Saturday, March 3, 2012

General Electric planning for joint venture with NRG and COP GE

General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) last trade supported to succeed a new record high price of $20.74 which opened at $20.39 reached intraday low of $20.12 and went 0.39% down to close at $20.20. The shares were traded with the volume capacity of 102.89 million shares where it holds an average volume of 60.60 million shares.

GE shares price distanced by +7.01% from 20 days average, +14.29% from SMA50 and +22.96% from SMA200. Similarly, the shares performance calculated for a week provided positive result of 2.33%, 10.56% for a month and Year-to-Date performance was 10.44%.

The company has an Enterprise Value of $570.55 billion where in most recent quarter it had a total cash in hand amounted to $122.90 billion with a 11.18 book value per share. The beta value of 1.71 signifies to the movement of price with the market condition. The percentage of holdings by the insider in GE is 0.02%.

Its past twelve months increase in return from assets was 1.59%, return on equity remained 9.82% and return on investments reached 2.10%. The net profit margin in last 12 months grew up to 8.10% and in most recent quarter debt to equity of 4.28 giving a view of company�s reliance on taking loans.

The Company in past 12 months achieved Gross Profit of $77.84 billion where the year to year quarterly revenue growth was 149.70% and Net Income Available to Shareholders reached to $11.44 billion with the diluted EPS of 1.06.

Investors are signaling across the board a strong message that risk-taking is back

�I believe in the power of weakness.� – Pat Buckley

As I noted in my company’s free Week in Review e-newsletter, it has been an incredibly powerful start for risk assets so far this year following the dramatic change in sentiment that occurred after the first week of January, when inflation expectations dramatically returned. While the focus so far has been on everything that has �worked,� it’s instructive to look at what hasn’t worked to see where market participants may be raising cash. Laggards can tell an investor as much about the market environment as leaders do.

With that said, I ran a screen on more than 1,000 ETFs/ETNs to get a sense of which areas of the investable landscape are showing extreme movement relative to their most recent history. Take a look at the list below, which shows those ETFs/ETNs (excluding leveraged funds) that are furthest away from their respective 20-day moving averages.

While the declines have not been enormous, it is worth noting that 7 out of the 10 ETFs above that are furthest below their respective 20-day moving averages are government bonds (EDV, TLO, VGLT, TLH, PLW, IEF, SUB). The bullish dollar weakening (UUP) and Yen (FXY) are also consistent with the performance of Treasuries in the sense that they tend to do well in �risk-off� periods. The message across the entire list of ETFs and ETNs is clear — investors are signaling across the board a strong message that risk-taking is back.

For natural gas (UNL), I suspect much of the weakness is due to the “contango effect” in futures-based products. For those unfamiliar with contango, it is a situation whereby prices in following-month futures are higher than spot, meaning there is a �negative roll yield� in the way those futures-based ETFs maintain exposure to the underlying commodity. This is a continuous cost that occurs in the ETF structurally, which likely explains why it is ! the only commodity in the list that has dramatically underperformed other risk assets.

From an action standpoint, the momentum and weakness in the risk-off trade may well continue, making bets against fixed income likely a high-probability trade in the near term. While one can buy an inverse bond ETF such as TBT, I think a better way to bet against bonds is simply to go long stocks, as I referenced in my latest Bloomberg Radio interview, which can be heard here.

The author, Pension Partners, LLC, and/or its clients may hold positions in securities mentioned in this article at time of writing. The commentary does not constitute individualized advice. The opinions herein are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities.

RIA HighTower Expands National Footprint With Offices in Baltimore and Los Angeles

In its ongoing quest to gain a nationwide profile, registered investment advisory group HighTower has opened two new offices in Los Angeles and Baltimore, adding breakaway advisors with more than $1 billion of assets under management.

Chicago-headquartered HighTower announced Tuesday that Leo Kelly and Brian Grumbach, formerly of the Kelly Group at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, joined HighTower as managing directors and partners on Feb. 17. Kelly and team currently manage $700 million of client assets and will lead HighTower’s expansion into the Baltimore market.

The second office opening, also on Feb. 17, brings HighTower’s expansion into the Los Angeles area. James Hausberg, formerly a managing director at The Presidio Group, also joined HighTower as managing director and partner. Hausberg currently manages $400 million of client assets and will lead HighTower’s expansion in the Los Angeles area. Prior to joining the Presidio Group in 2005, Hausberg worked at Bear Stearns and Credit Suisse in wealth advisory positions.

Mike Papedis, HighTower executive vice president of business development“HighTower achieved a new milestone today,” said Mike Papedis (left), executive vice president of business development in a statement released Tuesday. “On-boarding two new teams on both coasts on the same day is just another example of our increasing execution capabilities.”

Barron’s has tapped Kelly for its list of Top 1000 Advisors every year since its inception in 2009. While at Merrill, he was senior portfolio manager in the firm’s Personal Investment Advisory Program.

“I considered several options and determined that joining HighTower is better for my clients, better for my team, and better for my family,” said Kelly in a statement. “I’m looking forward to serving my clients and providing them with all the advantages HighTower offers.”

HighTower is an advisor-owned financial services company serving high net worth and institutional clients. Many of HighTower’s advisors are breakaway wirehouse brokers with large and established practices. The company is headquartered in Chicago and maintains corporate centers in New York and San Francisco as well as other offices around the country in cities including Seattle and Minneapolis.

Read more about HighTower at

What to Expect From GM Tomorrow

The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series in which industrials editor and analyst Brendan Byrnes and technology editor and analyst Andrew Tonner discuss topics across the investing world.

In today's edition, Brendan and Andrew discuss GM's earnings release tomorrow. Profits are expected to be down from GM's excellent fourth quarter last year, but the company is still in great position for a solid 2012. What can we expect from the company's earnings, and for the full year for GM?

GM doesn't pay a dividend yet, but many expect it to sometime in the relatively near future. But if you don't want to wait to add a solid dividend producer to your portfolio, we've got you covered. The Motley Fool has compiled a special free report outlining our 11 top, dependable, dividend-paying stocks. It's called "Secure Your Future With 11 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks." You can access your complimentary copy today at no cost! Just click here to discover the winners we've picked.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Father's Day: A Real Holiday or Just a Retail Holiday?

Fathers dayThis Sunday is Father's Day, America's annual celebration of the spider-killing, bicycle-constructing, DNA-contributing men who proudly take active roles in the raising of their offspring. Yet as the country's dads prepare to unwrap their annual gifts of grills, barbecue mitts and ties, it's worth asking if Father's Day is a genuine holiday, designed to honor America's dads, or just another spot on the country's retail calendar, designed to help the economy through the rough patch between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

Caveat Emptor

Before I go any further, I need to note that, as the proud father of a 5-year-old girl, I have some skin in the Father's Day game. And, while I am gleefully anticipating this year's payload of grilling tools and neckwear, I am even more invested in the role of fatherhood in America. Over the past few years, America's dads have taken some hard hits: Economically, they were gut-shot by the Great Recession, in which men lost almost twice as many jobs as women. At the same time, they also faced a cultural onslaught, perhaps best demonstrated last year, when The Atlanticcelebrated Father's Day by publishing Are Fathers Necessary?, a nasty little screed by Pamela Paul. Her final summation: "The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there's nothing objectively essential about his contribution. The good news is, we've gotten used to him."

Thanks, Pam. You're a peach.

As for me, I come to praise dad, not to bury him, and I would argue that Father's Day is a small sop to throw America's dads. Still, it's hard to get past the notion that the timing of Father's Day is strangely convenient for retailers.

The Shopping ... ahem, Holiday Calendar

America's calendar is a hodgepodge of political and religious celebrations, cadged together for reasons that are sometimes hard to explain. Valentine's Day, for example, supposedly honors an obscure saint who may not have existed, while Halloween is officially a prelude to All Saint's Day, one of the more obscure Christian feast days. In truth, of course, both holidays are carry-overs from pre-Christian times: Valentine's Day is an update of Lupercalia, an ancient Roman fertility holiday, while Halloween is a recasting of Samhain, a Celtic harvest festival.

So why do we celebrate a pair of thinly disguised pagan festivals that have little to do with contemporary American life? Not to poo-poo fans of chocolate, jewelry or costumes, the biggest reason for both holidays is their impressive commercial power. The lead-up to Feb. 14 is a big payday for the candy industry, helping it to get through the dreary months between Christmas and Easter. Halloween, meanwhile, provides a similar function in the fall, helping the economy to wobble through the slow months between the back-to-school and Christmas sales pushes.

In fact, these days, it's hard to think of a major American holiday that isn't linked to the retail industry. Presidents Day usually brings a mass of linen bargains, while Easter gives a bump to candy makers. Independence Day is associated with cookouts, Mother's Day with brunches, and Christmas with toys. Memorial Day and Labor Day nicely bookend the summer amusement park season, while Father's Day -- as we've already noted -- marks the start of the summer barbecue push. And -- if Dad isn't into grilling -- there are always neckties and soap-on-a-rope, a pair of strangulation-based commodities that practically beg for some serious commercial support.

A Convenient Holiday

Father's Day hasn't always occupied its plum spot in the middle of June. In fact, the first celebration was held on July 5, 1908, a date that was inconveniently c! lose to Independence Day. That original commemoration was anything but upbeat: It honored the victims of the 1907 Monongah mining disaster, in which 362 men were trapped and killed in a West Virginia coal mine. For the roughly 1,000 children who lost their fathers in the disaster, the significance of fathers -- and Father's Day -- could not have been more poignant.

Two years later, a far more prominent Father's Day celebration took place. Inspired by Mother's day, Sonora Smart Dodd, a Spokane, Wash., housewife, persuaded a coalition of religious groups to set aside a day to celebrate fathers. Dodd's inspiration was her own father, William Jackson Smart, who single-handedly raised his six children following the death of his wife. Initially, Dodd proposed that Father's Day be held on June 5 -- her father's birthday -- but was overruled by the coalition's members, who felt that it was too close to Mother's day. Ultimately, they decided to situate the holiday on June 19, a comfortable spot between Mother's Day and the Fourth of July.

Dodd's idea caught on. Six years later, President Woodrow Wilson joined in Spokane's Father's Day service. However, the holiday didn't join America's official calendar until 1972, when President Richard Nixon established the third Sunday in June as the date for its permanent national observance.

