Saturday, March 10, 2012

Xenoport (XNPT) Trials Succeed, Origin Agritech (SEED) Gets China Deal and Quest Energy (QELP) Merges

While FedX Q1 earnings fell, jobless claims last week declined last week and housing construction in August rose 1.5%. While the recovery begins in earnest, daily economic news is full of such contrasts giving both bulls and bears something to get excited about. Today's market is subsequently mixed as it see-saws back and forth in early trading, but Xenoport (XNPT), Origin Agritech (SEED) and Quest Energy (QELP) stocks posted gains on good news.

Picking up 26.19% ($5.16) is Xenoport Inc., (XNPT) which is currently trading on the Nasdaq in the $24.13 range. XNPT has a new market cap of $730 million. XNPT has a 3-Month average daily trading volume of 246,692 shares and it tripled that volume surpassing 882,038 shares traded by 11 a.m. EST.

XNPT and partner GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced today that the Phase IIb clinical trail evaluating safety and efficacy for GSK1838262/XP13512 (gabapentin enacarbil) were successful. The drug targets neuropathic pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) in adults.

All doses of the XNPT drug demonstrated statistically significant improvements over placebos in a 24-hour average pain intensity score. The 14-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study enrolled 376 subjects with PHN who had been experiencing pain for at least three months following healing of the herpes zoster skin rash.

The XNPT drub is a new chemical entity and a new application for its use to address moderate-to-severe primary restless legs syndrome is being reviewed by the FDA.

BioPharmaceutical XNPT focuses on developing drug candidates that utilize the body's natural nutrient transport mechanisms to enhance the therapeutic benefits of drugs. The XNPT portfolio of product candidates also include: XP19986, for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease and spasticity; XP21279, which is in phase I! clinica l trials for the treatment of Parkinson's disease; and XP21510, for the treatment of menorrhagia or heavy menstrual bleeding.

At $24.13, XNPT is approximately half its 52-week high of $50.81 set on 09-18-08 and is above its 52-week low of $13.36 set on 04-30-09. At $24.13, XNPT is ahead of both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages. XNPT is widely held by institutions. It shares out versus float ratio is at parity. Very stable.

Gaining 30.48% ($1.46) early today on its own good news is Origin Agritech (SEED) which is currently trading in $5.93 range on the Nasdaq.

SEED has a new market cap of $133 million. SEED has a 3-Month average daily trading volume of 117,751 and traded 7 times that volume by 11:30 a.m. EST topping 876,756 shares.

SEED announced today it has reached a comprehensive, worldwide agreement with the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Sichuan Biotech Engineering, Limited.

CAS and Sichuan Biotech jointly own the patent rights to an internally developed gene which is highly tolerant to glyphosate, a herbicide. The herbicide-tolerance gene, demonstrated to be extremely effective in both laboratory and field environments, is entirely new to the consumer markets and has never been commercialized. It is protected by patents granted separately by China and USA separately and that's where SEED comes in.

SEED, for the entire life of the patent, will have exclusive rights to sell and develop corn, soybean, rice, cotton and canola products that contain these technology traits worldwide, both in the territory within China and outside of China. SEED will also receive the rights to improve and further develop this herbicide-tolerant gene.

SEE! D develo ps and sells hybrid crop seeds in China. SEED offers primarily corn, rice, cotton, and canola seeds. SEED was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Beijing, China.

At $5.93, SEED is just below its 52-week high of $6.31 set on 06-03-09 and is above its 52-week low of $1.70 set on 03-03-09. At $5.93, SEED is ahead of both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages. Its shares out versus float ratio is a little lopsided (22m/10m) and I would like to see more shares in the public float at some point.

a work in progress...

Gaining 10.70% ($0.23) this morning is Quest Energy Partners Inc., (QELP) which is currently trading in the $2.35 range on the Nasdaq. QELP has a new market cap of $49 million. QELP has a 3-Month average daily trading volume of 108,738 shares and easily topped that by mid-session.

The interesting story here is that QELP and Quest Resource Corp., (QRCP) and Quest Midstream Partners (private) are all going to merge one day (as previously announced). Until that day, whatever effects one of the publicly traded companies, affects the other.

For example, today QRCP said it has entered into a Second Amended and Restated Credit Agreement with Royal Bank of Canada and will get $8 million in new credit. That pushed shares up 11.94% ($0.07) to $0.74. QRCP also noted that it and QELP and Midstream will be called NewGasCo for the time being. It also noted that QRCP was given 6 months by Nasdaq to get its share price over a dollar for 10 straight days of trading or else...

Watching M&A activity at this level is exciting and potentially rewarding.

The NewGasCo's strategy will be to create shareholder value through the efficient development of unconventional resource plays, including coalbed methane in the Cherokee Basin of sout! heast Ka nsas and northeast Oklahoma and the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachian Basin.

Until the merger is complete, both publicly companies will operate as separate identities. I've chosen to talk about QELP today because it has substantially higher trading volumes and a greater share value.

QELP has a total of approximately 167.1 billion cubic feet equivalent of net proved reserves. QELP also operates approximately 2,438 gross gas wells in the Cherokee Basin and 27 gross oil wells. In addition, QELP has approximately 4,000 oil and gas leases covering approximately 559,084 net acres; and owned the development rights to approximately 557,603 net acres throughout the Cherokee Basin.

At $2.35, QELP is far below its 52-week high of $9.06 set on 09-28-08 and is above its 52-week low of $0.49 set on 03-03-09. At $2.35, QELP is ahead of both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages. QELP has trailing twelve month revenues of $113 million. Its shares out versus float ratio is close enough not to raise any red flags.

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American Water Works Co., Inc at its Peak Price of the Year - NYSE:AWK

American Water Works Co., Inc (NYSE:AWK) achieved its new 52 week high price of $31.25 where it was opened at $31.04 UP 0.37 points or +1.20% by closing at $31.19. AWK transacted shares during the day were over 915,597 shares however it has an average volume of 1.32 million shares.

AWK has a market capitalization $5.47 billion and an enterprise value at $11.20 billion. Trailing twelve months price to sales ratio of the stock was 1.92 while price to book ratio in most recent quarter was 1.27. In profitability ratios, net profit margin in past twelve months appeared at 11.01% whereas operating profit margin for the same period at 28.25%.

The company made a return on asset of 3.48% in past twelve months and return on equity of 7.03% for similar period. In the period of trailing 12 months it generated revenue amounted to $2.81 billion gaining $16.04 revenue per share. Its year over year, quarterly growth of revenue was 2.30% holding 10.70% quarterly earnings growth.

According to preceding quarter balance sheet results, the company had $15.62 million cash in hand making cash per share at 0.09. The total of $5.80 billion debt was there putting a total debt to equity ratio 136.08. Moreover its current ratio according to same quarter results was 1.07 and book value per share was 24.26.

Looking at the trading information, the stock price history displayed that its S&P500 52 Week Change illustrated 3.38% where the stock current price exhibited up beat from its 50 day moving average price $30.20 and remained above from its 200 Day Moving Average price $29.36.

AWK holds 175.52 million outstanding shares with 175.29 million floating shares where insider possessed 0.10% and institutions kept 88.40%.

Price Anchoring, Or Why a $499 iPad Seems Inexpensive

photo: buckaroobay

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, he showed off its high-resolution screen, touted its revolutionary features, and said things like �boom!� and �wow!� a lot. But that wasn�t what made the crowd go wild.

�What should we price it at?� asked Jobs. �If you listen to the pundits, we�re going to price it at under $1000, which is code for $999.� He put a giant �$999� up on the screen and left it there for ages before finally going on. �I am thrilled to announce to you that the iPad pricing starts not at $999,� said Jobs, �but at just $499.� On-screen, the $999 price was crushed by a falling �$499.�

Showmanship? Sure. But this stuff works. It�s called the anchoring effect, and it�s been well understood by psychologists for decades. Marketers use it against you all the time�but sometimes you can turn the tables, and I�ll tell you how.

�Any time you have to estimate a numerical value, it turns out you�re very susceptible to the power of suggestion,� says William Poundstone, author of the new book Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It). �Any related value that you hear just before you make your estimate really does have this big statistical impact on what number you�re going to estimate.�

In other words, at the moment Jobs says, �The pundits think we�re going to price it at under $1000,� this plants a seed in your mind: an iPad costs something like $1000. When he reveals the real price, you feel like you�ve just saved $500. If he said, �We were thinking of pricing it at $399, but we decided to go for $499,� that would feel like a ripoff�even though absolutely nothing has changed.

You�ve been MSRPed off

Retailers understand this effect very well. It�s why Manufacturer Suggested Retail Prices exist. You run into these all the time, especially in online shopping. Recently I went shopping for a pair of speakers, and I was pleased to note that they were marked down $60 from the MSRP.

Of course! , the MS RP is a completely made-up number, like Jobs�s $999. No one has ever paid MSRP for the speakers. I knew this, but it looked like a good deal anyway.

