Saturday, April 21, 2012

Commonwealth Financial Forms Charitable Foundation

Independent broker-dealer Commonwealth Financial Network said Thursday that it had formed Commonwealth Cares Fund Inc., a 501(c)3 charity and community foundation.

According to the broker-dealer, the foundation aims to boost the impact of Commonwealth Financial’s efforts to give back to the communities in which its home-office staff and its network of advisors work in, live in and visit.

Wayne Bloom, CEO of Commonwealth Financial“Our advisors and home-office have been giving back locally for years,” said CEO Wayne Bloom (left) in a phone interview with AdvisorOne. “This foundation allows us to do in more formal ways what we have been doing for some time. And it lets us extend our efforts through activities that are more meaningful to our advisors.”

Commonwealth Financial is paying for the foundation’s operational and administrative expenses, so that all contributions can go directly to those in need, the broker-dealer says.

“Our advisors are always asking what more they can do to support our philanthropic efforts, and this will facilitate such efforts,” explained Bloom.

In conjunction with the foundation’s introduction, Commonwealth Cares announced its first firm-wide initiative, Chemo Caps for Kids — a program providing hand-knit hats for children undergoing cancer treatment.

In 2010, for instance, this program donated more than 250 hats to Boston’s Dana-Farber Pediatric Cancer Unit. The goal in 2011 is to donate 1,000 hats to hospitals in the Boston and San Diego areas, near Commonwealth’s national headquarters.

The foundation will also support the company’s “giving back initiatives,” held during each of the broker-dealer’s regular conferences. At the firm’s October 2010 national conference in Phoenix, for instance, advisors and others refurbished a community shelter and outdoor play area.

“These types of efforts have been so successful,” said Bloom, “and we hope they will become the mainstay of Commonwealth Cares.”

The firm has more than 1,400 independent registered representatives nationwide and some $60 billion in assets under management.

5 Great Stocks For April 2012

We recently launched a feature highlighting the 10 best stocks to buy for all of 2012. The idea was to find a pick that investors could buy and hold ALL YEAR, and ride to profits.

My pick for this feature was the Dow Jones componentAlcoa (AA). And here's why:

When Alcoa reported earnings in October, CEO Klaus Kleinfeld told investors, “Alcoa is a confident company in a nervous world. We are well prepared for whatever lies ahead, with more cash on hand, lower debt and continued focus on profitable growth.”

It would be natural to write off those comments as mere platitudes for Wall Street’s grumpy traders. But taking a closer look at Alcoa across the past several weeks has made me agree with Klaus — and consider AA stock as a bargain buy to hang on to across 2012.

Shares of Alcoa were trading as high as $18 this spring before sovereign debt fears, stagnant job numbers and other issues sent the stock back into a tailspin. AA stock is under $9 to end the year.

5 Great Stocks For April 2012:PIMCO California Municipal Income Fund III (PZC)

 PIMCO California Municipal Income Fund III is a close ended fixed income mutual fund launched and managed by Allianz Global Investors Fund Management LLC. It is co-managed by Pacific Investment Management Company LLC. The fund invests in fixed income markets. Its investment portfolio include California municipal bonds, and other municipal bonds and notes; California variable rate notes and other variable rate notes; California variable rate demand notes and other variable rate demand notes; U.S. treasury bills; and call options written and put options written. Allianz Global Investors Fund Management LLC serves as an investment Manager to the fund. PIMCO California Municipal Income Fund III was formed in 2002 and is based in New York City.

5 Great Stocks For April 2012:Edac Technologies Corporation (EDAC)

 EDAC Technologies Corporation provides design, manufacturing, and other services to the aerospace and industrial markets. The company produces low pressure turbine cases, hubs, rings, disks, and other complex and close tolerance components for various aircraft engine and ground turbine manufacturers. It also offers rotating components, such as disks, rings, and shafts; provides precision assembly services, including the assembly of jet engine sync rings, aircraft welding and riveting, post-assembly machining, and sutton barrel finishing; and engages in precision machining for the maintenance and repair of components in the aircraft engine industry. In addition, the company designs and manufactures fixtures, precision gauges, close tolerance plastic injection molds, and precision component molds for composite parts and specialized machinery. Further, it designs, manufactures, and repairs various types of precision grinders, as well as precision rolling element bearing spindles, including hydrostatic and other precision rotary devices for machine tool manufacturers, special machine tool builders and integrators, industrial end-users, and powertrain machinery manufacturers and end-users in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Asia. The company serves a range of industries in areas, such as special tooling, equipment and gauges, and components used in the manufacture, assembly, and inspection of jet engines. EDAC Technologies Corporation was founded in 1946 and is based in Farmington, Connecticut.

5 Great Stocks For April 2012:The Middleby Corporation (MIDD)

 The Middleby Corporation, through its subsidiaries, engages in the design, manufacture, and sale of commercial foodservice and food processing equipment in the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. The company?s Commercial Foodservice Equipment Group segment manufactures cooking equipment for restaurants and institutional kitchens. Its product line comprises conveyor ovens, ranges, steamers, convection ovens, combi-ovens, broilers and steam cooking equipment, induction cooking systems, baking and proofing ovens, griddles, char broilers, catering equipment, fryers, toasters, hot food servers, food warming equipment, and coffee and beverage dispensing equipment. These products are sold and marketed under the brand names of Anets, Blodgett, Blodgett Combi, Blodgett Range, Bloomfield, CTX, Carter-Hoffmann, CookTek, Doyon, Frifri, Giga, Holman, Houno, Jade, Lang, MagiKitch?n, Middleby Marshall, Nu-Vu, Pitco, PerfectFry, Southbend, Star, Toastmaster, TurboChef, and Wells. In addition, this segment involves in sales, distribution, and export management activities internationally through independent manufacturing representatives and a combined network of independent and company-owned distributors. The Middleby?s Food Processing Equipment Group segment manufactures preparation, cooking, packaging, and food safety equipment for the food processing industry. Its principal products include batch ovens, belt ovens, and conveyorized cooking systems sold under the Alkar brand name; grinding, slicing, emulsification, mixing, and blending products under the Cozzini brand name; breading, battering, mixing, slicing, and forming equipment sold under the MP Equipment brand name; and packaging and food safety equipment sold under the RapidPak brand name. The company was formerly known as Middleby Marshall Oven Company and changed its name to The Middleby Corporation in 1985. The Middleby Corporation was founded in 1888 and is based in Elgin, Illinois.

5 Great Stocks For April 2012:Ecolab Inc. (ECL)

 Ecolab Inc. develops and markets products and services for the hospitality, foodservice, healthcare, and industrial markets primarily in the United States. It provides cleaning and sanitizing products and programs, as well as pest elimination, maintenance, and repair services primarily to customers in the foodservice, food and beverage processing, hospitality, healthcare, government and education, retail, textile care, commercial facilities management, and vehicle wash sectors. The company offers specialized cleaners and sanitizers for washing dishes, glassware, flatware, foodservice utensils, and kitchen equipment; food safety products and equipment, water filters, dishwasher racks, and related kitchen sundries; pool and spa treatment programs; janitorial cleaning and floor care products; chemical dispensing device systems; and energy-efficient dishwashing machines, detergents, rinse additives, and sanitizers. In addition, it provides detergents, cleaners, sanitizers, lubricants, and animal health products, as well as cleaning systems, electronic dispensers, and chemical injectors; infection prevention and other healthcare related products; and chemical laundry products and proprietary dispensing systems. The company provides pest elimination services, which include detection, elimination, and prevention of pests, such as rodents and insects; and equipment repair and maintenance services for the commercial food service industry. It sells its products through direct sales personnel, dealers, and independent third-party distributors in the United States. The company also exports and sells its products to distributors, agents, or licensees in approximately 72 countries in Europe, the Asia Pacific, Latin America, Canada, the Middle East, and Africa. Ecolab Inc. was founded in 1923 and is headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Beats on Both Top and Bottom Lines

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG  ) reported earnings on April 19. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended March 31 (Q1), Chipotle Mexican Grill beat slightly on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

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

Margins increased across the board.

Revenue details
Chipotle Mexican Grill booked revenue of $640.6 million. The 22 analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ predicted revenue of $629.7 million on the same basis. GAAP reported sales were 26% higher than the prior-year quarter's $509.4 million.


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions. Non-GAAP figures may vary to maintain comparability with estimates.

EPS details
Non-GAAP EPS came in at $2.08. The 24 earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ forecast $1.93 per share on the same basis. GAAP EPS of $1.97 for Q1 were 35% higher than the prior-year quarter's $1.46 per share.


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Non-GAAP figures may vary to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 37.7%, 120 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was 16.2%, 120 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was 9.8%, 70 basis points better than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $701.2 million. On the bottom line, the! average EPS estimate is $2.24.