Commercial From the Start

Most holidays put up at least a token struggle against commercialism. For example, Mother's Day founder Anna Jarvis railed against businesses that tried to exploit her creation. Father's Day, on the other hand, was a retail bonanza almost from the start: In Spokane, Dodd worked with merchants to promote it, suggesting window displays and signs that would encourage customers to buy presents for their dads. In the 1930s, the Associated Men's Wear Retailers, a New York-based trade group, embraced the holiday with a "Father's DayCommittee" to help publicize the day -- and the sales that attended it. Their perspect! ive was immediately evident from the slogan they chose for the holiday: "Give Dad Something to Wear."

In retrospect, it's not surprising that ties quickly became the traditional Father's Day gift.

Because of its heavy commercial emphasis, Father's Day had to fight an uphill battle against consumers who saw it as a cynical attempt to wrest money from guilt-ridden children. Harvard Divinity School professor Leigh Eric Schmidt argues that Father's Day quickly embraced its own exploitation. In Consumer Rites: The Buying and Selling of American Holidays, he notes that "Advertisers themselves recognized [the] wider cultural tendency to see Father's Day gifts as humbug, and one solution was to incorporate this into holiday promotions and to try to turn it to commercial advantage." In addition to offering playfully silly suggestions for Father's Day presents, many stores attacked competitors for promoting inappropriate or tacky gifts.

Boosting the Economy ...

Given Anna Jarvis' firm stance against commercialism, it's somewhat ironic that Mother's Day far outstrips Father's Day when it comes to spending. According to the National Retail Federation, the average mother received more than $140 in gifts this year, while the average American dad will get just over $106. Then again, even this comparatively small sum is a significant jump over last year, when the average dad raked in a meager $94.

This year-over-year jump illustrates Father's Day's key role in providing a spur for retailers. In fact, the amount of money spent on dads is a nice benchmark for the economy in general. In 2007, on the eve of the recession, per capita Father's Day spending hovered close to $100. Two years later, in the depths of the economic downfall, it had plummeted to just over $90. In context, 2011's expected retail windfall of $11.1 billion represents not just a lot of happy dads, but a retail economy that is regaining a lot of lost ground.

... and Celeb! rating D ads

Ultimately, though, Father's Day isn't about shopping. Rather, it's about honoring fathers and their place in the lives of America's children. Given the holiday's overly-commercialized origins -- not to mention the ballyhoo surrounding its yearly observance -- this can be a bit hard to remember. Still, while preparing for this Sunday's festivities, you might want to take a moment to think of any dads you know who have struggled to support and nurture their children.

And then, of course, get in line to pick up the required "Kiss the Cook" apron and a hideous tie.

Also See: What Super-Rich Dads Teach Their Kids

Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

Irregular Volume of Blueknight Energy Partners L.P - NASDAQ:BKEP

Blueknight Energy Partners L.P (NASDAQ:BKEP) Blueknight Energy Partners, L.P. (Blueknight Energy Partners) provides integrated terminalling, storage, processing, gathering and transportation services for companies engaged in the production, distribution and marketing of crude oil and asphalt product. Blueknight Energy Partners L.P witnessed volume of 1.17 million shares during last trade however it holds an average trading capacity of 19,329 million shares. BKEP last trade opened at $5.85 reached intraday low of $5.69 and went +8.85% up to close at $6.27.

BKEP has intra-day market capitalization $142.06 million and an enterprise value at $416.68 million. Trailing twelve months price to sales ratio of the stock was 0.83 while price to book ratio in most recent quarter was 0.29. In profitability ratios, net profit margin in past twelve months appeared at 7.46% whereas operating profit margin for the same period at 21.62%.

The company made a return on asset of 7.46% in past twelve months. In the period of trailing 12 months it generated revenue amounted to $170.22 million gaining $5.03 revenue per share. Its year over year, quarterly growth of revenue was 22.20%.

According to preceding quarter balance sheet results, the company had $1.01 million cash in hand making cash per share at 0.05. The total debt was $275.62 million. Moreover its current ratio according to same quarter results was 0.33 and book value per share was 21.74.

Looking at the trading information, the stock price history displayed that its S&P500 52 Week Change illustrated -1.39% where the stock current price exhibited down beat from its 50 day moving average price of $6.33 and remained below from its 200 Day Moving Average price of $7.12.

BKEP holds 22.66 million outstanding shares with 966.58K floating shares where insider possessed 58.31% and institutions kept 1.70%.

Taipan Daily: What Happens When Peter Wants His Money Back?

There's no foolproof way to know the future for Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV  ) or any other company. However, certain clues may help you see potential stumbles before they happen -- and before your stock craters as a result.

A cloudy crystal ball
In this series, we use accounts receivable and days sales outstanding to judge a company's current health and future prospects. It's an important step in separating the pretenders from the market's best stocks. Alone, AR -- the amount of money owed the company -- and DSO -- the number of days' worth of sales owed to the company -- don't tell you much. However, by considering the trends in AR and DSO, you can sometimes get a window onto the future.

Sometimes, problems with AR or DSO simply indicate a change in the business (like an acquisition), or lax collections. However, AR that grows more quickly than revenue, or ballooning DSO, can also suggest a desperate company that's trying to boost sales by giving its customers overly generous payment terms. Alternately, it can indicate that the company sprinted to book a load of sales at the end of the quarter, like used-car dealers on the 29th of the month. (Sometimes, companies do both.)

Why might an upstanding firm like Live Nation Entertainment do this? For the same reason any other company might: to make the numbers. Investors don't like revenue shortfalls, and employees don't like reporting them to their superiors.

Is Live Nation Entertainment sending any potential warning signs? Take a look at the chart below, which plots revenue growth against AR growth, and DSO:


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Data is current as of last fully reported fiscal quarter. FQ = fiscal quarter.

The standard way to calculate DSO uses average accounts receivable. I prefe! r to loo k at end-of-quarter receivables, but I've plotted both above.

Watching the trends
When that red line (AR growth) crosses above the green line (revenue growth), I know I need to consult the filings. Similarly, a spike in the blue bars indicates a trend worth worrying about. Live Nation Entertainment's latest average DSO stands at 25.1 days, and the end-of-quarter figure is 25.1 days. Differences in business models can generate variations in DSO, and business needs can require occasional fluctuations, but all things being equal, I like to see this figure stay steady. So, let's get back to our original question: Based on DSO and sales, does Live Nation Entertainment look like it might miss it numbers in the next quarter or two?

The numbers don't paint a clear picture. For the last fully reported fiscal quarter, Live Nation Entertainment's year-over-year revenue shrank 2.5%, and its AR grew 4.0%. That looks OK. End-of-quarter DSO increased 6.6% over the prior-year quarter. It was down 11.7% versus the prior quarter. Still, I'm no fortuneteller, and these are just numbers. Investors putting their money on the line always need to dig into the filings for the root causes and draw their own conclusions.

What now?
I use this kind of analysis to figure out which investments I need to watch more closely as I hunt the market's best returns. However, some investors actively seek out companies on the wrong side of AR trends in order to sell them short, profiting when they eventually fall. Which way would you play this one? Let us know in the comments below, or keep up with the stocks mentioned in this article by tracking them in our free watchlist service, My Watchlist.

  • Add Live Nation Entertainment to My Watchlist.

Dollar recovers from 7-week low in wake of Fed

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) � The dollar fell to a seven-week low against major currencies on Thursday, then recovered some as U.S. stocks extended losses following a slew of U.S. economic reports on jobless claims, durable-goods orders and new-home sales.

The move comes a day after the Federal Reserve said interest rates may remain at ultralow levels until late 2014, reducing the appeal of the greenback to international investors.

The ICE dollar index DXY , which measures the U.S. unit against a basket of six major currencies, fell to 79.416 from 79.563 late Wednesday in North America. It touched its lowest level on a closing basis since early December and is well below its 80.131 level ahead of the Fed�s policy announcement. See report on Wednesday�s currency moves.

Click to Play

The Fed and the markets

Channel Capital Research's Doug Roberts discusses how the Fed's announcement that it will likely keep rates near zero until late 2014 is likely to affect the financial markets going forward.

The euro EURUSD rose to $1.3107 from $1.3091 late Tuesday, after hitting its highest level of the new year.

The dollar initially extended losses after a pair of U.S. reports showed jobless claims rose to 377,000 in the latest week and durable-goods orders jumped 3% last month � both higher than economists expected. See full story on jobless claims . Read about durable goods.

`Sweet spot fo! r risk a ppetite�

�The big question is how much the markets care about data after the Fed yesterday,� said Alan Ruskin, global head of G-10 foreign-exchange strategy at Deutsche Bank.

�U.S. growth near trend with a dovish Fed is close to the sweet spot for global risk appetite. There is nothing in the latest data to change that view, although much like last year it is Europe that will ultimately dictate the extent of the follow-through on risk.�

Later, a report showed new home sales fell unexpectedly in December. Separately, the U.S. leading indicators index rose 0.4%, less than some had forecast. See more on new-home sales. Read about leading indicators.

Indeed, the euro began giving back some of its gains by afternoon trading as U.S. equity losses deepened. The Standard & Poor�s 500 Index SPX �lost 0.7%. Read about U.S. stocks.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies about monetary policy before the House Financial Services on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 29, 2012.
� Bernanke sees �different signals� from economy
�Bernanke's son $400,000 of debt
� Fed minutes show few supporters for QE3
� Fed pushes out low rate pledge to late 2014
� Text of FOMC statement
�Live-blo! g of the Bernanke press conference
� Richmond Fed�s Lacker explains FOMC dissent
� Kellner: Fed�s forecasting reputation shaky
� What�s behind Republican attacks on the Fed
� What�s your question for Bernanke

� U.S. economic calendar |Global calendar
� Market Snapshot | Bond Report | Currencies
� Sign up for breaking-news alerts by email

�The main reason why the euro failed to hold onto all of its earlier gains is because U.S. stocks retreated from their highs and the reason for that was because the second set of U.S. data was not nearly as good as the first,� said Kathy Lien, director of currency research for GFT.

�Investors realized that disappointing U.S. data is as bad for the rest of the world as it is for the U.S. economy and this explains why the dollar began to recover towards the end of the U.S. session,� she said.

The Fed�s move Wednesday and subsequent remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke served to spur risk appetite, lifting commodities and equities while the dollar weakened. Read about dollar after Fed comments.

�The Fed chairman may argue that the pledge is conditional, but references to remaining vigilant and being willing to take more action if needed certainly provided negative impetus for the U.S. dollar,� said Jeremy Stretch, currency strategist at CIBC.

�Risk appetite certainly took the presumption of seven years of low rates positively, benefitting the usual suspects, as the search f! or yield ramped up again.�

Also supporting the euro, Dow Jones Newswires reported that a story in Greek newspaper Ethnos said private creditors were willing to accept an average interest rate of less than 4% on new bonds to be issued as part of a voluntary debt swap, raising hopes for a deal.

