Big show today, markets trying to rebound after yesterday’s sell-off, earnings from Goldman and J&J as well as a look at this afternoon’s earnings, and author, economist and sometimes actor Ben Stein comes on to talk about the U.S. debt issues, the future of the economy and the importance of diversification.
Banks, Earnings, Economy, Federal Reserve, Financials, Internet, Markets, Media, Recession, Technology, Twitter, Unemployment, Washington / Comments Off
- Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison wasted no time slamming H-P’s (HPQ) hiring last week of former SAP chief Leo Apotheker as new CEO. “I’m speechless,” he tells WSJ late Friday. “H-P had several good internal candidates…but instead they pick a guy who was recently fired because he did such a bad job of running SAP.” Harsh, to say the least, though not particularly out of character for Ellison, Digital Daily blogger John Paczkowski says.
- Goldman gets harsh on Microsoft (MSFT) and offers three strategies it should employ to help boost shares. Firm calls for huge dividend increase, a “coherent consumer strategy” and MSFT to become the global leader in cloud computing. “Oh, that’s all?” Paul Kedrosky quips. “Pulling this off would be like Microsoft learning Geller-ian magic tricks, the equivalent of being able to bend spoons with its brain.”
- Another economic downturn is “not only a possibility but a likelihood,” John Hussman says. “A significant correction in valuations and resolution of the growing backlog of delinquent debt may finally restore strong ‘investment merit’ to the US stock market, but only after a greater amount of pain and adjustment than most investors seem to anticipate.”
- Executive departures at Yahoo has put more scrutiny on CEO Carol Bartz, who she still has to convince Wall Street she has what it takes to turnaround the struggling Internet giant. But YHOO’s 3Q report, scheduled for Oct. 19, will provide clues into how she’s really doing, Kara Swisher notes. And as executive departures “garner a lot of attention,” Yahoo’s results are “the most important of all to watch,” she says.
- With the September jobs report due at the end of the week, Calculated Risk says keep an eye on the participation rate. Right now, it sits at a “very low” 64.7%. “A future decline would be considered bad employment news (even if the unemployment rate declined slightly),” blog says. “An increase in the participation rate, combined with a weak labor market, could lead to a jump in the unemployment rate. This is something to watch closely.”
- Another unsavory wrinkle in the US foreclosure epidemic as some big banks (BofA, JPMorgan, Ally’s GMAC) suspend foreclosure activity across close to half the nation amid reports of seriously flawed paperwork. Seems “the real estate/financing industry has brought the same machine-like technical prowess that they used to automate the process of underwriting mortgages to a similar automated foreclosure process,” Big Picture blogger Barry Ritholtz notes. “Is it any surprise that the results of this are similarly disastrous?”
- The bulls, like John Paulson, looked pretty smart in September.
- “But even if we agree that the Fed could depress long-term yields with these kinds of measures, it is a separate question as to whether it should,” James Hamilton says. “I remain of the opinion that while the Fed is understandably reluctant to embrace QE2, it may have little other choice.”
Economy, Federal Reserve, Internet, M&A, Markets, Media, S&P 500, Sports, Technology / Comments Off
- Deal-making has been coming back, with another spate of deals and potential deals announced yesterday, but with one notable difference, John Curran writes at Time’s Curious Capitalist blog. “The big difference is, this merger-fest probably won’t result in higher stock prices.”
- “The Fed may need to do something to shock markets into believing that it is serious about reversing the decline in (inflation) expectations,” Ryan Avent notes at The Economist’s Free Exchange blog. “Without a firm commitment to an eye-popping number, markets may simply believe that the Fed will pull the plug on the purchases before the job is done — a belief that will undermine the impact of the purchases.”
- “What’s the bear case on QE2?” ponders Minyanville’s Todd Harrison. “Think Rocky Balboa at the end of the first movie; there ain’t gonna be no rematch, and there ain’t gonna be no QE3,” Harrison notes. “That’s the risk for policymakers. It’s the next to last bullet (and you know where the last one is pointed).”
- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) maintains “emulating Apple is not part of our strategy,” but it wouldn’t hurt H-P to focus on excellence in user experience, Digital Daily blogger John Paczkowski says. “Because if it nails that and then ‘doubles down’ on webOS as promised, we could see some very interesting things coming out of H-P in the months ahead.”
- Apple shares dropped as much as 5.6% Tuesday before closing down 1.5%. Rumors swirled in the morning that Apple COO Tim Cook could become the new Hewlett-Packard chief. But that rumor was quickly dismissed.
- CNet’s Software Interrupted blog points out that Google (GOOG) has acquired 23 companies so far this year, compared with none for Microsoft (MSFT). That means MSFT, already fighting what many consider a losing battle in search, is also losing out in top start-up technologies like mobile and social networking, as well as foregoing some of the best talent available.
- To the delight of nerds across the country, it turns out that Apple’s (AAPL) new Apple TV can be hacked just like an iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, a popular group of hackers announced last night on their blog. The group, known as the “Dev-Team,” have for the past few years been finding ways to run unauthorized software on AAPL’s popular mobile devices.
- The churn among Yahoo’s (YHOO) executive ranks continues, as Jimmy Pitaro, VP of Media, is expected to leave the company soon, reports All Things D blogger Kara Swisher. “Adding Pitaro to the pile will only increase pressure on [CEO Carol] Bartz…to show investors that Yahoo has a clear plan amidst the executive turmoil.”
- AOL goes on a spending spree, scooping up TechCrunch, one of the most influential blogs in Silicon Valley, as well as Web video-syndication company 5min Media.
- Two wins later, Jason Gay says its time for NY Jets QB Mark Sanchez to give up his blanky.
Banks, Economy, europe, Federal Reserve, Financials, Housing, Markets, Media, Recession, S&P 500, Sports, Stimulus, Technology, Unemployment, Washington / Comments Off
- “We have the specter of Greece’s finance minister insisting really, no really, it will never ever default, or default via restructuring,” Yves Smith quips at naked capitalism. “Now given the unfortunate accident of timing, these protests sound awfully Dick Fuld like, although the better parallel is probably Mexico, which kept insisting in 1994, no way, no how would it need to restructure, despite having a lot of dollar denominated obligations and an untenable currency peg,” she adds. “And it was OK, until it wasn’t.”
- As chatter ramps up about new stimulus plans, FusionIQ CEO Barry Ritholtz has his own ideas for what he would do if given $1T to stimulate the economy. “Some folks believe the government should do nothing, spend no money, focus on balancing the budget,” Ritholtz says. “But is the ideal time to begin a new diet and exercise regime when you have pneumonia? The time to reduce the government’s economic deficit and footprint is during a robust expansion, not during (or just after) a contraction.”
- S&P 500 still hasn’t eclipsed its August highs, but market breadth has indicated underlying strength in the September rally, Bespoke Investment Group says. About 80% of S&P 500 stocks are trading above their 50-day moving averages, which is higher than last month. “This isn’t quite to the highest levels seen over the last year, but it’s getting close.”
- “It takes jobs to create households, and usually housing is the key driver for employment growth in the early stages of a recovery,” Calculated Risk says. “So this is a trap: the excess supply means weak employment growth, leading to few new households, so the excess supply is absorbed slowly — putting off more robust employment growth.”
- JPMorgan Chase (JPM) finally issues a formal apology for the web problems that plagued its online banking service earlier this week. “We are sorry for the difficulties that recently affected Chase.com, and we apologize for not communicating better with you during this issue,” JPM says on its website. The apology is notable as many bloggers and folks on Twitter had criticized JPM for its failure to properly communicate this issue with its customers.
- Google Voice cofounder Craig Walker is leaving his role as a manager of real-time communications at Google (GOOG) and returning to his entrepreneurial roots. Walker, who was previously chief executive of Grand Central and renamed Google Voice after its acquisition by GOOG in 2007, will become Google Venture’s first resident entrepreneur, TechCrunch reports.
