsoft’s Windows 8. The tablet will retail for $499.
• The Lumia 1520, a phatablet, will run on Windows software and have a six-inch screen. The more expensive 1520 will be equipped with Nokia’s high-end camera. The phatablet will retail for $749.
• The Lumia 1320, also a phatablet, will be more basic and have few bells and whistles including a lower-resolution screen. The product is aimed at emerging markets, including Vietnam, China, and India. The Lumia will cost less than half the price of the Lumia 1520.

Time will tell if Nokia can compete with big boys again. [Continue reading...]

Oct 21

In Business and Financial News:

Luv my burrito…
Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (CMG) soared more than 15% on Friday, topping an all-time high of $510 a share, despite news from the company that they are planning a price hike next year due to increase in higher food costs. Thursday, Chipotle posted unexpected strong third-quarter sales at established restaurants, overshadowing profits that fell short of Wall Street’s estimate. Sales at already open restaurants for 13 months, also known as same-store sales and a gauge of performance were up 6.2% in the third quarter.
The Denver-based company, known for customers building their own burritos, tacos, salads and bowls, has long prided itself serving farm-raised meat and vegetables to its customers. The chain was the first major U.S. restaurant chain to disclose which of its ingredients contain GMOs. Part of the reason for the chain not raising prices earlier was that the company wanted to first secure ample supplies of natural meats and switch to cooking oil and tortillas that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). [Continue reading...]

Oct 18

In Business and Financial News:


Giddy…

Google (GOOG) shares surged Thursday after the company reported a 36% climb in earnings despite slumping average ad prices as more people connect to Google services through their mobile phones. The Mountain View, California-based company’s average ad price has declined from the prior year in each of the last eight quarters primarily because advertisers are not yet paying as much for mobile ads. Despite the slump in revenue, Google reported earnings of $8.75 per share, or nearly $3 billion during Q3. Revenue last year for the same period was $6.53 per share or $2.2 billion. [Continue reading...]

Oct 17

In Business and Financial News:

I’ll Take Some of That…

Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK.A) industrial arm, Marmon Group, announced Wednesday that it bought the drink dispensing and merchandise arm of IMI Plc (IMI). IMI’s beverage dispensing units manufactures the actual drink machines used in convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, hospitals and offices. The company’s merchandise business specializes in designing product displays for retailers. Berkshire is not new to the beverage business. They own a stake in both Dairy Queen and Coke (COKE).

The acquisition is the latest in a string of bolt-on acquisitions that Berkshire Hathaway has made in the U.S. and Europe. Mr. Buffet has encouraged his firm’s operating companies to seek out smaller deals which would carry less exposure to risk. [Continue reading...]

Oct 16

In Business and Financial News:

Negative Watch…
Fitch Ratings, one of the big rating agencies, has officially placed the U.S.’s all important AAA rating on downgrade watch. In a press release, Fitch said that the prolonged negotiations over raising the debt ceiling could potentially undermine the role of the U.S. dollar as the global preeminent currency by casting doubt regarding the full faith and credit of the U.S. If Fitch does cut the ratings it would potentially cause a small number of investors that are bound to invest only in AAA rated securities may have to sell their Treasury holdings. The larger issue, if the downgrade happens, is the effect that it may have on the dollar’s dominance in the global financial arena.

KJ’s Take: It is important to note that Fitch has only placed the U.S. on downgrade watch, nothing more. However, the announcement means that there is a greater possibility that a downgrade could come soon. If Fitch decides to downgrade, the other two ratings agency, S&P and Moody’s, will follow suit sooner rather than latter. [Continue reading...]

Oct 15

In Business and Financial News:

Yes, I Will Direct You…
Sony Television will become the first major TV production company to partner with Netflix (NFLX) to produce original programming. On Monday, Netflix announced that it will pair up with Sony early next year to produce a psychological thriller for the streaming programming company. Sony’s TV studio has made hit shows for traditional TV, like Breaking Bad or this year’s new NBC drama The Blacklist.
Insiders will be watching the deal closely to see whether a studio can make as much money producing shows for streaming services, like Netflix, as they do for traditional networks. Generally, studios license television shows to U.S. TV networks for a fee that is less than the production cost, and count on international distribution and back-end revenues like DVD sales and rerun airings to generate profits. Some studio executives in the past have said that they weren’t sure how robust the international and back-end market for Netflix originals could be. [Continue reading...]

Oct 14

In Business and Financial News:

Fed Sued…

A former bank examiner, Carmen Sergarra, is suing the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for pressuring her to water down her exam of Goldman Sachs (GS) and then firing her for saying, “No.” According to the complaint, Segarra was asked to look into potential conflicts of interest relating to a certain deal involving Goldman Sachs. After conducting a search of the firm, Sergarra found that the company did not have a conflict of interest policy and critized the company for it in an email to colleagues at the New York Fed. Her colleges didn’t seem to find her email very convincing and suggested in a meeting that she change her finding. Shortly after the meeting, Ms. Sergarra was fired after she refused.
Bank examiners first took up their post of “good cop” in 2008 when Goldman became a bank holding company during the financial crisis. Goldman’s conflict of interest policies, or potential lack of one, came under scrutiny by the Fed Bank examiners after a series of episodes involving complex mortgage-linked securities deals and the firm’s participation in a merger of El Paso and Kinder Morgan. Goldman provided advice to both parties in the merger despite owning an interest in one of them. Neither the Federal Reserve Bank of New York nor Goldman Sachs would comment on the matter. [Continue reading...]

Oct 8

In Business and Financial News:

Buy Me…

Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC), the New York-based cable company, announced Monday that it will be buying DukeNet Communications. DukeNet, a fiber optic network company, provides data and bandwidth services to wireless carriers, data centers and other business. The $600 million in cash acquisitions will help the company enhance its existing fiber network and help it to serve its customers better. 

DukeNet is owned by Duke Energy Corp (DUK) and investment firm Alinda Capital Partners equally. The deal is expected to close pending regulatory approvals in the first quarter of 2014. [Continue reading...]

Oct 7

In Business and Financial News:

Idle Workers…

Lockheed Martin (LMT) announced Friday its plans to furlough 3,000 employees on Monday. Contractors have been warned that tens of thousands of the companies’ staff could be furloughed as the government shutdown continues. The shutdown has halted contract awards, payments and key work by civilian Pentagon inspectors on existing programs, such as the Lockheed’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Additionally, Boeing (BA) said Friday that it too may have to implement an unspecified number of furloughs amongst its workers this week because they have nothing to do until Pentagon inspectors can give them the “OK” on the fighters. United Technologies (UTX) was the first defense contractor to announce furloughs because of a shortage of government inspectors to inspector their part of the F-35. [Continue reading...]

Oct 2

In Business and Financial News:

Holiday Hiring…

Amazon (AMZN) announced Monday that it will be hiring 70,000 seasonal workers for its US warehouse network, a 40% increase from last year. Seasonal hires have become an annual ritual attributed to the need to meet an increase in demand. The US isn’t the only country that the online retailer is hiring for. The company plans on hiring 15,000 seasonal works in the United Kingdom, a 50% increase over last year.

The Seattle-based Amazon has been building its network of warehouses in major cities like San Francisco and San Antonio to help speed up delivery and to offer new services like grocery delivery. Amazon currently employs 20,000 full time employees. [Continue reading...]

Oct 1

In Business and Financial News:

We Are Hiring…

American Airlines (AMR) said Monday that it plans on hiring 1,500 pilots over the next 5 years in addition to bringing back all pilots that the airline had on furlough. The company will start the recruitment effort for new pilots this fall. American has resumed hiring pilots because a large number of its current pilots will hit the new mandatory retirement age of 65.  The age limit was raised from 60 to 65 over five years ago. In addition to hiring new pilots, American has already hired 1,500 flight attendants as the company prepares for life after bankruptcy. [Continue reading...]

Sep 30

 

In Business and Financial News:

 What’s going on…? 