�If true, the news would greatly ease tension in the euro-zone credit markets, which were becoming increasingly concerned that Greece would default on its obligations, triggering a credit event that could severely damage the region�s financial sector,� said Boris Schlossberg, director of currency research at GFT.

Japanese yen, Australian dollar

The Japanese yen gained ground, with the dollar USDJPY � changing hands at �77.48, down from �77.78.

Still, Credit Agricole strategists said that �bearish sentiment may (finally) be waning� and the dollar could soon break through the �78.30 level that marked the resistance level during the second half of last year.

Among other major currency pairs, the British pound GBPUSD rose to $1.5695 from $1.5645 late Wednesday.

The Australian dollar AUDUSD , often looked to as a gauge of risk appetite,�added to the prior day�s gains to buy $1.0621, up from $1.0595.

Estate Tax Tips for Married Couples -

Thanks to the generous $5.12 million exemption for individuals who pass away in 2012, the assets of relatively few people in the United States will be exposed to the federal estate tax over the next few years. To see if you and/or your spouse's estate might bump up against the exemption, try our estate tax calculator and read on for estate-tax-saving tips.

Take Advantage of the Unlimited Marital Deduction

If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, you can leave any amount to him or her with no federal estate tax hit. If you are a U.S. citizen, your spouse can do the same. This is the so-called unlimited marital deduction privilege. For married couples, the $5.12 million federal estate tax exemption and the unlimited marital deduction privilege provide significant federal estate tax shelter for those who die in 2012.

If either you or your spouse has a large estate, however, leaving everything to your spouse can result in your spouse having an estate that exceeds the federal estate tax exemption when he or she dies. In that case, you need to look at the other estate-tax-saving tips.

Take Advantage of Portable Estate Tax Exemption

For 2012, you can direct the executor of your estate to leave any unused federal estate tax exemption to your surviving spouse. For example, if you die in 2012, you can leave everything to your spouse, including your unused $5.12 million exemption. Your spouse would then have a $10.24 million exemption if he or she dies in 2011 or 2012 (his or her $5.12 million exemption plus your unused $5.12 million exemption). Unless Congress takes action, however, portable estate tax exemption will expire at the end of 2012.

Make Bequests to IRS-Approved Charities

You might want to change your estate planning documents to direct the executor to give away more to IRS-approved charities in order to get your taxable estate down to the current! $5.12 m illion estate-tax-free ceiling, or $10.24 million if you leave everything to your surviving spouse (including your unused $5.12 million federal estate tax exemption).

Put another way, you and your spouse can together leave up to $10 million to relatives and loved ones without any federal estate tax hit if you both die in 2012. If you leave more, there will be a federal estate tax bill to pay. But the taxable value of your estate is reduced by donations that the executor of your estate is directed to make to IRS-approved charities. Of course, increasing charitable donations to avoid the estate tax means leaving less to relatives and loved ones.

Make Annual Gifts to Relatives and Loved Ones

Thanks to the annual federal gift tax exclusion ($13,000 for 2012), making annual gifts up to the exclusion amount will reduce the taxable value of your estate without reducing your lifetime $5.12 million federal gift tax exemption or your $5.12 million federal estate tax exemption. The same holds true for gifts by your spouse.

With two adult children and four grandchildren, for example, you and your spouse could give them each $13,000 in 2012 for a total of $156,000 (6 x $13,000 x 2). Then, do the same thing in 20132. Over the two years, your taxable estates would be reduced by $312,000 (2 x $156,000) with no adverse federal gift or estate tax effects.

Pay School Expenses (Not Room and Board) or Medical Bills for Relatives and Loved Ones

You can give away unlimited amounts for these purposes without reducing your $5.12 million federal gift tax exemption or your $5.12 million federal estate tax exemption--as long as you make the payments directly to the school or medical service provider. The same holds true for gifts by your spouse.

Give Away Appreciating Assets to Relatives and Loved Ones While You Are Still Alive

Thanks to the federal gift tax exemption for 2012, you can give! away up to $5.12 million worth of appreciating assets (stocks, real estate, etc.) without triggering any federal gift tax hit. So can your spouse. This can be on top of cash gifts to relatives and loved ones that take advantage of the annual exclusion and on top of cash gifts to directly pay college tuition or medical expenses for relatives and loved ones.

Key Point: Gifts in excess of the annual exclusion amount ($13,000 for 2012) reduce your $5.12 million federal gift tax exemption and your $5.12 million federal estate tax exemption dollar-for-dollar. But that is OK if you are giving away appreciating assets--because the future appreciation will be kept out of your taxable estate.

If you and your spouse each give stock worth $100,000 to your favorite relative in 2012, for example, the gift uses up $87,000 of your $5.12 million federal gift tax exemption ($100,000 - $13,000 annual exclusion) and $87,000 of your $5.12 million federal estate tax exemption. Utilizing your exemptions like this makes sense if you are giving away appreciating assets--because the future appreciation will be kept out of your taxable estate.

Set Up Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

As you may know, life insurance death benefit proceeds are usually federal-income-tax-free. However, the proceeds from any policy on your own life are included in your estate for federal estate tax purposes if you have any incidents of ownership in the policy. It makes no difference if all the insurance money goes straight to your beloved Aunt Myrtle.

It does not take much to have incidents of ownership. If you have the power to change beneficiaries, borrow against the policy, cancel it, or select payment options, you have incidents of ownership. (The preceding is not a complete list of things that count as incidents of ownership.)

This unfavorable life insurance ownership rule can cause federal estate tax exposure for people who believe they have none.

! Key Point: The life insurance ownership rule is more likely to adversely affect unmarried people. Why? Because death benefit proceeds from a policy on the life of a married person can be left to the surviving spouse without any immediate federal estate tax hit, thanks to the unlimited martial deduction privilege (assuming the surviving spouse is a U.S citizen). However, all the insurance money going into your surviving spouse's coffers could cause his or her estate to eventually exceed the federal estate tax exemption.

The estate-tax-saving solution is to set up an irrevocable life insurance trust to own the policies on your life. Since the trust, rather than you, owns the policies, the death benefit proceeds are not counted as part of your estate (unless the estate is named as the policy beneficiary which would defeat the purpose). You are still able to direct who gets the insurance money because you get to name the beneficiaries of the irrevocable life insurance trust (typically your children and/or grandchildren).

There may be some complications. When you move existing policies into the trust, you must live for at least three years. Otherwise, the death benefit proceeds will be included in your estate, just as if you still owned the policies at the time of death. Also, when existing whole life policies are transferred into the trust, their cash values are treated as gifts to the trust beneficiaries. Finally, you may have to jump through some hoops to get the cash needed to pay the annual insurance premiums into the trust without adverse gift tax consequences. All these issues can usually be finessed with the help of an estate planning professional.

When you have a large estate that will inevitably owe some federal estate tax, you can set up an irrevocable life insurance trust to buy coverage on your life. The death benefit proceeds can then be used to cover all or part of the estate tax bill after you die. This is accomplished by authorizing the trustee of the life insu! rance tr ust to purchase assets from your estate or make loans to the estate. The extra liquidity is then used to cover the estate tax bill. When the irrevocable life insurance trust is eventually liquidated by distributing its assets to the trust beneficiaries (usually your children and/or grandchildren), the beneficiaries will wind up with the assets purchased from your estate or with liabilities owed to themselves. Bottom line: the federal estate tax bill gets paid with dollars that are not themselves subject to the federal estate tax.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

4G-LTE play VELA very strong forecast. Fully discounted at .05

750,000 Subscribers/$75 Million EBITDA @ 2015 Is a START For VelaTel (VELA)

As VelaTel Global Communications, Inc. CEO George Alvarez alluded to in his conference call on Monday, VelaTel presents its plan to its major shareholders this week to create a new capital structure for VELA in order to finance the projects on this pro-forma and finance future deals. The replay of Monday's conference call is on the web site�2011 review.

Conference Call PDF Presentation
Conference Call Video (Alternative Link)

I am sure this new capital structure will also create a credit facility or PIPE convertible debt facility to repurchase 80-100 million+ shares as over 100 million shares were issued at .45-.70 a share in 2010/2011 for the $100 million+ deployment work/engineering on the 29-city Chinacomm network by the sub-contractor JoinMax. (ALL of this 29-city deployment work is retained by VelaTel and being used by its 2 B-to-B 4G networks in China)

A VELA stock repurchase plan is a NO brainer�if you paid $100 million+ in shares/cash to build a 29 city 4G network in China (or a $100 million skyscraper for that matter) and could BUY BACK the shares you issued representing that work for $10-$20 million, you effectively cut your CAPEX investment by 80% or more. Where else can a company get an AUTOMATIC 300-400% return on their deployed CAPEX?

Especially is the equity you raise converts to the same amount of shares at say a 200% higher price-per-share!

You ALSO remove a significant amount of the excess float in the market AND shake-out short sellers and il! legal sh ort sellers as well. You ALSO get the share price to a level where shares CAN be used as part of VELA's acquisition plans going forward. You ALSO set the framework for the company to do a secondary straight equity offering later in the year AND up-list the trading shares to the Nasdaq or NYSE/AMEX exchanges and get OFF the OTC bulletin boards with their 5% bid/ask spreads.

I assume that since ALL major shareholders will be in attendance (including yours truly) there will be a few positive surprises to be presented by VELA...nobody calls a meeting of one's major shareholders into a small room to tell them BAD news, right? (My lips to God's ears for us long suffering shareholders).

NBT Venture Advisors LLC will present to VELA management a "virtual take private" capital structure using a senior convertible security (senior convertible note/preferred shares with warrants) that secures the company's equity needs for the next 12-18 months AND supplies enough cash to acquire 100 million + shares in the open market. We expect a hearty discussion on possible re-capitalization proposals.

We will complete a new DCF valuation of the company (including the ultra-conservative forecasts and a higher most likely case scenario) AFTER we get through the Thursday and Friday meetings. An independent Fairness Opinion from an investment bank and a placement agent for marketing the deal we will present(we have 10 East and West Coast investment banks aware of our plan and interested in presenting their capabilities to VELA when ready).

We also have numerous hedge fund investors ready to hear and analyze the VELA re-cap plan when it's ready to fly representing over $15 billion in money under management. We have been building these relationships for months in order to facilitate this, our re-cap plan.