- “With two strong divergent opinions on gold and low implied volatility levels, this could be an excellent time to buy options in order to establish speculative long or short positions in the metal,” Bill Luby writes.
- All Things D blogger Kara Swisher doesn’t sugarcoat her thoughts on Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz. “Her actions in regards to the Internet giant’s Asian relationships are about as bad as it gets these days.”
- Poverty rate climbed to 14.3% last year, while those lacking health insurance rose to 50.7 million from 46.3 million. Incomes fell slightly as households relied on government and family aid to weather the recession.
- For the city that never sleeps, take a look at some of Central Park’s midnight runners.
Bonds, Economy, europe, Financials, Markets, Recession, Retail Sales, S&P 500, Technology, Washington / Comments Off
- AIG and Treasury reportedly discussing an accelerated sale of the government’s stake. WSJ reports Treasury’s likely to convert $49B in AIG preferred shares to common and gradually sell its stake.
- “In case you lost track of this sorry affair, AIG, the biggest ward of the state in human history, continues to get the kid glove treatment,” Yves Smith writes at naked capitalism. “Funny, isn’t it, how creative and accommodating the Treasury can be when dealing with large distressed firms, and its skill seems to evaporate when contending with underwater homeowners.”
- This is not a typical stock picker’s market. Far from it. Since the May 6 “flash crash,” correlation of S&P 500 stocks to the overall index has reached its highest level since the 1987 crash. “The stock market has turned into a schizophrenic herd of sheep,” the Pragmatic Capitalism blog says. “Currently, the herd is grazing happily with not a care in the world. But don’t be fooled — when something spooks them you’ll get trampled if you don’t run with them.”
- Retail sales rise for second straight month and the 0.4% rise in August is the highest percentage gain since March. “If we look at the monthly trend of late, there’s an upside bias,” James Picerno writes at The Capital Spectator. “It’s hardly definitive or strong enough to close the book on worries, but considering what might have been it’s okay and more than welcome.”
- Microsoft’s (MSFT) Bing has overtaken Yahoo (YHOO) as the No. 2 search engine in the US, at least according to Nielsen’s August report. Firm says Bing had 13.9% search share last month, compared to Yahoo’s 13.1%. This will “will surely cause a firestorm of controversy in the search arena today,” Kara Swisher says at All Things D. Regardless, Google (GOOG) still dominates as it holds 65.8% of search, up 0.9% month-over-month and 0.5% from a year earlier.
- The outcome from Basel III has been critiqued left and right, but Reuters blogger Felix Salmon finds some positives, calling Basel III a “quiet victory” and saying the banking restraints are fairly constructive. “The Basel committees did a masterful job of depoliticizing the process as much as possible,” he says. “If politicians and the media had got involved, that might have made the process more democratic, but it would also have made it much more chaotic and quite possibly would have derailed any chance of an agreement at all.”
- Couch potatoes rejoice! Google TV, the new Internet television product Google (GOOG) is rolling out, will hit stores in the middle of October, possibly on Oct. 17, Engadget reports. Citing an internal memo from Best Buy (BBY), the blog says BBY had originally planned to begin selling Google TV on Oct. 3 but the launch has been pushed back by two weeks.
- Investors who try to time the market may be better off sticking with a buy-and-hold strategy. Barry Ritholtz posts a chart at The Big Picture looking at how investors would do if they bought the S&P 500 in 1993 and how their performance would be dictated if they missed the 10 best days or avoided the 10 worst days.
- Rimarkable blog wonders why the BlackBerry Curve 3G doesn’t run on BlackBerry 6 out of the box. Research In Motion (RIMM) says BlackBerry 6 will be available for the Curve 3G upon network certification in the coming months. And RIMM notes the device, which will sell initially through Verizon Wireless, is BlackBerry 6 ready. But for now, it will run on BlackBerry 5, prompting Rimarkable to wonder why RIM would release a device with an “old deprecated OS” a month after the debut of its next-generation operating system.
- Rafael Nadal finally solves New York. Congrats Rafa.
