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Holly Thompson founded TWM Today to assist clients in reaching their life goals by providing objective financial guidance. Thompson Wealth Management is a fee-only financial advisory firm. We work solely for you and receive no commissions or compensation from any other source. This eliminates... More
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  • TWM Today: Wall Street
    Sales of U.S. Existing Homes Rose More Than Forecast ~ Sales of U.S. previously owned homes rose in April to the highest level in five months as buyers took advantage of the last weeks of a government tax credit. Purchases increased 7.6% to a 5.77 million annual rate, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. Sales were the highest since November, the month the incentive was first due to expire. The median price climbed 4% from April 2009. Demand may hold up through next month as buyers who close on a deal by June 30 are still eligible for the administration’s credit worth up to $8,000. The recent drop in borrowing costs caused by concern that the European debt crisis will slow global growth may help underpin sales after the loss of government support in the second half of the year and the jobless rate hovers around 10%.  (Bloomberg)

    IBM to Buy AT&T's Sterling Unit for $1.4 Billion ~ International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) agreed to acquire business-to-business services provider Sterling Commerce from AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) for roughly $1.4 billion in one of its largest deals in nearly three years. IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., has stated an intent to be more acquisitive, having spent nearly the same amount on deals in the first quarter as it did last year. The company said it would spend $20 billion on acquisitions by 2015, underscoring the need to compete against other tech giants. (WSJ)

    Poll: Economists more upbeat despite deficit woes ~ Economists forecast the pace of U.S. growth to pick up in the year ahead as consumers and businesses alike accelerate spending, according to a new survey. The assessment by leading forecasters is set to be released Monday by The National Association for Business Economics. It finds them more bullish than when the survey was last surveyed in February, with a majority expecting the economy's performance to exceed the long-term norm in 2010 and 2011. The outlook amounts to an encouraging report card on the economy at nearly the one-year mark of the recovery, which the experts date to June 2009 when the recession hit bottom. "Although risks involving Europe have recently escalated, the outlook in this country has improved in most respects," said Lynn Reaser, the group's president and chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University. "Growth prospects are stronger, unemployment and inflation are lower, and worries relating to consumer retrenchment and domestic financial headwinds have diminished." (Associated Press)

    Alcon (NYSE:ACL) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Citigroup.
  (NASDAQ:PCLN) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Soleil.

    Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) Participates in NASA's Inaugural Lunabotics Mining Competition.

    Disclosure: Long PCLN
    Tags: IBM, T, ACL, PCLN, CAT
    May 24 11:00 AM | Link | Comment!
  • TWM Today: Wall Street
    Producer Costs in U.S. Unexpectedly Dropped in April ~ Wholesale prices in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped in April, the second decrease in three months, signaling the global recovery from the worst recession in the post-World War II era has yet to stoke inflation. The .1% decline in prices paid to factories, farmers and other producers followed a .7% increase in March, the Labor Department said today in Washington.  Excluding food and fuel, core prices climbed .2%, compared with .1%  gains in the previous two months. Cost pressures are diminishing as goods make their way up production lines to consumers, showing companies have enough idle capacity to prevent bottlenecks even as sales rebound. The European debt crisis will probably also help restrain prices, one reason why economists are pushing back forecasts for when Federal Reserve policy makers will raise interest rates.  (Bloomberg)

    Housing Starts Move Higher Even as Permits Shrink ~ U.S. housing starts touched a 1-1/2 year high in April, but a drop in permits to a six-month low suggested housing market recovery will remain slow. Housing starts rose 5.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 672,000 units, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday, likely supported by the looming expiry of a home buyer tax credit. March's housing starts were revised to show a 5 percent increase, instead of a 1.6% gain. Markets had expected housing starts to rise to 650,000 units. Compared to April last year, starts were up 40.9%, the largest increase since March 1994. (NASDAQ:CNBC)

    California Pension Woes Leading The Nation To Fiscal Purgatory ~ California may not be Greece, but it's starting to look a lot like Sisyphus, the mythical king condemned to an eternity of pushing a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger set off a firestorm Friday with his plan to close a $19.1B budget gap in the fiscal year starting July 1. But even if Democratic lawmakers were to go along with his prescriptions, the state would have a big budget hole to fill again next year. While California, with the lowest credit rating of any state, is in tougher straits than many, states and localities across the country are bracing for a long uphill trudge. Even as tax revenue gradually recovers from recessionary levels, officials face the end of federal stimulus along with rapidly escalating retiree pension and health obligations. The public pensions bill is coming due as policymakers try to rightsize an overstretched federal budget. Solving both problems at once will make each more difficult. (IBD)

    Pfizer to cut 6,000 jobs ~ Drugmaker Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) will cut 6,000 jobs, or 18% of the workforce, at its 78 manufacturing plants over the next five years as it pares back operations following last year's purchase of rival Wyeth.The world's biggest drugmaker plans to cease operations at eight plants in Ireland, Puerto Rico and the United States by late 2015 and reduce activities at six factories in those countries, plus Germany and Britain.Pfizer had 40 manufacturing sites before acquiring more than three dozen Wyeth facilities in the October merger.The affected plants make conventional pills, injectable medicines, biotech drugs and consumer healthcare products. Pfizer will wind down their operations over the next 18 months to five years, depending on business considerations such as the time required to transfer product manufacturing.The company said in November it would close 6 research sites and trim jobs in the United States and Britain as part of its absorption of Wyeth. It then began a 6-month study of how to reconfigure its manufacturing sites. (Reuters)