A quick eyeball on a per share valuation at 700,000,000 share! s (refle cting 100mm shares repurchased) and 2015 conservative forecasts of 750,000 subscribers/@$78 million EBITDA continues to get us to the .60-.80 a share discounted cash flow valuation and significantly higher on a per subscriber valuation (at current private market value of 4G data networks). This assumes NO other significant carrier development deals by VELA�VELA has pulled off 7 major deals in the last year�more ACCRETIVE deals are surely going to close in the next 12-24 months. For instance, VELA management has already indicated working on more countries in South America in past interviews.

A quick look at valuations of B-to-B wireless broadband network provider TowerStream (TWER $24 million revenues/3500 business subs/$120MM market cap/$75MM value minus excess cash) and Aria Networks in Italy (30k subscriber Wi-Max network which sold a 25% interest at $100MM valuation in September 2011) supports significantly higher valuation scenarios for VELA.

All three of the China subsidiaries are licensed for IPO listings on the Hong Kong Exchange�we assume at least one completes an IPO by 2015 as well.

After these meetings we will produce a full analysis and e-mail to ALL our subscribers since I now estimate our NBT/VELA "Syndicate" of shares owned exceeds 110 million BEFORE any stock buy-back or convertible debt offering. Make sure you are registered on our site for all our VELA research.

I/NBT continue to hold @8 million VELA shares and hope to never have to sell shares until 2015!

Tobin Smith
Founder and Chairman
NBT Equities Research
Follow us on twitter
Like us on facebook


Holding:No Position

10 Best Stocks For 2013

Stocks traded modestly higher after a mixed batch of economic news tempered a series of strong earnings reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 15 points a day after technology stocks sparked a rally that sent the blue-chip index to a nearly 3-year high.

Here are three that are on the move:

10 Best Stocks For 2013:Canadian National Railway Company (CNI)

 Canadian National Railway Company, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the rail and related transportation business in North America. It provides transportation for various goods, including petroleum and chemicals, grain and fertilizers, coal, metals and minerals, forest products, and intermodal and automotive products. The company operates a network of approximately 20,600 route miles of track that spans Canada and mid-America, from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to the Gulf of Mexico. It serves the ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert (British Columbia), Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile (Alabama), as well as metropolitan areas of Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Duluth (Minnesota)/Superior (Wisconsin), Green Bay (Wisconsin), Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, and Jackson (Mississippi), with connections to various points in North America. The company was founded in 1922 and is headquartered in Montreal, Canada.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Vodicka At 2011-10-29

    Montreal-based Canadian National Railway (CNI) operates
    about 21,000 route-miles of rail that span all the way from the frozen north down to the Mississippi Delta — nearly enough track to wrap around the entire world. Since Canada is one of the largest countries in the world by geography (second only to Russia with an area of about 4 million square miles), the transportation and freight industries are vital and very lucrative parts of the nation’s economy.

    The reason I’m so bullish on CNI right now is that the company is a large player in transporting commodities, including Canada’s exports of timber and metals and imports of energy from the United States. In Canadian National’s latest earnings report in January, the company stated that Q4 shipments grew for coal, grain and fertilizers and petroleum and chemicals — and this is in spite of bad weather and a five-day strike that really messed with CNI’s schedule. Just imagine how CNI will do in the warmer months as the economy continues to improve.

10 Best Stocks For 2013:Harvard Bioscience Inc. (HBIO)

 Harvard Bioscience, Inc. develops, manufactures, and markets apparatus and scientific instruments used in life science research in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, universities, and government laboratories in the United States and internationally. The company?s products target ADMET testing, and molecular biology and liquid handling application areas. Its ADMET testing products comprise absorption diffusion chambers that measure the absorption of a drug into the bloodstream; well equilibrium dialysis plates for serum protein binding assays; organ testing systems; infusion pumps for infusing liquids; behavioral products used in neuroscience, cardiology, psychological, and respiratory studies to evaluate the effects of situational stimuli, drugs, and nutritional infusions on motor and sensory, activity, and learning and test behavior; cell injection systems; ventilators; and electroporation products. The company also distributes various devices, instruments, and consumable items used in experiments involving cells, tissues, organs, and animals in the fields of proteomics, physiology, pharmacology, neuroscience, cell biology, molecular biology, and toxicology. It sells its ADMET testing products under the Harvard Apparatus, BTX, KD Scientific, Hugo Sachs Elektronik, Panlab, and Warner Instruments brands names. Its molecular biology and liquid handling products include molecular biology spectrophotometers, DNA/RNA/protein calculators, multi-well plate readers, amino acid analysis systems, liquid dispensers, gel electrophoresis systems, and consumables primarily consisting of pipettes, pipette tips, autoradiography films, gloves, thermal cycler accessories, and reagents. The company sells its products to researchers through catalogs, its Website, and distributors, as well as directly in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, and Canada. Harvard Bioscience, Inc. was founded in 1901 and is headquartered in Holliston, Massachusetts.

10 Best Stocks For 2013:General Mills Inc. (GIS)

 General Mills, Inc. manufactures and markets branded consumer foods worldwide. It also supplies branded and unbranded food products to the foodservice and commercial baking industries. The company offers ready-to-eat cereals, refrigerated yogurt, ready-to-serve soup, dry dinners, shelf stable and frozen vegetables, refrigerated and frozen dough products, dessert and baking mixes, frozen pizza and pizza snacks, grain, fruit and savory snacks; and a range of organic products, including soup, granola bars, and cereals; and ice cream and frozen desserts, and grain snacks. It sells its products through its direct sales personnel, as well as through broker and distribution arrangements to grocery stores, mass merchandisers, membership stores, natural food chains, drug, dollar and discount chains, commercial and noncommercial foodservice distributors and operators, restaurants, and convenience stores. The company was founded in 1928 and is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

10 Best Stocks For 2013:Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. (BHLB)

 Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides personal and business banking, insurance, and wealth management services. Its primary deposit products include checking, NOW, money market, savings, and time deposit accounts; and primary lending products comprise residential mortgages, commercial mortgages, commercial business loans, and consumer loans. The company also offers electronic banking, cash management, and other transaction and reporting services; and interest rate swap contracts to commercial customers. In addition, it offers wealth management services, including trust, financial planning, and investment services. The company serves individuals, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and municipalities with 48 branch offices in western Massachusetts, northeastern and central New York, and southern Vermont. It also operates five community banking offices in Rome, Lee; and New Hartford, New York. Further, it operates as an agent for various lines of property and casualty, life, disability, and health insurance. Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc. was founded in 1846 and is headquartered in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

10 Best Stocks For 2013:Streamline Health Solutions Inc. (STRM)

 Streamline Health Solutions, Inc. operates as a healthcare information technology company in the United States. It focuses on developing and licensing software solutions that enhance document-centric information flows and transaction-centric hospital information systems. The company�??s systems enable medical and administrative personnel to capture, store, manage, route, retrieve, and process clinical, financial, and patient information. Its solutions include accessANYware, a patient-centric document management-based repository solution, which allows authorized users to perform document searching, retrieval, viewing, processing, printing, and faxing, as well as report generation; and access to images, such as digitized slides, videos, and photographs, as well as provides the ability to store and retrieve document images. The company also offers FolderView that provides capture/indexing of non-patient centric documents, storage in a historical repository, document search/viewing, reporting, auditing, and optional modules for patient financial services or administrative services applications; and Workflow Solutions that provides solutions in the health information management and revenue cycle, which enables users to access and utilize workflow applications to process information. Its Workflow Solutions comprise cash management, referral order, chart completion, coding, release of information, chart tracking, financial screening, pre-operative, family medical leave and leave of absence, and contract and contractor management workflows. The company also provides health information management suites, and professional services and business process management consulting services. It sells its products through its direct sales force and reseller partnerships, as well as to direct remarketers, hospitals, clinical, and ambulatory services. The company was formerly known as LanVision Systems, Inc. Streamline Health Solutions was founded in 1989 and is based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

10 Best Stocks For 2013:Kimco Realty Corporation (KIM)

 Kimco Realty Corporation is a publicly owned real estate investment trust. The firm engages in acquisitions, development, and management of neighborhood and community shopping centers. It also provides property management services relating to the management, leasing, operation, and maintenance of real estate properties. The firm primarily invests in real estate markets across the globe with a focus in North America. It also invests in operating properties. The firm also provides equity and mezzanine debt to developers and owners of commercial properties. It also makes secondary market investments including under performing mortgage loans, secured bank debt, and corporate securities. Kimco was formed in 1960 and is based in New Hyde Park, New York with additional office in Mesa, Arizona; Daly City, California; Granite Bay, California; Irvine, California; Carmichael, California; Vista, California; Walnut Creek, California; West Hartford, Connecticut; Largo, Florida; Margate, Florida; Sanford, Florida; Lisle, Illinois; Rosemont, Illinois; Columbia, Maryland; Lutherville, Maryland; Bellevue, Washington; Mesquite, Texas; Houston, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Austin, Texas; Ardmore, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; Kettering, Ohio; Canfield, Ohio; Raleigh, North Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; New York, New York; and Las Vegas, Nevada.

10 Best Stocks For 2013:Campbell Soup Company (CPB)

 Campbell Soup Company, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and marketing of branded convenience food products worldwide. The company?s U.S. Soup, Sauces, and Beverages segment offers condensed and ready-to-serve soups; broth, stocks, and canned poultry; pasta sauces; Mexican sauces; canned pastas, gravies, and beans; juices and beverages; and tomato juices. Its Baking and Snacking segment provides cookies, crackers, and bakery and frozen products in the United States; and biscuits in Australia and the Asia Pacific. The company?s International Soup, Sauces, and Beverages segment offers soups, sauces, and beverages in Europe, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific region, as well as in the Russian Federation, China, and Canada. Its North America Foodservice segment distributes various products, such as soup, specialty entrees, beverage products, other prepared foods, and farm products through various food service channels in the United States and Canada. The company markets its products directly, as well as through broker and distributor arrangements. Its customers include retail food chains, mass discounters, mass merchandisers, club stores, convenience stores, drug stores and other retail, and commercial and non-commercial establishments. Campbell Soup Company was founded in 1869 and is headquartered in Camden, New Jersey.