Next year's average estimate for revenue is $2.76 billion. The average EPS estimate is $8.77.

Investor sentiment
The stock has a two-star rating (out of five) at Motley Fool CAPS, with 2,566 members out of 3,066 rating the stock outperform, and 500 members rating it underperform. Among 1,077 CAPS All-Star picks (recommendations by the highest-ranked CAPS members), 964 give Chipotle Mexican Grill a green thumbs-up, and 113 give it a red thumbs-down.

Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on Chipotle Mexican Grill is outperform, with an average price target of $389.81.

  • Add Chipotle Mexican Grill to My Watchlist.

Best Wall St. Stocks Today: AMZN,AAPL

The third generation of’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) Kindle e-reader was the best selling product in the e-commerce firm’s history. The announcement was confused with a number of pieces of data which did not quite fit together.

The corporation said in a press release that “ today announced that the third-generation Kindle is now the bestselling product in Amazon’s history, eclipsing ‘Harry Potter and the D
eathly Hallows (Book 7).’”

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO reported that “We’re seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet.” That is supposed to be a hint that the Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad has not overwhelmed Kindle sales. Bezos did not refer to any specific sales levels for tablets, so his comment is meaningless.

Amazon also pointed out that “On Christmas Day, more people turned on new Kindles for the first time, downloaded more Kindle Buy Once, Read Everywhere apps, and purchased more Kindle books than on any other day in history.”

The media has made a great deal of the fact that Amazon gave no details about the actual number of Kindles sold. That leaves investors to wonder whether Amazon has really been successful in the e-reader market. Amazon might make the case the if it released a specific�number then its competitors could use the information against it. It is very hard to make a case about why that is true.

Amazon also failed to tell whether the Kindle is profitable. The lowest priced version costs $139. The bill of materials is not much less than that according to some analysts. The cost of shipping and marketing must be added to the expenses of the e-reader. There is some speculation that Amazon loses money on the Kindle and makes its money on the sales of e-books from its 750,000 title library. That would make record Kindle sales a mixed blessing.

Transparency has become a larger issue for p! ublic co mpanies over the last few years. Investors want more details about how the public companies in which they invest do. There is still a reluctance among many companies to allow shareholders to see what hurts or improves margins. Amazon has turned itself into the best example of a corporation the will show a great deal, but tell nothing.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Read the Fed statement

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- This is the statement of the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting released Dec. 13, 2011.

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in November suggests that the economy has been expanding moderately, notwithstanding some apparent slowing in global growth.

While indicators point to some improvement in overall labor market conditions, the unemployment rate remains elevated. Household spending has continued to advance, but business fixed investment appears to be increasing less rapidly and the housing sector remains depressed. Inflation has moderated since earlier in the year, and longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee continues to expect a moderate pace of economic growth over coming quarters and consequently anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only gradually toward levels that the Committee judges to be consistent with its dual mandate.

Strains in global financial markets continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook. The Committee also anticipates that inflation will settle, over coming quarters, at levels at or below those consistent with the Committee's dual mandate. However, the Committee will continue to pay close attention to the evolution of inflation and inflation expectations.

To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with the dual mandate, the Committee decided today to continue its program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities as announced in September.

Fed prepares for QY: Quantitative yakking

The Committee is maintaining its existing policies of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing! Treasur y securities at auction. The Committee will regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate.

The Committee also decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that economic conditions--including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run--are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through mid-2013.

The Committee will continue to assess the economic outlook in light of incoming information and is prepared to employ its tools to promote a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Duke; Richard W. Fisher; Narayana Kocherlakota; Charles I. Plosser; Sarah Bloom Raskin; Daniel K. Tarullo; and Janet L. Yellen. Voting against the action was Charles L. Evans, who supported additional policy accommodation at this time. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

USCF Debuts Agriculture ETF (USAG)

United States Commodity Funds rolled out another addition to its suite of “third generation” commodity ETPs this week, debuting a fund that will take a unique approach to delivering access to agriculture commodities. The United States Agriculture Index Fund (USAG) will implement a variation of the methodology used by USCI, dubbed the “contango killer” commodity ETF, that debuted in 2010 and has accumulated about $400 million in assets. Instead of maintaining static weights to various agricultural commodities, USAG will seek to replicate an index that shifts exposures based on current market conditions [see Free Report: Everything You Need To Know About Commodity ETFs].

Under The Hood

USAG will seek to replicate the�SummerHaven Agriculture Index Total Return, a benchmark that consists of fourteen agricultural commodities:�soybeans, corn, soft red winter wheat, hard red winter wheat, soybean oil, soybean meal, canola, sugar, cocoa, coffee, cotton, live cattle, feeder cattle and lean hogs [see 50 Ways To Invest In Agriculture]. Each of those commodities is assigned a “base weight” in the underlying index that is determined from factors such as overall economic importance:

USAG Base Weights
Soft Red Winter Wheat8.0%
Hard Red Winter Wheat4.0%
Bean Oil3.0%
Soybean Meal6.0%
Feeder Cattle3.0%
Live Cattle10.0%
Lean Hogs6.0%

What makes USAG unique, however, is the adjustments made to these base weights on a monthly basis depending on current market conditions. The underlying methodology is designed to overweight components deemed to be in a “low inventory state” and underweight those deemed to be in a high inventory state [see�In Search Of The Best Commodity ETP].�Academic research suggests that the slope of the related futures curve can often deliver some insight into inventory levels; backwardation often signals a relatively short inventory for a commodity.

In order to determine the allocations to the individual commodities, the index utilizes a three step process:

  1. The four commodities with the highest annualized percentage price difference between the closest-to-expiration contract and next closest-to-expiration are selected.
  2. From the remaining ten commodities, the percentage price change of the closest-to-expiration futures contract over the previous year is calculated, and the three with the highest change are selected.
  3. For the seven commodities selected, each commodity base weight is increased by 2%. For the remaining seven commodities, the base weight is lowered by 2%.

Step #1 above essentially identifies the commodities with the most significant backwardation in the related futures curve (or most moderate contango). Step #2 identifies those commodities with the greatest price momentum over the last year. So the USAG methodology is constructed to overweight commodities with strong momentum factors or a backwardated futures curve, two features that may appeal to commodity investors [see Commodity Guru ETFdb Portfolio].

By employing this methodology, the USAG portfolio will essentially be ti! lted tow ards commodities in backwardation or with strong recent performances, and away from those in steep contango or that have negative momentum. But it will always maintain at least some allocation to all 14 commodities.

Agriculture ETFs

With the launch of USAG, there are now eight broad-based agricultural commodities ETPs that offer exposure to this asset class through futures contracts. The most popular of the group, the PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund (DBA) has about $1.9 billion in assets. USAG is the only one of that group that employs the Summerhaven methodology; the other ag ETFs generally maintain relatively static weightings in individual component commodities.

“Third Generation” Commodity ETFs

The United States Commodity Index Fund (USCI) employs a similar methodology to construct a broad basket of commodity futures; that ETF selects from a universe of 27 natural resources and holds the 14 included in the underlying index. So that ETF employs an “all or nothing” approach; individual commodities are either included or excluded based on the slope of the related futures curve and momentum factors [see also How Contango Impacts ETFs]. With USAG, those price signals are used to determine not whether an individual commodity should be included or excluded, but whether it should be overweight or underweight.

USCF also launched a copper ETF (CPER) that spreads its holdings along the futures curve based on price signals, and has plans for a metals fund that would employ an approach similar to that used in USAG.

Why Interactive Intelligence Group's Earnings May Not Be So Hot

Although business headlines still tout earnings numbers, many investors have moved past net earnings as a measure of a company's economic output. That's because earnings are very often less trustworthy than cash flow, since earnings are more open to manipulation based on dubious judgment calls.

Earnings' unreliability is one of the reasons Foolish investors often flip straight past the income statement to check the cash flow statement. In general, by taking a close look at the cash moving in and out of the business, you can better understand whether the last batch of earnings brought money into the company, or merely disguised a cash gusher with a pretty headline.

Calling all cash flows
When you are trying to buy the market's best stocks, it's worth checking up on your companies' free cash flow once a quarter or so, to see whether it bears any relationship to the net income in the headlines. That's what we do with this series. Today, we're checking in on Interactive Intelligence Group (Nasdaq: ININ  ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Data is current as of last fully reported fiscal quarter. Dollar values in millions. FCF = free cash flow. FY = fiscal year. TTM = trailing 12 months.

Over the past 12 months, Interactive Intelligence Group generated $8.1 million cash while it booked net income of $14.8 million. That means it turned 3.9% of its revenue into FCF. That sounds OK. However, FCF is less than net income. Ideally, we'd like to see the opposite.