    Notable quarterly changes in Soro's portfolio ~ In SEC filings out last night after the close, George Soros disclosed notable changes, from 12/31/09 to 3/31/10, in the following positions:

    • ADCT (new 19.5 mln share position)
    • BG (liquidated 1.0 mln shares)
    • C (to 10K shares from 94.7 mln)
    • CIE (new 6.0 mln)
    • CVI (liquidated 1.5 mln)
    • JPM (to 2.6 mln from 116K)
    • NG (to 18.7 mln from 3.5 mln)
    • PBR (to 15.0 mln from 13.6 mln) 
    • PFE (to 5.3 mln from 11.6 mln)
    • PNC (new 908K)
    • SLRC (new 1.3 mln)
    • SU (to 8.7 mln from 7.2 mln) 
    Notable quarterly changes in Berkshire Hathaway portfolio ~ In an SEC filing out last night after the close, Berkshire Hathaway disclosed notable changes, from 12/31/09 to 3/31/10, in the following positions:
    • BDX (increased to 7.1 mln shares from 1.5 mln)
    • KMX (to 7.7 mln from 8.0 mln)
    • COP (to 26.1 mln from 29.7 mln)
    • COST (to 4.3 mln from 5.2 mln)
    • GCI (to 1.7 mln from 2.2 mln)
    • IRM (7.8 mln from 7.0 mln)
    • JNJ (to 23.9 mln from 27.1 mln)
    • KFT (to 106.7 mln from 138.2 mln)
    • MCO (to 15.0 mln from 16.0 mln)
    • PG (to 79.0 mln from 87.5 mln)
    • RSG (to 10.8 mln from 8.3 mln)
    • STI (2.4 mln liquidated)
    • UNH (1.1 mln liquidated)
    • WLP (1.3 mln liquidated)

    Disclosure: Long PBR, JNJ
    May 18 11:30 AM | Link | Comment!
  • TWM Today: Wall Street
    DryShips 1Q earnings in-line with expectations ~Reports Q1 earnings of $0.27 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.05 better than the Thomson Reuters consensus of $0.22; revenues rose 0.3% year/year to $194.2 mln vs the $202.8 mln consensus.  Dahlman Rose notes DRYS reported Q1 results that were inline with their ests. Firm says recent spill in the Gulf of Mexico is likely to limit investor appetite for less-experienced drilling contractors. They note the co had discussed plans for the IPO of its rig business during the second half of this year and look for color on the conference call on whether management has changed its plans. Firm remains Neutral on the shares based on the timeline of the drilling IPO is clouded, given the Gulf of Mexico accident and the company's lack of progress in securing employment for its new builds. (Briefing)

    SAP Strikes Deal for Sybase ~ SAP AG said it would pay $5.8 billion to buy fellow software maker Sybase Inc., a move that would give the German giant key technology in its battle against archrival Oracle Corp. in the business-software market.  SAP said it will pay $65 for each Sybase share—a 56% premium to Tuesday's closing price. SAP said it will pay cash, using its own reserves and a $3.5 billion loan. It expects the deal to close in the third quarter. (WSJ)

    US Mortgage Rates Drop to 5-Month Low ~ U.S. mortgage rates dropped below 5 percent in the latest week, the lowest level in 5 months, boding well for the hard-hit housing market as it copes with the absence of government support, a closely watched survey showed Thursday.  Lower interest rates on mortgages should buoy refinancing, putting more cash into consumers' hands to funnel into the economy. They also make homes more affordable during the spring selling season, the industry's most important period. Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, the most widely used loan, averaged 4.93 percent for the week ended May 13, down from the previous week's 5.00 percent. It was the lowest level since the week ended Dec. 10, according to a survey released by Freddie Mac, the second-largest U.S. mortgage finance company. That is above the year-ago level of 4.86 percent, as well as the record low of 4.71 percent in early December. Freddie Mac started the survey in 1971.  (NASDAQ:CNBC)

    Prosecutors Ask if 8 Banks Duped Rating Agencies ~ The New York attorney general has started an investigation of eight banks to determine whether they provided misleading information to rating agencies in order to inflate the grades of certain mortgage securities, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation.  The investigation parallels federal inquiries into the business practices of a broad range of financial companies in the years before the collapse of the housing market. Where those investigations have focused on interactions between the banks and their clients who bought mortgage securities, this one expands the scope of scrutiny to the interplay between banks and the agencies that rate their securities. The agencies themselves have been widely criticized for overstating the quality of many mortgage securities that ended up losing money once the housing market collapsed. The inquiry by the attorney general of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo, suggests that he thinks the agencies may have been duped by one or more of the targets of his investigation. Those targets are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Crédit Agricole and Merrill Lynch, which is now owned by Bank of America.The companies that rated the mortgage deals are Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service. Investors used their ratings to decide whether to buy mortgage securities.

    Disclosure: No Positions
    Tags: DRYS, SAP, SY
    May 13 12:47 PM | Link | Comment!
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  • McDonald's $MCD reports Q4 earnings of $1.40/sh, $.01 better than estimate. Revs rose 2.0% yr/yr to $7.09 bln vs the $7.11 bln consensus.
    Jan 23, 2014
  • Norfolk Southern $NSC target raised to $110 from $98 at Cowen.
    Jan 23, 2014
  • Long hours & a fractious relationship with Pimco's founder prompted Mohamed El-Erian's resignation.
    Jan 23, 2014
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