In fact, studies have shown that “people who are more reflective, are, if anything, even more susceptible to anchoring,� says Poundstone. Phew! �So it�s definitely not just stupid people. This is really about the way the human mind works, and specifically about the way we pull a number out of the air, which we often have to do in a society that�s kind of obsessed with numbers and money.�

Surely, though, if you know about anchoring and how it works, you�ll be relatively immune. Right? Hardly. In one study, the psychologists explained exactly what they were testing and told the subjects to be on guard against it. �When you answer the questions on the following pages,� they wrote, �please be careful not to have this contamination effect happen to you.” The warning didn�t work.

Oh, and I bought the speakers.

Anchoring everywhere

Once you know about the anchoring effect, you see it all over the place. At the supermarket, why do they print a double price label showing the sale price and the regular price? Anchoring. It�s not a deal unless you can compare with the old price. (And if you think you can remember the old price, you�re wrong: shoppers are very bad at remembering what price they typically pay, even for their favorite items.)

How about those menus where you can choose between the small and large plates of pasta? The high price of the large plate makes the small one look like a bargain�even though the small plate is probably more profitable for the restaurant and is the one they expected you to order all along. You know the restaurant with the $150 hamburger? What kind of idiot would order that! I�m going to stick with the rack of lamb for only $45.

Making it work for you

I�d like to give you some tricks for beating the anchoring effect, though don’t get your hopes up too much: as long a! s that�s a human brain you�re carrying around in your skull, that you’ll never succumb to it is pretty hopeless.

Sometimes, however, you get to help set the price. And that�s when, if you can be quick and bold, the research is on your side.

That makes intuitive sense. But it�s wrong. The title of a famous paper sums it up: �The more you ask for, the more you get.� There is zero evidence for a rebound effect. Lawyers who ask for absurd, billion-dollar awards don�t get what they ask for�but they get more than if they�d asked for mere millions. Once that huge number gets into a juror�s head, anchoring takes over.

That�s bad news if someone breaks their leg in your driveway. But if you�re bargaining for a new car or negotiating a salary, says Poundstone, �it�s really a good idea to get your number in first in a negotiation rather than letting the other guy name a number first.�

If you’re selling something, ask for much more than you think you�re going to get. If you�re buying — especially if it’s a big purchase like a car or a house –�bring a friend. �Have someone there with you who will take your side and will say, �Think of reasons why what you�re saying is right and what they�re saying is a ripoff,�� says Poundstone. �It really does have a measurable statistical effect.�

Now, if you�ll excuse me, I need to go shopping. I�m out of cereal, and�what? Cap�n Crunch is $2 off? Better make it two boxes.

Matthew�Amster-Burton, author of the book Hungry Monkey, writes on food�and finance from his home in Seattle. the best FREE way to manage your money. Get started here!


According to Reuters, a price battle among goods makers is beginning.

Reuters reports that payments to AIG (AIG) employees is causing rage among people already concerned about the bailout.

Reuters reports that Bernanke sees a US recovery starting in 2010.

Reuters writes that the Feds want to freeze Ruth Madoff’s assets.

Reuters writes that Obama will announce measures to help small businesses.

Reuters reports that the newspaper crisis is sparking a debate about free online news.

Reuters writes that the Treasury is close to proposing new bank rules.

Reuters reports that the Virgin megastores in the US are closing.

The Wall Street Journal writes that the US will set tougher capital standards for banks and create�greater authority to take over financial firms.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Cisco (CSCO) is starting an era were large tech companies compete more activity and cooperate less.

The Wall Street Journal reports that pension expenses will rise at many state and municipal funds.

The Wall Street Journal reports that stock offerings are being done in a more rapid fashion.

The Wall Street Journal writes that the pay of the CEO of State Street (STT) rose as the stock fell.

The Wall Street Journal reports that OPEC will hold oil output steady.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the G20 are pressing the US to repair its banks.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the value of the dollar and gold are now inseparable.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google (GOOG) was dealt a blow when its advertising chief left for AOL (TWX).

The Wall Street Journal reports that Best Buy (BBY) is up against a powerful rival in Wal-Mart (WMT).

The Wall Street Journal reports that Congress is advancing legislation to help unions on government contracts.

The Wall Street Journal reports that dividend cuts are starting to hurt investors.

The Wall Street Journal ! reports that Vodafone (VOD) plans to raise money on the value of its assets in Qatar.

The Wall Street Journal reports that revenue to the UK government is being hit by the falling price of oil.

The Wall Street Journal reports that more directors are cutting their own pay.

The Wall Street Journal report that Blockbuster (BBI) results will shed light it debt.

The Wall Street Journal report that federal officials are looking through the GM (GM) operating plan to make a decision about the company;s future.

The Wall Street Journal reports that PC makes and chip companies are moving into the handheld business.

The Wall Street Journal writes that Yahoo! (YHOO) will launch niche video products.

The FT reports that China lost $80 billion in its move to diversify its assets.

The FT reports that US earnings had their first quarterly loss since 1935.

The FT reports that Goldman Sachs (GS) held talks to buy Wachovia.

Bloomberg reports that Barclays (BCS) said it had a strong start to the year.

Bloomberg reports that Sony (SNE) is being pressed to cut the prices of its PS3.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Fabrinet Goes Red

Fabrinet (NYSE: FN  ) reported earnings Feb. 6. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended Dec. 30 (Q2), Fabrinet beat expectations on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue increased and GAAP earnings per share dropped to a loss.

Margins shrank across the board.

Revenue details
Fabrinet reported revenue of $186.3 million. The three analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ expected to see revenue of $177.5 million. Sales were 48% lower than the prior-year quarter's $173.7 million.


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions.

EPS details
Non-GAAP EPS came in at $0.45. The four earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ averaged $0.42 per share on the same basis. GAAP EPS were -$0.96 for Q1 against $0.46 per share for the prior-year quarter.


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Figures may be non-GAAP to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 9.2%, 360 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was -37.9%, 4,750 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was -34.4%, 4,300 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $76.7 million. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is -$0.42.

Next year's average estimate for revenue is $557.6 million. The average EPS estimate is $0.33.

Investor sentiment
The stock has a two-star rating (out of five) at Motley Fool CAPS, with 23 members rating the stock outperform and three members rating it underperform. Among seven CAPS All-Star picks (recommendations by the highest-ranked CAPS members), four give Fabrinet a green thumbs-up, and three give it a red thumbs-down.

Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on Fabrinet is hold, with an average price target of $18.38.

Over the decades, small-cap stocks, like Fabrinet, have provided market-beating returns, provided they're value priced and have solid businesses. Read about a pair of companies with a lock on their markets in "Too Small to Fail: Two Small Caps the Government Won't Let Go Broke." Click here for instant access to this free report.

  • Add Fabrinet to My Watchlist.

Friday, March 9, 2012

How Waiters Read Your Table

[Table-Jump] The Cheesecake Factory

At the Cheesecake Factory in Walnut Creek, Calif., waiters are trained to adjust service to suit each table.

What looks like a convivial scene is a waiter's nightmare: people at a table, chatting away, menus closed with drinks in their hands.

Yet when Alex Martin, a 26-year-old waiter at Blue Smoke restaurant in New York, tried to take their order "they didn't even look up," he says. "If you are standing there for more than three seconds it's like an eternity."

Restaurants both high-end and casual say the secret to quality service is the wait staff's ability to "read the table." Sarah Nassauer has details on Lunch Break.

At such times, Mr. Martin employs his go-to strategy of "the hand on the table." Placing down his palm draws the group's eyes up and out of the conversation, interrupting but without being pushy, he says. A few minutes later the men had ordered and quickly returned to chatting.

Called "having eyes" for a table, or "feeling" or "reading" the table by restaurant workers, it's how the best waiters know what type of service you prefer before you tell them. From fine dining to inexpensive chains, restaurants are working to make service more individualized as the standard script ('I'm so-and-so and I will be your server tonight") is sounding dated.

Even chain restaurants like Denny! 's, T.G. I. Friday's, and Romano's Macaroni Grill are focusing more on personalized service by training staff to note body language, eye contact and offhand remarks, hoping to make service feel less mechanical. Traditionally, eateries taught waiters to follow a script and push add-ons like desserts and drinks.

Getting service right, not just food, is increasingly crucial for restaurants. The number of people going to restaurants is expected to grow by less than 1% through 2019, slower than population growth, predicts NPD Group, a market research firm. At the same time restaurants from Applebee's to fine-dining spots like Press St. Helena in California's Napa Valley say guests expect better service as they continue to demand top value for their dollar and learn more about restaurants' behind-the-scenes operations through TV shows and books.

How Waiters Read Your Table

View Interactive

Luci Gutiérrez

"We asked what can we do that will set us apart from the scrum," besides discounting and coupons, says Wayne Vandewater, vice president of learning and development for Applebee's, owned by DineEquity Inc. "Food is easy to copy, a building is easy to copy, but it's not easy to copy our people."