Banks, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing, Internet, Markets, Media, Newspaper Industry, Recession, S&P 500, Technology, Unemployment / Comments Off
- If Google (GOOG) can grow revenue, why can’t Yahoo (YHOO)? That’s the question Eric Savitz poses at Barron’s Tech Trader Daily blog. “[Yahoo CEO Carol] Bartz inspires confidence, she’s big on taking decisive action, but for all her efforts, the company still isn’t growing,” he says. “At some point, Yahoo is going to need a more clearly defined growth strategy — and it will have to execute on it.” Yahoo shares drop 8.5%.
- Google issues a 20-page response to FTC’s staff discussion draft about the future of journalism in the digital age. Main takeaway: Don’t blame Google for the newspaper industry’s troubles. “The large profit margins newspapers enjoyed in the past were built on an artificial scarcity: Limited choice for advertisers as well as readers,” Google says. (Hat tip, Jeff Jarvis.)
- Any worries that the iPad would hurt Mac sales were put to bed in Apple’s (AAPL) 3Q results. Apple set a quarterly record by selling 3.47M Macs in 3Q, a 33% increase from a year ago. “If the iPad is having any effect on Mac sales, it’s an additive one,” Digital Daily blogger John Paczkowski says. “Like the iPod once did, the new slate from Apple seems to be having a halo effect on Mac sales thanks to the publicity and Apple Store floor traffic it has generated.”
- Just how impressive were Apple’s quarterly results? Look no further than the 3.27M iPads sold during 3Q, TechCrunch says. Put into context, that’s only 200,000 fewer units than all the Macs sold. And 3Q was the best Mac sales quarter ever. “In other words, in just about any other quarter, the iPad would have outsold the Mac,” TechCrunch says, while expecting the iPad to blow past Mac sales next quarter.
- Bulls once again get rejected trying to rally S&P 500 significantly above its 50-day moving average. Bespoke Investment Group reports this is the fourth separate time since the “flash crash” in early May that the index has turned back at its 50-day moving average. “Bulls had been hoping that strong earnings would be the catalyst to take the S&P 500 to the other side of its 50-day, but so far the bears (and Bernanke) are having none of it.”
- Yesterday’s trading showed “the high-frequency-trading nerds were in full swing, but to the upside this time,” Doug Kass writes. “I have written that few complain when the algorithms take the market up (like yesterday). But I would prefer to be intellectually honest, even when the programs take the market up, and I will not stop writing about this subject until the SEC acts responsibly and curbs certain high-frequency-trading strategies.”
- The housing market is stumbling, once again. “In major markets across the country, home sales are deteriorating, inventories of unsold homes are piling up and builders are scaling back construction plans,” WSJ says.
- “Returning to a sensible, fundamentals-based housing market is painful, but ultimately, it’s something we’re going to have to do, one way or another,” Barbara Kiviat writes at Time’s Curious Capitalist blog.
- A stumbling housing market offers clear evidence that the housing tax credit was a “clear and unequivocal failure,” Bill McBride writes at Calculated Risk. “Not only did most of the benefit go to people who were going to buy anyway, but the credit didn’t reduce the overall supply,” he says. Ultimately, the tax credit merely pulled demand forward. “This is a textbook example of bad policy.”
- “At just 12 times prospective earnings and with prodigious cash flow enabling it simultaneously to keep up its pace of small acquisitions while still repurchasing shares, the market may soon realize that its diagnosis of J&J was overly dire,” Lex says.
- Are Goldman shares worth a flier at current levels? James Stewart weighs in.
Listen, Yahoo, you can do whatever you want with your stupid little news aggregator blog thing (but written by real people, really, you swear, right?) that you’ve got going on over there. But listen up, Jimmy Pitaro, vice president of Yahoo media, you can’t call it “The Upshot.”
We write “The Upshot.” We’ve been writing “The Upshot.” The name’s ours. We came up with it first. Take your annoying algorithmic search-engine news machine and call it something else. “Top Stories As Determined By A Machine,” or “Other People’s Products” (OPP for short). How about, “Don’t Think (We Don’t), Just Read This”?