All cash is not equal
Unfortunately, the cash flow statement isn't immune from nonsense, either. That's why it pays to take a close look at the components of cash flow from operations, to make sure that the cash flows are of high qua! lity. Wh at does that mean? To me, it means they need to be real and replicable in the upcoming quarters, rather than being offset by continual cash outflows that don't appear on the income statement (such as major capital expenditures).

For instance, cash flow based on cash net income and adjustments for non-cash income-statement expenses (like depreciation) is generally favorable. An increase in cash flow based on stiffing your suppliers (by increasing accounts payable for the short term) or shortchanging Uncle Sam on taxes will come back to bite investors later. The same goes for decreasing accounts receivable; this is good to see, but it's ordinary in recessionary times, and you can only increase collections so much. Finally, adding stock-based compensation expense back to cash flows is questionable when a company hands out a lot of equity to employees and uses cash in later periods to buy back those shares.

So how does the cash flow at Interactive Intelligence Group look? Take a peek at the chart below, which flags questionable cash flow sources with a red bar.


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

When I say "questionable cash flow sources," I mean items such as changes in taxes payable, tax benefits from stock options, and asset sales, among others. That's not to say that companies booking these as sources of cash flow are weak, or are engaging in any sort of wrongdoing, or that everything that comes up questionable in my graph is automatically bad news. But whenever a company is getting more than, say, 10% of its cash from operations from these dubious sources, investors ought to make sure to refer to the filings and dig in.

With questionable cash flows amounting to only 1.3% of operating cash flow, Interactive Intelligence Group's ! cash flo ws look clean. Within the questionable cash flow figure plotted in the TTM period above, stock-based compensation and related tax benefits provided the biggest boost, at 9.2% of cash flow from operations. Overall, the biggest drag on FCF came from changes in accounts receivable, which represented 62.2% of cash from operations. Interactive Intelligence Group investors may also want to keep an eye on accounts receivable, because the TTM change is 3.5 times greater than the average swing over the past 5 fiscal years.

A Foolish final thought
Most investors don't keep tabs on their companies' cash flow. I think that's a mistake. If you take the time to read past the headlines and crack a filing now and then, you're in a much better position to spot potential trouble early. Better yet, you'll improve your odds of finding the underappreciated home-run stocks that provide the market's best returns.

We can help you keep tabs on your companies with My Watchlist, our free, personalized stock tracking service.

  • Add Interactive Intelligence Group to My Watchlist.

5 Great Stocks For March 2012

Ten stocks that combine high growth potential, healthy profit margins and low price-to-earnings multiples

The change in sentiment is palpable on Dalal Street. Just two months ago, stock market pundits were vying with each other to assign aggressive hair value?targets to BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty. The projected earnings of Sensex stocks in 2012-12, in the range of Rs. 1,250-1,275 were quickly discounted into the price and people started talking about profitability expectations for the following year, 2012-13.

But the warning signs were all there. Companies had failed to sizzle the markets with their second quarter (July-September 2012) results and the interest rate cycle had turned upwards. Not a day passed without the news of yet another scam breaking out. For a while, the market seemed to ignore these details. Everybody seemed to take comfort from the fact that Indian markets had proved to be one of the year's best performing in the world, attracting half of all portfolio fund flows to Asia.

The rude awakening came in the form of the housing scam. We got into the mood for a bloodbath almost immediately,?recalls the research head of a Mumbai brokerage. Suddenly, corruption and political troubles came to the fore. The market hasn't been the same since.  Investors and brokers have turned very cautious and have become ready to penalise any stock they think is low-quality. This anger was seen even in some IPOs that failed to garner enough money even while the issues of public sector companies couldn't handle the subscriptions they received.

In this unforgiving environment in which both fundamentals and sentiment are wounded, what kind of companies should an investor choose?

First of all, at 23 times trailing earnings and 16 times the earnings of 2012-12, the market is fully valued. There is absolutely no margin for error. The investor has to be obsessed with buying cheap and compare individual P/E ratios with industry averages before taking a decision to buy. At the sight of any more danger or earnings disappointment, the market will flee to safety, abandoning highly priced midcaps and multi-bagger?stocks. This is not the time for adventure.

Indian companies will have to contend with high interest rates in 2012. This means any company exposed to high debt or planning to borrow more will be penalised. Also, firms depending on borrowing-led consumption, like home builders and car makers, will hurt. Companies with strong cash flows will benefit.

There are several companies that smartly invested in capacity expansion when cost of funds were low and are ready to start production from the new capacity just as demand picks up. These firms will be able to benefit from the economic growth without having to incur a heavy cost.

Our recommendations comprise a set of 10 companies that will not only thrive in a high interest rate regime, but also find themselves the beneficiary of the strongest growth impulses in the economy. These are the themes that will drive the economy forward despite the turbulence in macro indicators.

5 Great Stocks For March 2012:Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD)

 Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. operates as a semiconductor company in the United States, Japan, China, and Europe. Its microprocessors for server platforms include multi-core AMD Opteron processors; notebook PC platforms consist of the AMD Dual-Core Accelerated Processor E-350, AMD Dual-Core Accelerated Processor C-50, AMD Phenom II Dual-Core Mobile Processor, AMD Phenom II Quad-Core Mobile Processor, AMD Turion X2 Mobile Processor, AMD Turion II Mobile Processor, AMD Turion II Ultra Mobile Processor, AMD Turion Neo X2 Mobile Processor, AMD Athlon II processor, AMD Athlon Neo processor, AMD Athlon Neo X2 Dual-Core processor, and the Mobile AMD Sempron processor products; and desktop PC platforms comprise AMD Phenom II, AMD Phenom, AMD Athlon II, AMD Athlon X2, AMD Athlon, and AMD Sempron processors. It also provides embedded processor products for vendors in industrial controls, digital signage, point of sale/self-service kiosks, medical imaging, set-top box, and casino gaming machines, as well as enterprise class telecommunications, networking, security, storage systems and thin-clients, or computers. In addition, the company offers chipset products, including integrated graphics processor chipsets and discrete chipsets for desktop and notebook PCs, professional workstations, and servers. Further, it provides graphic products consisting of 3D graphics, and video and multimedia products for use in desktop and notebook computers, such as home media PCs, professional workstations, and servers, as well as technology for game consoles. The company's graphics products comprise discrete desktop graphics, discrete notebook graphics, professional graphics, FireStream processors, and game consoles. It serves original equipment manufacturers, original design manufacturers, system builders, and independent distributors through direct sales force, independent distributors, and sales representatives. The company was founded in 1969 and is based in Sunnyvale, California.

5 Great Stocks For March 2012:Cogdell Spencer Inc. (CSA)

 Cogdell Spencer Inc. is a privately owned real estate investment trust. The firm engages in investment and management of properties. It invests in the real estate markets of United States. The firm?s portfolio comprises of office buildings for the medical profession, including medical offices, ambulatory surgery and diagnostic centers. Cogdell Spencer was formed in 2005 and is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

5 Great Stocks For March 2012:California Water Service Group Holding (CWT)

 California Water Service Group, through its subsidiaries, provides water utility and other related services in California, Washington, New Mexico, and Hawaii. It engages in the production, purchase, storage, treatment, testing, distribution, and sale of water for domestic, industrial, public, and irrigation uses, as well as for fire protection. The company also provides non-regulated water-related services, including the operation of water and recycled water systems; leasing communication antenna sites on its properties; meter reading and billing services; sewer and refuse billing services; lab services for water quality testing; selling surplus property; and the marketing and billing of third party insurance programs to residential customers. As of December 31, 2009, it served approximately 467,100 customers in 83 communities in California; 15,600 customers in the Tacoma and Olympia areas in Washington; 7,800 water and wastewater customers in the Belen, Los Lunas, and Elephant Butte areas in New Mexico; and 4,200 water and wastewater customers on the islands of Maui and Hawaii. The company was founded in 1926 and is headquartered in San Jose, California.

5 Great Stocks For March 2012:Dollar Tree Inc. (DLTR)

 Dollar Tree, Inc. operates discount variety stores in the United States and Canada. Its stores offer merchandise primarily at the fixed price of $1.00. The company operates its stores under the names of Dollar Tree, Deal$, Dollar Tree Deal$, Dollar Giant, and Dollar Bills. Its stores offer consumable merchandise, including candy and food, and health and beauty care, as well as household consumables, such as paper, plastics, household chemicals, in select stores, and frozen and refrigerated food; variety merchandise, which includes toys, durable housewares, gifts, party goods, greeting cards, softlines, and other items; and seasonal goods, such as Easter, Halloween, and Christmas merchandise. As of April 30, 2011, it operated 4,089 stores in 48 states and the District of Columbia, as well as 88 stores in Canada. The company was founded in 1986 and is based in Chesapeake, Virginia.

