Saturday, November 30, 2013

Top Bank Stocks For 2014

In this series, we'll explore the data announcements and events that may impact the performance of bank stocks during the upcoming week.

With the market at all time highs, and the banks on the rise as well, it's important for bank investors to keep tabs on the news announcements and data releases that could effect the direction your stock moves. With the coming week delivering a big dose of housing market news, this will be an important one for the banks, who need to see an increase in lending activity to maintain their profitability.

Let's take a look at what's going to be announced, what banks may be affected the most, and what you should look out for in the coming days.


NFIB Small Business Optimism Index -- keeping the pulse of the small business community, the index provides some insight to investors on how business owners feel about the current state of the economy, their willingness to hire new employees, and comfort with new borrowing for operations. This is a particularly interesting index for the banks that look to business lending while the demand for mortgages flags. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) has been the poster child for chasing small business, with a few of their new commercials featuring the strong partnership of the bank with local businesses.


Top Bank Stocks For 2014: Goldman Sachs Group Inc.(The)

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides investment banking, securities, and investment management services to corporations, financial institutions, governments, and high-net-worth individuals worldwide. Its Investment Banking segment offers financial advisory, including advisory assignments with respect to mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, corporate defense, risk management, restructurings, and spin-offs; and underwriting securities, loans and other financial instruments, and derivative transactions. The company?s Institutional Client Services segment provides client execution activities, such as fixed income, currency, and commodities client execution related to making markets in interest rate products, credit products, mortgages, currencies, and commodities; and equities related to making markets in equity products, as well as commissions and fees from executing and clearing institutional client transactions on stock, options, and fu tures exchanges. This segment also engages in the securities services business providing financing, securities lending, and other prime brokerage services to institutional clients, including hedge funds, mutual funds, pension funds, and foundations. Its Investing and Lending segment invests in debt securities, loans, public and private equity securities, real estate, consolidated investment entities, and power generation facilities. This segment also involves in the origination of loans to provide financing to clients. The company?s Investment Management segment provides investment management services and investment products to institutional and individual clients. This segment also offers wealth advisory services, including portfolio management and financial counseling, and brokerage and other transaction services to high-net-worth individuals and families. In addition, it provides global investment research services. The company was founded in 1869 and is headquartered in New York, New York.

Top Bank Stocks For 2014: Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA)

Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) is a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) chartered by the United States Congress to support liquidity and stability in the secondary mortgage market, where mortgage-related assets are purchased and sold. The Company�� activities include providing market liquidity by securitizing mortgage loans originated by lenders in the primary mortgage market into Fannie Mae mortgage-backed securities (Fannie Mae MBS), and purchasing mortgage loans and mortgage-related securities in the secondary market for its mortgage portfolio. Fannie Mae operates in three business segments: Single-Family business, Multifamily Business (formerly Housing and Community Development (HCD)) and Capital Markets group. Its Single-Family Credit Guaranty and Multifamily businesses work with its lender customers to purchase and securitize mortgage loans customers deliver to the Company into Fannie Mae MBS.

The Company obtains funds to support its business activities by issuing a variety of debt securities in the domestic and international capital markets. Fannie Mae acquires funds to purchase mortgage-related assets for its mortgage portfolio by issuing a variety of debt securities in the domestic and international capital markets. It also makes other investments. Fannie Mae conducts its business in the United States residential mortgage market and the global securities market. It conducts business in the United States residential mortgage market and the global securities market. During the year ended December 31, 2011, the Company��

Single-Family Business

Single-Family business includes mortgage securitizations, mortgage acquisitions, credit risk management and credit loss management. Single-Family business works with the Company�� lender customers to provide funds to the mortgage market by securitizing single-family mortgage loans into Fannie Mae MBS. Its Single-Family business also works with its Capital Markets group to facilitate the pu! rchase of single-family mortgage loans for the Company�� mortgage portfolio. Fannie Mae�� Single-Family business prices and manages the credit risk on its single-family guaranty book of business, which consists of single-family mortgage loans underlying Fannie Mae MBS and single-family loans held in its mortgage portfolio. Single-Family business and Capital Markets group securitize and purchase primarily single-family fixed-rate or adjustable-rate, first lien mortgage loans, or mortgage-related securities backed by these types of loans.

The Company securitizes or purchases loans insured by Federal Housing Administration (FHA), loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and loans guaranteed by the Rural Development Housing and Community Facilities Program of the Department of Agriculture, manufactured housing loans, reverse mortgage loans, multifamily mortgage loans, subordinate lien mortgage loans and other mortgage-related securities. Its Single-Family business securitizes single-family mortgage loans and issues single-class Fannie Mae MBS. Fannie Mae�� Single-Family business securitizes loans solely in lender swap transactions, in which lenders deliver pools of mortgage loans to the Company, which are placed immediately in a trust, in exchange for Fannie Mae MBS backed by these loans. Generally, the servicing of the mortgage loans held in its mortgage portfolio or that backs its Fannie Mae MBS is performed by mortgage servicers on the Company�� behalf. Lenders who sell single-family mortgage loans to Fannie Mae service these loans for the Company. For loans it owns or guarantees, the lender or servicer must obtain its approval before selling servicing rights to another servicer.

Fannie Mae�� mortgage servicers collect and deliver principal and interest payments, administer escrow accounts, monitor and report delinquencies, perform default prevention activities, evaluate transfers of ownership interests, respond to requests for partial releases of s! ecurity, ! and handle proceeds from casualty and condemnation losses. Its mortgage servicers are the primary point of contact for borrowers and perform implementation of its homeownership assistance initiatives, negotiation of workouts of troubled loans, and loss mitigation activities. Mortgage servicers also inspect and preserve properties and process foreclosures and bankruptcies.

Multifamily Mortgage Business

Multifamily business works with the Company�� lender customers to provide funds to the mortgage market by securitizing multifamily mortgage loans into Fannie Mae MBS. Through its Multifamily business, Fannie Mae provides liquidity and support to the United States multifamily housing market principally by purchasing or securitizing loans that finance multifamily rental housing properties. It also provides some limited debt financing for other acquisition, development, construction and rehabilitation activity related to projects that complement this business. Fannie Mae�� Multifamily business also works with its Capital Markets group to facilitate the purchase and securitization of multifamily mortgage loans and securities for Fannie Mae�� portfolio, as well as to facilitate portfolio securitization and resecuritization activities.

The Company�� multifamily guaranty book of business consists of multifamily mortgage loans underlying Fannie Mae MBS and multifamily loans and securities held in Fannie Mae�� mortgage portfolio. Revenues for Fannie Mae�� Multifamily business are derived from a variety of sources, including guaranty fees received as compensation for assuming the credit risk on the mortgage loans underlying multifamily Fannie Mae MBS and on the multifamily mortgage loans held in its portfolio and on other mortgage-related securities; transaction fees associated with the multifamily business, and other bond credit enhancement related fees. As with the servicing of single-family mortgages, multifamily mortgage servicing is performed by the lenders who! sell the! mortgages to the Company. Fannie Mae�� Multifamily business is organized and operated as an integrated commercial real estate finance business.