10 Best Stocks For 2013:FirstMerit Corporation (FMER)

 FirstMerit Corporation operates as the bank holding company for FirstMerit Bank, N.A. that provides a range of banking, fiduciary, financial, insurance, and investment services to corporate, institutional, and individual customers in northern and central Ohio, and western Pennsylvania. The company?s commercial business offers commercial term loans, revolving credit arrangements, asset-based lending, leasing, commercial mortgages, real estate construction lending, letters of credit, cash management services, and other depository products. Its retail business provides various financial products and services, including consumer direct and indirect installment loans, debit and credit cards, debit gift cards, residential mortgage loans, home equity loans and lines of credit, fixed and variable annuities, and ATM network services, as well as deposit products comprising checking, savings, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit. The company?s wealth business provides asset management, private banking, financial planning, estate settlement and administration, and credit and deposit products and services. FirstMerit Corporation also offers trust and investment services, including personal trust and planning, and investment management; retirement plan services; retail mutual funds, other securities, variable and fixed annuities, personal disability and life insurance products, and brokerage services; and private banking services, including credit, deposit, and asset management solutions. As of December 31, 2009, it operated a network of 160 full service banking offices and 182 ATMs. The company was founded in 1855 and is headquartered in Akron, Ohio.


These are some of the top analyst upgrades, downgrades, and initiations seen from Wall Street brokerage and research firms this Thursday morning.�

AstraZeneca�PLC (NYSE: AZN) Cut to Underweight at JPMorgan.
BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE: BLK) Cut to Neutral at Stern Agee.
Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) Reiterated Buy with $46 price target at Argus.
Constellation Energy Group, Inc. (NYSE: CEG) Cut to Neutral at Citigroup.
Consolidated Edison Inc. (NYSE: ED) Cut to Neutral at Citigroup.
eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) Reiterated Buy with $40 price target at Argus.
LM Ericsson Telephone Co. (NASDAQ: ERIC) Cut to Neutral at Credit Suisse.
Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC) Cut to Neutral at Citigroup.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) downgraded to Hold at Benchmark; Raised targets at boutique firm Global Equities Research.
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) Maintained Underperform and cut estimates at Needham.
Nokia Corporation (NYSE: NOK) Raised to Outperform at Credit Suisse (full summary).
Pacific Sunwear�of California Inc. (NASDAQ: PSUN) Raised to Buy at Janney Capital Markets.
ReneSola Ltd. (NYSE: SOL) named as the Bear of the Day at Zacks Investment Research.
SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) Raised to Neutral at BNP�Paribas.
Sanofi�(NYSE: SNY) Cut to Neutral at JPMorgan.
Trinity Industries, Inc. (NYSE: TRN) named as value stock of the day at Zacks.
United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE: UPS) Cut to Neutral at HSBC.
VIVUS Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) Started as Perform at Rodman & Renshaw.
VMware Inc. (NYSE: VWM) Started as Buy at Stern Agee.

If you enjoyed the morning Wall Street research notes, you can sign up to receive these directly in your inbox each morning by joining our free email list in the box below.� We also include major movers, key stock calls, news on Warren Buffett and other gurus, as well as special exclusive feature stories.�


Sell these puts to bet on a quick price bump

After surging higher in January, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE:FCX) has thus far spent February in consolidation mode.� As it digests the gains from last month, FCX looks to be setting up a clean base that can serve as a launching pad for higher prices.

Resistance at $47 is acting as a lid preventing higher prices for the time being.� Once this lid lifts, however, a continuation in Freeport�s uptrend should be in the offing.

Upon a successful breakout above $47, traders looking for bullish exposure in the basic material space might consider selling a March put spread on FCX. (This strategy is also known as a bull-put spread, or a put credit spread.)

Selling out-of-the-money put spreads offers a higher-probability alternative to buying call options by providing a much larger profit zone. While a long call only profits if FCX rises in value, the put spread profits even if FCX trades sideways or drops a little, which moves the odds more squarely in your favor.

To play those odds, you can sell the FCX March 44-39 put spread for a $1-or-more credit.� To enter the position, �sell to open� the FCX March 44 Put and, at the same time, �buy to open� the FCX March 39 Put.� Prices that work right now are collecting $1.70 for the $44 puts and spending 50 cents on the $39 puts.

The maximum reward is limited to the initial $100 ($1 cents x 100) you receive, and this will be captured if FCX remains above $44 by March options expiration.

Source:� MachTrader

The maximum risk can be calculated by taking the distance between the strike prices minus the net credit.� If this March $5 vertical spread (vertical means both options expire in the same month � in this case, March) is sold for $1, the max risk comes out to $4 and will be incurred if FCX resides below $39 at March expiration.

At the time of this writing Tyler Craig had no position! on FCX.

Why This Powerhouse Shouldn't Have Booted Its CEO

The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which industrials editor and analyst Brendan Byrnes and technology editor and analyst Andrew Tonner discuss topics across the investing world.

In today's edition, Brendan and Andrew discuss 3M and its change in leadership. CEO George Buckley, despite not wanting to leave, will retire and be replaced by current COO Inge Thulin on June 1. While this doesn't materially change Brendan's opinion of the company -- Thulin is expected to lead the company much the same way Buckley did -- he does think that Buckley deserved to stay on after admirably leading the company through the recession. Where does 3M now rank on Brendan's list of best conglomerates for your portfolio?

We still think 3M is a solid long-term play for the future, but our chief investment officer has found a stock that has us even more excited. This stock has so much promise that we've dubbed it: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." We've created a special free report for investors to uncover this soon-to-be rock star. You can get instant access to the name of this company by clicking here to download it now.

Great Plains Energy Earnings Preview

Great Plains Energy (NYSE: GXP  ) hasn't been able to establish an earnings trend, bouncing between beating and falling short of estimates during the past fiscal year. The company will unveil its latest earnings on Monday, Feb. 27. Great Plains Energy is a public utility holding company that operates through its four direct subsidiaries: Kansas City Power & Light Company, KLT, Innovative Energy Consultants, and Great Plains Energy Services.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or hold?: Analysts think investors should stand pat on Great Plains Energy with five of eight analysts rating it hold. Analysts don't like Great Plains Energy as much as competitor Westar Energy overall. Five out of 10 analysts rate Westar Energy a buy compared to three of eight for Great Plains Energy. While analysts still rate the stock a hold, they are a little more optimistic about it compared to three months ago.
  • Revenue forecasts: On average, analysts predict $476.3 million in revenue this quarter. That would represent a rise of 1.8% from the year-ago quarter.
  • Wall Street earnings expectations: The average analyst estimate is earnings of $0.02 per share. Estimates range from breaking even to a profit of $0.03.

What our community says:
CAPS All-Stars are enthusiastically backing the stock, with 91.7% giving it an "outperform" rating. Most of the community agrees with the All-Stars, with 88.8% awarding it a rating of "outperform." Despite the majority sentiment in favor of Great Plains Energy, the stock has a middling CAPS rating of three out of five stars.

The company's revenue has now risen for two straight quarters.

Now let's look at how efficient management is at running the business. Margins illustrate how efficiently a company captures portions of sales dollars. Great Plai! ns Energ y's net margin, which reflects what percentage of revenue becomes profit, has been dropping year over year for the last four quarters. See how Great Plains Energy has been doing for the last four quarters:






Gross Margin





Net Margin





One final thing: If you want to keep tabs on Great Plains Energy movements, and for more analysis on the company, make sure you add it to your Watchlist.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Earnings estimates provided by Zacks.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Best Wall St. Stocks Today: GLD,SLV,SPY

TrimTabs�is out with its newest round of investment research and it is calling for investors to buy gold and silver for the long-term on what it calls a dollar cost average basis. While the move may be different today after the employment�data, this is going to be music to the ears of investors who are in SPDR�Gold Trust (NYSE: GLD) and iShares Silver Trust (NYSE: SLV) for a multi-year outlook.

Charles Biderman noted, �The U.S., Europe, and Japan are printing enormous sums to pay their bills and in turn are devaluing their paper currencies. I doubt that�s going to change because it�s much easier for central bankers to print money than it is for politicians to cut spending.�

Biderman�went on to note that gold and silver prices are going to skyrocket from retail money chasing a limited supply of the metals. On silver he noted, “�The gains in silver could be particularly strong because the silver market is much smaller than the gold market. Silver ETFs�have only one-ninth the assets of gold ETFs.�

The current unemployment data from today is signaling that the Fed Funds rate hikes could come toward the end of 2013 now rather than the end of 2014, but that is one-month data.

TrimTabs�goes on to note that monetary easing by the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank has helped push up gold and silver prices much more than stock prices.� He even noted that since QE2 was announced, the gold ETF is up 41% versus the 30% gains for the SPDR S&P 500 (NYSE: SPY) gain of 30% after including dividends.

The report even noted that in the past three weeks alone there has been a $1.4 billion inflow into gold ETFs�by investors while silver ETFs saw smaller inflows.�


Hot Casino Stocks To Own 2013

Asian stocks fell, paring the regional index’s longest streak of weekly gains since 2005, as European leaders held back aid for debt-laden Greece pending a parliamentary vote on an austerity plan and as companies cut earnings forecasts.


Samsung Electronics Co., a South Korean consumer electronics maker that gets a fifth of sales from Europe, slid 2 percent. AOC Holdings Inc., a Japanese oil and gas explorer, tumbled 11 percent in Tokyo after cutting its full-year net income forecast by 55 percent. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-biggest mining company, dropped 2.3 percent in Sydney after posting a second-half loss.


Greece reached some sort of agreement, but it’s still up for negotiation whether the rest of the European authorities will accept that agreement,” said Stephen Halmarick, Sydney- based head of investment markets research at Colonial First State Global Asset Management, which oversees about $150 billion. “It was a positive step last night, but only a small one and there’s a long way to go.”


The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 1.1 percent to 125.20 as of 12:42 p.m. in Tokyo, with about five shares falling for every three that rose. The gauge is heading for its eighth consecutive week of advance, the longest winning streak since December 2005, on improving U.S. economic data, efforts to contain Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis and signs China will act to support growth.

Hot Casino Stocks To Own 2013:Melco Crown Entertainment Limited (MPEL)

 Melco Crown Entertainment Limited, through its subsidiaries, engages in the development, ownership, and operation of casino gaming and entertainment resort facilities primarily in Macau. It owns and operates City of Dreams, an integrated resort development, which features approximately 400 gaming tables and 1,300 gaming machines; guest rooms; a stage performance theater; approximately 20 restaurants and bars, 69 retail outlets, and an audio visual multimedia experience; and recreation and leisure facilities, including health and fitness clubs, swimming pools, spa and salons, and banquet and meeting facilities. The company also operates Altira Macau that features approximately 228 gaming tables; hotel rooms consisting of suites and villas, and in-room entertainment and communication facilities; restaurants and dining facilities; and non-gaming entertainment venues, including a spa, gymnasium, outdoor garden podium and a sky terrace lounge. In addition, it owns and operates Mocha Clubs, which provide single player machines with various games consisting of progressive jackpots, as well as multi-player games where players on linked machines play against each other in electronic roulette, baccarat, and sicbo; Taipa Square Casino that features approximately 31 gaming tables servicing mass market patrons. The company was formerly known as Melco PBL Entertainment (Macau) Limited and changed its name to Melco Crown Entertainment Limited in May 2008. Melco Crown Entertainment Limited was incorporated in 2004 and is based in Central, Hong Kong.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Jeanine Poggi At 2011-10-27

    Melco Crown Entertainment(MPEL) benefited in 2010 from being the only pure-play on Macau gaming, with shares rising about 56% for the year.