Shares of JCPenny (JCP) tumbled again on Friday as investors wonder what is really going on with the big box retailer. For months and as recently as last Thursday, executives have touted the company’s balance sheet and the board’s optimistic view of recovery in the last quarter of the year. They even went on CNBC’s Street Signs to express their optimistic views and reiterate the company remains okay in the money department. In fact, they claimed that they would not need to add additional funding.  Only hours after their interview on CNBC, JCPenny filed paperwork with the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) to issue 84 million shares of common stock, thereby raising approximately $1 billion based on the company’s close on Thursday.  The company will use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes. The filing also named Goldman Sachs as head underwriter and granted them the option of purchasing 12 million additional shares. On a conference call Thursday evening, JCPenny executes said the decision was made after the company became aware that some of its suppliers had become uneasy about the company’s financial state. [Continue reading...]

Sep 27

In The News:

Would you like Veggies with that Burger? 

McDonald’s (MCD) announced Thursday at the Clinton Global Initiative, as part of their partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation; the fast food giant will start offering the choices of vegetables, fruit and side salads instead of fries in its value meals. The company will also offer only water, milk and juice as beverage options in its children’s Happy Meals. The Happy Meal packaging itself will go through a makeover to emphasize themes related to healthy eating and wellbeing called “fun nutrition.”

When will this exciting new menu be available? That is the question. McDonald’s did not disclose an exact date that the new healthy value meals will be available. The company did say that the new program will roll out in 20 countries, including the US, over the next few years and expects to have all changes implemented across all 20 markets by 2020.

Bottom Line: Offering fresh fruits and vegetables is an outstanding idea; however, it will be interesting to see if the company plans on upping their prices to cover this new health fare. A price increase could discourage McDonald’s core audience to flock to other fast food restaurant. [Continue reading...]

Sep 26

In The News:

Touchdown…

The National Football League and Twitter Inc. have reached an agreement to make available football highlights and other content on the social media service. As part of the deal, the NFL will have a dedicated team to produce programming for Twitter users seven days a week. Programming will include in-game highlights from the NFL Network’s Thursday night games and games aired on CBS and Fox. Additional content will include news, analysis and fantasy football advice.

What’s in it for both companies? Ad revenue. The new initiative is part of Twitter’s revenue-generating program Amplify that allows TV content owners to distribute programming via Twitter feeds with short embedded ads.

Bottom line: Twitter seemingly makes off like a bandit with these partnerships (NFL, CBS, A+E, The Weather Channel, and BBC America), securing a small foothold in the $70 billion TV advertising market and bolstering its valuation position prior to its highly anticipated initial public offering, a valuation estimated at nearly $15 billion. [Continue reading...]

Sep 25

In The News:

Confidence Dip…

Confidence fell slightly in September, as consumers felt less optimistic about overall hiring and pay increase over the next six months. On Tuesday, the Conference Board, a New York-based private research group, released its monthly consumer index, which showed a drop to 79.7 in September, down from August’s reading of 81.8 and four-month low. Typically, a reading of 90 coincides with a healthy economy.

The slump has also unsettled nerves abroad, as Asian stocks fell for a second day. Analysts note that traders reacted to the news by repositioning themselves and, in the process, taking a little more profit off the table in this last week and month of the quarter.

Bottom Line: Consumer confidence is closely watched, since consumer spending accounts for 70% of all U.S. economic activity. In this case, the dip was modest. Nevertheless, recent economic data suggesting that economic growth may be slowing is worth taking a look at. [Continue reading...]

Sep 24

In The News:

Crackberry Buyer…

For the second time in two trading sessions, shares of Blackberry were halted. Each time the halt has been caused by “big” news. On Friday, the “big” news wasn’t positive; this time, the “big” news was positive for the company. Blackberry announced it has finally found a buyer for the struggling phone maker. Fairfax Financial, a Canadian investment firm, has made a bid of $4.7 billion to purchase all of Blackberry, contingent on Fairfax getting financing and performing due diligence. Rumors had been swirling that the company, in an effort to stay afloat, would start to break itself into pieces, making a sales easier. The idea of splitting up the company may still be in the cards. Fairfax could, after the purchase is official, still decide to chop the parts up. However, as of right now, the company is still whole.

If the deal goes through, shareholders would receive $9.00 a share, a premium to the share’s Monday closing price of $ 8.80.

Shrinking Lenders…

Citigroup became the latest mortgage lender, cutting its workforce as the end of the refinancing boom continued and housing markets slowed down due to rates increasing. On Monday, Citigroup said it will lay off 1,000 workers from its mortgage business. That brings the total to more than 7,000 jobs lost this year as home loans continue to slump. The affected positions included jobs in sales fulfillment, mortgage underwriting and mortgage default functions, primarily based in Las Vegas, NV and Irving, TX.

A weakening mortgage market is the latest headwind for banks that are already struggling to pump up profits in a sluggish economy, in addition to weak loan demand for both corporate and consumer borrowers and costly regulatory requirements. Several top banks, including Wells Fargo, have warned of lower earnings this year. Citigroup (C: NYSE) was down $1.64 in Monday trading.

Unwrapped…

On Monday, at an event held in New York, Microsoft unveiled two new versions of its Surface tablet. The new Surface 2 will start at $449 and comes either in 32 gigabytes (GB) or 64 gigabytes of storage. The Surface Pro 2 starts at $899 with a choice of 65GB or 512GB of storage. Pre-orders will start Tuesday with retail outlet sales starting on October 22. Microsoft’s first attempt at the tablet market, Surface RT, was a huge disappointment for the company. Analysts seem to think that this new round of Surface 2, which is thinner, lighter and faster, may bring more success to the company. Shares of Microsoft (MSFT: NASDAQ) closed down at a $.05 loss in Monday trading.

Skinny Fries…

On Tuesday,  Burger King Worldwide Inc. (BKW) will roll out lower-calorie, lower fat, fries in all U.S. locations. The fries, called Satisfries, have largely the same ingredients as Burger King’s classic fries, but a less porous batter to keep out more oil during cooking. The new fries have 30% fewer calories and 40% less fat than McDonald’s fries, coming in at only 190 calories.

In The Markets:

Asia:

Asian shares tumbled on Tuesday as investors start to dial up taper concern, again.

Europe:

European stock markets dropped Monday. Investors digested mixed economic data and worries re-elected German chancellor Angela Merkel will struggle to form a new coalition government.

US:

US markets fell for a third day on comments from the Fed tapering did not happen in September because the economy didn’t meet the Fed’s strength criteria. DJIA: 49.52 15,401.57 NASDAQ: -9.44 3765.29  S&P 500: -8.02 1701.89

In Dinner or Drinks:

 Wild Pitch

  • 1 oz. Bulleit® Rye
  • 0.5 oz. Earl grey infused sweet vermouth
  • 2 dash(es) bitters
  • 1 piece(s) orange zest
  •  

Glass: Rocks Glass

1.    Combine BULLEIT® 95 Rye Whiskey, infused vermouth and bitters in a rocks glass over ice.

2.    Express the orange zest over and around the rim of glass and place it on top of the drink.

Like our drink today, click here.

Sep 23

In The News:

Rebalancing Act…

Two of the US indexes, the DJIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average) and the S&P 500 (Standard and Poor’s) rebalanced on Friday. As we mentioned a couple weeks ago, the DJIA announced it would remove Bank of America, Alcoa and HP from its index. All three were replaced after the close on Friday with Nike, Visa and Goldman Sachs. The S&P also had its quarterly rebalance on Friday. The S&P 500 index is a weighted index based on the market capitalization of 500 large companies traded on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange). Once a quarter, the index rebalances itself by changing the weightings of companies in the index based on the company’s market capitalization. For this quarter’s rebalance, the S&P reduced the weighting of Apple and Disney in the index and raised the weighting of Google and General Motors. Bottom line: If you are an index investor, i.e. your stock portfolio is based solely on the weightings and stocks of the DJIA and S&P indexes, you will obviously be affected. However, if you are an average retail investor, you more than likely will not see a significant difference in your portfolio based on the rebalance itself. [Continue reading...]

Sep 19

In The News:

Cold Feet...