Capital Markets

Capital Markets group's primary business activities include mortgage and other investments, mortgage securitizations, structured mortgage securitizations and other customer services, and interest rate risk management. Capital Markets group manages the Company�� investment activity in mortgage-related assets and other interest-earning, non-mortgage investments. It funds its investments primarily through proceeds the Company receives from the issuance of debt securities in the domestic and international capital markets. Its business activity is focused on making short-term use of its balance sheet rather than long-term investments. Activities Fannie Mae is undertaking to provide liquidity to the mortgage market include whole loan conduit, early funding, real estate mortgage investment conduit (REMICs) and other structured securitizations and dollar roll transactions. Whole loan conduit activities include its purchase of both single-family and multifamily loans principally for the purpose of securitizing them. During the year ended December 31, 2010, it was engaged in dollar roll activity. A dollar roll transaction is a commitment to purchase a mortgage-related security with a concurrent agreement to re-sell a similar security at a later date or vice versa.

Fannie Mae�� Capital Markets group is engaged in issuing both single-class and multi-class Fannie Mae MBS through both portfolio securitizations and structured securitizations involving third party assets. Its Capital Markets group creates single-class and multi-class Fannie Mae MBS from mortgage-related assets held in its mortgage portfolio. Fannie Mae�� Capital Markets group may sell these Fannie Mae MBS into the secondary market or may retain the Fannie Mae MBS in its investment portfolio. The Company�� Capital Markets group creates single-clas! s and mul! ti-class structured Fannie Mae MBS, for its lender customers or securities dealer customers, in exchange for a transaction fee. The Company�� Capital Markets group provides its lender customers and their affiliates with services that include offering to purchase a range of mortgage assets, including non-standard mortgage loan products; segregating customer portfolios to obtain optimal pricing for their mortgage loans, and assisting customers with hedging their mortgage business.

Although the Company�� Capital Markets group�� business activities are focused on short-term financing and investing, revenue from its Capital Markets group is derived primarily from the difference, or spread, between the interests it earns on its mortgage and non-mortgage investments and the interest it incurs on the debt the Company issues to fund these assets. Its Capital Markets revenues are primarily derived from the Company�� mortgage asset portfolio. Capital Markets group funds its investments primarily through the issuance of a variety of debt securities in a range of maturities in the domestic and international capital markets. Investors in the Company�� debt securities include commercial bank portfolios and trust departments, investment fund managers, insurance companies, pension funds, state and local governments, and central banks.

The Company competes with Freddie Mac, FHA and Ginnie Mae.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Matt Koppenheffer]

    If you actually dig through B of A's annual report, you can find a helpful little table that shows the performance of the loan originations that were sold to the GSEs -- primarily Fannie Mae� (NASDAQOTCBB: FNMA  ) and�Freddie Mac�-- between 2004 and 2008. What's even more helpful is that the table breaks out the Countrywide originations versus the "other" originations -- principally, legacy Bank of America production.

  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    The challenge of retiree mortgages
    Recently, Fannie Mae (NASDAQOTCBB: FNMA  ) and Freddie Mac (NASDAQOTCBB: FMCC  ) made it a little easier for retirees to get new mortgages or to refinance their existing mortgages. By changing the rules for what a lender can consider as income to include retirement account balances in IRAs, 401(k)s, and similar accounts, the mortgage agencies hope to make it easier for low-income seniors to make beneficial moves like refinancing existing debt to capture low interest rates or moving from a large family home to a more modest home to free up locked-in home equity.

  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    To its credit, FHFA specifically addresses the moral hazard involved in the Streamlined Modification Initiative. The agency notes that "because many borrowers who miss one or two payments have a temporary hardship and often reinstate their mortgage to current status, it is most effective to target borrowers who are at least 90 days delinquent." Moreover, in its efforts to curb abuse of the program, the FHFA notes that Fannie Mae (NASDAQOTCBB: FNMA  ) and Freddie Mac (NASDAQOTCBB: FMCC  ) , which the FHFA oversees, have "existing proprietary screening measures to prevent strategic defaulters from taking advantage of a Streamlined Modification."

Top 10 Companies To Buy Right Now: Ampco-Pittsburgh Corporation(AP)

Ampco-Pittsburgh Corporation and its subsidiaries manufacture and sell custom-engineered equipment in the United States and internationally. It operates in two segments, Forged and Cast Rolls, and Air and Liquid Processing. The Forged and Cast Rolls segment produces forged hardened steel rolls used in cold rolling for the producers of steel, aluminum, and other metals; and cast iron and steel rolls for hot and cold strip mills, medium/heavy section mills, and plate mills. The Air and Liquid Processing segment manufactures finned tube and plate finned heat exchange coils for the commercial and industrial construction, as well as for process and utility industries; custom air handling systems used in commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings; and a line of centrifugal pumps for the refrigeration, power generation, and marine defense industries. The company was founded in 1929 and is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Rhonda Abrams]

    David Packard, left, and Bill Hewlett in 1996 in front of the Palo Alto, Calif., garage where they founded Hewlett-Packard Co.(Photo: AP)

    If you're considering going into business with someone, sit down and ask your potential partner the following questions:

  • [By AP 6:27 p.m. EDT October 19] LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) ��The oil production technique known as fracking is more widespread and frequently used in the offshore platforms and man-made islands near some of California's most populous and famous coastal communities than state officials believed.

Top Bank Stocks For 2014: Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LYG)

Lloyds Banking Group plc, incorporated on October 21, 1985, is a holding company. The Company is a financial services group providing a range of banking and financial services, primarily in the United Kingdom, to personal and corporate customers. The Company operates in four segments: Retail, Commercial Banking, Wealth, Asset Finance and International and Insurance. Retail provides banking, mortgages and other financial services to personal customers in the United Kingdom. Commercial Banking provides banking and related services to business clients, from small businesses to large corporate. Wealth, Asset Finance and International provides private banking and asset management and asset finance in the United Kingdom and overseas and operates the Company�� international retail businesses. Insurance provides long term savings, protection and investment products in the United Kingdom and Europe and provides general insurance to personal customers in the United Kingdom.


The Retail division operates the retail bank in the United Kingdom and is a provider of current accounts, savings, personal loans, credit cards and mortgages. This includes a range of current accounts including packaged accounts and basic banking accounts. It is also the provider of personal loans in the United Kingdom, as well as being the United Kingdom�� credit card issuer. Retail is the private sector savings provider in the United Kingdom. It is also a general insurance and bancassurance distributor, offering a range of long-term savings, investment and general insurance products.

Commercial Banking

The Commercial Banking division supports the Company�� business clients from small businesses to corporate. Commercial Banking provides support to corporate clients through the provision of core banking products, such as lending, deposits and transaction banking services whilst also offering clients expertise in capital markets (private placements, bonds and syndicated loans), ! financial markets (foreign exchange, interest rate management, money market and credit) and private equity.

Wealth, Asset Finance and International

Wealth, Asset Finance and International consists of the Company�� the United Kingdom and international wealth businesses, the Company�� the United Kingdom and international asset finance and online deposit businesses along with its international retail businesses. The Wealth business consists of private banking and asset management. Wealth�� private banking operations cater to the range of wealth clients from affluent to Ultra High Net Worth within the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, and internationally. Asset Finance consists of a number of leasing and speciality lending businesses in the United Kingdom, including Lex Autolease and Black Horse Motor and Personal Finance along with its leasing and specialty lending businesses in Australia and its European online deposit business. The international business comprises its non-core banking business outside the United Kingdom, with the exception of corporate business written through the Commercial Banking division. This primarily consists of Ireland, Retail Europe and Asia.