    But Bain says that the valuation disconnect between Melco and other U.S. gaming operators with exposure to Macau is still too great, and investors are overlooking near-term catalysts.

    One of these potential tailwinds is Melco's plans to open about three VIP facilities by the end of the year. The VIP arena is expected to be the biggest area of growth in Macau in 2011, which bodes well for Melco. The casino operator is also opening a new caf and poker room at its flagship City of Dreams property in the first quarter next year.

    As a result, Melco is one of Bain's top picks for 2011.

    In its third quarter, Melco reported a surprise profit of 3 cents a share, as revenue ballooned 75% to $504 million. City of Dreams generated a profit of $114.9 million, compared with $46.6 million in the year prior.

    At the end of the third quarter, Melco had $660 million in cash and about $2 billion in debt.

  • By Skousen At 2011-10-27

    Melco Crown Entertainment's(MPEL) second quarter had some distractions, but overall there appear to be some underlying improvements.

    During the quarter, the Macau-based casino operator lost $30.1 million, or 6 cents a share, compared with a loss of $144 million, or 30 cents, in the year-ago period. Analysts were calling for a loss of 4 cents a share for Melco.

    Revenue surged to $573.6 million from $215.8 million last year. Melco received a boost from improvements at its Altria casino, and by having a full quarter of earnings contribution from its City of Dreams flagship.

    Melco shares took a hit after the report. Melco said earnings should be adjusted for $9 million non-recurring provision and theoretical hold.

    "This and a few other quarterly reports from Melco have come with an explanation, such as above, and our sense is that some investors are fatigued by that," Bain wrote. "We believe investors are being overly punitive to shares based on issues that have historically plagued results to a much larger degree.... We believe Melco's earnings are much less influenced by hold and other variables than they previously were."

    Melco also announced that Greg Hawkins, president of its flagship City of Dreams casino resort, has resigned, and that the company will restructure its management, creating co-chief operating officers positions.

    Ted Chan, president of the company's Altira Macau property, has been promoted to Co-Chief Operating Officer of Gaming, and will oversee gaming activities. Nick Naples, formerly Consulting Executive Vice President at Sands China, has been named Co-Chief Operating Officer of Operations and will manage all non-gaming operating activities for the company.

    Both will report to Lawrence Ho, son of casino magnate Stanley Ho, and Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Melco.

Hot Casino Stocks To Own 2013:Ameristar Casinos Inc. (ASCA)

 Ameristar Casinos, Inc. operates as a gaming and entertainment company in the United States. The company develops, owns, and operates casino, and related hotel, food and beverage, entertainment, and other facilities. It primarily offers slot plays, as well as a range of table games, including blackjack, craps, roulette, and poker. The company?s signature dining concepts include steakhouses, buffets, and casual dining restaurants with sports bars. As of May 6, 2011, it operated a portfolio of eight casinos in seven markets, including Ameristar Casino Resort Spa St. Charles serving greater St. Louis, Missouri; Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City serving the Kansas City metropolitan area; Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs serving Omaha, Nebraska and southwestern Iowa; Ameristar Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk serving the Denver metropolitan area; Ameristar Casino Hotel Vicksburg serving Jackson, Mississippi and Monroe, Louisiana; Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago serving the Chicagoland area; and Cactus Petes Resort Casino and The Horseshu Hotel and Casino in Jackpot, Nevada. The company was founded in 1954 and is based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Conrad At 2011-10-27

    Ameristar Casinos(ASCA) was singing "St. Louis Blues" as it swung to a loss in its second quarter.

    The casino operator faces significant pressure in St. Louis from Pinnacle Entertainment's(PNK) new River City property, which opened in March.

    During the quarter, Ameristar lost $24.9 million, or 43 cents a share, compared with a profit of $14.3 million, or 25 cents, in the year-ago period.

    Excluding a negative impact related to Ameristar's casino in East Chicago, Ind., where a bridge that is closed is impacting revenue, it earned 13 cents per share, still less than the 20 cents analysts' estimated.

    Revenue dropped 5% to $293 million from $308.9 million.

    "While Ameristar is cheap on a relative valuation basis, we believe competition and challenges in East Chicago, coupled with a lack of visible positive catalysts, will keep the stock range-bound in the near to mid-term," J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff wrote in a note.

  • By Zacks At 2011-10-24

    Ameristar Casinos, Inc. (ASCA) advanced 24% during November. The company reached a 52-week high on Nov 20 due to takeover speculation following the unexpected death of Chairman, CEO and majority shareholder Craig H. Neilsen on Nov 19. Mr. Neilsen’s stock in Ameristar will be transferred to his private foundation, The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, which is primarily focused on spinal cord injury research and treatment. The company’s Board elected President John M. Boushy as the new CEO.

    Ameristar Casinos is a leading Las Vegas-based gaming and entertainment company known for its premier properties characterized by innovative architecture, state-of-the-art casino floors and superior dining, lodging and entertainment offerings.

Hot Casino Stocks To Own 2013:Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS)

 Las Vegas Sands Corp., together with its subsidiaries, owns, develops, and operates various integrated resort properties primarily in the United States, Macau, and Singapore. It owns and operates The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino, and The Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada; and the Sands Macao, The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, the Plaza Casino, and the Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Cotai Striptm in Macau, the People?s Republic of China. The company also owns and operates Marina Bay Sands in Singapore; and the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Las Vegas Sands Corp. was founded in 1988 and is based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Jeanine Poggi At 2011-10-27

    It's no surprise Las Vegas Sands(LVS) was the biggest winner of 2010, with shares surging 162% for the year.

    Macau and Singapore have become Sands' trump cards, as Macau is on track to report 50% plus growth in gaming revenue in 2010, and analysts expect Singapore to outpace Las Vegas by the end of next year.

    But Las Vegas Sands stock received a dose of reality earlier in the month when Macau leaders failed to approve the company's land concession for what has been known as Sites 7 and 8 on the Cotai Strip. Shares of Sands have fallen 15% since the announcement, as investors fear the Macau government is looking to restrict gaming growth.

  • By Glenn At 2011-10-27

    Without Asia, Las Vegas Sands(LVS) would be a losing bet. The casino operator reported second-quarter earnings that significantly beat expectations, as revenue soared, but all of its properties outside of Asia missed estimates.

    During the quarter, the company lost $4.7 million, or a penny a share, compared with a loss of $222.2 million, or 34 cents in the year-ago period. Excluding items, Sands said it would have earned $129.3 million, or 17 cents a share, easily topping the consensus Wall Street estimate of 9 cents a share.

    Revenue surged 51% to $1.59 billion, in-line with forecasts. A majority of the growth came from Asian markets like Macau and Singapore, as Sands China saw revenue climb 41% to $1.03 billion.

    Sands opened its first casino in Singapore in April. In its first 65 days of operation, the $5.7 billion Marina Bay Sands generated $94 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. In comparison, Las Vegas EBITDA dropped 15% to $66 million from $78 million in the second quarter last year.

    Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson still expects the Singapore resort to rake in $1 billion in EBITDA next year. "We have a group of Koreans flying in every week," he said during a conference call. "I think that the outer reaches of our marketing radius is wider than what we thought."

    Sands is also looking to expand further in Macau, with two sites on the Cotai Strip that haven't started development yet.

    Still, the Asian market isn't without its drama. Last week, the company announced the departure of Sands China CEO Steve Jacobs'. While Sands did not provide a reason for his termination, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Speculation has arisen over disagreements between Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson and Jacobs, and it follows the departure of executive director Stephen Weaver earlier in the year, who resigned due to personal reasons.

    The company quickly appointed Edward Tracy as president and chief operating officer, and David Sisk as executive vice president and chief casino officer.

Hot Casino Stocks To Own 2013:Wynn Resorts Limited (WYNN)

 Wynn Resorts, Limited, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the development, ownership, and operation of destination casino resorts. The company owns and operates Wynn Las Vegas casino resort in Las Vegas, which includes approximately 22 food and beverage outlets comprising 5 dining restaurants; 2 nightclubs; 1 spa and salon; 1 Ferrari and Maserati automobile dealership; wedding chapels; an 18-hole golf course; meeting space; and foot retail promenade featuring boutiques. Wynn Las Vegas casino resort also features approximately 147 table games, 1 baccarat salon, private VIP gaming rooms, 1 poker room, 1,842 slot machines, and 1 race and sports book. It also owns and operates an Encore at Wynn Las Vegas resort, a destination casino resort located adjacent to Wynn Las Vegas that features a 2,034 all-suite hotel, as well as a casino with 95 table games, 1 sky casino, 1 baccarat salon, private VIP gaming rooms, and 778 slot machines. In addition, the company operates Wynn Macau casino resort located in the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People?s Republic of China. Wynn Macau casino resort features approximately 595 hotel rooms and suites, 410 table games, 935 slot machines, 1 poker room, 1 sky casino, 6 restaurants, 1 spa and salon, lounges, meeting facilities, and retail space featuring boutiques. Further, it operates Encore at Wynn Macau resort located adjacent to Wynn Macau. Encore at Wynn Macau resort features approximately 410 luxury suites and 4 villas, as well as casino gaming space, including a sky casino consisting of 60 table games and 80 slot machines, 2 restaurants, 1 luxury spa, and retail space. The company was founded in 2002 and is based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Jeanine Poggi At 2011-10-27

    Wynn Resorts'(WYNN) run up of more than 55% this year has caused Wall Street to question its valuation.

    Currently, eight analysts have a buy rating on Wynn, 16 say hold, two rate it underperform rating and one says to sell the stock.

    "With little on the growth horizon in the intermediate term, new competition from Cotai coming in 2011 and 2012 ... and the unclear timing of a true recovery in Las Vegas, we see few catalysts not yet priced-in to pull valuation higher than current levels," Bain wrote in a note following its third-quarter earnings report.

    During the quarter, Wynn lost $33.5 million, or 27 cents a share, compared with a profit of $34.2 million, or 28 cents, in the year-ago period. The loss was attributed to charges related to servicing its debt. On an adjusted basis, Wynn actually earned 39 cents, matching Wall Street's outlook.

    Total Revenue grew to $1 billion from $773.1 million, better than the $990.8 million analysts predicted.