The world held its collective breath and waited patiently for the big taper announcement, only to have the Fed get a case of cold feet. Surprise… The Fed, who wrapped up a two day meeting on Wednesday, decided they would continue to press the gas pedal and keep the buying spree for assets going for a bit longer.  With the possibility of an uneven economic climate and fiscal discord in Washington over the deficit reductions and the spending limit debate, the committee felt it was best to wait to start the process of tapering off its bond buying program.

Backstory: The Fed’s bond-buying program, known as QE or Quantitative Easing, is meant to stimulate hiring and economic growth by holding down interest rates, in turn encouraging households and businesses to spend. Bottom-line: Wall Street, for now, loves the news from the Fed today. The Fed is going to have to taper at some point, but like most things in life, no knows for sure when that time will actually come. [Continue reading...]

Sep 18

In The News:

The Future…May Not Be Bright…. 

Analyst at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a stark warning about the long term budget outlook on Tuesday. The announcement comes as Congress and the White House face two fiscal battles in the near future. According to the CBO’s calculations the US nation debit is now 73% of gross domestic product, the highest it’s been in history.

Despite a slight reduction in spending this year, due to the sequester,  the CBO cautions the longer term outlook could see  the national debt growing to 100% of GDP by 2025, if the current laws remain in place.  Bottom Line: Today’s announcement comes less than two weeks before the end of the government’s fiscal year and after last month’s warning from Treasury Sec. Jack Lew, ,that the US will hit the debt ceiling by October. Will all of this cause Congress to actually work or are they going to once again kick the can down the road?

Sold…

5 years ago, in the mist of the financial crisis, the UK government bailed out Lloyds Bank, by buying a 37.5% stake in the company. As part of the bailout deal the government paid average price of £73.6 (pounds) per share.  In a sign the bank and the economy are starting to get stronger the UK government yesterday started the process of selling its stake. The sale, 6% to institutional investors, at a price of 75 pounds per share represents a £586M cash profit for both the government and UK tax payers. Not a bad profit for a 5 year investment… [Continue reading...]

Sep 17

In The News:

Whale Of A Fine…

Regulators are expected to hit JPMorganChase (JPM) with at least $700 million in penalties as part of a settlement deal reached between regulators and the company, according to people close to the matter. The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and other regulators are expected to fault the company for inadequate controls over two traders whose transactions lost the company more than $6 billion. The settlement, which is expected to be announced this week, is related to inaccurate values two traders of the Chief Investment Office in London placed on their own transactions. Regulators are expected to cite JPMorgan for failing to adequately supervise the former traders and the company’s lack of internal control to prevent an alleged cover up of the losses. As part of the settlement civil settlement JPMorgan Chase will admit wrongdoing in matter.

Last month, U.S prosecutors filed criminal charges against Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout, the two former traders with four counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, cooking the books and records, and causing the firm to file false and misleading statements in two securities filings in 2012. [Continue reading...]

Sep 16

In The News:

I’m Out..

Former US Treasury Secretary, Lawrence Summers called President Obama Sunday to say he is out of the running to succeed Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve. In  a letter to the  President following their phone conversation  Summer wrote ”I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the Administration or, ultimately, the interests of the nation’s ongoing economic recovery,”

Larry Summers was the President’s top pick in the race and it was highly speculated he would have been announced sometime this week.  The move now, forces the President to look for another top choice. Two potential candidates the President has already met with Janet Yelllen, Congress’s pick and the Fed’s vice chairwomen and Donald Kohn, who is a former vice chair of the Federal Reserve.  There is still time for the President to choose his next candidate; Fed Chairman Bernanke’s term isn’t up until January 31, 2014.

Wanted: Used IPads...

Microsoft has quietly started a new trade in program for IPad users offering to buy old IPads for Microsoft store gift cards. Current IPad 2, 3 or 4 owners can bring their gently used tablets into a Microsoft store and receive a minimum of $200 gift card. The cards can be used toward the purchase of a Surface RT or Surface Pro tablet, as well as other products offered in the stores.

Recently Microsoft turned up the heat in the battle with Apple by cutting the price of its Surface tablet to $349 hoping to entice back to school shoppers. Past sales of the Surface have lagged well behind Microsoft’s expectation causing a $900 million write down earlier this year. Has Microsoft found a way to bring consumers to their side? [Continue reading...]

Sep 13

In The News:

The fat lady has officially sung…

Dell (DELL) shareholders made it official Thursday, approving the $25 billion deal to sell the computer maker back to its founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake. The vote capped a bitter yearlong buyout drama and put the company squarely in its founder’s hands.

Michael Dell, who is set to own 75% of his company’s stock, will retain his chief executive post. From there, he will lead the effort of moving Dell from a seller of personal computers and servers to a broader technical adviser to businesses which can also provide services and software.

Public Twitter…

On Thursday, Twitter, using its own platform and in 140 characters or less, announced  it has filled all necessary IPO (Initial Public Offering) paperwork with the SEC. If you are curious and wonder how much Twitter has grown in the last seven years or if it has ever made a profit, you will have to wait for a while. Twitter filled its IPO paperwork confidentially under the JOBS Act or Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. The Act allows US companies under $1 billion in revenues to file paperwork with the SEC that is confidential and can only be viewed by SEC regulators. Never  fear; eventually, we will all have full disclosure, as SEC rules mandate  a company’s IPO documents be released  to the public at least 21 days before the company goes out into the world and actively shops investors and prices the deal ( also called a “Road Show”). No announcement was made as to Twitter’s timeline for the IPO to take place and, since actually filing the paperwork with the SEC does not obligate you to a particular timeline we, will all have to wait. [Continue reading...]

Sep 12

In The News:

Can you hear.. sale….?

Verizon Wireless (VZ) held the largest ever corporate bond sale on Wednesday. The nation’s second largest wireless provider sold $49 billion worth of bonds to investors, surging past the previous record set by Apple earlier this year. The money raised from the sale will help the company finance its $130 billion buyout of Vodafone’s stake in Verizon’s wireless operations. Investors had been lined up for weeks, showing demand is still out there for bonds with attractive yields. Bottom-line: With an economy on the mend, investors are feeling more optimistic about the future and putting their money in places they cannot access for years instead of under the mattress.

Pay me my royalties…

Sirius XM Radio is being sued by record companies for royalties they say the satellite radio company owes them. On Wednesday Sony, Universal and Warner, the three largest record companies, filed a lawsuit in a California court claiming the satellite service used music recorded on records before 1972 without their permission. Recordings made before 1972 are not protected by federal copyright laws; however, the suit states they were still covered under state law. A similar suit was brought by the royalty agency SoundExchange last month, seeking up to $100 million in damages.  [Continue reading...]

Sep 11

In The News:

Dropped…

Three companies will be dropped from the 30-stock index known as the Dow Jones Industrial Average or DJIA next week. Alcoa (AA), a Dow component for 54 years, will be replaced by Nike Inc (NKE). Visa (V) will replace Hewlet Packard (H-P) which joined the index in 1997. Bank of America will be replaced by securities firm Goldman Sachs Group (GS). According to a statement by S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, the company that oversees the index, the changes will take effect after the close of trade on September 20. The statement goes on to say that changes in the composition of the index were prompted by the three companies low stock prices and the Index Committee’s desire to diversify the sector and industry group represented in the index itself.

Backstory… The DJIA is actually an index or basket of 30 stocks. The index is price-weighted, meaning the bigger the stock price the larger the piece of the index a particular component has; therefore, it will affect the overall up or down movement of the index. [Continue reading...]

Sep 10

In The Markets:

I’m Done…

Days before Dell shareholders are to vote on Michael Dell/Silver Lake’s bid, Carl Icahn announced he is giving up his bitter takeover fight for Dell or at least the shareholder portion. On Monday, Ichan, in a letter to shareholders stated he still thinks Michael Dell‘s bid for the computer maker is undervalued and freezes shareholders out of any future gains. Despite his objections, Ichan explains in the letter it would be almost impossible to defeat the Michael Dell/Silver lake offer; therefore, he is giving up.

Ichan will continue to pursue the matter of undervaluing the company in the Delaware court system, where Dell is incorporated. Under Delaware law, shareholders can seek an appraisal of a company and be compensated according to what judges determine is the fair value of the company. There is no guarantee, however, that the judges would consider the company to be worth more than the $13.75 per share and a 13-cent dividend bid Dell/Silver Lake have on the table. [Continue reading...]