Some restaurants still employ waiter scripts, but now they are being used to dig for guest information. At Romano's Macaroni Grill, an Italian-themed chain, waiters are taught to use their scripted offer of house wine to find out if the table will want a fast, leisurely, or lively meal. If "they say, 'no, w! ell, we are going to the theater,' " then the waiter knows dinner isn't the main event, says Brandon Coleman III, chief marketing officer for the company. To speed up service, the waiter may bring the check at the same time as the food.

If diners have a laptop open on the table, they might not be interested in appetizers that are best for sharing or learning a lot about the cocktail menu, says Ricky Richardson, chief operating officer for Carlson Restaurants Inc., which operates T.G.I. Friday's.

"We changed 'suggestive selling' to 'situational selling,' " says Rene Zimmerman, senior director of training and development for Bob Evans Farms Inc., a family-style restaurant and food maker. Instead of offering every breakfast guest one additional item, say biscuits and gravy, waiters are taught to adjust their offer depending upon the guest. For a diner who places a lighter order, like a bagel and fruit, the waiter might suggest a cup of coffee or tea.

Restaurants are investing in training despite the historically high churn rate in wait staff, though turnover has slowed since the recession. Waiters can be paid below minimum wage in some states because they earn tips. In other states, they are paid a minimum wage that varies by state from $5 to $10, plus tips.

As part of a recent, two-week training course at the Cheesecake Factory in Burlington, Mass., Lauren McDonagh, 23 years old, sat with four other new employees before the lunch rush. They heard tips on how to interact with tables with children (if a kid says he doesn't like green things, don't use lettuce, even as a garnish), first-time guests (walk them to the restroom, don't point), and celebrations (get at least five employees to sing "Happy Birthday").

Ms. McDonagh and the others are taught to "tour guide" guests toward menu options they think are best, like easy-to-prepare food if they are in a hurry. When Ms. McDonagh began waiting tables without any training at age 18, "it took me three months to realize you give the dessert menu quietly to the mom, otherwise kids scream," for dessert, she says.

Reading a table happens within seconds of a waiter coming to a table. By asking for a cocktail menu or smiling and making strong eye contact, "they are saying 'hey, I want to engage with you and I want you to make me feel really important,' " says Mark Maynard-Parisi, managing partner of Blue Smoke, a pair of barbecue restaurants in New York, owned by Union Square Hospitality Group. If people seem shy, "you want to put them at ease, say, 'take your time, look at the menu.' "

Blue Smoke does seven days of training with new waiters, five days of trailing an experienced waiter and two days of being trailed by the experienced waiter. Each day includes a quiz and a focus such as greeting guests.

With parties of f! our or m ore, "the most important thing is to read the dynamic between the group," Mr. Maynard-Parisi says. Alcohol (who is ordering more or less) is a potential point of contention. He reads eye contact and body language to see if a group is friendly (looking at each other) or less secure, like an uncomfortable work meeting (glancing around the room, fidgeting). "Am I approaching the table to rescue them or am I interrupting them?"

Because people often resist speaking up when they're unhappy with their meal, waiters are taught to detect if a guest is unhappy. When asked about dinner, if a guest says, " 'It's OK.' That to me is a red flag," says Allison Yoder, general manager of Press.

At Cheesecake Factory, employees are taught to look every guest in the eye when moving through the dining room, watching for people looking up from their meal, pushing food around their plate, or removing ingredients from their dish—all signs they might not like their meal. Even if it's not their assigned table, they are trained to ask if anything is wrong and try to fix problems.

Reading a table is still more art than science. On a recent night at Blue Smoke a couple came in with a baby in a stroller, usually a demographic looking for a quick dinner. Instead, the baby fell asleep during the meal. "They spent so much money," says Mr. Maynard-Parisis. They "got another cocktail and dessert and an after-dinner drink."

The Signals You May Be Sending

If a waiter reads the needs of your table correctly, you're likely to end up with a good experience. Inadvertently giving off the wrong signals can doom a table to service that's too rushed, too slow or just off kilter. Here, how to work the system.

If you're chatty... A waiter is more likely to assume a friendly, chatty table is there to party. Get ready for more offers of drinks, dessert and a talkative waiter.

If you act moody... You may get better service. Several w! aiters s aid they are more careful to get every detail right when they believe a table is already in a bad mood (a couple fighting or a tense business meal perhaps).

If you say 'It's OK'... To attentive waiters, saying food is 'OK' is a red flag that you aren't happy with your meal. The waiter or manager might dig for more information to fix the problem.

If you ask about the menu... Food questions are a sign that you either like learning about everything you might eat or you feel lost and need guidance. One menu question could lead to a long, full menu description. If you seem overwhelmed, the waiter might try to steer you toward a particular order.

If you grab the wine list first... Expect the waiter to focus wine explanations and questions about refills to you.

If you're early and fancy... Diners who are dressed up and have an early dinner reservation may lead waiters to suspect they have another event that night and serve them at a fast clip.

If you're wearing a suit at lunch... Diners who look like they just stepped away from their cubicle, whether in a suit or business casual, are bound to get speedier service. The exception: If the waiter realizes the boss or valued client wants to set a slower pace by asking for more time before ordering or pulling out papers for a sales pitch.

If you act like the ring leader...
A waiter will try to determine who is in charge at the table through body language, clues in conversation or by who made the reservation, and defer to the wants of that diner.

If there's no obvious leader...
If no take-charge person emerges at the table, the waiter may struggle to figure out whether to be chatty or invisible and whether to make the service quicker or more leisurely.

Check, Please?

How the check is brought to the table can make diners grumble. Some guests want the check without asking, some feel rushed if a check is placed on the table before they ask. When researchers asked customers which restaurant service mistake is worst in terms of overall satisfaction, they said not promptly settling the check when the guest is ready to leave, or problems with the check amount. (This complaint was second only to messing up the food order.) The research, which surveyed 491 people who had dined at a table-service restaurant within the past month, was published in the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly in 2010. It's 'tricky,' says Serge Krieger, general manager of fine-dining spots TRU and L2O Restaurant, both in Chicago. Instead of leaving people in check limbo, 'we make them ask,' says Mr. Krieger. 'After coffee, we say, "Anything else I can get you?" And they usually ask for the check.' To signal when diners are ready to pay, Applebee's, owned by DineEquity Inc., has introduced check holders (see above) that say, 'I'm ready to go!' The new books are in about half of its 2,000 U.S. locations and customers are using them, says Wayne Vandewater of Applebee's.

—Sarah Nassauer

Write to Sarah Nassauer at

Best Wall St. Stocks Today:

Japan’s GDP dropped 2.3% on an annualized basis�according to�data from the Japan Cabinet Office. Exports of goods and services were down 11.9%.� Based on most media reports, the number was below estimates.

The steep drop was because of the strong yen and supply interrupts to manufacturers because of floods in Thailand.

The number will cause more questions about the strength of the global recovery. Japan’s GDP is third among nations just behind China. The IMF recently lowered GDP forecasts for the nation, in part because of trouble in most European economies. The agency dropped GDP forecasts .6% to 1.7% for 2012 and down�.4% to .1.6%.

Japan recently reported its first trade deficit since the early 1960s.

The data is one more piece of evidence that the drags on global growth are rising.

Insiders are Spending a Fortune on These 2 Stocks. Should You Follow their Lead?

Every time the market swoons, the level of insider buying picks up sharply. It's the natural reflex company officers and directors have in a bid to defend their stock. Trouble is, these folks don't have the greatest track records. If the market falls further, then their stocks often perform poorly. And if the market rebounds, then their stocks simply rise in tandem with the rest of the pack.

Instead, I like to watch the actions of insiders when markets are moving sideways or are on an upswing. That's when insiders give a much clearer signal that shares hold value.

To be sure, insider buying appears to be at a lull since the market has been surging. The volume of daily and weekly filings has been fairly low in 2012. But the stocks that are seeing fresh insider buying surely deserve a close look right now. The 11 stocks in the table below have been the beneficiary of at least $400,000 of fresh buying since the start of the year.


Although this list almost exclusively involves officers who actually work at the company in question, I've also included Wendy's (NYSE: WEN) in this table, even though some of the biggest buying came from its major shareholders (who must register their moves with the SEC just as company officers do).The reason I bring this up is because I've recently written about the intriguing turnaround potential for this fast-food operator, and it's a bullish sign that the company's key investors are showing a $100 million vote of confidence in new CEO Emil Brolick.

I usually caution that turnarounds can be slow to take shape, because they involve upfront investments in the business that investors tend to dislike. But if Wendy's manage! ment can make tangible progress and shares continue to languish at current levels, then it will be interesting to see what shareholder Nelson Peltz will do. His investment firm, Trian Fund, already owned 23% of Wendy's at the end of 2011, and this stake has now bumped up to 27%. It's curious to note that in June 2011, Peltz announced that an unnamed third-party had approached him about taking Wendy's private. Nothing seems to have come out of that overture, perhaps because the two parties disagreed on a buyout price.

Perhaps Peltz was just blowing smoke. But it's clear that shares are sharply undervalued in relation to McDonald's (NYSE: MCD), and would post major gains if the wide spread between the two firms' operating metrics ever narrowed.

