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Feb 11

In The News:

Shedding Some Baggage…

Chrysler Group LLC, the American carmaker owned by Fiat SpA (F), will pay $5 billion to a United Auto Workers Trust, completing the final payments that the company owed as a result of its bankruptcy. Chrysler today closed a bond sale to reimburse the UAW health-care trust for a note it provided five years ago as part of the automaker’s financial rescue, the U.S. manufacturer said in a statement. Fiat last month bought the 41.5 percent Chrysler stake held by the trust, which was created to pay medical bills for union retirees, to gain full control of the U.S. business. The combination creates the world’s seventh-largest auto manufacturer. Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, 61, wants to transform the company with a scale that can challenge the likes of General Motors Co. (GM) and Volkswagen AG.

Fiat, which owned 58.5 percent of Chrysler prior to the full takeover, relies on the U.S. for profit because of losses in Europe amid a six-year car-market contraction in the region. Fiat plans to move its primary listing to New York and rename itself Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. The manufacturer aims to complete the New York listing by Oct. 1 and will also continue to have shares traded on the Milan exchange. Fiat fell as much as 1.4 percent to 7.20 euros and was trading at 7.23 euros at 4:26 p.m. Milan time, down 1 percent, valuing the carmaker at 9.04 billion euros ($12.33 billion).

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa

Boeing’s reputation is taking a beating as Air India Ltd. voices its displeasure with the performance of Boeing’s 787 Deamliners after some of the planes suffered glitches and recent months. Citing the need for software upgrades and component replacements, a Boeing spokesperson acknowledged the glitches and lack of reliability. Last month, Japan Airline Companies, one of the biggest operators of the Dreamliner, found a battery cell in an empty jet smoking during preflight maintenance. Earlier this month, Air India diverted one of its 787s as a precaution after the plane developed software malfunctions on a flight. Boeing has since began upgrading software and changing components whenever the planes can be taken out of service. Additionally, Air India plans to seek compensation from Boeing after the carrier found that its 787s aren’t as fuel efficient as the planemaker had claimed while selling them. Boeing VP of 787 services and support acknowledged the need to improve reliability to satisfy customers, a mantra coming out of Boeing for the past month.

The Dreamliner’s introduction into service in 2011 ago for Tokyo’s ANA Holdings Inc. was beset with a 3 1/2 year delay due to production snags and other delays. Last year, an Air India 787 developed cracks in the windshield during landing.

Nevertheless, Boeing see potential aircraft deals in India later this year. Boeing will increase its prediction for India plane demand in the next couple of months. The company had forecasted last year that carriers in the Asian nation will need 1,450 new aircrafts, worth $175 billion over the next two decades

In The Markets:

Asian markets closed up on Tuesday as investors await the first speech from new Fed head Janet Yellen.

European stock markets closed positive for the fourth straight session on Monday. Investors welcomed better corporate news and a positive handoff from Asia.

US markets closed modestly higher on Monday. With no earth shattering economic news investors instead focused on Tuesday testimony of Federal Reserve Chairwomen Janet Yellen to Congress. DJIA: +5.08 15799.16 Nasdaq: +22.31 4148.17 S&P: +2.68 1799.70

In Dinner or Drink:

Orange Cream Dream

3-4 ice cubes
1 shot vanilla vodka
1 oz cream soda
1 oz orange juice pulp free
2-3 squirts whipping cream
1 chocolate syrup
1 peel of orange garnish

1. drop 2-3 ice cubes into glass

2. pour 2 ounces chilled vanilla vodka over ice cubes

3. pour 1 ounce low acid, pulp-free orange juice into vodka; the citrus flavor will shock the alcohol (even though it’s already flavored) and will lessen the alcohol taste

4. pour 1 ounce cream soda into glass

5. stir generously with swizzle stick

6. squirt desired amount of whipping cream on top of the mixture

7. drizzle with chocolate syrup if desired

8. garnish with orange slice/peel if desired

9. stick a straw in

10. enjoy!

Like our drink today, click here for more.

The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.-Richard M. DeVos

A special Thank You to our own James Burleson-Porras for guest writing today.

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:

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.

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 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

Dec 18

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

Perks, What Perks…

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced two major industry firsts this week. First, the company announced that it will stop paying doctors for promoting its drugs and scrap prescription targets for its marketing staff. As a second announcement, the drug maker will also stop payments to healthcare professionals for attending medical conferences, a move the drug company hopes will persuade critics that it is addressing conflicts of interests by putting commercial interests ahead of the best outcome for patients. The decisions are a first for the drug industry, which has recently been battling scandals over sales practices. Only time will tell if the drug company’s move will force other companies to act, as most of the drug industry has been under fire for aggressive marketing tactics in recent years.

GlaxoSmithKline’s announcements come amid recent allegations in China, where the police have accused the company of funneling up to ¥3 billion Yuan (US$494 million) to travel agencies to facilitate bribes to boost its drug sales. The company also faced allegations last year from the U.S. government that it has provided misleading formation. The company eventually settled with the government for a record settlement of $3 billion.