5 Great Stocks For March 2012:Monarch Financial Holdings Inc. (MNRK)

 Monarch Financial Holdings, Inc. operates as the bank holding company for Monarch Bank that provides various banking products and services for businesses, professionals, corporate executives, and individuals. Its deposit products include checking and savings accounts, as well as daily money market accounts and longer-term certificates of deposit. The company?s loan portfolio comprises consumer loans, including home equity lines of credit; professional lines of credit; and secured and unsecured loans for financing automobiles, home improvements, education, and personal investments, as well as residential and commercial real estate construction, acquisition, and development loans for 1-4 family residential markets. Its loan portfolio also consists of secured and unsecured commercial loans for working capital, including inventory and receivables; business expansion, such as acquisition of real estate and improvements; and the purchase of equipment and machinery, as well as loans secured by commercial real estate. The company also offers investment advisory services, insurance sales, safe deposit boxes, cash management services, check and bankcard services, direct deposit of payroll and social security checks, automatic drafts for various accounts, telephone banking services, Internet banking services, Internet cash management services, and automated teller machines (ATMs) services. In addition, it provides commercial mortgage brokerage services in the placement of primarily long-term fixed-rate debt for the commercial, hospitality, and multi-family housing markets. Monarch Financial Holdings operates seven offices in the Great Bridge area in Chesapeake; the Lynnhaven area, the Town Center area, the Oceanfront area, and the Kempsville area in Virginia Beach; and the Ghent area and in downtown Norfolk, as well as operates approximately 50 ATMs in South Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina. The company is headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Finally Over the Hump.... CBL, FNB, and ESL Seal the Deal

Most stocks were up today, but that doesn't mean they deserve to be (nor does it mean they'll be up a month from now). The names you want to own come from the very narrow sliver of stocks that boast solid fundamentals while also starting to show the right bullish technicals. With that goal in mind, here are three small cap ideas that finally made their way into that sweet spot today.

The new uptrend from Esterline Technologies Corporation (NYSE:ESL) isn't actually new. We saw the buy signal for this small cap way back in early 2009, which yielded good results then. The pullback and rebound - and renewed buy signal - are just fortunate timing for us.

From a fundamental perspective, what's not to like about a military contractor with a sub-15.0 trailing P/E ratio, and a sub-14.0 projected P/E? That's ESL right now. Esterline Technologies Corporation has also topped estimates in three of its last four quarters.... pretty good odds.

Sign-Up for Freeto Receive Our Complete Opinions, Detailed
Analysis, and Timely Trading Alerts FNB, ESL, and CBL.


CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. (NYSE:CBL) isn't the only REIT that made its way to the technical buy list today, but it's one of� the few that has the right underlying corporate performance to truly justify owning it (admittedly though, CBL is attractive enough form a chartist's point of view to own it for that reason alone).

In any case, while this small cap retail REIT has seen better days, one should also note that it's also start! ing to s ee better days again, after a terrible spell in 2008 and 2009. The dividend from CBL & Associates Properties should continue to improve as the economy does, and as commercial/retail real estate rebuilds itself. There's growth as well as income opportunity here.

And finally, we'll round out our picks today with a small cap from the regional banking world... F.N.B. Corporation (NYSE:FNB). Though the stock hasn't done much of late - even when it was pointed higher - the new buy signals also suggest the latest upswing from FNB is also the beginning of a momentum-building period. (In other words, it's accelerating.) It's also above all its key moving averages.

As far as performance goes for F.N.B. Corporation, it looks like the bank has turned the proverbial corner. We've seen two sequential EPS increases, and the last two earnings reports both topped estimates (versus the prior two, each of which fell short of estimates). So, the company is at least doing its part to sustain the apparent rally FNB has started.

That said, I'd wait until the near-term resistance at $8.87 is cleared before pulling the trigger here. There's plenty of meat left on the bone beyond that line.

If you'd like to receive our complete opinions, detailed analysis and timely trading alerts on FNB, CBL, and ESL, be sure to Sign-Up for the SCN Newsletter today! It's FREE.

FOREX:India’s forex reserves rise by $266mn – City

India's forex reserves rise by 6mn
MUMBAI: India's foreign exchange (forex) reserves rose by 6mn to 6.76bn for the week ended on Friday, after declining by .29bn in the previous week, official data showed. Foreign currency assets, the biggest component of the forex reserves
India's forex reserves rise by 6 millionHindustan Times
Forex reserves up 6 m to 6.76 bn despite dollar saleEconomic Times
RBI Likely Intervened in Forex MarketWall Street Journal
Hindu Business Line -NASDAQ -Firstpost
all 107 news articles »

{forex} – Forex News

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Are You Missing Something Easy at Boston Beer?

Margins matter. The more Boston Beer (NYSE: SAM  ) keeps of each buck it earns in revenue, the more money it has to invest in growth, fund new strategic plans, or (gasp!) distribute to shareholders. Healthy margins often separate pretenders from the best stocks in the market. That's why we check up on margins at least once a quarter in this series. I'm looking for the absolute numbers, so I can compare them to current and potential competitors, and any trend that may tell me how strong Boston Beer's competitive position could be.

Here's the current margin snapshot for Boston Beer over the trailing 12 months: Gross margin is 55.7%, while operating margin is 15.7% and net margin is 12.4%.

Unfortunately, a look at the most recent numbers doesn't tell us much about where Boston Beer has been, or where it's going. A company with rising gross and operating margins often fuels its growth by increasing demand for its products. If it sells more units while keeping costs in check, its profitability increases. Conversely, a company with gross margins that inch downward over time is often losing out to competition, and possibly engaging in a race to the bottom on prices. If it can't make up for this problem by cutting costs -- and most companies can't -- then both the business and its shares face a decidedly bleak outlook.

Of course, over the short term, the kind of economic shocks we recently experienced can drastically affect a company's profitability. That's why I like to look at five fiscal years' worth of margins, along with the results for the trailing 12 months, the last fiscal year, and last fiscal quarter (LFQ). You can't always reach a hard conclusion about your company's health, but you can better understand what to expect, and what to watch.

Here's the margin picture for Boston Beer over the past few years.


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Dollar amounts in millions. FY = fiscal year. TTM = trailing 12 months.

Because of seasonality in some businesses, the numbers for the last period on the right -- the TTM figures -- aren't always comparable to the FY results preceding them. To compare quarterly margins to their prior-year levels, consult this chart.


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Dollar amounts in millions. FQ = fiscal quarter.

Here's how the stats break down:

  • Over the past five years, gross margin peaked at 57.6% and averaged 53.2%. Operating margin peaked at 17.6% and averaged 11.3%. Net margin peaked at 10.8% and averaged 6.7%.
  • TTM gross margin is 55.7%, 250 basis points better than the five-year average. TTM operating margin is 15.7%, 440 basis points better than the five-year average. TTM net margin is 12.4%, 570 basis points better than the five-year average.

With recent TTM operating margins exceeding historical averages, Boston Beer looks like it is doing fine.

If you take the time to read past the headlines and crack a filing now and then, you're probably ahead of 95% of the market's individual investors. To stay ahead, learn more about how I use analysis like this to help me uncover the best returns in the stock market. Got an opinion on the margins at Boston Beer? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Add Boston Beer to My Watchlist.

U.S. consumers, manufacturers lead way


The foundation for a gradually improving U.S. economy has been laid by resurgent manufacturers and higher consumer spending. Fresh reports this week are likely to suggest that both areas remain strong. See full story.

Last-minute tax payments: Ease the pain

April is a very expensive month. So many tax-related payments are due, who has the money to cover it all? Let�s look at the all the things we have to pay this month � and how to ease the financial impact, if possible. See full story.

Can�t pay your tax bill? You have options

If tumbleweeds are blowing through your bank account and you�re not sure how you�re going to pay your tax bill, take a deep breath. Most taxpayers have a number of options to slake the IRS�s wrath. See full story.

7 tax audit red flags

An unexpected letter from the Internal Revenue Service can make your stomach drop, but you can take steps to reduce your audit risk. See full story.

The hidden traps in new 2012 tax forms

For decades, the IRS made only minor changes to tax forms. But this year, there are important changes to the way you report information � and additional information the IRS wants to see. See full story.


Instead of acknowledging that banks have become a part of g! overnmen t, we keep pretending they are private institutions, writes David Weidner. See full story.


Playing the odds that you won�t live past a certain age because of numbers in a mortality table is the wrong way to plan for retirement, say researchers. See full story.

Why Wall Street Can't Escape the Eurozone

Despite all of its best hopes, Wall Street will never escape what's happening in the Eurozone.

The 1 trillion euro ($1.3 trillion) slush fund created to keep the chaos at bay is not big enough. And it never was.