Unilife (Nasdaq: UNIS)
This company is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Wendy's. The medical device maker was listed on the Australian stock exchange back in 2002 and was cross-listed on the Nasdaq beginning in February 2010. Shares got off to a rousing start then, doubling in value on their second day of U.S. trading to almost $18, but it's been downhill ever since, with shares now trading below $4.

Unilife sells safety syringes that can be pre-filled by drug manufacturers or to hospitals that order them un-filled. These syringes' needles automatically retract after usage, eliminating the chance of unnecessary spikes for health care professionals. Getting Food and Drug Administration approval for a pre-loaded syringe is a cumbersome process, as each drug/syringe pairing needs to be approved. The company already has a licensing and supply agreement with Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SFY), with more expected to follow. Sanofi has spent $40 million to help Unilife refine its technology and is expected to pay Unilife $5 for each syringe.

The share price sell-off comes as investors grew impatient for the Sanofi relationship to start ramping up. Analysts once said Unlife would be ! in the m idst of a major revenue upturn by now, but recent quarterly results have shown minimal revenue. This should normally tell investors to simply move on to other ideas -- yet in this instance, a fresh look for upside is merited.

First, the Sanofi relationship appears stalled but not broken. Sales may only hit $10 million to $15 million in the current fiscal year that ends this June, but analysts expect to see sales finally start to build in fiscal 2013. The current consensus forecast of $69 million in fiscal 2013 sales is likely a stretch. Investors would be cheered if Unilife had just $30 million or $40 million in sales, as this would at least imply a better sales ramp to come.

Second, CEO Alan Shortall has spent nearly $1 million acquiring stock on the open market in the past seven weeks. He has a clear read into discussions that Unilife is holding with current and potential partners and would be foolish to pony up this kind of money if the company's 2012 prospects were dim.

Risks to Consider: Unilife is clearly a high-risk play, but investors seem to have abandoned this still-promising medical device firm. Also, when looking at the entire list above for further investment ideas, remember that insiders may know their own businesses very well, but are not always great stock pickers. So use their moves only as a basis for further research.

> As long as the market stays aloft, keep an eye on insider filings. In an environment where bargains are getting harder to come by, stocks bought by insiders may provide one of the few areas for further upside.

If It's Florida, It Must Be Housing

Jed Kolko, Trulia Chief Economist

By Jed Kolko (@JedKolko), Trulia’s Chief Economist

Republican presidential candidates have kept housing on the back burner � until now. Next Tuesday�s Florida primary is moving housing front-and-center. Bold new proposals? Don�t be silly. (Hey, I�m an equal-opportunity critic � I said the same about�Obama�s State of the Union.) But Romney did hold a housing roundtable, and the candidates are using housing as a scoop for slinging mud at each other. At least that�s something.

Why does the Florida primary thrust housing into the limelight? Four reasons:

1) The housing bust took Florida down.
Prices in most of�Florida have fallen by at least 40% since their peak. Along with�Nevada,�Arizona and inland�California, Florida was ground zero for the housing bubble, and now its residents are deep underwater.

2) Florida is in foreclosure purgatory.
It takes�more than two years for homes to go through the foreclosure process in Florida, longer than any other state except New York and New Jersey (which have far fewer foreclosures to begin with). That means 14.0% of Florida loans are stuck in foreclosure, compared with 6.3% in�Nevada, 3.2% in�Arizona, 3.2% in�California and 2.7% in�Michigan, according to�LPS. This keeps Florida�s housing market in limbo and prevents Florida from benefitting from a�plan to sell government-owned homes to investors after a foreclosure is complete.

3) Searches and prices are bubbling.
Despite the bust and the�foreclosure backlog, demand is stirring in Florida. Our�Metro Movers Index shows that far more house hunters are looking to move to Florida � especially to�North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota,�Fort Lauderdale,�Cape Coral and! �West Pa lm Beach �than they are looking to leave. Thanks, baby boomers and investors. And�prices rose more than 2% in the third quarter�of 2011 in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and several other Florida metros.

4) What happens in Florida doesn�t stay in Florida.
Florida is a national�housing story. One-third of all the searches for�Miamihomes on are from people living more than 500 miles away. What�s more, Chicagoans and New Yorkers can�t seem to get enough of Florida. Three of the top 10 long-distance search destinations from�Chicago are Florida metros, as are five of the top 10 search destinations from�New York. You or someone you love cares about Florida.

The Florida housing market represents the worst of the bubble and hope for recovery. Let�s hope the Republican candidates have something to say about it, because Florida voters will.

Endeavour Silver: Low cost, no debt

Ian WyattIf Europe can sidestep disaster - and the market is betting that it will - and/or US growth continues to pick up, demand for silver will remain strong.

One way to gain exposure to the metal is via Endeavour Silver (EXK), a well-run silver and gold miner with operations centered in Mexico.

The company runs two mines, has several other exploration efforts underway and sports a market cap of less than $1 billion.

The company recently announced that it has surpassed its 2011 silver production guidance by 14 percent and its gold output by 23 percent, to more than 3.7 million ounces and 21,810 ounces, respectively.

But with prices depressed in the second half of the year, management chose to withhold "a significant portion" of its production from the market, preferring instead to keep the metals in inventory until it could realize better sales prices.
This year Endeavour expects to produce 4.3 million ounces of silver along with about 26,000 ounces of gold. It anticipates extracting those metals at a cash cost of between $5.50 and $6.00 an ounce of silver (net of by-products).

The company is operating in the black and is expected to generate per-share earnings of about 60 cents this year, assuming market prices remain near current levels.

And the results of its 2011 drilling efforts were encouraging. Management is focused primarily on its two operating high-grade underground mines, Guanacevi and Guanajuato, where several new high-grade silver/gold veins were discovered.

Several new, moderate grade silver/gold mineralized veins were also discovered at its San Sebastian property, one of four "district scale" exploration properties the company owns that could add substantially to its asset base over time.

The conservatively run company has a prist! ine bala nce sheet with no debt and $155 million in working capital with which to fund its expansion.

While the stock trades at a premium to other junior silver producers, we're willing to pay up for the shares considering that it has turned in eight consecutive years of reserve growth.

In addition, the company has the potential to substantially add further to those reserves, and extract the metal at a relatively low cost. Buy Endeavour Silver below $11.50 a share.

Related articles:
  • Kinross Gold: Ready to shine?
  • Royal Gold: A 'royalty' play
  • Silvercorp Metals: Fighting off shorts

Money Assistance For Court Law suits

Structured settlement is probably not part in your day-to-day language, however it is important to individuals who may have one or two dealings with an insurance corporation. It’s an commitment where an insurance company concurs to come up with payment at specific conditions to a client of an crash depending on the cash compensated as settlement.

Structured settlements are created to help accident victims with the certainty they will always have cash to cover what ever health care bills they may sustain at some point. More so, the key advantage from the package is to save on tax since the deal significantly decreases the victims’ tax payments.

Structured settlements do not come with compulsory responsibilities that might bind one to anyone. Therefore, you are at liberty to differ towards the terms which are created by any party to the deal. You may design your own means that should go well with you as well as the fixed time you prefer the money settled. What normally this deal does is to be useful for finding a way that best appeals to you.

Structured settlement in the form of package deal, first appeared into existence in the 70′s and had its origin from Canada. Right from that time this has now quickly traveled into the United States of America. Such system also has spread to other countries around the world.

One good thing about a structured settlement annuity is the opportunity it provides so that payments can be tailored to cover a longer period of time that could even extend to a throughout a person’s life time. What’s more, if it happens that the payee dies a determined amount on the settlement can be made out to his family members.

Although structured settlement appears not to be without disadvantages, yet there are some occasions when some individual will rather not embrace the package. In such cases there are other alternatives to structured settlement, especially when the individual would love to be given a huge sum of money to avo! id waiti ng to be paid on monthly basis for life.

Are you aware of how a structured settlement is structured? The thing regarding the way of structuring the settlement is that it is quite common with nearly every one. The money that is payable to you shall be distributed equally for every month this will comprise what you’ll be receiving every month.

Want to find out more about spinal cord lawyer in Los Angeles, then visit the best dog bite attorney in Los Angeles for your needs.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Microsoft IE Exec Agrees With Apple: Adobe Flash Has “Issues”

Now, this is interesting.

Microsoft (MSFT) appears to be taking Apple’s (AAPL) side in its dispute over Adobe (ADBE) Flash.

In a blog post yesterday, Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for Internet Explorer, laid out Microsoft’s stance on the issue. For starters, he writes that “the future of the web is HTML5,” a position consistent with Apple’s view. Hachamovitch also has nice things to say about H.264, a video standard that Apple likewise has been pushing as a better video standard than Flash.

“H.264 is an industry standard, with broad and strong hardware support,” he writes. “Because of this standardization, you can easily take what you record on a typical consumer video camera, put it on the Web, and have it play in a Web browser on any operating system or device with H.264 support.”