This isn’t news “ripped from the headlines,” it’s news ripped off from the headlines, our headlines. That’s bad enough, but then you go and rip off our name, too.
Now, granted, we don’t go around trying to market our column. We don’t do cutesy little interviews with Kara Swisher at the “Yahoo Center” promoting our stupid little blog (our blog, incidentally, isn’t stupid. Yours is.) Maybe we should. But, we’re too busy, you know, writing our column, and writing our blog for that matter. Maybe we should just have a search engine pick the topics for us. And write it. Then we could go on Conan, or Leno, or LeBron (doesn’t he have a TV show now? Seems like it.) Change the name. Change it now.
(By the way, I’m no marketing executive, but here’s one little tip I’ll pass along free of charge: you want to promote your idiotic blog? Put it on your homepage, for crying out loud. Who the hell can even find the thing?)
And while we’re at it, would you please, finally, remove that idiotic exclamation point from your name? You’re not fooling anybody. Nobody’s excited about your second-rate search engine and your useless little features. If you do have a little team of actual, live, real editors over there writing your blog, like you claim, then maybe one of them can point out the grammatical error you are committing. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.
You will be hearing from our lawyers.
Dave Benoit, a reporter here at the wires, yesterday said to me casually, See that new Yahoo column? The Upshot?”
The Upshot? The Upshot!?
True it is. Yahoo has a new feature, The Upshot, which is apparently nothing more than a glorified news aggregator. Some little team of “reporters” and “editors” somewhere surfs the web and reposts other outlets’ stories. You know, so you don’t have to go through the drudgery of reading the news.
“Our goal is to be blunt narrators of the day’s news, to cut through the noise and misinformation and get to the heart of what’s important and why,” editor Andrew Golis wrote in the introductory post.
So let me be a blunt narrator, Andrew.
We write The Upshot.
We write The Upshot.
We write The Upshot.
“The Upshot” is the name of the corporate earnings-focused column John and I have been writing for the Wall Street Journal. We’ve been using that name since January, after sending the name to our corporate offices, who had to make sure nobody else was using it. (The column was initially called “The Wrap,” but we didn’t like that. But that’s another story.) So listen up, you yahoos: “The Upshot” is ours. We got there first. It’s bad enough you’re stealing other people’s news, you don’t also have to steal our name.
Go find another name, you hacks. Call it “News Rehash.” Or maybe “Yahoo’s News Aggregator.” I think “News You Can Get Elsewhere But Which We’ve Put Here In An Attempt To Siphon Off Ad Revenue For Ourselves” is quite catchy.
But “The Upshot” is taken. You will be hearing from our lawyers.
Banks, Deflation, Economy, Financials, Inflation, Internet, Markets, Media, Recession, Technology, Twitter, Unemployment / Comments Off
- Financial stocks have hit bear market territory, while materials, energy, industrials and consumer discretionaries are getting close. “Unsurprisingly, it’s the defensive sectors that have held up the best since the market peaked on April 23rd, if declines of 9% to 14% can be characterized as holding up,” Bespoke says.
- It’s tough to ignore the increasing deflation risks filtering through the market. “The sure-fire economic solution to the mounting deflationary risk is a strong and sustained rebound in job growth,” James Picerno says at The Capital Spectator. “Unfortunately, the odds look high for a jobless recovery at the moment, thus the market’s outlook for a new round of disinflation, perhaps outright deflation.”
- All the bailout money that was dished out to the banking sector simply allowed the financial sector to avoid a vast restructuring. “The can was kicked down the road,” Barry Ritholtz writes, noting banks weren’t allowed to suffer the same destiny that happens to other insolvent businesses. “This was a terrible error, the greatest financial tragedy of the 21st century.”
- Despite the widespread opinion that double-dips are rare, data and indicators are warning that one is coming, John Hussman of Hussman Funds points out. His own firm’s recession warning composite is showing the same combination of factors that appeared in November 2007 and October 2000.
- ISM’s non-manufacturing report shows service sector activity slowed last month. “In yet another sign the economy is cooling substantially, three components of the June Services ISM are now in contraction,” Mish says. “This report was weakest where it matters most: employment, imports and exports.”