Spanish banks are now up to their proverbial eyeballs in debt and the austerity everybody thinks is working so great in Greece will eventually push Spain over the edge.

Spanish unemployment is already at 23% and climbing while the official Spanish government projections call for an economic contraction of 1.7% this year. Spain appears to be falling into its second recession in three years.

I'm not trying to ruin your day with this. But ignore what is going on in Spain at your own risk.

Or else you could go buy a bridge from the parade of Spanish officials being trotted out to assure the world that the markets somehow have it all wrong.

But the truth is they don't.

EU banks are more vulnerable now than they were at the beginning of this crisis and risks are tremendously concentrated rather than diffused.

You will hear more about this in the weeks to come as the mainstream media begins to focus on what I am sharing with you today.

The Tyranny of Numbers in the Eurozone

Here is the cold hard truth about the Eurozone.

European banks reportedly will have more than 600 billion euros ($787 billion) in redemptions by the end of the year. They come at a time when the banks have sustained billions in capital losses they can't make up.

Worse, they've borrowed a staggering 316.3 billion euros ($414.9 billion) from the ECB through March, which is 86% more than the 169.8 billion euros ($222.7 billion) they borrowed in February. This accounts for 28% of total EU-area borrowings from the EU, according to the ECB.

There will undoubtedly be more bo! rrowing and more losses ahead as interest rates rise further.

The process will not be pleasant:

  • Credit default swap costs will rise, pushing debt yields to new highs while at the same time making fresh Spanish debt cost-prohibitive;
  • The Spanish government will force national banks to buy debt at higher rates, triggering capital losses on their bonds;
  • Those same losses will trigger margin calls, forcing banks to unload segments of their debt and equity portfolios;
  • Rinse and repeat steps 1-3 until there is no more money, the public revolts, the EU splinters, or all three.
Unfortunately, this vicious cycle is already under way.

The Big Boys Go on the Offensive

On Monday, Spanish 10-year bond yields pushed up to 6.07%. (Yields and prices go in opposite directions. If one is rising, the other is falling.) They relaxed slightly on Tuesday, but...

At the same time, Spanish credit default swaps touched record levels, reaching 502.46 basis points according to Bloomberg News. That process actually began in February when traders starting upping the ante on Spanish debt.

Figure 1: Source: - CSPA1U5: IND

Credit default swaps pay the buyer face value if the borrower - in this instance Spain - fails to meet its obligations, less the value of the defaulted debt. They're priced in basis points. A basis point equals $1,000 on each $10 million in debt.

Wall Street sells them as insurance against default.

In reality though, they are like buying fire insurance on your neighbor's house in that you now have an incentive to burn it down.

Let me briefly explain how the playbook works.

The big boys are going on the offensive and pushing the cost of insuring Spanish debt to new highs because they know that the Spanish government prefers more bailouts to pain. It's the same thing they! did wit h Greece, Ireland and Italy.

At the same time, they're shorting Spanish debt knowing full well that there will be massive capital losses as Spanish bonds deteriorate.

What these fiscal pirates are counting on is the ECB and Spanish government riding to the rescue.

At that point, they will sell their swaps and go long Spanish bonds, thus netting themselves a two-fer.

How to Play the Eurozone Crisis

This could be a good thing for savvy individual investors-- at least temporarily.

The markets have become addicted to bad news. We cheer when central bankers step in with quantitative easing, conveniently forgetting things are so terrible we "need" it in the first place.

We'd rather take one more "hit" than step away from the narcotics of cheap money.

That's why I expect a rally when the ECB is forced to step in no later than Q3 2012.

Here's what to do ahead of time:

  • Buy volatility when it's low. My favorite choices are either call options on the VIX or the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (NYSE: VXX), an exchange-traded note that effectively tracks the VIX. This will help you capture the initial downturn while also taking the sting out of your broader portfolio. At 18.85 the VIX is not as low as I'd like to see it, but not a bad entry point, either. If the VIX drops to 12-15, that's the time to be very interested in this trade.
  • Sharpen your pencils and pick up shares of large "glocal" companies when they get put on sale in the months ahead. Many will actually use the downdraft to solidify their competitive positions and be stronger on the other side.
  • Gold and silver are going to get whacked. This is not a problem for those with a longer term perspective - both metals are likely to be sharply higher in the years ahead. However, in the shorter term, gold is likely to trade down sharply as banks raise ca! sh. I'll be looking to $1,500 or so as line in the sand. Silver's retracement will be more nuanced because it is a function of the perceived drop in industrial usage that will accompany an EU disintegration. In that sense it won't be as deep or probably as steep. I see $20-22 as a very attractive price.
  • Short the euro. Go long German Bund futures and bonds. According to Bloomberg, the June 10-year bund futures contract is 140.43, or slightly below the record 140.51 it hit recently.
  • Buy U.S. dollars. Longer term, they still stink but the world will run to them once again when the stuff hits the fan.
At the end of the day, thinking about all this is no fun. I know - I get paid to do it every day. When the fundamental environment is such a wreck, it can wear on you. It certainly does on me.

But you know what?

That's not actually so bad, because big down days are actually profits in the making; it's how you deal with them that makes the difference.

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Meet Suze Orman's Newsletter Guru

What business has an estimated one million clients, operates on the fringe of securities law and can say just about anything without immediate consequences?

It is the investing-newsletter industry. And the public should approach newsletters with caution, even when they come with a celebrity endorsement.

Enlarge Image

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Author and personal-finance expert Suze Orman

Just ask followers of Suze Orman, the personal-finance icon. In March 2011, she and Mark Grimaldi, an investment manager in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., launched a monthly newsletter called The Money Navigator. Ms. Orman has since given away more than 50,000 trial subscriptions to the newsletter, which costs $63 a year and now reaches 65,887 subscribers. She and Mr. Grimaldi are 50-50 owners, according to Mr. Grimaldi and Ms. Orman's spokeswoman.

Mr. Grimaldi also manages a mutual fund called Sector Rotation, which has about $25 million in assets. His firm, Navigator Money Management, oversees a total of about $120 million in the fund and other accounts, according to its financial filings. That makes it a minnow in the money-management business.

The cover story in the December issue of the Money Navigator, adapted from a November 2011 article in the newspaper Investor! 's Busin ess Daily, said "Sector Rotation produced an average annual return of 10.25% from August 31, 2002, to October 31, 2011, vs. 5.47% for the S&P 500 Index, according to Morningstar."

Yet the Sector Rotation fund wasn't launched until Dec. 31, 2009. The earlier return, Mr. Grimaldi says, was produced by the model portfolio of one of his other newsletters, not the Sector Rotation fund itself. Mr. Grimaldi says the newspaper misinterpreted the numbers he provided.

This week, after inquiries from The Wall Street Journal, Money Navigator told readers: "We apologize for not catching this error prior to publication."

According to Alexa Auerbach, a spokeswoman for Morningstar, the firm didn't produce any of the data attributed to it. An Investor's Business Daily editor said the paper has corrected the error.

Mistakes can matter. Robert Plaze, deputy director of the division of investment management at the Securities and Exchange Commission, declined to comment on questions specifically related to the Money Navigator newsletter. However, he said, "Generally speaking, the SEC does not regulate the publishers of financial newsletters, but they are subject to the antifraud provisions of the [Securities Act of 1933]."

Under those provisions, securities lawyers say, newsletter publishers must not make statements they know—or reasonably should know—are false or potentially misleading.

Mr. Grimaldi didn't respond to emails seeking comment on whether his newsletters' statements conform to securities-law provisions. Ms. Orman declined to address specific questions about the newsletter or Mr. Grimaldi's background. "Mark Grimaldi is my trusted partner in The Money Navigator," she said in an emailed statement. "He is ethical, honest and achieves stellar results that consistently outperform the market. I'm proud to be able to provide our newsletter to people who are looking for solid financial advice."

A table in the December issue of Money Navigator compares the per! formance of two of Mr. Grimaldi's portfolios to the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index since 2001. In 2009, according to the newsletter, the S&P 500 returned 19.79%; Mr. Grimaldi's capital appreciation portfolio beat that, gaining 24.58%.

According to S&P, however, the index returned 26.46% in 2009—meaning Mr. Grimaldi's portfolio trailed rather than beat the index. In nine of the 10 years cited, the newsletter understated the performance of the S&P 500. "I'm not perfect," Mr. Grimaldi says. "We don't claim to be."

This week, after inquiries from the Journal, the Money Navigator newsletter informed readers that the 2009 return for the S&P 500 was a "typographical error."