The Insurance division provides long-term savings, protection and investment products and general insurance products to customers in the United Kingdom and Europe. The United Kingdom Life, Pensions and Investments business provides long-term savings, protection and investment products distributed through the bancassurance, intermediary and direct channels of the Lloyds TSB, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows brands. The European Life, Pensions and Investments business distributes products primarily in the German market under the Heidelberger Leben and Clerical Medical brands. The General Insurance business is a distributor of home insurance in the United Kingdom, with products sold through the branch network, direct channels and strategic corporate! partners! . It operates primarily under the Lloyds TSB, Halifax and Bank of Scotland brands.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Jeff Reeves]

    Swiss financials Credit Suisse (CS) and UBS as well as U.K. banks like Lloyd's (LYG) have delivered returns significantly better than the S&P 500 this year. Optimism regarding consumer and business lending has lifted shares, and the trend looks to continue in 2014. If you're a believer in the EU recovery, financial stocks are a great way to be at the center of an economic turnaround.

  • [By G. A. Chester]

    LONDON --�There are things to love and loathe about most companies. Today, I'm going to tell you about three things to love about�Lloyds Banking Group� (LSE: LLOY  ) (NYSE: LYG  ) .

  • [By Maynard Paton]

    LONDON --�The shares of�Lloyds Banking� (LSE: LLOY  ) (NYSE: LYG  ) �climbed 1 pece to 52 pence during early London trade this morning after the group said it would rebrand 632 branches as TSB Bank and float the division on the stock market.

Top Bank Stocks For 2014: Banco Bradesco SA (BBD)

Banco Bradesco S.A. (the Bank), incorporated on November 5, 1943, is commercial bank. The Bank offers a range of banking and financial products and services in Brazil and abroad to individuals, large, midsized and small companies and local and international corporations and institutions. It operates in two segments: the banking, and the insurance, pension and capitalization bonds. Its products and services encompass banking operations, such as loans and advances and deposittaking, credit card issuance, purchasing consortiums, insurance, leasing, payment collection and processing, pension plans, asset management and brokerage services. The main services it offers through Bradesco Expresso are receipt and submission of account applications; receipt and submission of account applications; Social Security National Service (INSS) benefit payments; checking and savings account deposits, and receipt of consumption bills, bank charges and taxes. In May, 2011, the Bank acquired Banco do Estado do Rio de Janeiro S.A. (BERJ).


The Banking segment includes deposit-taking with clients, including checking accounts, savings accounts and time deposits; loans and advances (individuals and companies, real estate financing, microcredit, onlending BNDES funds, rural credit, leasing, among others); credit cards, debit cards and pre-paid cards; management of receipts and payments; asset management; services related to capital markets and investment banking activities; intermediation and trading services; custody, depositary and controllership services; international banking services, and purchasing consortiums.

The Bank offers a variety of deposit products and services to our customers through its branches, including Non-interest bearing checking accounts, such as Easy Account, Click Account, Academic Account and Cell Phone Bonus Account; traditional savings accounts; time deposits, and deposits from financial institutions. As of December 31, 2011, it had 43.4 million savings a! ccounts. It offers its customers certain additional services, such as identified deposits and real-time banking transfers. Its loans and advances to customers, consumer credit, corporate and agricultural-sector loans, totaled R$263.5 billion as of December 31, 2011.

The Bank�� loan portfolio consists of short-term loans, vehicle financings and overdraft loans on checking accounts. It also provides revolving credit facilities and traditional term loans. As of December 31, 2011, it had outstanding advances, vehicle financings, consumer loans and revolving credit totaling R$58.0 billion, or 22.0% of its portfolio of loans and advances. Banco Bradesco Financiamentos (Bradesco Financiamentos) offers direct-to-consumer credit and leasing for the acquisition of vehicles and payroll-deductible loans to the public and private sectors 'in Brazil. Supported by BF Promotora de Vendas Ltda. (BF Promotora), and using the Bradesco Financiamentos brand, the Bank operates through its network of correspondents in Brazil, consisting of retailers and dealers selling light vehicles, trucks and motorcycles, to offer financing and/or leasing for vehicles. Through Bradesco Promotora brand, it offer payroll-deductible loans to social security retirees and pensioners, public-sector employees, military personnel and private-sector companies sponsoring plans, and other aggregated products (insurance, capitalization bonds, cards, purchasing consortiums, and others).

As of December 31, 2011, the Bank had 63,156 outstanding real estate loans. As of December 31, 2011, the aggregate outstanding amount of its real estate loans amounted to R$15.9 billion, representing 6% of its portfolio of loans and advances. As of December 31, 2011, it had 69,491 microcredit loans outstanding, totaling R$62.8 million. Its BNDES onlending portfolio totaled R$35.4 billion as of December 31, 2011.

The Bank provides traditional loans for the ongoing needs of its corporate customers. It had R$85.8 billion of outstand! ing other! local commercial loans, accounting for 32.5% of its portfolio of loans and advances as of December 31, 2011. It offers a range of loans to its Brazilian corporate customers, including short-term loans of 29 days or less; guaranteed checking accounts and corporate overdraft loans; discounting trade receivables, promissory notes, checks, credit card and supplier receivables, and a number of other receivables; financing for purchase and sale of goods and services; corporate real estate financing, and investment lines for acquisition of assets and machinery. As of December 31, 2011, the Bank had R$11 billion in outstanding rural loans, representing 4.2% of its portfolio of loans and advances. The Bank conducts its leasing operations through its primary leasing subsidiary, Bradesco Leasing and also through Bradesco Financiamentos.

The Bank offers electronic solutions for receipt and payment management solutions, which include collection and payment services and online resource management enabling its customers to pay suppliers, salaries, and taxes and other levies to governmental or public entities. The global cash management concept provides solutions for multinationals in Brazil and/or domestic companies operating abroad. It manages third-party assets through mutual funds; individual and corporate investment portfolios; pension funds, including assets guaranteeing the technical provisions of Bradesco Vida e Previdencia, and insurance companies, including assets guaranteeing the technical provisions of Bradesco Seguros.

The Bank�� subsidiaries Bradesco S.A. CTVM and Agora S.A. CTVM (or Bradesco Corretora and Agora Corretora, respectively) trade stocks, options, stock lending, public offerings and forwards. They also offer a range of products, such as Brazilian government securities (under the Tesouro Direto program), BM&F trading, investor clubs and investment funds.

The Bank offers a range of international services, such as foreign exchange transactions, foreign tr! ade finan! ce, lines of credit and banking. As of December 31, 2011, its international banking services included New York City, a branch and Bradesco Securities Inc., its subsidiary brokerage firm, or Bradesco Securities United States, and its subsidiary Bradesco North America LLC, or Bradesco North America; London, Bradesco Securities U.K., its subsidiary, or Bradesco Securities U.K.; Cayman Islands, two Bradesco branches and its subsidiary, Cidade Capital Markets Ltd., or Cidade Capital Markets; Argentina, Banco Bradesco Argentina S.A., its subsidiary, or Bradesco Argentina; Banco Bradesco Luxemburgo S.A. its subsidiary, or Bradesco Europe; Japan, Bradesco Services Co. Ltd., its subsidiary, or Bradesco Services Japan; in Hong Kong, its subsidiary Bradesco Trade Services Ltd, or Bradesco Trade, and in Mexico, its subsidiary Ibi Services, Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada, or Ibi Mexico.