    In Macau, Wynn reported a 50% surge in revenue to $671.4 million, while EBITDA was $198 million, up 54.5% from $128.2 million in the third quarter of 2009. Earlier in the year the company opened its $600 million Wynn Encore Macau, which added 414 rooms to the market.

    Looking ahead, Wynn expects to break ground on its Cotai development in early 2011. The $2 billion to $3 billion project is slated to open in 2015, and management said it would provide additional details following its fourth-quarter earnings report.

    In Las Vegas, CEO Steve Wynn says the Strip is on the road to recovery. "I believe we have seen the bottom in Las Vegas," he said during the company's third-quarter conference call. "I don't know how fast it is going to get better but it isn't going to get any worse."

    Las Vegas revenue inched up 3.1% to $334.5 million during the three-month period, and EBITDA grew 9.3% to $76.5 million.

    Wynn also issued a cash dividend of $8 a share payable on Dec. 7 to shareholders of record on Nov. 23.

  • By Carlson At 2011-10-27

    Wynn Resorts(WYNN) saw its second-quarter profit more than double, but most of that strength came from casino wins, and investors were unimpressed.

    During the quarter, the casino operator earned $52. 4 million, or 52 cents a share, on revenue of $1.03 billion, higher than forecasts of 42 cents on revenue of $992.3 million. This compares with a profit of $25.5 million, or 21 cents, on revenue of $723.3 million, in the year-ago period.

    Wynn had already pre-announced disappointing results for its Las Vegas properties, citing higher costs, including employee health care and benefits, and marketing expenses. Its operating loss for its Wynn Las Vegas and Encore widened to $17.2 million from $8.3 million last year. Revenue rose 1.7% to $318 million.

    Occupancy at the Wynn Las Vegas jumped to 92.6% from 86.6% a year earlier, but revenue per available room fell 3.2%.

    Still, management indicated that there is a slight improvement on the Strip, with an increase in forward group bookings and some bright spots for the ability to yield rates. But management tempered enthusiasm by saying there are some struggles and uncertainty in the marketplace.

    "We hope for continued improvement in Las Vegas or -- let me put it different, we hope that we'll get smarter in Las Vegas in dealing with the peculiarities of this market --and this very, very mercurial, national economic market we're living with," said Steve Wynn, chief executive, in a conference call. "The national economy and the political environment in the country as we head up to the elections [is] very, very touchy. And it is impacting all businesses."

    The biggest boost, of course, came from Macau, where revenue surged 74% to $714.4 million from $410.4 million last year.

    The company opened its Encore Macau in the spring, boosting its market share to about 16% from about 13%, Sterne Agee analyst David Bain wrote in a note.

    Wynn is in the process of working on a new development on the Cotai strip, which should spike investors' interest as more details are revealed in the coming quarters.

    Still, investors are concerned that as comparisons get harder in Macau, and second-quarter results are adjusted for hold (how much the casino won), Wynn may not be able to outperform. But Bain reassures, "this has been discussed as nauseam by investors, sell-side analysts, the press -- and even dinner-table relatives -- for some time. We believe the Street is underestimating the summer months in Macua, which may help to produce a new leg up for Macau stories, with Wynn being the most profitable on a per position basis."

Hot Casino Stocks To Own 2013:MGM Resorts International (MGM)

 MGM Resorts International, through its subsidiaries, primarily owns and operates casino resorts in the United States. The company?s resorts offer gaming, hotel, dining, entertainment, retail, and other resort amenities. It also owns and operates golf courses and a golf club. As of December 31, 2010, the company owned and operated 15 properties located in Nevada, Mississippi, and Michigan; and has 50% investments in 4 other casino resorts in Nevada, Illinois, and Macau. In addition, MGM Resorts International has an agreement with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns and operates a casino resort in Connecticut, to carry the ?MGM Grand? brand name. The company was formerly known as MGM MIRAGE and changed its name to MGM Resorts International in June 2010. MGM Resorts International was founded in 1986 and is based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Hawkinvest At 2012-2-23

    MGM Resorts International (MGM) is one of the world's largest hotel and casino companies, based in Las Vegas. Since December, MGM shares have been trading in a range of about $9, to almost $15 per share. The stock is now at the upper limit of the recent trading range which means that the risk of holding or buying this stock right now, could be elevated. MGM shares have rallied with the markets but appear extended and vulnerable to a sell-off. The company has a heavy debt load and it has been reporting losses. The balance sheet has about $13.45 billion in debt and only about $1.97 billion in cash. MGM could be impacted by higher oil prices because many consumers could cut back on spending if they go to Las Vegas, and some might decide not to go at all, and instead opt for a "staycation." With MGM facing challenges and the shares near recent highs, it could make sense to sell now and buy on dips later this year.


    Here are some key points for MGM:


    Current share price: $14.18

    The 52 week range is $7.40 to $16.05

    Earnings estimates for 2011: a loss of 53 cents per share

    Earnings estimates for 2012: a loss of 39 cents per share

    Annual dividend: none

  • By Jeanine Poggi At 2011-10-27

    It was another rocky year for MGM Resorts, but sentiment could turn slightly more bullish heading into 2011.

    For the year, shares of the Las Vegas-based casino operator grew 33%, as trends improved on the Strip in the second-half of the year.

    In October, Las Vegas reported a 16.1% jump in gaming revenue to $494.8 million. MGM generates about 80% of its EBITDA on the Strip.

    While gaming revenue in Nevada is still expected to decline 2.9% in 2010, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the market could return to pre-recession levels by 2010. The first predicts Nevada could book mid-single-digit gains between 2012 and 2014 and grow at an annual compound rate of 4.1%.

    Macau will also be in focus as MGM readies itself for a potential initial public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The company filed an application for the IPO on Sept. 1, and analysts expect, if approved, the deal could be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2011.

    The potential legalization of online gaming could be a tailwind for MGM in 2011. If a bill is passed, MGM will be able to tap into its database of about 60 million customers and capitalize on its well recognized and trusted brand name, Bain says.

    "We do not think investors are giving MGM any credit for the potential opportunity, and believe it provides only upside at this point," Greff wrote in a note.

    MGM is also in the process of divesting its 50% stake in the Borgata in Atlantic City, which it co-owns with Boyd Gaming. The company said it received a $250 million offer for the casino, but declined to reveal the identity of the bidder. MGM agreed to sell its half after Atlantic City regulators expressed concern over MGM's partnership in Macau with Pansy Ho, whose family was allegedly linked to organized crime in China.

    Despite these catalysts, there are still long-term issues facing MGM, most notably increasing competition in Las Vegas.

    The Cosmopolitan, which opened this week, is one of CityCenter's biggest threats in the New Year. The resort-casino, which is owned by Deutsche Bank, includes about 3,000 rooms, a 10,000-square-foot casino, 1,500 slot machines and 83 table games.

    The old school of thought is that the opening of Cosmopolitan could help bolster the Las Vegas Strip, generating traffic at other destination properties. But while the theory that when a new casino property opens it grows the market may have been true in the heyday of Vegas, it is no longer valid in today's economy, says Alex Calderone. "Cosmopolitan opening is not good for anyone. There's a good chance it will cannibalize [MGM's] Bellagio and CityCenter," he predicts.

    There are also rumblings that CityCenter may have to take drastic measures in 2011 and that MGM could be considering some sort of restructuring for the property, according to several sources.

    But upcoming potential momentum could push these concerns out of investors' minds, at least in the early months of the New Year.

  • By Goodwin At 2011-10-27

    MGM Resorts International(MGM) has the most exposure to the Las Vegas market, making it a bet only for those with thick skin.

    For the second quarter, the casino operator lost $883.5 million, or $2 a share, compared with a loss of $212.5 million, or 60 cents, in the year-ago period.

    A majority of the loss was attributed to a $1.12 billion writedown on its investment in CityCenter in Las Vegas. This is the third time MGM has had to write down CityCenter, as the casino has seen little improvement in operating profit since it opened in December. The $8.5 billion development took a loss of $128 million.

    Excluding this writedown, MGM actually lost 35 cents a share, still significantly more than analysts estimates of a 24-cent loss. MGM's revenue rose 3% to $1.54 billion from $1.49 billion, ahead of analysts' estimates of $1.46 billion.

    Revenue-per-available room on the Las Vegas Strip decreased 2%, although Bellagio and MGM Grand showed improvement, the company said. Occupancy levels slipped to 93% from 94% while the average daily rate fell a dollar to $110. "The Las Vegas operating environment remains difficult, but as we expected, we are seeing a gradual recovery," Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren said in a statement.

    Some of MGM's losses in Las Vegas were offset by its joint venture in Macau with Pansy Ho. MGM Macau earned $40 million, compared with a loss of $8 million last year

    Outside of Vegas, MGM said last week that it agreed to sell land from its Borgata hotel in Atlantic City for $73 million to Vornado Realty Trust and Geyser Holdings. The Borgata land, which is co-owned with Boyd Gaming(BYD), is about 11.3 acres, which would translate into about $6.5 million per acre.

    The transaction still needs to be approved by New Jersey regulators, and is expected to close by the fourth quarter. Once this transaction is complete, MGM will still own about 85 acres of developable land in Atlantic City.

    Earlier in the year, MGM said it planned to divest its 50% stake in the Atlantic City casino, which is currently in trust. The casino operator is still in talks with potential buyers of Borgata casino, and hotel and investors will be waiting for an update on its progress when second-quarter earnings are released.

    "We view this [deal] as a very modest positive in that there are still buyers of Atlantic City assets out there, at least at the right price," J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff wrote in a note. "We don't necessarily interpret [the] news as any indication that MGM is closer to selling its 50% stake in Borgata."

Hot Casino Stocks To Own 2013:Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN)

 Penn National Gaming, Inc. and its subsidiaries own and manage gaming and pari-mutuel properties in the United States. It operates approximately 27,000 gaming machines; 500 table games; and 2,000 hotel rooms in 23 facilities in 16 jurisdictions, including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ontario. The company was formerly known as PNRC Corp. and changed its name to Penn National Gaming, Inc. in 1994. Penn National Gaming, Inc. was founded in 1982 and is based in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Jeanine Poggi At 2011-10-27

    Penn National Gaming(PENN) is poised to be the winner among the regional gaming stocks in 2011, according to analysts.

    So far in 2010, Penn's stock has risen about 22%, less than most other regional operators. But its expansion pipeline should buoy the stock in the New Year.

    In the third quarter, the company rolled out table games at its West Virginia and Pennsylvania facilities, which led Penn to see profit more than double during the quarter. Penn also opened its Maryland slot casino at the end of the year, which should drive positive EBITDA growth past the second quarter of 2011.