In a news release issued in March 2007, Mr. Grimaldi said one of his newsletters had "been ranked #1 by Hulbert Financial Digest" for the five years through 2006. Hulbert, a tracker of newsletter performance, is owned by MarketWatch, a division of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Journal—as are several other newsletters that compete with Money Navigator. Mr. Grimaldi's other newsletters, although not the Money Navigator, have featured the claim "Ranked #1 & Recommended by Hulbert Financial Digest!"

Mark Hulbert, editor of the digest, says his publication "doesn't make recommendations" and that "no matter how I slice and dice the data, I cannot support [Mr. Grimaldi's] claim of being No. 1 for that five-year period." According to Mr. Hulbert, Mr. Grimaldi's highest rank from the digest over that period was 25th out of 110.

Mr. Grimaldi says he ranked No. 1 over that period: "I'll say that to my grave."

The December issue of the Money Navigator recommended that readers with 20 or more years to retirement put 15% of their money into Mr. Grimaldi's Sector Rotation Fund. It also recommended that readers with five to 20 years to retirement put 15% of their money into the fund.

The fund invests mainly in exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, and has outperformed 80% of its! peers s ince inception, according to Morningstar. It charges a 1% management fee, most of which Mr. Grimaldi is waiving, he says.

The Money Navigator discloses that Mr. Grimaldi and his firm are paid to manage any readers' assets that go into the fund. The newsletter's recommended portfolios include funds from several firms other than Mr. Grimaldi's.

"Our readers want ETFs," Mr. Grimaldi says, "and I couldn't find another fund that invests in them that I like as much, not even close. If people object, they don't have to invest in the fund or buy the newsletter."

Thanks to Ms. Orman, many people don't have to buy the $63-per-year newsletter; they get it for free.

"There's millions of people out there who would benefit from this newsletter," Mr. Grimaldi says. "Suze and I are just trying to get some good advice out to them."


Write to Jason Zweig at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Present Day Dentist Philadelphia Using Advanced Equipment

Today’s dentist Philadelphia must be chosen by the technology he/she uses. With advanced systems available, dentist Philadelphia may perform dental operations without having numerous issues. In the area of Philadelphia Dentistry, experience matters most. It’s true that the more you actually practice the better you get at it. The majority of experienced dentist Philadelphia record documents of their past operations as reference products from their patients. In case the dentist does not have pictures or documents to show, then personal testimonies give an excellent reference point to base your decision.

One of the newest developments to touch every person’s life is fashion. It’s definitely the latest desire which everyone is longing for. It is not just about dressing up well; good shopping also has a big role in how individuals actually think of you. This is precisely where an excellent dentist Philadelphia might support you out. These individuals are not your regular physicians; in fact they are the masters of dentistry. Although there are many cosmetic dentist Philadelphia all over, getting the services of an experienced dentist could cause an enormous challenge since they are always reserved.

So what does an individual do in this current situation? Well, though it is a cause for worry, the fact remains that there are several skilled and also good dentists Philadelphia out there which can do the job as well. One of the reasons why cosmetic dental practitioners all over the world are finding it more fast to finish up dental surgeries is because of the improvement in dental equipments as well as the medicines they use. It is really true that a dentist is as great as his/her tool. In the past, the main dental tools didn’t allow proper penetration of the dental cavities. Also, the anaesthesia which was utilized at the time was never enough to keep the patient still, as it was often seen.

In the past, a dental cosmetic job would charge you a lot of money but ! things h ave significantly changed now. Nowadays, there are many cosmetic dentists Philadelphia who are quite readily available and many provide their services at reasonable rates, though one needs to be careful while selecting a dentist. With many of them around, this gives an excellent platform for bogus dentist who poses as specialists but in reality, they are here to take your money.

The ideal dentist Philadelphia always makes it a point to give convenience to their specific patients. It’s very obvious that a patient who undergoes a cosmetic treatment will be quite nervous about the result. An experienced dentist Philadelphia may easily calm the patient down by presenting the result of the operation by means of photos or diagrams to the individual. In this way the patient stays relaxed and the operation might commence with little fuss. They provide dental care treatments by means of outstanding cosmetic dentistry. If you are looking for a professional dentist Philadelphia, call them. They can also suggest seo services company in the event you need one as well.

One of the main concerns when searching for a dentist is how great and reliable the dentist is, specially when you need to have dental implants Philadelphia. Finding the right dentist Philadelphia can certainly make all the difference in getting comfortable dental treatments.

(KBR, CAJ, CRWE, DRI, SMG) Stock Updates by

KBR to Provide Program and Project Management Services for Unitywater in Queensland, Australia

KBR (NYSE:KBR) announced it was awarded a three-year contract to provide program and project management services for Unitywater�a retail and distribution authority providing water to the fast-growing populations near Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

KBR�s scope of work includes scheduling, estimating and construction management for water and sewage projects ranging from AUS$50,000 to $2 million.

�We are proud to have been appointed to provide project and program management services to Unitywater and the people of the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay regions,� said Colin Elliott, President, Infrastructure & Minerals. “This contract builds on our extensive expertise and experience in project management of water programs, including a project management and procurement (PMP) appointment with SA Water and a similar contract with Scottish Water.�

Unitywater�s Chief Operating Officer, George Theo said the three-year contract had been awarded following a rigorous and transparent tendering process.

�That process found that KBR had the expertise, the experience and the ability to provide value for money for our customers,� Mr. Theo said. �Our priority is to use locally-based staff, and KBR personnel will be working out of our Unitywater regional offices to oversee delivery of important infrastructure upgrades that will cater for future growth and help safeguard the health of the community and the environment.�

KBR is a global engineering, construction and services company supporting the energy, hydrocarbon, government services, minerals, civil infrastructure, power, industrial, and commercial markets.

For more information, visit

Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ) announced ! the open ing of the Canon Hollywood Professional Technology and Support Center to better serve its film and television production clients. The office, located on the historic Sunset Gower Studio lot at 6060 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, will provide a local site to foster support, research, service and training for Hollywood’s thriving entertainment industry.

Canon, Inc., through its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells network digital multifunction devices (MFDs), plain paper copying machines, laser printers, inkjet printers, cameras, and lithography equipments primarily under Canon brand in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

Crown Equity Holdings, Inc. (CRWE)

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 websites; produces marketing videos from concept to final produc! t; craft s press releases and articles for maximum SEO; develops email campaigns; and forges branding campaigns to bolster client company images.

One of the major advantages of online marketing over other modes of advertising is the fact that you can launch your products or service without having to waste any time whatsoever. You can distribute any content and information immediately. When you decide to put your ads on TV or on a billboard, it is difficult to tell whether your target consumers are interested in your product. With online marketing, you can actually put ads that target potential consumers.

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

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) announced a definitive agreement under which Darden has agreed to purchase the Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Wildfish Seafood Grille restaurant brands, and all related assets for $59 million, in an all cash transaction. The brands will become part of Darden’s Specialty Restaurant Group. Darden expects to complete the transaction by the end of the calendar year.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. operates full service restaurants in the United States and Canada. It operates restaurants under the Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, and Seasons 52 brand names. As of September 20, 2011, the company owned and operated approximately 1,800 restaurants. Darden Restaurants, Inc. was founded in 1968 and is headquartered in Orlando, Florida.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. (NYSE:SMG) said it expects ! to repor t a 2 percent decline in sales for fiscal 2011 when it issues its full-year financial results on November 8. The sales shortfall, coupled with associated gross margin pressure, will likely result in adjusted net earnings in a range of approximately $2.70 to $2.75 per share.

The Company Together With Its Subsidiaries Is Engaged In The Manufacture Of Lawn And Garden Care Products.

Best Wall St. Stocks Today: MSFT,GOOG,AAPL,RIMM,SNE

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) may be late to launch a line of smartphones with its Windows 7 Mobile OS, but it plans to make up for that with a major foray into the business.

The world’s largest software company will go to market with Windows-powered phones on October 11.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the first smartphones which will use Microsoft’s software will be built by HTC, Samsung, and LG Electronics. The phones will
operate exclusively on the AT&T (NYSE: T) Wireless network.

Microsoft’s mobile business has been such a failure that it now has less than 10% of the smartphone OS market in the US.� Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has 20% of the market even though its Android system is only three years old. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) dominate the balance of the business with their iPhone and BlackBerry products.

Microsoft and its CEO Steve Ballmer have been willing and able to invest billions of dollars to move into markets that they hope to dominate. That has brought them failure in the multimedia player market, and only partial success in the search business. But, it has allowed them to overcome the huge advantage that Sony (NYSE: SNE) had in the game console business. It has also placed the company in a position where it will probably earn a large part of the cloud computing and virtualization markets.

Microsoft may have already decided that it cannot afford to lose the mobile OS war without a compromise to its future. The internet has moved to the wireless market. That means e-commerce, search, and software development will follow.