The Bank�� Brazilian foreign-trade related business consists of export and import finance. In addition to import and export finance, its customers have access to a range of services and foreign exchange products, such as purchasing and selling travelers checks and foreign currency paper money; cross border money transfers; advance payment for exports; accounts abroad in foreign currency; cash holding in other countries; collecting import and export receivables; repaid cards with foreign currency (individual), and structured foreign currency transactions through its foreign units.

Insurance, pension plans and capitalization bonds

The Bank offers insurance products through a number of different entities, which it refers to collectively as Grupo Bradesco Seguros. It offers life, personal accident and random events insurance through its subsidiary Bradesco Vida e Previdencia. It offers health insurance policies through Bradesco Saude and its subsidiaries for small, medium or large companies. It provides automobile, property/casualty and liability products through its subsidiary Bradesco Auto! /RE. It a! lso offers certain automobile, health, and property/casualty insurance products directly through its Website.

Top Bank Stocks For 2014: Morgan Stanley(MS)

Morgan Stanley, a financial holding company, provides various financial products and services to corporations, governments, financial institutions, and individuals worldwide. It operates in three segments: Institutional Securities, Global Wealth Management Group, and Asset Management. The Institutional Securities segment offers financial advisory services on mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, corporate restructurings, recapitalizations, spin-offs, exchange offers, and leveraged buyouts and takeover defenses, as well as shareholder relations, capital raising, corporate lending, and investments. This segment also engages in sales, trading, financing, and market-making activities, including equity trading, commodities, and interest rates, credit, and currencies, as well as financing services, such as prime brokerage, consolidated clearance, settlement, custody, financing, and portfolio reporting services. The Global Wealth Management Group segment provide s brokerage and investment advisory services covering various investment alternatives comprising equities, options, futures, foreign currencies, precious metals, fixed income securities, mutual funds, structured products, alternative investments, unit investment trusts, managed futures, separately managed accounts, and mutual fund asset allocation programs; education savings programs, financial and wealth planning services, and annuity and insurance products; credit and other lending products; cash management services; retirement services; and trust and fiduciary services. The Asset Management segment offers products and services in equity, fixed income, and alternative investments, such as hedge funds, fund of funds, real estate, private equity, and infrastructure to institutional and retail clients through proprietary and third party distribution channels. This segment also involves in investment and merchant banking activities. The company was founded in 1935 and is headq uartered in New York.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By M. Joy Hayes]

    Why would banks like Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) , Morgan Stanley� (NYSE: MS  ) , JPMorgan Chase� (NYSE: JPM  ) , and Goldman Sachs� (NYSE: GS  ) have policies that offer special financial benefits to employees taking government positions -- financial benefits that are usually reserved for employees who continue to work for the company?

Top Bank Stocks For 2014: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ.AX)

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) provides a range of banking and financial products and services to retail, small business, corporate and institutional clients. The Company conducts its operations in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region. It also operates in a range of other countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States. The Company operates on a divisional structure with Australia, International and Institutional Banking (IIB), New Zealand, and Global Wealth and Private Banking. As of September 30, 2012, the Company had 1,337 branches and other points of representation worldwide, excluding automatic teller machines (ATMs). In September 2012, it sold its remaining shareholding in Visa Inc.

Top Bank Stocks For 2014: Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (MTU)

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (MUFJ), incorporated on April 2, 2001, is a holding company for The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. (BTMU), Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation (MUTB), Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Holdings Co., Ltd. (MUSHD), Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co., Ltd.( MUMSS), Mitsubishi UFJ NICOS Co., Ltd. (Mitsubishi UFJ NICOS) and other companies engaged in a range of financial businesses. Its services include commercial banking, trust banking, securities, credit cards, consumer finance, asset management, leasing and fields of financial services. In May 2010, the Company and Morgan Stanley formed two joint ventures in Japan by integrating our respective Japanese securities companies engaged in investment banking and securities businesses. The Company converted the wholesale and retail securities businesses conducted in Japan by the former MUS into one of the joint venture entities, which is named MUMSS. Morgan Stanley contributed the investment banking operations conducted in Japan by its formerly wholly owned subsidiary, Morgan Stanley Japan Securities Co., Ltd. (MSJS) into MUMSS and converted the sales and trading and capital markets businesses conducted in Japan by MSJS into a second joint venture entity called Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities, Co., Ltd.

Integrated Retail Banking Business Group

The Integrated Retail Banking Business Group covers all domestic retail businesses, including commercial banking, trust banking and securities businesses, and enables the Company to offer a range of banking products and services, including financial consulting services, to retail customers in Japan. This business group integrates the retail business of BTMU, MUTB and MUMSS, as well as retail product development, promotion and marketing in a single management structure. Many of its retail services are offered through its network of MUFG Plazas providing individual customers with access to its financial product offerings of integrated commercial b! anking, trust banking and securities services.

The Company offers a range of bank deposit products, including a non-interest-bearing deposit account that is redeemable on demand and intended for payment and settlement functions, and is insured without a maximum amount limitation. It also offers a variety of asset management and asset administration services to individuals, including savings instruments, such as current accounts, ordinary deposits, time deposits, deposits at notice and other deposit facilities. MUFJ also offers trust products, such as loan trusts and money trusts, and other investment products, such as investment trusts, performance-based money trusts and foreign currency deposits.

The Company creates portfolios by combining savings instruments and investment products. It also provide a range of asset management and asset administration products, as well as customized trust products for high-net-worth individuals, as well as advisory services relating to the purchase and disposal of real estate and effective land utilization, and testamentary trusts. The Company provides a varied line up of investment trust products allowing its customers to choose products according to their investment needs through BTMU, MUTB and MUMSS, as well as Securities, which specializes in online financial services. In the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010, BTMU offered a total of five investment trusts. As of the end of March 2010, BTMU offered its clients a total of 73 investment trusts.

The Company offers securities, including publicly offered stocks, foreign and domestic investment trusts, Japanese government bonds, foreign bonds and various other products. The Company offers housing loans, card loans and other loans to individuals. With respect to housing loans, in addition to housing loans incorporating health insurance for seven major illnesses, BTMU began offering in June 2009 preferential interest rates under its Environmentally Friendly Support program ! to custom! ers who purchase environment-conscious houses (like houses with solar electric systems), which meet specific criteria in response to increasing public interest in environmental issues. In September 2009, BTMU launched housing loans with home mortgage insurance, which BTMU jointly developed with the Japan Housing Finance Agency, a governmental agency under the Japanese government�� economic stimulus measures, under which the agency indemnifies BTMU for losses from housing loans.