Sep 9

In The News:

No Clear Signal…

The much anticipated August monthly employment report, the Non-Farm Payroll (aka NFP), was released Friday. The report, a closely watched barometer of economic health, showed 169,000 jobs were added in August. However, economists had expected businesses to add 180,000 jobs; therefore, it met the criteria used for the disappointing category. The unemployment rate did tick down to 7.3%, which did inch closer to the Fed’s mandate.  The improvement should not be taken as a positive sign. The “drop” is attributed to a greater number of people feeling discouraged and leaving the job seeking for others to undertake.

August report was billed as the “job number report of 2013″.  Everyone was betting on the number giving the world a clear signal that taper would begin in September.  Bottom Line… The taper guessing game will continue on for another couple weeks until the Fed’s September meeting gives us our next clue.

You’re dumped, kinda

International Business Machines Corp (IBM) will move around 110,000 retirees off the company- sponsored health plan. Instead, it is giving each retiree eligible for Medicare a payment to buy coverage on the health-insurance exchange Extended Health.  The move will affect anyone who is eligible for Medicare on Dec. 31, 2013. Instead of subsidizing the retiree health premiums directly, the company will now give retirees an annual payment via a health retirement account. The account can be used by retirees to buy Medicare Advantage plans and supplemental Medicare policies on the exchange, as well as pay for other medical expenses. However, if the retirees don’t enroll in a plan through Extend Health, they won’t receive the subsidy. IBM is careful to point out the growing cost of care has made its current plan unsustainable without big premium increases and the move is not to be mistaken for cost cutting.

Bottom Line: Time Warner also announced over the weekend it would introduce the same type program. Both companies won’t be the first or last big company to turn to third parties as an alternative for Medicare eligible retirees.

 

[Continue reading...]

Sep 6

In The News:

Jobs,Jobs,Jobs….

It’s jobs week again… First up, the ADP report which was released Thursday. The ADP report showed the private sector added 176,000 jobs in August: a good solid number. However, it was less than the 180K analysts were calling for and less than the number of jobs added in either June or July. Monthly job growth has averaged this year around 192,000 a month; however, the pace is starting to slow, according to the Labor Department.

One reason analysts believe is behind the slowdown: the new health care laws requiring companies to provide full time workers with health insurance or pay a penalty. Fewer workers: less money companies have to pay either in penalties or premiums. Bottom Line: it doesn’t matter what side of the health care laws you are on, US companies large and small are concerned.

Staying the Same…

The ECB (European Central Bank) left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.5%. The central bank decided that the slow Eurozone economic recovery did not need further stimulus for now.  The bank’s decision is seen as a statement to the world that the ECB will not be scaling back its stimulus efforts until the recovery is on stronger footing. Low rates are a necessity for a Eurozone recovery. Cheap credit encourages business to borrow and expand. Borrowing in the region remains weak despite data out the last couple of weeks showing a little brighter economic picture.  [Continue reading...]

Sep 5

In The News:

Chief, do I have to turn in my shoe phone?

Samsung released the much hyped Galaxy Gear, the first smart watch produced beating Apple to the market. The device which must be paired to a phone or tablet has some snappy features. You can make calls, receive emails, take photos, has a voice control function and can run its on apps. However the price is $299. Analysts are skeptical people will pay that much for a screen only 1.5″ in size. Samsung feels the Galaxy Gear will become a fashion icon with its sleek design and range of colorful watch straps. Their target is 500,000 sold in the second half which is a fraction of the 25 million smartphones they sell each quarter.

Do I hear $10… $10?     Do I hear $8?

Blackberry, the struggling handset maker is looking to quickly auction itself off in parts or as a whole, possibly as soon as November. Speculation had been around that Microsoft might buy them but the announced Nokia deal effectively shut the door on that. The likely scenario is parts of the company get sold and the whole will not survive. [Continue reading...]

Sep 4

In The News:

That funny guy is back on the tellie…

It’s official CBS & Time Warner Cable have reunited as one big happy family. The month long fee dispute between CBS & Time Warner came to an end Monday when CBS programming returned to the Time Warner lineup.  On Monday, the two companies reached an agreement to end the blackout that affected 3 million customers in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, and the surrounding areas.  At issues were fees CBS wanted Time Warner Cable to pay allowing them to carry the networks local TV Stations and a longer term commitment to carry programing.

The official terms, of the almost 5 year deal were not made public however, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves, in an internal memo, said the deal delivered “all the value and terms that we sought in these discussions.”  In a separate statement, Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt, said while the cable operator didn’t get everything they wanted, ultimately they ended up in a much better place than when they started.  As I said, one big happy family who can now watch football together.

It’s Official!

After weeks of speculation Apple (APPL) officially sent out fancy invitations announcing their big event September 10 in Cupertino. So far the rumor mill has claimed Apple will announce the newest iPhone, an updated iPad, the supposed iWatch, a cheaper iPhone, and an iTV are all on the short list of products to be presented.  This is a critical presentation for Apple, while sales have increased for both the iPhone and iPad, Google and Samsung are hot on their heels in both popularity and new products.  [Continue reading...]

Sep 3

In The News:

 What’s your sentiment?

On Friday, the August edition of the Thompson Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment report was released and it showed a drop in consumer confidence.   In July the index posted a six year high of 85.1 and in the August index level was 82.31. 

Bottom Line: The report confirms the suspicious of both market commentaries and economist predications that consumers are becoming more concerned about the pending Fed tapering program and the next debt ceiling negotiations. 

Cutting the cord…

General Electric (GE.N) will cut the cord and spin off the companies finance arm, GE Capital. GE Capital, which issued 55 million credit cards, earned $2.2 billion for the company last year, but has outstanding loans of $50 billion.   Once GE reviewed the numbers they realized that they need to diversify away from banking and its regulations, and will spin-off GE Capital into its own company.   By spinning off the financial arm it will allow GE to focus more on its core industrial businesses.   There has yet to be an official date announced for the IPO, but insiders are suggesting that it may occur early next year.  [Continue reading...]

Aug 30

In The News:

Have it your way..

Fast food workers were on strike hoping to create a union and asking for higher wages. Get this…$15 an hour! Employees from McDonald’s. Burger King, Wendy’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken hit the streets in 60 cities across America to promote their cause.

Penalty Present..

Friday, China’s securities regulator fined Everbright Securities $100 million for a trading error that caused havoc in the market and banned the company from proprietary trading in stocks and derivatives.  [Continue reading...]

Aug 29

In The News

Alright Detroit!

Ford is adding 1400 workers and a second shift to meet the surging demands of the Fusion model. Ford posted its strongest U.S. sales since 2006. This year alone U.S. sales are up 12.9% outpacing the industry as a whole which is up 8.5%. The increase also has Ford within 2% of market share leader General Motors who has own the top spot for decades.

Can you say Vodaphone without singing “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon?

Verizon is in advanced talks to purchase Vodaphone’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion. They are hoping to raise enough from several banks to finance only $60 billion. The deal should benefit both companies. Verizon wants the freedom and profits while Vodaphone needs cash. [Continue reading...]

Aug 28

In The News:

To blast or not to blast

Amid a statement issued by the U.S. government regarding imminent military action against Syria, stocks continued their sell off globally. Is this downturn all over a few cruise missiles or has the unabated rally finally found a reason to cease? Brent crude may rise “briefly” to $150 a barrel if the conflict in Syria spills over into other parts of the Middle East, causing supply cuts, Societe Generale’s Michael Wittner, head of oil market research. “The concern is that an attack on Syria will reverberate through the region, increasing the spill over into other countries and possibly resulting in a larger supply disruption elsewhere,” If oil flows aren’t disrupted, prices may still rise as high as $125 in coming days, he said.