Microsoft’s desperation could be its largest asset. Applications developers will have to be compensated for their work, which is something that Apple does not have to do. Handset companies will have to be compensated, probably for some of their manufacturing, marketing, and developing costs. Microsoft has the balance sheet to do those things. But! , does i t have the will? It will have to unless Ballmer is prepared to give up on much of his company’s future.

Douglas A. McIntyre

A Fertilizer Stock Worth Betting On

Mosaic's (NYSE: MOS  ) second-quarter numbers might look like a bummer, but there aren't many reasons to worry yet. I consider Mosaic to be a good bet in the fertilizer space. Here's why.

Nothing bad about the numbers
Mosaic's bottom line slumped nearly 39% to $623.6 million, but it wasn't due to lower revenue or out-of-hand costs. It was because of a $570 million gain from a business sale recorded in the year-ago quarter. If we exclude that, Mosaic's earnings were in fact up 37%.

Mosaic's sales rose 13%, to $3 billion, which shouldn't be surprising at a time when farmers across the globe are growing more to tap the agriculture boom. Both its segments -- potash and phosphate -- recorded jumps in sales backed by higher prices. But note that Mosaic's revenue growth was entirely because of higher prices, and not volumes. The company attributed this to lower international sales in countries like India and postponement of purchases by buyers owing to global uncertainty.

Did this surprise you?
Mosaic took many by surprise some days back when it announced plans to reduce phosphate production in the next three months, citing cautious buyer behavior and oversupply in the market as the reasons. Mosaic got company when another major player, PotashCorp (NYSE: POT  ) , announced it would cut down production at its Saskatchewan plants. After temporarily shutting down two facilities, PotashCorp has announced a four-week shutdown at its third potash mine in February.

But if you think these moves portend a slowing down in the fertilizer industry, I beg to differ. It's true that a curtailment of important crop nutrients like potash and phosphate calls for attention, but it looks more like a temporary issue to me. The fact that Mosaic expects record phosphate demand for the full year gives us a better picture of the whole story.! Also, i f things weren't looking good in the longer run, why would Mosaic expand the production capacity of its premium phosphate product, MicroEssentials? Even PotashCorp is expecting record potash demand this year. That says a lot.

What's more, most of the big industry players are investing in major expansions. PotashCorp is undertaking major expansions at its potash mines, a good part of which is expected to be completed this year. Agrium (NYSE: AGU  ) recently unveiled a major expansion program at its potash facility in Saskatchewan. The program will begin this year, and is expected to increase Agrium's annual production capacity by almost 50% once it gets completed by 2014. Mosaic's 5-million-tonne potash expansion program is well on schedule, with the company incurring capital expenditures of $267 million on the project in the second quarter. These clearly show how bright the future is looking for nutrients.

Gainful settlement
The other significant development for Mosaic during the quarter was the settlement of its tolling litigation with PotashCorp. Post the settlement, Mosaic's contractual agreement to supply almost 1.1 million tonnes of potash every year to PotashCorp will expire at the end of 2012. This will mean more potash in the company's hands to sell outside.

Mosaic is also expanding the mine (Esterhazy) from which it currently supplies potash to PotashCorp. With a significant portion of the expansion completed during the last quarter, coupled with the litigation settlement, Mosaic is now expecting the mine to add a lot to its capacity.

In Mosaic's favor
Several other factors tilt in Mosaic's favor. One is the company's second-largest stake in Canpotex, the three-member legal cartel -- made up of Mosaic, Agrium, and PotashCorp -- that handles Saskatchewan potash exports. Canpotex grabbed some big contracts last year, with supply under some to carry on throughout this year. Such ! contract s help lock in a good portion of expected potash sales for Mosaic.

Another noteworthy thing about Mosaic is its low debt and high cash position. Mosaic's total debt to equity is pretty low at 13.7%, with a huge war chest of $3.6 billion giving Mosaic a lot of scope to take on debt for growth plans if required, and improve its return on equity with higher leveraging. After buying shares owned by trusts related to former parent company Cargill, Mosaic could do well by dishing out more to shareholders and boosting its meager dividend yield of 0.4%.

The Foolish bottom line
Mosaic's business line is a big plus simply because the fertilizer industry will not go under unless we stop eating. Mix in strong financials, robust top-line growth, and great growth plans, and it looks like we have a winner here.

In fact, I feel if Mosaic's fear of softening demand and a tepid third-quarter leads to any dip in its share price, it would be a great entry point for prudent Fools. What do you think? Let your fellow Fools know using the comments box below.

I think Mosaic is a great pick for the future, but our analysts have selected a different stock that they believe is poised for tremendous growth in 2012. Find out which company in our new free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." Thousands have already requested access and it'll only be available for a limited time. Simply click here. It's free.

Politicians & Oil Speculators Meet at the Oasis

A top Democrat has asked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to see if rogue actors including Iran manipulated oil prices with rumors this month.

U.S. crude prices are down 51 cents, or 0.51%, to $106.17 per barrel. Some of the big integrated oil names were down about 1%, including ExxonMobil (XOM)? BP (BP) and Total (TOT) , while ConocoPhillips (COP) was down fractionally. Chevron (CVX) was up slightly.

Sure, presidential election campaigning is in full swing, and U.S. gasoline prices are high. But two weeks ago, reports circulated that a pipeline fire in Saudi Arabia was a threat to oil supplies. The Saudi interior ministry denied the report.

Enter Edward Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, who drafted a letter to the CFTC, the U.S. futures regulator, to determine if the surge in oil prices that followed the Saudi fire headlines could be blamed on Iran or its connections, or other market manipulation by speculators, according to a Reuters story.

This reporter got wind of the rumor just before the close on March 1, with a link to an article in The Arab Digest showing photos of a fire, but no distinguishable pipeline and a comment from Saudis that the fire was far from pipelines. The article’s author said the fire was? “a message to the U.S. administration to convince Saudi Arabia’s government to engage in serious reform.” But the author was anonymous “because of persecution and repression,” according to a comment on the article.

The Digest says it bucks the trend in traditional Arab?media, which are “mostly controlled by oil rich regional powers, and thus almost always, partisan/biased.”

In the end sanctions against Iran are a real source of curtailed supply, and therefore prices. Countries or entities that receive Iranian oil face fines if they don! ’t comply with sanctions. And prices face further volatility anytime Iran renews, as it has in recent months, its periodic threat to cut off the Strait of Hormuz, which is the gateway for nearly a quarter of the world’s oil trade.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Barclays Pressured to Offload Trillions in Assets to Stave Off Government Ownership

SPY has long been the king of exchange traded products. Hitting the market in 1993, this fund has amassed nearly $100 billion in assets making it not only the largest ETF in the world, but also one of the largest funds available to investors. Its ultra low expenses and massive daily volume have allowed it to be both a trading instrument as well as an integral part of long term portfolios. But for the past few years, the fund has been in a stiff competition with its equal weighted counterpart, the�S&P Equal Weight ETF (RSP) [see also 12 High-Yielding Commodities For 2012].


The rivalry between these two funds can be traced back since RSP debuted in 2003. While SPY has won the battle in some years, others have seen RSP wipe the floor with the ETF top-dog. For those unfamiliar with RSP’s strategy, the fund is comprised of the exact same 500 holdings as SPY, but rather than overweighting any one holding (the top ten holdings of SPY account for over 20% of the product) RSP grants an equal weight to each security, giving a smaller company like Micron Technology the same weight as Exxon Mobil. But with this strategy comes the drawback of higher expenses, as RSP charges 31 more basis points than its S&P 500 counterpart [see also Equal Weight ETFs: Comparing Similar (But Different) Strategies].


Over the past few years, it seems that a clear trend has emerged regarding the performance of these two products. When markets are ! stable a nd strong, RSP tends to outperform, but the opposite is true during tough years. Although both suffered significant losses when the recession hit in 2008, SPY held its ground noticeably better than RSP. Despite the fact that RSP has better three and five year returns, that may not be enough to convince investors given that unstable markets seem to hit RSP especially hard. The likely reason behind this lies in the equal weight strategy. Because RSP gives every holding the same weight, smaller companies have just as much say as something like Apple or IBM. When times are tough, smaller companies tend to perform worse than their large cap counterparts, trickling down into the trend that RSP typically falls into [see also Ten Unexpected Observations On YTD ETF Returns].

2011 In Review

Ticker2011Inflows (mm)

So how did these two strategies fare in a year that featured choppy markets? RSP had the edge for the first half of the year, as markets were relatively stable, but that all came to a head once August rolled around. With the euro debt crisis heating up and the first ever downgrade of U.S. debts by a domestic firm, Standard & Poor’s, markets went haywire, allowing SPY to take the lead and hold it through the end of the year.�Though its performance was only marginally better, SPY was able to rake in 2011 cash inflows of over $6.2 billion while RSP actually saw an outflow of $447 million [see also ETFs: The $10 Billion Club].