The Company offers products and services through a range of channels, including branches, automated teller machines (ATMs) (including convenience store ATMs shared by multiple banks), Mitsubishi-Tokyo UFJ Direct (telephone, Internet and mobile phone banking), the Video Counter and postal mail. It offers integrated financial services combining its banking, trust banking and securities services at MUFG Plazas. These Plazas provide retail customers with integrated and flexible suite of services at one-stop outlets. As of March 31 2010, the Company provided those services through 47 MUFG Plazas. The Company offers MUTB�� trust related products and advisory services through its trust agency system not only for MUTB customers but also for BTMU and MUMSS customers. As of March 31, 2010, BTMU engaged in eight businesses as the trust banking agent for MUTB: testamentary trusts, inheritance management, asset succession planning, inheritance management agency operations, business management financial consulting, lifetime gift trusts, share disposal trusts, and marketable securities administration trusts.

Integrated Corporate Banking Business Group

The Integrated Corporate Banking Business Group covers all domestic and overseas corporate businesses, including commercial banking, investment banking, trust banking and securities businesses, as well as UnionBanCal Corporation (UNBC). UNBC is a wholly owned subsidiary of BTMU and a US bank holding company with Union Bank being its primary subsidiary. T! he Compan! y provides various financial solutions, such as loans and fund management, remittance and foreign exchange services. It also helps its customers develop business strategies, such as inheritance-related business transfers and stock listings.

It offers advanced financial solutions to companies through corporate and investment banking services. Product specialists globally provide derivatives, securitization, syndicated loans, structured finance and other services. It also provides investment banking services, such as merger and acquisition (M&A) advisory, bond and equity underwriting. It provides online banking services that allow customers to make domestic and overseas remittances electronically. It also provides a global cash pooling/netting service, and the Treasury Station, a fund management system for a multi-company group. The Company�� global Corporate and Investment Banking business (Global CIB), primarily serves companies, financial institutions, and sovereign and multinational organizations with a set of solutions for their financing needs.

Integrated Trust Assets Business Group

The Integrated Trust Assets Business Group covers asset management and administration services for products, such as pension trusts and security trusts by integrating the trust banking expertise of MUTB and the international strengths of BTMU. The business group provides a range of services to corporate and pension funds, including stable and secure pension fund management and administration, advice on pension schemes, and payment of benefits to scheme members. Its Integrated Trust Assets Business Group combines MUTB�� trust assets business, comprising trust assets management services, asset administration and custodial services, and the businesses of Mitsubishi UFJ Global Custody S.A., Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co., Ltd. and KOKUSAI Asset Management Co., Ltd.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Jim Jubak, Senior Markets Editor,]

    The one currency that is running against the weak dollar tide is the Japanese yen. The yen initially climbed on the Fed's no taper decision—rising to 97.75 on the news—but then fell all the way back to 99 yen to the dollar and finished yesterday at 99.42. (Remember that since the yen is quoted in yen to the dollar, a higher number is a sign of a weak yen and a smaller number means the yen is getting stronger.) The thinking seems to be that the recent Japanese trade deficit will push the Bank of Japan to further weaken the yen, in order to boost Japanese exports. I continue to think that the yen will finish 2013 at weaker levels than current trading, and that leads me to continue to hold positions in Japanese stocks such as Toyota Motor (TM) and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MTU). Both stocks are members of my Jubaks Picks portfolio.

  • [By Jim Jubak]

    I think you can use shares of Japanese exporters-such as Toyota Motors (TM)-or Japanese financials-such as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MTU)-as trading vehicles for this move. I mention both because they trade as very liquid ADRs in New York. If you trade in Tokyo, you should look at exporters more leveraged to the yen than Toyota-such as Hino Motors (JP:7205 in Tokyo) or Mazda Motor (JP:7261)-or real estate development companies with more yen sensitivity than more diversified financials-such as Sumitomo Realty and Development (JP:8830). Toyota and Mitsubishi UFJ are both members of my Jubak's Picks portfolio.

  • [By Dan Carroll]

    Mitsubishi UFJ (NYSE: MTU  ) also plunged in the Japanese financial sector's sell-off, with the firm's stock dropping 12.3% over the week. This firm faced more of a threat from Thursday's action, however: Japan's benchmark bond yield climbed to its highest level in more than a year, and Mitsubishi is the largest lender by assets in the country and holds more than 48 million yen in government bonds. Bond yields are still coming off of record lows, so Mitsubishi's hardly in a dangerous place. The firm's attempts to expand recently may also help boost revenue at a company that posted declining net income in its most recent quarter.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bitcoin: A Joke or the Real Thing?

Print FriendlyBitcoin has crossed the $1,000 barrier.

Bitcoin is a virtual, decentralized currency that circumvents government regulation. It was the subject of two Senate hearings last week, and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said virtual currencies “may hold long-term promise.”

And the FBI recently shut down Silk Road, an online marketplace where sellers offered drugs, firearms and other illicit goods and services, taking Bitcoins as payment.

Bitcoin’s advocates aim to make it a universal electronic currency. By a wide margin, Bitcoin is the best known among dozens of alternatives, collectively known as altcoins. PeerCoin, Litecoin and Anoncoin are some other altcoins.

Probably the main reason for the Bitcoin buzz is its soaring value. A year ago, Bitcoin was worth a few dollars. In November alone, the price has climbed from $215 to $1,000 on Mt. Gox, the leading altcoin exchange. Meanwhile, Bitcoins were trading for $950 on Bitstamp, the second most popular exchange, and for $915 on BTC-e.

The supply of Bitcoins recently stood at 12 million, worth about $12 billion at recent prices.

SecondMarket’s Bitcoin Trust “invests” in Bitcoins. SecondMarket is an online security brokerage specializing in illiquid assets. And at least one mutual fund is in the works.

Bitcoin is actually both a digital currency and a payment system. To get Bitcoins, you have to first set up a “wallet,” probably online at a site such as You then pay a willing seller the necessary hard currency to transfer the coins into that wallet.

A growing number and variety of US merchants are starting to accept Bitcoins as payment.

The Silk Road closing highlighted a key Bitcoin attribute: theoretical user anonymity, which enables secret transactions of various kinds. A network keeps track of all transactions made using Bitcoins but it doesn’t know w! ho is using them or for what, just the computer “wallet” IDs. Yet every transaction is publicly available for anyone to examine in the “blockchain,” a global, permanent ledger.

Strangely, the government of China evidently has endorsed the use of Bitcoin. Some say it’s because of the hope that digital money will undermine the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. A subsidiary of Baidu Inc. (NSDQ: BIDU), China’s top search engine, started to accept Bitcoins last month.

Bitcoin supporters contend that it some day could become an effective alternative to government currencies or a cheap way to move money around the world.

But Bitcoin’s manic price movements undermine its credibility as a currency. Real currencies usually have relatively stable values, making them good units of exchange. And Bitcoin already has numerous competitors.

In addition, the Bitcoin system evidently isn’t completely secure. Numerous thefts of Bitcoins from encrypted accounts have been reported. These inevitably will grow in number with Bitcoin’s popularity and, for now, value.

Bitcoin itself was invented in 2008 by one or more computer programmers using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. His, her or their identity is still unknown.

Altcoin values are set partly through complicated mathematical algorithms and partly by what people think they should be worth at any time.