Any armed response against Syria would be narrowly focused on the nation’s weapons capabilities and wouldn’t be aimed at deposing President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. and U.K. officials said. The Middle East accounted for 35 percent of global oil output in the first quarter of this year, according to data from the International Energy Agency. Tomahawk cruise missiles are likely to be launched at night against hundreds of Syrian targets if the U.S. and allies launch a military strike in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons, said Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who’s now a defense fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Don’t mess with Uncle Sam

U.S. authorities are demanding JP Morgan Chase pay more than $6 billion to settle allegations it mis-sold securities to government-backed mortgage companies in the run-up to the financial crisis. The bank is resisting the payment which would be its single biggest penalty in a catalogue of expensive run-ins with U.S. authorities and one of the largest post-crisis settlements by any bank. [Continue reading...]

Aug 27

In The News:

Durable Goods

The Commerce Department released its monthly Durable Goods report on Monday and orders for durable goods plunged 7.3% in July which is the steepest drop in nearly a year.   This drop is almost twice what economists had expected and snapped the streak of three months of gains. Durable goods are goods that have a lifespan greater than 3 years, such as cars, washing machine, computers, etc.   This drop could be blamed on the increasing interest rates in advance of the Fed tapering program, but it is unlikely that this would deter the Fed from beginning the tapering program.

Trading Ban

T. Rowe Price has permanently banned 1300 American Airlines employees from trading among their funds in their 401K plans.   The move was made to prevent collective trading by subscribers of the EZTracker newsletter.  Collective trading is when a large number of investors trade mutual funds together; this type of trading can force fund managers to buy/sell at inopportune times to meet the demand.   This ban is a culmination of years of T. Rowe Price placing temporary trading restrictions on these subscribers.  An additional 800 AA employees received a letter warning letter about their trading patterns.  Back in May 2012, EZTracker filed a complaint with the SEC that the temporary restrictions were ‘discriminatory and anti-competitive’; we’ll have to wait and see what the SEC says now that we’ve moved from a temporary action to a permanent ban.  [Continue reading...]

Aug 26

In The News:

 

Lost Decade Over…

After 33 years with the company, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (employee #30) announced that he will retire within the next 12 months.   Mr. Ballmer has been CEO since Bill Gates retired in 2000 and during his tenure (nicknamed the lost decade) Microsoft shares have been relatively flat while other tech firms, like Apple, have soared.  Changes have been in the works for most of the summer, in July Microsoft announce a major reorganization to focus more on hardware as well as shift the company’s organizational structure from multiple divisions (ex. Windows,  Office, Online, etc.) to single purpose functions  (ex. Operating Systems, Devices,  Apps, etc.) which is similar to the way Apple operates.

Many Wall Street analysts were surprised how quickly Mr. Ballmer’s announcements occurred. Microsoft is in process of assembling a special committee, which will include founder Bill Gates, to begin the search for a new CEO.  Investors were just happy to see the lost decade end; when the announcement was made Microsoft shares soared up 6.7% to $37.57 – clearly investors were also ready for a change of course.

Freeze Update..

There has been little word from officials after Thursday’s ‘connectivity issue’ but sources with knowledge have leaked some details:

  • There doesn’t appear to be any evidence of hacking.
  • They have not found any unusual levels of quotations or trading messages.
  • It appears that the trigger point was the NYSE electronic trading platform, Arca.
  • They believe the software glitch caused the NASDAQ quote disruption.

As always, source information is always considered rumors until confirmed by an official statement.    Mary Jo White, the SEC Chairwoman, stated on Thursday that she wants to continue with new market structure regulations that NASDAQ and other exchanges have resisted.   [Continue reading...]

Aug 23

In The News:

Grinding Halt:

The NASDAQ exchange halted trading for over two hours Thursday. Around 12:15 pm EST officials halted all trading after a glitch was discovered in the data feed that provides quotes and prices for NASDAQ-listed securities. The outage froze the prices on thousands of stocks such as Facebook and Apple, as well as on ETFs and options listed on the NASDAQ. Stocks can be listed and traded on multiple exchanges, so the effects of the NASDAQ halt rippled across numerous exchanges, dark pools and Wall Street trading platforms.  Trading resumed at 3:25 pm EST after both officials at the NASDAQ and SEC gave their blessings.

No Coverage:

UPS announced Thursday to its employees it would no longer provide healthcare benefits to 15,000 spouses. In a memo to employees the fourth largest employer announced, “Since the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide affordable coverage, we believe your spouse should be covered by their employers.”  Coverage for spouses who do not work or lack employer-covered health plans will continue to be a part of employee benefits. This could be the first of many such announcements, as employers start to grapple with the rising cost of health care and the additional burdens of Obamacare.   [Continue reading...]

Aug 22

In The News:

Trumpets, Please

After weeks of speculation and market swings the Fed minutes were released.   The magic 8-ball refused to provide an answer and gave a question mark symbol – we’re not sure how to interpret that just yet but the Fed did tell us the following:

  • The FOMC is split over the timing of the taper.
  • Some members thought that the Fed should be more patient before beginning a taper.
  • Some member’s thought that a taper should begin sooner.
  • In June, the Fed provided guidance saying tapering should happen only if the economy improves as expected. Almost all members agreed with this sentiment.

Our conclusion is that we didn’t really learn anything new, and that we’ve got time to play a second round of guess when the taper happens!

Waiting

On Wednesday Meg Whitman, the CEO of HP, admitted that the company has a lot of work ahead of them to successfully turn the company around.  Whitman famously said that her 5-year plan would help the company return to its former glory, and this week she stressed that they are still on track but won’t see the fruits of their labor until sometime next year.  Investors were not impressed with HP’s financial reports, which were released today, as shares dropped 8% during afterhours trading to $23.45 per share.  Whitman is 2 years into her tenure and HP is in its 5th consecutive quarter of profits and sales declining; one has to wonder how much patience do investors have? [Continue reading...]

Aug 20

Note to self.. drink more coffee in the morning and send the edited version of  the daily digest the first time.

Happy Tuesday, Ya’ll!

In The News:

Who’s your Daddy?

The SEC is looking into allegations that JP Morgan Chase hired children of high ranking officials in China in return for preferential treatment.  Just to be clear, the SEC is not saying JPMorgan did anything wrong they are just taking an extra hard-extra long look at the company.  This is has been a tough couple of weeks for the bank; in addition to this ‘inquiry’, two former employees were charged with several felonies for their part in the London Whale debacle.

Wall Street star says he was wrong?

On Monday, the SEC announced a settlement with billionaire hedge-fund manager Philip Falcone that requires him to admit wrongdoing, be barred from the securities industry for at least 5 years, and pay an $18 million dollar penalty to settle charges the SEC brought against him in 2012.    Mr. Falcone allegedly used investors’ funds to pay his own taxes, played favorites when handling client requests, and improperly traded in a Canadian company’s bonds.  This is an important ruling as it is the first time someone was forced to admit their guilt it in a plea deal under the new rule set forth by SEC Chair, Mary Jo White.

New Toy

Samsung announced its new addition to its Galaxy line, the Galaxy Mega smart-phone. The phone measures 6.3 inches diagonally and is almost as big as a tablet.   It’s equipped with the Android 4.2. Jelly Bean operating software, has 1.5 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of internal storage. On Friday, the phone will debut on the AT&T network, and will cost $150 dollars plus a two year contract. The Mega will roll out to Sprint customers by the end of the year.  This is one of the few times that US customers will play catch-up in the smart-phone market as this phone has been offered in Europe and Korea for a while.

If you don’t listen bad things will happen

A Palestinian researcher, Khalil Shreatech, hacked Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg’s              page last week after the site’s security team ignored his warnings of a serious security flaw.    Mr. Shreatech found a hole in Facebook’s system that allowed him to post to any user’s page, including users not on his friend’s list.   A gap like this would be a gold mine to spammers or scam artists if discovered.  While Mr. Shreatech did get his news public, he missed out on receiving a reward from the companies White Hat program, which gives security researchers a monetary reward for qualifying security bug, since he violated the Facebook terms of service.

In The Markets:

Asia:

Asian markets tumbled on Tuesday as investors start to batten down the hatches in preparations for the potential Fed tapering.

Europe:

European markets tumbled when investors began to worry about Rome’s coalition government and their own economic issues.

US:

Investors choose to play another round of when will the Fed taper begin and US markets closed lower on Monday.