That said, Hachamovitch concedes that “today, video on the web is predominantly Flash-based,” and notes that “the ease of accessing video using just a browser on a particular website without using Flash is a challenge for typical consumers.”

He adds that Flash has issues, “particularly around reliability, security, and performance,” but that it remains “an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today�s web.”

G Headshot Review And Official Website

In a nut shell — associate advertising is all about placing hyperlinks on web page of any sort and then having your readers click on on them. When the hyperlinks are clicked on you may make cash per click on or you may make a commission when somebody goes to the suggested website after which buys something. It’s in essence, a quiet, unobtrusive way of being a salesperson.

You don’t necessarily need talent or even good grammar to write a blog. You do nevertheless need a real passion for what you are writing about and to have some kind of idea of what you would like to promote that may be attached to your blog and the keywords that go along with it.

Once you have decided what you would like to sell discovering affiliate hyperlinks is pretty easy. Let’s say that you want to write about exotic bonsai trees on a weblog. Your next step would be to simply type in the words “bonsai – affiliate” into a big search engine like Google and you’ll be lead to scores of sites that have affiliate programs for selling bonsai.

Sometimes the associate link will also read “affiliate program”, “associates” or “partners”.!!!.there will usually be some type of help section on how you can sign up. The great factor is that this signing up part of the associates program process is usually totally free. Depending on what type of program or site is mastering the affiliate program you may make money per click or on different rates of conversion. You are able to also generate income if you persuade somebody else to join the same affiliate program.

A extremely recommended source of associate revenue is Clickbank, which has an average commission rate of 50%. The good factor about Clickbank is that the checks to affiliates do arrive in the mail on time each and every two weeks. It’s a extremely dependable site when it comes to payouts.

My full G Headshot Review. If you buy the course you can get the best G Headshot B! onus her e.

Botanical Extraction - A Safe Investment Or Speculative Bet?

It has been a good start to the year for many micro andsmall cap biotech stocks with a few FDA approvals lifting the sector in general.With the prospect of an economic recovery, and investors looking for greaterreturns, many under-funded (and historically cheap) small biotech company'scould see an infusion of much needed capital this year.

I want to focus on one biotech sector in particular whichseems to be capturing investor�s imagination... botanical extraction.

In a nutshell, botanical extraction is the process ofextracting key ingredients from live plant material. These key ingredients arethen used to manufacture an array food and beverage, cosmeceutical,nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products.

There are many companies with the ability to extract liveplant material; however the great challenge for them all is bioavailability.

The FDA defines bioavailability as �the rate and extent towhich the active ingredient or active moiety is absorbed from a drug productand becomes available at the site of action�.

Currently the market standard for bioavailability is between1-10%, and has been for some time. Traditionally, technology in this area haslagged other biotechnology industries, despite the multi-billion dollar (andgrowing) nutraceutical, cosmeceutical and wellness industries.

However one publicly listed biotech company, PlandaiBiotechnologies, Inc (OTC:PLPL) has invented a process by which extracts haveshown in published USDA studies to have bioavailability of between 60-80%, farexceeding anything currently available.

Such ! signific ant advancements in extraction processes aresurely welcome to both manufacturers and end consumers alike. Given an agingpopulation and the rapid rise in diseases such as Diabetes type 1 and 2,products with a significantly higher bioavailability, at an affordable price, willbe forever increasing in demand.

According to Plandai Biotechnologies management, theypredict their income, arising from new extraction technology, to increase 9fold over the next five years.

Given the substantial growth of this industry (GlobalIndustry Analysts project the nutraceuticals market alone will exceed US$243billion by 2015), and new advancements in technology which will ultimately leadto significant increases in profitability, I believe investing in this industrycould potentially bring significant returns to those who identify thosepublicly listed companies that are at the forefront of finding new and improvedextraction techniques.

And while there are very few botanical extraction companieslisted on the major US exchanges to invest in, companies like PlandaiBiotechnology Inc, Stevia Corp and Sunwin Nutraceuticals may be worth a look at.

About theAuthor
Tom Donnell has been investing in startup biotech companies for 23 years. Priorto investing and advising several small biotech startups, he was the founder ofthe Individual Investor Alliance, a non-profit organization which helps provideindividual investors with the relevant skills and knowledge required to makeprudent investment decisions. For more information, please visit

2 Stocks Stopping the Presses

You saw the headlines. You know your stock price made a big move. But what does that portend for your investment's future?

By pairing the latest news with the collective wisdom of our 180,000-strong�Motley Fool CAPS investing community, we might be able to discover whether your stock's latest exploits are a short-term hiccup -- or the start of a much bigger trend.

These two stocks both made big moves over the past five trading days, one up, one down:


CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Change Past Week

Nevsun Resources (AMEX: NSU  )



SmartHeat (Nasdaq: HEAT  )



Source: Motley Fool CAPS, % Chg. from Jan. 6 to Jan. 13.

72 inches down
When you announce you're going to cut gold production by as much as 50% for the coming year, there's bound to be a little fallout. Nevsun Resources did that the other day for its Bisha gold mine in Eritrea, and while it couched the change in terms of preparing for copper production with even further revised guidance later in the year, it's all because it overestimated its reserves last year, both in terms of tonnage and grade.

Revising resource estimates is not unheard of when it comes to mining. When the numbers are dialed back, as happened to Rubicon Minerals (AMEX: RBY  ) at its F2 gold-mining project in the prolific Red District region of Ontario, the resu! lts are similar to what Nevsun reported: a crushing blow to the stock. When the revisions jump, as when Rare Element Resources (AMEX: REE  ) suggested it might find�higher grades of ore�than previously thought for its Bear Lodge project, the stock can become a rocket.

Yet the initial market reaction might actually be an overreaction. If you believe management -- and it is suffering from a little credibility crisis today -- the tonnage revision is only a 4% reduction. But the biggest problem may be the grade of the ore, as it is only about half as good as what was previously produced. Great Panther Silver (AMEX: GPL  ) also has been hampered by the degradation of average ore grades it's pulled out of the ground since last year. But it seems Nevsun has become a copper play rather than a gold play.

CAPS All-Star member�Humle100 believes the sell-off was overwrought, but you can tell us on the Nevsun Resources CAPS page or in the comments section below if you think the risk profile has significantly increased. Add the gold (copper?) miner to your watchlist to be alerted when the new resource estimates are released.

Heating up
When you first look at the charts showing SmartHeat's gains, it looks like the stock flew up some 1,200%, but that should immediately ring a bell that something's not right: In reality, the Chinese plate heat exchanger manufacturer engineered a 1:10 reverse stock split, which moved the stock up from less than $0.50 a share to almost $5 a stub.

Reverse stock splits typically signify a company in financial trouble, and SmartHeat is just that. More than a year ago, I warned investors that it had a penchant for diluting shareholders and was experiencing huge spikes in receivables that didn't correspond with the reported growth in sales. Last quarter, sales were cut by two-thirds while operating expenses actually more than doubled as bad debt e! xpenses rose exponentially.

With 93% of the 490 CAPS members weighing in on SmartHeat believing it will go on to beat the broad indexes, it seems they're willing to wait for it to heat up again. Add SmartHeat to the Fool's free stock tracker, and let us know in the comments section below if it will exchange its new higher value for a lower one again in the near future.

Read all about it!
Both of these stocks made a lot of noise this week, but The Motley Fool has identified one company that's breaking all the rules on its way toward delivering multibagger gains. You can get instant access to this company by�clicking here -- it's free! But only for a limited time, so hurry.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Best Wall St. Stocks Today: COP

Just as unstable Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez thought he was making off with $12 billion in Exxon assets the world largest oil company got him into court. The Exxon property was being taken as a part of a nationalization process in the South American country. It is also called stealing.

According to The Wall Street Journal XOM "has obtained court orders freezing more than $12 billion in bank accounts and assets in Europe, the Caribbean and New York belonging to the Venezuelan state oil company." Exxon would probably be willing to trade those for what it owns in Chavez’s neck of the woods.

The move by Exxon may block Venezuela’s own oil company PDVSA from getting access to the capital markets. Companies like ConocoPhillops (COP), which have had similar problems, may also go to court.

With instability in several oil exporting countries, most notably Nigeria, the court decisions may make governments think twice about taking overseas assets to help pay debt and enrich the local politicians and dignitaries. Chavez would make the argument that the money is going to new infrastructure and the county’s poor.

That would make him more crazier than more people think.

Douglas A. McIntyre

How to Use Options To Protect Your Profits – And Play for More

Since bottoming out in early July, the stock market has turned in a brilliant performance, giving many investors Christmas stockings bulging with profits. However, it also has left a lot of investors nervous - though not the ones that know how to use options.

Will a strong January Effect extend the market advance, which has seen the Standard & Poor's 500 Index climb 22.97% from its July 2 low of 1022.58?

Or, will further downgrades of European debt, high unemployment, a dismal housing market and other negative factors finally stall the rally?

Although many analysts are offering projections, no one can say for sure - but fortunately, you don't really have to know. By adeptly using options, you can both fully protect your existing profits if the bull stumbles, and play for more if it charges ahead in the New Year.