Bitcoins are created, or “mined,” by rewarding computer operators who solve a mathematical algorithm that grows increasingly difficult, which in turn slows the supply growth of Bitcoins. An algorithm limits the total number of Bitcoins ever mined to 21 million units, which is expected to occur by 2140.

It is extremely likely that governments ultimately will aim to regulate Bitcoin if its market gets big enough. Money is a tool of the state. Governments will not allow creation of an independent world currency outside of their cont! rol.
Meanwhile, it seems that the main reason people are willing to pay rising prices for Bitcoin is because other people also are willing to. Just like the Dutch tulip mania of the 17th century, probably the biggest financial bubble of all time.

U.S. Stocks Rise as Dow Extends Record on Stimulus Bets

U.S. stocks rose, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average extending a record, as investors awaited retailer earnings reports to gauge the strength of consumer demand and the likelihood of cuts to monetary stimulus.

Transocean Ltd. added 3.6 percent after the offshore rig contractor agreed with investor Carl Icahn to propose a $3 per share dividend. ViroPharma Inc. jumped 26 percent as Shire Plc. bought the company for about $4.2 billion. Best Buy Co. rose 4.5 percent after a UBS AG analyst upgraded the stock. KKR & Co. fell 1.5 percent after it bought Brickman Group Ltd. for $1.6 billion.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed 0.1 percent to 1,771.89 at 4 p.m. in New York to close within a point of its record. The Dow rose 21.32 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,783.1. About 4.8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges today, 21 percent below the three-month average. Bond markets were closed because of the Veterans Day holiday.

"Sometimes a boring day is nice,"John Carey, a portfolio manager at Pioneer Investment Management who oversees $200 billion in assets globally, said by phone from Boston. "People will be watching over the next few weeks to see if the Fed does decide to begin tapering this year. If earnings continue trending higher the support will be there for better share prices."

The S&P 500 added 0.5 percent last week for a fifth week of gains, the longest streak since February. Better-than-forecast data on jobs and growth indicated the economy is strong enough to withstand a reduction in Federal Reserve stimulus, even as consumer spending climbed last quarter at the slowest pace since 2011. There were no economic reports today.

Earnings Scorecard

Corporate earnings that surpassed estimates and unprecedented monetary support from the Federal Reserve have propelled the S&P 500 higher by more than 160 percent from a March 2009 low.

Of the 449 S&P 500 companies that have released third-quarter profits so far, 75 percent have beaten analysts' forecasts, data compiled by Bloomberg showed. Earnings per share for the companies on the gauge probably increased 4.7 percent in the third quarter, and will rise 6.2 percent in the fourth, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

"We can put in the books that the third quarter earnings season was another positive surprise," Phil Orlando, New York-based chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors, said by phone. His firm oversees about $380 billion in assets. "The market was way too pessimistic going in."

News Corp. was the only S&P 500 member to post results today, releasing its report after the market closed. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Macy's Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. are among retail companies reporting earnings later this week. Home Depot Inc. posts results on Nov. 19.

'Fairly Restrained'

"Investors want to know the strength of the U.S. consumer going into what might be a tepid holiday season," said Alison Porter, who helps oversee $108 billion as U.S. equities fund manager at Ignis Asset Management. "Consumer spending has been fairly restrained. With big retailers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot yet to report, we'll want to see whether that has picked up."

Economists still forecast the Fed will delay tapering asset purchases until March even after the payrolls data beat forecasts. Policy makers will probably pare the monthly pace of bond buying, known as quantitative easing, to $70 billion at their March 18-19 meeting from the current pace of $85 billion, according to the median of 32 estimates in a Bloomberg survey Nov. 8. The median forecast in an Oct. 17-18 survey of 40 economists also called for a cut to $70 billion in March.

"There's been a correlation between rising share prices and low interest rates and the QE program," Carey said. "People legitimately are wondering if and when the Fed begins the tapering."

Equity Valuations

The S&P 500 has rallied 24 percent in 2013, heading for the best annual gain in a decade. The gauge is trading at 16 times projected earnings, more than the five-year average of 14 times earnings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Investors have poured money into exchange-traded funds tracking U.S. stocks, pushing assets in the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF above the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets (VWO) ETF for the first time since 2010. The iShares S&P 500 fund manages $50.5 billion, compared with $48.3 billion for the ETF linked to shares of developing nations, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust is the world's largest ETF with about $156 billion.

'Look Deeper'

"Valuations are not as attractive and people need to look deeper into the market to find better value," Ignis' Porter said by phone from Glasgow.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX), which measures future volatility signaled by S&P 500 options, fell 2.9 percent to 12.53 today, a three-month low.

Six of 10 main S&P 500 groups advanced, with health-care stocks rising 0.2 percent to pace the gains. Phone shares fell 0.3 percent for the worst performance in the broader index.

Transocean rose 3.6 percent to $55.37. The company agreed with Icahn to pay about $1.1 billion in dividend and to increase margins by $800 million through cost cutting. Transocean will also back two of Icahn's nominees to the board, whose size will be cut to 11 directors from 14, according to a joint statement.

Deal Activity

ViroPharma rallied 26 percent to $49.42, it's highest since April 2000. Dublin-based Shire will pay $50 a share in cash for the maker of drugs that treat some rare diseases, according to a statement today.

Gogo Inc. (GOGO), a provider of in-flight Internet services, jumped 29 percent to a record $24.15 after the company raised its year-end revenue estimate. Itasca, Illinois-based Gogo reported a smaller third-quarter loss than analysts had expected. Inc. rose 1.2 percent to $354.38. The world's biggest online retailer said it is teaming up with the U.S. Postal Service to offer Sunday delivery.

Best Buy added 4.5 percent to $44.33, the highest in almost three years. UBS analyst Michael Lasser upgraded the stock to buy from neutral. Lasser said he sees Best Buy estimates being pushed higher when the company reports third quarter earnings on Nov. 19.

FirstEnergy Corp. plunged 5.7 percent to $36.62, its biggest drop since May. The public utility holding company said yesterday it plans to spend $2.8 billion on transmissions through 2017.

Homebuilder Slump

An S&P index of homebuilders dropped 0.7 percent for a third day of declines. D.R. Horton Inc. (DHI), which reports earnings tomorrow, slid 0.4 percent to $18.06, the lowest in almost four weeks.

Denbury Resources Inc. plunged 5.9 percent to $18.20 for its biggest drop since June 2012 and the steepest slide in the S&P 500. The petroleum producer yesterday said it would initiate a regular quarterly dividend and not create a master limited partnership, something the company in May said it was considering.

KKR declined 1.5 percent to $23. The private-equity firm led by Henry Kravis and George Roberts agreed to buy landscape-maintenance company Brickman from Leonard Green & Partners LP for $1.6 billion.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The 8th "Spark" Could Ignite a 1,300% Gain – Here's How to Find It

We've already reviewed a number of the seven catalysts, or "sparks," I look for in a company before I recommend it to subscribers of my Small-Cap Rocket Alert.

Industry rotation... big contracts... earnings revisions...

Finding just one of these "sparks" can lead you to extreme upside potential... But identifying two or more "lighting up" the same stock is even better.

So today I want to give you an eighth spark - one that just unveiled a potential 1,300% biotech gain for my readers last week. Then I'm going to show you how to find it on your own.

It's easy, once you know how to read this form...