So now the biggest question that remains is what these figures will look like when 2012 comes to an end. Just remember that the trend is your friend! when it comes to these two funds. If markets are performing well and data continues to point towards a recovery, RSP will likely take back its lead (it is currently winning through the first few weeks of this year), but if we have another up and down year plagued with volatility, SPY should come out on top at the end of the year.

[For more ETF analysis, make sure to sign up for our free ETF newsletter or try a free seven day trial to ETFdb Pro]

Somaxon Pharmaceuticals Announces FDA Feedback on Silenor OTC Regulatory Pathway and Changes to Commercial Team


SAN DIEGO, CA– (CRWENEWSWIRE) — Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:SOMX), a specialty pharmaceutical company, announced that it recently had a meeting with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) relating to the over-the-counter (OTC) development program for Silenor(R). In the meeting, which Somaxon attended jointly with its Silenor partner Procter & Gamble, the FDA provided clinical and regulatory guidance that the company believes provides a clear path forward toward an OTC version of Silenor.

Somaxon believes that the FDA�s guidance provides an opportunity to develop an OTC label that is tailored to Silenor�s clinical profile and differentiated from other OTC sleep products. Somaxon believes that Silenor�s characteristics, including its lack of addiction potential and its clinical efficacy and safety profile, make it an ideal candidate to be the first prescription insomnia product to be converted to an OTC product.

Somaxon also announced changes to its commercial team that promotes Silenor for the treatment of insomnia characterized by difficulty with sleep maintenance. In particular, Somaxon announced that:

it has amended the Co-Promotion Agreement with Procter & Gamble so that Procter & Gamble�s exclusive negotiation period relating to OTC rights to Silenor is extended from 60 to 120 days, and to discontinue the co-promotion services under the agreement as of December 31, 2011.
it has appointed Michael Allen as Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. Mr. Allen replaces Jeff Raser, who has resigned from the company to pursue other interests.
it has provided notice to Publicis Touchpoint Solutions, Inc. that it intends to hire the Publicis sales force promoting Silenor as Somaxon employees during the fourth quarter of 2011. In connection with the conversion of the sales force, Soma! xon will terminate the Professional Detailing Services Agreement with Publicis effective as of December 31, 2011.

�Our first year of marketing Silenor has provided us with a host of learnings relating to the market and the most efficient use of our resources to promote Silenor for the treatment of insomnia,� said Richard W. Pascoe, Somaxon�s President and Chief Executive Officer. �We believe that the changes we are announcing today will enable us to focus our sales and marketing resources in the most efficient and effective way as we move forward through the fourth quarter and into 2012.�

�The changes to the Procter & Gamble agreement represent the natural evolution of our relationship at this stage in Silenor�s commercial growth, allowing us to reallocate resources from sales support toward Silenor consumer awareness initiatives, while continuing to explore the potential for a Silenor OTC life cycle management opportunity with a highly differentiated label,� continued Pascoe.

�We are excited to add Mike Allen to our team given his extensive track record of success in leading sales, marketing and managed care teams to drive product growth. Hiring the dedicated sales team as Somaxon employees will allow us to more closely align the incentives of the sales force with our commercial and corporate objectives, reduce the per-representative cost of our sales force, and enhance sales force effectiveness.�

�Lastly, we wish to thank Jeff Raser for his contributions to the company over the years, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.�

Mr. Allen brings to Somaxon over 25 years of commercial experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including 15 years in general management and senior sales and marketing positions. Mr. Allen was most recently Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations at ProteoGenix, Inc., and he previously held senior commercial management positions at Tercica, Inc., Prometheus Laboratories Inc. and Ther! -Rx Corp . In each of these positions Mr. Allen played a leading role in creating commercial infrastructures and launching products. Mr. Allen also served in a number of senior commercial roles at Serono Inc., including positions as General Manager, Serono Canada, and Executive Vice President, North American Reproductive Endocrinology Business Unit. During his tenure at Serono, Mr. Allen led a number of successful flagship product launches and had direct responsibility for all aspects of a commercial operation generating more than $250M in annual revenue.

There is no termination fee or other material obligation that will result from the termination of the Publicis agreement. As a result of the discontinuation of co-promotion services under the Procter & Gamble agreement, Procter & Gamble will be entitled to a low single-digit royalty on net sales of Silenor for the 2012 fiscal year.

Conference Call Information and Forward-Looking Statements

On Tuesday, October 4, 2011, Somaxon will conduct a conference call with interested parties beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET (5:30 a.m. PT) to discuss the FDA�s OTC feedback, the changes to the Silenor commercial team and related matters. The conference call will be available to interested parties through a live audio Internet broadcast at The call will also be archived and accessible at this site for approximately two weeks. Alternatively, callers may participate in the conference call by dialing (480) 629-9835, conference call ID 4477168. A telephonic replay will be available for approximately two weeks following the conclusion of the call by dialing (303) 590-3030, and entering passcode 4477168.

Discussion during the conference call may include forward-looking statements regarding such topics as, but not limited to, the company�s commercial plans and activities relating to Silenor, prescription trends, the company�s financial status and performance, the potential to develop an OTC versio! n of Sil enor, and any comments the company may make about its future plans or prospects in response to questions from participants on the conference call.

About Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Headquartered in San Diego, CA, Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the in-licensing, development and commercialization of proprietary branded products and late-stage product candidates to treat important medical conditions where there is an unmet medical need and/or high-level of patient dissatisfaction, currently in the central nervous system therapeutic area. Somaxon�s product Silenor, now available by prescription in the United States, is indicated for the treatment of insomnia characterized by difficulty with sleep maintenance.

For more information, please visit the company�s web site at

Safe Harbor Statement

Somaxon cautions readers that statements included in this press release and the conference call that are not a description of historical facts are forward-looking statements. For example, statements regarding the hiring by Somaxon of Mr. Allen and the sales force, the anticipated reduction in per-representative cost and enhancement of effectiveness of such sales force, the potential to enter into a separate agreement with Procter & Gamble relating to OTC rights for Silenor, the potential to successfully develop an OTC Silenor product and Somaxon�s other commercial activities and plans are forward-looking statements. The inclusion of forward-looking statements should not be regarded as a representation by Somaxon that any of its plans will be achieved. Actual results may differ materially from those set forth in this release and the conference call due to the risks and uncertainties inherent in Somaxon�s business, including, without limitation, Somaxon�s ability to successfully commercialize Silenor; the market potential for insomnia treatments, and Somaxon�s ability to com! pete wit hin that market; the potential to enter into an agreement with Procter & Gamble relating to OTC rights for Silenor; Somaxon�s ability, together with any partner, to receive FDA approval for an OTC version of Silenor; Somaxon�s ability to successfully hire a sales force, including the transition of Publicis representatives to Somaxon employees; the scope, validity and duration of patent protection and other intellectual property rights for Silenor; whether the approved label for Silenor is sufficiently consistent with such patent protection to provide exclusivity for Silenor; Somaxon�s ability to successfully enforce its intellectual property rights and defend its patents, including any developments relating to the recent submission of abbreviated new drug applications for generic versions of Silenor 3 mg and 6 mg and related patent litigation; the possible introduction of generic competition for Silenor; changes in healthcare reform measures and reimbursement policies; the ability of Somaxon to ensure adequate and continued supply of Silenor to successfully meet anticipated market demand; Somaxon�s ability to raise sufficient capital to fund its operations, and the impact of any such financing activity on the level of its stock price; the impact of any inability to raise sufficient capital to fund ongoing operations, including any patent infringement litigation; the potential for an event of default under Somaxon�s loan agreement with Silicon Valley Bank and Oxford Finance Corporation, and the corresponding risk of acceleration of repayment and potential foreclosure on the assets pledged to secure the loan; Somaxon�s ability to operate its business without infringing the intellectual property rights of others; Somaxon�s reliance on its licensee, Paladin, for critical aspects of the commercial sales process for Silenor outside of the United States; the performance of Paladin and its adherence to the terms of its contracts with Somaxon; inadequate therapeutic efficacy or unexpected adverse side effects! relatin g to Silenor that could adversely impact commercial success, or that could result in recalls or product liability claims; other difficulties or delays in development, testing, manufacturing and marketing of Silenor; the timing and results of post-approval regulatory requirements for Silenor, and the FDA�s agreement with Somaxon�s interpretation of such results; and other risks detailed in Somaxon�s prior press releases as well as in its periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement, and Somaxon undertakes no obligation to revise or update this press release to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof. This caution is made under the safe harbor provisions of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Source: Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Tran Nguyen / CFO
PondelWilkinson, Inc.
Rob Whetstone/Matt Sheldon