And, thanks to a holiday-related drop in market volatility over the past couple of weeks, you can do so at a very reasonable price. To verify that, you need only look at the Chicago Board Option Exchange's (CBOE) S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX), which closed Dec. 23 at 15.45 - its lowest level since just before the market's top last April.

Normally, when one thinks of using options to lock in profits, the strategy that comes to mind is the purchase of a protective put, which will pay off should the price of the underlying asset fall sharply. However, a better approach - given current market conditions, volatility levels, and the time of year - is an outright call option "substitution."

It's a very simple strategy: You merely sell the stock on which you have profits you want to protect and buy an equivalent number of at-the-money call options on the same stock - at the money meaning the striking prices of the options are the ones closest to the actual trading price of the underlying security.

Here's an example.

Let's say! you pur chased 500 shares of CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) last July, shortly after it bounced off its 52-week low in sync with the broader market. You paid $33.50 per share, then watched the stock ride the autumn rally higher to a close of $46.40 on Dec. 27 (collecting a couple of healthy 72.5-cent-a-share quarterly dividends along the way). You thus have a profit on the CTL stock of $12.90 per share (or $6,450 on the full position) - a profit you're worried about losing should the market correct early in the New Year.

Here's how you could use a call option substitution to protect yourself, while saving the opportunity to add more gains should the stock price continue to rise.

You would simply sell your 500 shares of CTL stock, but maintain your long bullish stance by "substituting" the purchase of five at-the-money CTL February $46.00 call options (each call option controls 100 shares of CTL stock). The key features of the play are:

  • By selling 500 shares of CTL at $46.40, you free up $23,200 ($46.40 x 500 = $23,200) in cash that you can use for other purposes (a benefit you wouldn't get with the purchase of a protective put).
  • You capture the $6,450 in profit you currently have, ensuring you'll never give it back - no matter what the market or stock price does.
  • With the February $46.00 calls carrying a premium of $1.40 (as they did on Dec. 28), you'd pay $700 ($1.40 x 100 x 5 = $700) of your profit to buy them and thus maintain your long position by controlling 500 shares of CTL stock.
  • If the market does correct and CenturyLink stock falls back below $46.00 a share, you lose the $700 you paid for the calls - but that's all. You can't lose more, no matter what happens. (Note: If you dislike the notion of losing the $700 in call premiums should the stock pull back, simply think of it as equivalent to putting in a stop-loss order on CTL at a price of $45.00 ! per shar e. If you simply held the stock with that stop - a very tight one by usual standards - you'd lose the same $700 from current prices if it were triggered.)

  • If the market doesn't correct, you begin adding to your already locked-in profits as soon as CTL stock moves higher. Because the $46.00 calls are already in the money, the premium will increase steadily - though initially not on a cent-for-cent basis - as the stock price rises. And, if you hold the calls until the expiration date - Feb. 18, 2011 in this instance - you'll capture additional dollar-for-dollar profits at any CTL stock price above $47.40 (the $46.00 striking price plus the $1.40 premium paid).
  • Because CTL will report its fourth-quarter results before the options expire, you'll have full opportunity to capture any bounce in the stock price as a result of a positive surprise. But again, you can't lose the gains you already have should earnings disappoint.
  • Should CTL stock trade relatively flat in January and early February, staying above $46.00 a share, you can re-examine the prospects for the company and, if you like them, exercise the call options. That would let you repurchase the actual stock in time to collect the next 72.5-cent quarterly dividend, adding another $362.50 to your gains on the 500 shares.
  • Since it will most likely be the first week of January 2011 before you can execute this trade, you won't have to pay taxes on the stock profits you take for up to 15 months, giving you plenty of time to offset them.
This strategy will work for any long position on which you currently have profits (so long as options are traded on the stock), locking in your gains but letting you play for any continued advance.

Do be careful in choosing the expiration date of the call options you substitute, making sure they extend far enough out to benefit from the next quarterly earnings report and, if the dividend is worth considering, in ample time to! qualify for that payout.

Best Wall St. Stocks Today: GMCR,US

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) is back at the buyout trough.� The newest target is a Montreal rival in Canada called Van Houtte Inc. from an affiliate of Littlejohn & Co., LLC.� Van Houtte roasts and markets gourmet coffee for home and office consumption and distributes it through its direct-to-store delivery and coffee services networks in Canada and the U.S.

The merger is valued at $915 million Canadian or $890 (US) million, based on the September 13 exchange rate and subject to adjustment. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval and is expected to close by the end of 2010.

Van Houtte has had a relationship with Green Mountain since 2001 and its Canadian brands including Van Houtte�, Br�lerie St. Denis�, Les Caf�s Orient Express Coffee� and Br�lerie Mont Royal�.

The acquisition company’s last twelve month�s net sales were about $433 million (US) and it employs approximately 1,700 people in Canada and the U.S.

Green Mountain’s market cap is $4.65 billion and before the effect of any merger Thomson Reuters has 2010 revenue estimates of $1.34 billion for 2010 (Sept-end) and $1.97 billion for 2011 (Sept-end).� GMCR anticipates that the acquisition will be neutral to slightly dilutive to its earnings per share in the first twelve months after closing and accretive thereafter.� The company intends to finance the acquisition through a combination of cash on hand and $1.35 billion of new debt financing comprised of a $750 million 5-year senior secured revolving credit facility, a $250 million 5-year senior secured term loan A facility, and a $350 million 6-year senior secured term loan B facility.

At $35.24, Green Mountain’s 52-week trading range is $19.87 to $35.94.


Is Atmel Doomed?

Will there be a recovery in sales of Android tablets? Last week's news from Atmel (Nasdaq: ATML  ) and a disappointing outlook from Cypress Semiconductor (NYSE: CY  ) don't inspire much faith.

Atmel, which makes touchscreen controllers for Dell and Samsung devices, revised revenue estimates by $11 million because of "rescheduled payments" on a receivable associated with an Asian distributor. Here's a closer look at what analysts were expecting:


Q4 2011 (Estimate)

Q4 2010

Estimated Growth

Revenue $401.5 million $457.8 million (12.3%)
Earnings Per Share $0.09 $0.47 (80.9%)

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

And those are the good numbers. Atmel has since cut its own internal target from $395 million in Q4 revenue to $384 million. Yet there may also be a silver lining in all this. For all the volatility in its business, Atmel has outperformed earnings-per-share expectations in each of the past four quarters, including a $0.20-per-share beat in Q3.

3 more things to watch
Of course, we're about more than just numbers here at The Motley Fool. As business-focused investors we're also interested in strategy and company initiatives. Here are three things I'm particularly hoping to hear more about:

  • Chip transition. Atmel has introduced a single-chip RFID reader and is working on more wireless and mobile single-chip pro! ducts. W hat does the growth trajectory look like? What further investments are required to produce long-term growth?
  • Smartphone savvy. Android handsets are selling about as fast as the iPhone 4S. Will new Samsung handsets be a catalyst? What about the Samsung Galaxy Note that made its debut at the Super Bowl and which is expected in Q4?
  • Can anyone beat Apple? More than 15 million iPads sold last quarter, which had to have put a crimp in Atmel's profit potential. What does demand look like among Asian manufacturers in light of demand for the iPad? Could there be more "rescheduled" receivables on the horizon?

Those are my questions. Now it's your turn to weigh in. What do you expect to hear from Atmel tomorrow? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

And whatever you think, don't let Atmel's results discourage you. There's more than one way to play the mobile-device boom. The Motley Fool recently identified a handful of top picks from our analysts in a new report entitled, "3 Hidden Winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android Revolution." Get your copy now by clicking here -- the research is 100% free for a limited time.

�Add Atmel to My Watchlist for up-to-the-minute Foolish coverage of the stock and your entire portfolio.

The Unique Analytical Writing Assessment Of GMAT

As it might be doubted , the extent of the test will not be modified, nor will the vocal and quantitative sections will be affected due to the inclusion of the new section. The duration of the test will remain its typical three and half hours even with a new section. This will be accomplished by substituting one of the two analytical essay-writing questions with this new introduction.

It is a computerized test and the highest score is 800, which is scored in multiples of 10. Generally speaking, the score is approximately 500 to 600, but it’s not to say that the score of eight hundred cannot be achieved.

Watch your agility. You won’t be allowed to leave any question unanswered or change your answer. Regardless of this don’t spend all your time on a single question. Calculate the average allowable time for each question dependent on the overall time allowed for the test and divide it up properly. This will ensure you have sufficient time to answer the questions. Practices such as using the help function and attempting to find more rough papers results to time wastage. Seek the help you require and arrange for enough materials ahead of the test.

The new change has involved data-points relationships recognition , charts and graphs elucidation , spreadsheets analysis, and critical reasoning that will elicit the best in the candidate. The very new ‘auditory learning’ bit will also discover new heights of his merit as a commendable candidate to be admitted in the B-School, by focusing upon his problem-solving and logical thinking capabilities .