"Spark" No. 8: Insider Buying... of a Very Special Kind

Insider buying and selling gets a lot of attention. But we're only concerned with a very special type of transaction...

Here's the skinny.

If you're a business owner, chances are you're intimately familiar with how your company is currently performing - and more importantly - how it's likely to perform in the future.

That's because you are uniquely tuned into every aspect of the product and management cycle. You know the "resource stack" and, chances are, exactly what's needed to make money.

Presumably, as the thinking goes, you are an insider who knows better than company outsiders what your potential is on any given day.

I've researched thousands of companies and found that to be absolutely true.

When insiders start scooping up shares, they may as well be waving a huge green flag that says "x marks the spot."

Now obviously there's a lot of gamesmanship when it comes to insider buying. You can't just take the fact that senior management is picking up shares at face value. Their actions have to be tied to something critical - like pending clinical trials results, or new patents, or even materials changes - to really be effective.

How effective?

According to Nejat Seyhun, a professor and researcher in the field of insider trading at the University of Michigan, when insiders are buying shares in their own companies, the stock tends to outperform the total market by 8.9% over the next 12 months.

Imagine doing that year after year.

An extra 8.9% may not sound like much, but it adds up very quickly.

Long story short, that was exactly the kind of opportunity I found recently for members of the Small Cap Rocket Alert family... an insider shelling out $20 million to buy shares of a small-cap biotech firm shortly before the company is scheduled to update data of an ongoing clinical trials program for one of its leading drug candidates.

The reverse is also true.

The good professor's research shows that stocks historically underperform the markets by 5.4% a year when insiders are selling.

If you remember Enron's spectacular flameout like I do, chances are you remember that insiders were dumping their shares months ahead of time faster than Miley Cyrus sheds her clothing.

That was a huge red flag at the time, yet an overwhelming number of analysts following the stock kept their "buys" in place right to the very end!

So how do you know what those in the know are doing?

Publicly traded companies have to file Form 4 paperwork with the SEC whenever insiders buy and sell stock. Pay careful attention to what those forms tell you, and you might as well be sitting in the boardroom.

Something else that's not commonly understood is that a lot of insider buying and selling occurs as part of stock options offered as compensation. Let's use a recent example from Broadridge Financial Solutions (NYSE: BR) to illustrate this:

2013 Penny Stock Gains
Click to Enlarge

What this tells us is that an insider exercised a stock option to buy 23,831 shares at $18.90 (worth $450,405.90) and then turned around and sold 20,720 shares at $37.002 (worth $766,681.44) for a tidy single-day profit of $316,275.54.

Nice work if you can get it.

Unless you dug into the numbers, the example above would appear from the outside as net-selling to the tune of $316,275.54, when in fact it was simply an insider cashing a paycheck, so to speak.

To help you differentiate between red flags and simple insider noise, try a free site such as (Note: I mention merely because it was the first company that popped up in a Google search - and it's free to use. I have no relationship with the company).

If a stock you're holding has extraordinary insider buying ahead of a potential catalyst event, that could be a signal that something very exciting is on the horizon. You might want to consider adding to existing positions under the circumstances using a strategy of dollar-cost averaging so you don't have to try to time the market.

On the other hand, if a stock you're holding has extraordinary actual insider selling - and not merely selling as part of insiders paying themselves - ahead of a potential catalyst, you might considering tightening up your stops, or capturing profits on a portion of your position. Better yet, do both - run a combination of tighter stops and take profits on a portion of your position to minimize ongoing risk and exposure.

The advantage is that any profits you bank as part of this process can be tucked away or immediately redeployed to new positions with additional upside potential.

There's definitely an art to "reading" intentions from raw numbers like insider buying and selling, so don't despair if you've never tracked it before. Pick a company you're interested in and begin following the Form 4 information. Over time, the stock will "talk" to you because you will see what its senior executives do well in advance of whatever it is they "know."

I'll be back in a future column to talk about sentiment that can be very effectively combined with insider activity to produce an even more accurate picture of what the future looks like.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

3 Stocks Spiking on Big Volume

DELAFIELD, Wis. (Stockpickr) -- Professional traders running mutual funds and hedge funds don't just look at a stock's price moves; they also track big changes in volume activity. Often when above-average volume moves into an equity, it precedes a large spike in volatility.

>>5 Rocket Stocks for Turkey Day Trading

Major moves in volume can signal unusual activity, such as insider buying or selling -- or buying or selling by "superinvestors."

Unusual volume can also be a major signal that hedge funds and momentum traders are piling into a stock ahead of a catalyst. These types of traders like to get in well before a large spike, so it's always a smart move to monitor unusual volume. That said, remember to combine trend and price action with unusual volume. Put them all together to help you decipher the next big trend for any stock.

>>5 Hated Earnings Stocks You Should Love

With that in mind, let's take a look at several stocks rising on unusual volume today.


Envestnet (ENV) provides integrated wealth management software and services to financial advisors and institutions in the U.S. This stock closed up 2.3% at $39.59 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 479,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 267,189

Volume % Change: 72%

From a technical perspective, ENV spiked modestly higher here into new 52-week high territory above some near-term overhead resistance at $38.70 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last four months, with shares moving higher from its low of $24.58 to its intraday high of $41.11. During that uptrend, shares of ENV have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in ENV as long as it's trending above some near-term support at $38 or at $37 and then once it sustains a move or close above Monday's high of $41.11 with volume that's near or above 267,189 shares. If we get that move soon, then ENV will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $45 to $47.

Post Holdings

Post Holdings (POST) is a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of branded ready-to-eat cereals in the U.S. and Canada. This stock closed up 2% at $47.76 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 599,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 233,948

Volume % Change: 150%

From a technical perspective, POST spiked modestly higher here and touched its all-time high at $49.32 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last two months, with shares moving higher from its low of $38.31 to its intraday high of $49.32. During that uptrend, shares of POST have been making mostly higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in POST as long as it's trending above some near-term support levels at $47 or at $46 and then once it sustains a move or close above its all-time high at $49.32 with volume that's near or above 233,948 shares. If we get that move soon, then POST will set up to enter new all-time-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $55 to $57.

Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies

Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies (WAB) is a provider of value-added, technology-based products and services for the rail industry. This stock closed up 1.2% at $68.61 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 556,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 413,858

Volume % Change: 65%

From a technical perspective, WAB trended modestly higher here right above some near-term support at $66 with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of WAB within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if WAB manages to take out Monday's high of $68.64 and its 52-week high at $86.66 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in WAB as long as it's trending above support at $66 or above its 50-day at $64.77 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 413,858 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then WAB will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $73 to $75.

To see more stocks rising on unusual volume, check out the Stocks Rising on Unusual Volume portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Roberto Pedone in Delafield, Wis.


>>5 Dividend Stocks That Want to Pay You More

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>>Profit From 5 Trades Warren Bufett Made

Follow Stockpickr on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Roberto Pedone, based out of Delafield, Wis., is an independent trader who focuses on technical analysis for small- and large-cap stocks, options, futures, commodities and currencies. Roberto studied international business at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and he spent a year overseas studying business in Lubeck, Germany. His work has appeared on financial outlets including and You can follow Pedone on Twitter at or @zerosum24.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How Investors Can Look Beyond the Numbers

Recently, health-care bureau chief Max Macaluso sat down with Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner to talk about the fears that some investors face when analyzing stocks in complex industries. During their conversation, David discussed the importance of getting to know the leadership team behind a company before making an investment, and also talked about ways the average investor can get to know a company's CEO. 