Aug 19

In The News:

Lower Sentiment

The Thompson-Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment fell to 80.6 from 85.1 in July, which was the highest level since 2007.   Economists were stunned as they had predicted a small increase to 85.2; this decline was the largest since December.  One major reason for the drop in confidence is the ever present discussion of Fed Tapering.  It’s currently scheduled for discussion in September, and the jump in interest rates (done in anticipation) has started to weigh on households.

Blame It On The Computer

On Friday, the Shanghai Composite Index took a trip on Mr. Toad’s wild ride and surged as much as 5.6% before ending down .6%.  The stocks that initially triggered the trip were the China Merchants Bank and Sinopec but trading activity quickly spread across the board.  After market close one firm, Everbright Securities, reported that their trading system had issues Friday and were applying to cancel all of their morning trades.   When companies have trading gaffs like this their first statement typically is they had a trading system issue and are looking into the matter;  stay turned sometime next week we’ll know if it really was a machine or if someone has a very uncomfortable trade-error meeting in their future. [Continue reading...]

Aug 16

In The News:

Economic snapshot:

On Thursday, the Fed released two of its monthly reports and the world got a glimpse at how the US economy is performing.  The first report released was the Philly Fed Index; it showed a drop in the manufacturing sector from 19.8% in July to 9.3% in August. The second report released was the NY Empire State Index; this report shows the health of the economy in the New York district, like the Philly report NY reported a drop in the manufacturing sector from 9.46% in July to 8.24 in August.  Both drops were tied to a decrease in new orders and hiring of new employees.

Wal-Mart Earnings:

Wal-Mart reported disappointing 2nd quarter (Q2) earnings on Thursday.  The retailer’s Q2 profits rose 1.3% to $407 Billion ($1.24 per share), but analyst were expecting per share earnings of $1.25.   On top of the disappointing earnings report, Wal-Mart cut its estimate for full year earnings per share citing a challenging retail environment in both the US and International markets.   After these Q2 disappointments, Wal-Mart will be paying even more attention to their sales numbers.  [Continue reading...]

Aug 14

In The News:

 

Apple of My Eye:

Does Silicon Valley have a new hedge fund friend?  Based on the tweets of hedge fund owner Carl Icahn, yes they do.  He tweeted today that he has purchased a ‘large’ stake in Apple and that he had a great talk with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook about increasing the buyback program.   Once the tweet went viral in the finance community Apple’s stock rose almost 5%.   Icahn has been on a tech buying spree in recent months buying shares of Apple, Yahoo, and Motorola.

Grounded:

The merger between AMR, the parent company of American Airlines, and US Air has been grounded for the foreseeable future. On Tuesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed antitrust lawsuits to prevent the merger from continuing.  The DOJ claims that the merger will result in consumers paying higher airfares and fees as well as providing fewer choices.  AMR-US Air claim that the merger will have the opposite effect and help consumer by offering passengers better routes, more flight options, and better connections for overseas destinations.   It will be interesting to see how the DOJ spins this since they allowed the United-Continental and Delta-Northwest mergers to occur with no issues. [Continue reading...]

Aug 13

In The News:

Deficit:

The Treasury Department released its revenue report on Monday; despite the tax hikes and strengthening economy the US reported a deficit in July.  Economists were expecting the monthly deficit to be $96 billion, and the actual deficit was $97.6 billion.  Despite the higher than expected numbers, the current budget deficit is well below 2012 levels.   The ‘improving’ budget has eased some of the pressure on Congress & the White House to resolve the US’s long term financial problems.

Private Pineapple:

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.   In the case of David Murdock, the CEO and Chairman of Dole Foods, it only took two tries for his offer to take the fruit and vegetable giant private to be accepted.  It’s a sweet deal for shareholders who will receive $13.50 per share; an increase from his original offer in June of $12 per share.  Dole’s board has unanimously approved his offer and the company now is in the 30-day go shop period. [Continue reading...]

Aug 12

In The News:

Disappointment:

The wholesale inventories report was released on Friday and showed that inventories fell 0.2% in June vs. +0.5 est., a 3rd monthly decline. Why are two month old numbers important; a fall in inventories isn’t necessary caused by a long line of people buying the product faster than it can be produced. Instead it can also stem from manufactures making less of the products in efforts to keep expensive down. The second option is what causes investors’ concern.

Under Scrutiny:

JPMorgan is working to settle the ‘London Whale’ losses with the SEC.  Reuters reported on Friday that a possible settlement would include JPMorgan paying a penalty as well as admitting some fault in $6.2 billion derivatives.   It looked like this yearlong investigation was wrapping up until late Friday night when sources reported that in the upcoming days 2 individuals will be arrested in London and extradited to the US. Stay tuned to this trans-Atlantic adventure.

Round 2:

Bill Ackman doesn’t have enough going on in his life.  The hedge fund owner-activist sent a follow up letter to the JC Penny board demanding that they oust the of Chairman of Board, Thomas Engibous.   The second letter was sent after Mr. Ackman learned Debra Berman was hired as Senior VP of Marketing from a press release; in the letter he accuses management of hiring and firing without the whole boards consent.   Mr. Ackman says “I have lost confidence in our chairman’s ability to oversee this board,” the Board response was that he has his facts incorrect. Something tells me Mr. Ackman’s letter writing days are far from done.

China economic snapshot:

On Friday, China released several economic reports which paint a mixed picture for the rebounding Chinese economy.

  • Industrial production grew 9.7% in July. Not only did it beat estimate it was the best reading since February.
  • July retail sales slowed to 13.2%
  • Consumer prices rose 2.7% from the same period in 2012.

September numbers will give the world a better picture of the #2 economy and give move insight to the next step of Abe-onomcs.

Apple vs. Samsung:

The US ITC (International Trade Commission) ruled against Samsung and agreed with Apple that Samsung did infringe on two of Apple’s patents.   The specific patents were the ‘949 patent, touch commands on the on touch screen, and ‘501, input/output detection for the microphone & headphone jacks.  This investigation has been ongoing since August 2011, and the ITC declared that the decision is final and the case is over.  This ruling means that Samsung mobile devices could be banned from being sold in the US soon.   The only way that this ban could be prevented would be for the President to veto the decision which is highly unlikely given the fact that he vetoed another ITC ruling last week that went again Apple.

In The Markets:

Asia:

Asian stocks closed mixed on Monday. Slower GDP numbers from Japan put a damper on the Nikkei while the expectation of better growth from China lifted the other Asian markets into the green.

Europe:

European markets rallied on Friday as investors took the positives from China’s economic reports instead of the negative.

US:

US investors did not drink the same kool-aid as their European counterparts regarding the economic news from China and US markets closed lower on Friday.

In Dinner or Drink:

Bitter Hitter

3 oz Blue Curacao liqueur

2 oz Cointreau® orange liqueur

4 oz. coldwater

1 large orange

1 large grapefruit

1tamarillo

 

Place all the fruits in a blender and puree, add blue curacao and Cointreau then pulse until combined. Add water and ice and pulse until combined. Serve in tall glass with rim dipped in sugar and lemon juice and a slice of orange on side.

 
Want more great drink receipe, click here.

Aug 8

In The News:

Smart-watch:

Samsung is close to launching their latest gadget; several reports suggest that it could be a wristwatch, wrist band, or wrist bangle.  This week the company submitted applications for both US and South Korean trademarks.  In the US filing, Samsung described the new gadget as a wearable digital electronic device with the following features:

  • It will have internet access.
  • It can send and receive phone calls, emails, and messages.
  • It will store and manage personal information.

Don’t panic!

If you were unable to make purchases from Apple’s istores between 9AM and 11AM PST on Wednesday you are not alone.  Apple reported that they had a disruption of service that affected the iPhone App store, iTunes, Mac App Stores, and iBookstore; the issue has since been resolved but if you saw individuals breathing from paper bags during this time they might have been going through Apple product withdrawal.