Don’t Take My Soup…

Campbell Soup Co. (CPB), the maker of Goldfish crackers and chicken noodle soup, could be next on Warren Buffet’s grocery lists after the $29 billion takeover of H.J. Heinz Co. this year. Like Heinz, Campbell has a strong brand. Despite Campbell’s slowing sales of its iconic soups the company still offers a buyer the biggest share of the soup market at 22 percent. While a takeover would need approval from family members owning more than 40 percent of Campbell’s shares, the company is still more affordable than 70 percent of food-manufacturing peers.  Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway already owns food royalty like Dairy Queen, Heinz, and See’s Candies. Aww the rumor mill… we will all have to wait to see what Mr. Buffet has up his sleeve next.

In The Markets:


Asian markets were mostly higher on Wednesday. Strong export numbers out of China helped boost investors’ confidence.


European markets tumbled on Tuesday bringing the strongest rally in two months to an end. Investors continued to stay cautious ahead of the US Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday and its possible taper outcome.


US shares closed slightly lower on Tuesday as investors continued to the global trend of remaining cautious before Wednesday’s Federal Reserve meeting. DJIA: +9.31 15875.26        S&P: -5.54 1781.00 NASDAQ: -5.84 4023.68

In Dinner or Drink:

Brown Cow Float

  • 0.5 oz. Smirnoff® Root Beer Float™ Flavored Vodka
  • 0.5 oz. Smirnoff® Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka
  • 0.5 oz. Baileys® Original Irish Cream Liqueur
  • 1 oz. half & half


GLASS:Rocks Glass

Combine the ingredients in an iced-filled shaker.

Shake well and pour in a rocks glass.

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
—Winston Churchill (British statesman, 1874-1965)


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 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 8

In Business and Financial News:

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...]

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 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 10

In Business and Financial News:

Close Call…
The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) released its meeting minutes for last month’s meeting, where the committee decided not to begin the taper. Here’s what we learned:

  • Members of the committee that were in favor of keeping QE (Quantitative Easing) going were concerned that a cut to the program could send interest rates higher if investors thought it was a sign the central bank was becoming less willing to use policy to spur economic growth.
  • Members of the Committee that were in favor of starting the taper were concerned that a delay could potentially undermine the credibility of monetary policy. The members also argued that holding the program steady could send a message to investors that the Fed had turned pessimistic about the nation’s economy.

The meeting minutes did show the difficulty that the Fed has experienced with anticipating how markets will react to their actions and how much angst they felt about the committee’s efforts to communicate effectively with the public. [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.


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:


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


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 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 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?


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 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...]

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!


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 15

In The News:

Whale Charges:

Late Friday evening it was reported that there were pending charges for two former JPMorgan employees involved in the London Whale debacle, and on Wednesday charges were officially filed.  Here are the highlights from what’s been reported so far:

  • The two individuals charged are named Avier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout.
  • The charges are conspiracy to falsify books and records, wire fraud, and falsifying SEC filings.
  • Bruno Iksil, the trader behind debacle, has been granted immunity in return for his assistance in helping build the case against Mr.  Grout and Mr. Martin-Artajo.

The charges against Mr.  Grout and Mr. Martin-Artajo show that the government has received enough credible information from Mr. Iksil to pinpoint blame on these individuals.   The combination of charges show that Mr.  Grout and Mr. Martin-Artajo were creatively cooking the JPMorgan books and hiding the activity from internal and external checks and balances.  The pair kept a separate book to track the real value of the portfolio that led to the huge loss to JPM, hoping someday it would rebound in value.

Music to the Ears

Steinway Pianos, the pianos used by Rachmaninoff, have negotiated a deal with private equity guru John Paulson of Paulson & Co. to purchase the company for $512 million ($40 per share).  Last month the company appeared to have a deal in place with the private equity firm Kohlberg & Co for $35 per share,   but decided to terminate the purchase agreement and pay the $6.7 million penalty in hopes that they would receive a better offer. [Continue reading...]

Aug 7


In The News:

You get an ETF and you get an ETF and …:

In July a record $40.3 billion dollars flowed into US Equity funds and ETF’s (Exchange Traded Funds); at the same time $21.1 billion dollars flowed out of the bond market. This purchasing shift shows that investors are feeling more confident about the economic picture and are moving money from ‘safe’ investments (bonds) to more risky investments (equities).

Just say No…

That’s what Sony said to activist-investor Dan Loeb, founder of the hedge fund Third Point, and his proposed suggestion of spinning off the entertainment business from the music giant. Third Point owns a 7% stake in Sony and is one of the company’s biggest investors.   Sony’s board unanimously rejected the idea saying a spinoff plan would hinder the synergy between content and hardware. [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.


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 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 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 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.


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.


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:


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


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


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


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


  • 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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