The full version of the interview can be seen here, and a full transcript follows the video.

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Max Macaluso: You talked a little bit about leadership and management. How can the average investor get to know the management of a company, beyond looking at compensation and their biography, and perhaps the occasional interview or conference call?

David Gardner: Right. I think we have an unprecedented opportunity and access to knowing the people who are running the companies, unlike anything anyone could have dreamed of 25 years ago, or 100 years ago.

If you're a leader today in our world ... business, politics, any sphere, you are exposed in a way that was just -- I would say, making up round numbers -- 100 times what the most exposed person 100 years ago was. Step away and look at our age, and it's just crazy true; at least it is in my head. This is one of my working assumptions.

In that way, it's very hard to be a leader because you have to really try to be perfect all the time, and we all know we're human; no one is.

As investors, shame on you if you don't feel like you know who's running this company. You've got everything from videos that you can access for free, of interviews with that person. You've got Googling that person's background. You have other people who have already done that for you, so links to a lot of their past work.

You've got the opportunity to probably follow them on Twitter. You're probably not following them; you're probably following their Twitter guy or gal, but that still says a lot unto itself. You can figure out, some CEOs do actually authentically post on Twitter, and others don't. That might, itself, be an inference that adds to your process of researching that person.

We have unprecedented opportunity, if we really care, to get to know people, almost to cyber-stalk any CEO -- not that I've ever done that, or would suggest anybody do that, and I don't want anybody doing that to me -- but the point is, there's so much transparency relative to what there ever was.

When I started investing at the age of 18, which was now 29 years ago, I could not have even dreamed how easy it is to learn about the people who are in business today. By the way, the good news is -- and this might be another contrarian sentiment, Max -- but I think there are so many good people in business, and business is such a good thing.

Anybody who gives business a bad rap, or thinks that Occupy Wall Street -- which had some really good ideas and roots -- is a really accurate depiction of the business world today, Wall Street is a tiny part of ...

I think there's a lot of things wrong with Wall Street. There are so many things right with almost any product or service that you've bought in the last week, and they probably have proliferated around you, and there are so many admirable people behind those.

Anyway, it's a fun process to get to know who started Twitter, or what does Jeff Bezos think about [] in the next 10 years, or what crazy thing is Reed Hastings going to do next at Netflix?

Thanksgiving shopping a sacrilege for some

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Carol Larkin will not shop on Thanksgiving. Even though she lives directly behind the a Kroger supermarket, she won't even stop for a last-minute item on the way to her family feast Thursday at a sister's house.

"I want to spend the day with my family," said Larkin, 59.

But while Thanksgiving shopping refuseniks like Larkin are vocal in their complaints about the increasing encroachment into the holiday's sanctity, they may be fighting a losing battle, as retailers open early to lure shoppers on tight budgets.

Nearly one in four people responding to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation say they will shop on Thanksgiving.

Indeed, while a handful of major retailers — like Lowe's, Von Maur, Cabela's, Costco, Sam's Club and Nordstrom Rack — are holding out for a traditional Black Friday morning opening, an estimated 33 million people, or 23 percent of those surveyed by the retail federation, say Thanksgiving will find them in stores at some point.

Nearly 70 percent, an estimated 97 million shoppers, say they'll be out on Black Friday.

"It is evident that Americans are in the holiday spirit, despite their cautious approach to spending," said Pam Goodfellow, director of Consumer Insights at Prosper Insights & Analytics, a Worthingon, Ohio, firm that polled more than 6,000 consumers for the NRF survey.

Experts cite three major factors for retailers' desire to grab every possible shopping hour.

-- First, this year's holiday shopping season runs just 27 days, the shortest stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas since 2002, according to the national retail group.

-- Second, retailers are nervous about spending, as consumers continue to cope with stagnant or declining wages amid overall concern about the economy. Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell this month to a two-year low, or a score of 72 by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. That is lower than October's score of 73.2 and the 74.5 p! redicted by economists.

In all, we are expected to spend 2 percent less — an average $738 each this holiday season — compared with last year, the NRF reported. And locally, three out of four Kentucky independent retailers report somber expectations for the holiday shopping season, according to the Kentucky Retail Federation.

"There is not as much disposable income," KRF Executive Director Tod Griffin said of the trade group's annual holiday survey of 6,000 retailers statewide. The poll also found that businesses say they are financially in the same shape, or worse, than last year at this time.

Griffin said consumers and business owners alike are rattled by the recent government shutdown, uncertainty about health care costs, and the stagnant job market. "There are a lot of things out there that are not helping the economy stabilize."

-- Third, in many markets, there is simply less money to spend.

Incomes are drifting downward as many laid-off workers find employment, but often at lower pay rates than before. In the Louisville area, median income per capita is estimated at $42,500 this year, down 5.2 percent from $44,833 in 2012, according to the latest guidelines by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Bonifacio Aleman, a single dad of two teens who lives in Louisville, said he's among those feeling the pinch — and for many reasons, he's trimming his already tight holiday budget from $75 last year to $50 this holiday season.

"It has become so commercial, it makes me sick," said Aleman, executive director of Kentucky Jobs With Justice, a nonprofit advocacy group. "We get in this frenzy and go broke and not pay our bills to buy stuff for the holidays. Too many of us wind up in financial crisis because of it."

Still, a good number of shoppers relish the bargains brought by Thanksgiving Day shopping — a day becoming known as "Black Friday Eve." One in five consumers say it gives people a fun activity to do on Thanksgiving, according! to a rec! ent email survey by RetailMeNot, a digital coupon website.

Antonia Peagler, for example, will be working Friday, so she views the opening of more stores on Thanksgiving as an opportunity. In particular, Peagler said she is looking forward to the 9 a.m. opening Thursday of Old Navy stores in Louisville. An Old Navy fleece pullover is her standard gift for the men in her family every year.

"I stop at Old Navy every year," said Peagler, though she adds, "If the lines are too long, I can go online and get the same deal there."

Target store team leader Bill Johnson stocks store items in Louisville on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013.(Photo: Alton Strupp/The Courier-Journal)

If Peagler decides to stay home and shop online during the holiday, she'll have plenty of company. In addition to sharing time with family and friends around the table, 64 percent of survey respondents said they will scope out deals online on Thursday, while 37 percent said they will press mobile apps into use to scan or purchase items, according to the RetailMeNot survey.

This Thursday will be the third Thanksgiving that store manager William Johnson will open his Target store in Louisville. He expects lines will start forming around 4 p.m. for the 8 p.m. opening — and says the crowds are better than those who traditionally waited for Black Friday openings.

"They are not sleep-deprived. They have eaten," Johnson said. "They don't want to stay home and watch football all night long. And they'll get to bed by midnight instead of standing outside in the wee hours of the morning."

The store's better for it too, since the first wave of customers will wane between midnight and 6 a.m., leaving time to restock.

"After you totally get destroyed, you can put Humpt! y Dumpty ! back together again and restock," he said.