The question is which is better, more hours of instruction or more hours of practice questions. The feeling is that it is not practice that makes perfect. One can just practice so much and then a plateau will be arrived at the country. Many students that have taken the test on numerous occasions feel that the thinking must be changed, not more practice and not more hours of teaching.

Under! stand th e critical elements necessary to succeed on the GMAT test with GMAT prep course material. The GMAT Pill Study Method is GMAT prep course worth checking over Kaplan GMAT.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

LightSquared CEO steps down

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja is resigning, the company announced Tuesday.

Doug Smith, LightSquared's chief network officer and Marc Montagner, the company's chief financial officer, will take Ahuja's place while the company searches for a new CEO.

Hedge fund manager Philip Falcone, a backer of LightSquared, was also appointed to the company's board of directors.

Ahuja's resignation follows what's become an ongoing struggle for the venture-backed company to expand its wireless network and compete with major carriers like AT&T (T, Fortune 500) and Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500).

Under current regulations, LightSquared's spectrum isn't licensed for terrestrial transmissions that would enable it to carry wireless phone signals. The spectrum is currently licensed for satellite services only.

The spectrum war's winners and losers

In a fight to become a nationwide wireless carrier LightSquared recently hit a roadblock when government regulators barred the company from launching its network. Regulators said LightSquared's network would cause problems with GPS signals.

But Falcone reaffirmed the company's goal to sell wireless on a wholesale level to continue battling regulations.

"LightSquared's objective, through its wholesale business model, is to provide increased competition and lower prices in the telecommunications industry," Falcone said. "We are, furthermore, committed to working with the appropriate entities to find a solution to the recent regulatory issues." 

Diamond Crushed on Prosecutor Report

Diamond Foods (DMND) fell 9.2% after hours as the Wall Street Journal reportedthat prosecutors have opened an investigation into payments the company made to walnut growers. The probe could result in criminal charges, the Journal notes, and could undo the company’s deal to buy Pringles from Procter & Gamble (PG).

The SEC has already been looking into the payments, and will coordinate with the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco. The company is also conducting an internal inquiry.

(CRWE, OCZ, KERX, ACET) Stock under Consideration by

Crown Equity Holdings, Inc. (CRWE)

Voice over IP (VoIP) is a rapidly growing technology that uses a company’s local area network (LAN) and the Internet for phone calls, instead of traditional phone lines. One of the main advantages of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) over traditional phone service is savings on long-distance calls. By converting a caller’s voice to data and transferring it over the Internet to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone on the other end, companies with multiple sites can avoid traditional phone lines and the long-distance charges that come with them. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) can also connect with other communications media, a combination known as unified communications.

Crown Equity Holdings Inc. (CRWE) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a joint venture to deploy VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology delivering voice, video and data services to residential and commercial customers. The joint venture company is Crown Tele Services Inc. which was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Crown Equity Holdings Inc. Crown Equity Holdings Inc. will own fifty percent (50%) interest in the joint venture.

Commenting on the joint venture, Kenneth Bosket, President of Crown Equity Holdings Inc., said: “We are excited to deliver VoIP communications solutions specifically designed to meet the business and residential market needs in this fast-growing global market.”

Crown Equity Holdings Inc’s selection of Core Link reflects recent diversification beyond CRWE’s original charter as a provider of services and knowledge to small business owners taking their own companies public. In addition to these services, Crown Equity Holdings Inc has transitioned into a multifaceted media organization that publishes clients’ news online; sells advertising adjacent with its digital network targeted at a high-income audience; designs, hosts and maintains web! sites; p roduces marketing videos from concept to final product; crafts press releases and articles for maximum SEO; develops email campaigns; and forges branding campaigns to bolster client company images.

Crown Equity Holdings Inc. together with its digital network currently provides electronic media services specializing in online publishing, which brings together targeted audiences and advertisers. Crown Equity Holdings Inc. offers internet media-driven advertising services, which covers and connects a range of marketing specialties, as well as search engine optimization for clients interested in online media awareness.

For more information, visit

Ocz Technology Group Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ) launched its Synapse Cache Series 2.5″ SSDs. The new Synapse SSDs are optimized for caching applications and leverages Dataplex(TM) cache software to dynamically manage the Synapse SSD in conjunction with standard hard disk drives (HDDs), to provide users with SSD-level performance across the entire capacity of the HDD.

OCZ Technology Group, Inc. designs, develops, manufactures, and distributes computer components for computing devices and systems worldwide.

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq:KERX) announced completion of patient enrollment in the long-term study component of its Phase 3 registration program of Zerenex�, the Company’s ferric iron-based phosphate binder for the treatment of elevated serum phosphorus levels, or hyperphosphatemia, in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) on dialysis.

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the acquisition, development, and commercialization of pharmaceutical products for the treatment of life-threatening diseases, including cancer and renal disease.

Aceto Corp (Nasdaq:ACET) announced results of operations for its fiscal 2011 fourth quarter and year ended June 30, 2011. For the year ended June 30, 2011,! net sal es reached a record level of $412.4 Million, a 19.0% increase from $346.6 Million for the fiscal 2010 year. Gross profit for the twelve months ended June 30, 2011 was $65.8 Million, an increase of 21.6% from $54.2 Million in the fiscal 2010 comparable period. For the year ended June 30, 2011, we reported net income of $9.0 Million, or $0.34 per diluted share, compared to $6.6 Million, or $0.26 per diluted share in fiscal 2010.

Aceto Corporation engages in the sourcing, regulatory support, marketing, and distribution of pharmaceutical intermediates and active ingredients, finished dosage form generics, nutraceutical products, agricultural protection products, and specialty chemicals worldwide

Why Herman Miller May Be About to Take Off

Here at The Motley Fool, I've long cautioned investors to keep a close eye on inventory levels. It's a part of my standard diligence when searching for the market's best stocks. I think a quarterly checkup can help you spot potential problems. For many companies, products that sit on the shelves too long can become big trouble. Stale inventory may be sold for lower prices, hurting profitability. In extreme cases, it may be written off completely and sent to the shredder.

Basic guidelines
In this series, I examine inventory using a simple rule of thumb: Inventory increases ought to roughly parallel revenue increases. If inventory bloats more quickly than sales grow, this might be a sign that expected sales haven't materialized. Is the current inventory situation at Herman Miller (Nasdaq: MLHR  ) out of line? To figure that out, start by comparing the company's inventory growth to sales growth. How is Herman Miller doing by this quick checkup? At first glance, pretty well. Trailing-12-month revenue increased 21.9%, and inventory decreased 12.0%. Over the sequential quarterly period, the trend looks OK but not great. Revenue dropped 2.7%, and inventory dropped 2.7%.

Advanced inventory
I don't stop my checkup there, because the type of inventory can matter even more than the overall quantity. There's even one type of inventory bulge we sometimes like to see. You can check for it by examining the quarterly filings to evaluate the different kinds of inventory: raw materials, work-in-progress inventory, and finished goods. (Some companies report the first two types as a single category.)

A company ramping up for increased demand may increase raw materials and work-in-progress inventory at a faster rate when it expects robust future growth. As such, we might consider oversized growth in those categories to offer a clue to a brighter future, and a clue that most other ! investor s will miss. We call it "positive inventory divergence."

On the other hand, if we see a big increase in finished goods, that often means product isn't moving as well as expected, and it's time to hunker down with the filings and conference calls to find out why.

What's going on with the inventory at Herman Miller? I chart the details below for both quarterly and 12-month periods.


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Data is current as of latest fully reported quarter. Dollar amounts in millions. FY = fiscal year. TTM = trailing 12 months.


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Data is current as of latest fully reported quarter. Dollar amounts in millions. FQ = fiscal quarter.

Let's dig into the inventory specifics. On a trailing-12-month basis, raw materials inventory was the fastest-growing segment, up 18.3%. On a sequential-quarter basis, work-in-progress inventory was the fastest-growing segment, up 6.7%. Herman Miller seems to be handling inventory well enough, but the individual segments don't provide a clear signal. Herman Miller may display positive inventory divergence, suggesting that management sees increased demand on the horizon.

Foolish bottom line
When you're doing your research, remember that aggregate numbers such as inventory balances often mask situations that are more complex than they appear. Even the detailed numbers don't give us the final word. When in doubt, listen to the conference call, or contact investor relations. What at first looks like a problem may actually signal a stock that will provide the market's best returns. And what might look hunky-dory at first glance could actually be warning you to cut your losses before the rest of the Street wi! ses up.< /p>

I run these quick inventory checks every quarter. To stay on top of inventory and other tell-tale metrics at your favorite companies, add them to your free watchlist, and we'll deliver our latest coverage right to your inbox.

  • Add Herman Miller �to My Watchlist.

(ADP, GLGL, CRWE, PWER, HMSY) Stock in Review by

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (Nasdaq:ADP) announced that Larimer County, Colorado, the seventh largest county in Colorado, has awarded the company a five-year outsourcing contract to develop an integrated human capital management solution to help streamline and automate the majority of its HR functions serving approximately 2,000 county employees. The home of Fort Collins, Colorado State University, and roughly a quarter million Coloradoans, Larimer County is located 70 miles North of Denver and is often recognized by state and national organizations for their innovative efforts in human resources, infrastructure and healthcare.