    Heading into 2012, Penn also has one development in Kansas and two in Ohio in the pipeline.

    In November, Penn announced it is making its first foray into Las Vegas with the purchase of M Resort for $230.5 million. The high-end casino cost $1 billion to build, and Anthony Marnell III spent an additional $240 million for the land. Penn now gets a relatively brand new casino for a fraction of the total cost of the project, and less than even the price of the land itself.

    "Penn's strong development pipeline remains on track and we continue to believe current share price levels do not fully account for a pipeline that we believe is worth roughly $10 per share in present equity value," wrote Wells Fargo analyst Carlo Santarelli in a note. "We believe Penn is a proven developer, [and] despite the numerous projects, has not bitten off more than it can chew. In fact, we believe Penn will likely benefit greatly from its first-mover advantage in Kansas, as well as what we think will be limited competition in the early days of its two Ohio projects."

    Looking ahead, Penn now expects 2010 full-year earnings of $1.15 a share from prior guidance of 98 cents, and is calling for revenue of $2.46 billion from $2.44 billion.

    And even if domestic consumer spending remains soft, Sterne Agee analyst David Bain expects Penn will outperform other regional gaming operators.

  • By Quickel At 2011-10-27

    Penn National Gaming(PENN) squeaked past its guidance through improved cost controls, and investors praised its efforts.

    But expectations were low, and its upbeat outlook shouldn't be viewed as a message that regional markets are recovering. "Going forward, we project soft regional gaming revenue results over the next three to six months, as we do not expect to see a significant increase in consumer spending patterns given the uncertain economic environment," J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff wrote in a note.

    Penn National raised its full-year earnings guidance to $1.18 from $1.13 a share, and up its revenue outlook by $26 million to $2.44 billion from $2.41 billion.

    During the second quarter, the company earned $9.2 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with $28.5 million, or 27 cents, in the year-ago period. Excluding items, Penn actually earned 29 cents a share, a penny higher than estimates.

    Revenue rose 3% to $598.3 million, higher than the $597.1 million Wall Street projected. The upside was driven by both better revenues and margins and was generally broad-based across many properties, especially larger venues in Charlestown, Lawrenceburg and Grantville, Pa.

    Penn National rolled out table games in West Virginia and Pennsylvania during the quarter, which should be a growth catalyst moving forward. The company also plans to open a slot facility in Maryland on Sept. 30 and expects its Toldeo, Ohio, location to open in the first-half of 2012. Its Columbus project is slated to open in the second-half of 2012.

    The company repurchased 409,000 shares during the quarter. "[This] sends a message to investors on the value of its equity, but perhaps indicating the lack of near-term acquisition opportunities," J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff wrote in a note.

Hot Casino Stocks To Own 2013:Boyd Gaming Corporation (BYD)

 Boyd Gaming Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a multi-jurisdictional gaming company in the United States. As of December 31, 2009, the company owned and operated 15 casino entertainment facilities located in Nevada, Mississippi, Illinois, Louisiana, Indiana, and New Jersey. It owned approximately 812,500 square feet of casino space, containing approximately 21,400 slot machines, 425 table games, and 7,550 hotel rooms. The company also owns and operates a pari-mutuel jai-alai facility located in Dania Beach, Florida, as well as engages in travel agency business. In addition, Boyd Gaming Corporation holds a 50% interest in a limited liability company that operates Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The company was founded in 1988 and is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Jeanine Poggi At 2011-10-27

    The Las Vegas locals and Atlantic City markets have the longest road to recovery, making Boyd Gaming (BYD) one of the most challenged stocks in the sector long-term.

    It's not a surprise then that Boyd saw some of the most muted gains in 2010, with shares rising just 13.8% since the beginning of the year.

    In Atlantic City, where Boyd owns a 50% stake in the Borgata, gambling revenue plunged 13% in November. The New Jersey Boardwalk has been under pressure even before the recession began, as nearby regions expand their gaming presence.

    Both West Virginia and Pennsylvania added table games to casinos in the second half of the year and new properties opened in Philadelphia and Maryland. In 2011, Atlantic City will also have to contend with additional growth in Pennsylvania and the pending opening of the Aqueduct in New York City.

    Given this, Boyd decided not to exercise its right to match a $250 million offer MGM Resorts(MGM) received for its 50% stake in the Borgata. MGM decided to divest its joint venture with Boyd after the Atlantic City Gaming Commission criticized its relationship with Pansy Ho in Macau, whose family has allegedly been tied to organized crime in China.

    In the Las Vegas locals market, where Boyd generates about 44% of its EBITDA, trends are improving, but not as quickly as analysts would have hoped. In October, gaming revenue in the market grew 6.2% to $169.4 million.

    In its third quarter, Boyd disappointed Wall Street, with adjusted earnings coming in at 2 cents a share, shy of consensus estimates of 5 cents. Revenue dropped 4% to $595.4 million.

    Boyd also announced plans to sell $500 million of eight-year notes. Proceeds will be used to buy back senior subordinated notes due 2012 and to repay bank loans.

  • By Hesler At 2011-10-27

    Boyd Gaming(BYD) posted a bigger-than-expected drop in its second-quarter earnings, citing weak performance in Las Vegas, the Midwest and the South.

    During the quarter, the casino operator earned $3.4 million, or 4 cents a share, a 73% plunge from $12.8 million, or 15 cents, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings came in at 5 cents a share, significantly lower than the 10 cents Wall Street predicted for Boyd.

    Boyd's revenue fell 6% to $578.4 million, also short of the consensus of $588 million.

    "The lingering effects of the recession have left consumers unusually sensitive to shifts in the economy, and they now react more quickly to economic data and other developments, such as fluctuations in the stock market," said CEO Keith Smith, in a statement. "Although conditions remain uncertain, we believe long-term stabilizing trends are still in place, and that year-over-year growth is achievable by the end of 2010."

    In the Las Vegas locals market, the rate of decline in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose to 16.2% from 10.8%, J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff wrote in a note. Boyd previously reported a 9.9% decline for its Borgata property in Atlantic City. Revenue came in at $186.9 million, a 2.4% decrease from the year-ago period.

    "We think second-quarter results are less important than the coming operating results in the second-half of 2010, when the Atlantic City market faces increased regional competitive pressures from tables in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and the first Philadelphia casino opens this summer," J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff wrote in a note.

    Greff reaffirmed his underweight rating on Boyd, given increasing competition in Atlantic City, a weak recovery in the Las Vegas locals market and stagnant regional gaming trends.

    While there is no doubt the Atlantic City gaming market remains one of the most depressed, Borgata continues to dominate the market and gain share. Atlantic City saw gaming revenues plunge 11.1% in June to $286.8 million. Boyd co-owns Borgata with MGM Resorts, which is currently in the process of divesting its 50% stake.

Hot Casino Stocks To Own 2013:Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK)

 Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. owns, develops, and operates casinos, and related hospitality and entertainment facilities in the United States. It operates casinos, such as L'Auberge du Lac in Lake Charles, Louisiana; River City Casino and Lumiere Place in St. Louis, Missouri; Boomtown New Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana; Belterra Casino Resort in Vevay, Indiana; Boomtown Bossier City in Bossier City, Louisiana; and Boomtown Reno in Reno, Nevada. The company also operates River Downs racetrack in southeast Cincinnati, Ohio. As of May 26, 2011, it operated seven casinos and one racetrack. The company was formerly known as Hollywood Park, Inc. and changed its name to Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. in February 2000. Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. was founded in 1935 and is based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Jeanine Poggi At 2011-10-27

    Pinnacle Entertainment(PNK) was the great transition story of 2010, with shares spiking about 45% this year.

    The regional casino operator's most impressive story has been in its gross margins, as management, under the leadership of new CEO Anthony Sanfilippo, is in the process of increasing the company's operating efficiencies and prudently allocating capital. Analysts believe Pinnacle is in the early stages of this process, and will continue to drive revenue growth.

    In its third quarter, Pinnacle reported a surprise profit of 10 cents a share on an adjusted basis, better than consensus estimates of a loss of 7 cents. Revenue grew 15% to $287.8 million, while property-level margins reached 23.4%, also ahead of forecasts.

    Last month, Pinnacle purchased Cincinnati's River Downs Racetrack for $45 million. The deal includes 155 acres, 35 of which are still undeveloped. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2011.

    This deal could generate significant returns in the event that Ohio decides to legalize video lottery terminals at racetracks, Santarelli said.

    Pinnacle is also in the process of looking for a buyer of its oceanfront land in Atlantic City, where it originally intended to build a $1.5 billion casino, before squelching plans. The casino operator bought the land in 2006 for $270 million from groups affiliated with Carl Icahn and later added another piece of land for $70 million.

    While the land's currently value is $38 million, Pinnacle insists it will not sell it on the cheap, holding out for the best deal.

    Pinnacle currently has $228 million in cash and $375 million of availability under its revolver.

  • By Sherry Jim At 2011-10-27

    Pinnacle Entertainment(PNK) swung to a loss in its second quarter, as costs rose.

    During the quarter, the regional casino operator lost $49.3 million, or 81 cents a share, compared with a profit of $4.7 million, or 8 cents, in the year-ago period for Pinnacle.

    Excluding items, Pinnacle actually lost 14 cents a share, 10 cents worse than analysts' estimates of a 4-cent loss.

    Pinnacle's revenue rose 8.5% to $273.6 million from $252.3 million, but also fell short of Wall Street's forecast of $284.4 million.

    Even though revenue was weaker, margins rebounded at all but one of Pinnacle's properties. "Margins are the story for Pinnacle ahead of any longer-term potential true rebound in the economy, and we continue to believe there are multiple opportunities for near-term operational improvements across the Pinnacle portfolio," Bain wrote in a note.

    At a time when most casino operators are striving to reduce costs to offset the decline in consumer spending, Pinnacle saw expenses rise 21% to $289.3 million. But Bain said Pinnacle is still in the early stages of cost-refining. "Given what we view as several areas of potential improvements in this regard, we believe Pinnacle is less dependent on an economic recovery than some of its regional peers," he wrote.

    J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff also reaffirms his overweight rating on the stock, viewing Pinnacle as a transition story. "We continue to believe that new CEO Anthony Sanfilippo and team will drive increased operating efficiencies and allocate capital prudently," he wrote in a note.

    Greff praises Sanfilippo for shelving the Sugarcane Bay project and instead focusing on Baton Rouge.

    Pinnacle's liquidity remains strong, with $200 million in cash and $375 million of availability under its revolver