Giving Up:

After a two year legal battle Chesapeake Energy called it quits in their fight with New   YorkState.   The origins of the battle stem from Chesapeake wanting to retain and extend their natural gas drilling leases under the original terms which were signed before the fracking boom.  Since the leases were originally signed numerous states, including New York, have enacted laws to be advocates for the land owners when being contacted by fracking firms.   Chesapeake was hoping that by extending the current leases they could get around the new rules in place to help the common man and increase their bottom line.  Kudos to New YorkState for digging in and fighting for the underdog.

Yahoo!

Yahoo’s logo is getting a makeover!   To commemorate the occasion Yahoo will display a variations of the new logo, one per day, as a lead up event to the unveiling ceremony on September 4th 9PM PST.

Carded….

Wells Fargo and American Express announced Wednesday that they are teaming up to create a new credit card loyalty program for Wells Fargo customers.   Beta testers will start using the cards and loyalty program in the third quarter;  if all goes well the program and cards will officially launch sometime during the first half of 2014 and will be accepted in the American Express global merchant network.

Debt Rising:

In June, consumer borrowing levels rose $13.8 billion dollars; setting a new record at $2.85 trillion.  The largest increases were for automobile purchases and student loans.  .

In The Markets:

Asia:

Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday as investors juggled better export/import numbers out of China and jitters over inflation number released tomorrow.

Europe:

Europe continued its losing streak on Wednesday after the BOE (Bank of England) pledged to keep its benchmark interest rates and bond purchase program unchanged until the countries jobless rate falls to 7%. Investors were disappointed in the stance because the target date for 7% unemployment is 2016.

US:

Another day of the same chatter from the Fed spooked investors causing the string of down days for the US markets to hit three. DJIA: -48.07 15470.67 S&P: -6.46  1690.91 NASDAQ: -11.76 3654.01

In Dinner or Drink:

007

3 oz Stoli® Ohranj vodka
1 1/2 ozfreshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 oz soda water

Serve on ice in a highball glass.

Like our drink of the day, click here for more.

Aug 5

In The News:

Long Road

The never-ending story of the US‘s road to recovery hit a bump Friday when the Non-Farm Payroll (NFP) report was released.   Highlights from the report were:

  • Employment numbers were up to 162,000; unfortunately they were well below the estimates of 184,000.
  • Many of the jobs created were in low-wage industries such as retail and restaurants.
  • The jobless rate fell to 7.4%, a four and half year low.   Don’t let the decrease fool you; most likely this was a result of workers giving up finding a job and dropping out of the labor force.
  • May and June’s job numbers were lowered for a combined total of 27,000 lower than originally stated.

Dropped:

The gloves are officially off!  Time Warner Cable dropped CBS and its affiliates Friday at 5:00PM EST after the latest round of talks failed.   The root of the issue stems from the fee amount Time Warner pays for the ‘privilege’ of carrying CBS programming.    Time Warner has already reached out to the roughly three million subscribers affected by the blackout, and has filled the channels vacated by CBS.   [Continue reading...]

Aug 1

In The News:

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs…

On Wednesday the monthly ADP employment report was released. The report showed that the private sector added 200,000 jobs in July; beating the analysts’ estimates of 180,000 jobs.  The next employment report, Non-Farm Payroll (NFP), is scheduled to be released Friday.

Gross

The first GDP (Gross Domestic Product) reading of the quarter was announced Wednesday.  The GDP, a gauge of how the countries overall economy is chugging along showed US production increasing by 1.7%.   This was the first month that the US Commerce Department used a new formula to calculate GDP;   the formula now includes:  R&D spending, art, film royalties, books, theater, and music. Some critics are not in favor of the new calculations as they feel it paints a rosier picture of the economy. [Continue reading...]

Jul 30

In The News:

Ad Men:

Omnicom and Publicis Group, the number two and three ad agencies in the world, will merge and create the world’s largest ad agency.  The deal was hatched at the World Economic Forum, without the involvement of a single large investment bank, and is reportedly valued at $35.1 billion.  Both sides are referring to the deal as “a merger of equals”, but it has many regulatory hurdles to go before being finalized.   If the merger is completed it would bring industry rivals such as Coke and Pepsi under the same roof for advertising.

Saks Appeal:

Luxury retailer Saks Fifth Ave has agreed to be sold to Hudson Bay, Canada’s largest retail chain and owner of Lord and Taylor. The deal values Saks at $2.4 billon ($16 per share) and if the deal goes through the combined companies would have 320 stores in prime locations throughout the US and Canada.  [Continue reading...]

Jul 29

 

In The News:

IMF hand slap:

The US received a hand-slap from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) on Friday.   In the US’s annual assessment the IMF told the Fed that it’s lack of communication regarding the exit from QE3 (Quantitative Easing) could cause damage to the US recovery as well as send destructive shockwaves across the global economy.

Inflation = Celebration?

Japan’s July CPI (Consumer Product Index) jumped to 0.4%, the largest jump since 2008.   This is a win for PM Shinzo Abe and Finance Minister Taro Aso as it shows that Abenomics is getting the desired result, higher inflation.  Normally one would not be excited about inflation but when country has struggled with deflation for 2 decades a change like this hint at economic recovery. [Continue reading...]

Jul 24

In The News:

 

Purchase Power:

Cisco has agreed to buy Cypersecurity Firm Source Fire for $2.7 Billion.  Why drop billions for a small company? Two major reasons, first the growing demand for cybersecurity and second, Ciscos’ desire to expand their footprint outside of its traditional hardware business.

You Got Curve:

LG and Samsung will start selling curved TV’s in the US this week. The new TV’s will have concave screens which are touted to give the viewer a more immersive viewing experience, as the image wraps around to the viewer’s periphery. Your immersive viewing experience will run you at least $15,000; products will be available at select Best Buy stores nationwide. [Continue reading...]

Jul 23

In The News:

Flat Big Mac:

On Monday, McDonald’s released their Q2 earnings.   Wall Street analysts were expecting profits of $1.38 per share, and McDonald’s reported profits of $1.35 per share.   A major factor for this loss was currency movement.  A strong dollar makes the Big Mac more expensive to produce in foreign countries where their currency value is lower than the dollar; this movement can and often does eat into McDonald’s profits.

Acquisition and Attack:

Apple was in the news for several reasons today.  First, Apple announced its purchase of the transit map app Hopstop; hopefully this acquisition will help resolve Apple’s well documented map “issues”.  Next the rumor mill was in full swing with potential hints regarding the next round of iPhones and iPads, according to a report an Asian supplier is testing larger screens for both products.  Finally, the primary developer website for Apple was taken offline as a precaution due to a system breach by hackers.  Apple expects to have the site online soon.  And you thought you had a rough day?

Lower Sales:

Existing home sales slowed in June by 1.2%.  The annual rate has improved to 5.08 million, which is the second best level since November 2009.

Buyback:

Yahoo repurchased 40 million shares from the hedge fund Third Point at $29.11 per share.   This move reduces Third Points’ stake in Yahoo to less than 2%; by reaching this specific percentage Third Point is required to give up 3 seats on Yahoo’s board.  This repurchase is only a small portion of Yahoo’s $1.9 billion buyback plan.

Buybacks are good news.  First it shows that the company believes in itself and is reinvesting for the future.   Second, it reduces the number of shares outstanding in the market; fewer outstanding shares = higher share price= Happy, Happy, Happy shareholders.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes:

Over the weekend the G-20 Finance Ministers met in Moscow.   After some initial disagreements on agenda points the ministers were able to agree upon one issue, there needs to be more emphasis on growth instead of austerity.   This revelation marks a shift away from the global standard that austerity cures all.  Reading between the lines its clear the real message was we screwed Greece and that won’t be happening again to anyone.

 In The Markets:

Asia:

Asian Markets closed higher Tuesday. Comments from China’s Premier Li saying the line in the    sand at 7% is the lowest tolerable rate helped settle investor’s jitters.

Europe:

On Monday, investors saw that there was potential for better bank earnings, and the European markets rallied to a seven week high.

US:

US markets closed flat as investors digested a mixed bag of earnings and the news that existing home sales dropped in June.

Dinner or Drink:

Apple Pie In A Glass

4 oz frozen apple juice concentrate
1 cup vanilla ice cream
1/4 tspground cinnamon
1 cup milk

Mix in blender pour into 2 glasses and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Want more about our drink of the day, click here.