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. provides technology-based outsourcing solutions to employers, and vehicle retailers and manufacturers worldwide.

GLG Life Tech Corporation (Nasdaq:GLGL) announced that the company will host a call to provide a business update on its progress in AN0CTM, its consumer products joint venture in China. The update and discussion will be hosted by Dr. Luke Zhang, Chairman and CEO and Mr. Brian Meadows, Chief Financial Officer, on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 11:00am Eastern Time/8:00 am Pacific Time via a live teleconference and webcast that includes a PowerPoint presentation. The PowerPoint presentation will be available for download from the Investors section of GLG’s website at

GLG Life Tech Corporation engages in the research and development, growing, refining, production, and distribution of stevia extract to the food and beverage industry worldwide. Stevia extract is a natural sweetener extracted from the stevia plant.

Crown Equity Holdings, Inc. (CRWE)

Crown Equity Holdings Inc’s selection of Core Link reflects recent diversification beyond CRWE’s original charter as a provider of services and knowledge to small business owners taking their own companies public. ! In addit ion to these services, Crown Equity Holdings Inc has transitioned into a multifaceted media organization that publishes clients’ news online; sells advertising adjacent with its digital network targeted at a high-income audience; designs, hosts and maintains websites; produces marketing videos from concept to final product; crafts press releases and articles for maximum SEO; develops email campaigns; and forges branding campaigns to bolster client company images.

Advantages of online advertising:

Less expensive than offline advertising
Easy tracking of advertising results
Immediate response to advertising efforts
Advertise globally
Website advertising business 24/7
Effective targeting of potential customers
Increased profit

Crown Equity Holdings, Inc. together with its digital network, currently provides electronic media services specializing in online publishing, which brings together targeted audiences and advertisers. Crown Equity Holdings Inc. offers internet media-driven advertising services, which covers and connects a range of marketing specialties, as well as search engine optimization for clients interested in online media awareness.

Crown Equity Holdings, Inc. announced that it has extended its CRWENEWSWIRE global platform web presence and is now publishing online news and information to the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, using their specific country code domain and native language.

For more information, visit

Power-One Inc. (Nasdaq:PWER) in conjunction with Power-One, Inc.’s (Nasdaq:PWER) 2011 second quarter financial results announcement, members of the public are invited to listen to the company’s live quarterly conference c! all on t he internet on Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time / 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The purpose of the conference call is to discuss the company’s 2011 second quarter financial results. The conference call will feature Richard Thompson, Chief Executive Officer and Gary Larsen, Chief Financial Officer. Financial results will be released over the newswires after the market closes on Thursday, July 28, 2011.

Power-One, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets power conversion and power management solutions for the renewable energy (RE), communications infrastructure, and other technology markets.

HMS Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq:HMSY) announced that the State of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has awarded a contract to Permedion, Inc., HMS’s wholly owned subsidiary, to provide Medicaid hospital utilization management services, including focused precertification and retrospective reviews; reporting and analysis; healthcare studies; provider education; and data management. The contract extends through June 30, 2013, with the State of Ohio’s option to renew through June 30, 2017. “HMS is honored to continue to manage Ohio’s Hospital Utilization Management Program, and we look forward to providing the medical review services that help ODJFS fulfill its operational and financial objectives,” said Maria Perrin, HMS Executive Vice President for Government Services.

HMS Holdings Corp. provides cost containment, coordination of benefits, and program integrity services.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Factoring Invoices How It Can Help Grow Your Business

Hurry up and wait is a maxim that you must be familiar with if you own a business that sells products or services to the government or to commercial customers. That is what you always end up doing after delivering your services. Hurrying up and waiting up to 60 days is what you do just to get your invoices paid. But then you still have to cover the rent, employee salaries, and supplier payments. That’s right, hurry up and wait.

But this is a major challenge if you are a business owner. It will significantly slow down your growth. Why? When taking a large order, it’s not likely you can afford to wait months to get paid. It’s also not likely that you can afford to cover the rent, pay the staff, and buy the supplies. This is the reason why it’s a major challenge. And in many cases, it can drive you out of business.

Now the question is, what does a business owner do when he is facing a financial challenge. Most will hope for a business loan and go to the bank. But business loans are very hard to obtain and not very flexible. Plus, banks give loans based on your business past rather than your future opportunities. Often times, what you will need is a financing product that will focus on your true sales potential. And that product is invoice factoring.

Invoice factoring eliminates the 60-day payment wait, providing you with funds right after you invoice your client. Imagine this. Your product or service will be delivered to your customer. You no longer have to wait 60 days just to get paid because you will receive payment in 2 days. Any ideas how quickly you can grow? Or how many clients you would be able to take on?

How exactly does this factoring work? Actually, it’s quite simple. You send an invoice to your client and a copy to the factoring company once you have delivered your product. A substantial portion of your invoice will be advanced to you by the factoring company, usually within the day.

The factoring company’s advance gives you ! the brea thing room you want and the money you need to pay business expenses and take on new opportunities. Your business will then be allowed to grow because of this. The transaction is settled once your client pays their invoice to the factoring company.

Factoring is easy to obtain. The biggest requirement will involve you doing your business with solid credit worthy customers. That’s why you should consider factoring your invoices if you need financing and do business with great customers.

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Economy in recovery? Not so fast

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Employers are hiring, manufacturing is revving up and stocks are rallying. It looks like the recovery could finally be taking hold.

Sound familiar?

10 largest economies

The recent momentum of the American recovery feels a lot like early 2011, when many of the same green shoots were driving optimism.

But things went awry last spring when oil prices starting rising and Japan's earthquake sent economic shockwaves rippling throughout the world. The European financial crisis escalated and the debt ceiling debate in the United States weighed on confidence.

By June, even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was admitting the economy was hitting a "soft patch."

Are we finally on the path to a sustained recovery, or will it peter out all over again in 2012?

The answer all depends on a few key challenges:

Gas prices near the danger zone

Tension wit! h Iran p oses perhaps the greatest risk to not just the U.S. economy, but the world. About 20% of the world's oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, and Iran's threat to close the critical shipping lane has recently driven a rise in oil prices.

Add recently improving economic data -- which often leads oil speculators to forecast greater demand for fuel -- and lower supply and higher demand are a recipe for a potential spike in gas prices this spring.

Gas prices are already at their highest levels ever for this time of year, and some analysts predict they'll hit a national average of $4 a gallon in May. Some regions are even expected to see $5 gas by Memorial Day.

That's going to hit consumers hard, just as it did last year. Consumer spending slumped in the summer, dragging on economic growth. Job creation soon slowed to a trickle.

"This year, the recovery is largely on the backs of consumers, so anything that undermines consumer spending would pose a risk to the economy," said Carl Riccadonna, senior U.S. economist with Deutsche Bank.

Because it's happened before, he doesn't see $4 gas as a major risk, but anything higher than $4.60 a gallon could be worrisome.

"Four-dollar gas doesn't scare me, but if the Strait of Hormuz gets shut or bombs start falling on Iran, that would certainly be troubling for the markets and could lead to an oil price spike," he said.

Fiscal policy drags

Government job cuts, especially by states and localities, are likely to continue -- and while they're expected, the impact is not to be taken lightly. The government is the largest employer in the country.

Meanwhile, as companies look ahead to the future, a big question mark hangs in the air: What will happen after the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year?

January 2013 also triggers $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts, as well as the start of many of President Obama's healthcare reform provisions.

Manufacturing: N! ot a mag ic pill for the economy

Hope for further clarity is waning, as Congress isn't expected to make much progress on any major issues until election season winds down.

"There's going to be significant uncertainty about fiscal drag," Riccadonna said, estimating government cuts and uncertainty around fiscal issues could shave as much as two percentage points off economic growth in 2013.

These issues are certainly not a surprise, so employers are likely to weigh them into their hiring and investing decisions in advance.

All it takes is one shock

Last year's shocks came in the form of revolutions in the Middle East, the earthquake in Japan and Europe's escalating debt crisis.

While those issues still linger, new problems, including Iran, are brewing around the globe in 2012.

"We've removed several key dampening factors, but Iran remains the wild card," said Beata Caranci, vice president and deputy chief economist for TD Bank. "When we look at the big risks emanating for the U.S., they're mostly occurring outside U.S. borders."

Fighting back in a tough economy

Meanwhile, the fastest growing economies in the world, often called emerging markets, are starting to show signs of losing momentum. China, the world's second largest economy, has recently shown signs of slowing down.

India's government has predicted its economy could grow less than 7% this fiscal year -- its slowest growth since the financial crisis in 2008.

While both governments are starting to take efforts to support economic growth, the jury is still out on the results.

"Given our experience, often times it's really hard for some of these countries to control their slowdowns," said John Silvia, Wells Fargo chief economist. "The Asian slowdown could be faster and quicker than expected."