- Yahoo’s still searching for an ad sales chief. “We’ll see how it turns out, but as Yahoo just closed its second quarter, it’ll be important for some clarity around its most important business in its most important market, especially as its stock continues to its lackluster performance,” Kara Swisher writes.
- The likelihood of a “double dip” recession may be low, according to economists, but as Catherine Rampell points out at NYT’s Economix blog, the general public still seems pretty worried. Google searches for “double dip” have soared this year, she notes, with a specific spike beginning in May.
- Out of all the long-term unemployed, the older, more educated workers have the highest length of unemployment, Calculated Risk reports, citing BLS data.
- AgBank IPO totals $19.21 billion, still in the running for the biggest IPO ever.
- Brian Cashman says LeBron is going to be a Knick. Keep your fingers crossed. Oh yea, and LeBron starts a Twitter account today, tweets ONCE and has 114,000 followers and counting. Hey LeBron, how about throwing Market Talk some of your followers, eh?
Deflation, Economy, europe, Financials, Internet, Markets, Media, Recession, Technology, Unemployment / Comments Off
- “When you hear about corporate insiders emailing undercover FBI agents with insider information in this day and age, you can only shake your head and ponder the utterly pathetic intellects of the people involved,” Josh Brown writes at The Reformed Broker. “As we hear more details about the investigation, I suspect there will be even more head-scratching over how it could be possible that these people haven’t learned better by now.”
- While pursuing financial regulatory reform, the Obama administration chose new regulations over structural change, an easier outcome but not necessarily the best choice. Mark Thoma has the details.
- Number of workers who voluntarily quit in February actually surpassed amount of folks who were fired for first time since October 2008, a positive for weak labor market, especially since turnover essentially froze during the height of the recession, Barry Ritholtz notes at The Big Picture. “The backlog of ‘workers waiting for better times to make a move to better jobs’ is now acting like pent-up consumer demand — only for employees.”
- April durable goods surged 2.9%, well ahead of analysts expectations, which is “just the thing to blow away the deflation blues that have been poisoning the party over the past few weeks,” James Picerno writes at The Capital Spectator.
- Why is Steve Ballmer still Microsoft’s (MSFT) CEO? “Microsoft still has a dominant market share in PC operating systems and office applications, but it’s managed to take that massive competitive advantage and waste it everywhere else over the past decade,” James Kwak says.
- Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz’s potty mouth generates ton of attention in blogosphere, but Reuters blogger Rob Cox says investors should be wary of executives who spout expletives at critics. Bartz used some questionable language in an interview yesterday with TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington, which “smacks of desperation,” Cox says. “Shooting the messenger is never a sign of strength.”
- Yahoo’s chase to the bottom. “The bottom line is that turning around a decline at an Internet company is tougher than elsewhere. That is at least partly because of the ease with which consumers can switch to a different website. Once a site’s image is impaired, it is very hard to repair,” Martin Peers writes at WSJ’s Heard on the Street column.
- Google says it generated $54B of economic activity in 2009. Digital Daily John Paczkowski believes the purpose of Google’s report is to show regulators it’s not anticompetitive. “What better way to counter perceptions that Google merits antitrust scrutiny than to highlight its positive effect on the national economy?”
- Google’s (GOOG) investment case getting muddled? “Most of [Google's] time nowadays seems dedicated to releasing products that don’t make a dime,” writes Chad Brand of Peridot Capital, who discloses his firm has a small position in Google. Downside looks limited based on declining P/E ratio, but “I have mixed feelings as to whether it warrants the commitment of new capital,” he says.
- Facebook attempts to appease privacy advocates by redesigning its privacy controls.
- “Whatever little trust Wall Street might have regained in the recovery since 2009 was surely dashed back to square one on May 6,” Ray Pelleccia writes on the Exchanges blog. The “flash crash” continues to defy easy explanation, and that only adds to the public’s widespread bafflement and distrust of what happens in our financial markets.”