Jul 22

 

In The News:

Letting Go:

China’s central bank will scrap its controls on leading interest rates instead letting bank set their own rates.

You can run but you can’t hide:

Steve Cohen, founder of the hedge fund SAC Capital, was charged on Friday with failure to stop insider trading by two employees he supervised. Over the last year the SEC has charged two of SAC employees with insider trader but failed to get the top dog or so we thought. The charges brought are civil in nature and the SEC will seek to bar Cohen from overseeing investor funds. [Continue reading...]

Jul 19

 

In the News:

Philly Fed:

Philadelphia area manufacturing reported a stronger than expected up tick. The expansion in US Firms helped propel the index to 19.8 in July compared to 12.5 in June; which provided the largest jump since March 2011.

Dell Drama:

The drama surrounding the potential buy out of Dell continues for at least another week.    The vote for the proposed buyout by founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake was started on Thursday at Dell’s annual shareholder meeting but has been delayed until next week.  Based on the results of the initial tally process on Thursday the outcome does not look good.  [Continue reading...]

Jul 18

 

In The News:

Bernanke speaks…. FED Chairman Fuzzy Face (aka Ben Bernanke) testified on the hill yesterday. After consulting with our decoder ring below are some of the speech highlights:

  • Asset purchases are not on preset course, and can be reduced/expanded.
  • Specific unemployment and inflation numbers are thresholds, not triggers.
  • The intent is to continue QE until substantive labor market improvement.
  • Economy risks have dwindled since the fall.
  • The risk remains of tighting  fiscal policy could restrain economic growth.

Talk to me, book….Wednesday the FED’s research paper called the Beige Book was released. The book provided us the below revelations about the US economy:

  • Growth is at modest pace and manufacturing is expanding.
  • Housing and construction are up at moderate to strong pace.
  • Hiring is steady and wage pressures are contained. [Continue reading...]
Jul 17

In The News:

Fallin Sales… European Auto Sales continue decline hitting a two decade low. Why is this important..? People who feel confident in their own economic situation buy cars, when they don’t they fix up their cars and keep them a while. Looks like the road to recovery may be a long haul for the Euro zone.

Yahhhooo.. Yahoo reported better earnings Q2 however, ad revenue dropped 7%.  Lots of eyes were watching Yahoo earnings as Marisa Myers, Yahoo’s CEO, just completed her first year at the helm.

Buy,Buy,Buy.. China’s top search engine, Baidu, has agreed to buy 91 Wireless, the #3 app store, for $1.9 Billion. [Continue reading...]

Jul 2

 

In The News:

New At The Helm Zynga hired Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s Xbox Chief, to replace founder Mark Pincus. Zynga has been struggling amid lowering stock prices, layoffs, and a steady stream of senior executive exits. Pincus, will stay on with the company as its Chairman, Chief Product Officer, and holder of 61% of voting rights. That should make for some interesting Board meetings…

You’re a keeper… That’s what Disney told its CEO, Bob Iger when they offered him a new contract through June 30, 2016. Iger’s tenure hasn’t been a smooth one.  He has made it through the fight to split the roles of CEO and Chairman, compensation criticism and was previously going to vacate his position as CEO on April 1, 2015. Guess it true… Disneyland where your dreams can come true.

You’re in T-R-O-U-B-L-E… The Troika (aka the bailout police) has told Greece it has three days to show it can meet all bailout conditions or it doesn’t get its next batch of rescue loans. The Troika has the power to refuse to transfer the full amount or break the 8.1 billion euro amount into three monthly payments. Seem the Troika is a little pooped at Greece over its reform efforts.

Strike.. The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit System came to halt Monday as workers went on strike after contract negotiations over the weekend stalled. Bay area commuters were stuck like Chuck some waiting hours for transportation to carry them through their daily lives.

TV in the clouds… Southwest will begin offering free live television on its flights. The carrier struck a deal with Dish to provide the TV’s in exchange for Dish advertising through passenger’s entire experience.

Private Piano… Kohlberg & Co, the private equity firm, has agreed to buy Steinway Musical Instruments for $438 million or $35 a share.  The deal will help the piano maker gain recognition in places like Brazil, China, and Russia.

In The Markets:

Asia: Asian markets closed higher in their trading session. A weaker Yen helped boost exports stocks.

Europe: Europe closed higher Monday. Up beat Eurozone employment numbers helped investors digest record high unemployment in the region.

US: US Markets gained positive grounds Monday on better economic data.  DJIA: +65.36 14974.96, Nasdaq: +31.24 3434.49  S&P 500: +8.68 1614.96.

 In Dinner or Drink:

We choose a drink to help Disney CEO, Bob Iger, celebrate his new contract.

Mickey Mouse

1/2 pint bitter
1/2 pint lager

First pour in the lager then the bitter.

If the bitter is a smooth flow type, the drink is more easily poured if the nozzle of the bitter tap is removed first, and then poured.

Want to know more about the drink of the day, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In The Markets:

Asia:

 

Europe:

 

US:

DJIA: +65.36 14974.96                          Nasdaq: 3434.49 +31.24   S&P 500: +8.68 1614.96

Jul 1

 

In The News:

Better than Nothing:

The Chicago PMI (Purchasing Manufacturing Index) fell in June to 51.6 from 58.7 May. Why is that important – the index is a gauge of manufacturing sector growth, and it showed slowing growth.   Slowing manufacturing growth is not great for the overall big picture of economic health, also known as GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

How ya’ feeling:

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment report was release on Friday.  This report gauges how consumers are feeling overall, and the report showed a small drop in sentiment to 84.1 in June from 84.5 in May.

Fed Head:

Bernanke’s (aka Fuzzy Face) days as the head of the Federal Reserve are drawing near. Never fear progress has stated.  President Obama has started to compile a short list of candidates to replace him. The search for the new Federal Reserve  head will be conducted by the Treasury Secretary. As of now the search  has not produced a front-runner. We will have to stay tuned as the drama unfolds.

Google’s Pipeline:

According to The Wall Street Journal Google is developing a video game console and wristwatch. Both products are based around Google’s Android operation system. The new devices will help Google compete against Apple, which is rumored, to be developing a wrist watch as well.

SEC Probing..

CNBC has reported that the SEC has started a probe into the relationship between Thomson Reuters and the ISM (Institute of Supply Manufacturing).  Last month it was reported that Thomas had been sending the ISM’s report to his top clients just before it was being released to the general public.

Venti Soda?:

Is Starbuck’s expanding to the soda market? The Seattle-based firm is currently testing their newest carbonated creations in Austin and Atlanta.  Their sample set currently includes lemon-ale, spiced root beer, and ginger ale made from a carbonation machine and they are priced from $2.45 to $3.45 depending on size.

Splitville:

On Friday the mammoth news organization formerly know as Fox will split into 2 companies. The newly formed News Corp will house all the “News” holdings like the WSJ, Dow Jones, New York Post etc. The newly formed 21st Century Fox will house all the “Entertainment” holdings like FX, 20th Century Fox, etc.

Rebuffed:

Onyx Pharmaceuticals rebuffed an offer from Amgen.   Onyx through the $8.7 billion offer undervalued the company, and they have start soliciting other potential bids.

 

In The Markets:

Asia:

Despite the mixed signals that investors received from the regions economic data, Asian markets closed in the green on Monday.

Europe:

Investors reacted negatively to the weak US economic data, and the European markets closed down on Friday.

US:

We are officially half-way through 2013.   Investors were left to digest lackluster economic data as well as more Fed speak; this in turn has caused a choppy session at the quarter –end.

 

In Dinner or Drinks:

Today we have selected a classic drink, the Whiskey Sour, to celebrate the birth of two newly independent companies – Fox News and 21st Century Fox

Whiskey Sour

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces whiskey (Scotch, Bourbon, Canadian Whiskey or Irish Whiskey)
  • Juice from ½ of a lemon
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • 1Maraschino Cherry
  • Ice

Directions

  • Put ice, whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar in a low-ball glass and stir.
  • Add a half slice of lemon, a cherry as garnish, and serve.

For more classic drink recipes click here.

 

 

 

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