Markets sold off yesterday once again on news coming out of Europe. There are serious issues on the continent, and one has to ask who is in charge in Greece. We know its currently a judge, but the politicians certainly were not before, or after the elections and it is obvious that the constituency is nothing more than a pack of kids. The continent needs to rise to the occasion and solve this once and for all. The bickering is not only hurting them now, but it is spreading and infecting other parts of the world and we think many will soon say that Europe was a major contributing factor to China's slowing growth.
It is jobs Thursday today, and the economic news we have up consists of the Initial Claims (Consensus 365k), Continuing Claims (Consensus 3250k), Philadelphia Fed (Consensus 8.8) and the Leading Indicators (Consensus 0.2%).
Looking at Asian markets we see markets are mostly higher:
All Ordinaries - down 0.15%
Shanghai Composite - up 1.39%
Nikkei 225 - up 0.86%
NZSE 50 - up 0.20%
Seoul Composite - up 0.26%
In Europe markets are lower:
CAC 40 - down 0.93%
DAX - down 0.51%
FTSE 100 - down 0.80%
OSE - down 0.63%
Renren (RENN) had another good day yesterday as it rose $0.41 (7.02%) on volume just shy of 14 million. The stock is still benefiting from the Facebook melt-up, much like its peers, and should continue to benefit as there will be much attention afforded the IPO throughout the day. Renren is one of the 'cheaper' stocks out there, and what we mean by that is that they are one of the lower priced stocks out there on a per share basis - thus making it attractive for wannabe day traders and those looking to place a wager in the social media arena.
We were a bit surprised by the price action in Zynga (ZNGA) yesterday as they were at a conference and had some pretty bullish comments. When you look at the social media stocks, no one has more exposure to Facebook's platform or is more closely associated with the company. Although the stock was up strong early, it sold off and closed down - one of the few ending lower on the day. We decided to become owners of the May $8 Calls yesterday, even though we previously had no intention of getting involved with this trade. Shares ended up down $0.34 (3.97%) to close at $8.22/share, so they are still attractive for an entry point to play for Friday.
We were correct to be wary of Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) holding their recent gains, contrary to the thinking of the mob. The shares lost another $0.39 (6.44%) to close at $5.67/share on volume of 27.6 million. It appears that the company will sell 11 million shares at $5.50, which is a slight discount to the closing price on Wednesday. This is not as bad as it could have been, but a surprise nevertheless. Shareholders may be mad about this offering, especially if they get the payments from their partner for milestone achievements, but this is a conservative move by the company to have cash in case something goes wrong - that is the way we are looking at it and we must applaud management for the decision.
It is bad when your stock falls because someone asks a few questions on a conference call, but it may be worse when shares rise because someone does not mention you at a conference. This is the craziness which exists around Herbalife (HLF) these days, as shareholders have been on edge about whether a certain hedge fund manager was going to mention them as one of his top plays, as a short, for this upcoming year. He did not, and shares rose smartly by $7.07 (16.66%) to close at $49.51/share. Volume was 18 million, with most of it coming near the close and in after hours. It was a good day for shareholders, but sadly does not put them anywhere close to where shareholders were before questions were asked on the last conference call.
One of the biggest disappointments this quarter had to be the situation at JC Penny (JCP). Shares had their worst day ever yesterday, and for a company with the history of JC Penny, that is saying a lot. Earnings were atrocious, and investors were hit with a double whammy as the company also cut its dividend to save about $200 million a year. Things are never good when dividends are cut to fund company operations, which is something we have long maintained. Many are now wondering whether Ron Johnson really earned his retailing genius moniker or was simply along for the ride at Apple and Target. Time will tell, but with volume over 43 million and shares down $6.57 (19.72%) to close at $26.75/share yesterday, it is safe to say many investors gave up on the man and his plan already.
Additional disclosure: I own the May $8 Calls.